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Uranium Particles Discovered by IAEA in Iran Not Related to JCPOA – Russian Senior Official

Sputnik – November 12, 2019

According to Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov, the undeclared uranium particles found by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Iran has nothing to do with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“There is a lot of speculation around this phrase, it is presented as a kind of ‘hot’ fact, testifying to Iran’s dishonesty. This is a distortion of the real situation because it concerns the discovery of uranium particles that date from a period approximately between the beginning of the 1990s and no later than 2005. This has nothing to do with the JCPOA, nor does it indicate any gross violations by Iran,” Ulyanov stressed.

Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lashed out at the European signatories of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, challenging their assertion that they had ‘fully upheld commitments under the JCPOA‘.

The IAEA said in its latest “confidential” report, which had been leaked to the Western media, that the agency had detected “natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency.”

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | April 22, 2019

April 26 marks the 33rd anniversary of the 1986 radiation disaster at Chernobyl reactor Number 4 in Ukraine, just north of Kiev the capital. It is still nearly impossible to get scientific consensus on the vast extent of the impacts. The explosions and two-week long fire at Chernobyl spewed around the world something between one billion and nine billion curies of radiation — depending on whose estimates you choose to believe. The accident is classified by the UN as the worst environmental catastrophe in human history.

Chernobyl’s radioactive fallout has been blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acknowledges only 56 deaths among firefighters who suffered and died agonizing deaths in the disaster’s immediate aftermath. However, the IAEA’s officially chartered mission is “to accelerate and enlarge the contributions of nuclear power worldwide.” Because of its institutional bias, one can dispute nearly everything the IAEA says about radiation risk.

Also on the low-end of fatality estimates is the World Health Organization which has to have its radiation studies approved by the IAEA! In 2006, the WHO’s “Expert Group concluded that there may be up to 4,000 additional cancer deaths among the three highest exposed groups over their lifetime (240,000 liquidators; 116,000 evacuees, and the 270,000 residents of the Strictly Controlled Zones).” The WHO added to this 4,000 the estimate that “among the five million residents of areas with high levels of radioactive cesium deposition” in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine” predictions suggest “up to 5,000 additional cancer deaths may occur in this population from radiation exposure…”

Alternately, Ukraine’s Minister of Health Andrei Serkyuk estimated in 1995 that 125,000 people had already died from the direct effects of Chernobyl’s radiation. Serkyuk said a disproportionate share of casualties were among children, pregnant women and rescue workers or “liquidators.” Liquidators were soldiers ordered to participate in the removal and burial of radioactive topsoil, heavy equipment, trees, and debris, wearing no protective clothing, respirators or radiation monitors.

On January 10, 2010 The Guardian reported that “reputable scientists researching the most radiation-contaminated areas of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine” dispute the IAEA estimates that only 56 firefighters died “and that about 4,000 will die from it eventually.” The paper noted for example, that, “The International Agency for Research on Cancer, another UN agency, predicts 16,000 deaths from Chernobyl; an assessment by the Russian academy of sciences says there have been 60,000 deaths so far in Russia, and an estimated 140,000 in Ukraine and Belarus.”

The Guardian further noted that, “Meanwhile, the Belarus national academy of sciences estimates 93,000 deaths so far and 270,000 cancers, and the Ukrainian national commission for radiation protection calculates 500,000 deaths so far.”

The Los Angeles Times reported in 1998 that, “Russian officials estimated 10,000 Russian ‘liquidators’ died.” The article quoted health officials who said “close to 3,600 Ukrainians who took part in the cleanup effort have died of radiation exposure.” In 2001, the BBC upped the estimate and reported, “More than 30,000 Russians have died from radiation, half of whom were involved in dealing with the immediate aftermath….”

An August 4, 2003 New Yorker magazine article noted vaguely that, “Thousands of people died of cancers and other diseases in the years after the Chernobyl disaster,” while The New York Times said April 23, 2003, “Thyroid cancer, leukemia and other cancers have skyrocketed in the area around the reactor.” Around the 10th anniversary, under the headline, “Genetics: Chernobyl’s burst in mutations,” The Washington Post reported that, “Studies indicated that people … living near Chernobyl are giving birth to offspring with a higher number of genetic mutations.” In her April 27, 1996 dispatch for the Associated Press, journalist Angela Charlton noted “a hundred-fold increase in the incidence of childhood thyroid cancers in the affected region.”

Chernobyl’s health effects were felt much further away than the area around the reactor. The Los Angeles Times reported July 25, 1996, that radiation from Chernobyl was “linked to leukemia cases in Greece.” Epidemiologic Reviews in Oxford Journals for March 30, 2005 reported, “The releases of radioactive materials were such that contamination of the ground was found to some extent in every country in the Northern Hemisphere.” In its 1988 Report to the General Assembly, the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation found, “The accident at the Chernobyl … resulted in radioactive material becoming widely dispersed and deposited … throughout the northern hemisphere.”

In 2001, Alex Kuzma, executive director of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund, documented an 80-fold increase in cancers in Belarus and Ukraine, and reported that 50 million people, including 1.26 million children, are affected. Eugene Cahaill of the Dublin-based Chernobyl Children’s Project reported in the Irish Times in 2005 that, “Nine million people in Belarus, the Ukraine and Western Russian have been directly affected by the fallout.”

Thirty-six hundred deaths, or 125,000? Nine million people affected, or 50 million? The health effects of exposing everyone in the hemisphere to Chernobyl’s radiation (and Windscale’s, and Santa Susana’s, and Fukushima’s) — effects that are often delayed for decades — are quite incalculable. Got cancer?

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

US bid to create crisis in Iran-IAEA ties ‘falling flat’: Report

Press TV – January 26, 2019

The US has failed to create a crisis in Iran’s cooperation with the UN atomic agency which has repeatedly confirmed the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program, Bloomberg reports.

Bloomberg said the US was pushing to open “a special investigation” into Iran’s past nuclear work, but “it’s not gaining traction among the international officials who can make it happen.”

The financial news provider said it had obtained documents and interviewed diplomats who attended a meeting between US officials and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna last week.

“American officials have been ratcheting up pressure at the International Atomic Energy Agency in recent weeks, threatening new sanctions and advocating for more aggressive inspections,” Bloomberg said.

“However, the efforts are falling flat,” it said, citing three diplomats who participated in the meeting.

