On Iran, and a small video of Sirte, Libya

14 Nov

I was going to write about the Republican debate.  But why bother?  Now, the primaries for the election in ’08 were interesting for a couple of reasons.  One was that it appeared for awhile that portions of the American population might be interested in a return to the rule of law, re-regulation of the financial industries, and ending the wars abroad – hence the popular support for Obama.  That he didn’t actually stand for any of those things was part of what piqued my interest.  Hillary Clinton never presented herself as anything other than a neoliberal, but was also, nonetheless, running as a Democrat and so offered as an antithesis to George Bush the Lesser.  It was fascinating to see so many deluded Americans, but still, refreshing that so many of us seemed fed up with the neocon rule of previous years.  On the other side, the peculiar antics of McCain and the sheer exuberant ignorance of his running mate, Sarah Palin, were interesting for other reasons; first, they were fun, albeit appalling, to watch in an “Idiocracy” sort of way, and second, one had to stand aghast at the number of people who supported them.  We clearly had not learned all we needed to from the Bush years.

That was then.  Good times.  There is simply nothing much to say this time around.  We have lost the country to the oligarchy despite the continued “arguing” between “Democrats” and “Republicans”, which is taking place only in fictions created by the media.  In fact, we no longer have two distinct parties and the election is not between two radically different sets of values.  Oh, we are told it is, and the media will continue to try to show contrast between two contenders for as long as we will buy the story.  (Which may in fact work through this election cycle and part-way into the next, given how slow to learn we are.  Or until martial law is declared – whichever comes first.)  So forget the “candidates”.

Regarding Iran: there is currently a fraudulent report from the IAEA making headlines.  Iran is getting close to producing a nuke, so we need pre-emptive action; at least, that is what we are told.  Who should bomb them first – Israel or the US? – that is the question.  Remarkably, no-one seems to recall the run-up to the war on Iraq, when blatantly false claims were used to invade and ruin a sovereign nation which had caused us no harm.

Daniel Joyner of the Alabama School of Law points out that there are serious problems with this new report.

On November 8, Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), delivered a formal report [PDF] on Iran’s nuclear program to the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council..

This report is legally problematic in a number of ways.

Firstly and most fundamentally, the IAEA simply has no legal mandate to produce such a report on activities being carried on within an IAEA member state concerning items and technologies that may be related to the development of a nuclear explosive device, but that are not directly related to fissionable materials or associated facilities…

It must therefore suffice to say that the agency is tasked in the IAEA Statute to conclude safeguards agreements with IAEA member states, pursuant to which all fissionable materials and related facilities within the state are subject to IAEA safeguards, and to monitor and verify member states’ compliance with these agreements. The IAEA is not tasked, either by its Statute or by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), in monitoring or verifying the compliance of states with their broader NPT legal obligations…

Note that the role of the IAEA, as agreed with the Iranian government, is limited to applying and monitoring safeguards on fissionable material and related facilities within the territory of Iran, with the purpose of assuring that no such fissile material is diverted from peaceful nuclear activities to military purposes. The IAEA is given no authority to inquire into or to examine activities within Iran that are not directly related to fissile materials, even if they may possibly relate to the development of a nuclear explosive device. Again, the IAEA has a limited legal mandate that does not include being a general nuclear weapons watchdog.

Thus, in conducting these investigations into technologies other than fissile materials and producing this report, the IAEA is acting wholly outside of its authority pursuant to its safeguards agreement with Iran.

This is why the report’s findings are so indeterminate. Since the IAEA is acting outside of its legal authority in this section of the report, it does not have a legal standard to apply to its conclusions regarding possible nuclear weapons related activities not involving fissile material. Throughout the report, the Director General expresses “concern” about the information being presented, and requests “clarification” from Iran in order to address these concerns. However, since there is no treaty language in Iran’s, or any other state’s, safeguards agreement that deals with non-fissile-material activities related to nuclear weapons, there is no prohibitive or regulatory standard that the Director General can point to against which to make a conclusion of compliance or non-compliance. In short, as the ancient legal maxim states, there can be no illegality where there is no law. The IAEA is simply “concerned.”

