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The Race for Iran

OBAMA STEPS UP AMERICA’S COVERT WAR AGAINST IRAN

When, in an Op Ed published in The New York Times in May 2009, we first criticized President Obama’s early decision to continue covert anti-Iranian programs he inherited from George W. Bush, some expressed disbelief that Obama would undermine his own rhetoric about engaging Tehran in a climate of mutual respect by conducting a dirty war against the Islamic Republic.  But, in an important piece of reporting published today in The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti documents that Obama has not just failed to roll back covert anti-Iranian programs he inherited from his predecessor—he is instead presiding over a dramatic intensification of America’s covert war against the Islamic Republic.  And, in a manner powerfully reminiscent of Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the intensification of America’s covert war against Iran is taking place through the efforts of General David Petraeus and CENTCOM—because military intelligence operations are not subject to the same congressional oversight and reporting requirements as the Central Intelligence Agency.  

We excerpt the critical passages from Mazzetti’s article below: 

“The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. 

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.  Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.” 

We would note that Mazzetti has actually seen the directive—the “Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order”—signed by General Petraeus on September 30, 2009, and has talked directly with several government officials who are familiar with the directive and how it is being implemented. 

Furthermore, in response to concerns about troop safety raised by CENTCOM, Mazzetti “withheld some details about how troops could be deployed in certain countries”.  The very fact that CENTCOM raised such concerns provides powerful confirmation for Mazetti’s reporting.  His article continues: 

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said.  Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other military groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American and local military forces, the document said…

The seven-page directive appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country’s nuclear program or identify dissident groups that might be useful for a future military offensive.  The Obama administration insists that for the moment it is committed to penalizing Iran for its nuclear activities only with diplomatic and economic sanctions.  Nevertheless, the Pentagon has to draw up detailed war plans to be prepared in advance, in the event that President Obama ever authorizes a strike.”  

Mazzetti’s article also provides important insights into the rationale for conducting these operations through the military rather than through CIA:

“During the Bush administration, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld endorsed clandestine military operations, arguing that Special Operations troops could be as effective as traditional spies, if not more so. 

Unlike covert operations undertaken by the C.I.A., such clandestine activity does not require the president’s approval or regular reports to Congress, although Pentagon officials have said that any significant ventures are cleared through the National Security Council.  Special Operations troops have already been sent into a number of countries to carry out reconnaissance missions, including operations to gather intelligence about airstrips and bridges.” 

Mazzetti’s article clearly raises urgent and disturbing questions about the direction of America’s Iran policy under President Obama.  It also provides important context for Iranian actions which are routinely derided in the American media as either paranoid or gratuitously vicious—e.g., the ongoing detention of three American hikers who illegally entered Iran last year, or the detention of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Haleh Esfandiari in 2007. 

Mazzetti writes that

“General Petraeus’s September order is focused on intelligence gathering—by American troops, foreign businesspeople, academics or others—to identify militants and provide ‘persistent situational awareness,’ while forging ties to local indigenous groups.” 

If that is American policy, exactly how should Iran deal with three Americans who entered the Islamic Republic, without visas, by crossing the Iraqi-Iranian border in an area with no immigration checkpoints?  If what Mazzetti reports is American policy, why is every American academic who visits Iran not a legitimate subject of concern for Iranian security agencies?  We have known Haleh Esfandiari and her husband, Shaul Bakhash, for many years.  We do not believe that she is a security threat to anyone.  But the Bush Administration’s overt efforts to destabilize the Islamic Republic in the name of “democracy promotion”, as well as its anti-Iranian covert campaign, put Haleh in a position in which no innocent American should be placed by his or her government.  The Obama Administration’s policies will only exacerbate the risks to Americans—especially those of Iranian origin—who travel to Iran.    

In our criticism of President Obama’s early decision to continue the anti-Iranian covert programs he inherited from his predecessor, we compared his lack of strategic vision to the statesmanship of President Richard Nixon—who, on coming to the White House in 1969, ordered the CIA to stand down from a longstanding covert action program in Tibet, to show Beijing that he was serious about rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China.  As we predicted early on, Obama is, unfortunately, headed in exactly the opposite direction.

President Obama’s policies are not only generating risks for innocent, non-official Americans.  They are further eroding the already deteriorating prospects for an improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations—and increasing the chances of an eventual U.S.-Iranian military confrontation.                

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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148 Responses to “OBAMA STEPS UP AMERICA’S COVERT WAR AGAINST IRAN”

  1. Arnold Evans says:

    Alan:

    One thing you do get if you start earlier though is the implementation of the suspension of enrichment related activities agreed with the EU3, and how Iran’s restarting of some of those activities in August 2005 appeared to directly contribute to the formalising of non-compliance.

    !

    Iran restarting those activities contributed to the United States pushing a non-compliance finding through a Board of Governors vote – for political/strategic reasons. When you write this, to me it gives off a sense, even though you don’t say it directly, that you believe there is a legal/technical connection between a suspension and the non-compliance finding.

    I have two points about this: 1) The US’ goal of protecting Israel is shared by enough of the Board of Governors, either directly or because many countries are heavily susceptible to US influence, that the US can get any BOG finding it ever wants or needs that it believes will contribute to protecting Israel’s regional strategic situation. Because of that I don’t look at the Board of Governors as a neutral body. I’m sure Iran shares that perception.

    You obviously dispute that perception. You claim that over time Iran can reverse that. It seems to me that you believe that because you want to believe it, not because there is any real-world indication of it. Which specific countries do you think are going to change their vote and allow Iran to become as nuclear-capable as Japan – which Israel considers a threat with or without an actual weapon – after what specific actions by Iran after what specific length of time?

    You vaguely hope that Iran can change the minds of the Board, and I vaguely hope so too, but it seems to me that you rest a tremendous part of your analysis on that hope, so much that there should be tangible facts upon which you base your hope.

    2) I’m interested in your perception of the suspension demand. If Iran actually did have a stock of fissile material that was somehow undetectable, suspending its safeguarded program would not help make that stock any less dangerous. I don’t see any connection at all between this idea that Iran should suspend enrichment. Suspending enrichment does not, to me, advance any legal or technical objective – but it does advance the political/strategic objective of maintaining an Israeli nuclear monopoly in its region.

    You’re far more inclined than I am to seek justifications for US policy. Barack Obama and many other administration officials have said Iran must submit to its “obligation” to suspend enrichment. Do you disagree with me and believe there is a legal or technical basis for this demand? If so, what is that basis?

    I’m going to duplicate this on the most recent thread if you don’t mind. Please respond there if that’s OK.

  2. Alan says:

    Eric – many thanks for your comments.

    I agree completely with what you say and how you characterise my views. As I think I alluded to earlier, it’s my belief that Obama has been desperate to talk the big issues with Iran, but simply has not been able to for the reason El Baradei mentions in his interview in the latest post, and because everybody has got hung up on the TRR issue. It’s my hope that they can now kick all that into touch and get on to the real business.

    Regarding the IAEA Reports, November 2003 I think is the best starting point, but September 2005 may be OK because it summarises what has gone before. One thing you do get if you start earlier though is the implementation of the suspension of enrichment related activities agreed with the EU3, and how Iran’s restarting of some of those activities in August 2005 appeared to directly contribute to the formalising of non-compliance.

  3. Alan,

    I forgot to ask: Can you tell me how far I should go back to read the IAEA reports on Iran?

  4. Alan,

    I’ve noticed you take a lot of heat from some others for your remarks on this issue, which I think is unfair – and surprising, since you’re always polite. I find your patient and (I think) impartial approach very useful, and probably the only approach that has any hope of resolving this.

    I think the US and the IAEA misstate – and probably misunderstand – their authority for demanding of Iran what they do. But if one sets all that legal stuff aside (hard for we lawyers), it seems that the US and the IAEA have legitimate reasons to doubt Iran, based mostly on its past behavior, which “colors” its less than fully cooperative present behavior. Iran created those doubts and so Iran should make an extra effort to overcome them.

    Many say the bar would just keep getting raised, that the US will never OK enrichment – and Hillary Clinton recently did say just that. Nevertheless, with an extra measure of cooperation from Iran to whittle away at the IAEA’s legitimate concerns, the continued gradual weakening of US power, the louder voices of new countries like Turkey and Brazil (and Iran), and the probably louder voice of China over a longer time frame (I don’t count on Russia for much), the US eventually may have to stand down on the enrichment issue. I do think, and I gather you do too, that anything short of a clear recognition of Iran’s right to enrich would not be an acceptable outcome for Iran.

    Whatever the future brings, though, it seems to me that it wouldn’t hurt Iran now to take some voluntary steps. I recognize it got nothing last time for following the AP, but, on the other hand, did it really “cost” it that much to follow it? I’ve never read through the whole AP, since it’s too technical for a non-scientist like me. I do now it’s quite long. But is it really that burdensome once both sides get past the “setup” phase?

    What concerns me considerably is that I see a divergence of opinion (including among commenters on this website) on what Iran’s nuclear objectives ought to be. For me, a transparent pursuit of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is all that is warranted. All this talk of playing “hide the ball” to achieve a “nuclear option” is not appropriate, in my view. I think that’s dangerous for Iran, and that it neither needs nor deserves that. I think we’ve got enough nuclear-armed states as it is, and I don’t think the usefulness of “nuclear capability” to accomplish some political objective, worthy or not, is reason enough to add another one to that list. If that desire, in the end, is the only reason Iran resists being more transparent, I think it’s time it dropped that objective and started focusing on what it needs to do to achieve its “peaceful purposes” objective.

    Don’t let me put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you agree that that should be Iran’s objective, and that you also feel that (1) it means Iran should be more cooperative; and (2) there’s at least a reasonable prospect that Iran will get where it wants to get if it is.

  5. Alan says:

    Eric – thanks for your reply. In the process of replying to you the last time, I went back and read through every IAEA Board Report. Previously I had done that from the perspective of wanting to exonerate Iran. This time I didn’t, and I felt there was a coherence to the IAEA’s sequence of questions. I also felt that if Iran answered them, bit by bit, it undermined the integrity of those that provided the “evidence” and gave them fewer and fewer options to question Iran’s programme.

    There was also a clear sequence to how steps by both sides contributed to the diminishing confidence each had in the other. I felt the inspectors themselves were isolated from the political shenanigans and while their story remained clear, it was also apparent how the politics made their job more difficult.

    So, I didn’t necessarily see it as the US incessantly looking to block Iran’s rights, although the belligerent attitude of Bush contributed greatly to Iran withdrawing into its shell and exacerbating the confidence issues, which most likely suited his purposes. But he’s gone, and now I think there is every chance it can all be resolved with Iran retaining the full fuel cycle. I think that was precisely what Obama was seeking last year, but was stymied by the political crisis in Iran, and the thoroughly bizarre negotiating tactics Iran employed, possibly because of the crisis.

    I don’t know how quickly it could all be done, it will take a while for Iran to answer the various questions I suppose, but I don’t think it should be too difficult to set out a path to compliance and the acceptance of their programme, with each step along it building confidence. That process in itself would do much to assist with public opinion in the West and make Obama’s job much easier. But the Iranians have to play the game too or it will go nowhere.

  6. Alan,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful response.

    You place a great deal of weight on Iran’s past sins, as if they are an indelible stain that Iran may never be able to remove. Whether or not that’s fair to Iran, you’re probably right, since indelible stainedness is in the eye of the beholder, the IAEA here.

    I’ve independently persuaded myself that it makes little sense to lay out a “legal case” that Iran is living up to its NPT and Safeguards Agreement obligations, since the US and the IAEA have a much different view, and no one will ever talk them out of it.

    It seems to me that the only important question is what, if anything, Iran could do that would satisfy the US enough for it to OK Iran’s enrichment up to 5%.

    You feel Iran could get back in “compliance” by adopting the AP (possibly with even less, if Iran handles it correctly). I don’t know whether that’s true, but I don’t think it matters. Getting back into “compliance” probably won’t count for much with the US as long as the IAEA continues to say it’s not able to verify that Iran’s nuclear materials are not being used for military purposes. Until the IAEA is prepared to do that, the US probably won’t OK enrichment, even if Iran is technically in “compliance.” Frankly, even if the IAEA is prepared to verify that, the US might not OK enrichment, but at least Iran would have a strong case that it has done all that can fairly be asked of it.

    So, bottom line: Do you think it’s feasible for Iran to do enough for the IAEA to issue that verification, or do you think the IAEA will just keep raising the bar so that Iran will sooner or later be forced to stop complying in order to protect its conventional military secrets, or just because the demands become much too burdensome for Iran to satisfy?

    Thanks, Alan.

  7. Bill Davit says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    Now I see your point. However in a conflict with Iran I think it is a safe bet they will get the blame regardless!! To victor goes the spoils including the propoganda!! :)

    Thx
    Bill

  8. Ra’ad,

    Thanks for your citation to the article. I’ll take a look.

    On Scott Ritter’s book: I thought it was very illuminating, but I must add that I was amazed that it seemed to have been released without anything approaching proper editing. I may sound finicky, but when I read a book with one or two misspellings, and a grammatical error or two, on nearly every page, it detracts considerably from the force of the message.

    It’s also a shame (for many reasons) that Ritter’s personal troubles have silenced him.

  9. Bill,

    My point is that, if the Straits of Hormuz are shut down – or even if shippers worry that that will happen and thus don’t send their oil tankers through the Straits – all shippers will temporarily be affected. The only question will be what happens when the Straits re-open. When that happens, if Iran was not responsible for having shut down the Straits, world opinion is more likely to be on its side when it comes time to answer that question. If, on the other hand, it was Iran that shut down the Straits, rest assured that the US will see to it that Iran is not allowed to ship oil from its Abadan refinery through the Straits. The US may block Iran regardless, of course, but the likelihood of that is much greater if it can pin its decision on Iran’s responsibility for blocking the Straits.

  10. Alan says:

    Ra’ad – I think what you say is an important point; the IAEA inspectors I believe can operate within a technical framework, however the IAEA Board is unquestionably a political body with more opaque boundaries. I do think though that there is still the chance of averting something untoward at IAEA Board level, that it is not entirely a US tool, but it needs Iran to play its cards right too. El Baradei was, I believe, adamantly opposed to a formal non-compliance finding in the first place, and was certainly opposed to UNSC involvement. Amano doesn’t look promising, but for me it remains an error of judgement on Iran’s part to not use the plainly sympathetic El Baradei more constructively.

  11. Alan says:

    Eric – I think this answers your questions, perhaps not in the way you envisaged, but rest assured I sweat bullets over it!

    I think we are looking at this whole CSA compliance thing the wrong way round. It seems to me that the real question that needs answering today is not how Iran becomes NON-COMPLIANT, it is how it becomes COMPLIANT again.

    Owing to the undeclared nature of their nuclear programme, Iran has been non-compliant with their CSA for decades, although no formal finding of non-compliance was made until September 2005 (from 2003 they were frequently informed they were without the formality of a Board resolution).

    That finding arose from the identification of 15 violations of Iran’s CSA, dating back to at least the early 1990s. These ranged from the design, construction and use of undeclared nuclear facilities, the importation and use of undeclared nuclear material, undeclared nuclear activities at declared facilities, and failure to co-operate with inspectors, evidenced by “extensive concealment activities”.

    Non-compliance was therefore the starting point for the IAEA. Because of this, the focus was and is as much on undeclared as declared activities, when that normally would not be the case. It is therefore very difficult to see how Iran can emerge from non-compliance until the IAEA can verify the absence of undeclared activity. This is even more so in light of the fact that evidence of undeclared activities persists.

    Thus Iran probably can only come out of non-compliance by implementing the APs.

    It may be possible to come out without doing so if they answered the specific questions of the IAEA, thereby eliminating any evidence of undeclared activity. This though would still leave the doubt that was created by Iran’s long period of undeclared activity, so may not be enough. It almost certainly would not be enough for an assurance from the IAEA of the absence of undeclared activity, but that needn’t matter so much if they were returned to compliance.

    This leaves what I think is the subsidiary issue of whether they have satisfactorily answered those questions, and that’s where Iran’s more recent stints of minimal co-operation are so counterproductive for them. The IAEA already has diminished confidence that they are not concealing things, so by making it harder, Iran diminishes that confidence further, and things that may otherwise be dismissed begin to look suspicious as well.

    Even the outstanding issues which did get resolved during the Work Plan period from August 2007 to February 2008 were nearly all 5 years old by then. Iran had had ample opportunity to cover their tracks, had they needed to.

    Did the Work Plan amount to a formal arrangement to end non-compliance? I think not. Firstly it was too open-ended, secondly it was poorly drafted, and thirdly Iran and the IAEA clearly had different interpretations of what it meant over the Alleged Studies. Also, it did not allow for other issues that may arise in the interim. For example, Iran revealed a new working centrifuge during the Work Plan period, of which the IAEA had been blissfully unaware. This immediately undermined any new trust that had been built, and opened up a new line of enquiry for the IAEA into the companies involved with the covert design and manufacture of the centrifuge.

    Also, aspects of the Alleged Studies themselves have been confirmed by Iran, and relate to other non-compliance issues, in particular the uranium metal document. Certainly Iran has not been shown all the evidence, but they have been shown plenty of it; enough for the IAEA to be able to raise specific questions.

    Overall, I don’t think Iran are seeking a bomb (although they may have sought one in the past). Nor do I think their nuclear programme is anywhere near advanced enough to make one. I think that if the IAEA and Iran had been left alone to sort out the non-compliance without other interferences such as EU3 negotiations and UNSC resolutions (which arose directly from misunderstandings over the EU3 process), everything would probably have sorted itself out by now.

  12. Ra'ad says:

    Eric, Alan and Arnold….many thanks for your illuminating discussion.

    I would like to throw into the pot an interesting article from Reuters re the dirty machinations in the IAEA itself. It would not come as a surprise to you, but since you have been looking and agonising at what different wordings in IAEA reports may mean, Elbaradei’s interview injects an element of caution about IAEA as an honest arbiter in the case of Iran.

    ( http://blogs.reuters.com/global/2009/12/03/other-rumbles-in-the-iran-nuclear-storm/)

    As Elbaradei says:

    ““There is a lot of infiltration by intelligence agencies who want us to say, this (Iran is making bombs) is our conclusion. This is not our conclusion.

    “As of today we have no credible evidence that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme. Whether they have done studies in the past, that could be. But we are not yet in a position to say so definitively,” said ElBaradei.
    “Even the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate said Iran has done that (weaponization studies) but stopped in 2003. Other intelligence agencies say Iran always continued, still others say they stopped, and then restarted,” he said.
    “I told these intelligence agencies, you better get your act together, because it doesn’t really give the IAEA a lot of confidence if we hear these different assessments. So (we) cannot jump the gun … when this could lead to a disastrous effect by providing the context for waging a war.
    “We learnt our lesson from Iraq, where a war was waged on the basis of completely false pretences,” he said”.

    Other perspectives – as I am sure you know – were outlines in Scott Ritter’s book: ‘Target Iran’.

    In your earlier string, you did not dwell much on the fact that IAEA did not exhaust its own escalation procedures for dealing with Iran before the case was referred to the UNSC, irrespective of whether the arbitration penalties in extremis would have been toothless. This rapid referral must speak volume about the transformation of a body that deals with technical nuclear non-proliferation issues to a blatant tool of US foreign policy (I know I am making several jumps in deduction, but the statement in my mind remains true).

    In addition, I remain unconvinced about Amano’s impartiality and ‘approach on the basis of facts’ in the case of Iran/IAEA.

  13. Bill Davit says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    “I think Iran would not close the Gulf, for at least one important reason. While the Gulf is closed, Iran would not be able to ship oil from its Abadan refinery. That would be true of all oil shippers, of course.”

    If I am reading this correctly I believe your being a tad bit optimistic. Frankly I would hedge a bet Iran has already deduced it won’t be them shutting that refinery down. Thus they have nothing to lose by trying to shut down the Gulf. Ironically they may try but I would have to imagine after a few days any and all threats would be neutralized. After all the black sticky tar is what keeps the economies of the world humming!

    Thx
    Bill

  14. Arnold Evans says:

    I owe responses to Alan and Eric. Just letting you know for now that I’ll get them as soon as I can.