It’s a rare pushback for the US at the IAEA … the episode illustrates the rising difficulty American officials face in convincing allies to follow the US on Iran,” it added.

During the private meeting held on January 20 and attended by 70 diplomats assigned to the IAEA, the participants heard what hawkish US national security adviser John Bolton called “substantial evidence” that Iran had lied to IAEA inspectors.

“There is a sense that the administration is frustrated that their campaign to renegotiate the deal isn’t working,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“What we see is the US maximum pressure campaign is heating up even further,” she added.

The diplomats said the fresh US allegation was based on an analysis by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Institute for Science and International Security, which used data supplied by Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has on several occasions drawn international ridicule for his allegations about Iran’s “secret” nuclear activities.

Last September, Netanyahu went to the UN to show pictures of an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons storage site, which turned out to be a carpet cleaning factory, with the IAEA ignoring the claim.

“There has been a concern that the US and some other countries want to precipitate an inspection crisis,” Geranmayeh said. “But there’s been resistance to this. The deal’s stakeholders feel they have a good grip on what’s happening in Iran.”

The US has been trying to coerce the Europeans into following its lead and withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which President Donald Trump renounced in May.

Since the US left, the deal’s remaining powers — China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK — have struggled to provide the sanctions relief promised when Iran agreed to nuclear caps.

The Europeans are currently trying to put a special purpose vehicle designed to protect companies from US sanctions into operation, but are facing Washington’s threats of retribution for any trade with Tehran.

Bloomberg cited the diplomats in Vienna as saying that “while they will continue engaging with the US, they want to avoid provoking a scenario that will escalate into a new crisis with Iran.”

One envoy said the US was forcing the IAEA to “rehash 20-year-old information” which had already been settled by the nuclear agency, warning that it could shut the doors to diplomacy and lead to “tragic consequences”.

January 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA dismisses Israel’s call to inspect Iran facility

Press TV – October 2, 2018

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has declined to “take at face value” a recent Israeli claim that Iran has a secret atomic warehouse.

“The Agency uses all safeguards relevant information available to it but it does not take any information at face value,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Although Amano did not make an explicit reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim against Iran, it is his first public pronouncement since the premier’s speech.

“It should be noted that under the existing verification framework, the Agency sends inspectors to sites and locations only when needed,” he added.

During his speech on Thursday at the 73rd annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Netanyahu once again took the stage to bring out fresh theatrics against Iran, repeating his threadbare allegation that the country is working to develop nuclear weapons at a “secret” site and urged the IAEA to inspect it.

“In May, we exposed the site of Iran’s secret atomic archive. Today, I’m revealing the site of a second facility; Iran’s secret atomic warehouse,” claimed the Israeli PM, who added, “Iran has not abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons.”

Amano further emphasized that the IAEA’s work related to nuclear verification “must always be impartial, factual, and professional,” saying, “In order to maintain credibility, the Agency’s independence in relation to the implementation of verification activities is of paramount importance.”

The IAEA chief added that the agency is conducting verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran signed with major world powers.

“These activities will continue to be carried out within the parameters of the relevant decisions and resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council as appropriate,” he pointed out.

Pointing to his reports to the IAEA Board of Governors, Amano noted that the agency would continue its evaluations regarding the absence of “undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran.”

“The Agency continues to evaluate Iran’s declarations under the Additional Protocol, and has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit,” the head of the UN nuclear agency said.

In his introductory statement to the Board of Governors in Vienna on September 10, Amano said Iran is living up to all its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

He added that the IAEA would continue to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement.

Later in his opening address to the IAEA’s 62nd General Conference in Vienna on September 17, the IAEA director general reaffirmed that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement.

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

How Syrian-Nuke Evidence Was Faked

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | November 19, 2017

When Yousry Abushady studied the highly unusual May 2008 CIA video on a Syrian nuclear reactor that was allegedly under construction when an Israeli jet destroyed it seven months earlier, the senior specialist on North Korean nuclear reactors on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s staff knew that something was very wrong.

Abushady quickly determined that the CIA had been seriously misled by Israeli intelligence and immediately informed the two highest officials of the Vienna-based IAEA, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and Deputy Director for Safeguards, Olli Heinonen, that the CIA’s conclusions were not consistent with the most basic technical requirements for such a reactor.

But it did not take long for Abushady to realize that the top IAEA officials were not interested in drawing on his expertise in regard to the alleged Syrian reactor. In fact, the IAEA cited nonexistent evidence linking the site to a Syrian nuclear program while covering up real evidence that would have clearly refuted such a claim, according to Abushady and other former senior IAEA officials.

When Abudhsady met with Heinonen to discuss his analysis of the CIA’s case in May 2008, Abushady asked to be included on the team for the anticipated inspection of the al-Kibar site because of his unique knowledge of that type reactor.

But Heinonen refused his request, citing an unwritten IAEA rule that inspectors are not allowed to carry out inspections in their countries of origin. Abushady objected, pointing out that he is Egyptian, not Syrian, to which Heinonen responded, “But you are an Arab and a Muslim!” according to Abushady.

Heinonen has declined a request for his comment on Abushady’s account of the conversation.

A Curious Inspection

In June 2008, an IAEA team consisting of Heinonen and two other inspectors took environmental samples at the al-Kibar site. In November 2008, the IAEA issued a report saying that laboratory analysis of a number of natural uranium particles collected at the site “indicates that the uranium is anthropogenic,” meaning that it had been processed by humans.

The implication was clearly that this was a reason to believe that the site had been connected with a nuclear program. But former IAEA officials have raised serious questions about Heinonen’s handling of the physical evidence gathered from the Syrian site as well as his characterization of the evidence in that and other IAEA reports.

Tariq Rauf who headed the IAEA’s Verification and Security Policy Coordination Office until 2011, has pointed out that one of the IAEA protocols applicable to these environmental samples is that “the results from all three or four labs to have analyzed the sample must match to give a positive or negative finding on the presence and isotopics or uranium and/or plutonium.”

However, in the Syrian case the laboratories to which the samples had been sent had found no evidence of such man-made uranium in the samples they had tested. ElBaradei himself had announced in late September, three months after the samples had originally been taken but weeks before the report was issued, “So far, we have found no indication of any nuclear material.” So the November 2008 IAEA report claiming a positive finding was not consistent with its protocols.

