Even if Under-Secretary of State John Bolton isn’t our next Ambassador to the United Nations, he already has a legacy. At the recently concluded Review Conference for the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, his underlings managed to seriously undermine both the NPT and the Safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
By insisting that certain NPT signatories be denied – by force, if “necessary” – their “inalienable right” under the NPT to enjoy “without discrimination” all the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy.
But, the NPT now requires all non-nuke signatories to subject their “nuclear materials and activities” to the IAEA regime and assigns to it – not to the NPT signatories, individually or collectively – the responsibility for verifying nuclear energy is not used for a “military purpose.”
Yes, the Bush-Boltonites argue, but the IAEA is, at least, incompetent. The Bush-Boltonites just know that Iran has had a covert nuclear-weapons program for 20 years, and the IAEA – in spite of being able to go anywhere, interview anyone and see anything – hasn’t been able to find it.
What to do?
Sign on to the Bush-Bolton Proliferation Security Initiative! Then when Bush-Bolton suspect some country like Iran has a nuke program the IAEA can’t find, Bush-Bolton will just “take it out.”
Yeah, like two years ago, when Bush-Bolton defied the U.N. Security Council, overrode the IAEA, invaded Iraq, turned the country upside down, went everywhere, “interviewed” everyone and saw everything there was to see? It turned out the reason the IAEA hadn’t been able to find the Iraqi nuke program was that there wasn’t one.
The Bush-Boltonites have been insisting the IAEA Safeguarded nuclear power plant the Russians are completing at Bushehr should be destroyed “before it’s too late.”
Once the power plant goes “on-line” next year – the Iranians would have to operate it for a year, withdraw from the NPT, kick out the IAEA inspectors, shut down the power plant, remove the fuel from the reactor and let it “cool off” in a “swimming pool” for a couple of years.
Meanwhile, they would have to construct – and get “on-line” – a plant for recovering the plutonium contained in that fuel once it cools off.
Also, establish a research and development program for producing a high-explosive spherical-implosion system like that employed in Fat Man, the nuke we dropped on Nagasaki.
(Fat Man weighed about 10,000 pounds. If Iran wants to deliver nukes by ballistic missile to Israel, Iran will have to get that weight down to about a thousand pounds. That took us ten years.)
Maybe so, the Bush-Boltonites argue, but Iran has also been constructing a secret underground uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz.
As soon as they get it up and running, producing low-enriched uranium, allegedly for power plant fuel, they will withdraw from the NPT, kick out the IAEA inspectors, further enrich that low-enriched uranium to weapons-grade and make gun-type nukes, like the Little Boy the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. “We” have to take it out, before it’s too late.
It will take the Iranians five to six years to produce – subject to IAEA Safeguards – the tens of thousands of gas-centrifuges that now-empty, but IAEA-Safeguarded, underground plant was meant to house. Then spend at least several more years producing – under IAEA Safeguards – tons of IAEA-Safeguarded low-enriched uranium. Finally, Iran will have to withdraw from the NPT, kick out the IAEA inspectors and re-configure the gas-centrifuges to produce a thousand pounds or so of weapons-grade highly-enriched uranium.
In any case, Little Boy also weighed about 10,000 pounds. Even the South African gun-type nukes weighed more than 2,000 pounds, still too heavy to be delivered from Iran to Israel by ballistic missile.
So, what can NPT signatories do to protect those NPT signatories subject to the NPT-IAEA Safeguards regime from the pre-emptive Bush-Bolton Proliferation Security Initiative?
Well, all Bush-Bolton doomsday scenarios involve the NPT signatory kicking out the IAEA inspectors.
The original Iranian Safeguards Agreement had a clause that said the agreement would only remain in force so long as Iran remained a signatory to the NPT. (The North Korean agreement had a similar clause.)
So, all the Iranians have to do to provide additional assurances that they won’t kick out the IAEA – even if the Bush-Boltonites succeed in destroying the NPT – is to have that clause removed.
The NPT doesn’t require them, so all such clauses should be removed. Then NPT withdrawal wouldn’t affect the authority of the IAEA to verify compliance with Safeguards Agreements and to report “non-compliance” to the U.N. Security Council for possible punitive action.