  15. Alan says:

    Eric – I’ve seen your reply, but won’t be able to give it the answer it deserves until the morning. I will do so though.

    Alan

  16. Pirouz says:

    I would argue that in the case of war, Iran’s tactical responses in the Persian Gulf could be based on an escalating scale, beginning with strikes against USN vessels, to specific strikes on maritime vessels, to-most drastically- the closure of the Straight of Hormuz.

    It’s best to keep in mind the manipulative effects of this escalating scale. Even if Iran responded to an attack by firing a few AShMs or SRBMs in the Gulf, think how that would impact the cost of oil and insurance rates. Ordinary Americans would be impacted by the price of fuel and corresponding rises to prices based on additional transport cost. Now think about the effect of the next escalation, and the next. It only gets worse. And we haven’t even addressed the effect of MRBM strikes against occupied Palestine, or proxy reprisals in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly even US installations on the Gulf coast.

    Bottom line: the war against Iran would be fraught with risks, and even ordinary Americans could be negatively impacted, economically. So the war carries political risks, as well.

  17. kooshy says:

    What is lacking and absent in all this discussion is ”IF” resolving the current IAEA”s concerns of technical and legal issues of Iran’s enrichment program will eventually resolve the political issues with that program?, Arnold briefly hinted that it will not. Iranian leadership long ago came to this same conclusion, that stepping in that trap will be a slow walk in a horror tunnel and a very hard to leave the dungeon.

    Iran has numerously stated is only willing to discuss these so called alleged studies, when IAEA can produce originals for this alleged documents and when Iran’s case is returned to IAEA where technical issues are supposed to be discussed.

  18. The Leveretts wrote:

    “If that is American policy, exactly how should Iran deal with three Americans who entered the Islamic Republic, without visas, by crossing the Iraqi-Iranian border in an area with no immigration checkpoints?”

    Glad to hear that thought has occurred to others. Sometimes spies don’t wear trench coats and a little name tag reading “John Smith, CIA.”

    Sometimes even paranoids have real enemies.

  19. Cyrus,

    “The IAEA reports have stated that there’s no evidence of any diversion of nuclear material related to the “alleged studies.”

    Not as I read them. They don’t say one way or the other. The absence of such a statement doesn’t mean the IAEA is not over-reaching here – I think it is – but it does mean we can’t establish that it’s over-reaching simply by pointing to its own statements. Can you point me to some specific statement on this?

  20. James,

    “Iran would almost certainly close the Gulf to shipping if Israel launches an insane attack. Sinking one or two giant oil tankers would close the Gulf, and oil would go above $200 per barrel.”

    I don’t claim to be a military expert or even to know one, but I will break with the conventional wisdom here. I think Iran would not close the Gulf, for at least one important reason. While the Gulf is closed, Iran would not be able to ship oil from its Abadan refinery. That would be true of all oil shippers, of course. One big difference, though: AFTER the Gulf is reopened, most or all oil shippers will be allowed to resume oil shipments. Can you guess the name of one oil refinery that won’t be on that list?

  21. Cyrus says:

    Alan – the IAEA has said it has seen no diversion of nuclear material related to the alleged studies. Period. End of story.

  22. Cyrus says:

    ALan, you’re just deliberately avoiding the issue now. Elbaradei himself has said that the IAEA has no basis to believe there is any undeclared material in Iran. And, the IAEA reports have stated that there’s no evidence of any diversion of nuclear material related to the “alleged studies”

    Indeed IF the AP was in force, it would take time for the IAEA to declare that a country’s nuclera program is exclusively peaceful. In the case of Japan, it took five years. That’s not a reason for suspicion. Iran was never bound by the AP in the first place, but the fact remains that 2.5 years of inspections under the AP (and in fact in excess of the AP) still found zero evidence of any diverted or undeclared nuclear material.

  23. James Canning says:

    Pirouz,

    A number of senior officers in the US military recognize that Iran’s cooperation is a necessary part of the effort to achieve stability in the Middle East. The warmongers have the ability to attack anyone standing up for common sense in dealing with Iran. This ability in turn is a relection of the general suppression of good news about Iran, that is characteristic of most reporting on the Middle East that appears in US newspapers and on network TV. etc.

    The Iraq War was an act of extreme stupidity and viciousness, but an attack on Iran would trump it by several times over.

  24. James Canning says:

    Serifo,

    Iran would almost certainly close the Gulf to shipping if Israel launches an insane attack. Sinking one or two giant oil tankers would close the Gulf, and oil would go above $200 per barrel. Admiral Fallon warned of the damage to US national security that would result from an Israeli attack on Iran, so of course he was sacked.

  25. Alan,

    Thanks very much for your comments. The process of writing this, followed by comments from you, Arnold and others, indeed has advanced my understanding and clarified my thinking, though it’s not entirely clear yet.

    I have a few questions for you:

    The IAEA contends that the “alleged studies” involve “nuclear material.” But you give two different reasons for why the IAEA contends this – one in each of the two sentences in your post that I’ve quoted in the next paragraph. My discussion with Arnold on the difference between (1) an inability to find non-diversion; and (2) Iran’s non-compliance with its CSA makes me appreciate the importance of distinguishing between the two (since the IAEA’s remedies depend on which it is), and that, in turn, makes me question whether the first of the IAEA’s two reasons is valid. Here is what you wrote on this:

    “Because nuclear activities would not be such if they didn’t use nuclear material at some point, they are considered by the IAEA to be indicators of the possible existence of nuclear material. Also, part of the Alleged Studies do pertain specifically to nuclear material, and the cause for suspicion is heightened by how they “appear” linked to each other, and with past non-compliances and people.”

    The first sentence appears to be the very basis for the now-abandoned argument in my long post that concluded with the IAEA having authority to ask questions about more than just nuclear material. That was the argument that Arnold shot down in his comment yesterday. It is possible that what I just wrote overstates the IAEA’s position described in this sentence, though, and so I’d like to clarify it with this question to you: Does your first sentence mean ONLY that, because the nuclear activities described in the alleged studies necessarily must involve nuclear material at some point, the IAEA believes it cannot verify non-diversion? Or does it mean ALSO that, because Iran has (allegedly) engaged in nuclear activities (as evidenced by the alleged studies), Iran has been responsible for the IAEA’s inability to verify non-diversion and, because Iran is responsible for the IAEA’s inability to verify non-diversion, Iran is now obligated to do whatever is necessary to dispel the IAEA’s doubt, even if that requires that Iran answer questions that go beyond the “nuclear materials” line? The difference between those two meanings is critical, since the second, broader meaning provides a basis for the IAEA to argue that, if Iran does not provide requested information that goes well beyond “nuclear materials,” it’s in non-compliance. The first, narrower meaning does not provide any basis for the IAEA to blame Iran for the IAEA’s inability to verify non-diversion; the “fault” in that case would lie instead with the intentionally limited reporting scheme laid out in Iran’s CSA, but (Iran can correctly argue) that’s the deal the parties struck: when they signed the CSA, the parties knowingly left open the possibility that non-diversion could not be verified even though Iran was fully compliant with its obligations under the CSA.

    My understanding is that the IAEA’s meaning is the second (broader) one, which Arnold argues is not warranted. But has the IAEA explicitly found Iran to be in non-compliance because it has failed to provide requested beyond-nuclear-materials information?

    Before you answer that question, let me put a finer point on it by turning to your second sentence quoted above. There you mention that “part of the Alleged Studies do pertain specifically to nuclear material.” For me, that complicates the analysis a bit. If you were prepared to answer “yes” to the question I posed at the end of the preceding paragraph, would you still be prepared to answer “yes” if it were NOT the case that “part of the Alleged Studies do pertain specifically to nuclear material?” If you would answer “yes” regardless, that means that the IAEA indeed is taking the very position that Arnold criticized so strongly (and convincingly, so far at least) yesterday. If you would answer “no,” however, then it is not clear at all that the IAEA is taking the position criticized by Arnold. It might instead be insisting on more information only because it has uncovered information – the “alleged studies” – that actually discusses “nuclear material” and now the IAEA merely wants to know more about the “nuclear material” discussed in that information source. That would strike me as qualitatively different from what Arnold complains about – essentially the same as if the IAEA had turned up some memorandum or letter that discussed some undeclared nuclear-fuel storage facility buried somewhere in the Iranian desert and now wants to know more about that secret facility and the nuclear material stored there.

    So, to clarify this point, I’d be interested to know exactly what you mean by “”part of the Alleged Studies do pertain specifically to nuclear material.” Did you mean only that the alleged studies discussed, for example, how “nuclear material” might be shaped or inserted into the nuclear device described in the alleged studies – in which case the quoted clause really means nothing more than what the IAEA means by your first sentence quoted above – or did you mean that the alleged studies actually discuss some nuclear material that actually exists somewhere? My hunch, though it’s just a hunch, is that you meant the former, in which case “”part of the Alleged Studies do pertain specifically to nuclear material” really doesn’t add anything to your first sentence above.

    One last question, not directly related to the discussion above: What exactly do you mean by “the cause for suspicion is heightened by how they “appear” linked to each other, and with past non-compliances and people?”

    Does this mean that Iran is, in effect, still being punished for its past sins, even though the IAEA has previously said that its past non-compliances have been corrected? Is the IAEA claiming the right to draw conclusions about Iran’s present activities that would otherwise not be warranted merely because those activities involve some of the same individuals who were involved in Iran’s past non-compliances? Is the IAEA arguing that the standard of suspicion is lower merely because the activities described in the alleged studies are similar to some of Iran’s non-compliance activities in the past? Is the IAEA arguing that the standard of suspicion is lower merely because Iran was in non-compliance in the past?

    OK, just one more question – though I ask this one only because the answer to some of my questions above may already be found in what you wrote (below) if you just clarify it a little for me:

    “From what I can make out, the extent of what is required from Iran is that they provide specified verification for the answers they have already given over the Alleged Studies. To their immense credit, they have managed to narrow the process down to simply that, as far as I can see. This is why I think they can successfully cut the strings of the IAEA puppet. It may not result in a finding of the “absence of undeclared nuclear activities”, that can come later, but it would result in a lifting of non-compliance.”

    From this, it sounds as if some of the questions I posed above may be academic – unless, as Arnold fears (and he may be right), Iran’s further cooperation with the IAEA in this “alleged studies” inquiry will only lead to further over-reaching by the IAEA in the future. I have that same fear and suspect you do too, but it seems to me from your passage above that you feel it’s worthwhile for Iran this time simply to cross its fingers, cooperate in the now-limited ways on which the IAEA has agreed, and hope that its cooperation doesn’t result in the IAEA later claiming that a precedent has been established. If I interpret your passage correctly, I agree it’s worth taking that chance, if doing so holds out a reasonable prospect that the IAEA will lift its finding of non-compliance. I note that you say it “may not result in a finding of the ‘absence of undeclared nuclear activities’, that can come later,” but that doesn’t concern me as much, since I now understand, from Arnold’s comments of yesterday, that a mere inability to find non-diversion, as distinguished from a finding that Iran is in non-compliance, should not have dire consequences for Iran since the IAEA’s only “remedy” in that event is to “report” Iran to the UNSC, and I’ve made clear elsewhere that I consider that much less significant than many analysts mistakenly conclude it is. (I say “should not have” rather than “will not have” in the preceding sentence because I understand that the US and the IAEA will do their best, as they have in the past, to fudge entirely the important distinction between (1) the IAEA’s inability to verify non-diversion; and (2) non-compliance by Iran. Even so, being on the actual right side of the line is important.)

  26. Alan says:

    Eric – tremendous stuff. I think, as I said in a post to somebody else, there is considerable confusion over the differences between UNSC actions and IAEA actions, namely that the UNSCRs are themselves to be complied with under their Charter, and not an extension of NPT or CSA agreements.

    You discuss with Arnold how an inability to verify non-diversion is not the same as a finding of non-compliance. That is certainly true. I think the problem as it pertains now is how to get the non-compliance lifted, and the verification of non-diversion has been sucked into that process. Much of what remains outstanding probably wouldn’t be outstanding if the past non-compliances hadn’t occurred, because they are part of the past non-compliances.

    I think the IAEA can, and do, contend that the Alleged Studies pertain to nuclear material. The scope of the CSA covers “nuclear material in nuclear activities”. Because nuclear activities would not be such if they didn’t use nuclear material at some point, they are considered by the IAEA to be indicators of the possible existence of nuclear material. Also, part of the Alleged Studies do pertain specifically to nuclear material, and the cause for suspicion is heightened by how they “appear” linked to each other, and with past non-compliances and people.

    From what I can make out, the extent of what is required from Iran is that they provide specified verification for the answers they have already given over the Alleged Studies. To their immense credit, they have managed to narrow the process down to simply that, as far as I can see. This is why I think they can successfully cut the strings of the IAEA puppet. It may not result in a finding of the “absence of undeclared nuclear activities”, that can come later, but it would result in a lifting of non-compliance.

    But I fear, like you, they seek to maintain a certain ambiguity. In my opinion that is very dangerous, and completely unnecessary, because an internationally endorsed nuclear program, even limited to 5%, will bring all the ambiguity they need without them lifting a finger.

  27. Alan says:

    Hass, part II:

    ———————–
    Alan, you keep insisting that Iran “is in non-compliance” (not clear what — the NPT or safeguards?) while it has been repeatedly pointed out to you that it was never in non-compliance with the NPT, and whatever noncompliance with safeguards it had in the past was resolved to the IAEA’s satisfaction by the Feb 2008 IAEA report.

    >>> No it wasn’t. The Feb 2008 Report considers the Alleged Studies to remain outstanding.

    ————————
    You just refuse to acknowledge the fact that the Alleged Studies are called that for a reason — because even the IAEA says it has no evidence that any nuclear material was involved in them, and therefore Iran’s safeguards (which explicitly are limited to detection of diversion of nuclear material) do not even apply to them.

    >>> That is true regarding the evidence as presented in the Feb 2008 report. However, I wouldn’t necessarily agree that safeguards do not apply to them, as any nuclear activities by definition are ultimately linked to nuclear material, and as such are viewed as a stepping stone to determining the absence of nuclear material.

    In any case, the IAEA had changed their terminology by the May 2008 report, where they explicitly stated they needed Iran’s help over the Alleged Studies “in order to be able to provide assurances over the absence of undeclared material”. They also dropped the caveat that they had “no credible information” about the use of nuclear material in them, although they did say they had not detected “the actual use” of nuclear material in them.

  28. Alan says:

    Hass – I understand perfectly how the IAEA is unable to certify the non-diversion of undeclared material without the AP in force.

    The difficulty lies in the fact that the CSA still requires the IAEA to investigate undeclared material, irrespective of whether an AP is in force. This is set out clearly in point 2.1 of the Safeguards Glossary:

    “to address fully the verification of a State’s compliance with its undertaking under a CSA, a second technical objective is pursued, viz. the detection of undeclared nuclear material and activities in a State (see No. 2.5). The implementation of measures under additional protocols based on [540] significantly strengthens the IAEA’s capability to achieve this objective (see No. 3.6).”

    And also in point 2.10 of the Glossary:

    “The scope of a CSA is not limited to the nuclear material declared by a state, but includes all nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards”

    So, I agree that the IAEA cannot credibly certify the absence of undeclared material without the AP. However, this does not mean the IAEA has no right to investigate, or report, the possibility of undeclared material. This is what it has been doing.

    Further, Iran is a unique case in that it withdrew from the APs. During the AP period, the IAEA was also unable to verify the absence of undeclared activities, and said it would take some time to be able to do so, even with the APs in force, owing to the significant number of past non-compliances.

    So, Iran withdrew from the APs in Feb 2006, while in non-compliance, and with an IAEA verdict already in place that stated they were unable to verify the absence of undeclared material. Thus they remain in non-compliance.

  29. Serifo says:

    Dear Wig wag ,

    ” If the Strait of Hormuz is ever closed and Iran can’t export its oil and gas, I wonder how long it will be before Iranians begin to starve to death. With no oil income you can’t buy food; can’t eat oil and gas, can you Serifo ? “. Well I`m sure many readers in this blog will agree that , with an economic system depending so much on Middle East oil , the american people ( sadly the poor ) will begin to starve on day one of the conflict due to high food prices in their local supermarkets. Now if millions of poor Americans who don`t even have a “health care coverage ” start to starve , one will probably see streets riots 100000 worse than the Greece riots ! Finally don`t forget that , Americans have right to gun possession and so millions of starving people will carry guns on the streets !

  30. Pirouz says:

    Well WigWag, in American culture, there was ((and remains in some circles) a particular reverence for the 12, 13 and 14 year old US military veterans of the Civil War, especially on the Confederate side. Well into the 20th century, these veterans served as the focal points for veteran and memorial type parades around the country. Certainly, pride was a factor in these parades.

    Regarding the Iranian ability to withstand or provide resistance to a US military attack, Iran’s efforts depend on the composition and nature of the US attack. To be sure, Iran is better equipped and a much larger adversary than Iraq in 2003. Consider that the Iraq debacle cost the US upwards of a trillion dollars and over 30,000 casualties. This should serve as an indicator for what such an effort could cost in a war against Iran. Even an attack primarily (or even exclusively) consisting of an air campaign presents considerable risks for the entire region, and by extension the global economy. To be sure, if an attack against Iran were easy and predictable, it would surely have been waged during the height of Bush/Cheney belligerency.

    Now I’m not saying that a US war against Iran is inconceivable. Only that, up to now (and probably for the duration of the Obama administration and possibly beyond), the calculation has been made that the risks outweigh the possible returns for such a conflict. By many indications, the hawks for war against Iran are primarily political (especially those with strong connections to the Israel lobby), while the US military appears far more reserved and cautious on the matter.

  31. ZigZag (Bussed-In Basiji) says:

    WigWag
    You’re ignorant

  32. WigWag says:

    “As for your statement Iran can’t project force beyond its borders and couldn’t withstand a U.S. attack within its borders for very long. Are you sure ? Look at Iraq , Lebanon and possibly Afghanistan ( and Pakistan )!” (Serifo)

    I’m not an expert on the Iranian military, Serifo, so I couldn’t comment very competently on how long the Iranian regime might survive an American military assault by air, sea or land. Presumably the proprietors of this blog do have some expertise; they claim to anyway. They’re the people who say that Iran has no ability to project military force beyond its borders and that its ability to withstand an American military assault is very limited. If you think they’re wrong I suggest you take it up with them. What I do know about Iran is that it is a poor, backward and undeveloped nation. Despite its great oil wealth and despite its population of 74 million people, it has a GDP smaller than the GDP of Los Angeles (which has a population of 3.8 million people) It’s quite pathetic, don’t you think? On a per capita basis its GDP (less than $13,000) is extraordinarily low. If the Strait of Hormuz is ever closed and Iran can’t export its oil and gas, I wonder how long it will be before Iranians begin to starve to death. With no oil income you can’t buy food; can’t eat oil and gas, can you Serifo?

    “…the families of those teenagers you have refereed to are actually proud of their children’ actions. don’t worry about them.” (Persian Gulf)

    I’m sure you’re right Persian Gulf, the parents of those 12, 13 and 14 year old children are proud of the fact that they’re children served as cannon-fodder in the mine fields. That tells you everything you need to know about Iran, doesn’t it?

  33. Masoud,

    “Eric, you weren’t kidding when you said it was long and you must have been kidding when you said it was a summary. I plan to read it and respond, but i think it’ll be a couple of days.”

    I’m looking forward to your comments. Note that Arnold has already persuaded me I was wrong on the most controversial conclusion I reached, which I’m actually glad about since I’d ended up concluding, reluctantly, that the IAEA could conduct what amounted to a fishing expedition well outside the bounds of “nuclear materials” related questions. If you can add a few nails to the coffin of my flawed argument on that point, feel free, though I look forward also to comments on other points.

    It was indeed long but, even so, I skipped a few steps in several arguments that might (or might not) be noticed by those who disagree with a few points. I’ll fill in a few gaps at some point, though most of the gaps involve matters that either aren’t important or aren’t controversial.