But the samples had been sent to yet another laboratory, which had come up with a positive test result for a sample, which had then been touted as evidence that the site had held a nuclear reactor. That in itself is an indication that a fundamental IAEA protocol had been violated in the handling of the samples from Syria.

One of the inspectors involved in the IAEA inspection at al-Kibar later revealed to a fellow IAEA inspector what actually happened in the sample collection there. Former senior IAEA inspector Robert Kelley recalled in an interview that, after the last results of the samples from the al-Kibar inspection had come back from all the laboratories, the inspector, Mongolian national Orlokh Dorjkhaidav, came to see him because he was troubled by the results and wanted to tell someone he trusted.

Negative Results

Dorjkhaidav told Kelley that all the samples taken from the ground in the vicinity of the bombed building had tested negative for man-made uranium and that the only sample that had tested positive had been taken in the toilet of the support building.

Dorjkhaidav later left the IAEA and returned to Mongolia, where he died in December 2015. A video obituary for Dorjkhaidav confirmed his participation in the inspection in Syria. Kelley revealed the former inspector’s account to this writer only after Dorjkhaidav’s death.

In an e-mail response to a request for his comment on Kelley’s account of the Syrian environmental samples, Heinonen would neither confirm nor deny that the swipe sample described by Dorjkhaidav had been taken inside the support building. But in January 2013, David Albright, Director of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C., who has co-authored several articles with Heinonen, acknowledged in a commentary on his think tank’s website that the al-Kibar uranium particles had been “found in a changing room in a building associated with the reactor.”

Given the dispersal of any nuclear material around the site by the Israeli bombing, if man-made uranium was present at the site, it should not have shown up only inside the support facility but should have been present in the samples taken from the ground outside.

Former IAEA senior inspector Kelley said in an e-mail that a “very likely explanation” for this anomaly is that it was a case of “cross contamination’ from the inspector’s own clothing. Such cross contamination had occurred in IAEA inspections on a number of occasions, according to both Kelley and Rauf.

Kelley, who had been in charge of inspections in Iraq in the early 1990s, recalled that a set of environmental swipes taken from nuclear facilities that the United States had bombed in Iraq had appeared to show that that Iraq had enriched uranium to 90 percent. But it turned out that they had been taken with swipe paper that had been contaminated accidentally by particles from the IAEA laboratory.

But what bothered Abushady the most was that the IAEA report on Syria had remained silent on the crucial fact that none of the sample results had shown any trace of nuclear-grade graphite.

Abushady recalled that when he challenged Heinonen on the absence of any mention of the nuclear graphite issue in the draft report in a Nov. 13, 2008 meeting, Heinonen said the inspectors had found evidence of graphite but added, “We haven’t confirmed that it was nuclear-grade.”

Abushady retorted, “Do you know what nuclear-grade graphite is? If you found it you would know it immediately.”

Heinonen was invited to comment on Abushady’s account of that meeting for this article but declined to do so.

After learning that the report scheduled to be released in November would be silent on the absence of nuclear graphite, Abushady sent a letter to ElBaradei asking him not to release the report on Syria as it was currently written. Abushady protested the report’s presentation of the environmental sampling results, especially in regard to nuclear-grade graphite.

“In my technical view,” Abushady wrote, “these results are the basis to confirm the contrary, that the site cannot [have been] actually a nuclear reactor.”

But the report was published anyway, and a few days later, ElBaradei’s Special Assistant Graham Andrew responded to Abushady’s message by ordering him to “stop sending e-mails on this subject” and to “respect established lines of responsibility, management and communication.”

A Clear Message

The message was clear: the agency was not interested in his information despite the fact that he knew more about the issue than anyone else in the organization.

At a briefing for Member States on the Syria reactor issue on Feb. 26, 2009, the Egyptian representative to the IAEA confronted Heinonen on the absence of nuclear-grade graphite in the environmental samples. This time, Heinonen had a different explanation for the failure to find any such graphite. He responded that it was “not known whether the graphite was in the building at the time of the destruction,” according to the diplomatic cable reporting on the briefing that was later released by WikiLeaks.

But that response, too, was disingenuous, according to Abushady. “Graphite is a structural part of the reactor core in the gas-cooled reactor,” he explained. “It is not something you add at the end.”

The IAEA remained silent on the question of graphite in nine more reports issued over more than two years. When the IAEA finally mentioned the issue for the first time officially in a May 2011 report, it claimed that the graphite particles were “too small to permit an analysis of the purity compared to that normally required for use in a reactor.”

But American nuclear engineer Behrad Nakhai, who worked at Oak National Laboratories for many years, said in an interview that the laboratories definitely have the ability to determine whether the particles were nuclear grade or not, so the claim “doesn’t make sense.”

News outlets have never reported on the IAEA’s role in helping to cover up the false CIA claim of a North-Korean-style nuclear reactor in the desert by a misleading portrayal of the physical evidence collected in Syria and suppressing the evidence that would have made that role clear.

Heinonen, who was directly responsible for the IAEA’s role in the Syria cover-up, left the IAEA in August 2010 and within a month was given a position at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He has continued to take positions on the Iran nuclear negotiations that were indistinguishable from those of the Netanyahu government. And he is now senior adviser on science and non-proliferation at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank whose positions on the Iran nuclear issues have closely followed those of the Likud governments in Israel.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian on U.S. national security policy and the recipient of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, published in 2014.

[For a previous segment of this two-part series, see https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/18/israels-ploy-selling-a-syrian-nuke-strike/]

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Existential Question of Who to Trust

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 30, 2017

The looming threat of World War III, a potential extermination event for the human species, is made more likely because the world’s public can’t count on supposedly objective experts to ascertain and evaluate facts. Instead, careerism is the order of the day among journalists, intelligence analysts and international monitors – meaning that almost no one who might normally be relied on to tell the truth can be trusted.

The dangerous reality is that this careerism, which often is expressed by a smug certainty about whatever the prevailing groupthink is, pervades not just the political world, where lies seem to be the common currency, but also the worlds of journalism, intelligence and international oversight, including United Nations agencies that are often granted greater credibility because they are perceived as less beholden to specific governments but in reality have become deeply corrupted, too.

In other words, many professionals who are counted on for digging out the facts and speaking truth to power have sold themselves to those same powerful interests in order to keep high-paying jobs and to not get tossed out onto the street. Many of these self-aggrandizing professionals – caught up in the many accouterments of success – don’t even seem to recognize how far they’ve drifted from principled professionalism.