Why they are concerned is itself a matter of curiosity. There is no knowledge or technical ability related to nuclear weapons detailed in this report, and allegedly possessed by Iran, which other technologically advanced non-nuclear-weapon states like Japan or Germany do not possess. These are specialized bodies of knowledge and technical capabilities, to be sure, but they are well within the knowledge base and technical abilities of these advanced industrial states.

Within nonproliferation studies circles, no one seriously doubts that Japan, for example, has all of the knowledge and technical ability relating to all necessary components and technologies that it would need to build a nuclear weapon in a matter of weeks or months if it made the political decision to do so. Japan has gained this knowledge through decades of high technology design, research and manufacturing experience, built upon a broad base of scientific knowledge gained through both in-country research and experimentation, and information sharing with other states.

Fortunately for Japan and Germany, and all other technologically and scientifically advanced non-nuclear-weapon states, knowledge about how to build a nuclear weapon — gained through scientific experiments, development of technological capability, or any other means including information sharing with other states — is not prohibited under international law, either in IAEA safeguards agreements or in the NPT itself…

Since there is no evidence presented in this new report by the IAEA Director General that Iran has physically constructed a nuclear explosive device or any of its components, one can conclude that the Director General’s concern expressed in this report cannot be justified as being based upon a breach of a rule of international law prohibiting the activities outlined in the IAEA report. Such a rule exists neither in Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, or in the NPT. Rather, the reason for the IAEA’s and the UN Security Council’s attention to Iran can only be based on other factors, primarily including the determination of the US and other states that Iran is a threat to Israel, the region and international peace and security generally.

The UN Security Council does in fact have the authority to make such a determination, pursuant to Article 39 of the UN Charter, even though this grant of authority does not mean that such a decision is any less subjective and politicized as among UN Security Council member states. The IAEA, on the other hand, is not supposed to be a politicized body. It was established to be a purely technical body, tasked with independently verifying state compliance with agreements related to fissile materials accounting. Nevertheless, its track record in devoting so much critical attention to Iran over the past nine years, and not to other non-nuclear-weapon states who have for decades engaged in precisely the same production of knowledge and capabilities, through the same processes, has convinced both Iran and the other members of the Non-Aligned Movement (comprising the vast majority of states in the world) that the IAEA has thereby undermined its independence and objectivity as a technical monitoring and verification body. Instead, they believe, it has become a politicized instrument of the foreign policy goals of the US and other Western states. The agency’s overreaching in its new report is simply the most recent evidence of this fact.

V. Noah Gimbel writes for NationofChange:

…A deeper look into just that, however, may cast serious doubts on the report’s objectivity and veracity, raising the question: just how far-fetched are Iran’s claims that the IAEA Directorate General is politically compromised?

Prior to the release of the report on Tuesday, November 8, White House press secretary Jay Carney augured that the report’s findings would “echo and reinforce” the long-held U.S. stance that the Iranian government seeks to build nuclear weapons, contrary to its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. And indeed, Carney’s foresight was by no means preternatural: as evidenced inthis 2009 diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, the U.S. had secured the support of IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in its campaign against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program as a quid-pro-quo for American support of his candidacy in the wake of Egyptian Nobel Laureate Mohammad El-Baradei’s resignation.

But could one man’s personal bias really manipulate the IAEA’s evidence – what the Washington Post referred to as “over 1,000 pages of documents, interviews with renegade scientists who helped Iran and material from 10 governments”? Well, that depends.

devastating piece of reporting from Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service follows one of the main pieces of evidence cited in the report to its source. The report, Porter says,

repeated the sensational claim previously reported by news media all over the world that a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist had helped Iran construct a detonation system that could be used for a nuclear weapon.

But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is not named in the IAEA report but was identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons scientist but one of the top specialists in the world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives.

In other words, his legitimate reason for being in Iran from 1996-2002 was not a cover, it really was legitimate. As Porter points out, the Washington Think-Tanker who helped spread the word of this “renegade scientist” theory, David Albright, admitted the intelligence claims from an unidentified “member state” that spawned the theory almost certainly came from Israel. Later, that intelligence was incorporated into Amano’s findings without any independent verification.

And Israel’s authority on nuclear non-proliferation should be completely null by now, considering that the Jewish State possesses a sizeable secret arsenal of its own and shared nuclear technology with the murderous apartheid regime of South Africa for years. But what about the other intelligence sources?

