Shilling for a nuclear Iran

The deception of the mainstream media concerning the military capabilities of our enemies continues unabated.  Washington Post staff writer Dafna Linzer has teamed with a mysterious group of scientists hired by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to write a ludicrous article that 'proves' Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.

American Thinker contributor Noel Sheppard does a  great job of pointing out the absolutely ridiculous arguments in this piece of journalistic junk.  It's obvious that Linzer's and the super—secret scientific group's intentions are to give the mullahs a clean bill of health in the non—proliferation arena.  But to fully understand what's happening, we must examine the situation from the IAEA's perspective and the technical contradictions involved with this farce.

Anytime the ability of rogue nations to develop nuclear power is debated, we must understand one basic premise: the IAEA is deathly afraid of officially reporting Nuclear Non—proliferation Treaty (NPT) violations to the UN Security Council.  This is because the Council may then vote to enact economic sanctions on the offending country, which then may opt out of the NPT, and will then likely kick out any remaining UN inspectors. This is exactly how the IAEA got burned in North Korea.  Access to nuclear and scientific facilities is the IAEA's life blood.  If they are denied access, the IAEA and the UN are shown to be the useless organizations they truly are.  Some might even question the need for the lavish headquarters in Vienna and ample tax—free income enjoyed by IAEA leaders. Therefore, the IAEA will fight tooth and nail to prevent a formal report on Iran from going to the Security Council.  Against this backdrop, it's easy to see through Linzer's and the scientists' fabrications.

As Noel points out, the most obvious piece of deception is the revelation that the team of scientists judged that the 'bomb—grade' uranium found on the separation centrifuges obtained from Pakistan was contamination from Pakistani nuclear material.  Keep in mind, that 'bomb—grade' uranium is generally enriched to greater than 85 percent of the fissile U—235 isotope.  The article then tries to draw a connection to congressional testimony from John Bolton, who Linzer maintains had tried to make the case in 2004 that the Iranians were lying about the contamination.  Here is what Bolton said according to the article:

Another unmistakable indicator of Iran's intentions is the pattern of repeatedly lying to and providing false and incomplete reports to the IAEA," Bolton said.  "For example, Iran first denied it had enriched any uranium.  Then it said it had not enriched uranium more than 1.2 percent.  Later, when evidence of uranium enriched to 36 percent [emphasis added] was found, it attributed this to contamination from imported centrifuge parts."

Uranium enriched up to 20 percent is considered Low Enriched Uranium, while uranium enriched above 20 percent is considered Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU).  Bolton was making the case that there was, in fact, HEU on the centrifuge parts.  But he never said or implied that the contamination was 'bomb—grade.'  In other words, Linzer and the super—secret scientists have disproved a non—existent accusation.

But the while the super—secret scientists are trying to paint Bolton as some fanatic trying to make a false case for war with Iran, their findings unintentionally point to couple of stunning facts.  First, the centrifuges have been in Iranian hands for at least two years, and second, the contamination, regardless of whether it's from Pakistan or Iran, proves that the equipment works quite well in producing HEU.  Apparently, this is of no consequence to Linzer and the IAEA scientists.*

One of the article's other points concerns the negotiations between the E—3 (France, Germany, and the UK) and Iran to break the stalemate over its nuclear ambitions.  Linzer writes that the E—3 has been trying,

to convince Iran that it could avoid Security Council action if it gives up sensitive aspects of its nuclear energy program that could be diverted for weapons work.

And that,

Iran has offered to put the entire program under IAEA monitoring as a way of alleviating international concerns.  But European and U.S. officials have rejected that offer because it would still allow Iran access to bomb—making capabilities.

These statements are plainly false.  The E—3 offers had nothing to do with giving up 'sensitive aspects' of Iran's nuclear program.  The E—3 deal allowed Iran to develop a commercial nuclear power generation capability while certain nations of the EU would retain control and reprocess the spent fuel from the reactor at Bushehr.  The US even supported this offer because it was the best way to ensure that the spent fuel was shipped out of Iran and could not be reprocessed into weapons grade plutonium in—country.  Also, France, Belgium, and the UK stood to gain financially from reprocessing contracts that amounted to billions of Euros.  Not even mentioned in the offers were concerns about the breeder reactor under construction at Arak, or the enrichment facility at Esfahan.

Also, the US and the EU did not reject the offer; the Iranians did.  Ultimately, these talks were bound to go nowhere, since Russia had already started producing fuel for Bushehr, and had no intention of shipping the spent fuel back to Russia for safekeeping.  Linzer shamefully ignores recent history and fabricates technical details out of whole cloth to give the American people a false sense of security, and to sow the seeds of doubt about the motivations of our administration.

