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<nettime> Security Council's sanctions against Iran like WMD scenario?
Ronda Hauben on Thu, 6 Mar 2008 10:05:37 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Security Council's sanctions against Iran like WMD scenario?



Hi - I thought folks would find this article I did for Telepolis
about how the Security Council passed the sanctions against Iran of
interest. It is all strikingly reminiscent of the Iraq scenario. Ronda

Article in Telepolis:

 http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/27/27434/1.html
New Sanctions on Iran
Ronda Hauben 05.03.2008

Dubious Data from US to IAEA Sets Basis

The UN Security Council has
imposed<http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sc9268.doc.htm>(1) a
new set of sanctions on Iran passing resolution 1803 by a vote of 14-0
with one member, Indonesia, abstaining.

On the surface it seemed that this was just another round of sanctions
from the UN Security Council in response to Iran's failure to answer
the questions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and
to stop its nuclear enrichment activity as the Security Council in
two prior resolutions had required (1737, 1747) According to Britain,
France and Germany (who is not on the Council, but one of the sponsors
of the Security Council resolution ), and the U.S. this new set of
sanctions (1803) was necessary to let Iran know that it was necessary
to stop its enrichment activity and to buy its enriched uranium from
other sources like other countries are doing.

There had been some opposition from the non permanent members of the
Council to the imposition of a new set of sanctions as the sanctions
were rushed and formulated even before the IAEA Report was issued.
Dumisani Kumalo, the South African Ambassador, wondered if this was
sidelining the IAEA which is the UN body that is mandated to deal with
the issues of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Marty Natalegawa, the Ambassador from Indonesia, the one member of
the Security Council that abstained in the vote for new sanctions,
said he wasn't convinced that new sanctions were an appropriate step
considering Iran's cooperation with the IAEA.

The 'laptop of massdestruction'

But beneath the surface, the scenario of how this new set of sanctions
has been passed is strikingly similar to the scenario that was
employed to create the pretext for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In
December 2007, the U.S. government's National Intelligence Estimate
(NIE) was made public. It stated that there was no evidence that Iran
is involved with other than the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

For a while that seemed to take the wind out of the sails of those
who were promoting a new set of sanctions against Iran. Though Iran
resisted implementing the requirement of the two prior Security
Council resolutions (1737, 1747) that it suspend its nuclear
enrichment actvity, with the IAEA, it had formulated a workplan
to answer the outstanding questions that the IAEA said needed
explanation. Iran expected a good report in the February 22, 2008 IAEA
Report. Iran was asking that the oversight over its nuclear program
be returned to the IAEA by the Security Council. Iran offered to
implement the Additional Protocol if the matter was transferred out of
the Security Council.

There appeared to be little basis for the Security Council to continue
its demands on Iran, demands that were contrary to Iran's rights under
the NPT to the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
But the IAEA workplan agreed to between Iran and the IAEA had one
additional section yet to be acted on. This section was to be about
"Studies", rather than actual work with nuclear material.

The material in this section related to a laptop that the
US intelligence agency had acquired which German officials
identified as originating with the Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK)
and its political arm, the National Council of Resistance
in Iran (NCRI). The U.S. State Department has NCRI on its
list of terrorist organizations. (see: "The 'laptop of
massdestruction'"<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JC04Ak03.ht
ml>(2))

In the workplan Iran and the IAEA agreed to in August 2007, Iran
explained that the documents eminating from the laptop were
"politically motivated and baseless allegations," but if it was
provided with specific documentation, it would review it and "inform
the Agency of its assessment."

The IAEA-Report: No concrete information about possible current
undeclared nuclear material

The IAEA was only able to give Iran some partial documentation on
February 3-5, 2008, just a few weeks before the IAEA Report was due
to be completed on February 22. Iran's assessment of what it received
was that they were fabrications containing the names of non-existent
individuals and offices.

Not until almost two weeks later, on February 14, was Iran told that
the US had made more documents available and that it would be able
to examine the bulk of documents related to the allegations from the
laptop against it.

This was clearly too late for Iran to be able to
respond in time for its response to be included in
the IAEA Report. The result was that the report
states<http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/IAEA_Iran_Report_2
2Feb2008.pdf>(3) (PDF-File, p.54):

In light of the above, the Agency is not yet in a position to
determine the full nature of Iran's nuclear programme.

The IAEA report explains that the agency has not detected nuclear
activity with regard to the alleged studies, but it includes a
statement that:

The Director General has urged Iran to engage actively with the Agency
in a more detailed examination of the documents available about the
alleged studies which the Agency has been authorized to show to Iran.

