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Mohamed ElBaradei will serve a third term as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Since abject failure appears to be a criterion for being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, look for John Bolton – currently undersecretary of state – to be the next recipient.

You see, Bolton has been “point man” in the Bush administration’s campaign to discredit and/or supersede ElBaradei and his pesky IAEA nuke proliferation-prevention regime.

How pesky?

In President Bush’s first State of the Union message, he essentially accused North Korea, Iran and Iraq of having clandestine nuke programs:

“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.

“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.”

But – at that time – North Korea, Iran and Iraq were signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. All three had their “declared” nuclear facilities subject to IAEA periodic inspection, and both Iraq and North Korea were subject to additional stringent IAEA surveillance.

The IAEA nuke proliferation prevention regime applied to Iraq was especially severe. The IAEA Action Team on Iraq had been granted extraordinary authority by U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. To wit:

a. Identifying Iraqi facilities capable of enriching or extracting nuke-usable materials;

b. Assessing Iraqi industrial capabilities for constructing such plants;

c. Identifying Iraqi plants capable of producing non-nuclear components of nukes;

d. Searching for evidence – including analysis of ongoing research and development activities – of an Iraqi nuke program.

[This extraordinary authority given by the Security Council to the IAEA for Iraq then became the basis for developing the 1997 Model Additional Protocol to be added to all existing IAEA Safeguards Agreements.]

As for North Korea, under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of 1994, all existing North Korean “nuclear” activities had been “frozen” – under IAEA lock and seal – in return for a promise of free nuclear power plants and an interim supply of free fuel-oil.

If the IAEA had determined that a) Iraq was not in compliance with Security Council resolutions or that b) North Korea was not in compliance with the Agreed Framework or that c) Iran was not in compliance with its Safeguards Agreement, it could have asked the U.N. Security Council to impose “sanctions,” which could – under the U.N. Charter – include the use of military force.

However, the IAEA had made no such determination.

Obviously, if Bush was to impose regime change on Iraq, Iran and North Korea on the pretext they had nukes, the IAEA nuke proliferation-prevention regime had to be discredited or superseded.

So, Bush announced his own National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction in late 2002 and developed from it the Proliferation Security Initiative of 2003, whose objective was to create a web of international “counter-proliferation partnerships” to prevent “proliferators” from “carrying out their trade in WMD and missile-related technology.”

According to Bolton, the PSI was necessary because “proliferators and those facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities are circumventing existing laws, treaties and controls against WMD proliferation.” Unlike the existing U.N. nuke proliferation-prevention regime, “PSI is not diverted by disputes about candidacies for director general, agency budgets, agendas for meetings and the like.”

Bolton began implementing Bush’s PSI almost nine months after Bush had unilaterally abrogated the IAEA-monitored Agreed Framework with North Korea and several months after Bush had defied the U.N. Security Council by unilaterally invading and occupying Iraq.

Bolton claimed the PSI was presaged by Security Council Resolution 1540 of 2004, which reaffirmed the UNSC President’s Statement (S 23500) of Jan. 31, 1992.

Bolton to the contrary, that statement actually includes the following reaffirmation of the NPT and the role of the IAEA in preventing nuke proliferation:

“On nuclear proliferation, they [Council members] note the importance of the decision of many countries to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and emphasize the integral role in the implementation of that Treaty of fully effective IAEA safeguards, as well as the importance of effective export controls. The members of the Council will take appropriate measures in the case of any violations notified to them by the IAEA.”

Bolton has been demanding, publicly and privately, that ElBaradei be replaced. Well, that’s not going to happen. But stay tuned. Maybe Bolton will be replaced … so as to be eligible for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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