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David Sanger – a New York Times reporter – has actually visited the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and interviewed its director general, Mohamed ElBaradei. Sanger’s resulting report – entitled “When a Virtual Bomb May Be Better Than the Real Thing” – appeared last Sunday.

Until now, Sanger and other media sycophants have been uncritically accepting neo-con misinformation about nuclear programs – past and present – in Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

The neo-cons had President Bush say this about Iraq, Iran and North Korea in his 2002 State of the Union Address:


States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.

Nine months later, Bush went to Congress seeking “specific statutory authorization” to invade Iraq. He based his request upon a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate that supposedly “proved” Saddam was reconstructing his nuke and chem-bio weapons programs, with the intention of supplying those weapons to Islamic terrorists for use against us.

That NIE turned out to be a neo-con “con job.” Nevertheless:


The president is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.

But there was a catch.

Before resorting to force, Bush had to satisfy Congress that “reliance on peaceful means alone will not adequately protect the national security of the United States.”

That meant Bush had to give U.N. inspectors an opportunity to do a go-anywhere see-anything search of Iraq to see if a resort to force was necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein.

By mid-March of 2003, the U.N. inspectors had reported back to the Security Council that Saddam had made no attempt to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction programs since 1991 and had effectively been disarmed since at least 1998.

Hence, it must have been absolutely stupefying to Iran and North Korea when Dubya “determined” on March 19 that no “further diplomatic or other peaceful means will adequately protect the national security of the United States from the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

And invaded Iraq the next day.

Bush had unilaterally abrogated – just after he went to Congress to ask for authority to invade Iraq – the so-called Agreed Framework – verified by the IAEA – wherein North Korea “froze” all nuclear reactors and related facilities.

So, North Korea had withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ejected IAEA personnel and restarted its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor. Immediately after Bush invaded Iraq, North Korea announced it was chemically recovering the weapon-grade plutonium already produced. Enough for five or six nukes, according to U.S. “intelligence” estimates.

Now, there can be no question that ElBaradei was right about Iraq. But what about Iran?

Well, after more than 20 months of go-anywhere see-anything searching, ElBaradei has found no “indication” that Iran has – or ever had – a nuclear-weapons program.

But the neo-cons claim that Iran’s having the capability to enrich uranium is tantamount to Iran’s having nukes. That’s nonsense, of course. Iran’s having the capability to enrich uranium is not even tantamount to having the capability to produce the essentially pure uranium-235 required to make a nuke.

And even if Iran did have the capability and had somehow managed to secretly produce a few hundred pounds of uranium-235, that wouldn’t be tantamount to actually having nukes, either – especially implosion-type nukes.

However, it has been widely reported that ElBaradei told Sanger that having the capability was tantamount. ElBaradei didn’t.

When asked whether or not he thought North Korea had actually made five or six nukes with their weapons-grade plutonium, ElBaradei asked, “What’s the difference?” What ElBaradei meant was that, in his opinion, there is very little difference in the deterrent value of real nukes and “virtual” nukes.

He’s wrong about that, of course. So are the neo-cons.

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