Gordon Prather / AntiWar.com – 2005-04-24 10:42:53
(August 21, 2004) — What’s going on at the State Department? Can’t Colin Powell keep Undersecretary John Bolton in his cage? Apparently, not, because last week Bonkers Bolton made a mind-boggling presentation at the Hudson Institute – which was carried live on CSPAN – entitled “Preventing Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons.”
Virtually every paragraph in the inflammatory 2,800-word address contained allegations that were either misleading or flat-out wrong.
Here is how Bolton began, and it was downhill from then on:
“Today I’d like to speak about Iran, which has concealed a large-scale, covert nuclear weapons program for over 18 years, and which, therefore, is one of our most fundamental proliferation challenges.
“All of Iran’s WMD [weapons of mass destruction] efforts – chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles – pose grave threats to international security. Iran’s pursuit of these deadly weapons, despite its signature on treaties that ban them, marks it as a rogue state, and it will remain so until it completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantles its WMD-related programs.”
Iran denies that it has a covert nuke program. Yet, Bolton charged that German, French and British diplomats had told him that the Iranian representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had told them that the Iranians could produce enough weapons-grade enriched uranium for a nuke within a year’s time, and threatened to do so if the Brits-French-Germans didn’t uphold their end of their deal.
(There were immediate news reports that French and German diplomats denied having told Bolton any such thing.)
You see, Iran had made a deal with the Brits-French-Germans about a year ago. In return for continued access to peaceful nuclear technology, Iran agreed to sign an Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In the interim, while the terms of the Additional Protocol were being negotiated, Iran granted Mohamed ElBaradei – Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency – the unrestricted access to all its nuclear-related facilities that the Additional Protocol would eventually provide.
Open Inspections Have Found
‘No Evidence’ of Nuclear Weapons Programs in Iran
For months, now, IAEA inspectors have been going anywhere they wanted to go and inspecting every thing they wanted to inspect. Iran may have a covert nuke program, but IAEA inspectors have yet to find any “indication” that Iran now has – or has ever had – a nuke-development program.
Yet, Bolton claims that the IAEA has found such evidence.
“Iran is pursuing two separate paths to nuclear weapons, one that would use highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and one that would use plutonium.
“As to the uranium route, Iran has tried to develop two different uranium-enrichment methods in order to produce weapons-grade uranium. First, it has established a number of facilities for the manufacture and testing of centrifuges (many of which are owned by military industrial organizations), a pilot enrichment facility designed for 1,000 centrifuges, and a large buried facility intended to house up to 50,000 centrifuges.
“In parallel, Iran has pursued another program to enrich uranium with lasers. Both of these programs were successfully concealed from IAEA inspectors in Iran for years until an Iranian opposition group disclosed their existence.”
Iran Has the Legal Right to Pursue Nuclear Energy
Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Iranians have the “inalienable right” to do everything that the Iranians are known to have done thus far.
The laser enrichment program was – as are all such programs in all countries – a research program. Therefore, Iran was not required to inform the IAEA about it – or any other research program – unless significant quantities of enriched uranium were produced thereby. The IAEA has confirmed that the Iranian laser program was unsuccessful – never producing more than milligrams of low-enriched uranium per day – and was abandoned years ago.
And even if the Iranians eventually do manage to get 50,000 centrifuges on-line, the Iranians could never produce weapons-grade uranium – as opposed to reactor-grade uranium – while subject to continuous IAEA monitoring and periodic on-site inspection.
The thing to note about ElBaradei’s reports [pdf] is that – contrary to insinuations made by Bolton – virtually everything the IAEA has “discovered” in Iran about Iran’s nuclear programs basically confirms what the Iranians have voluntarily told the IAEA.
By making his completely unsubstantiated charges, Bolton is either attempting to provoke Iran – as he did North Korea – into withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or setting the stage for another unilateral application of the Bush Doctrine to a “rogue state.”
Bolton ended his remarks with this threat:
“We cannot let Iran, a leading sponsor of international terrorism, acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to Europe, most of central Asia and the Middle East, or beyond. Without serious, concerted, immediate intervention by the international community, Iran will be well on the road to doing so.”
Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army.
Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to US Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. — ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee.
Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.