A good example was Saturday night’s spectacle of national journalists preening in their tuxedos and gowns at the White House Correspondents Dinner, sporting First Amendment pins as if they were some brave victims of persecution. They seemed oblivious to how removed they are from Middle America and how unlikely any of them would risk their careers by challenging one of the Establishment’s favored groupthinks. Instead, these national journalists take easy shots at President Trump’s buffoonish behavior and his serial falsehoods — and count themselves as endangered heroes for the effort.

Foils for Trump

Ironically, though, these pompous journalists gave Trump what was arguably his best moment in his first 100 days by serving as foils for the President as he traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday and basked in the adulation of blue-collar Americans who view the mainstream media as just one more appendage of a corrupt ruling elite.

Breaking with tradition by snubbing the annual press gala, Trump delighted the Harrisburg crowd by saying: “A large group of Hollywood celebrities and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom” and adding: “I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from [the] Washington swamp … with much, much better people.” The crowd booed references to the elites and cheered Trump’s choice to be with the common folk.

Trump’s rejection of the dinner and his frequent criticism of the mainstream media brought a defensive response from Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, who complained: “We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people.” That brought the black-tie-and-gown gathering to its feet in a standing ovation.

Perhaps the assembled media elite had forgotten that it was the mainstream U.S. media – particularly The Washington Post and The New York Times – that popularized the phrase “fake news” and directed it blunderbuss-style not only at the few Web sites that intentionally invent stories to increase their clicks but at independent-minded journalism outlets that have dared question the elite’s groupthinks on issues of war, peace and globalization.

The Black List

Professional journalistic skepticism toward official claims by the U.S. government — what you should expect from reporters — became conflated with “fake news.” The Post even gave front-page attention to an anonymous group called PropOrNot that published a black list of 200 Internet sites, including Consortiumnews.com and other independent-minded journalism sites, to be shunned.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5, 2003

But the mainstream media stars didn’t like it when Trump began throwing the “fake news” slur back at them. Thus, the First Amendment lapel pins and the standing ovation for Jeff Mason’s repudiation of the “fake news” label.

Yet, as the glitzy White House Correspondents Dinner demonstrated, mainstream journalists get the goodies of prestige and money while the real truth-tellers are almost always outspent, outgunned and cast out of the mainstream. Indeed, this dwindling band of honest people who are both knowledgeable and in position to expose unpleasant truths is often under mainstream attack, sometimes for unrelated personal failings and other times just for rubbing the powers-that-be the wrong way.

Perhaps, the clearest case study of this up-is-down rewards-and-punishments reality was the Iraq War’s WMD rationale. Nearly across the board, the American political/media system – from U.S. intelligence analysts to the deliberative body of the U.S. Senate to the major U.S. news organizations – failed to ascertain the truth and indeed actively helped disseminate the falsehoods about Iraq hiding WMDs and even suggested nuclear weapons development. (Arguably, the “most trusted” U.S. government official at the time, Secretary of State Colin Powell, played a key role in selling the false allegations as “truth.”)

Not only did the supposed American “gold standard” for assessing information – the U.S. political, media and intelligence structure – fail miserably in the face of fraudulent claims often from self-interested Iraqi opposition figures and their neoconservative American backers, but there was minimal accountability afterwards for the “professionals” who failed to protect the public from lies and deceptions.

Profiting from Failure

Indeed, many of the main culprits remain “respected” members of the journalistic establishment. For instance, The New York Times’ Pentagon correspondent Michael R. Gordon, who was the lead writer on the infamous “aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges” story which got the ball rolling for the Bush administration’s rollout of its invade-Iraq advertising campaign in September 2002, still covers national security for the Times – and still serves as a conveyor belt for U.S. government propaganda.

The Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, who repeatedly informed the Post’s readers that Iraq’s secret possession of WMD was a “flat-fact,” is still the Post’s editorial page editor, one of the most influential positions in American journalism.

Hiatt’s editorial page led a years-long assault on the character of former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson for the offense of debunking one of President George W. Bush’s claims about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger. Wilson had alerted the CIA to the bogus claim before the invasion of Iraq and went public with the news afterwards, but the Post treated Wilson as the real culprit, dismissing him as “a blowhard” and trivializing the Bush administration’s destruction of his wife’s CIA career by outing her (Valerie Plame) in order to discredit Wilson’s Niger investigation.

At the end of the Post’s savaging of Wilson’s reputation and in the wake of the newspaper’s accessory role in destroying Plame’s career, Wilson and Plame decamped from Washington to New Mexico. Meanwhile, Hiatt never suffered a whit – and remains a “respected” Washington media figure to this day.

Careerist Lesson

The lesson that any careerist would draw from the Iraq case is that there is almost no downside risk in running with the pack on a national security issue. Even if you’re horrifically wrong — even if you contribute to the deaths of some 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis — your paycheck is almost surely safe.

The same holds true if you work for an international agency that is responsible for monitoring issues like chemical weapons. Again, the Iraq example offers a good case study. In April 2002, as President Bush was clearing away the few obstacles to his Iraq invasion plans, Jose Mauricio Bustani, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], sought to persuade Iraq to join the Chemical Weapons Convention so inspectors could verify Iraq’s claims that it had destroyed its stockpiles.

The Bush administration called that idea an “ill-considered initiative” – after all, it could have stripped away the preferred propaganda rationale for the invasion if the OPCW verified that Iraq had destroyed its chemical weapons. So, Bush’s Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton, a neocon advocate for the invasion Iraq, pushed to have Bustani deposed. The Bush administration threatened to withhold dues to the OPCW if Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat, remained.

It now appears obvious that Bush and Bolton viewed Bustani’s real offense as interfering with their invasion scheme, but Bustani was ultimately taken down over accusations of mismanagement, although he was only a year into a new five-year term after having been reelected unanimously. The OPCW member states chose to sacrifice Bustani to save the organization from the loss of U.S. funds, but – in so doing – they compromised its integrity, making it just another agency that would bend to big-power pressure.

“By dismissing me,” Bustani said, “an international precedent will have been established whereby any duly elected head of any international organization would at any point during his or her tenure remain vulnerable to the whims of one or a few major contributors.” He added that if the United States succeeded in removing him, “genuine multilateralism” would succumb to “unilateralism in a multilateral disguise.”

The Iran Nuclear Scam

Something similar happened regarding the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2009 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the neocons were lusting for another confrontation with Iran over its alleged plans to build a nuclear bomb.