Thus what was to be a good report is turned into a new set of
questions about data that wasn't even made available to Iran during
the reporting period. The IAEA has the obligation to provide evidence
of any problem with regard to Iran's program, treating Iran as
innocent until proven otherwise. But the report includes a section
that transforms this obligation into its opposite - this is similar to
the obligation put on Iraq to prove the negative that it didn't have
Weapons of Mass Destruction[1]

The IAEA
Report<http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/IAEA_Iran_Report_2
2Feb2008.pdf>(4) (PDF) says:

Confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear
programme requires the Agency be able to provide assurances not
only regarding declared nuclear material, but, equally importantly,
regarding the absence of undecleared nuclear material and activities
in Iran. (Paragraph 57)

Iran is presented with the obligation to prove the absence of
something, even though the Report goes on to acknowledge that
"with the exception of the issue of the alleged studies, which is
outstanding, the Agency has no concrete information about possible
current undeclared nuclear material."

Turning of the Screw: Quick Conclusions...

A statement of the six nations that drafted of Resolution
1803 against Iran refers to the materials the US recently
declassified to present as allegations against Iran. The statement
says<http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/03/world/middleeast/03nuke.html?_r
=2&scp=8&sq=iran&st=nyt&oref=slogin&oref=slogin>(5):

We note...the IAEA's serious concerns about 'alleged studies', which
are critical to an assessment of a possible military dimension to
Iran's nuclear programme.

Similarly, the statement of the American Ambassador about the issuing
of the sanction resolution, says:

The latest IAEA report states that Iran has not met its obligation to
fully disclose its past nuclear weapons programme. On the core issue
of whether Iran's nuclear programme is strictly peaceful, the report
showed no serious progress.

The Belgian Ambassador also refers to this issue:

Belgium notes that in his report of 22 February the Director General
of the IAEA concludes again that he is not able to provide assurances
regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in
Iran, or regarding the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear
programme.

The Panamian Ambassador also refers to the section of the report
about the need for Iran to prove "the absence of undeclaried nuclear
material and activities in Iran."

...and very slow handing out of important material

The laptop of dubious origin and its supposed information has been in
the hands of the US government since 2004. The US waited until a few
days before the IAEA Report was due out before turning over material
to the IAEA to make available. By so doing the US helped to turn a
report highly favorable to Iran's cooperation with the IAEA into one
that was associated with studies related to military objectives though
no proof existed to support such allegations.

Strikingly, an
article<http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/03/world/middleeast/03nuke.html
?_r=2&scp=8&sq=iran&st=nyt&oref=slogin&oref=slogin>(6) appeared on
the front page of the New York Times on Monday, March 3, the day the
sanctions were to be voted on, stating that a "trove of evidence"
which "raised new questions about whether Iran had tried to design an
atom bomb" was presented in Vienna a week earlier.

Why a report from an event that happened a week earlier appears on the
front page of the New York Times, on the day that sanctions against
Iran are being voted on, is a serious question to be examined. This is
reminiscent of the role that Judith Miller and Michael Gordon played
in spreading the false stories of "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in
Iraq as the pretext for the US invasion of Iraq.

The article says that "Diplomats said the Vienna presentation
bolstered the Security Council's resolve to impose a third round of
sanctions."

It explains that:

With the Iran debate losing steam, the Bush administration allowed
the atomic energy agency to present a wide array of diplomats some
of the intelligence that the United States had obtained -- including
from the 2004 laptop. (While the data has been declassified, the Bush
administration has refused requests to make it public.)


"Target Iran"

The article fails to say anything about the dubious origins of
the data and the laptop or about the questionable nature of the
allegations<http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/IAEA_Iran_Rep
ort_22Feb2008.pdf>(7).

In his book, "Target Iran", Scott Ritter maintains that the U.S.
government policy toward Iran is to deny Iran the ability to develop
an indigenous uranium enrichment capability. Ritter describes how
the US government equates uranium enrichment for nuclear energy with
nuclear weapon capability, glossing over the fact that the peaceful
use of nuclear energy is a right under the NPT. In order to generate
power using nuclear fuel, there must be fuel. There is no prohibition
in the NPT against the enrichment of uranium for use as fuel in a
nuclear power generator.

Most of the European members of the Security Council and Russia
maintain that Iran has no need to have an indigenous uranium
enrichment capability.

