October 27, 2004
The IAEA's gameBy Douglas Hanson
The latest slam of the Bush Administration by the combined forces of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the New York Times, CBS, and the Kerry campaign, repeats on old pattern. The leading lights of the legacy media have their own agenda, one that considerably overlaps that of the Kerry forces. But the IAEA is not merely driven by animus towards Bush.
That United Nations agency also needs to cover up its own ineffectiveness and incompetence by shifting attention and blame to the Bush Administration, while waiting for a more congenial President of the United States to take office, one who won't be tempted to investigate its numerous inadequacies, nor pursue the investigations of the criminality within its parent.
The 'disappearing explosives' incident, in other words, is simply the latest firefight between the US and the IAEA over the UN's complete and utter failure to enforce the provisions of the Non—Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with the nations of the Axis of Evil.
Iraq is essentially one big ammo dump. The collection and destruction of all of Saddam's munitions are proceeding apace under the occupation. So far almost 248,000 tons of ammo have been destroyed or captured, out of an estimated 600,000 tons. This is no small feat. Before the war and during the initial occupation, it was thought Iraq's munitions were scattered among ammo storage dumps numbering over 130 sites. However, by June of this year, Charles Duelfer and the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) had determined that there were approximately 8,700 ammo dumps in Iraq!
The first shots were fired by the IAEA at the US and the Coalition last July when approximately two tons of low—enriched uranium were shipped out of the Iraqi nuclear research facility at Al—Tuwaitha for disposition in the US. The IAEA was upset that the US and the Iraqi government had failed to notify the UN about the shipment. Apparently, the UN failed to note that the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology had been established by Ambassador Paul Bremer over a year earlier, and, with US assistance, had begun to take stock of the materials at the site.
The Coalition and the Iraqi scientists had to deal with an extraordinary amount of yellowcake uranium and other radioactive source materials that totaled approximately 800 tons. How the stockpile of low—enriched uranium was found is not publicly known. What is known is that the IAEA allowed Saddam and his scientists to retain hundreds of tons of nuclear raw material, supposedly monitored by the UN and under 'IAEA seal and control.' Left unexamined was the rationale allowing the Iraqis to keep this massive stockpile, since both of the Iraqi reactors and the Italian—built enrichment facility had been destroyed and never repaired.
The find of the low—enriched uranium presented another series of questions that the IAEA has yet to answer, despite its responsibility for close supervision and control over Iraq's nuclear programs. For example, what was the source of this material? Some experts say it was from Italy, but since the UN inspected the 'seals' on Saddam's stockpile only once a year, how can we be sure? Or perhaps, it was manufactured by Saddam and stored away in a secret location in preparation for the once—a—year visit by the IAEA.
This weak inspection regimen and lack of accountability by the IAEA is the real story behind this latest trumped—up charge by the media/Kerry forces. But the July yellowcake incident was only the first publicly visible instance of the IAEA muddying the waters of its incompetence in turning a blind eye to dictators trying to develop WMD, by going on the offensive and charging the United States with malfeasance.
The next incident occurred earlier this month, when the UN raised another fuss after they found out from satellite photos (who provided these photos?) that a substantial amount of dual—use equipment was 'missing' from the Al—Tuwaitha complex. Dual—use equipment is that which can be used for peaceful purposes and for use in manufacturing weapons. In this case, the UN was clearly concerned about equipment that could be used to enrich raw nuclear material for use in a reactor or a nuclear warhead. This meant that the IAEA had detailed inventories and annotated overhead images to compare the pre—war and post—war layouts and configuration of the research site. The IAEA had supposedly accounted for and 'sealed' both the raw material and the facilities required to turn that material into fuel for a nuclear bomb.
Just as with the latest flap concerning the 'missing' explosives at Al—Qaqaa, Mohammed El Baradei blamed the Coalition for lax security at Tuwaitha, which ostensibly allowed looters to make off with the equipment. Looting may have been a problem initially at the site, but looters simply can't make off with entire facilities and huge amounts of dual—use equipment. Just as removing the 380 tons of high explosive away from the bunker complex at Al—Qaqaa would have required 38 large trucks for transport, the missing equipment and facilities at Al—Tuwaitha would have necessitated a complex and sophisticated large scale, yet covert and hurried effort. Facilities that can be seen from overhead imagery are not stolen and transported by a few locals looking to realize some dinars on the black market.
Which brings us to the status of the explosives at Al—Qaqaa. As with the previous two incidents at Tuwaitha, the New York Times article tells us that the IAEA had been monitoring the materials in the bunkers and had 'even sealed and locked some of it.' But El Baradei admits that during the time the inspectors were not allowed into Iraq — from 1998 to 2002 — about 35 tons of HMX went missing from the complex. And, whether or not being 'under IAEA seal' means anything of significance, the US 101st Airborne Division 'saw no materials bearing the IAEA seal' when they went through the bunkers during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The common thread that runs through these cases of missing equipment, nuclear material, and high explosives, is that they were all under the non—existent control of the UN's so—called nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. Every complaint since July of this year to now has consisted of El Baradei faulting lax security on the part of the US and the Coalition, which supposedly allowed looters to make away with these banned substances. In reality, looters couldn't move this amount of material and not be noticed by Coalition forces and their reconnaissance assets.
However, thanks to the legacy media we learn that the UN and IAEA have allowed at least three critical components of nuclear weapons to go missing: raw materials, dual—use equipment, and high explosives. They were removed prior to the arrival of Coalition troops. Their current disposition remains a most important mystery.
Not only are the NYT, and apparently CBS News (again!), attempting to influence a US Presidential election, they have become the public relations firm of a corrupt UN and its nuclear inspection agency that allowed a madman to keep materials and equipment in violation of a treaty that the UN was duty—bound to enforce.
And John Kerry wants to entrust our national security to these same people.
Douglas Hanson is our military affairs correspondent. During the Summer of 2003, he was the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Science and Technology for the Coalition Provisional Authority.