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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I will say this, on the subject of sharing intelligence about WMDs with the appropriate international authorities, the Bush Administration is consistent:


'The designs and parts for advanced P2 uranium enrichment centrifuges that were recently found "probably are the tip of a iceberg of a larger and more advanced program in Iran. If the IAEA keeps looking, it will find that," one U.S. official told Reuters, referring to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.'

'"The U.S. government has always known there is more to the (Iranian) program than the IAEA knew ... There is some classified stuff the United States knows that we think the IAEA will discover ... by investigating and pursuing leads," he added.' (Reuters)

. . .

From March 2003:

'The ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Thursday that the United States has shared only a fraction of its best intelligence on Iraq's suspected weapons sites with U.N. inspectors.'

'Sen. Carl Levin said the Bush administration has not taken U.N. inspections seriously, and the failure to pass on some of its best information has damaged the U.S. case for war at the United Nations.' (USA Today)

. . .

From Feb. 21, 2004:

C.I.A. Admits It Didn't Give Weapon Data to the U.N.

Perhaps as punishment for rushing into war in Iraq, the U.S. intelligence community should be forced to vet all its WMD-related intelligence with the appropriate U.N. organizations. After all, it was these same IAEA inspectors who were the most reliable, and most consistently accurate, in describing the WMD threat posed by Iraq. Another example of IAEA vs. U.S. intelligence on Iran (from March 19, 2003):

'The UN's nuclear watchdog has demanded greater access to Iran's nuclear program amid growing anxiety in the West that Tehran is much closer to building a nuclear bomb than previously feared.'

'The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Moham [sic] ElBaradei, said Iran had nearly completed the uranium enrichment plant at the centre of US claims that Tehran wanted to develop nuclear weapons, and was working on a bigger plant.'

'Dr ElBaradei called on Iran to agree to more intrusive monitoring at its nuclear sites to help dispel fears that Iran intended to produce weapons-grade uranium.'

'With Iraq and North Korea, Iran is one of US President George Bush's "axis of evil" rogue states with ambitions to build nuclear weapons.'

'The agency discovered only six months ago that Iran was building centrifuge plants to process nuclear fuel at a secret site 320 kilometres south of Tehran. When operational in a couple of years, the centrifuges could generate enough weapons-grade uranium for several nuclear warheads.'

'The discovery of the centrifuge project at Natanz, in western Iran, alarmed US official. The officials had long argued that Tehran was trying to build a bomb, but had focused their concerns on a power station that Russia is building at Bushehr in Iran's far south. [emphasis mine]'

'The Natanz revelations showed that "Iran is much further along, with a far more robust nuclear weapons development program than anyone said it had", US Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week.' (The Age)

(see also: UN finds uranium at Iran nuclear plant, August 27, 2003 about the discovery of minute amounts of weapons-grade uranium in Iran)

My point is this: The U.S. consistently places second to the IAEA in assessing nuclear proliferation threats. Some argue that the IAEA/international inspection process is ineffective. However, considering the information above and the general timeline of the current nuclear proliferation investigation it's easy to see that progress in the current investigation can be mostly attributed to two factors -- consistent IAEA inspections and investigations, and the changing attitude of Ghadafi in Libya. Neither of these threads were directly influenced by the American invasion of Iraq, as at least on person in blogland has claimed:

'There's no question that it was extremely fortunate that this multi-nation plan was exposed when it was, even though it's likely that either Iran or North Korea have already managed to create enough fissionables for a few weapons. It would have been far better if it had been exposed earlier, but an additional ten year delay would have been catastrophic.'

'There is equally no doubt at all that those revelations were a direct consequence of the war the US is prosecuting, most especially in Iraq. It is by no means clear that without our war there would have been a significant chance of the plot being exposed until too late.'

'There is no doubt at all that previous nuclear non-proliferation programs and policies are now exposed as utter failures, which will have to be replaced with something more effective.' (note: go read the whole post, 'cause the preceding paragraphs give a great explanation as to why any nuclear weapons program worth its salt needs to be large, and therefore detectable.)

Ghadafi's transformation began some time ago, we put it close to the time of his hatching of a scheme to form a sort of E.U. for Africa. The IAEA inspection process in Iran has achieved steady progress which would lead, one way or another, to the detection of the sort of large-scale efforts at nuclear production that are necessary to build a nuclear weapon. We look forward to the release of the IAEA's report on Iran's nuclear capabilities in the coming months which will shed more light on what is actually going on in Iran. Meanwhile, we await with interest to see if the U.S. has misread (once again) the WMD threat posed by another nation.

Andrew 7:32 PM : |


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