By Mehrnaz Shahabi (CASMII: www.campaigniran.org)
Note: Bronwen Maddox is the Chief Foreign Commentator of the Times. Oliver Kamm, the Times' columnist, is a founding member of the right wing Henry Jackson Society and a proponent of interventionism in foreign policy. The following letter follows the Medialens' correspondence with them regarding the NIE and the IAEA report on Iran.
I am writing in relation to your article of 17th June in the Times, "The wrong timing is right for tougher sanctions with Iran" and your subsequent correspondence with the Medialens. There are very serious inaccuracies and untruths in your article, as there are in your reply to Medialens. You mention that you have "written extensively on the NIE", it is evident however that your reading on the subject is limited, sparse and badly sourced. In your own words, the "daily, short running commentary on current news", makes it possible to get away with both inadequate knowledge and intentional distortions.
The phrasing of the NIE gave "too little" attention to "the fact that there had been a weapons design programme" because there was no such "fact" and the supposed "evidence' behind the claim, according to the US and European intelligence and the IAEA experts, was hugely suspect! The allegations regarding Iranian weapons programme - which is stated to have ceased after 2003 - are based on a supposed Iranian "stolen laptop", which was first mentioned by Colin Powel in late 2004. According to German officials heavily involved with intelligence gathering, this came from the discredited Iranian MEK, the listed terrorist group that after serving Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, is now sponsored by the US and Israeli terrorist states to terrorise and destabilise Iran. The source of the alleged laptop is believed to be the Israeli Mossad!
The information on the laptop was treated with high skepticism by the US and European intelligence as well as the IAEA who seriously questioned its authenticity in 2005. The inclusion of these unsubstantiated and highly suspect allegations was demanded by the US in the February 2008 report of the IAEA because the report was to declare the successful outcome of the IAEA-Iran Plan which had cleared all six outstanding issues which had been used as the basis of suspicion by the US to refer Iran's file to the Security Council and the demands for suspension of enrichment. This would have removed any justification for keeping Iran's file in the Security Council and the continuation of the sanctions resolutions.
However, contrary to your assertion regarding the IAEA's latest report of 26th May, and despite its harsh language under US's heavy arm-twisting and thuggery, the factual and technical information in the report confirm that there is no evidence of a weaponisation programme and indeed no deviation from the NPT guidelines. The report stresses in paragraph 24 that "[T]he Agency currently has NO INFORMATION - apart from the uranium metal document - on the actual DESIGN OR MANUFACTURE BY IRAN OF NCULEAR MATERIAL COMPONENTS OF A NUCLEAR WEAPONS or of certain other key components, such as initiators, or on related nuclear physics studies. As regards the uranium metal document found in Iran, Pakistan has confirmed, in response to the Agency's request (GOV/2007/58 paragraph.25), that an identical document exists in Pakistan." In relation to the former, this means that the IAEA does not consider the US's evidence of "alleged studies" as containing any valid information. This is the reason for the NIE's placing "too little" emphasis on Iran's alleged weaponisation work because it does not stand scrutiny! In relation to the latter (uranium mental), this is the document Iran itself had handed to the IAEA stating that it had been received in 1987 without having been requested by Iran, amongst documents pertaining the design information for P1 centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
Again on the "alleged studies" the report says, "The Agency received much of this information only in electronic form and was not authorised to provide copies to Iran".
In Para 21, in relation to the studies on Green Salt and Shahab-3 missile warheads, the report specifies that "Although the Agency had been shown the documents that led it to these conclusions, it was not in possession of the documents and was therefore unfortunately unable to make them available to Iran". In other words, Iran was expected to disprove allegations in documents that the IAEA itself did not have or was not allowed to show to Iran.
The continuation of enrichment is Iran's right under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty of which Iran is a signatory. In relation to the installation of the improved IR-2 and IR-3 centrifuges, the Agency notes that "Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements General Part", required the upgrades to be "communicated to the Agency sixty days before the modifications were scheduled to be completed". The report makes it clear, however, that "Iran has not implemented the modified text of its Subsidiary General Part, Code 3.1 on the early provision of design information" and that it was "under no obligation to have done so".
