Saturday, September 23, 2006

We've seen this movie before....

The IAEA has strongly criticized the United States for incorrect and false claims in the most recent report about Iran's nuclear program. As one Western diplomat close to the situation stated, "This (committee report) is deja vu of the pre-Iraq war period where the facts are being maligned and attempts are being made to ruin the integrity of IAEA inspectors."

The following is from an excellent story on this increasingly important global matter (my emphasis):
There's probably no one better informed than the Finn about what's actually going on inside Tehran's controversial nuclear program. Heinonen, as the IAEA deputy director, is responsible for nuclear inspections around the world. Before being promoted to that position, Heinonen was in charge of the agency's Department B, which deals with Iran and is internally described as "B" as in "busy."

Heinonen and his team certainly have had plenty to do in Iran over the past four years. They've installed surveillance cameras, questioned scientists and taken countless ground samples to the high-tech IAEA laboratory near Vienna. They've written up dozens of reports about the Iranian efforts that were long carried out in secret. But the key question remains: Is Iran's uranium enrichment program only meant to be used for civilian purposes, as claimed by the regime in Tehran? Or is the country trying clandestinely to build a bomb?

The work done by the IAEA is critical. Whatever Department B finds will help shape the debate within the international community. Even the US intelligence agencies with their $800 million weekly budget are largely dependent on information from Vienna -- it's the IAEA technicians and not Washington's agents that are actually going in and out of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Inspections can make the difference between war and peace, as IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said after the debacle in Iraq involving supposedly sound evidence of Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. In Iran's case that means as long as the country isn't enriching uranium on an industrial scale, there won't be enough material for a bomb. Even the hawks in Washington, who are becoming more vocal all the time, have a hard time making the case for a military intervention.

But how long can the IAEA continue to provide answers and information with both credibility and authority?

The worst case scenario making the rounds at the IAEA these days is that the UN Security Council does what the United States is pushing for and slaps sanctions on Iran. That then causes Tehran to retaliate by carrying out its threat to bar ElBaradei's inspectors from the country. Or, Iran could follow the example of North Korea and even ditch the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entirely.

Then the IAEA would essentially be blind. And each week without inspections would increase the uncertainty about what was truly going on in Iran's nuclear facilities. Theory, analysis and a flood of so-called experts would suddenly hold sway instead of actual facts.

Inside the IAEA this is known as the "Iraq Scenario." Saddam Hussein tossed inspectors out of the country in 1998, which ended up making it easier for the Bush administration's hawks to use exaggeration and outright lies to try to convince world opinion of the need to invade Iraq.

There are already the first attempts to shape the debate surrounding the dispute with Iran. In recent weeks, an IAEA letter has surfaced that harshly criticized a report by a US Congressional intelligence committee. The 29-page document supposedly grossly exaggerated the state of Iran's nuclear research and claimed ElBaradei had caved to Iranian pressure to remove a particularly critical IAEA expert from the list of inspectors. The report even went so far as to infer that Nobel Peace Prize winner ElBaradei was more interested in having good ties with Tehran than finding out the truth.

The IAEA called the report "upsetting and misleading" and Heinonen and his experts found at least five fundamental mistakes in it. The worst was the claim that Iran had enriched uranium to 90 percent -- that is, weapons grade. But the IAEA had only found uranium enriched to 3.5 percent in Natanz.

Such hyperbole can't be explained as simple sloppiness. One of the authors of the report is the former CIA official Frederick Fleitz, a hawk who's previously worked for John Bolton, US ambassador to the United Nations. "It's just like before the Iraq war," says David Albright, a respected US nuclear expert. "They blow up the threat with windy information and attack the IAEA."
The IAEA / UN inspectors were right all along about Iraq, and yet here we have this administration attempting to repeat their smear and discrediting campaign, loaded with lies and distortions, in hopes of again shaping policy to war plans. You'd think the public and MSM would wise up the second time around and be more vocal in demanding to know the real truth. At the very least, one should default to the side of the IAEA / UN, who at this point has MUCH more credibility than the clowns in this administration, who as we've seen will go to war based on false intel to get what they alone desire.

No comments: