Blogs > Liberty and Power > Regarding that IAEA Report on Iran’s Alleged Nuclear Weapons Program

Nov 22, 2011

Regarding that IAEA Report on Iran’s Alleged Nuclear Weapons Program

tags: Iran Nuclear Deal

The war drums are getting louder in the wake the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. But how significant is the report?

This is from investigative reporter Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker:

But how definitive, or transformative, were the findings? The I.A.E.A. said it had continued in recent years “to receive, collect and evaluate information relevant to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program” and, as a result, it has been able “to refine its analysis.” The net effect has been to create “more concern.” But Robert Kelley, a retired I.A.E.A. director and nuclear engineer who previously spent more than thirty years with the Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons program, told me that he could find very little new information in the I.A.E.A. report. He noted that hundreds of pages of material appears to come from a single source: a laptop computer, allegedly supplied to the I.A.E.A. by a Western intelligence agency, whose provenance could not be established. Those materials, and others, “were old news,” Kelley said, and known to many journalists. “I wonder why this same stuff is now considered ‘new information’ by the same reporters.”

. . .

Joseph Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshare Fund, a disarmament group, who serves on Hillary Clinton’s International Security Advisory Board, said, “I was briefed on most of this stuff several years ago at the I.A.E.A. headquarters in Vienna. There’s little new in the report. Most of this information is well known to experts who follow the issue.” Cirincione noted that “post-2003, the report only cites computer modelling and a few other experiments.” (A senior I.A.E.A. official similarly told me, “I was underwhelmed by the information.”)

The report did note that its on-site camera inspection process of Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment facilities—mandated under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory—“continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material.” In other words, all of the low enriched uranium now known to be produced inside Iran is accounted for; if highly enriched uranium is being used for the manufacture of a bomb, it would have to have another, unknown source. [Emphasis added.]

No evidence for another source of uranium was disclosed in the report.

All indications are that we are being Iraqed, i.e., infected with war fever on the basis of unsubstantiated claims about weapons of mass destruction. Iran in effect is being told to prove a negative -- that it isn't developing a weapon -- if it wants to avert war. Yet two National Intelligence Estimates, compiled in 2007 and again this year by the U.S. government’s dozen and a half intelligence agencies, state that Iran gave up its quest for a nuclear weapon eight years ago. No matter -- the flames for war are being fanned by sources with little concern for the American people, not to mention innocent Iranians: neoconservatives, Republican presidential candidates trying to out-macho each other, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Israel lobby. The irony of the U.S. and Israeli governments, both armed to the teeth with nukes, telling Iran its possession of even one bomb would be "unacceptable" is rich.

Will we be fooled again?

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