IAEA director Yukiya Amano

According to U.S. embassy cables from Vienna, Austria, the site of IAEA’s headquarters, American diplomats in 2009 were cheering the prospect that Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano would advance U.S. interests in ways that outgoing IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei wouldn’t; Amano credited his election to U.S. government support; Amano signaled he would side with the United States in its confrontation with Iran; and he stuck out his hand for more U.S. money.

In a July 9, 2009, cable, American chargé Geoffrey Pyatt said Amano was thankful for U.S. support of his election. “Amano attributed his election to support from the U.S., Australia and France, and cited U.S. intervention with Argentina as particularly decisive,” the cable said.

The appreciative Amano informed Pyatt that as IAEA director-general, he would take a different “approach on Iran from that of ElBaradei” and he “saw his primary role as implementing safeguards and UNSC [United Nations Security Council] Board resolutions,” i.e. U.S.-driven sanctions and demands against Iran.

Amano also discussed how to restructure the senior ranks of the IAEA, including elimination of one top official and the retention of another. “We wholly agree with Amano’s assessment of these two advisors and see these decisions as positive first signs,” Pyatt commented.

In return, Pyatt made clear that Amano could expect strong U.S. financial assistance, stating that “the United States would do everything possible to support his successful tenure as Director General and, to that end, anticipated that continued U.S. voluntary contributions to the IAEA would be forthcoming. Amano offered that a ‘reasonable increase’ in the regular budget would be helpful.”

What Pyatt made clear in his cable was that one IAEA official who was not onboard with U.S. demands had been fired while another who was onboard kept his job.

Pandering to Israel

Pyatt learned, too, that Amano had consulted with Israeli Ambassador Israel Michaeli “immediately after his appointment” and that Michaeli “was fully confident of the priority Amano accords verification issues.” Michaeli added that he discounted some of Amano’s public remarks about there being “no evidence of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapons capability” as just words that Amano felt he had to say “to persuade those who did not support him about his ‘impartiality.’”

In private, Amano agreed to “consultations” with the head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, Pyatt reported. (It is ironic indeed that Amano would have secret contacts with Israeli officials about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, which never yielded a single bomb, when Israel possesses a large and undeclared nuclear arsenal.)

In a subsequent cable dated Oct. 16, 2009, the U.S. mission in Vienna said Amano “took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded ambassador [Glyn Davies] on several occasions that he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

“More candidly, Amano noted the importance of maintaining a certain ‘constructive ambiguity’ about his plans, at least until he took over for DG ElBaradei in December” 2009.

In other words, Amano was a bureaucrat eager to bend in directions favored by the United States and Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Amano’s behavior surely contrasted with how the more independent-minded ElBaradei resisted some of Bush’s key claims about Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons program, correctly denouncing some documents as forgeries.

The world public got its insight into the Amano scam only because the U.S. embassy cables were among those given to WikiLeaks by Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, for which Manning received a 35-year prison sentence (which was finally commuted by President Obama before leaving office, with Manning now scheduled to be released in May – having served nearly seven years in prison).

It also is significant that Geoffrey Pyatt was rewarded for his work lining up the IAEA behind the anti-Iranian propaganda campaign by being made U.S. ambassador to Ukraine where he helped engineer the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Pyatt was on the infamous “fuck the E.U.” call with Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland weeks before the coup as Nuland handpicked Ukraine’s new leaders and Pyatt pondered how “to midwife this thing.”

Rewards and Punishments

The existing rewards-and-punishments system, which punishes truth-tellers and rewards those who deceive the public, has left behind a thoroughly corrupted information structure in the United States and in the West, in general.

Across the mainstream of politics and media, there are no longer the checks and balances that have protected democracy for generations. Those safeguards have been washed away by the flood of careerism.

The situation is made even more dangerous because there also exists a rapidly expanding cadre of skilled propagandists and psychological operations practitioners, sometimes operating under the umbrella of “strategic communications.” Under trendy theories of “smart power,” information has become simply another weapon in the geopolitical arsenal, with “strategic communications” sometimes praised as the preferable option to “hard power,” i.e. military force.

The thinking goes that if the United States can overthrow a troublesome government by exploiting media/propaganda assets, deploying trained activists and spreading selective stories about “corruption” or other misconduct, isn’t that better than sending in the Marines?

While that argument has the superficial appeal of humanitarianism – i.e., the avoidance of armed conflict – it ignores the corrosiveness of lies and smears, hollowing out the foundations of democracy, a structure that rests ultimately on an informed electorate. Plus, the clever use of propaganda to oust disfavored governments often leads to violence and war, as we have seen in targeted countries, such as Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.

Wider War

Regional conflicts also carry the risk of wider war, a danger compounded by the fact that the American public is fed a steady diet of dubious narratives designed to rile up the population and to give politicians an incentive to “do something.” Since these American narratives often deviate far from a reality that is well known to the people in the targeted countries, the contrasting storylines make the finding of common ground almost impossible.

If, for instance, you buy into the Western narrative that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gleefully gases “beautiful babies,” you would tend to support the “regime change” plans of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists. If, however, you reject that mainstream narrative – and believe that Al Qaeda and friendly regional powers may be staging chemical attacks to bring the U.S. military in on their “regime change” project – you might favor a political settlement that leaves Assad’s fate to the later judgment of the Syrian people.

Similarly, if you accept the West’s storyline about Russia invading Ukraine and subjugating the people of Crimea by force – while also shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 for no particular reason – you might support aggressive countermoves against “Russian aggression,” even if that means risking nuclear war.

If, on the other hand, you know about the Nuland-Pyatt scheme for ousting Ukraine’s elected president in 2014 and realize that much of the other anti-Russian narrative is propaganda or disinformation – and that MH-17 might well have been shot down by some element of Ukrainian government forces and then blamed on the Russians [see here and here] – you might look for ways to avoid a new and dangerous Cold War.

Who to Trust?

But the question is: who to trust? And this is no longer some rhetorical or philosophical point about whether one can ever know the complete truth. It is now a very practical question of life or death, not just for us as individuals but as a species and as a planet.

The existential issue before us is whether – blinded by propaganda and disinformation – we will stumble into a nuclear conflict between superpowers that could exterminate all life on earth or perhaps leave behind a radiated hulk of a planet suitable only for cockroaches and other hardy life forms.