  34. Persian Gulf says:

    WigWag:

    I agree with Arnold Evans in not talking to you at all. just the last time that I am pointing at you.

    the families of those teenagers you have refereed to are actually proud of their children’ actions. don’t worry about them, they are definitely resting in peace, more than people you in your current situation!. whether those actions were for religious conviction or purely a nationalistic temptation is of a secondary issue. after all, we seems to be coming from nothingness, and more importantly in the long run we are all dead! (i think it’s famous quote, I don’t remember who at the moment). so, the end result does not seem to be fundamentally different. let me tell you more; that at the time of Iraq-Iran war, there were millions of kids in Iran who could not even do the kind of the job you have ridiculously downgraded in your post. they are now pretty mature and ready for a real fight if an aggression is on the horizon. you can give a shot, if you like. I might not like the Ayyatollah personally. but make no mistake, in the case of war, I will be supporting him regardless. Shah, Mollah…, I don’t really care. that is the case for the majority of those who detest the major part of the system and its policies, believe it or not.

  35. masoud says:

    Eric, you weren’t kidding when you said it was long and you must have been kidding when you said it was a summary. I plan to read it and respond, but i think it’ll be a couple of days.

    Masoud

  36. Arnold wrote:

    “If you agree not to get a shooting device, this is not a question of a gun that just does not have bullets. This is about are you allowed to have metal in your possession that could be machined into a gun.”

    Too often, this “dual use” argument is used to justify the manufacture of a device that really has no use other than the prohibited use. Iraq’s aluminum tubes certainly had a “dual use” (conventional missile tubes, in that case). Many nuclear bomb components do not. I made clear that I was excluding “dual use” components (not to mention plain old “metal,” which has thousands of uses) from my analysis on this point.

    Arnold wrote:

    “You take that hypothetical and it seems to me use it to declare that there are no limits to Iran’s reporting requirements. Iran negotiated reporting requirements and now because of a crazy hypothetical you’ve invented, you claim those negotiations don’t now hold and never did.”

    I was careful to say, first, that I recognize it indeed is both important and difficult to set limits and, second, that those limits at least should take account of the “undue burden” and “protection of confidential information” provisions of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. In addition, bear in mind that Iran agreed to more than merely specific reporting obligations under its Safeguards Agreement. It also granted authority to the IAEA to verify, or not, whether diversion of nuclear material occurred, and to take certain enforcement remedies if the IAEA “is not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material.” I think it’s fair for you to argue that Iran need not answer any of the IAEA’s questions that go beyond Iran’s nuclear-material-related reporting obligations. But is it not also fair, if Iran does decline to answer those questions, not to require the IAEA to verify that no diversion has occurred if the IAEA has unresolved doubts about that, even if resolving those doubts requires disclosure of information that Iran is not otherwise required to disclose? I’ll grant that Iran would have the right to refuse to answer the IAEA’s questions, but if the IAEA consequently finds itself unable to verify Iran’s non-diversion, would you agree that the IAEA would then be entitled to take action against Iran?

    Word processing software makes it easy for me simply to have deleted or edited what I just wrote above, which I would have done if my only objective were to win the “debate” in the preceding paragraph. But as I wrote in my long post, and sincerely meant, I welcome comments on that post so that I can sharpen my thinking, especially on this most controversial point. I really would have preferred, and still do prefer, to reach the opposite conclusion on the scope of the IAEA’s question-asking rights, and I think your argument and my response to it so far may help me to do just that because it has exposed, for me, some flaws in my argument.

    It now appears to me important to distinguish very carefully between (1) what the IAEA has authority to do to Iran if Iran has not complied with Iran’s Safeguards Agreement; and (2) what the IAEA has authority to do to Iran merely because the IAEA is unable to verify Iran’s non-diversion.

    In my original post, I essentially equated the two. As your comment and my flawed response make clear to me, however, they are not at all the same thing. It indeed is possible that the IAEA will find itself unable to verify non-diversion even though Iran has not violated any reporting (or other) obligation under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. Since that is the case, it’s important to determine what enforcement action the IAEA can take when it is unable to verify non-diversion but is not also able (justifiably, at least) to declare that Iran is in non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement obligations.

    The remedies I said were available to the IAEA in my original post were (1) to “report” its inability to verify non-diversion to the UNSC, which, as I explained later in the post, will not warrant the UNSC in taking any action against Iran under Article 39 of the UN Charter (absent a “peace breach” determination); and (2) to take action under Article XII-C of the IAEA Statute (or Article XIX, cited there), which would allow the IAEA to throw Iran out of the IAEA (for what that might be worth). I see now, though, that I overstated the IAEA’s remedies by including this second set. The remedies under Articles XII-C and XIX of the IAEA Statute are available only if Iran is in non-compliance, not merely because the IAEA is unable to verify non-diversion. Article XII-C reads:

    “[If Iran fails] to take fully CORRECTIVE ACTION [which phrase implies that Iran is in non-compliance] within a reasonable time, the [IAEA] Board may take one or both of the following measures: direct curtailment or suspension of assistance being provided [to Iran] by the Agency or by a member, and call for the return of materials and equipment made available to [Iran]. The Agency may also, in accordance with Article XIX, suspend [Iran] from the exercise of the privileges and rights of membership [in the IAEA].” (Emphasis added.)

    Article XIX, in turn, also is available only if Iran is in non-compliance:

    “A member which has persistently VIOLATED the provisions of this Statute or of any agreement entered into by it pursuant to this Statute may be suspended from the exercise of the privileges and rights of membership…” (Emphasis added.)

    Thus, if Iran has not violated any Safeguards Agreement obligations, neither of these remedies is available to the IAEA. All it is left with, then, is its right to report to the UNSC that it is unable to verify non-diversion. When the UNSC decides, in turn, what to do about that, the UNSC may not base its decision on a finding that Iran has failed to comply with its Safeguards Agreement obligations, since the IAEA’s mere “report” does not amount to such a finding at all.

    As you’ve noted in the past, that still leaves the IAEA’s argument, made in several recent IAEA reports to the UNSC, that Iran is required to disclose more information about the “alleged studies.” But as you’ve also noted in the past – and with which I once agreed, then disagreed, and now agree again now that you’ve returned me to the straight and narrow path – the IAEA’s argument about the “alleged studies” has no merit because the IAEA does not and cannot contend that those “alleged studies” have anything at all to do with nuclear materials.

    Good. All this will require some rewriting, but it gets me back to the position I once held before I started looking closely into this – but this time with some pretty firm support for that position. Thanks.

    Arnold wrote:

    “You say Iran should give up any efforts to attain a Japan option. Why?”

    For several reasons. First, because it’s very dangerous for the Iranian people since the US is hell-bent on preventing this, and devoting gobs of money and personnel to detect it. Nor do I consider it necessary if Iran’s only objective really is to develop peaceful nuclear energy (and if that’s not Iran’s only objective, I feel strongly that it ought to be).

    The only reason I can see for Iran to press its luck would be to attain not what Japan has, but rather what North Korea has. I don’t think that’s feasible, since the US (and the IAEA) now have a very watchful eye on Iran. I think it would be not worth the considerable risk to the Iranian people to make the effort.

    Finally, I think that some or many countries and people who now support Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy would withdraw support if they were to conclude that Iran also wants to develop nuclear-weapon capability as a useful tool for keeping the US at bay. That may be desirable for Iran, and the urge is entirely understandable given the shabby treatment Iran receives at the hands of the US, but for the rest of the world the bottom-line result would be yet another nuclear-armed state. One can probably justify India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea having taken the very same strategic approach in the past, after all, and look what that has left the world with today: four more nuclear-armed states. In addition, some states that back Iran in its defiance of the US might not feel quite so sympathetic once the dust clears and Iran has nuclear weapons but they don’t.

    Arnold wrote:

    “Are you claiming such an option is illegal?”

    Possibly it’s illegal, under the argument I made in my post that a “nuclear explosive device” without fuel is still a “nuclear explosive device,” but I acknowledge that that argument may not be a winner under any circumstances, and that it depends in any case on the extent to which Iran has progressed toward my “horrible hypothetical.” Far more important to me, whether it is “legal” or “illegal,” I think it’s very ill-advised for the reasons stated in the preceding long paragraph.

  37. Serifo says:

    Dear Wig Wag

    The street clashes between “far left groups” and “far right groups ” in West will be consequences of the severe economic collapse generated by the lack of ” Middle East oil ” ! As some people have noticed , Iran has the capacity to block the oil flow from the Strait of Hormuz ,and perhaps take out at least 80% of M. East oil fields. Now you don`t need to be a genius to guess what will probably happen to the world markets , if there is lack of Middle East oil !
    As for your statement ” Iran can’t project force beyond its borders and couldn’t withstand a U.S. attack within its borders for very long “. Are you sure ? Look at Iraq , Lebanon and possibly Afghanistan ( and Pakistan )!

  38. Arnold Evans says:

    Pt 1: This depends on an expansive definition of “weapon or explosive device” I consider the NPT requirements outside of the safeguards agreement to be rather narrow.

    Now is a car a car without gas? Yes. Is a car a transportation device without gas? I think you are focused to tightly on a weapon that is just missing fuel. The US is trying to hold Iran far far short of that. The US is critically trying to hold Iran far short of the capabilities that are accepted without complaint essentially everywhere else in the world. If you agree not to get a shooting device, this is not a question of a gun that just does not have bullets. This is about are you allowed to have metal in your possession that could be machined into a gun.

    On the other hand, nobody has any confidence that Brazil’s, Germany’s or Japan’s security services have not put together a fully operational explosive device and just not put fissile material into it.

    There is no indication Iran has done that, so it is not a pressing hypothetical to figure out. You take that hypothetical and it seems to me use it to declare that there are no limits to Iran’s reporting requirements. Iran negotiated reporting requirements and now because of a crazy hypothetical you’ve invented, you claim those negotiations don’t now hold and never did.

    Pt 3: Don’t call material that you have no reason to believe exists “undeclared”. That is a deliberately misleading formulation by the US proliferation community. I haven’t been following it for long, but this formulation was probably invented especially for Iran.

    It is done for the deliberate purpose of misleading an audience to believe the reporting requirements of the Additional Protocols are binding on countries that have not ratified the Additional Protocols. The NPT and safeguards agreements are clear that reporting requirements are not to be imposed against the will of its signatories.

    Overall:

    But again, this misses the strategic aspect of the conflict that is more important than the legal or technical issues. You say Iran should give up any efforts to attain a Japan option. Why? Are you claiming such an option is illegal? If so, what are you saying about Japan?

    I think a summary of the same length about the legal and especially strategic ramifications of Iran achieving the ability that Brazil and Argentina have both achieved, that they could make weapons relatively quickly if they felt inclined would give a reader a better sense of the core of the conflict.

  39. James Canning says:

    hass,

    Good points. My understanding is that former IAEA chief ElBaradei continues to say he does not think Iran is secretly trying to develop nukes.

  40. To all:

    Here is my promised “summary” of the Iran nuclear dispute – obviously longer than a “summary” but nevertheless shorter than what is necessary to support fully my conclusions. I caution you that there is more than a little bit of redundancy below, reflecting for the moment my decision to follow the sage advice of Hubert Humphrey (not known for being concise): “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.”

    I will greatly appreciate your comments.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––

    Several key provisions of what I call below the “Iran Nuclear Documents” plainly are being misinterpreted by the US, Iran, certain other countries, the IAEA and many analysts.

    The key documents (the “IRAN NUCLEAR DOCUMENTS,” for convenience) are the UN Charter, especially Chapter VII (and particularly Articles 39-42 – set forth in full at the end of this post), the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA Statute, the UN-IAEA Agreement, the Iran/nuclear resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council (numbers 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803 and 1835) (the “UNSC IRAN RESOLUTIONS”), and several key IAEA Board of Governors reports to the UNSC (“IAEA REPORTS” – for example, the February 18, 2010 IAEA Report). Since this is a “summary” presentation, I’ll skip full citations to the Iran Nuclear Documents below, and won’t even mention all of them specifically.

    Different conclusions about the current state and likely future of the Iran nuclear dispute are possible, of course, but it will be useful to narrow the permissible scope by stating up front some key facts that are too often ignored or unjustifiably disputed by analysts:

    POINT 1. IRAN’S OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE NPT ARE BROADER THAN IRAN’S OBLIGATIONS UNDER ITS SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT.

    Bear in mind that Iran signed both. Iran’s most important NPT obligations outside of its Safeguards Agreement are its NPT Article II obligations: “[Iran] undertakes not…to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

    POINT 2. THE IAEA’S AUTHORITY UNDER IRAN’S SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT TO DETECT AND PREVENT IRAN’S “DIVERSION” OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS DOES NOT AUTHORIZE THE IAEA TO ENFORCE ANY OF IRAN’S NPT OBLIGATIONS THAT ARE OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF IRAN’S SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT.

    Most important, this means that the IAEA has no authority concerning Iran’s manufacture of a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device. This does not mean Iran’s extra-Safeguards Agreement obligations do not exist. It means merely that the IAEA has no authority to enforce them unless Iran’s conduct also violates Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.

    POINT 3. THE IAEA’S AUTHORITY TO DETECT AND PREVENT DIVERSION OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS EXTENDS TO BOTH “DECLARED” AND “UNDECLARED” NUCLEAR MATERIALS.

    The IAEA’s right and duty applies to all nuclear material required to be safeguarded under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, whether or not declared. This might seem too obvious to mention, but not all analysts agree with this.

    POINT 4. THE IAEA WAS AND IS AUTHORIZED TO “REPORT” IRAN TO THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE IAEA REPORTS INVOLVE “DIVERSION” MATTERS REFERRED TO IN ARTICLE 19 OF IRAN’S SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT OR “NON-DIVERSION” DISPUTES THAT MUST BE ARBITRATED UNDER ARTICLE 22.

    Setting aside Article 19 of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, which limits the IAEA’s “reporting” discretion to “diversion” matters, there are ample bases in the Iran Nuclear Documents for the IAEA’s “reporting” authority that include no such limitation. For one example that is sufficient all by itself, see Article III(1) of the UN-IAEA Agreement: “The Agency shall keep the United Nations informed of its activities.”

    The key question is not whether the IAEA may “report” Iran’s non-compliance to the UNSC, but rather what the UNSC may do about it once the IAEA has reported. On that question, see Point 5 immediately below.

    POINT 5. THE IAEA REPORTS TO THE UNSC OF IRAN’S ALLEGED NON-COMPLIANCE WITH IRAN’S SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT DO NOT GIVE THE UNSC ANY RIGHT TO ENFORCE OR INTERPRET THE NPT OR IRAN’S SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT, NOR ANY RIGHT TO REQUIRE THE IAEA TO TAKE ANY ACTION.

    This is true even if an IAEA Report indisputably involves a “diversion” matter that the IAEA had a right to “report” to the UNSC under Article 19 of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, as distinguished from an arbitrable dispute covered instead by Article 22. Nor does any other Iran Nuclear Document give the UNSC any such authority. The IAEA and the UN are entirely separate organizations. Neither has any authority to require that the other take any action or refrain from taking any action. At the risk of belaboring this important point: despite frequent statements that the IAEA has “referred Iran’s file” to the UNSC and that this “referral” somehow confers enforcement powers on the UNSC, there is no such enforcement scheme, or anything remotely approaching it, in the NPT, Iran’s Safeguards Agreement or any other Iran Nuclear Document. The UNSC has no authority to do anything with an IAEA Report other than to determine whether the reported conduct authorizes the UNSC to take action on some other basis on which the UNSC does have authority – notably, Chapter VII of the UN Charter (see Point 6 immediately below).

    POINT 6. THE UNSC’S SOLE BASES FOR PUNISHING IRAN FOR ITS VIOLATION OF THE NPT OR IRAN’S SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT ARE TO BE FOUND IN CHAPTER VII OF THE UN CHARTER, PARTICULARLY ARTICLES 39-42, BUT AN NPT/SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT VIOLATION IS NOT, IN AND OF ITSELF, A SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR A UNSC RESOLUTION AGAINST IRAN UNDER CHAPTER VII.

    The UNSC has authority to adopt an Article 39 resolution against Iran (though it never has done so) upon the UNSC’s determination that Iran’s conduct is a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” (a “peace threat” below, for short). If the UNSC cannot determine that a peace threat exists, it instead may adopt (as it has done) an Article 40 resolution and approve “provisional measures” in order “to prevent an aggravation of the situation.” In considering whether to adopt a resolution under either Article 39 or Article 40, the UNSC may consider any information it deems relevant, including Iran’s actual or alleged non-compliance with the NPT or Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, but such non-compliance does not, in and of itself, justify a UNSC resolution under either Article 39 or Article 40.

    POINT 7. ONLY AN ARTICLE 39 UNSC RESOLUTION PERMITS MILITARY MEASURES UNDER ARTICLE 42. AN ARTICLE 40 RESOLUTION PERMITS ONLY NON-MILITARY MEASURES UNDER ARTICLE 41. THE UNSC IRAN RESOLUTIONS HAVE BEEN ADOPTED UNDER ARTICLES 40 AND 41, OR UNDER ARTICLE 41 ALONE, NEVER UNDER ARTICLE 39.

    Some clever arguments have been made that Article 42 military measures are justified if Article 41 measures have proven to be insufficient, even if no Article 39 resolution was ever adopted as the basis for those Article 41 measures. I will not address those arguments here because they are not strong arguments and, in any case, have never been pressed by the UNSC itself in connection with the UNSC Iran Resolutions.

    POINT 8. THE IAEA HAS NO OBLIGATION TO TAKE ANY ACTION, OR TO REFRAIN FROM TAKING ANY ACTION, AGAINST IRAN IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FROM THE UNSC, AND THE IAEA DOES NOT EVEN HAVE A RIGHT TO DO SO IF THE UNSC REQUEST INVOLVES MATTERS OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF IRAN’S OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT.

    To some extent, this Point 8 restates the last part of Point 5 above, though the second part of this Point 8 goes beyond Point 5. The UNSC has made several such requests. The IAEA may choose to do as the UNSC requests, but only if the action requested by the UNSC also happens to be an action the IAEA is authorized to take, and independently decides to take, under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. If the UNSC’s request involves alleged violations of the NPT outside the scope of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, or asks the IAEA to require Iran to do something that is not required of Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA may not act on the UNSC’s requests even if the IAEA chooses to do so.

    POINT 9. THE IAEA HAS NO RIGHT TO ENFORCE ANY OF THE UNSC IRAN RESOLUTIONS, NOR DOES IRAN’S FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH ANY OF THE UNSC IRAN RESOLUTIONS, IN AND OF ITSELF, CONSTITUTE A VIOLATION BY IRAN OF ANY OBLIGATION UNDER THE NPT OR IRAN’S SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT.

    This Point 9 overlaps Points 5 and 8 somewhat, but is nonetheless worth stating separately since many analysts appear to believe otherwise.

    POINT 10. A REFUSAL OR OTHER FAILURE BY IRAN TO COMPLY WITH THE IRAN NUCLEAR RESOLUTIONS DOES NOT, IN AND OF ITSELF, AMOUNT TO A PEACE THREAT THAT WARRANTS THE UNSC IN ADOPTING AN ARTICLE 39 RESOLUTION BACKED BY MILITARY MEASURES.

    This Point 10 overlaps Point 6 somewhat, but is nonetheless worth stating separately since many analysts appear to believe otherwise, and the US State Department (among other governmental bodies) often phrases its announcements in a way that misleads readers to believe the opposite is true.

    The UNSC Iran Resolutions are (directly or indirectly) based only on Article 40 and implemented by non-military measures authorized under Article 41. Nothing in Article 40 or Article 41 states or implies that Iran’s failure to comply with the UNSC Iran Resolutions is, in and of itself, a peace threat that warrants the UNSC in “upgrading” any of the UNSC Iran Resolutions to an Article 39 resolution backed by military measures under Article 42. The UNSC may “take account” of Iran’s failure to comply with an Article 40 resolution in determining whether a peace threat exists, but such non-compliance by itself does not establish a peace threat.

    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––

    As I mentioned at the beginning, I believe none of these Points can be seriously challenged. Nevertheless, I believe that some of these Points do not lead to the conclusions some readers may predict.

