Wall Street Journal to the IAEA
Jude Wanniski
December 1, 2004


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: "Tails I Win, Heads You Lose"

Please take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s editorial today, ”Tehran’s Triumph, which argues that the “Europe and the U.N. bless Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapons.” If you read carefully, you will understand why I have been saying for many, many moons that you can’t trust the Journal’s editorials on national security or foreign policy because they are essentially dictated by Richard Perle and the neo-con warriors – and the neo-cons make up the facts as they go along in order to justify war. Indeed, if it were not for Fox News, “The War Network,” and the Journal edit page, President Bush may not have been bamboozled by the neo-cons into his totally unnecessary war against Iraq.

If you have been following my commentaries on Iran and its alleged quest for a nuclear weapon, you will remember I have made the case that it is not a threat as long as its declarations can be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). You will also recall that while Iran has not yet signed the new IAEA protocol that would permit the agency’s inspectors to go anywhere it wishes at a moment’s notice, to track down rumors of non-compliance, it has behaved as if it were already a signator to the protocol. The IAEA has gone to those places where Iranian exiles have asserted non-compliance with the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and in no case did it find a violation of the NPT. It did find a uranium-enrichment program that Iran should have reported under the terms of the Safeguard Agreement it had signed, but such a program was permitted as long as it would have been reported. Iran has assured the IAEA that it can inspect the program to make certain it is not being used to make highly enriched uranium, only the type it plans to use in nuclear power plants.

In its agreement with the European negotiators, which the Journal insists is a step in “Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon,” Iran has given every indication that as long as its rights under the terms of the NPT are not disturbed, they will sign the protocol and permit permanent, intrusive inspections.

That’s not good enough for the Journal. In today’s editorial, here is the key paragraph: “It implies a promise of open-ended European economic, technical and political aid. And it gives Iran the right to restart its nuclear programs at any moment without even being in technical breach of the IAEA resolution. All this without even touching Iran's undeclared and illicit nuclear programs, which are active and numerous and mostly beyond the IAEA's capacity to monitor.”

In other words, the Journal knows Tehran has active and numerous nuclear weapons programs that at mostly beyond the IAEA’s capacity to monitor. But if this is so, there is only one logical way to get at those undeclared and illicit nuclear programs: Invade Iran and force a regime change that produces a puppet government, of the kind the neo-cons have planned for Baghdad. If the IAEA inspectors can’t locate illicit programs when they are allowed to look everywhere within Iran’s borders, then the IAEA might as well close its doors. This, in fact, is what Perle and the neo-cons have been shooting for all along. They would like nothing more than to totally discredit the IAEA -- and the United Nations – and give the Pentagon the assignment of whipping the rogue states into submission.

If you happened to catch “Sunday Late Edition” with Wolf Blitzer, the topic was discussed with Richard Perle himself. In one exchange he said he would not trust North Korea even if it agreed to verification by the IAEA. He added this:

And Ambassador Gallucci made a very good point a few moments ago, which was that Saddam Hussein, after the destruction of the Osiraq reactor, reconstituted a nuclear program while Iraq was under IAEA surveillance, and we didn't know about it. So trusting the North Koreans to abide by their word, or the Iranians for that matter, is a very dangerous business.

Unless you know what’s going on here, you will not have realized that Perle smoked one right past Blitzer. Perle of course knows that Saddam’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, which ended in total failure, was not undertaken until Israel in 1981 sent warplanes to destroy the Osiraq reactor (getting the assistance of their old friend in the Pentagon at the time, Mr. Perle.)

Perle also knows that under the terms of the NPT, which Iraq had signed and Israel has never signed), the IAEA had neither authority nor responsibility in the 1980s to check on suspected sites in Iraq. It was because the IAEA found remnants of the abandoned nuke program in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War that various measures were taken to close the loopholes in the NPT. These included the new protocol, giving the IAEA both authority and responsibility to monitor suspected sites. It also included the founding of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, which monitors exports of materials needed for nuke components into countries suspected of harboring nuke intentions. There is now really no way that Iran could develop a nuke without it being discovered, unless it first announces it is withdrawing from the NPT. In that case, as Gordon Prather has pointed out, it would from that point on take several years before Iran had a deliverable nuclear weapon.

The good news is that so far President Bush is behaving as he should have before invading Iraq on the say-so of Perle and his Iranian-exile pals like Ahmed Chalabi. He has deferred to the diplomatic efforts of the British, French and Germans and agreed not to press Iran further than is necessary to gain a satisfactory outcome. The neo-cons of course have treated this as a defeat, because their game has been to provoke Iran and North Korea by pushing them further than is necessary. Fox News and the WSJournal are sulking.