But why is this effort receiving this kind of publicity, and what's so important about the scientists work, anyway?  As Linzer mentions, the IAEA Board of Governors has delayed their next report on Iran until September 3, so that the findings of the super—secret scientists can be presented to the board.  But this begs the question of what the previous report said about Iran's program.  As it turns out, plenty.

The full text of the August 11 report can be found here, but a few of the key statements paint a detailed picture of the mullahs' nuclear program as anything but an innocent quest for a commercial atomic power capability.  For example, the Board of Governors notes that the IAEA cannot conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran, and that it is seriously concerned that Iran had decided to restart uranium conversion at the Esfahan nuclear facility.  And speaking of Esfahan, the IAEA is apparently having second thoughts on breaking the seals at the uranium conversion facility some weeks earlier.  The report,

Urges Iran to re—establish full suspension of all enrichment related activities including the production of feed material, including through tests or production at the Uranium Conversion Facility, on the same voluntary, non—legally binding basis as requested in previous Board resolutions, and to permit the Director General to re—instate the seals that have been removed at that facility;

But the key factor in all this false reporting and the work of the super—secret group of scientists is in the last sentences of the report, which state the Board:

Requests the Director General to provide a comprehensive report on the implementation of Iran's NPT Safeguards Agreement and this resolution by 3 September 2005; and [the Board] Decides to remain seized [emphasis added] of the matter.

In other words, the IAEA is playing its typical game of indecisiveness, delay, and deceit.  And thanks to the dubious findings of the IAEA's scientists, and the shoddy work of the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer, it is possible that the follow—on report will only further muddy the waters and give the IAEA an excuse to not formally report Iran's violations to the UN Security Council.

For her part in this fiasco, Linzer is just following her old MSM playbook on deliberately underestimating Iran's nuclear capability to paint the Bush administration as war—mongering incompetents.  Naturally, her sources remain safely anonymous, continuing the legacy media's tradition of performing as mouthpieces for disgruntled intelligence operatives and IAEA technocrats .

It's time for the IAEA to make its own case concerning Iran before the UN, and to stop relying on partisan reporters whose scientific literacy is on the low end of the scale.  Too much is at stake for this farce to continue.

* The IAEA was extremely upset last year that the US Department of Energy shipped almost two tons of LEU out of Saddam's nuclear research center at Tuwaitha.  The UN watchdog has yet to explain why Saddam was allowed to keep the LEU and over 500 tons of yellowcake when all of his nuclear reactors and labs had been destroyed and had never been rebuilt.

Douglas Hanson is the national security correspondent of The American Thinker

The deception of the mainstream media concerning the military capabilities of our enemies continues unabated.  Washington Post staff writer Dafna Linzer has teamed with a mysterious group of scientists hired by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to write a ludicrous article that 'proves' Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.

American Thinker contributor Noel Sheppard does a  great job of pointing out the absolutely ridiculous arguments in this piece of journalistic junk.  It's obvious that Linzer's and the super—secret scientific group's intentions are to give the mullahs a clean bill of health in the non—proliferation arena.  But to fully understand what's happening, we must examine the situation from the IAEA's perspective and the technical contradictions involved with this farce.

Anytime the ability of rogue nations to develop nuclear power is debated, we must understand one basic premise: the IAEA is deathly afraid of officially reporting Nuclear Non—proliferation Treaty (NPT) violations to the UN Security Council.  This is because the Council may then vote to enact economic sanctions on the offending country, which then may opt out of the NPT, and will then likely kick out any remaining UN inspectors. This is exactly how the IAEA got burned in North Korea.  Access to nuclear and scientific facilities is the IAEA's life blood.  If they are denied access, the IAEA and the UN are shown to be the useless organizations they truly are.  Some might even question the need for the lavish headquarters in Vienna and ample tax—free income enjoyed by IAEA leaders. Therefore, the IAEA will fight tooth and nail to prevent a formal report on Iran from going to the Security Council.  Against this backdrop, it's easy to see through Linzer's and the scientists' fabrications.

As Noel points out, the most obvious piece of deception is the revelation that the team of scientists judged that the 'bomb—grade' uranium found on the separation centrifuges obtained from Pakistan was contamination from Pakistani nuclear material.  Keep in mind, that 'bomb—grade' uranium is generally enriched to greater than 85 percent of the fissile U—235 isotope.  The article then tries to draw a connection to congressional testimony from John Bolton, who Linzer maintains had tried to make the case in 2004 that the Iranians were lying about the contamination.  Here is what Bolton said according to the article:

Another unmistakable indicator of Iran's intentions is the pattern of repeatedly lying to and providing false and incomplete reports to the IAEA," Bolton said.  "For example, Iran first denied it had enriched any uranium.  Then it said it had not enriched uranium more than 1.2 percent.  Later, when evidence of uranium enriched to 36 percent [emphasis added] was found, it attributed this to contamination from imported centrifuge parts."