Another fount of evidence supporting Amano’s report is likely the so-called “laptop of death” allegedly nabbed from an Iranian scientist by U.S. intelligence services in 2005. The smoking gun evidence on the laptop was all written in English, had no reference to official classification, and included graphs made on Microsoft PowerPoint. When this piece of evidence first surfaced in 2007 in connection to the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on the Iranian nuclear program, it was largely dismissed by IAEA officials and international diplomats as a likely forgery. But that was before Yukiya Amano headed the agency. Indeed, Amano’s predecessor El Baradei publicly confirmed that Western Intelligence agencies had sought to exaggerate the threat of the Iranian nuclear program.

At The Race for Iran, Flynt and Hillary Mann Levrett have put out a characteristically thoughtful piece on the report’s implications, putting the current belligerence of the U.S. and Israel in context.

Whether or not it can be definitively stated that Iran seeks nuclear weapons capabilities, it should be understood that Iranian objections to the IAEA report are neither baseless nor hysterical…

Painting the Islamic Republic as an irrational actor, as was done to Saddam Hussein in 2003, serves to reinforce the case for war as a last resort…

Let us bear in mind that the former Democratic candidate and current Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton, has long called for pre-emptive war on Iran, and that the current Democratic President, Obama, is promoting vicious sanctions against that country, and it was under his watch that the American/Israeli stuxnet virus was used against Iran’s computer systems and several of their scientists assassinated.  He is currently suggesting that the fabricated IAEA reports of Iran getting close to nuclear armament are true.  Why would the US want to invade Iran?  Obviously, Iran has oil.  We very much dislike paying for oil, preferring to make demands, sanction, threaten, and then invade another country to steal it.  In Iran’s case, as I mentioned in a previous article, we feel particularly desperate because they just began trading their oil on their oil market, the bourse, using currency other than the US dollar.

July, 2011 The first shipment of Iranian crude oil has been sold on Iran’s international oil bourse on the Persian Gulf island of Kish, an Iranian official says.
The Iranian oil bourse was officially inaugurated on July 14, 2011 on the Kish International Commodity Exchange, as a tool to strengthen Iran’s position in the international markets. Iran possesses the world’s second largest gas reserves and third largest oil reserves…
The NIOC [National Iranian Oil Company] plans to offer 50,000 barrels of Iran’s crude on the bourse on a daily basis, once all the necessary preparations for the measure have been made.

Iran is the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC)’s second-largest oil producer.
The Iranian oil bourse is intended as an oil exchange for petroleum, petrochemicals and gas in various currencies other than the U.S. dollar, primarily the euro and Iranian rial and a basket of other major (non-U.S.) currencies.
Western analysts said that at a time when the U.S. dollar is as vulnerable as it has ever been, Iran is piling on the pressure with their oil exchange. The thing that will kill the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency faster than the U.S. debt default is if oil producers and consumers trade oil in other currencies.
They said, if the main oil consuming and producing nations in the world unite to trade oil over an open exchange, similar to Iran’s oil bourse, and price the oil in currencies other than or as well as the U.S. dollar, then the world is likely to be economically more stable.

Also see another article I have cited previously to see how long this issue has been on the radar of American politicians.

It should not need to be pointed out, but I will bring it up in case you haven’t quite connected these dots yet, that as the time for the unconstitutional Super Congress to make its recommendations draws to a close, they need an excuse to leave the Pentagon funding untouched.  What better excuse than the (fictitious) impending threat of a (non) nuclear Iran?  We simply dare not cut funds for the Pentagon’s Long War with so many countries still left uninvaded.

[Why would Israel want to bomb Iran?  They need oil, too, of course, but seem much more focused on outrage over Iran’s backing of Palestine. It actually seems fairly insane, this desire to start a war with Iran, but certain members of the Israeli government appear determined.  Ironically, Iran had normal diplomatic relations with Israel until the Iranian Revolution in 1979 (which we fomented), which overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty.]

I will leave you with a visual of what we would like to start doing to Iran.  This video montage of Sirte, Libya was included in Cynthia McKinney’s latest article, which I read on  The video shows Sirte before and after the extensive, illegal, and brutal NATO siege and bombing of that city.

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Congress, Iran, Libya, MIC


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