You might think that with the stakes so high, the people in positions to head off such a catastrophe would behave more responsibly and professionally. But then there are events like Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner with self-important media stars puffing about with their First Amendment pins. And there’s President Trump’s realization that by launching missiles and talking tough he can buy himself some political space from the Establishment (even as he sells out average Americans and kills some innocent foreigners). Those realities show that seriousness is the farthest thing from the minds of Washington’s insiders.

It’s just too much fun – and too profitable in the short-term – to keep playing the game and hauling in the goodies. If and when the mushroom clouds appear, these careerists can turn to the cameras and blame someone else.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

April 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

IAEA confirms Iran’s commitment to obligations under JCPOA

Press TV – September 19, 2016

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has once again confirmed Iran’s commitment to a landmark nuclear agreement Tehran signed with the six world powers last year.

“Iran continues to implement its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amanon said in an introductory statement to the agency’s Board of Governors in Vienna on Monday.

He added that his report on Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) summarizes the verification and monitoring activities conducted by the UN nuclear agency in the last few months.

The IAEA chief said Iran has submitted its declarations under the Additional Protocol, which Tehran is applying provisionally, pending its entry into force.

“The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement,” Amano pointed out.

He noted that the IAEA would continue evaluating the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

In a quarterly report on Iran on September 8, the IAEA confirmed Iran’s commitment to the nuclear agreement reached between the Islamic Republic and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia – plus Germany on July 14, 2015.

The UN nuclear agency, which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the JCPOA, said Tehran has not exceeded the limits set in the accord on its low-enriched uranium and heavy water stockpile.

Under the JCPOA, which took effect in January, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related bans imposed against Tehran.

The deal requires Iran’s storage of uranium enriched to up to 3.67 percent purity to stay below 300 kilograms. Tehran has also agreed to keep its heavy water stockpile below 130 metric tonnes.

Since January, the IAEA has released regular reports confirming the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities and Tehran’s commitment to the agreement.

In April, the IAEA director general hailed Iran for respecting the nuclear accord, saying the Islamic Republic has even gone beyond its obligations.

September 19, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

IAEA Intelligence Acquisition Practices

By Peter Jenkins | LobeLog | December 16, 2015

Tariq Rauf, a former Canadian diplomat, and Robert Kelley, a former US nuclear weapon scientist, have published an assessment of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) handling of the Iranian case on the website of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Both were working in the IAEA secretariat during the years that followed Iran’s 2003 admission that it had failed to declare certain nuclear material and activities, Rauf in the external relations division and Kelley in the safeguards department. So their assessment benefits from first-hand knowledge gained on the inside.

The following passage concludes their assessment:

A structural weakness of the IAEA is that there is no transparent process for the supply of intelligence information and confirmation of its authenticity. The usual process is for a Member State(s) to provide the intelligence information either in documentation or electronic form to a special assistant in the Director General’s office and/or to the Deputy Director General for Safeguards, alternatively to give a closed briefing in its embassy/mission. The IAEA then deals with the information as described in an earlier section above. There is no established process to share such information with the accused State or with the Board of Governors….

The supply and use of intelligence information is a sensitive yet complex issue…. The IAEA cannot serve as a feedback loop to intelligence agencies on the veracity of information provided by them…. Nor can or should the IAEA rely on such information without confirming its authenticity. This obviously leaves the IAEA in a difficult position as is clearly evidenced by the Iran PMD file where the Agency seems to have been  caught short. 

The authors recommend that the Board put in place a methodology for the acceptance and use of intelligence information drawing from the practices of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). In these two organizations, allegations of non-compliance can be raised by any State Party which provides information to the Director General, who in turn shares it with the Executive Council. The Executive Council is convened; the Accuser State puts forward its case on allegations of non-compliance or suspicious activities in another State along with supporting information/evidence. The Accused State has the opportunity to present its defence. Following deliberations, the Executive Council can stop a challenge inspection in the case of the OPCW or authorize an on-site inspection in the case of the CTBTO. Such a practice could serve the IAEA well…. In fact, the JCPOA contains a somewhat similar provision for the Joint Commission in paragraph 36 on dispute resolution…

It is essential that the IAEA Board expeditiously come up with a mechanism governing the provision and handling of intelligence information to the IAEA Secretariat. There is great potential for misuse of such information and of suborning the independence of the Agency in the absence of such a mechanism, as abundantly demonstrated by the cases of Iraq, Iran and Syria in recent times.”

A Lack of Confidence

This passage contains echoes of an intervention by the Russian Federation’s governor to the IAEA, Grigory Berdennikov, at an IAEA safeguards symposium in October 2014:

The Secretariat has the right to use for safeguards implementation all safeguards relevant information available to the Agency about a State. This information includes, inter alia, data from open sources and data provided by third parties. It should be noted that third parties include not only States that provide information with regard to another State but also organizations and even private individuals.

No  proper  mechanism  that  could  guarantee  the accuracy and  authenticity  of information  used for safeguards purposes  is  provided for [in the report under consideration].  In essence it  is suggested that  all analysis  should  be done by the Secretariat as decisions on whether certain  data  can  be  used  for  safeguards purposes are left entirely with the Secretariat. Member States, according to this approach, should simply trust the Secretariat’s choice of information.

The risk here is obvious. False allegations generated by interested parties in order to exercise political pressure on a State unfortunately remain part of the current international landscape.  They  are  quite  common  in  many  areas, including  non-proliferation,  and  one  should  admit  could  be  very  important,  sometimes involving issues of war and peace.

We think that if the Secretariat decides to use any information, except for data obtained through its own inspection activity, it should duly disclose its origin and be ready to defend its credibility in an open discussion at the Board of Governors. Every State should have the right  to  publicly  defend  itself  against  false  allegations  and accusations generated by interested  third  parties  or  by  the  media.”

These passages reflect a lack of confidence in the authenticity of some of the intelligence material on Iran submitted to the Agency by member states. There is no proof that any of this information was fabricated. But that lack of confidence is not unreasonable, because motives for fabrication can be imagined without straying far into the thickets of conspiracy theory.

Grounds for Doubt

Gareth Porter has written in A Manufactured Crisis that, according to a former German foreign ministry official, German intelligence obtained the “alleged studies” that underpinned the PMD case against Iran from a member of the Mujahideen E-Khalq (MEK) in 2004. MEK hostility to the Islamic Republic is well-documented. Is it inconceivable that this source forged or fabricated that material? The material was never shown to Iran in full and it contains factual inaccuracies and anomalies for which a satisfactory explanation has never been offered.