    First, consider Point 1 more closely. Some analysts appear to believe the opposite: that whatever Iran signed up for under its Safeguards Agreement is the extent of Iran’s obligations under the NPT – even though, when read closely, neither the NPT nor Iran’s Safeguards Agreement states or implies this. Based on this incorrect assumption, these analysts argue that, since the IAEA’s authority relates only to “diversion” of nuclear material, the definition of “nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device” in Article II of the NPT cannot be interpreted to include even a fully functional and deliverable nuclear weapon as long as no nuclear material has yet been “diverted” to the weapon.

    Those who believe this should consider whether that conclusion still seems sound when they acknowledge, as they must, that Iran’s NPT obligations extend beyond those stated in Iran’s Safeguards Agreement – notably to include Iran’s NPT Article II commitment not to manufacture a “nuclear explosive device.” Though I concede (for now) that the point remains debatable, I believe most people would argue that a “nuclear explosive device” is still a “nuclear explosive device” even though its bomb fuel is missing for the moment, just as a car remains a car when it runs out of gas, or a rifle remains a rifle when no bullet is in the firing chamber. A car, perhaps even a rifle, may have a “dual use,” of course, and so these analogies are not perfect, but a “nuclear explosive device” has only one use. It is unlikely ever to be converted into a playground structure or a garden sculpture, or mounted on the wall of someone’s basement den.

    Second, I believe that Point 2 above means a bit less than it appears to mean, principally because Point 3 above means more than it may appear to mean. As will soon become clear, the argument I make to support this contention will be strongly challenged by many readers. They may be correct but, in any case, here is my argument.

    The IAEA’s indisputable authority to prevent “diversion” to non-peaceful uses of all nuclear material required to be safeguarded under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement necessarily requires not only that the IAEA determine whether “declared” nuclear material has been diverted, but also whether Iran has declared all nuclear material required to be safeguarded. I suspect some observers will disagree strongly even with the preceding sentence because it provides the IAEA an opportunity to overreach, and I acknowledge that it does. If the IAEA chose to behave entirely irresponsibly, it could express skepticism about whether a country had fully declared its nuclear material to justify looking under every mattress in the country.

    While the IAEA has not pressed its authority that far with respect to Iran, it has pressed it much farther than it has with countries of which the IAEA is less suspicious (Japan, for example). Examples are the IAEA’s demands that Iran provide more information about the “alleged studies,” and that Iran adopt the Additional Protocol (with which Iran voluntarily complied for a limited time period several years ago). Arguably the IAEA’s insistence that Iran abide by the “new” version of Code 3.1 in Iran’s Subsidiary Arrangements (which would require earlier disclosure of nuclear facilities) is another example.

    I am not sure how far the IAEA can fairly press the implications of Point 3. If one establishes that Point 3 authorizes the IAEA to ask about more than merely nuclear material itself in order to determine whether nuclear material is being “diverted,” it becomes very difficult to state clearly where the IAEA’s additional questions must cease. But that difficulty is not, I believe, sufficient by itself to conclude that the IAEA never may ask questions about anything other than nuclear material.

    In support of my argument, I will pose here what is commonly referred to as a “horrible hypothetical,” and then ask whether skeptical readers are persuaded by the example that the IAEA sometimes should be permitted to go beyond the “nuclear materials only” scope that many analysts insist is the extent of its question-asking authority. To give the example more force, suppose that Israel, rather than Iran, is the country involved, so that a reader’s sympathy for Iran does not cloud his judgment. Assume that Israel is a non-nuclear state party to the NPT and that its Safeguards Agreement is identical to Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.

    In this hypothetical, Israel has “declared” nuclear material at several sites. If enriched to bomb grade, that declared nuclear material would be sufficient to make five nuclear bombs, but the nuclear material has not yet been refined to more than 3.5%. The IAEA has determined that no “diversion” has occurred at any of the declared sites, though it has expressed some doubts in the past about Israel’s full compliance with its Safeguards Agreement obligations.

    Recently, however, an informer has led an IAEA inspector to a large warehouse located on a back street in Tel Aviv. The inspector quickly determines that no nuclear material is present in the warehouse, but nonetheless is troubled by what he finds there.

    The warehouse has two long rows of 80 tables each, with a wide walkway down the middle and a wide conveyor belt along the far side of the left-hand row. The conveyor leads to a large open area beyond the tables, underneath a retractable roof. There the inspector finds 80 5,000-mile-range missiles, each mounted on a platform and apparently ready to launch. Most are pre-aimed toward the east, some to the north, others to the south. None of the missiles has a payload attached. The inspector finds no non-nuclear payloads anywhere in the warehouse.

    The inspector returns to the long rows of tables in the main part of the warehouse. Each table has the same numbered and color-coded circles painted on top, and each circle has a photograph of a different bomb component taped to it. On each of the 80 left-row tables, an actual bomb component has been placed on each circle, matching the photograph on the circle. Only one component-circle is empty on the left-row tables: the circle labeled “bomb fuel capsule.”

    All right-row tables instead have non-working plastic components on them (including the “bomb fuel capsule”). Some are entirely assembled into plastic “bombs,” others are entirely unassembled, and still others are partly assembled. Suspended from the ceiling above each table, in both rows, is a large white plywood sheet bearing the heading “15-Minute Assembly Instructions – Follow Carefully,” followed by large-type step-by-step instructions for assembling the bomb components. The final instruction reads: “Drop bomb fuel capsule into fuel chamber.”

    Suspended above one of the right-row “plastic component” tables is a framed certificate with a blue ribbon attached. The certificate reads: “Congratulations to Team 23 on its new assembly-time record: 11 minutes, 13 seconds. Israel thanks you.” The certificate bears a recent date and appears to have been manually signed by the head of the facility, the commander-in-chief of the Israeli Defense Forces, and the Prime Minister of Israel.

    The inspector picks up one of the fully assembled “plastic bombs,” returns to the missile storage area, and determines that the “plastic bomb,” and presumably a real bomb, can be attached to any one of the missiles with just four bolts. He notices a small desk at the end of the room and finds two large binders in a desk drawer. One is labeled “Complete Nuclear Bomb Design and Operation Information” and the other is labeled “Missile Targeting Coordinates.” Its table of contents lists a separate chapter for each of several Middle Eastern countries. The listing for “Turkey” has been highlighted in yellow. A hand-written addition at the end of the table of contents reads: “Brazil.”

    All of this raises some questions in the inspector’s mind, including this one: “Why would Israel prepare itself to assemble 80 nuclear bombs in 15 minutes, and keep them in a warehouse with 80 ready-to-launch 5,000-mile-range missiles underneath a retractable roof, unless Israel also has the highly refined nuclear fuel necessary for those bombs somewhere close at hand?” This, in turn, causes the inspector to wonder whether Israel has declared all of its nuclear material to the IAEA. He reports all of this to his superiors, and soon the IAEA sends a letter to Israel asking for more information about the warehouse.

    Here is Israel’s response:

    “You say you found no trace of nuclear material at this warehouse, correct? Then it’s none of your business what we’re doing there, so please stop asking about it. By the way, when can we expect your report verifying that no diversion of nuclear material has occurred in Israel?”

    Fair response? Must the IAEA withdraw its warehouse questions and dutifully verify that no nuclear material has been diverted by Israel? If you answer “no” to these questions, should it be any different for Iran than for Israel?

    I frankly acknowledge that granting the IAEA authority to ask for “non-nuclear-material” information on the ground that it needs that information to determine whether diversion has occurred creates a potential for considerable mischief – especially when the IAEA so readily bends to the will of the US and other powerful countries. The difficulty or impossibility of “proving a negative” should make us very sympathetic to Iran’s claims of over-reaching. But that difficulty or impossibility does not justify shutting off inquiry entirely in all situations, and at least the “alleged studies” dispute may be a case where the IAEA should be allowed to ask more questions.

    Iran fairly may demand limits based on the Safeguards Agreement’s prohibitions against unreasonably burdensome requests, and its requirement that “the Agency…take every precaution to protect [Iran's] commercial and industrial secrets and other confidential information.” Certainly non-nuclear military secrets should count as “other confidential information.” Nonetheless, if Iran indeed is working on a nuclear bomb – as the IAEA argues the “alleged studies” suggest – is it reasonable for the IAEA to wonder whether Iran intends to get the required bomb fuel from an undeclared nuclear site, especially since Israel’s declared sites contain only enough fuel for five bombs and refining that fuel to bomb grade would take a lot longer than 15 minutes? If so, is it also reasonable for the IAEA to ask for additional information that might help it to determine whether Israel indeed has an undeclared nuclear site?

    I would answer “yes” to both questions. Whether that compels one of the more extreme conclusions the IAEA has drawn – that Iran must adopt the Additional Protocol – is far from clear to me. But it is clear to me that the IAEA should be allowed to ask some questions beyond the “nuclear-materials-only” line if answers to those questions are reasonably necessary for the IAEA to satisfy itself that no “diversion” of nuclear material has occurred.

    In short, although the IAEA has no authority to enforce Iran’s non-Safeguards Agreement obligation not to manufacture nuclear weapons, it does have a right and duty under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement to determine whether nuclear materials are being “diverted.” If performing that duty under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement requires the IAEA to get answers to reasonable questions about matters that are outside the scope of the IAEA’s right to enforce Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA should be allowed to ask and get answers to those questions, subject, of course, to Iran’s rights not be unduly burdened and to protect its confidential information.

    Time to move on.

    Much as (I believe) Point 3 above makes Point 2 less important than it might first appear, Point 5 makes Point 4 less important, at least initially. There indeed is an “enforcement gap” in the NPT. The IAEA may enforce Iran’s NPT obligations only to the extent those obligations are stated in Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, which is aimed exclusively at preventing diversion of nuclear material. Neither the IAEA nor any other body or individual has been granted authority to enforce Iran’s NPT obligations outside of its Safeguards Agreement. Even dispute resolution provisions in the UN Charter, notably including Chapter VI (“Pacific Settlement of Disputes”) and Chapter XIV (“International Court of Justice”), are inapplicable because the IAEA is not a state. Only Chapter VII of the UN Charter establishes UN enforcement authority but, as pointed out above (Point 5), even Chapter VII does not give the UNSC any authority to enforce the NPT or Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. It gives the UNSC authority only to take measures (including military measures) in response to its determination that a “peace threat” exists, or to take non-military measures to prevent aggravation of a “situation.” Iran’s violation of the NPT or Iran’s Safeguards Agreement may or may not amount to a “peace threat.” In any case, the UNSC has never determined that it does.

    Iran’s alleged violation of the NPT or Iran’s Safeguards Agreement does amount, of course, to a “situation” (whatever that means), and thus is a proper subject for an Article 40 resolution aimed at preventing an “aggravation of the situation.” Whether that entitles the UNSC to maintain that “situation” in an unresolved status indefinitely, implementing resolution after resolution year after year with the “provisional measures” authorized under Article 41, without ever adopting an Article 39 “peace threat” resolution or proposing some other way by which the IAEA/Iran dispute can be resolved, is quite another matter (which I’ll save for the end of this post).

    So far, the IAEA may appear to hold the winning hand. But Iran can call the IAEA’s hand by simply refusing to comply as requested. If Iran does that (actually, it already has), the IAEA’s only recourse is either to (1) insist on arbitration of the IAEA/Iran dispute, to the extent its subject matter is arbitrable under Article 22 of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement (the Code 3.1 dispute, for example); or (2) if the dispute is not arbitrable under Article 22 (or it is arbitrated but Iran then fails to comply with the arbitrator’s decision), exercise the IAEA’s other punitive powers under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. These punitive powers would include some powers available indirectly under the IAEA statute, such as the following in Article XII-C:

    “[If Iran fails] to take fully corrective action within a reasonable time, the [IAEA] Board may take one or both of the following measures: direct curtailment or suspension of assistance being provided [to Iran] by the Agency or by a member, and call for the return of materials and equipment made available to [Iran]. The Agency may also, in accordance with Article XIX, suspend [Iran] from the exercise of the privileges and rights of membership [in the IAEA].”

    Given the meager assistance Iran receives from the IAEA and its member states, the prospect of such penalties might well frighten Iran no more than Brer Rabbit was frightened when Brer Fox threatened to toss him into the briar patch. Nonetheless, whether they frighten Iran or not, these are the only penalties ultimately available to the IAEA for Iran’s alleged non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement.

    If this is all the IAEA can do, we are left to wonder what the UNSC, the only other obvious candidate, can do to punish Iran. Indeed, one cannot help but conclude that both the IAEA and the UNSC have focused on the UNSC for the very reason that the IAEA can do very little to induce Iran to change its behavior.

    As explained above, the UNSC ultimately is left with two choices, assuming it is not willing simply to back off and do nothing. It may continue along the course it is presently on: impose harsher and harsher “provisional measures” on Iran under Article 41 – for example, tougher sanctions, or repeated demands that Iran cease enrichment. Suppose the UNSC does only that, and Iran continues not to comply with the UNSC Iran Resolutions. What exactly does it mean to argue, as many have, that those UNSC Article 40/41 resolutions are “legally binding” on Iran? What remedies does the UNSC have if Iran simply refuses to comply, as it has so far? Iran has argued, entirely correctly, that the UNSC has no right to enforce Iran’s obligations under the NPT or Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. Iran has argued as well that it hasn’t violated the NPT or Iran’s Safeguards Agreement in the first place – rejecting, in the course of that argument, my argument above that the IAEA has a right to ask as well about non-nuclear-material subjects in certain circumstances.

    What, exactly, does Iran’s non-compliance with the UNSC Iran Resolutions entitle the UNSC to do about that non-compliance?

    The answer to that question requires that the question first be split into two, which will make more plain that the UNSC has authority to consider only the second part of the split question. The first part focuses on the NPT or Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, and breaks down further into these questions: Which alleged violations must be arbitrated under Article 22 of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement and which are instead Article 19 violations that are not subject to arbitration? Clearly any Article 22 disputes (the Code 3.1 dispute, for example, if the IAEA elects to press that point) must be arbitrated before Iran can be held to have violated its Safeguards Agreement. As for Article 19 “diversion” disputes, the IAEA has authority to decide and to punish Iran without first seeking arbitration but, as explained above, the IAEA’s remedies probably are not terribly frightening to Iran. Whatever the answers to all of these questions may be, the key point here is that those answers can only be given either by an arbitrator under Article 22 or by the IAEA itself under Article 19 and other Iran Nuclear Document provisions – not by the UNSC.

    The second part of this properly “split” question is this: What may the UNSC do to punish Iran merely because Iran has failed to comply with the Article 40/41-based UNSC Iran Resolutions? Is Iran’s failure to comply with those resolutions, in and of itself, a “peace threat?”

    This strikes me as a difficult, if not impossible, argument to make, and I am not aware that the US or anyone else has ever seriously presented it in the UNSC, though very many press accounts and US State Department pronouncements vaguely sketch the argument enough to mislead readers to believe it is valid. Article 40 expressly authorizes the UNSC to “take account” of a country’s failure to comply with an Article 40-based resolution in determining whether to “upgrade” its resolution to an Article 39 resolution – that much is true. But nothing in Article 40, Article 39, or any other provision of the UN Charter (or any other Iran Nuclear Document) suggests that Iran’s failure to comply with any of the UNSC Iran Resolutions, in and of itself, establishes the existence of a “peace threat.”

    This may be a good place to quote Article 40 in full:

    “In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, CALL UPON the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. THE SECURITY COUNCIL SHALL DULY TAKE ACCOUNT OF FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH SUCH PROVISIONAL MEASURES.” (Emphasis added.)

    As the text of Article 40 makes clear, it is intended only as a “provisional” step, to be implemented by non-military measures authorized under Article 41, that may enable the UNSC to bring about the desired behavior with non-military measures, thus making it unnecessary for the UNSC to declare a “peace threat” under Article 39 and take harsher military measures under Article 42. Article 40 states plainly that the UNSC may only “call upon” Iran to take those measures, not require that Iran do so. The only “penalty” stated for Iran’s failure to take the steps it is “called upon” to take appears in the final sentence of Article 40: “The Security Council shall duly take account of [Iran's] failure to comply with such provisional measures.”

    If Iran’s failure to comply with the UNSC Iran Resolutions also amounts to conduct that poses a “peace threat,” the UNSC can up the ante by adopting a tougher Article 39 resolution and implementing that resolution with military measures under Article 42. China and Russia have blocked this so far and do not appear likely to change their position. In other words, China and Russia do not believe that Iran’s conduct – including but not limited to its failure to comply with the UNSC Iran Resolutions – does not amount to a peace threat. Short of an Article 39/42 resolution, however, all the UNSC can do is more of the same: continue to press its existing (and possibly future) Article 40/41-based resolutions with the same or additional non-military measures under Article 41, and “take account of [Iran's] failure to comply with such provisional measures” to determine when, if ever, Iran’s conduct warrants adopting a tougher Article 39 resolution. This is not to understate the serious impact on Iran of some of the Article 41 remedies selected by the UNSC so far, and others it may choose in the future – merely to note that Iran’s failure to comply with the UNSC Iran Resolutions does not, in and of itself, give the UNSC any greater right to punish Iran than the UNSC would have if no UNSC Iran Resolutions had yet been adopted.

    As long as Iran’s conduct either clearly is permitted under the NPT, Iran’s Safeguards Agreement and international law generally – notably including, for example, Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium, at least to the 3.5% or the 19.99% level (and arguably much higher, without limit) – and the IAEA fails to take steps plainly available to it to arbitrate, or to decide itself, the existing IAEA/Iran disputes under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, it is difficult to imagine that Iran’s existing conduct will ever induce China and Russia to cease blocking an Article 39 resolution. Moreover, at some point, Iran will have at least a moral right (if it does not already) to insist that the IAEA “fish or cut bait” on the existing IAEA/Iran disputes ¬– i.e. that the IAEA demand arbitration of arbitrable disputes under Article 22 (the Code 3.1 dispute, for example), and make a final decision, complete with remedies available to the IAEA under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, on the “diversion” disputes that are governed instead by Article 19.

    Other (optional) settlement approaches might also be useful, if the UNSC ever finds itself so inclined and imaginative enough to suggest them. Chapter VI of the UN Charter (“Pacific Resolution of Disputes”) might be a good model to examine, for example, even though its provisions are not technically applicable because the IAEA/Iran dispute does not involve two states. Article 36(2), for example, recommends that “The Security Council should take into consideration any procedures for the settlement of the dispute which have already been adopted by the parties.” In this situation, obviously, that would refer to Article 22 of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, which calls for arbitration of most IAEA/Iran disputes. Perhaps the UNSC could simply remind the IAEA that this Article 22 remedy has long been available to the IAEA, and firmly urge the IAEA to make use of it. However unlikely that might be actually to occur, for obvious political reasons, it nonetheless would be appropriate for the UNSC to suggest such a solution to the IAEA if the UNSC sincerely desires to see the IAEA/Iran disputes get settled.

    The ideal solution probably requires a combination of three actions, though none of them presently appears likely to happen: (1) gentle pressure by the UNSC on the IAEA (and on Iran too, for that matter) to settle some or all of the IAEA/Iran disputes under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement pursuant to the dispute-resolution procedures laid out in that Agreement, especially arbitration under Article 22; (2) a genuine effort by the IAEA to do the same thing – i.e. resolve the IAEA/Iran disputes under the Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, as they were expected to be resolved when the parties signed that Agreement – either on its own initiative or in response to UNSC pressure; and (3) a sincere effort by Iran to meet the IAEA half-way on at least some of the IAEA’s reasonable requests for information not strictly limited to nuclear materials – not necessarily adoption of the Additional Protocol, but at least some sincere steps in that general direction – limited carefully to avoid undue burdens on Iran and disclosure of its confidential information.

    If Iran keeps clearly in mind the legitimate objectives of its nuclear program, which most of the world supports – peaceful energy, the manufacture of medical isotopes, and a few other unquestionably peaceful uses of nuclear energy – and gives up any effort to achieve (or at least persuade others that it has achieved) the additional capability to develop nuclear weapons if it ever so chooses (the so-called “Japan option”), then maybe all parties concerned can get past this impasse. With even a few steps in this right direction, the unresolved issues between IAEA and Iran might soon be sufficiently few and insignificant that the UNSC will see its way clear to terminate some, most, or even all of the sanctions and other “provisional measures” imposed to enforce the UNSC Iran Resolutions.

