As a physicist who has served as an 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, a former legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon (R-OK), and a former nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico, James Gordon Prather is well placed to comment on the developing crisis around Iran's nuclear program. -- Analyzing a Reuters report about Iran's resumption of uranium conversion at Isfahan last week, Prather finds that it misleads the reader in four different ways in a single sentence, creating false impressions about "(a) what the IAEA 'found' back in 2002, (b) why the IAEA seals were in place, (c) what the Iranians did last week, and last -- but most important -- (d) what constitutes a 'breaking' of the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty]." -- According to Prather, "under the Iranian safeguards agreement as it then existed [in 2002], the Iranians were not obligated to tell the IAEA about any of their supposedly illicit activity until they began processing 'source or special nuclear materials' for introduction into those gas centrifuges," and thus had the right under international law to engage in the activity by which we now read, in newspapers like the New York Times, that Iran "forfeited" rights to a civilian nuclear program. -- Prather calls these "media lies," but the Western mainstream media reporters are less interested in stating what is untrue (the reporter who wrote the sentence Prather analyzes may have no idea whether it is true or not and may not even care) than in remaining in the good graces of those in power. -- Since reporters are generally constrained to follow government lines, their accounts of events are often unreliable, and sometimes false. -- Their attitude toward language might be characterized charitably as pragmatic or diplomatic, or uncharitably as cynical. -- The same cannot be said of the attitude toward language evinced by the U.S. national security state and its allies. -- The Bush administration has embraced an approach that has often been called Orwellian or Machiavellian, but perhaps it should be dubbed Humpty-Dumptian. -- In chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, (1872) Humpty Dumpy and Alice have this exchange: "`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.' -- `The question is,' said Alice, `whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.' -- `The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'" -- This is precisely the attitude of Vice President Dick Cheney (it is also the attitude of "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America" of September 17, 2002). -- Come to think of it, Dick Cheney, who once worked in the White House writing Lewis-Carroll-like notes fretting "Is there some reason that regular salt shakers are not used for small breakfasts and small stag dinners?" does bear an uncanny resemblance to Humpty Dumpty. -- (On the general problem of the corruption of language by states that engage in wars of aggression, first analyzed by Thucydides, see UFPPC's July 8, 2004, statement.) ...
MORE MEDIA LIES ABOUT IRAN
By Gordon Prather
August 16, 2005
According to Reuters' Louis Charbonneau -- a neo-crazy media sycophant if ever there was one -- those despicable Iranians "broke U.N. seals at a uranium processing plant" last week.
According to Charbonneau, the International Atomic Energy Agency "put on the seals after Tehran agreed with the European Union's biggest powers to halt all nuclear fuel work last November to ease tensions after the IAEA found Iran had hidden weapons-grade highly enriched uranium."
"Tehran defied EU warnings [that] it could now be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions for having kept its uranium enrichment work secret for years -- until it was found out in 2002 -- breaking the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."
Now, all of that "reporting" is -- at best -- misleading.
And deliberately so.
Charbonneau is deliberately misleading you about (a) what the IAEA "found" back in 2002, (b) why the IAEA seals were in place, (c) what the Iranians did last week, and last - but most important - (d) what constitutes a "breaking" of the NPT.
Bush-Cheney officials have repeatedly charged that the Iranians have broken the NPT and that they are seeking to manufacture or "otherwise acquire" nuclear weapons.
But if the Iranians were breaking the NPT, who would be in the best position to know? The Bush-Cheney officials who made similar charges about Iraq?
Neo-crazy media sycophants like Charbonneau?
No. It does you no good to have a nuclear weapons program if you can't beg, borrow, or steal the tens of kilograms of fissile material that are absolutely required to make a nuke. So the NPT requires no-nuke states like Iran to subject all "source or special fissionable materials" and all activities involving such materials to an IAEA safeguards agreement.
The IAEA Statute -- not the NPT -- provides a mechanism for ensuring "compliance with the undertaking against use [of safeguarded materials and activities] in furtherance of any military purpose."
The IAEA Statute -- not the NPT -- requires the IAEA Board of Governors to report any use "in furtherance of any military purpose" to all IAEA members, to the U.N. General Assembly, and to the Security Council.
If, as Charbonneau charges, IAEA inspectors had found "hidden weapons-grade highly enriched uranium" in Iran, they would have been required to report that to the Board, and the Board would have been required to report that to the Security Council.
But they didn't. In fact, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has reported to the Board on numerous occasions that IAEA inspectors have found no "indication" that Iran now has, ever had, or intends to have a nuclear weapons program.
So what did the IAEA "find" back in 2002?
In the process of negotiating an additional protocol to the existing Iranian safeguards agreement, Iran voluntarily told the IAEA back in 2002 that, as a result of the United States forcing Russia to cancel the sale of a turnkey gas-centrifuge plant -- which the Iranians had an "inalienable right" to acquire and operate under the NPT -- the Iranians had been attempting to construct gas centrifuges of similar design. Furthermore, once they had constructed several thousand and got them to work, they planned to construct a uranium-enrichment pilot plant and, eventually, construct a commercial scale uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz.
But contrary to Charbonneau and the neo-crazies, under the Iranian safeguards agreement as it then existed, the Iranians were not obligated to tell the IAEA about any of that activity until they began processing "source or special nuclear materials" for introduction into those gas centrifuges.
So why were there IAEA "seals" on those uranium-conversion facilities? Well, the Iranians had volunteered to suspend all such activities for the duration of the EU-Iranian negotiations. Since the facilities were all already safeguarded, the IAEA was "invited" to verify the suspension.
But the IAEA is not a party to the EU-Iranian talks.
So what could the Board possibly report to the Security Council? That the EU and Iran hoped to conclude an agreement that "will provide objective guarantees" that "Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes" and that it "will equally provide firm guarantees" to Iran "on nuclear, technological, and economic cooperation and firm commitments on security issues"?
That on March 23, Iran offered a package of "objective guarantees" to the EU that included a voluntary "confinement" of Iran's nuclear programs? That the EU never responded to the Iranian offer? That the EU never offered Iran "firm commitments on security issues"?
That the Iranians decided to end their voluntary suspension of safeguarded activities and had so informed the IAEA?
None of that is any of the IAEA's business. So why report it? --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 U.S. 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.