In autumn 2007, the US, UK, France, and Israel were furious with the Agency’s then Director General Mohamad El Baradei because he had agreed to a work-plan with Iran and was well on his way to clearing the Agency’s last remaining “issues of concern.” Those issues cleared, these states would be bereft of sources of pressure on Iran to submit to their demands.

In that situation there could have been a temptation to produce information that would appear to corroborate aspects of the “alleged studies.” Initially El Baradei and some of his advisers had doubted the authenticity of these studies. But in early 2008 the studies, apparently corroborated by fresh information, metamorphosed into a “possible military dimension.” From then on they were the West’s instrument of choice for keeping Iran under international pressure. In November 2011, they formed the core of an IAEA assessment that persuaded EU member states to adopt harsh economic sanctions against Iran, and Asian states to comply with US secondary sanctions.

Was any temptation to fabricate resisted? One would like to think so. But, given the Stuxnet program to sabotage Iran’s centrifuge machines, and hints that a hostile intelligence agency commissioned the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, one has to wonder whether certain states would have hesitated to resort to fabrication to get themselves out of a spot of difficulty in autumn 2007.

Such speculations explain the lack of confidence implicit in the recommendations of Rauf and Kelley, and the intervention of Berdennikov. The IAEA Board of Governors can ignore that lack of confidence—and may well choose to do so. But that will be short-sighted. Over time allowing distrust in the Agency’s intelligence-acquisition practices to fester can weaken international acceptance of the Agency as an impartial and objective verifier of compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Rauf and Kelley recommend drawing lessons from OPCW and CTBT practices and provisions. No doubt there are other options. Reconciling source protection with transparency and due process may not be easy. But a collective Board effort to find a solution can heal some of the divisions within the IAEA membership that perceptions of Western lack of scruples in prosecuting the case against Iran have helped to cause.


Peter Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years, following studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He served in Vienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva. He specialized in global economic and security issues. His last assignment (2001-06) was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna). Since 2006 he has represented the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, advised the Director of IIASA and set up a partnership, ADRgAmbassadors, with former diplomatic colleagues, to offer the corporate sector dispute resolution and solutions to cross-border problems. He was an associate fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy from 2010 to 2012. He writes and speaks on nuclear and trade policy issues.

December 19, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

UN closes case into alleged Iranian quest for nukes

RT | December 15, 2015

Iran moved another step away from international isolation after the UN’s nuclear watchdog announced on Tuesday it was closing a probe into whether Tehran sought to obtain nuclear weapons.

The decision was made by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as it looks to move forward with a nuclear deal signed by Iran and six world powers on July 14, which is supposed to see Tehran curb its nuclear program in return for economic sanctions being lifted.

IAEA official Yukiya Amano said his investigation could not “reconstruct all the details of activities conducted by Iran in the past.”

The decision means the 12-year investigation will now finally be closed, as the West had believed for over a decade that Tehran was striving to produce nuclear weapons. One diplomat who attended the meeting said the decision was reached by consensus, with all those attending in favor.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif applauded the move.

“We welcome the closure of the investigation of Iran’s past nuclear activities … the resolution by the board of governors of the agency … shows the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” the Tasnim news agency quoted Zarif as saying.

Iran says it will start implementing restrictions concerning its nuclear activities within the next two-to-three weeks.

“We are intending to complete this process within two-to-three weeks, so accelerate the implementation day as soon as possible,” Iranian envoy to the IAEA Reza Najafi stated, as cited by Reuters.

Meanwhile, Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said he believes that economic sanctions against Tehran could be lifted within the next three weeks, following the decision made by the IAEA.

Iran issued a warning to the IAEA in November that if the nuclear probe was not closed, they risked Tehran abandoning the international atomic deal signed in July.

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said that the closure of the case was a necessary prerequisite for the full implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 nations.

Under the nuclear deal, Tehran agreed to put major curbs on its atomic program, particularly its enrichment of uranium to high purities. In return, all nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the US, the EU and the UN are to be lifted.

December 15, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Close probe into past nuclear activities, or deal can’t go ahead – Iran

RT | November 29, 2015

Iran has called on the IAEA and world leaders to close the investigation of the so-called “Possible Military Dimensions” of its nuclear program – the PMD file. Otherwise they will have to choose between the case and the nuclear deal.

“What closes the PMD case is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors’ resolution. And the P5+1 is a part of the Board of Governors. So we hope that they act upon their responsibility and close the case,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said, as cited by the Fars news agency.

Shamkhani added that closure of the PMD case is a necessary prerequisite for the full implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1. The group includes the US, Russia, China, Britain and France, who are the permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany.

Under the July 14 accord, Tehran agreed to major curbs on its atomic program, particularly its enrichment of uranium to high purities. In return all nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the US, the EU and the UN are to be lifted.

Shamkhani says now the P5+1 group “must choose” between the nuclear deal and the PMD file, according to ISNA.

The file concerns allegations that at least until 2003 Iran conducted research into how to make a nuclear weapon. These claims have been vehemently rejected by Tehran, which says its nuclear program serves peaceful purposes only. These include energy production and cancer treatment, and therefore the Iranians argue the program is Iran’s natural right.

“Iran wants to be exonerated from the PMD case and it should become clear that the PMD cases have been false, and during the negotiations we pressure the opposite side and insist that the fate of this case should come within the framework of the agreement,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said on June 17, a month before the nuclear deal was concluded.

The final PMD report may reach the IAEA’s board of governors as early as Tuesday, according to AFP. If it closes the allegations, a day of the nuclear deal “implementation” is to be appointed, starting with which sanctions will be lifted.

Earlier this week, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said that while the UN watchdog has a “better understanding” of Iran’s past activities, the report will not be a “black-and-white assessment.”

“This is not an issue which can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ ” he said on Thursday.


November 29, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Elephant Not in the Room: Whither the Mythological Parchin Explosion Chamber?

Arms Control Law | October 2, 2015

Another great guest post by friend of ACL, Dr. Yousaf Butt, on the technical implications of the findings of the IAEA when Agency inspectors finally visited the site at Parchin that they’ve been angling to visit for years.

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Elephant Not in the Room: Whither the Mythological Parchin Explosion Chamber?