    I am not naïve enough to anticipate that the Iran nuclear dispute will move in this way toward resolution, but this nevertheless strikes me as the best route to get there.

    ********************

    ARTICLES 39-42 OF UN CHARTER:

    Chapter VII – Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace,
    Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression

    Article 39

    The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

    Article 40

    In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.

    Article 41

    The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

    Article 42

    Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

  41. hass says:

    OK let me make things clear yet again for Alan:
    Under the terms of iran’s existing basic safeguards agreement, which is standard, countries are supposed to declare their nuclear material. Then, the IAEA uses inspectors and accounting to ensure that all of this declared nuclear material is accounted for, and none has been diverted for non-peaceful uses. (If for example the US has reason to believe that a country has NOT declared all of its nuclear material, it can take the evidence to the IAEA BOG can which can then order “special inspections” — which never happened.)

    HOWEVER, because Saddam cheated by not declaring all of Iraq’s nuclear material, the Additional Protocol was drafted which implements a more intrusivei inspections regime, which, once completed allows the IAEA to verify not only that all declared nuclear material is accounted for, BUT ALSO that there is no UNdeclared nuclear material. ONLY THEN does the IAEA certify that a country’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. To understand the difference between certifying that all declared material is not diverted, versus certifying that there are no undeclared material, I suggest you read the IAEA Safeguard Glossary which defines these two legal standards in paragraphs 2.8 and 2.9

    OK? Are we clear? Do we need to go thru this yet again?

    Anyway, MANY countries — Egypt, Turkey, S. Korea, Argentina, Brazil etc. — have flatly refused to sign the Additional protocol. Iran, however, voluntarily implemented its provisions for 2.5 years, with still no evidence of any undeclared nuclear material found, and has offered to ratify and permanently implementthe AP. In fact, Elbaradei has said that there is no evidence of undeclared material in Iran either, regardless of whether Iran is technically bound by the AP or not.

    AND as I pointed out to you before, the fact that the iAEA cannot verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material is no reason for suspicion. As Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Comittee for Nuclear Policy has explained:

    For some it is tempting to declare, based on the inability of the IAEA to presently draw a conclusion on the absence of nuclear activities, that Iran continues to operate concealed facilities and that any such facilities must be for a military program. But the IAEA has cautioned that the lack of a conclusion does not imply suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities, as the matter is frequently spun in the media and by some governments.

    OK? Clear?

  42. hass says:

    yes thank you Alan I am quite aware of the contents of the Feb 2010 IAEA report — that the IAEA cannot verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material…precisely because as I have told you a million times by now, the IAEA only verifies the absence of undeclared material…and hence the ‘exclusively peaceful nature’ of a nuclear program…if the country has the Additional protocol in place. And, as I have told you a million times already too, IAEA head ElBaradei has said that the IAEA has no evidence of undeclared material in Iran either. Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

  43. hass says:

    Alan, you keep insisting that Iran “is in non-compliance” (not clear what — the NPT or safeguards?) while it has been repeatedly pointed out to you that it was never in non-compliance with the NPT, and whatever noncompliance with safeguards it had in the past was resolved to the IAEA’s satisfaction by the Feb 2008 IAEA report. You just refuse to acknowledge the fact that the Alleged Studies are called that for a reason — because even the IAEA says it has no evidence that any nuclear material was involved in them, and therefore Iran’s safeguards (which explicitly are limited to detection of diversion of nuclear material) do not even apply to them. And, you insist on pretending that the fact that the IAEA cannot verify the “exclusively peaceful nature” of Iran’s nuclear program constitutes some sort of noncompliance by Iran, despite it being pointed out to you quite repeatedly that the IAEA does not verify the “exclusively peaceful nature” of ANY country’s nuclear program unless they have signed and ratified the Additional protocol — not Brazil, nor Argentina, not S. Korea, not Turkey, not Iran. What gives? How many times are we supposed to go around the same circles with you? Seriously.

  44. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    It would seem that some of Obama’s advisers do not want the impasse over Iran’s nuclear programme resolved, because they want Israel to be able to use the Iranian issue for purposes of fear-mongering, etc.

  45. James Canning says:

    masoud,

    You are quite right to underline the change of tack, on the part of some of the Iranophobes, to discuss (and attack) the capability of Iran to build nukes as opposed to Iran’s actually building nukes.

    kooshy,

    I think there would be little support by the American people for any scheme of attempting to repress Iran’s economy simply because the economy is Iran’s. The Iranophobes rely on arousing fear, and a growing Iranian economy is not an adequate bogeyman to serve the purpose.

  46. kooshy says:

    I also support Arnold’s position, that basically the issues between US and Iran is not about nuclear proliferation or enrichment it never was, the issues between US and Iran are much more fundamental and deeper and goes backs to 1979 revolution. We all know even If the nuclear issue was resolved next day we all will be faced with another issue to make possible containing Iran politically and economically, this has been US’s Iran policy for past six administrations of democrats or republicans. As for the US congress is not even worth considering.

  47. Alan says:

    Masoud – it’s not strange. The Alleged Studies were on the Work Plan. That is what I mean about the different perceptions of the IAEA and Iran.

  48. Alan says:

    Masoud,

    “The work plan and the AP are basically antithetical to one another the former limited the scope of the questions the the IAEA was able to raise, while the terms of the AP allowed the Agency to be able to continually raise ‘new’ business, as soon as the older rumors have been debunked.”

    This isn’t so. Iran THOUGHT it limited the scope, but the IAEA never did. And “new” business has since been raised as well.

    As for the rest of your post, it’s a matter of opinion really. Still, we have some convergence on “playing straight down the line”, it’s just the length of the line it seems. My feeling is that composed, consistent insistence on rights within the IAEA framework will win the day with neutrals over rent-a-quote brinkmanship. I can’t prove it though.

    We’ll see in time!

  49. masoud says:

    BTW Alan, as you well know, all the issues that were to be covered under the work plan were resolved, the Agency raising new business afterwards despite it’s commitments notwithstanding. I find your continual claims to the contrary strange.

  50. Alan says:

    Arnold – round 2:

    ———–
    First, if “a controlled environment” means that Iran won’t have the capabilities Japan and Brazil have, how is that different from not enriching? This is not some huge concession. It is effectively the exact same position as under Bush.

    >>> Controlled environment could mean limited to 5% enrichment with APs in force. I know Iran has the right to more, but I think they may agree to this.

    ————
    Second, what makes you think the US has accepted Iranian enrichment? The US response to the Iran/Brazil/Turkey deal is that the US will still pursue sanctions because Iran has not submitted to the Security Council resolutions requiring it to suspend enrichment.

    >>> The deal is different to the enrichment track, and the enrichment track is different to the UNSCRs. The suspension is called for by the UNSCRs, not the NPT. It is a separate “compliance” issue. I think this is a tricky thing to get straight and causes lots of confusion.

    ————
    1) How would US policy change, in your opinion, if there was no non-compliance finding?

    >>> They would target a controlled environment in return for nuclear assistance, normalisation etc.

    ————
    2) Do you think US lobbying had any effect at all on the production of a non-compliance finding,

    >>> Yes, it did.

    ————
    Do you think US lobbying would be unable to prevent that finding from being lifted?

    >>> Yes, in time.

  51. masoud says:

    “Masoud – why was the Work Plan unachievable under the AP? And of course it hasn’t succeeded in debunking all the rumors; it could be argued it makes them more suspicious because the AP is not in place.”

    The work plan and the AP are basically antithetical to one another the former limited the scope of the questions the the IAEA was able to raise, while the terms of the AP allowed the Agency to be able to continually raise ‘new’ business, as soon as the older rumors have been debunked.

    “It may take time, but if Iran continues to answer reasonable questions, then the more questions that “emerge”, the more ridiculous the US looks.”
    The problem is that it’s hard to have a balanced ridiculous meter if you live in the West. The US looked ridiculous to most reasonable people long before Iran ceased implementing the terms of the AP. The remainder are basically a lost cause, but still the best way to manage these people is ‘playing it straight down the line’ by living up to the letter of Iran’s commitments, but not messing around with the slippery slope of the ‘voluntary measures’. Ask yourself this, were you more concerned about Iran’s peaceful intentions in mid 2005, after the two years of implementing voluntary suspension of enrichment and adherence to the AP than you are now? I think the universal answer to this question is yes, as even the hawks have started talking about Iran developing ‘the capability’ rather than an actual weapon. It may not have been the track you would have liked to see Iran follow, but it is working.

    I don’t think the idea that Iran’s best chance of defeating the US campaign is to partake in some kind of Agency directed Kafkaesque kabuki theater a la Iraq circa 2002 has any merit at all.

    Masoud

  52. Alan says:

    Arnold – you ask me fair questions. I’ve just seen you have asked me more, but let me deal with the first bunch first:

    ————-
    Do you really believe that if Iran just answers reasonable questions the issue will dissolve? Iran will then be free to build its program and Israel will just have to accept that one of its neighbors has a Japan option?

    —-
    It may take time, but if Iran continues to answer reasonable questions, then the more questions that “emerge”, the more ridiculous the US looks. I don’t believe it is an infinite process, and the longer Iran can play it straight down the line in a calm and measured way, the greater their support will become.

    ———-
    I find that astonishingly naive. So naive that today, after we’ve seen such a similar process regarding supposed Iraqi WMD it’s difficult for me to see good faith in that belief.

    —-
    The US lacks leverage over Israel, while Israel has it in spades over the US. That is an untenable situation for the future. If an Iranian nuclear program can be established under the aegis of the IAEA and NPT/CSA, that calculus changes for a variety of reasons.

    This assumes of course the US wants this. Alternatively, it might want to be in hock to Israel, so Iran gets a bullseye painted on it. If Iran plays it straight down the line it still takes away the pretexts for attacking them one by one. That is the lesson from Iraq.

    ———-
    1) Do you believe that the US would not have invaded Iraq if Iraq had taken some specific different step, after 2001, than it actually took? If so, what step do you believe Iraq could have taken that would have prevented the invasion?

    —-
    No, Iraq was toast. In the US, the lunatics were running the asylum and no amount of common sense could prevail.

    ———-
    2) Let’s assume Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. What specific “reasonable steps” do you think Iran can take that will cause the IAEA to confirm that Iran has no weapons program?

    —-
    I think they can ratify the APs; they could commit to 5% enrichment; and of course they could engage over the outstanding questions. They could even, although not directly related, agree a TEMPORARY suspension of enrichment.

    ———-
    3) What connection do you think exists between Iran being “in compliance” and Iran suspending its declared enrichment program all of whose materials are under safeguards?

    —-
    There isn’t one as far as the NPT/Safeguards are concerned. However, “compliance” with UNSCRs is not the same as compliance with a CSA. The tragi-comic situation we’re in now is that it seems Iran now basically has to be in compliance with the UNSCRs before dealing with their compliance with the CSA.

    ———-
    4) Let’s assume that the “laptop of death” – that is the source of the only remaining unresolved issues from the 2007 IAEA/Iran work plan, and that the US still refuses to submit either to Iran or even the IAEA – was not forged. What do you think prevents the US from concocting its own forged evidence if these issues are resolved and continuing to concoct forged evidence forever, until the US is able to impose a new Shah on Iran?

    —-
    I think I answered this one near the start.

  53. Arnold Evans says:

    “I think the US are now happy to accept enrichment in a “controlled” environment.”

    First, if “a controlled environment” means that Iran won’t have the capabilities Japan and Brazil have, how is that different from not enriching? This is not some huge concession. It is effectively the exact same position as under Bush.

    Second, what makes you think the US has accepted Iranian enrichment? The US response to the Iran/Brazil/Turkey deal is that the US will still pursue sanctions because Iran has not submitted to the Security Council resolutions requiring it to suspend enrichment.

    “If we are NOT past it, and zero enrichment is still the US goal, then I feel Iran can cut the lines one by one that support the non-compliance finding much more effectively if they use the NPT/CSA/AP framework more cleverly.”

    I really strongly disagree with this. This goes to my questions in the last post. I have two questions:

    1) How would US policy change, in your opinion, if there was no non-compliance finding?

    2) Do you think US lobbying had any effect at all on the production of a non-compliance finding, do you think US lobbying would be unable to prevent that finding from being lifted?

  54. Alan says:

    Arnold – I understand the point about the US not wanting Iran to enrich, I have made that argument long and hard elsewhere.

    But we’re past that now I think. It was fundamentally a Bush-era policy. I think the US are now happy to accept enrichment in a “controlled” environment. The tangle now is how the US and Iran get out of their entrenched positions. Obama is not Bush, and this is solvable, not least because if Obama CAN resolve it, he leaves Israel high and dry.

    If we are NOT past it, and zero enrichment is still the US goal, then I feel Iran can cut the lines one by one that support the non-compliance finding much more effectively if they use the NPT/CSA/AP framework more cleverly. Sadly, that is a concept I do not associate with Ahmadinejad.

    My view for some time has been that Obama is either falsely “threatening” a deal with Iran to extract concessions from Israel, or as described above is genuinely pursuing a deal with Iran to expose Israel. Right now, judging by the sequence of events recently, I think he really does want a deal although I’m still not as convinced as I once was. I’m also not sure he expected this Tripartite thing to happen so quickly.

  55. Alan says:

    Masoud – why was the Work Plan unachieveable under the AP? And of course it hasn’t succeeded in debunking all the rumours; it could be argued it makes them more suspicious because the AP is not in place.

    I agree though that there are no legal ramifications for withdrawing from the AP. I just think it was a mistake. After all, if you have nothing to hide, you can use them to your advantage.

  56. jay says:

    The language of “withdrawing from the additional protocol” is unfortunate!

    Iran agreed to voluntarily act as if the protocol was in effect pending ratification by the Iranian parliament. Thus, Iran never withdrew. It is correct to say that the Parliament did not ratify the protocol (although there is a history here). Nonetheless, it is important to keep the language honest.

    A review of the history of many speeches at think-tanks and leaked policy statements across the body of the US government and across Presidents makes clear that the US does not want Iran to become a “local power”. Alan’s remark are spot on!

    The implications of Iran’s progress in various fields entangle the goals of US policy beyond M.E. and include, for example, energy security and the ability to wage “energy” and “financial” warfare. Nuclear capability is another “brick in the wall”. Iran’s independent advances in rocket technology, missile technology, guidance electronics, etc etc. are all perceived a “problems” by the US. If Iran stopped enriching Uranium tomorrow, there is a menu of any one of the other fields of endeavor to raise major concerns and continue the confrontation.

  57. masoud says:

    Arnold,

    Iran signed and ratified an agreement. Now, regardless of the other parties to that agreement good faith, or conformance that agreement, questions pertaining to Iran’s compliance with that agreement are still interesting and valid. These questions are far removed from even more interesting and valid questions such as what is in Iran’s best interest, and what Iran’s moral obligations in fact are, but still deserve answers.

    That said, I agree with everything you’ve posted.

  58. Arnold Evans says:

    James Canning:

    Iran is putting itself into the position that Japan, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and a lot of other nations currently are in. That they could build a weapon if there was an emergency.

    The United States opposes this because that by itself would neutralize Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region. Meaning that today Israel can threaten an unanswered nuclear attack on Cairo, Riyadh, Damascus or Tehran. Even without building a weapon, Iran having the capability means that if a crisis develops, Israel’s neighbors do not necessarily have to submit, they also have the option of accepting an Iranian offer to retaliate. And of course, they have the additional option of building their own capability.

    It is all theoretical, but the theoretical question of “what happens if a very serious crisis occurs” impacts Egyptian, Saudi and even Syrian behavior today in Israel’s favor. This is what Israel loses if Iran gets a nuclear capability. This is what the US is today spending more of its diplomatic resources on than any other issue and distorting every proliferation norm to maintain.

  59. Arnold Evans says:

    You’re really missing the point Alan.

    The US’ problem with Iran is not that it Iran not in compliance. The US’ problem with Iran is not that Iran stopped implementing the AP when it was referred to the Security Council. The US opposes Iran reaching the status Japan and Brazil have reached, and is attempting to make reaching such status as difficult as possible.

    The IAEA is not an objective observer, the IAEA is under tremendous pressure as the US is a primary funding source. Amano is even more pliable to US demands than ElBaradei but neither would be able to ignore US pressure.

    You and Eric to some degree both puzzle me on this issue. Do you really believe that if Iran just answers reasonable questions the issue will dissolve? Iran will then be free to build its program and Israel will just have to accept that one of its neighbors has a Japan option? I find that astonishingly naive. So naive that today, after we’ve seen such a similar process regarding supposed Iraqi WMD it’s difficult for me to see good faith in that belief.

    I have some questions for both of you.

    1) Do you believe that the US would not have invaded Iraq if Iraq had taken some specific different step, after 2001, than it actually took? If so, what step do you believe Iraq could have taken that would have prevented the invasion?

    2) Let’s assume Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. What specific “reasonable steps” do you think Iran can take that will cause the IAEA to confirm that Iran has no weapons program?

    3) What connection do you think exists between Iran being “in compliance” and Iran suspending its declared enrichment program all of whose materials are under safeguards?

    4) Let’s assume that the “laptop of death” – that is the source of the only remaining unresolved issues from the 2007 IAEA/Iran work plan, and that the US still refuses to submit either to Iran or even the IAEA – was not forged. What do you think prevents the US from concocting its own forged evidence if these issues are resolved and continuing to concoct forged evidence forever, until the US is able to impose a new Shah on Iran?

  60. masoud says:

    Alan,

    I’ll point out once again, that Iran was never bound by the AP, they were merely voluntarily implementing it’s provisions. Ceasing this cooperation could by no means have any legal ramifications, basically by definition. And in retrospect, it was a good move, playing hardball with the IAEA was key to formulating a work plan and the systematically debunking all the rumors, without giving the IAEA the opportunity to shift attention to new rumors. The completion of the work plan could not have been achieved under the AP.

    Masoud

  61. James Canning says:

    Kathryn,

    Re May 26th 9:44am – - Bashar al-Assad has said a number of times he would welcome good relations with the US.

    We should remember here that Iran and Syria offered to help the US withdraw from Iraq in good order, in 2006. Instead, the arrogant ignoramus in the White House greatly enlarged the US military adventure in Iraq and thereby squandered hundreds of billions of dollars.

  62. Alan says:

    Arnold – I actually think Iran’s withdrawal from the Additional Protocol was a bad tactical/diplomatic move.

    At the time, they were in non-compliance, and the IAEA had decided that they had not done enough to lift that non-compliance status. By backing out of the APs at that point, Iran made it harder for the IAEA to lift the non-compliance in the future, and added significantly to the suspicion. Or, looking it another way, it made it a whole lot easier for the IAEA to maintain non-compliance.

    Implementation of the APs in the future is likely to be fundamental to the ultimate resolution of all this.

  63. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    The catalogue of US blunders that helped to create “9/11″ should include the Senate’s rejection of the SALT II treaty in 1979, because that rejection was the reason the USSR invaded Afghanistan.

    And let’s remember Osama bin Laden not only hated the US for its assistance to Israel in its oppression of the Palestinians, he also sharply objected to the permanent US military bases retained in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War. This base retention was an act of singular arrogance and stupidity, but it gets very little attention in US newspapers, etc.

  64. James Canning says:

    WigWag,

    Are you contending the Gulf would remain open for shipping, even if Israel were to be so reckless as to attack Iran? Or in the event an idiotic US attacked Iran?

  65. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    Are you claiming Iran is in fact developing nuclear weapons? Or setting itself up for doing so, should the need arise?

  66. Arnold Evans says:

    Amano takes it a step further by using “all material” to mean “declared material that we know exists, combined with ‘undeclared material’ that we have no reason to believe exists but that we cannot confirm does not exist without measures including the additional protocol”.

    It indicates an advance in the art of deceptive language more than it indicates information gained from investigation or analysis of Iran’s actual nuclear activities.

  67. Arnold Evans says:

    “Undeclared material” is becoming a weird term because it misses an important point. It sounds to a lay reader like material that exists that Iran has not declared. What Amano and US the US proliferation community mean is “material for which there is no indication that it exists, but whose existence cannot be ruled out to the IAEA’s satisfaction without a country’s implementation of the additional protocols and in some cases measures beyond that”.

    In short, by “undeclared material” Amano means “prove a negative by implementing the additional protocols”.

