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IAEA Chief Invalidates the NPT

By: Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich


On December 10, 2005, the world equaled Mohamed ElBaradei’s surprise when he stepped behind the podium and delivered his Nobel lecture.  The following lines were not only poignant but reassuring:  

Today, with globalization bringing us ever closer together, if we choose to ignore the insecurities of some, they will soon become the insecurities of all.

Equally, with the spread of advanced science and technology, as long as some of us choose to rely on nuclear weapons, we continue to risk that these same weapons will become increasingly attractive to others.

I have no doubt that, if we hope to escape self-destruction, then nuclear weapons should have no place in our collective conscience, and no role in our security.

To that end, we must ensure – absolutely – that no more countries acquire these deadly weapons.

We must see to it that nuclear-weapon states take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament.

And we must put in place a security system that does not rely on nuclear deterrence.”.

Perhaps what takes us aback today is his utter silence, nay, even his approval of the Bush-India deal.   Was India off his radar?  Or is he, like Mr. Bush, a fan of democracies having nuclear weapons?  Mayhap this should have been made clear in his  otherwise eloquent speech.

Are democracies not accountable for proliferation?  Leonard Spector has more concern that the IAEA and its chief, judging from his statement before the House International Relations Committee….

India did not have an “unambiguous record of compliance with its nuclear transfer programme” adding that “all of us in this room” know that India did not meet this test. “Indeed, at this very moment, I consider India to be violating a core international commitment applying to civilian nuclear transfers it has received, by using restricted plutonium for its nuclear weapons programme.”[i]

But although ElBaradei’s speech was well-rehearsed, our surprise was not, for his was delivered to conceal his audience-free endorsement of a threatening deal. The IAEA chief had this to say of the US-India deal that threatens global proliferation and security:

Making advanced civil nuclear technology available to all countries will contribute to the enhancement of nuclear safety and security.”(Murphy[ii]).

The deal Mr. ElBaradei so enthusiastically embraced, would make the United States a violator of  Article III of the NPT[1].  Since India has clearly refused to halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons,  Bush-India deal clearly indicates a nuclear build-up/proliferation which the Chief of the IAEA applauds.  As chief of the IAEA, endorsing proliferation, rewarding ‘pariah’ states, breaking international law, and in short, nullifying the NPT, Mohammed ElBaradei has been rewarded with a Nobel Peace prize! 

Indeed, if one were to follow India’s trail alone, one would recognize that the heavy water reactors which enabled that country to detonate its first atomic bomb in 1974 nicknamed the “Smiling Buddha” were supplied by the US and Canada – thus the creation of the ‘peaceful’ atomic bomb[iii].  It may be that democracies can give each other nuclear bombs in line with the Kantian theory that democracies don’t go to war with each other. 

So, it begs the question, if the NPT is so irrelevant, why is Iran being punished for abiding by it?  What has prompted the Chief to refer Iran to the UN Security Council?   Perhaps the world community is right in assuming Iran has ambitions.  Maybe it too, wants a Nobel Peace prize.


[1] Article III


1. Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agencys safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Procedures for the safeguards required by this article shall be followed with respect to source or special fissionable material whether it is being produced, processed or used in any principal nuclear facility or is outside any such facility. The safeguards required by this article shall be applied to all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere.

2. Each State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to provide: (a) source or special fissionable material, or (b) equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear-weapon State for peaceful purposes, unless the source or special fissionable material shall be subject to the safeguards required by this article.

3. The safeguards required by this article shall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the Parties or international cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, including the international exchange of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of this article and the principle of safeguarding set forth in the Preamble of the Treaty.

4. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall conclude agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet the requirements of this article either individually or together with other States in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Negotiation of such agreements shall commence within 180 days from the original entry into force of this Treaty. For States depositing their instruments of ratification or accession after the 180-day period, negotiation of such agreements shall commence not later than the date of such deposit. Such agreements shall enter into force not later than eighteen months after the date of initiation of negotiations.


[i] Hasan, Khalid. “Indo-US nuclear deal comes under sharp criticism in Congress”. Daily Times. Oct.28,2005 . 

[ii] Murphy, Francois.  “Un Atomic Chief Says Supports U.S.-India Nuke Deal”. Reuters News. 20 July 2005

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