The agency also reports on Iran's refusal so far "as a transparency measure" to provide "access to additional locations" related to "the manufacturing of centrifuges, R&D on uranium enrichment, and uranium mining." It is notable that this area would have been covered by the Additional Protocol, which allows more intrusive and extensive inspections, including of non-nuclear sites, but to which Iran is not a signatory. However, as stated in the IAEA report of 22nd February, Iran has expressed willingness to implement both of these requirements of the Additional Protocol as confidence building measures"if the nuclear file is returned from the Security Council to the IAEA" because the resolution of the "outstanding issues" in the IAEA-Iran Workplan had removed the given concerns for reporting Iran's file to the Security Council. It was the US' lawless refusal which sabotaged Iran's implementation of the Additional Protocol.
The report reiterates that "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has provided the Agency with access to declared nuclear material and has provided the required nuclear material accountancy reports in connection with declared nuclear material and activities".
Finally, the IAEA concludes the report by "emphasis[ing]" ", in its summary, "that the Agency has not detected the actual use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies".
The IAEA director, Dr. El-Baradei, stressed at the World Economic Forum in Egypt on 8th May that the international community had no evidence of the nuclear weapons intentions in Iran, and in reference to Israel's criminal posturing of recent days to pre-emptively attack Iran, Dr El-Baradei has issued warning against the "great danger to the Middle East and the world" posed by US/Israeli warmongering, stressing that "I don't believe that what I see in Iran today is a current, grave and urgent danger".
Your reveling in your article that "Iran's economic predicament has worsened, given its need to import petrol, the vulnerability of its poorest people to rising food prices and its failure to develop other sources of income", although coming from the Times, still does not fail to induce outrage and repulsion at the degree of callous disregard to human suffering.
The sanctions in Iraq, according to the figures from Unicef, had killed over a million innocent civilians of malnutrition and disease as a prelude to the 2003 illegal invasion. These sanctions were imposed on the pretexts of the same fabricated evidence and charges of non-existent WMD.
The US instigated EU sanctions on Iran's largest bank, Melli, and the attempt to place embargo on Iranian gas and oil sector, are not only of that same genocidal genre that target the population, but betray deep cynicism at the heart of US/EU's supposed "diplomacy". This "wrong timing" in Brown's announcement of sanctions, you view as "right", came at a time Iran had received Solana's package and expressed willingness to study the proposals, having also offered a comprehensive "Constructive Package of Proposals" of its own to be considered. The humiliating, bullish and outright illegal sanctions by the US and UE against Iran at this time are directed at sabotaging the diplomatic process.
And you are alarmingly aware that sanctions hurt the weakest of the population. In Iraq, the sanctions devastated the infra-structure, destroyed workers' bargaining power and made the population hostage to state hand-outs. Denis Halliday, the then Assistant Secretary General of the UN, and head of the "Oil for Food" programme in Iraq, resigned from his post in protest at the "genocidal effect" of sanctions. His successor Hans Von Sponek too resigned in protest. Denis Halliday said in his resignation letter to the UN, "I am resigning because the policy of economic sanctions is totally bankrupt. We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple as that .... Five thousand children are dying every month... ".
Politicians and their media assassins make regular references to the "fears" and "concerns" of "International community", and ascribe the decisions made by a small number of veto-yielding powerful states, using political manipulation, coercion and threats, to the "will of the international community". As recorded in John Pilger's seminal work, "The New Rulers of the World" (Verso, 2002) Halliday said in relation to the Security Council imposed sanctions on Iraq and its unrepresentative decisions as against the UN General Assembly's one nation one vote, that the "Genocide in Iraq is the test of our will. All of us have to break the silence: to make those responsible, in Washington and London, aware that history will slaughter them".
About the author: Mehrnaz Shahabi is an independent writer, political commentator and peace activist.
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