    I’m also not sure every reader is aware that Iran was implementing the additional protocols until it was reported to the UN Security Council its policy is that it will resume when its file is returned. Of course, no weapons program or diversion to military uses of nuclear material was found for the about two years that Iran was implementing the additional protocols.

    The West really has an unsound position, and because of that the language is being filled with deceptive terms. All of this causes me to say that if the West thinks its right, that’s fine. Sanctions, any military strike, supporting internal dissidents – none of these will actually achieve the US goal of preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear capability. So if the US does not want to accept an Iranian nuclear capability, it can keep distorting terms and convince itself that it is right, but Iran will just move forward with its nuclear program.

  68. Arnold Evans says:

    “46. While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

    Alan, I’ll point out again that there are exactly zero countries that have not ratified and implemented the additional protocols for which the second part of that statement cannot be made, it is kind of a term of art that just says that Iran has not fully implemented the additional protocols.

    The question is: does Iran have an obligation to provide “the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

    In other words, does Iran have an obligation to implement the additional protocols? The answer is pretty clearly no. Just as Israel does not have an obligation to implement the NPT itself. Unless Iran ratifies the additional protocols, the “cooperation” mandated by those protocols are not binding on Iran, despite the fact that, like most non-weapons NPT signatories, the IAEA is not able to “confirm that all nuclear material” is in peaceful activities.

  69. Kathleen says:

    These aggressive actions towards Iran always takes me back to that four part report that Fox News reporer Carl Cameron did soon after 9/11. You can google it and the four part report will come at Information Clearing House.

    All about tele communications, spying and who has access to communications systems in the U.S. All about a back door into these systems. Really worth the watch. The I lobby pushed for this report to be taken down

  70. Alan says:

    Cyrus – sorry, meant to include a link, as it is starting to feel out of order to quote things without them:

    http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2010/gov2010-10.pdf

  71. Alan says:

    Eric – the Brazil comment was a general one, not targeted at any specific type of violation, just a violation of Article II. It was made in a debate about CSAs and APs at the NPT Review on May 18. You can find it at the end of page 7 of this link:

    http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/NIR2010/No13.pdf

    Thanks as ever for the efforts you put in, and please don’t feel obliged to put yourself to so much trouble. I would have happily answered your 4 scenarios the other day, but by the time I saw your post 2 days late I thought the debate had moved on and you were no longer expecting it. If you still want me to I will.

  72. Kathleen says:

    With Aipac pushing hard for more aggressive action towards Iran for close to a decade. With the same liars who lied this nation into an illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq still filling the air waves with lies about Iran (John Bolton, Reuel Marc Gerecht etc) With a dual citizen of Israel as Obama’s chief or Staff. With a MSM that will not even whisper about the Goldstone Report and goes along with endlessly painting Iran as bad bad Iran and repeating the debunked (Professor Juan Cole) statement that “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map) all over the place.

    Hell I have heard Stephanapoulous, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Diane Rehm, Neil Conan, Scott Simon, Bob Schieffer all allow that debunked statement to be repeated over the last five or more years (Rachel has not been on that long, but she has allowed this false statement to be repeated) Hell I have not only heard Fresh Air’s Terri Gross allow this lie to be repeated I have heard her say it over and over again. Most of these people have also allowed unsubstantiated claims about Iran alleged nuclear weapons program to be endlessly repeated. The stage has been set and the MSM helped set it

    What do we expect. Next stop Iran if Israel, Aipac and Jinsa have their way.

  73. Alan says:

    Cyrus – from the Feb 2010 IAEA Board Report:

    “46. While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

  74. masoud says:

    Hi Eric,

    I’d like to see your more complete treatment. In what you just posted seems your conclusions dbepend so strongly on the definitions of ‘reasonable’ or what the Agency ‘could have concluded if such and such was provided’, that it’s hard to take issue with. But there is this:
    “IAEA’s authority to determine whether “diversion” has occurred extends to undeclared nuclear material.”

    Is there some standard used in determining this that I’m just not aware of?

    More than that, the question of whether Iran has actually ‘violated’ the CSA or the NPT seems at least for me, to be different from the question of whether or not it can be found in non-compliance by the BOG in accordance with the CSA, and ultimately, less interesting. But maybe we should wait until you are done to get into that.

    Masoud

  75. Dan Cooper says:

    “The Soviet intervention was a golden opportunity for the CIA to transform the tribal resistance into a holy war, an Islamic jihad to expel the godless communists from Afghanistan.

    Over the years the United States and Saudi Arabia expended about $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan.

    The CIA and its allies recruited, supplied, and trained almost 100,000 radical Mujahideen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself.

    Among those who answered the call was Saudi-born millionaire right-winger Osama bin Laden and his cohorts” [2009] Afghanistan, Another Untold Story by Dr. Michael Parenti

    http://www.michaelparenti.org/afghanistan%20story%20untold.html

    If Washington had left the Marxist Taraki government alone back in 1979, “there would have been no army of mujahideen, no Soviet intervention, no war that destroyed Afghanistan, no Osama bin Laden, and no September 11 tragedy.” But it would be asking too much for Washington to leave unmolested a progressive leftist government that was organizing the social capital around collective public needs rather than private accumulation.

    US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere.

    It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government.

    In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.

  76. Arnold,

    I’m glad to see I’ve got your dander up here – exactly what I’d hoped. But I also can see it won’t be a good use of your time or mine to respond to your comments one by one until I’ve posted my promised long “summary” piece. After you read it, you may drop some of your arguments but press others even more strongly.

    By the way, I recognize that “long summary” is an oxymoron, but you know how I can get once I start typing.

  77. Cyrus says:

    ALan – Iran has declared all relevant material — relevenat being defined as nuclear material — and the IAEA has said that it has no evidence of any undeclared material.

  78. WigWag says:

    Wow, World War III; that’s pretty ominous! Please tell me more; I’m quite interested in the details. Is this going to be a war between scores of countries chosing sides between the Americans and the Iranians? Is it going to be a war between Iran and most of the other nations in the world who will be allied with the United States against Iran? Will it be a war between Iran and most of the other nations in the world allied with Iran against the United States?

    Will there be sea battles between Iran’s powerful navy and the naval forces of the United States? And what about the land war; on how many continents will this Third World War be fought?

    And please tell me more about these “street clashes between far left wing groups ( + anarchists ) and far right groups.” I didn’t realize that a U.S. attack on Iran was likely to inspire that kind of urban warfare in the West.

    What I’m a little annoyed about is that Flynt and Hillary must have known about this looming World War III all along and haven’t bothered to mention it to us. They’ve been peddling the line that little old Iran can’t project force beyond its borders and couldn’t withstand a U.S. attack within its borders for very long.

    I don’t get it; why did I have to learn about this World War III business from all the brilliant commentators here while the Leveretts never said a thing?

    What else are you hiding from us Flynt and Hillary?

  79. Good post. The question of who does our espionage activities (dirty work) is an important but difficult one. It’s made worse by the decisions being made in almost complete secrecy. But it seems that the trend is away from the CIA altogether. In some cases, espionage is moving toward more military involvement, DIA, Special Forces and Ops, etc. Remember, our total spying budget is mostly non-CIA and there are 9 military intelligence agencies. In others, espionage is being contracted out to private corporations employing private citizens. Blackwater in Pakistan is the perfect example of this. Unfortunately, both directions mean less scrutiny by the public and even the civilian government.

  80. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric, more (I was going to say lastly, but can’t predict the future):

    1) I want to point out that even in disagreement, I have a lot of respect for your intelligence and motivation to find the underlying truth – just as much on this issue as on an issue where we agree more like that Ahmadinejad likely got more votes than his opponent. I want that to be in the background of all of my discussions with you.

    But I don’t think the legal or technical issues are the most important factor in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. My take on Iran’s legal argument is that until the Security Council resolutions, Iran was being asked, as voluntary confidence building measures to go beyond its safeguards requirements. The requests were described at the time as voluntary confidence building measures and Iran had as much right to deny them as Israel has to refuse to sign the NPT and disarm.

    The UNSC resolutions were clearly discriminatory and made a special case out of Iran. I’ve read various arguments that the resolutions were not legally binding. I’ve never come across an argument that I’d be comfortable making myself, but I consider it in some sense arguable.

    I’m more convinced that if the UNSC orders Iran to allow US troops to occupy Tehran, even if it’s legal, Iran just won’t do it. The UNSC resolutions demanding Iran suspend enrichment are somewhat less drastic versions of that. They are not fundamentally more unfair than that, even if they are better rationalized. There comes a point where sovereignty pushes against international law and sovereignty wins.

    That’s kind of where I see the dispute over Iran achieving a nuclear capability. You have to really, really stretch to claim that Iran does not have the right to at least as much nuclear capability as Japan or Brazil. But for strategic purposes, Israel is not comfortable with Iran having as much nuclear capability as Japan or Brazil.

    The US has enough political power over the IAEA administrative process that it can continuously produce alleged studies and laptops of death and the IAEA will report them as concerning. This way, the US can achieve, an indefinite delay of Iran achieving nuclear capability. The US can prevent, for as long as it wants, Iran reaching the status Japan and Brazil have reached.

    The US will do this whether it is legally right or wrong, whether it is technically right or wrong. Iran will resist this whether it is legally right or wrong, whether it is technically right or wrong. I argue against excessive concern with legal and technical issues that I see as pretexts for the US to attempt to accomplish a strategic objective that is not directly related to or supported by the pretexts.

  81. Dan Cooper says:

    WigWag

    Read Serifo’s post, May 25, 201 at 7:54 pm

    ” the U.S generals know that any military confrontation between U.S and Iran will trigger a possible world war 3 !

    An economic catastrophe in the west will be followed by blood bath in every major western country ( including U.S of course ) , as result of street clashes between far left wing groups ( + anarchists ) and far right groups.

    Now if you add all this to hundreds of ready to die ” JIHADISTS ” , then you will start to get sense of the possible consequences of going to war with Iran. :)”

    In a lighter note, the Zig Zag’s sentence fit the bill perfectly:

    “America is like a lion that simultaneously roars in order to frighten and farts because it is frightened.”

  82. Castellio says:

    Wig Wag, you’ve put on the table what can only be called a racist motivation which, perhaps, helps to explain your push for the “inevitability” of war.

    Sad.

  83. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    “How many young boys do you plan to martyr this time, Persian Gulf, to protect a clerical regime detested BY AT LEAST A SUBSTANTIAL MINORITY of its own people and maybe more?”

    Oh my God I’m laughing so hard my stomach hurts :-))))

    In answer to your question: a SUBSTANTIAL amount!

  84. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    Keys to Paradise b.s. based on the sloppy reporting of western reporters. The most common prayer book among the Shia is called “Mafatihul Jinan” which means- you guessed it- “Keys to Paradise”. Every Shia houslehold and religious person has copy of this as anyone who has ever met a religious Iranian can attest to. All the soldiers used to take a copy of it with to war. I think you get the picture.

  85. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    WigWag
    It’s precisely because of the millions of teenagers that sacrificed themselves for their country during the war that you are currently pissing in your pants at the thought of a war with Iran (it’s OK you don’t have to admit it publicly as long as you know it when you are alone my yourself) . Like then, Iranian teenagers today will hand American men (or any other enemy) their asses to them in case of a war. And yes all them who are martyrs and are in heaven, something you can’t even begin to understand (it’s OK don’t try).

    As I said to you before- you have no clue what the Iranian response will be but you seem awfully certain of “shock and awe”, so come on “bring it on” (said in a GWB Texas drawl)

  86. Kathryn says:

    If Syria (or Iraq, or Iran, or Somalia, or Panama, or Grenada, or Cuba….etc etc..) actually had the ability to retaliate we never would have attacked them – we are cowards, bullies that pick on the weak and terrorize anybody who refuses to follow our orders.

    If Syria were to exterminate a US base in Iraq they would certainly be within their rights, but they know that the ignorant American electorate could be provoked into believing that the US had been ‘attacked’ and must ‘defend’ itself by nuking Damascus.

    After all, the American electorate has already proved itself stupid enough to buy the line about Saddam being in cahoots with AlQaeda, they will believe anything their Nobel Peace fraud President tells them.

    Its not hard to see why most people in the World see the US as the worst threat to World Peace, because it is.

  87. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    Iranian@iran
    Of course you are right it was Imam, I think towards the end of the war, (however keep in mind “Khamenei is Khomeini”:-)

    Of course Imam would never use the word “fart”, literal translation “releases something from itself”. But “fart” is more appropriate when addressing the WigWags of the world.

  88. Iranian@Iran says:

    WigWag,

    One other thing. Show me one of those keys and I’ll accept all your claims. The keys to heaven were western propaganda just like a lot of other things that you read about in the NYT…

  89. Iranian@Iran says:

    WigWag,

    The Islamic Republic is quite rational and very sophisticated. The Tehran Declaration alone speaks volumes.

  90. Arnold Evans says:

    I was tempted to engage WigWag but decided against it.

  91. Iranian@Iran says:

    ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji),

    Ayatollah Khomeini said that, not Ayatollah Khamenei and it was said a bit more eloquently!

  92. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric, more:

    Of course it would be nice for Iran to go beyond its requirements, that could create confidence and all of those good things, but where do you find a legal requirement?

    I’ll also point out that the IAEA board resolutions referred to voluntary and non-legally binding confidence building measures Iran should take which included going beyond the reporting requirements of Iran’s ratified agreements to create an atmosphere of trust.

    At what point do voluntary and non-legally binding confidence building measures become legal requirements? Which is to say that at least as of the end of 2005, the IAEA, in its own words, did not believe Iran had a legal requirement to take the confidence building measures, including providing access to personnel and answering questions not directly related to nuclear materials that it seems you are saying are legal requirements today.

    Lastly, can you connect these requirements with a demand that Iran suspend enrichment? There is no language in anything Iran ratified that contemplates Iran either losing or suspending its right to operate a nuclear program, including with a fuel cycle.

    I cannot see a reading of the NPT or CSA that imposes a requirement, even if Iran was found to have fully constructed a bomb, that it relinquish elements of its civilian program that could in theory give it a nuclear weapons option. If you see language that supports that, what is it?

  93. WigWag says:

    “We are not yearning for a war on our borders as it will obviously not solve the problems fundamentally. However, if it is imposed on us in any scenario, we will certainly not give in. Rest assured that men are ready to sacrifice for their country.” (Persian Gulf, May 25, 2010 at 8:58 pm)

    I don’t doubt for a minute, Persian Gulf, that there are Iranian “men ready to sacrifice for their country.” After all, we have all the evidence we need from the Iran-Iraq War.

    But you forgot to mention something; what about the 10, 11 and 12 year old boys who will be sacrificing for their country? Do you remember all those young boys who had their minds filled with religious drivel so they would gladly offer themselves up as martyrs in the mine fields? Surely you’ve heard about this Persian Gulf; these little boys armed only with plastic keys which they were told were the keys to Paradise, were enticed by a deranged regime to clear Iraqi mines with their bodies. Tens of thousands of young boys died.

    The nature of the Iranian regime was amply on display in the 1980s and it is amply on display now; in fact, if anything the regime has only become more extreme and bizarre. That’s why it poses such a threat and that’s why Obama will have no chocie but to cut it down to size.

    How many young boys do you plan to martyr this time, Persian Gulf, to protect a clerical regime detested by at least a substantial minority of its own people and maybe more?

  94. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric,

    Maybe your longer piece will answer this, I’m curious about your position. If the IAEA has a mandate to make a determination that cannot be made without going beyond the reporting requirements of a country’s CSA, is the country now legally obliged to go beyond its CSA?

    If so, can an IAEA mandate create a legal obligation for Israel to ratify or at least implement the NPT and then a CSA and the AP?

    What language in what document that Iran ratified do you think requires it to cooperate with the IAEA board beyond it’s explicitly described reporting requirements?

  95. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    WigWag
    The truth is that neither you nor the Leveretts really have a clue what Iran’s response will be, but Iran knows what you will be bringing to battle. I guess there is only one way to find out.

    Ayatullah Khamenei: “America is like a lion that simultaneously roars in order to frighten and farts because it is frightened.”

  96. Alan,

    ““Brazil pointed out that if a country violates its obligation under article II of the NPT, it will violate both the CSA and the AP.””

    Masoud,

    I had written:

    “You may add to your argument (I’ll speculate) that Iran could at least design a nuclear explosive device, maybe even manufacture its components, without violating the NPT. I’d disagree with you on that…”

    And you replied:

    “I’d like to hear your reasoning with regards to that.”

    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    I shouldn’t piece-meal my responses on such major points. I’ve been working on an analysis of Iran’s rights and duties under what I’ve labeled there the “Iran Nuclear Documents.” I’m hoping to post a greatly summarized version of it here soon, and will very much appreciate comments from each of you and others. I anticipate you’ll find some things you agree with, some you don’t, some arguments you feel are very persuasive (and in several cases much different from most analyses), others you feel are an unwarranted stretch. And what falls into which category is likely to vary from reader to reader. In any case, I’ll be disappointed if you pull any punches in telling me your reaction to it, if and when I post it here.

    I’ll nevertheless give a few short responses now, not in all cases supported here by sufficient arguments:

    Alan:

    Every violation of a CSA is a violation of the NPT, but not every violation of the NPT is a violation of a CSA. (No comment on the Additional Protocol, since Iran’s never signed it and I’ve been focusing so far only on what Iran has agreed to.) You quoted Brazil’s statement in the abstract, so I can’t say whether the particular NPT violation Brazil had in mind (if any) would violate its CSA. Nevertheless, since the statement you quoted included no context, it’s indisputably an overstatement. However you feel generally about the longer piece I later post here, I’m confident you’ll agree with me at least on that point.

    Masoud:

    I’d planned at the beginning of this post to give at least a short answer to you here, but now I’m not sure I can. I’ll try, but chances are it won’t end up as short as I’d like, and certainly it will be disagreeable to many readers. I’ll cover this point in more detail in the longer “summary” piece I hope to post soon.

    I believe that manufacturing single-use nuclear weapon components probably (not certainly – but in my view) violates Article II of the NPT. Merely designing a nuclear weapon poses a tougher question, which I’ll defer, in part because my answer may depend on whether Iran received or sought outside assistance in its design efforts.

    But I believe that either component-manufacture or weapon-design could also result in an NPT violation in a more roundabout way, depending on other circumstances. If the activity in question gives the IAEA good reason to doubt Iran’s peaceful-use intentions, and the IAEA has additional reasons to doubt that Iran has declared all of its nuclear materials, then, depending on the overall strength of the reasons supporting the IAEA’s doubt on that “full declaration” point, I believe that Iran’s weapon-design and component-manufacture activities would warrant the IAEA in asking for more information so that the IAEA can eliminate its justifiable doubts about Iran’s full declaration of its nuclear material.

    If, in the final analysis, the IAEA was reasonable to have had doubts about Iran’s “full declaration” in light of all of the IAEA’s available information and the history of its relationship with Iran, and what the IAEA asked Iran for to eliminate those doubts was reasonably aimed at eliminating the doubts, not unduly burdensome and not likely to reveal Iran’s confidential information that it has a right to protect under the NPT and its CSA, and Iran failed to satisfy those reasonable IAEA requests for additional information, then I believe the IAEA might (not necessarily “would”) be justified in determining that it is unable to verify that Iran has not diverted nuclear material to non-peaceful uses. If the IAEA could also fairly conclude that it would have been able to make such a verification if Iran had complied with the IAEA’s reasonable information requests (thus preventing any complaint by Iran that it is simply being asked to perform the impossible task of “proving a negative”), then I believe the IAEA could fairly say that Iran is in violation of its CSA because Iran is not fulfilling its contractual promise to cooperate with the IAEA as reasonably necessary for the IAEA to carry out its duties under the CSA. Since a violation of Iran’s CSA would, ipso facto, be a violation of the NPT, it would follow, after all of these intermediate steps in the reasoning, that Iran’s design of a nuclear weapon or manufacture of nuclear weapon components, at least in this example, may fairly be counted among the bases on which Iran is found to have violated the NPT. Absent other factors that result in a more suspicious “total mix” of information concerning Iran (e.g. a spotty disclosure history, a laptop allegedly belonging to an Iranian scientist that allegedly contains bomb-design information), I might reach the opposite conclusion.