Iran, to the contrary, disagrees. Iran argues that creating its
own fuel is the best way to guarantee it will have a stable supply
of energy. It also maintains that this is its right under the NPT.
Furthermore, it notes that there is no legal basis to take this right
away and thus the transfer of the Iranian uranium enrichment issue to
the Security Council was an illegitimate maneuver to take away a right
that Iran possesses under the NPT.

The Security Council process: a mechanism for implementing the US
policy against Iran

Since there is no mechanism of appeal from a decision of the Security
Council, Iran is faced with the problem of how to deal with the
increasing sanctions against it and the public relations campaign of
allegations that it is to respond to, regardless of the suspect nature
of the origin and purpose of these allegations.

Meanwhile the New York Times and other media fail to examine the
claims that are being used to increase the level of sanctions against
Iran and instead recirculate previously discredited claims as if they
are new. The Security Council process thus becomes a mechanism for
implementing the US policy against Iran, rather than an institutional
process that provides an impartial investigation of the conflict
between the US and Iran.

Though he voted in favor of the sanctions, Kumalo, the
South African Ambassador, stated his concern with the
process of the Security Council in its treatment of Iran. He
explained<http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?men
u=c10400&no=368433&rel_no=1>(8):

South Africa regrets that the sponsors of the draft resolution have
persisted with the same substantive text that they had tabled before
the latest report of the Director General of the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) was even issued and hence, the draft resolution
appears not to adequately take into account the progress made on the
basis of the work plan agreed between the IAEA and Iran

He proposes that the failure of the Security Council to enhance the
authority of the IAEA will have implications for the credibility of
the Security Council.

An Alalam correspondent in Vienna
writes<http://www.alalam.ir/english/en-NewsPage.asp?newsid=03903012008
0304115738>(9) that the IAEA Chief Mohamed Elbaradei, in his opening
statement to the IAEA Board of Governors stated that the latest IAEA
report on Iran is considered to be "a clean bill of health." Also he
said that linking Iran's research activities to "military purposes are
unfounded" as there is no proof for such a claim. The article also
quotes Christophe Froinde, a diplomatic affairs expert with the IAEA:

The agency and Director General Mohamed Elbaradei are dissatisfied
with an influx of unconfirmed documents and data (regarding Iran's
nuclear activities), since there is no end in sight for such claims.

Iran had cooperated with the IAEA over a period of time to answer the
questions about its past activities that the IAEA legitimately might
have so as to set the basis for the sanctions to be removed. The US
goal, however, as was shown with Iraq and the false narrative of
Weapons of Mass Destruction, was not the goal it claimed but instead
to carry out a set of hidden policy objectives. Ritter proposes that
the US goal in Iran, as it was in Iraq, is regime change. Ritter
writes:

The United States, as the 2006 National Security Strategy made quite
clear, was committed to a policy of regime change in Iran, and was
using Iran's nuclear program as a smokescreen to facilitate it. And
as the 'Downing Street Memo' so clearly demonstrated with Iraq, the
Bush administration would not hesitate to 'fix the facts' around this
policy. "Target Iran", Nation Books, New York, 2006, p. 195

Given this situation, the Security Council actions of imposing an
escalating set of sanctions against Iran becomes a means of helping
the US to create a pretext for its policy of hostility against Iran.
There is a need for a press that will be able to expose such hidden
political objectives and the role that the UN is playing in the
process. Notes:

[1] <http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/27/27434/1.html#l1>
See for example "Weapons of Mass Destruction Syndrome
and the Press [Analysis] How does one prove a
negative?"<http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?me
nu=c10400&no=368433&rel_no=1>(10)

Links:

(1) http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sc9268.doc.htm
(2) http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JC04Ak03.html
(3)
http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/IAEA_Iran_Report_22Feb2008.pdf
(4)
http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/IAEA_Iran_Report_22Feb2008.pdf
(5)
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/03/world/middleeast/03nuke.html?_r=2&scp=8&sq=iran&st=nyt&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
(6)
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/03/world/middleeast/03nuke.html?_r=2&scp=8&sq=iran&st=nyt&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
(7)
http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/IAEA_Iran_Report_22Feb2008.pdf
(8)
http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?menu=c10400&no=368433&rel_no=1
(9)
http://www.alalam.ir/english/en-NewsPage.asp?newsid=039030120080304115738
(10)
http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?menu=c10400&no=368433&rel_no=1

*Telepolis* Artikel-URL: http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/27/27434/1.html







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