Stop or I’ll Issue a Strongly-Worded Statement

by on June 19th, 2004

The IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution on Friday in which they “deplored” Iran’s insufficient cooperation. In section L, subparagraph 2:

[The IAEA] deplores, at the same time, the fact that, overall, as indicated by the Director General’s written and oral reports, Iran’s cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been, and, in particular, that Iran postponed until mid-April visits originally scheduled for mid-March — including visits of the Agency centrifuge experts to a number of locations involved in Iran’s P-2 centrifuge enrichment program — resulting in some cases in a delay in the taking of environmental samples and their analysis…

Strong stuff indeed. I’ll be; Khamenei is really smarting after that tongue-lashing.

The IAEA remains seized of the matter.

Meanwhile, across the hall, someone else associated with the IAEA was waiting for an engraved invitation:

…[State Dept Spokesman] Boucher also accused Iran of razing nuclear sites to hide banned nuclear activity.

“I can’t give you any independent information but commercial satellite photography shows complete dismantling and razing of a facility at Lavizan Shiyan (a Tehran suburb).

“And that’s a site that was previously disclosed as a possible Iranian [WMD]-related site,” he said.

A senior diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP the agency was interested in this site but had not yet been “invited” by Iranian authorities to visit it.

[emphasis mine]

How odd that the Iranian government wouldn’t invite an international regulatory agency to visit a site which the Iranians were bulldozing and which had been suspected of being associated with their covert nuclear program. Quite perplexing. We’ll have to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to look into that and report in six months.

Meanwhile, the Iranians in response have said they will throw the IAEA a bone by halting enrichment activities, but plan to continue producing centrifuges, which, you will recall, were explicitly mentioned in the IAEA’s “j’deplore” paragraph as being one of the key sticking points. (Not to mention the fact that it’s hard to continue with enrichment when you still haven’t even finished all of the centrifuges that help you enrich Uranium.)

What is the Bush Administration doing about this? Not enough, certainly, but at least they’re not sending the mullahs campaign materials. On the “maybe we’re making progress” front, we could be turning the corner on the recent US-EU Cold War (for elaboration on this “late unpleasantness,” see No Pasaran). At least the mullahs think we and the Europeans might be getting friendlier. They roundly condemned that dangerous cabal, the US, Britain, France and Germany for colluding against them in (apparently) making up lies to keep Iran from pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.

And the State Dept seems to be, if not thrilled, at least generally satisfied that the UN hasn’t yet been definitively proved irrelevant.

So where does that leave us? As always, with a lot of work to do. The administration needs to press harder on a security council resolution condemning this obfuscation and ultimately force Iran’s hand. It’s an area that the US has felt strongly about for a long time (about 25 years, to be exact) and about which the Europeans have been embarrassed one time to many. It’s a topic which the administration can use to rebuild our relationship with Europe — not that tearing it down was a one-sided affair, mind you — and maybe achieve a little international security in the bargain. Let’s get going.

Marc C. Johnson