Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for the ‘ElBaradei’ Category

ElBaradei goes to India…But To Talk About What?

Posted by K.E. White on October 9, 2007

ElBaradei is in India on a three day tour. His itinerary: inaugurating new cancer treatment technology (the Bhabhatron-II) and the Bhadha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai. ElBaradei will also be meeting with political leaders, but not in reference to IAEA safeguards for the US India nuclear deal.

The IAEA must approve the US India nuclear deal, and must come to an understanding with India about inspections over nuclear sites. (Note: The current nuclear deal exempts ‘military’ facilities from IAEA inspections. What determines ‘civilian’ vs. ‘military’ nuclear facilities is just one issue that remains to be ironed out.)

The visit may inflame already tense negotiations over the deal within the ruling coalition government. India’s political left, an ally of the majority Congress Party, are not happy over the deal:

“Those who advocate the deal should know that India is capable of developing nuclear energy primarily on a self-reliant basis,” the four communist parties said in a joint release in New Delhi yesterday. “We need not surrender our vital interests to America on this plea.”

Prakash KaratThe New York Times provides an interesting article exploring the leader of the Indian Communist Party Prakash Karat and his party’s spoiler role in Indian politics.

From the Associated Press:

India’s government on Tuesday played down a visit by the chief of the U.N. atomic watchdog, denying he was there to negotiate a landmark nuclear deal between India and the United States that threatens to bring down the government.

Mohamed ElBaradei, whose International Atomic Energy Agency must approve the pact, said he was ready to discuss the agreement whenever Indian officials wished.

Speaking to reporters after a planned meeting with top Indian scientists, he said the “IAEA is ready for talks whenever India approaches me for the talks.”

And from The Hindu News Update:

“IAEA is ready for talks whenever the India approaches me for the talks,” Elbaradei, on a three-day visit to India, said after inaugurating the indigenously developed advanced computerised telecobalt machine `Bhabhatron-II’ for treatment of cancer here.

“The Indian government will have to take a decision,” he said adding, “I will wait for them to come to Vienna to make a formal request (in this regard).”

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Posted in ElBaradei, IAEA, India, Prakash Karat, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IAEA-White House Split Over Iran

Posted by K.E. White on October 3, 2007

Proliferation Press blogged earlier on the split between the White House and ElBaradei over Iran. A September 29th Associated Press article by George Jahn probes the same topic.

What is the source of the White House-IAEA divide? Is it a debate over IAEA authority of IAEA, or the Bush White House silencing dissident voices on Iran?

The AP article presents the views of IAEA Director General ElBaradei, the White House, UN inspector David Albright, and CAP fellow Joseph Cirincione:

“It is not only the core of my mandate to clarify Iran’s nuclear history — it is a central Security Council demand,” he told The Associated Press in comments e-mailed Friday defending his work plan and indirectly countering U.S. criticism that key IAEA members should have been consulted on it first.

“I continue, publicly and privately, to urge Iran to suspend,” he added, countering arguments that he is giving short shrift to Security Council demands. “I continue to call for a ‘double time out,’ which is actually the very same concept laid out in Security Council resolution: If you suspend enrichment, we will suspend sanctions.”

But discontent remains, said a senior U.S. official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to express his views to the media.

“It’s frustrating that he is assisting the Iranians in delaying tactics and helping them do what they want to do,” he said.

David Albright, a former U.N. nuclear inspector, also was critical, saying that “because of the political sensitivity of the issue the board should have been consulted.”

“I think what the U.S. is objecting to is that ElBaradei is trying to use the IAEA to do international diplomacy,” he said. “ElBaradei doesn’t have that mandate.”

Suggesting the cooperation plan is flawed, Albright said that by embracing it, ElBaradei was “fitting the facts on the ground” to try to prevent armed conflict over Iran in a similarly selective way that the Bush administration did to justify the invasion of Iraq.

But Joseph Cirincione, director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said those critical of ElBaradei “should take a deep, hard look at their own role and record for the war in Iraq.

“We have an American government seemingly itching to go to war, and we find that those who are proposing negotiations and inspections instead of war are themselves coming under attack,” he said.

Posted in Bush administration, David Albright, ElBaradei, George Jahn, IAEA, Iran, Joseph Cirincione, White House | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NYTimes Shines Light on IAEA Head ElBaradei, But What About the US-India Nuclear Deal?

Posted by K.E. White on September 17, 2007

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy, snagged the The New York Times front page—well at least the front page of their morning on-line edition.

The piece is part diplomatic update and even-handed psychological portrait of the IAEA director general. The piece shows ElBaradei as industrious and ambitious, tasked with the perhaps impossible situation of mediating the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The article is a good read, but its attempt to caste a general narrative to ElBaradei’s career is a bit madding owing to one glaring exception: ElBaradei’s approval of the US-India nuclear deal.

The discussing ElBaradei’s unprecedented third terms at the IAEA, Elaine Sciolino and William J. Broad leave out a critical wrinkle in the IAEA Chief’s career. What does it mean that the IAEA is supporting what critics consider an unfair nuclear give-away to India?

Also what did America extract from ElBaradei for his third term? Perhaps nothing—but perhaps it was endorsing the US-Indian nuclear deal—or merely coming out in force with his approval.

One other addition may have added some flavor to the piece: ElBaradei storming out of an IAEA board of governors meeting. Why the temper tantrum? Anger over the EU not fully supporting his Iranian nuclear time-table, the very diplomatic nugget the article is trying to elucidate.