    This conclusion depends in part on an important point Alan has made several times on this website and others (but which some other commenters have disputed, without giving good reasons for doing so): the IAEA’s authority to determine whether “diversion” has occurred extends to undeclared nuclear material. This implies, it seems to me, that the IAEA must also have some authority to ask questions and take other steps to determine whether a country has failed to fully declare its nuclear material, and that a country’s contractual promise to cooperate with the IAEA in its efforts to verify non-diversion obligates the country, within some limits (e.g. undue burden, confidentiality) to answer the IAEA’s reasonable questions on that subject. That authority must have limits, but those limits, I believe, may properly vary somewhat from country to country depending in large part on the extent to which the country’s history of compliance with its CSA and the NPT gives, or does not give, the IAEA reason to doubt the country’s declarations of nuclear material.

  97. Rehmat says:

    Washington and Tel Aviv have been involvedin covert anti-Iran actions even before the Islamic Revolution (1979). They carried out the coup against elected govern of Mossadeq and since the Islamic Revolution, their anti-Iranian operations have covered almost every field. A few years ago, Dubya Bush created a US$400 million fund to pring in a regime-range in Tehran. Even Canadian ambassador tn Tehran at the time of Islamic Revolution, Kenneth Taylor, admitted last year that he was CIA station chief in Tehran. Then we had the Iran-Conta affair in which Israel was brough-in to discredit Islamici Iran in the eyes of the Muslim world…..and then the failed Green Revolution…..and the list goes on…

    However, as the Leader said last week – Iran’s enemies will eat dust once again with the Will of Allah.

    Nuclear deal – Iran 1: Israel 0
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/nuclear-deal-iran-1-israel-0/

  98. Alan says:

    kooshy – Erdogan’s view there is of course entirely consistent with that given by Davutoglu on November 16 in the midst of the proposed escrow swap variation to the TRR deal.

    Do I think Congress “caved in” to Obama? Well, it would be nice to think so.

    We are yet to see the playing out of certain aspects of this, namely Davutoglu’s claim that Erdogan had a letter from Obama authorising a 1200kg swap in Turkey, and the claim by Davutoglu’s officials that Davutoglu was speaking to the Americans three times a day throughout negotiations with the Iranians.

    The sequencing of the circulation of the sanctions draft on May 14, the Tripartite deal on May 17, the tabling of the draft at the UNSC on May 18, and the consequent suspension of unilateral US sanctions on Iran yesterday is intriguing, to say the least.

  99. Alan says:

    Masoud/Eric – you could consider as an example the Brazilian viewpoint articulated at the NPT Review on May 18:

    “Brazil reminded delegations that while the CSA only deals with declared material, it actually includes an obligation to declare all relevant material and failure to do so is a violation of the agreement.

    “Brazil pointed out that if a country violates its obligation under article II of the NPT, it will violate both the CSA and the AP.”

  100. Iranian@Iran says:

    Iranians are Shia Muslims and in their culture the concept of resistance is very strong. What defeated Israel is Lebanon was among other things this culture of resistance. The difference here is that Iran is much larger than Hezbollah and it is situated alongside the Persian Gulf. In addition the US armed forces are streched and weary of war far away from home. If, God frobid, there is war there will definitely be no more oil or gas coming out of the Strait of Hormuz, northern Iran, Azerbeijan, and some other parts of Central Asia. The global economy will be in ruins.

  101. masoud says:

    Eric:
    “You may add to your argument (I’ll speculate) that Iran could at least design a nuclear explosive device, maybe even manufacture its components, without violating the NPT. I’d disagree with you on that”

    I’d like to hear your reasoning with regards to that.

  102. Lysander,

    “You are incorrect wrt the Sunni Arab states. … They are praying for Iran to grow stronger and wealthier. Trust me on that.”

    I do. For years, decades in fact, we’ve been hearing that the Saudis and other Arabs are eager to see Iran receive its come-uppance at the hands of the Americans. Bases for that? Nearly always the same: private assurances given to high-ranking American officials by Arab leaders who are too afraid of “the street” to admit publicly their preference for Christian, Jewish or entirely godless Americans over their Iranian fellow Muslims. I’ve always suspected that either (1) those Arab leaders were simply telling their American guests what they knew the guests wanted to hear or, more likely (2) the claims were entirely fabricated.

  103. Lysander says:

    WigWag,

    I don’t think war is certain but certainly possible. There are powerful voices calling for confrontation and will continue to do so. They may very well succeed, but it isn’t guaranteed.

    As for Iran’s response, I’m no military expert. But if an attack were as easy as you suggest, I suspect it would have happened years ago. The fact that it hasn’t suggests to me at least, that it would be no simple matter.

    You are incorrect wrt the Sunni Arab states. Most of the Sunni Arab public admires Iran for its technical progress, its independence and its refusal to back down in the face of serious threats from the US/Israel. They are praying for Iran to grow stronger and wealthier. Trust me on that.

    As for their pro western government’s, even then I’m not so sure. A war that spins out of control would be a catastrophe for Saudi Arabia and all the smaller Gulf states. Egypt’s government would be hiding under the bed for the duration.

  104. Reza says:

    With all the intelligence and money that the US has to study people and their cultural nuances, I am surprised how the US is acting so foolishly. Some Iranian population attributes that make the Iran situation different from how the US was approaching Arab-Iraq is as follows:

    1) Iranians are ultra nationalistic. If the US thinks by attacking Iran it could potentially create a chain of events that could liberate the population, and they choose a US puppet regime, then the US is still highly naive.

    2) Any attack on Iran would be highly offensive to Persians and they wont forget it, just like they didnt like the oil exploitation of the 1950′s and the 1953 coup. The Iranian population is too proud (think of china), and the US may as well forget any future close relationship under even a democratic iranian government, because the Iranians will rather work closer with the Germans, Koreans and Chinese.

    3) Without Iranian Aggression, bombing their facilities simply gives ammunition to Iran to withdraw from the NPT. Under international law, no one could argue against Iran leaving the NPT in that scenario. Iran is many times more technologically advanced than pakistan and it will be easy for them to move full speed to the bomb, and justify it to a supportive population. Iranians would be all for it because they have this attribute (“Gheirat” as Hooman Majd states), and if its violated then all gloves come off.

    4) Intellectually, Iran has many more academics and technical minded people compared to all the Arab countries combined, so telling Iranians nuclear or any other research is prohibited “just for you guys” is not acceptable, and again will be taken as an insult – hence why the carrot-sticks approach will continue to fail because Iranians will think of that suited for “Donkeys”, and not themselves.

    A quick survey of the number of iranian to Arab professors in US universities is a good indication of Iran technological level relative to Arab countries. According to Science Metrix, Iran had the worlds fastest growth in scientific output in the last 10 years. http://www.science-metrix.com/30years-Paper.pdf

    My final point is: No government (i.e. US, Israel, European) will be able to restrict the Iranian Populations progression to become an economic powerhouse in the Middle East. It is a simple fact of demographics (70+ Million people, growing to 90+ Million in the next few decades) that countries like Saudi Arabia and other noise makers like Israel cant match.

  105. kooshy says:

    Very interesting if you care to read

    Former CIA Officer on Iran: Brazil and Turkey are Vital Checks and Balances

    Shouldn’t the world welcome the actions of two significant, responsible, democratic, and rational states to intervene and help check the foolishnesses of decades of US policy on Iran?

    By Graham E. Fuller

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25535.htm

  106. Dan Cooper says:

    The propensity for “US government” to manufacture or exploit intensely fabricated stories such as Sadam’s WMD and Iran’s nuclear ambition, in order to hoodwink populations into supporting phony wars of “liberation” has been proven time and time again.

    The hypocrisy is impossible to stomach.

    The “western governments” support Israel;

    A nation….which has attacked every neighbour that it has, at one time or another .

    A nation….which In the last two years alone, has killed more people in Lebanon and Gaza than the number who perished in 9/11.

    A nation….which is also a secret and illegal nuclear power, having broken every rule and international law to obtain and assist in proliferating nuclear weapons.

    A nation…..which has built its so called democracy on the stolen land with the blood of innocent and defenceless Palestinian women and children.

    A nation…..which slaughters innocent women and children with impunity.

    A nation…..which has blood on its hand.

  107. Dan Cooper says:

    The allegation of an Iranian nuclear weapon is the fear factor equivalent to Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction”.

    The nuclear weapon issue is a pretext for Washington, not a real issue.

    It is merely a way to paint Iran as a threat.

    If Iran were to develop a weapon, it could not be used against Israel without destroying the Palestinians as well, and perhaps Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and areas of Syria.

  108. WigWag says:

    Actually, just about the only thing the Leveretts haven’t told us about the Islamic Republic is once the fighting starts, whether Hillary plans to fly to Tehran and reprise the role of Hanoi Jane.

  109. Persian Gulf says:

    WigWag:

    We are not yearning for a war on our borders as it will obviously not solve the problems fundamentally. However, if it is imposed on us in any scenario, we will certainly not give in. Rest assured that men are ready to sacrifice for their country.

  110. Lysander,

    “Keep in mind Iran need not violate the NPT. It should develop all the needed skills while under the NPT and accumulate as much LEU as possible, while at the same time enhancing its space program and missile technology. The withdrawal from the NPT need not be arbitrary or out of the blue. The US or Israel will provide the suitable excuse. World events may provide the suitable opportunity.”

    I understand your point that Iran could develop its space program and missile technology without violating the NPT. What I don’t understand is how Iran could also develop a “nuclear explosive device” without that being noticed. Manufacturing a nuclear explosive device would violate the NPT. You may add to your argument (I’ll speculate) that Iran could at least design a nuclear explosive device, maybe even manufacture its components, without violating the NPT. I’d disagree with you on that, but even if you’re right, my very strong hunch is that the time between when Iran withdrew from the NPT and the time when the US would do something not-nice in response would be very short, possibly too short for Iran to assemble the bomb, refine its uranium up to 90%, bolt it onto a missile and send it our way. And even this assumes that Iran will have got that far without being detected.

    Do you think the risk of US action against Iran would be greater if (1) Iran withdrew from the NPT and then raced to complete a bomb before the US could bomb Iran into oblivion; or (2) Iran simply cheated and then, when it got caught (if ever), raced to complete a bomb before the US could bomb Iran into oblivion. I can’t help but think the latter course would be safer. It seems to me that withdrawing from the NPT is to announce: “We’re planning to build a bomb, starting tomorrow morning.” Cheating at least gives you a little head-start.

  111. WigWag,

    “In fact, the totality of their writing suggests that the Leveretts believe that the only way to avoid a violent confrontation between the United States and Iran is for the Obama Administration to pursue a “grand bargain” with Iran…Presumably we can all agree that a “grand-bargain” is off the table which almost certainly means that if Flynt and Hillary are right, than its just a matter of time before we see “shock and awe” over Tehran.”

    I don’t know if we can all agree, but at least I do agree that a grand bargain is off the table – assuming solely for the sake of the metaphor that it was ever on the table in the first place, or even in the same building. I think you stretch a bit from the assumptions you’ve collected from the Leveretts’ writings to reach the conclusion that war is practically the inevitable result of their views, but I get close enough to where you get that our difference on this point isn’t important. I suspect we also agree that hoping for any sort of “grand bargain” is not only wishful thinking but dangerous thinking – precisely because it’s wishful thinking and distracts attention from thinking and actions that might be more productive for Iran (and the US).

    I think there’s some hope in what I’ve often recommended, which can best be labeled: “Walk softly, and don’t carry a big stick or pretend that you are.” Keep the sleeping giant pacified as best you can while you have no alternative, make friends with some other strong guys in the neighborhood, and wait patiently while the giant’s muscles grow weaker and yours grow stronger so that, eventually, you need not fear the giant any longer. Even when that happens, think twice about walking around with a big stick because (1) it’s not nice; and (2) on the remote chance that you don’t care a whit about what’s nice, there might be some new giant out there who doesn’t like it any more than the current one does.

  112. WigWag says:

    “A lot of other readers here see Iran as the only remaining obstacle to total American/Israeli hegemony in the middle east. I am one of them and, I suspect, you are one of them too. The main difference is you feel Israeli domination is something to be longed for, whereas I wish to see it resisted.” Lysander

    That’s not precisely the way I feel, Lysander. I actually think that I agree with the Leveretts more than most people who write comments on their blog.

    The Leveretts have stated numerous times that a sanctions regime imposed at the behest of the Americans against Iran will eventually lead to U.S. military intervention; I agree.

    The Leveretts have stated here and elsewhere that given the dynamics of the region, if the United States tries to implement a “containment” strategy against Iran, it will lead to war between the United States and Iran; I agree.

    In the article I cited below, (see May 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm) and elsewhere, Flynt Leverett has argued that even if the United States pursues a policy of detente with Iran similar to the approach that Nixon and Kissinger took to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, it will probably lead to war between the United States and Iran; I agree.

    In fact, the totality of their writing suggests that the Leveretts believe that the only way to avoid a violent confrontation between the United States and Iran is for the Obama Administration to pursue a “grand bargain” with Iran similar to the “grand bargain” Nixon pursued with China; I’m not sure I agree with the Leveretts about this, but they could easily be right.

    Presumably we can all agree that a “grand-bargain” is off the table which almost certainly means that if Flynt and Hillary are right, than its just a matter of time before we see “shock and awe” over Tehran.

    And we also know how Flynt and Hillary think this violent confrontation will end; after all they’ve told us. They’ve mentioned that Iran doesn’t have the ability to project force beyond its borders and that it doesn’t have the ability to resist a U.S. military invasion; at least for very long.

    The Leveretts have mentioned that in any confrontation with the United States, Iran will mostly be limited to pursuing asymetric warfare which will almost certainly impose painful costs on the United States, Israel and America’s Sunni Arab allies. These are costs that Israel and the Sunni Arab nations (which want Obama to confront Iran as much or more as the Israelis do) are prepared to accept. I doubt that many Americans are cowed at the prospect of Iran imposing costs on the United States.

    All of this suggests that the destruction of the current regime in Iran along with a considerable amount of Iranian infrastructure seems inevitable; at least if you believe the Leveretts.

    We may or may not agree about what we think about all of this, Lysander, but anyone who follows the Leveretts knows what they think; they think that the march to war has begun. I agree.

  113. Lysander says:

    James,

    Yes I am aware, but I’m not sure what your point is. I agree Iran has behaved responsibly. I believe it has tried to accommodate the west. It hasn’t worked. Now what?

    Eric,

    North Korea was a signatory to the NPT and had IAEA cameras in place at their facilities. They withdrew from the NPT in 2003, in October, IIRC, allegedly in response to the US failure to honor agreements made during the Clinton administration.

    The main difference between NK and Iran is that the former already had weapons grade plutonium rods, whereas Iran would have to enrich uranium from 20% to 90. This would take some time given Iran’s current capabilities. As they improve centrifuges, this time could be reduced.

    Keep in mind Iran need not violate the NPT. It should develop all the needed skills while under the NPT and accumulate as much LEU as possible, while at the same time enhancing its space program and missile technology.

    The withdrawal from the NPT need not be arbitrary or out of the blue. The US or Israel will provide the suitable excuse. World events may provide the suitable opportunity.

    Once again this is not an irreversible course. It may be the US would offer a nonaggression pact in exchange for Iran remaining in the NPT. If so, great.

  114. Dan Cooper says:

    Obama must first break the Zionist lobby’s stranglehold on Congress failing which there will never be peace in the Middle East or rapprochement with Iran.

    America should cure this cancer inside it as a matter of urgency.

    The Obama regime is penetrated from the top to bottom with Zionists in positions to influence every strategic decision relating to Iran and Middle East policy in general.

    The evidence of Zionist control is overwhelming and the consequences are deadly to any ‘balanced’ negotiations with Iran.

    This regime is not prepared to open serious negotiations with Iran, or to ‘broker’ an end of Israeli occupation of Palestine.

    On the contrary, their close ties with the Israel Lobby and long-term commitment to Israeli militarism and expansionist policies ensure that the Obama regime will proceed toward collaboration with the Jewish State in confrontation with Iran.

    USA and Israel will not allow any country in the Middle East to challenge Israel’s supremacy in the region.

    Everyone on Obama’s team supported the Israeli carnage in Gaza and endorsed Israel’s efforts to destroy the democratically elected Hamas government and prop up the discredited and corrupt Abbas.

    Israel lobby control the media and the world.

    Israel is wiping Palestine off the map and committing genocide but there is no media outcry or condemnation from the west.

    The US media is a complete mouthpiece for the Israel Lobby. Never a critical word is heard against Israel.

    No leader of the western countries is able to condemn Israel because they are frightened of the influence and the power of Israel lobby.

    Ahmadinejad was the only leader who publicly condemn Israel and rightly so.

    This is the main reason why he is daily demonized by the western media.

    The charge of rigged election or nuclear weapon is only an excuse.

    No matter how many nuclear bombs Israel possesses,

    No matter how many war crimes Israel commits,

    No matter how many women and children Israel murders.

    No matter how many Palestinians, Israel makes homeless.

    No matter how many UN resolutions, Israel violates,

    The USA and the European countries will not impose any sanctions against Israel but they are so eager to impose sanction against Iran.

    The sanctions are illegal, unjust and immoral.

    We, the international community who were educated on the values of liberty, justice, honesty and peace, cannot accept it.

    The Zionist government of Israel is not only the obstacle to peace but also a monster apparently beyond control.

    This rouge, racist and apartheid regime also possesses well over 200 illegal nuclear bombs

    If the American people manage to destroy the power of “Israel lobby”, they will improve America’s image in the world tremendously and not only the negotiation with Iran would be possible but also this world would be a better place to live in.

  115. Serifo says:

    The U.S has been funding a proxy war against Iran for quite sometime now , for instance the Jundullah group is a good example of the U.S proxy on Iran. In fact the captured ring leader of the group , Rigi confessed receiving a huge amount of financial and military support from CIA !
    Now all the warmongering coming from Pentagon is likely to be just pure propaganda , because the U.S generals know that any military confrontation between U.S and Iran will trigger a possible world war 3 ! An economic catastrophe in the west will be followed by blood bath in every major western country ( including U.S of course ) , as result of street clashes between far left wing groups ( + anarchists ) and far right groups. Now if you add all this to hundreds of ready to die ” JIHADISTS ” , then you will start to get sense of the possible consequences of going to war with Iran. :)

  116. Lysander,

    “Your point that Iran doesn’t have the kind of support Israel has is well taken. It does , however, have more support than North Korea, and they somehow managed it.”

    On the other hand, North Korea wasn’t and isn’t a party to the NPT and thus has no safeguards agreement in place. It might have had a tougher row to hoe if that hadn’t been the case. Iran would have to do some fancy bobbing and weaving to accomplish what North Korea did, unless it were to withdraw from the NPT entirely, and I think we all know what the consequences of that would be.

  117. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    Most Americans are not aware the US supports terrorists operating within Iran. As does Israel. One of the Rigi brothers was executed today or yesterday. They want an independent Baluchistan. Or put that forward as a basis for getting support from the US, Israel, etc.

  118. James Canning says:

    Lysander,

    You are aware, I’m sure, that Iran did not use chemical weapons during its 8-year war with Iraq, despite suffering horrific casualties from Iraqi use of poison gas, etc.

    Do you think Iran would use a nuke or two if Iran had the ability to do so? Where would the nukes be dropped? The notion of acquiring a dangerous weapon that would invite attack from without, to me is really wild. Unless you think Iran would somehow avoid an attack by doing what precisely is feared by toher countries and that is itself the possible grounds for the attack.

  119. kooshy says:

    Interesting point by Erdogan

    Erdogan: Nuclear enrichment Iran’s right
    Tue, 25 May 2010 21:36:07 GMT
    Font size :

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Iran, like any other country in the world, is entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

    “If a country enriches uranium at low levels for peaceful purposes and not production of nuclear weapons, then this is its right … and this is what Iran is doing,” Erdogan said in a meeting with the South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in Ankara on Tuesday.