By Yousaf Butt

Many reporters and non-proliferation experts have been busy lately arguing over the protocols used for taking samples at the Parchin military site in Iran. They may have missed the elephant in the room. This might be excusable since there is no elephant in the room: the enormous explosion chamber that was supposed to be there was not seen by the IAEA in their latest visit to their latest building of interest at Parchin.

As all hardcore Parchin fans know, the IAEA had visited the site twice before and also found nothing suspicious in – or even around – the other buildings they had previously been interested in. Three strikes and you’re out? Well, not quite: one ought to wait for the results of the sampling before passing final judgment on whether nuclear materials were used at Parchin and whether possible safeguards violations may have occurred.

However, it seems fairly clear by now that the intel supplied to the IAEA regarding the chamber was flawed. Regardless of whether the sampling results end up being positive or not, there is no chamber at Parchin at any of the multiple locations deduced from the intel fed to the Agency by some unknown third-party.

Could the huge chamber have been cut-up and sneaked out as some people at a DC-based NGO have insisted? As Robert Kelley – a former head of the DoE Remote Sensing Laboratory at Nellis Air Force Base and a former IAEA inspections director – explains in a recent SIPRI release, the answer is a firm “No” — because of continuous satellite monitoring:

“A removal operation would be obvious to an observer using panchromatic satellite imaging, supplemented by Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and many forms of multi-spectral imaging.”

To those of us who have been examining the scientific quality of some of the allegations against Iran the non-existence of the mythological chamber has not come as a big surprise: it may well be that the same country that fed the bogus and amateurishly-flawed Associated Press graphs to the IAEA, also fed the now-debunked Parchin chamber story.

As Robert Kelley recaps, there were multiple failures of competence in the 2011 IAEA Annex report that made the Parchin allegations in the first place. Most glaringly, there is no need for an explosion chamber if the aim of the chamber was nuclear-weapons related in the first place: “Claims about the purpose of the alleged experiments at Parchin are not consistent with the logic of nuclear weapons design and testing.”

Apart from the latest Parchin report, non-proliferation experts and reporters would be well-advised to do their due-diligence and read the compendium of expert SIPRI reports written by Robert Kelley and his colleague Tariq Rauf – the former Head of Verification and Security Policy Coordination at the IAEA.

A puzzling question persists, however: If the chamber never existed and there’s no big nefarious deal at Parchin why then were the Iranians so insistent to lead the latest swipe-sampling inspections themselves? It’s uncertain of course, but it may be related to the reports that the IAEA mishandled the Syria investigation and so Iran perhaps wanted to ensure that that is not repeated at Parchin.

The upshot of all this is that the IAEA should stick to doing nuclear materials accountancy and not delve into nuclear weaponization investigations, until its mandate and expertise is broadened to include such activities.

Dr. Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, is senior scientific advisor to the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) in London. The views expressed here are his own.

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran’s Growing Questions About The Sanctions

By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Eurasia Review | September 5, 2015

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, has instructed the Parliament (Majlis) to review and vote on the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the world powers in July, and has also questioned the parts of the deal, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that refer to the suspension rather than annulment of Iran sanctions.

Khamenei’s latest statement, raising questions about the JCPOA, comes at a time when various US officials devote most of their energy assuring the skeptics about the “snap back” and the like, instead of clarifying the nature and timeline of their removal of Iran sanctions; this is not to mention the unpleasant language of military threat that has resurfaced in full fury since the breakthrough agreement in Vienna.

With respect to Iran’s parliamentary approval, Ali Larijani, the powerful speaker of Majlis who was recently in New York for an inter-parliamentary meeting, told an Iranian audience that he foresees a more energetic role by Majlis on the nuclear issue in the near future. Larijani, who backs the deal and is considered an important ally of President Hassan Rouhani, will have his work cut out for him, in light of the strong reservations toward the deal by the majority faction known as the Principalists, some of whom have clashed with the members of the negotiation team who have testified at Majlis.

Henceforth, while President Obama has declared victory by securing the Congressional votes that safeguards the nuclear deal from any derailment by the opponents of the deal, the situation in Iran is turning more complicated and casts a cloud of uncertainty on the JCPOA’s future.

One of the thorny issues is the separate agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is confidential and is key to resolving the disputes over the so-called “Possible Military Dimension” (PMD) issues and concerns raised by the agency. Since this agreement is confidential, it is unclear if the members of Majlis will be privy to information about it, which might be essential to their ultimate verdict on the agreement.

According to the head of IAEA, Yukiya Amano, the PMD agreement is moving forward with Iran’s submission of substantial new information, and the issue is set to be resolved before the year’s end, assuming a smooth progress. Should the IAEA press for access to certain military sites, then this would certainly complicate the prospect of PMD’s resolution in the next three months. And since the IAEA’s certification of Iran’s compliance is key to the removal of sanctions, the whole issue has raised concerns in Iran that the IAEA might be manipulated by certain powers to refrain from giving Iran a ‘clean bill of health’ in order to linger the cloud of suspicion on Iran’s head and also to delay the sanctions’ relief, which is badly needed for the struggling Iranian economy, in light of the declining oil prices.

From Tehran’s vantage point, it is imperative that the other side provides further guarantees that it will stick to the terms of its obligations under the JCPOA and avoid bad-faith implementation that would erode the trust-building between the two sides. Tehran is certainly disquieted by the “liberal imperialist” American discourse that reinterprets the JCPOA as a means of “containing Iran” and uses it as a hammer to knock down Iranian power in the region.

The earlier expectations of the JCPOA as a prelude for the normalization of US-Iran relations has been to some extent evaporated, replaced instead by a new mood of mutual hostility — that is disfunctional for the vested interests of both sides, given the potential for incremental improvement and even select US-Iran cooperation on regional issues provided by the landmark agreement. Khamenei has questioned the hawkish anti-Iran pronouncements of US officials and former officials, which some view as directed for “domestic consumption” only, stating that such statements carry consequences and must be rebuffed by Iran.

In light of the above-said, the adoption and implementation of JCPOA faces many hurdles including in Iran, where the coming parliamentary elections have added sprinkles of political factionalism to the issue. While it remains to be seen how the critics of JCPOA inside the Majlis will utilize the green light by the Supreme Leader, what is clear however is that U.S. policy-makers have yet to jailbreak from the confines of “containment” strategy and its binary divisions, as a result of which the prospects for a genuine evolution of Iran-U.S. relations continues to remain suspended.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment