by Zafar Bangash (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 10, Muharram, 1433)
Weeks before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report was released on November 8, Western media outlets had already worked themselves into frenzy, drum-beating about how Iran would be found in “violation” of its nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations by secretly diverting material to make the bomb. Western journalists, further tarnishing their already jaded image, not to mention suffering from a huge credibility gap, tried to outdo each other by trotting out the most ludicrous claims about what Iran was doing and how the IAEA report would provide “convincing proof” that it was making the bomb.
When the report was finally released, it turned out to be little more than a re-hash of the tired old allegations against Iran that have been repeated ad nauseam over the past decade. IAEA report made such assertions as it “believes” or Iran’s activities “suggest” that its nuclear program may have a military component, etc. James Reynold, the BBC’s Iran correspondent wrote on the network’s website on November 8: “The 25-page IAEA report says that Iran has carried out activities ‘relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device’… The report lists in detail what it believes Iran has been doing in secret. These activities include conducting computer modelling, developing a detonator, and testing high explosives.” The BBC’s resident “expert” went on: “The IAEA suggests that some of Iran’s activities are only applicable to nuclear weapons research — in other words, there is no innocent explanation for what Iran is doing” (emphasis added). To convince skeptics, Reynold wrote: “The agency stresses that the evidence it presents in its report is credible and well-sourced.”
Assertions such as “believe”, “suggest” and that “its report is credible and well-sourced” are hardly proof. If Iran is conducting its nuclear activities “in secret”, how did the agency learn about it? Aware of its credibility problem and the legitimate questions that would be raised about the report’s authenticity, the agency tried to assure skeptics but what proof did it offer? It quoted unnamed intelligence sources.
While the agency did not divulge names, one can speculate who the culprits might be: the American CIA, Israeli Mossad, their Western allies, and the myriad Arabian mukhabarat (intelligence agencies) that do not even know what is going on in their own bedrooms. The emphasis on assertions about being “credible” and “well-sourced” clearly reflect the agency’s concern that its report would prompt comparisons with the equally fraudulent claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that were touted as the principal reason for going to war in March 2003. The allegations against Iran are even more far-fetched and strain credulity.
While the IAEA was grappling with its report’s credibility, it faced and continues to do so, an even more basic problem: the credibility of its director general Yukiya Amano elevated to the post two years ago. A former Japanese diplomat, Amano is an American puppet. This is not an allegation. As Julian Borger, correspondent for the British daily, The Guardian, noted in his report of November 30, 2010: “As Mohamed ElBaradei’s term as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headed towards a close last year, Washington looked forward to the new era under Yukiya Amano with relish.” Borger then quotes a July 2009 cable from Geoffrey Pyatt, chargé d’affaires at the US mission in Vienna, that was leaked by WikiLeaks. Pyatt wrote in his cable to the US State Department: “The IAEA transition that will come as DG [director general] ElBaradei’s term ends November 30 provides a once-a-decade opportunity to overcome bureaucratic inertia, modernize Agency operations, and position the new director general for strong leadership from the DG’s office.”
Borger also quotes from another leaked cable of October 2009, in which Pyatt describes Amano as “DG of all states, but in agreement with us [US].” Equally important from the US point of view, Amano would not see himself as a “political player” over Iran, a role the US and its allies frequently accused ElBaradei of coveting. The allegation that ElBaradei was a “political player” was made because he refused to toe the US-Zionist line on Iran’s nuclear program. For remaining true to his position as an impartial referee of the nuclear file and making recommendations based on clear evidence, ElBaradei was accused of being “political” while Amano’s toe-ing the American line is described as being “neutral.”
Borger noted that “there was satisfaction among the Americans… after their initial post-election meeting with Amano…” He then goes on to quote Pyatt from a July cable in which he noted: “This meeting, Amano’s first bilateral review since his election, illustrates the very high degree of convergence between his priorities and our own agenda at the IAEA. The coming transition period [between July and November 2009] provides a further window for us to shape Amano’s thinking before his agenda collides with the IAEA Secretariat bureaucracy.”
On the eve of release of the latest IAEA report, the New York Times reported (November 7) that Amano visited the White House on October 28 to meet with top officials of the National Security Council concerning the report. While White House officials declined to even confirm the meeting or Amano’s presence in the White House, the question is, why would the head of a supposedly independent body like the IAEA need to brief US officials on his upcoming report about Iran? Do some states, like the US, have special rights? Was Amano there to get instructions from the Americans?
No clearer proof of Amano as an American stooge could be provided. He was appointed to head the IAEA in order to carry out the US agenda vis-à-vis Iran. What credibility could the agency’s report have when its director general takes orders from the Americans and in the words of a high level diplomat, there is not only a “very high degree of convergence between his priorities and our own agenda at the IAEA,” but the transition period from July to December 1, 2009 before he took over as director general was seen as “a further window of opportunity to us [the Americans] to shape Amano’s thinking…” (emphasis added). The IAEA’s latest report is proof that the Americans have been highly successful in not only shaping Amano’s thinking but also dictating to him what to do vis-à-vis Iran.
With Amano as a proven American lap dog, what credibility could his organization’s report have? In any case, the latest report failed to produce the much-anticipated smoking gun or proof of wrongdoing by Tehran. There could not have been; Iranian officials at the highest level have consistently denied making the bomb. The Rahbar, Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei has said that making nuclear weapons was forbidden in Islam because its use would result in the killing of innocent people. Even when Iran had chemical and biological weapons, it refused to use them despite its soldiers and revolutionary guards being subjected to repeated attacks by the Ba‘athist regime of Saddam Hussein. From 1983 to 1988, Saddam’s forces repeatedly used chemical and biological weapons supplied by the West — the US, Britain, Germany and France — despite international agreements against the use of such weapons. The UN Security Council sent missions to investigate the use of such weapons and while they confirmed their use, not once did they state categorically who the offender was despite only Iranians being the victims. Thus, if Iran did not use chemical or biological weapons despite being victimized, why would it want to acquire nuclear weapons now?
In response to the IAEA allegation, the Rahbar was quoted by Iranian television networks on November 10 as saying: “Our enemies, particularly the Zionist regime, America and its allies, should know that any kind of threat and attack will meet with a firm reciprocal response. Our country, the Revolutionary Guards and army will answer attacks with strong slaps and iron fists.” President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad a day earlier in a radio interview had said: “We will not build two bombs in the face of your [US] 20,000. We will develop something that you cannot respond to, which is ethics, humanity, solidarity and justice.” Addressing the US, he went on: “You should know that no enemy of the Iranian people has ever tasted victory.”
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency as saying: “The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency is unbalanced, unprofessional and politically motivated.” It was “a repetition of old claims which were proven baseless by Iran in a precise 117-page response,” he added.
That the agency has been politicized and has moved away from its mandate as an objective international organization is evident from the latest report. When ElBaradei headed the organization, its reports were based on scientific evidence, rather than speculation, conjecture or the self-serving assertions of unnamed intelligence agents. The latest report provides clear proof of how the agency has become a propaganda tool of US-Zionist policies. Consider this: the IAEA report mentions “undeclared nuclear materials” without providing any evidence for their existence. How did it come to such a conclusion? This is pure speculation, not scientific evidence, of the same order as Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous quote: “the absence of proof is not proof of absence” when referring to Iraq’s alleged WMD. Such nonsense should have no place in a scientific report unless the IAEA has gone into the business of writing science fiction.
Expressing his displeasure with the latest report, President Ahmadinejad said the IAEA should instead investigate America’s nuclear arsenal. “If the agency is after the truth, why has it not released any report on the US atomic bombs concealed in 1,000 of its military bases?” The Iranian president could have added that the nuclear arsenal of the Zionist entity — the only state in the region with nuclear weapons — ought to be investigated as well. In September 2009, the agency’s board of governors had demanded that the Zionist State should open its facilities for international inspection. While surprising in and of itself as to how the IAEA had mustered the courage to make such a demand, it has not bothered to raise the subject again. Why not? Why is the agency chasing phantoms in Iran but ignoring the real bombs that are a threat to the whole world given the mindset of the crazy Zionists?