    “Now, Turkey has also signed a deal with Russia, according to which we will have launched our nuclear power plant within the next 6-7 years. We will also have the chance to enrich uranium at low levels, and having this chance is our right as long as it has peaceful purposes,” Haber Turk newspaper quoted Erdogan as saying.

    Earlier this month, Russia signed a $20-billion deal with Turkey to help build and operate Turkey’s first nuclear power plants.

    The plan envisages the construction of four nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 4,800 megawatts at Akkuyu, on the Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

  120. khurshid says:

    US covert operation directed towards Iran is not new, it was conducted before and will continue. However, all US covert operations have failed to derail Iran so far and will fail in future.

    No one should be surprised to see Obama’s endorsement of MISGUIDED US FOREIGN POLICY as Obama, despite generating initial euphoria after his election, always was DYSFUNCTIONAL in strong decision making. Key proof are as follows:

    1) When Israel was committing COLD BLOODED GENOCIDE in Gaza in early 2009 Obama kept silence. His pretext for silence was that he has not officially started his JOB AS PRESIDENT OF US.

    2)When he did take office and rhetorically extended sweet gesture towards Iran, he failed to act decisively when Khamanie reciprocated.

    3)If Obama had any statesmanship quality in him he would have withdrew US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and brought the illegal war to an end. This would have improved his credibility and that of US. Did he do it? NO – He is too weak to lead; he is excellent at being lead.

    4) Obama can not even stop Israel building illegal settlements in Palestine let alone stop Israel from killing Palestinian or lift immoral size of Gaza. Why can’t he stop Israeli atrocity? Obama is confused and does not know how to oppose injustice and brutality.

    5) Obama can’t even capitalize on the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement on uranium swap deal. And it is the same deal he wanted back in October.

    6) Had Bush the lesser not engaged in military adventures in middle east Bush would still be US president. Obama became president due to Bush’s wrong policy. Obama DID NOT BECOME PRESIDENT BY CHOICE, HE BECAME PRESIDENT BY DEFAULT.

    Taking these points into account it is not surprising that Obama is allowing covert and overt operation against Iran.

  121. kooshy says:

    Alan

    I addressed the earlier link specifically to you, because I was wondering if you also think that the US congress is “caving in” to allow US government have a chance for further negotiations, to me that sounds like they just did that

  122. Alan says:

    kooshy – thanks for link.

    —–

    I’m not sure I see what all the fuss is about over this NYT piece. We already knew about the $450m or whatever it was for covert activities. My immediate perception was that this new stuff would apply to Yemen and Somalia. Let’s face it, the first US soldier caught in Iran is going to look a right mug.

    Does it really tell us anything we didn’t already know?

  123. Castellio says:

    WigWag. I’m not so sure you have this right. I suggest you look at:
    http://www.truthout.org/rep-alan-grayson-introduces-war-is-making-you-poor-act59802

    There is a madness gripping American foreign and economic policy, and people want to push back. How does one lean against such systemic misuse of resources, which is lose – lose for all parties, without pointing out errors?

    You want win – win, then support cutting the over-the-top military budget, consider reciprocal respect for other national governments, consider supporting basic human rights in Palestine, consider addressing the immense gap between poor and wealthy within the country and yes, consider supporting engagement with Iran, for the war will have no upside.

    These are defining moments for the USA. The people thought they had voted in change. Where is that change?

  124. Lysander says:

    WigWag

    “Really? It seems to me based on the comments made so far on this thread, (some of which may not have come from American citizens) and from the comments from threads on other posts that quite a few “Race for Iran” readers are rooting for Iran over the United States.”

    A good observation and one I wont dispute. There are varied opinions on this website. I suspect a lot of Americans hate the idea that their country might go to war for the benefit of a third country. A lot of other readers here see Iran as the only remaining obstacle to total American/Israeli hegemony in the middle east. I am one of them and, I suspect, you are one of them too. The main difference is you feel Israeli domination is something to be longed for, whereas I wish to see it resisted.

    This is probably quite different than the attitude of the Leverets. For them, American global hegemony is a good and beneficial thing and they feel it can better be accomplished through a grand bargain with Iran. They are probably (actually almost certainly) correct, although I am not a proponent of US global hegemony.

  125. Lysander says:

    Eric,

    Iran is already putting satellites in orbit. 90% or more of the work needed to make nukes can be done openly within the NPT. And there is still plenty of time. An attack isn’t coming tomorrow.

    Your point that Iran doesn’t have the kind of support Israel has is well taken. It does , however, have more support than North Korea, and they somehow managed it.

  126. WigWag,

    “It seems to me based on the comments made so far on this thread, (some of which may not have come from American citizens) and from the comments from threads on other posts that quite a few “Race for Iran” readers are rooting for Iran over the United States.”

    I think that’s a fair observation, based on comments on this website, including some of my own. But it’s not the case that people making those comments want the US to fail and Iran to succeed, or at least that’s the case for me. I want both countries to succeed. I consider myself a very loyal American who loves his country. I just wish it would leave Iran alone so that Iranians can live in peace and develop to their full potential. I don’t look at this as a zero-sum game.

    Nonetheless, your comment makes me think that I ought to give more thought to how I phrase some comments. I can certainly understand why what I wrote in the preceding paragraph might not always come across clearly.

  127. kooshy says:

    Alan

    Sounds like the draft UN sanction proposal it did achieve its apparent intended goal of blocking unilateral US congressional sanctions
    And paving the way for a possible Vienna negotiations

    Congress to wait on bilateral sanctions on Iran
    By JIM ABRAMS (AP) – 1 hour ago
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hX04BzCuerC5MMIN7szQ0UWsfEuwD9FU20MG1

  128. Lysander says:

    James,

    I’m suggesting Iran place its own national survival before any notion of “fair play.” If I may paraphrase Golda Meir, Iran should not die so that others may think well of her.

    I do not believe there is any impending attack on Iran in the next few years. However, the war party and the neoconservatives spent over a decade arguing for regime change and war on Iraq. Eventually, they got what they wanted. Events such as 9/11 can happen again at any moment and Iran could be blamed even if it had no association with it.

    Over a course of a decade, the possibility of war is serious and Iran should be prepared. They can play the same game as Israel and the US. Keep within the NPT for as long as possible. Build as much of a nuclear infrastructure as possible. Then use US and Israeli threats as the excuse to withdraw. Take advantage of any distraction the US suffers. For example, if the US were to attack North Korea, that would represent an opportunity for Iran. Should oil prices climb to above 100$ per barrel, that spells opportunity. Financial collapse in the West? Opportunity for Iran. Major dispute between the US and Russia or China? Opportunity for Iran.

    If OTOH, US attitudes towards Iran change, then that is a different matter. In the meantime…

    I admire your devotion to honesty. I think Iran has already tried that approach. If it continues to try it faces a catastrophe greater than that suffered by Iraq.

  129. Lysander,

    “If Iran’s government is not already … [secretly developing nuclear weapons], it is performing a disservice to its people.”

    That might be true if Iran had (1) reason to hope that it can produce a deliverable bomb before its secret bomb-making program is uncovered; and (2) some large superpower to protect it on the off-chance its secret program is detected before its bomb and delivery system are complete.

    A certain other country had those pieces in place several decades ago when it needed them, and everything worked out pretty well for that country. But Iran doesn’t, and the risk/reward ratio of what you suggest strikes me as highly unfavorable for the Iranian people – at least those who don’t have bomb shelters with walls made from 2-foot thick case-hardened steel walls and a year’s supply of food, water and video games.

  130. James Canning says:

    Kyle,

    WigWag called attention to your argument that Iran would give assistance to the Taliban and “anti-US” groups in Iraq. You are aware, of course, that Iran is trying to keep the Taliban from returning to power in Kabul.
    If you regard Muqtada al-Sadr as “anti-US”, consider that the American taxpayers would have saved many hundreds of billions of dollars if they had accepted his advice, and the advice of Syria and Iran, to get out of Iraq years ago.

  131. James Canning says:

    WigWag,

    Many of those who post on this site, see the best interests of the American people as being served by cooperation with Iran in maintaining stability in the Middle East. How is this choosing Iran over the US? The whole point is to advance the best interests of the US by carrying out an intelligent foreign policy in the Middle East.

  132. WigWag says:

    “Finally, note that apparently unlike yourself, we’re the legions of America lovers, who put our own country first, and understand Washington’s instruction to avoid excess attachment to foreign powers.” (Liberal)

    Really? It seems to me based on the comments made so far on this thread, (some of which may not have come from American citizens) and from the comments from threads on other posts that quite a few “Race for Iran” readers are rooting for Iran over the United States. Don’t get me wrong; that’s fine with me. After all, to each his own. But it’s really quite ironic that supporters of Israel are accused of “double loyalty” quite frequently by the type of people who seem to prefer Iranian policy to American policy. It’s hard to think of anyone more quilty of the “double loyalty” charge than the Leveretts themselves.

    Actually, Hillary Mann Leverett has hit the “daily double.” When she worked for AIPAC according to AIPAC critics she must have had “dual loyalty” to both Israel and the United States. Now that she’s fallen under the spell of a person that Steve Clemons calls a “crack-cocaine” realist, Mann-Leverett has switched her allegences and suffers from “duel loyalty” to both Iran and the United States; it’s quite a trick, really. I’d hate to hear which side Leverett and Mann Leverett will be rooting for when Iran and the United States finally come to blows.

    Here are some of the quotes from those “Race for Iran” “America lovers” that you’re referring to, Liberal:

    “Have no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran has the ability to severely hurt the US military and to wreck the US economy.” Liz May 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    “The announcement does justify more public Iranian responses…Barack Obama had the nerve to say the US does not interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs. That type of bald-faced lie really renders his speeches worthless as PR exercises, at least regarding Iran, if not the Middle East.” Arnold Evans, May 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    “The US is digging it’s own grave, literally. Iran will respond to this by increasing its support for Taliban and Iraqi groups fighting the US. The era of US world domination is almost over.” Kyle, May 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    “In my view Iran’s best long term hope is to develop nuclear weapons. Several of them, along with delivery systems.” Lysander, May 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Yeah, you’re right, Liberal, I’m sure that the average American reading this would really “feel the love!” And remember, we’re only a few comments in; I am sure it will get juicy from here.

    It’s not that I don’t sympathize with the plight of the Iran afficianados who read this blog; after all, when the American bombs start dropping, they’re going to have to pick a side.

  133. James Canning says:

    Lysander,

    Once again you urge Iran to continue to say it does not seek nuclear weapons, and opposes nukes, while secretly developing such weapons. What a formula for catastrophe! Iran must keep the moral high ground. The warmongers and promoters of the insane Greater Israel scheme, would be most pleased if Iran actually proceeded with the development of nukes. They want a saleable basis for attacking Iran, to “protect” Israel.

  134. James Canning says:

    Meant to say Gates and Clinton are deficient in a sense of history and strategic thinking ability. They seem totally clueless, that Iran’s help is available and needed, to achieve stability in the Middle East.

  135. James Canning says:

    Does it appear more clearly now, that Obama seems to lack a sense of history? And an ability to think strategically? Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates are eficient in both respects. Which helps to explain the sheer idiocy of trying to set up hostile operations within Iran.

  136. liberal says:

    WigWag blithered, “Over the next few days it should be particularly entertaining to watch the legions of Israel-bashers who fell in love with General Petraeus when he remarked that the Israel-Palestine dispute endangered American soldiers falling out of love now…”

    LOL.

    Many of us “Israeli bashers” are not limited to the logical fallacies of “appeal to authority” and “ad hominem”.

    Thus, when Petraeus does or says something we consider wrong, ill-advised, etc, we point that out. When he does or says something good, well-advised, etc, we point that out.

    Finally, note that apparently unlike yourself, we’re the legions of America lovers, who put our own country first, and understand Washington’s instruction to avoid excess attachment to foreign powers.

  137. kooshy says:

    “…the United States is and will remain vastly superior to Iran in every category of military power, conventional or otherwise. Almost thirty years after the Iranian revolution, the Islamic Republic is incapable of projecting significant conventional military force beyond its borders, and would be severely challenged to mount even a conventional defense against U.S. invasion.” (Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, “The Grand Bargain: Five Presidents Have Treated Iran as a Threat; The Next Needs to Think of it as an Opportunity,” The Washington Monthly, August, 2008. “

    The military forces of Iran are currently only tasked with defending the territorial borders of Iran, in that they have proven to be very capable and effective Iran – Iraq war is an example. Unlike US’s failed attempted policies, Iran is not seeking to project its power by failed military means, it rather makes possible for US to effectively destroy its own interest in the region as what we all have witnessed in this past decade, there is no need to have a war with US, since the biggest enemy of the US is actually US and perhaps unknowingly you may be an instrument to that effect.

  138. Liz says:

    Have no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran has the ability to severely hurt the US military and to wreck the US economy. If there is military confrontation, the US will be forced to withdrawl from Iraq and Afghanistan and there will no longer be any oil coming from the Persian Gulf or Azerbeijan. Underestimating the power of Iran would be the ultimate mistake.

  139. WigWag says:

    “I argue that US military doesn’t have the logistical support for a war with Iran, simply because any US attack on Iran from a sea based fleet 300 miles away from Iranian shores will be ineffective and will result in a wider war that eventually will require US for a land invasion which US is incapable of doing in foreseeable future.” (Kooshy, “The Race for Iran” May 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm)

    “…the United States is and will remain vastly superior to Iran in every category of military power, conventional or otherwise. Almost thirty years after the Iranian revolution, the Islamic Republic is incapable of projecting significant conventional military force beyond its borders, and would be severely challenged to mount even a conventional defense against U.S. invasion.” (Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, “The Grand Bargain: Five Presidents Have Treated Iran as a Threat; The Next Needs to Think of it as an Opportunity,” The Washington Monthly, August, 2008.

  140. kooshy says:

    “In light of this, unless the United States plans to acquiesce to the roadblocks to its ambitions that Iran will construct, Obama has only two choices; attempt to forge a
    “grand bargain” or cut Iran down to size using military means.”

    I argue that US military doesn’t have the logistical support for a war with Iran, simply because any US attack on Iran from a sea based fleet 300 miles away from Iranian shores will be ineffective and will result in a wider war that eventually will require US for a land invasion which US is incapable of doing in foreseeable future.

    Due to the high risk of spreading the war to a wider region US is incapable of using neighboring countries air bases, so that leaves them with covert special operations, that in fact was even incapable of changing a small island like Granada.

    “I presume that even the Leveretts would acknowledge at this point that the United States won’t be pursuing the “grand bargain” strategy that they advocate; that leaves only once choice. It’s not a question of whether President Obama will order an attack on Iran but a question of when and what capabilities the American military will utilize.”

    I agree that a grand bargain although recommended at the current Corse is impossible for US regional architecture, so is any type of military attack, therefore US is effectively blocked Of taking any meaningful action except dragging around UNSC members with meaningless sanctions, US have boxed itself a slow effective loss loss situation.

    If US were capable of braking up Iran that would have happened during invasion of Khuzestan by US/European supported Iraqi forces, didn’t happen then, as suggested
    By Leveretts having three prisoners suggested to be spies timing of the directive given to NYT to be published was an irresponsible desperate act on the count of US agencies. What’s new?

  141. Arnold Evans says:

    I’m less interested in the program than that it was announced in the Times. I’m guessing the primary audience is Israel and its supporters and the aim, or what the US is trying to say, is that it is doing all it can to prevent an Iranian nuclear capability.

    The announcement does justify more public Iranian responses and is a signal that the US is choosing a path of hostility against Iran.

    Over the next year we’ll see what Afghanistan looks like with active though quiet Iranian opposition. Iraq is pretty much settled the way Iran wants it so there’s not much need to stir that pot, at least unless a drastic situation was to emerge.

    If I’m Iran, I’m not really worried about this revelation. It is hard for the US now to deny involvement in the murder of the Iranian scientist in December, and it seems like this memo was written before the Balochistan attack – a vindication of Iranian accusations against the United States.

    Barack Obama had the nerve to say the US does not interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs. That type of bald-faced lie really renders his speeches worthless as PR exercises, at least regarding Iran, if not the Middle East.

    I don’t know if there are substantially more resources devoted to anti-Iranian activities now than there were under Bush, but I don’t think there are enough or were enough then, to be a significant threat to Iran’s stability. I think this announcement makes those resources less effective, even as it placates those in the US who worry about Israel’s position compared to Iran’s.

  142. Kyle says:

    The US is digging it’s own grave, literally. Iran will respond to this by increasing its support for Taliban and Iraqi groups fighting the US. The era of US world domination is almost over.

  143. Liz says:

    It is amazing how foolishly the United states behaves when it comes to Iran. They expect to be able to regularly break international law and then they expect Iran to remain silent. It is not without reason that most Iranians that I know and who are familiar with the Haleh Esfandiari case, believe she was not completely innocent. Effectively, the US is leading us all towards a very dangerous situation.

  144. WigWag says:

    It’s hard to know what else the Leveretts expected. They themselves have articulated the argument that Iran has the ability to stymie every American foreign policy ambition in the Middle East.

    In light of this, unless the United States plans to acquiesce to the roadblocks to its ambitions that Iran will construct, Obama has only two choices; attempt to forge a
    “grand bargain” or cut Iran down to size using military means.

    I presume that even the Leveretts would acknowledge at this point that the United States won’t be pursuing the “grand bargain” strategy that they advocate; that leaves only once choice. It’s not a question of whether President Obama will order an attack on Iran but a question of when and what capabilities the American military will utilize. In fact, one could make the argument that the measures that General Petraeus has ordered, in and of themselves, constitute an act of war.

    Over the next few days it should be particularly entertaining to watch the legions of Israel-bashers who fell in love with General Petraeus when he remarked that the Israel-Palestine dispute endangered American soldiers falling out of love now that Patraeus has personally ordered American Special Forces troops to spy on Iran and covertly support Iranian dissident groups. Of course whatever dimwitted fans Patreaus loses among the anti-Israel set will be more than made up for by the legions of new fans he gets in both the United States Congress and the Israeli Knesset. And let’s not forget how deliriously happy Sunni Arab leaders from President Abbas to President Mubarak to King Abdullah of Jordan to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia will be now that General Petraeus is turning his sites away from their “fake” enemy Israel to the enemy they truly detest, Iran.

    The other thing that struck me about this post was this comment,

    “…the intensification of America’s covert war against Iran is taking place through the efforts of General David Petraeus and CENTCOM—because military intelligence operations are not subject to the same congressional oversight and reporting requirements as the Central Intelligence Agency.”

    I wonder whether either the author of the New York Times article or the Leveretts are suggesting that the Obama Administration is attempting to hide something from Congress with the new Petraeus effort directed against Iran. Do they really believe that Congress isn’t on board with any coercive action against Iran that the Administration plans to take? It seems to me that the only reasonable conclusion is that the only objection Congress might have to action against Iran is that it is not coercive enough.

  145. Pirouz says:

    This is precisely what IRGC General Jafari and VEVAK have been warning against for some time now, particularly in reference to collaboration with “opposition groups” as specifically identified by General Petraeus in this military order. Now that this American military policy is out in the open, the Iranian domestic security countermeasures appear warranted.

    Ask yourself how the FBI would have reacted back in the tumultuous year of 1968, had a Soviet military order publicly dictated this type of effort for North America? Active Soviet military collaboration within America’s borders with elements of civil rights groups and anti-war activists, to bring about a soft power effort at subverting the US government. Imagine the backlash that would have provided right here in the United States! Now fast forward to the current situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Do you really expect them to take this lying down?

  146. Lysander says:

    There seems to be a concerted effort by some in the US to bring the US into a war with Iran. I do not think they will succeed in the near term as the US military itself opposes war. But they will keep on trying, and quite possibly get what they want eventually. I think the reason so many are convinced Iran is seeking nukes is because they themselves know what they plan to do to Iran and assume Iran would do the only logical thing available to do.

    In my view Iran’s best long term hope is to develop nuclear weapons. Several of them, along with delivery systems. They should choose the quietest and most secretive way of doing so. They should accomplish as much as they can within the framework of the NPT before withdrawing. They should use diplomacy to present themselves in the best possible light to the world and use all natural divisions between its enemies. It should use its assets in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep the US off balance. Of course, it should maintain deniability.

    If Iran’s government is not already doing those things, it is performing a disservice to its people.