Uranium enriched up to 20 percent is considered Low Enriched Uranium, while uranium enriched above 20 percent is considered Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU).  Bolton was making the case that there was, in fact, HEU on the centrifuge parts.  But he never said or implied that the contamination was 'bomb—grade.'  In other words, Linzer and the super—secret scientists have disproved a non—existent accusation.

But the while the super—secret scientists are trying to paint Bolton as some fanatic trying to make a false case for war with Iran, their findings unintentionally point to couple of stunning facts.  First, the centrifuges have been in Iranian hands for at least two years, and second, the contamination, regardless of whether it's from Pakistan or Iran, proves that the equipment works quite well in producing HEU.  Apparently, this is of no consequence to Linzer and the IAEA scientists.*

One of the article's other points concerns the negotiations between the E—3 (France, Germany, and the UK) and Iran to break the stalemate over its nuclear ambitions.  Linzer writes that the E—3 has been trying,

to convince Iran that it could avoid Security Council action if it gives up sensitive aspects of its nuclear energy program that could be diverted for weapons work.

And that,

Iran has offered to put the entire program under IAEA monitoring as a way of alleviating international concerns.  But European and U.S. officials have rejected that offer because it would still allow Iran access to bomb—making capabilities.

These statements are plainly false.  The E—3 offers had nothing to do with giving up 'sensitive aspects' of Iran's nuclear program.  The E—3 deal allowed Iran to develop a commercial nuclear power generation capability while certain nations of the EU would retain control and reprocess the spent fuel from the reactor at Bushehr.  The US even supported this offer because it was the best way to ensure that the spent fuel was shipped out of Iran and could not be reprocessed into weapons grade plutonium in—country.  Also, France, Belgium, and the UK stood to gain financially from reprocessing contracts that amounted to billions of Euros.  Not even mentioned in the offers were concerns about the breeder reactor under construction at Arak, or the enrichment facility at Esfahan.

Also, the US and the EU did not reject the offer; the Iranians did.  Ultimately, these talks were bound to go nowhere, since Russia had already started producing fuel for Bushehr, and had no intention of shipping the spent fuel back to Russia for safekeeping.  Linzer shamefully ignores recent history and fabricates technical details out of whole cloth to give the American people a false sense of security, and to sow the seeds of doubt about the motivations of our administration.

But why is this effort receiving this kind of publicity, and what's so important about the scientists work, anyway?  As Linzer mentions, the IAEA Board of Governors has delayed their next report on Iran until September 3, so that the findings of the super—secret scientists can be presented to the board.  But this begs the question of what the previous report said about Iran's program.  As it turns out, plenty.

The full text of the August 11 report can be found here, but a few of the key statements paint a detailed picture of the mullahs' nuclear program as anything but an innocent quest for a commercial atomic power capability.  For example, the Board of Governors notes that the IAEA cannot conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran, and that it is seriously concerned that Iran had decided to restart uranium conversion at the Esfahan nuclear facility.  And speaking of Esfahan, the IAEA is apparently having second thoughts on breaking the seals at the uranium conversion facility some weeks earlier.  The report,

Urges Iran to re—establish full suspension of all enrichment related activities including the production of feed material, including through tests or production at the Uranium Conversion Facility, on the same voluntary, non—legally binding basis as requested in previous Board resolutions, and to permit the Director General to re—instate the seals that have been removed at that facility;

But the key factor in all this false reporting and the work of the super—secret group of scientists is in the last sentences of the report, which state the Board:

Requests the Director General to provide a comprehensive report on the implementation of Iran's NPT Safeguards Agreement and this resolution by 3 September 2005; and [the Board] Decides to remain seized [emphasis added] of the matter.

In other words, the IAEA is playing its typical game of indecisiveness, delay, and deceit.  And thanks to the dubious findings of the IAEA's scientists, and the shoddy work of the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer, it is possible that the follow—on report will only further muddy the waters and give the IAEA an excuse to not formally report Iran's violations to the UN Security Council.

For her part in this fiasco, Linzer is just following her old MSM playbook on deliberately underestimating Iran's nuclear capability to paint the Bush administration as war—mongering incompetents.  Naturally, her sources remain safely anonymous, continuing the legacy media's tradition of performing as mouthpieces for disgruntled intelligence operatives and IAEA technocrats .

It's time for the IAEA to make its own case concerning Iran before the UN, and to stop relying on partisan reporters whose scientific literacy is on the low end of the scale.  Too much is at stake for this farce to continue.

* The IAEA was extremely upset last year that the US Department of Energy shipped almost two tons of LEU out of Saddam's nuclear research center at Tuwaitha.  The UN watchdog has yet to explain why Saddam was allowed to keep the LEU and over 500 tons of yellowcake when all of his nuclear reactors and labs had been destroyed and had never been rebuilt.

Douglas Hanson is the national security correspondent of The American Thinker