The fact is that the NPT member states should be assisting Iran in the peaceful pursuit of its nuclear program rather than chastising it or curtailing its efforts. Instead, the agency itself indulges in wild speculation that is then amplified by Zionist agents and other Iranophobes in the media. Typical of this was the report by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad in the New York Times (Nov. 8): “United Nations weapons inspectors have amassed a trove of new evidence that they say makes a ‘credible’ case that ‘Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,’ and that the project may still be under way.” But the facts are very different.
In the IAEA’s two-part report, the first deals with what it refers to as “[nuclear] facilities under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.” In this part the agency has certified that no diversion from a peaceful to a non-peaceful nuclear program has taken place in such facilities. In other words, Iran is not in violation of its Safeguards Agreement. But in the same part, the report then goes on to make a demand that is not covered by the agreement. Why does it make such a demand unless it is following a political agenda at the behest of powers hostile to Iran, such as the US and the Zionist entity? On page 6, for instance, it states: “Since its visit to the Heavy Water Production Plant (HWPP) on 17 August 2011, the Agency, in a letter to Iran dated 20 October 2011, requested further access to HWPP. The Agency has yet to receive a reply to that letter, and is again relying on satellite imagery to monitor the status of HWPP. Based on recent images, the HWPP appears to be in operation. To date, Iran has not provided the Agency access to the heavy water stored at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in order to take samples.”
To the uninitiated and to the Iranophobic writers and reporters in the Western media, this would constitute “proof” of Iran’s violation of its NPT obligations. But the fact is the Safeguards Agreement does not extend to a heavy water production plant because heavy water is not considered nuclear material that falls under the purview of any IAEA agreements. To raise the issue of heavy water in its latest report is to merely create doubts about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. It would have been relevant if Iran had a heavy water nuclear reactor in operation. It does not although one is under construction and the IAEA itself admits in its report that it might become operational in late 2013. Most experts, however, doubt this assertion but regardless of the dates, raising the issue of heavy water in this manner clearly points to the IAEA’s dubious role at the behest of belligerent imperial powers.
Based on carefully placed leaks in the media and bellicose noises from rulers of the illegal Zionist entity, the drums of war grew louder leading to the release of the IAEA report. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergio Lavrov warned against military strikes on Iran saying it would not solve the problem. On the contrary, it would lead to major conflagration in the region whose consequences would be catastrophic for all concerned, he warned. When the war rhetoric did not gain traction, the Americans and their European allies started talking about additional sanctions. But China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said sanctions “cannot fundamentally solve the Iran issue.” He stated: “Dialogue and negotiation are the right way out for the Iranian nuclear issue.” Hong even had harsh words for the IAEA saying it should clarify the report in a “just and objective” way through stronger cooperation with Iran.
Let us reverse the scenario. If Iran had threatened to attack Israel’s nuclear installations because it has amassed at least 200 — and perhaps as many as 500 — nuclear weapons, one can imagine the global uproar. American politicians of every stripe would have denounced Iran’s warmongering by endangering not only the region but also the entire humanity. When it comes to threats by the Zionists or the Americans against a country that has not attacked or invaded another country over the last 200 years, it is taken as normal. American, European and Israeli rulers have clearly lost their minds. Mired in deep financial problems from which they cannot find a way out, they are thrashing like wounded beasts in order to divert attention from problems at home. But the masses in Europe and North America have realized who their real enemies are. They do not appear willing to buy into more propaganda after experiencing the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have bankrupted their countries. Even American generals are warning against more wars. The former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had warned against launching other wars when the two the US was engaged in were not going as planned.
But aggression seems to be in the blood of American, European and Zionist elites. They cannot find peace and comfort without killing innocent people in other lands. It is such policies that have created so much hatred for them worldwide. If they make the mistake of launching another war, this time against Iran, there will perhaps be nothing left of the US as a country, much less one with pretensions to being a superpower.
One sincerely hopes there will be saner heads in Washington, London and Paris to warn against such a course but given their criminal nature, one cannot be too optimistic.