D?j? vu, ElBaradei?

By Gordon Prather

Mohamed ElBaradei – director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency – was in Israel last week pursuing a nuke-free Middle East.

Now, ElBaradei has already certified Iraq to be nuke-free. And Iran. So, isn’t the Middle East already nuke-free?

Well, not according to Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu was a technician at the Israeli nuclear facilities at Dimona for eight years. He fled to England, taking with him documents and photographs, including a photo of a plutonium “pit” for a thermo-nuke “primary” and a photo of a facility producing lithium-6 – a critical material in a thermo-nuke’s “secondary.”

The London Sunday Times had Vanunu’s photos and documents “vetted” by British nuke scientists and published Vanunu’s story on Oct. 5, 1986.

But even before publication, Vanunu had been kidnapped and taken back to Israel. He was held captive – and incommunicado – until this April, when he was semi-released. He is not allowed to leave Israel, and his movements and communications are severely restricted.

Nevertheless, Vanunu heard about ElBaradei’s visit and managed to make public a suggestion that ElBaradei “should demand that the Israeli government let him go inside Dimona, to be part of the IAEA inspection of Dimona – as the IAEA demanded from Iran, Iraq – to report to all the world what every state is doing in secret.”

It is extremely unlikely that Prime Minister Sharon will allow that, or that ElBaradei would even make such a “demand.”

You see, Israel is a charter member of the IAEA, which was established by United Nations statute in 1957 to facilitate the spread of nuclear energy.

But Israel is not a “party” to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970.

The IAEA is not a “party” to the treaty, either, but has been made the international “safeguards” inspectorate under Article III of the NPT.

Each non-nuclear-weapon state party to the treaty undertakes to accept safeguards – as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system – for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under the treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

But, if Israel is not an NPT signatory, why is ElBaradei in Israel?

Well, as El-Baradei put it, “I’d like to see Israel supporting the Non-Proliferation Treaty through maybe concluding an Additional Protocol with the agency,”

ElBaradei would “like” Israel to agree to do what we – at the urging of the Israelis – have just forced Iran to do? Elbaradei would “like” Israel to sign an Additional Protocol to a IAEA Safeguards Agreement, authorizing IAEA inspectors unrestricted and unannounced access to all “suspicious” sites and facilities in Israel?

Get outta here!

Now, the IAEA can negotiate Safeguard Agreements and Additional Protocols with any nation-state – NPT signatory or not – when asked.

And, if the IAEA concludes that any nation-state – NPT signatory or not – is “cheating” on its Safeguards Agreement, it may report that to the U.N. Security Council for appropriate action.

In fact, we demanded that the Iranians sign an Additional Protocol because we were fairly certain the Iranians would refuse and that refusal might cause the IAEA to refer the matter to the Security Council.

Either way, the Israelis would have an “excuse” to launch pre-emptive attacks on Iranian “nuclear” facilities, destroying the not-yet-operational Russian-supplied Bushehr reactor, just as they destroyed, back in 1981, the not-yet-operational French-supplied Osiraq reactor in Iraq.

But the Iranians didn’t refuse. They made a deal. Iran would sign an Additional Protocol if – and only if – UK-France-Germany would guarantee their “inalienable” rights under Article IV of the NPT.

All the parties to the treaty undertake to facilitate – and have the right to participate in – the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

However, as ElBaradei was urging an Additional Protocol on Israel, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom emerged from a meeting in Washington to claim that “European foreign ministers” had concluded that Iran had reneged on their Additional Protocol deal with UK-France-Germany.

It seems Israeli spies and Iranian expatriates have “intelligence” – not to be made available to the IAEA – that Iran is pursuing a “nuclear weapons program” at sites that ElBaradei can never find.

D?j? vu, ElBaradei?