Disarmament& Iran& Nuclear weapons--global& U.S. military& Nuclear power02 Feb 2006 12:09 pm

Jackie Cabasso

After agreeing to comment on the State of the Union Address for the Institute for Public Accuracy (as one of many commentators), I forced myself to watch the Commander in Chief make his annual grand performance, fortified by a martini and surrounded by close friends. Afterwards, I went home and struggled to find words that would convey my outrage, while also attempting to offer some cogent information and analysis. I was nearly overwhelmed, because the speech was long, there was so much provocative rhetoric to react to, it was so Orwellian, and I was on a tight deadline. There was also so much missing, like — in a speech rife with glowing references to growing international “democracy,” “political freedom,” and “peaceful change” — no reference was made to the recent elections in Latin America. On the domestic front, though the Pres declared “… our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another,” he didn’t even mention Hurricane Katrina. And the speech raised some questions for me, which there was no time to look into. Why were Zimbabwe and Burma added to the “hit list,” along with Syria, North Korea and Iran?

The Institute for Public Accuracy quoted from some of my musings, along with a number of esteemed colleagues, in their February 1 news release, Responses to State of the Union Address, and a related critique for public distribution, A Critical Look: The State of the Union 2006, here’s the rest. I want to stress that these comments by no means represent a comprehensive analysis of the speech — just a few uneven thoughts triggered by specific references in the speech.

Though this year’s State of the Union Address was no where near as over-the-top as last year’s 2005 version of “Manifest Destiny,” two words continue to characterize the Bush Administration’s approach to the world: “arrogance” and “hypocrisy.” Bush began his speech by acknowledging the loss of Coretta Scott King. But, Mrs. King early on recognized the insidious link between U.S. militarism and civil rights, taking a stand against the Vietnam War even before her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, came out against the war. Surely she would not want to be remembered in association the Bush Administration’s “long war” of empire or its unchecked domestic surveillance activities. (more…)

Iran& Nuclear weapons--global01 Feb 2006 10:27 am

Michael Spies

On Monday, January 23, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that the P5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, China, France, Russia, UK, US, padawan permanent member Germany, and the European Union have agreed on a compromise proposal to “report” Iran to the Security Council. The statement does not necessarily predetermine the language of any International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board resolution, which will likely be tabled on Thursday and must be agreed to by a majority of states on the 35 member Board. Nor does it signal that any future Security Council action will necessarily involve the imposition of economic sanctions, contrary to the assumption of much of the U.S. media. However, it does indicate how the most powerful states on the Board will seek to shape how this matter is brought to the Security Council.

The major compromise on the part of the US was to agree “that the Security Council should await the Director General’s report to the March meeting of the IAEA Board … before deciding to take action to reinforce the authority of the IAEA process.” The US Permanent Representative to the UN, John Bolton, holds the rotating Security Council presidency for the month of February. Possibly a factor underwriting this compromise, the agreement thus ensures that this issue will not come the Council while Bolton has the authority to set its agenda, to the relief of anyone who hopes for a diplomatic and non-confrontational outcome to the Iranian dilemma (Paul Leventhal of the Nuclear Control Institute disagrees). Argentina, which voted in favor of the IAEA finding Iran in non-compliance in September, holds the Security Council presidency for March. (more…)

Iran& Nuclear weapons--global26 Jan 2006 02:02 pm

John Burroughs

In remarks at the Arms Control Association annual luncheon in DC on January 25, 2006, Hans Blix indicated that IAEA Board referral of the Iran situation to the Security Council may not be the most productive course. He also said that, regardless of the forum, what is needed is a better offer to Iran to induce it to drop its uranium enrichment program. Lacking so far, he stressed, has been security guarantees of the kind offered to North Korea.

Michael Spies, program associate for the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), and I attended and were struck that Blix’s discussion of Iran was broadly consistent with the letter sent to the IAEA Board on January 23 by LCNP and Western States Legal Foundation. For other topics covered by Blix, see David Ruppe’s story in Global Security Newswire and the ACA transcript.

Blix of course was head of UNMOVIC, in charge of inspecting Iraq for biological and chemical weapon and missile programs prior to the illegal U.S. invasion which, consistent with UNMOVIC’s reporting, found no such programs. In the 1980s, he was director general of the IAEA. He is now chairman of the WMD Commission established by Sweden, whose report will be released in May.

Regarding Security Council consideration of the Iran situation, Blix said that an upside is that it would put China and the United States at the table. But downsides are that it would increase expectations and pressure; harden the Iranian position; and lead to chatter about economic and military sanctions. It is certainly the case that the U.S. media tends to assume, wrongly, that Security Council consideration is necessarily about whether to impose sanctions. It is also true that the credibility of the United States, the permanent five, and the Council is seen to be at stake, reducing flexibility and increasing the risk of confrontation.

Blix said that if the Security Council takes up the matter, it may then just send it back to the IAEA with an exhortation to Iran to cooperate. The IAEA might then be able to close the file regarding Iran’s past violations of its Safeguards Agreement and its current intentions. However, that would leave the issue of Iran’s enrichment program still outstanding. Blix believes that it is important that Iran end the program. Perhaps he thinks that under all the circumstances, including the nature of the present Iran government, this is the only way to achieve certainty regarding Iran’s future course.

Similarly, in our letter, we said that a “non-confrontational solution [outside the Security Council] is achievable and efforts to this end are ongoing. Additionally, the IAEA investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activities has not yet reached a conclusion. Escalation would needlessly and artificially create a condition of crisis and tension which could easily undermine the diplomatic and IAEA processes, and pave the way for dangerous confrontation in the future.” Also worth noting is that Kofi Annan has indicated that referral is premature, at least until the March report of the director general. (more…)

Iran& Nuclear weapons--global& Nuclear weapons--U.S.12 Jan 2006 11:37 pm

Andrew Lichterman

Several recent articles have appeared on the web and have been widely circulated within the disarmament community suggesting that the United States is likely to launch a preventive war against Iran that will include planned nuclear strikes. These include:

Jorge Hirsch, How to Stop the Planned Nuking of Iran: Congress should enact emergency legislation (”…America is embarked in a premeditated path that will lead inexorably to the use of nuclear weapons against Iran in the very near future.”) and

Michel Chossudovsky Nuclear War against Iran (”The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran is now in the final planning stages.”)

Many of the individual statements in these articles are true. But they make inferences about potential U.S. nuclear weapons use in wars against states that lack nuclear weapons that I do not believe are supported by the documents they refer to, if looked at as a whole. In particular, I believe they overstate the likelihood of a planned preventive nuclear strike against a state that does not have nuclear weapons. The use of nuclear weapons in the course of a war in which an adversary uses chemical or biological weapons, or in which the U.S. suffers catastrophic military reverses, is another matter. (more…)

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