Posted in Elaine Sciolino, ElBaradei, IAEA, Iran, New York Times, Nuclear Deal, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, William J. Broad | Leave a Comment »

‘These Boots Were Made For Walking…’ ElBaradei Walks Out During EU Speech During IAEA Meeting

Posted by K.E. White on September 11, 2007

IAEA head ElBaradei acted anything but diplomatic during an EU speech at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting today. After hearing an EU speech that seemed to undermine his new plan for resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis, he walked out.  The IAEA Board of Governors reviews the nuclear watch dog’s performance. The group, comprised of representatives of thirty-five member, meets five times a year to make recommendations chief operating body: the General Conference.

This rare expression of disapproval highlights the continuing tensions between IAEA member-nations in how to deal with Iran. While the United States and Europe (as represented by the EU) are pushing for continued sanctions on Iran if this new deal isn’t acted out immediately. But other IAEA members, particularly Cuba, want more of a carrot approach: insisting that if Iran abides the agreement, current sanctions will be lifted. 

Below is a section from an AFP press clip. The report views the incident as evidence of an acrimonious split between Western countries wanting heavier pressure on Iran, and members of the Nonaligned Powers wanting a peaceful, and less hard-line response to Iran:

UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei walked out on an afternoon session Tuesday of his IAEA to protest an EU speech which did not fully support his deal for new inspections in Iran, diplomats told AFP.

“He walked out because the EU did not support the Secretariat,” a diplomat who was at the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors said.

The timetable, in a report ElBaradei submitted to the board on Monday, is to resolve outstanding questions in the agency’s over four-year-old investigation of Iran on US charges that Tehran is using a civilian energy program to hide the development of nuclear weapons.

The speech focused on Iran’s lack of cooperation, including its refusal to provide early design information on new nuclear facilities, and called repeatedly on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

After walking out, ElBaradei stayed away until the session was adjourned at its regular time until Wednesday. The Portuguese speech was followed by speeches from Canada and Norway.

This International News Herald report gives more insight into this high-level diplomatic feuding. It shows, in detail, the two takes on Iran at the IAEA:

The statement said the EU has “taken note” of those efforts — the most noncommittal of diplomatic terms that falls substantially short of approval. A diplomat who spoke to the AP on condition anonymity because she was not authorized to divulge proceedings at the closed meeting, said ElBaradei subsequently left the conference, apparently to show his disapproval of the EU’s lukewarm approach.

In contrast, a nonaligned statement delivered by the Cuban ambassador cited the pact under which Iran is cooperating with the IAEA as saying Iran will be treated “in a routine manner” if it holds to the agreement and fully answers all questions posed by the agency.

That would mean an end both to U.N. sanctions and the threat of new ones for Iran’s refusal to end uranium enrichment — a position strongly opposed by the United States and most other Western countries.

The International News Herald goes on to show how this fight over diplomatic interpretation went in a pro-US direction, provoking the ire of Nonaligned IAEA member-nations.  

Nonaligned nations on Tuesday rejected “interference” in attempts to close the file on Iran’s past nuclear activities — an allusion to U.S. concerns about the International Atomic Energy Agency’s newest Tehran probe. But Europe sided with Washington.

Norma Miguelina Goicochea Estenoz of Cuba also expressed support for the work of the agency and its head, Mohamed ElBaradei, in her separate capacity as head of the agency’s nonaligned board members.

Her statements outside the agency’s 35-nation board meeting reflected the main dispute at the gathering: whether a pact committing Iran to cooperate with an agency probe of past nuclear activities will blunt attempts to pressure Tehran to scrap uranium enrichment — technology that could be used to make a bomb.

Washington and its allies fear too much emphasis on the pact and its successes could weaken efforts to impose new U.N. Security Council sanctions should Tehran continue defying the council and expand uranium enrichment. They also feel the text of the pact is flawed, imposing limitations on what the agency can look into and giving Tehran wiggle room to back out if those conditions are not met.

But Cuba and the majority of the other nonaligned nations, which make up about a third of the board, insist the pact, agreed to last month, represents a potential breakthrough in more than four years of diplomatic maneuvering meant to reduce any nuclear threat from Iran.

Posted in Cuba, Diplomacy, ElBaradei, EU, European Union, General Conference, IAEA, IAEA Board of Governors, Iran, Nuclear | Leave a Comment »

Australia’s Nuclear Evolution: CNS Investigates the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone and Australia’s Current Stance Towards Uranium Sales to India

Posted by K.E. White on August 30, 2007

Summary: Sizes up a short report by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Is Australia violating a treaty—the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone—if it goes ahead with plans to sell India uranium? CNS probes this question, suggesting there is reason to think so. Proliferation Press looks into the question, and finds that it seems Australia is 1) not violating the treaty and 2) would actually go against the spirit of the treaty by refusing to approve the US-India nuclear deal at the upcoming meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. But all this analysis merely displays how much the treaty regime depends on the policies of the announced nuclear powers.

The Center of Nonproliferation Studies is running this interesting report studying whether or not Australia would violate international law if it goes through with plans to sell uranium to India.

The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) reads, in part:

Each Party undertakes:

(a) not to provide source or special fissionable material, or equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material for peaceful purposes to:

(i) any non-nuclear-weapon State unless subject to the safeguards required by Article III.1 of the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], or

(ii) any nuclear-weapon State unless subject to applicable safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Any such provisions shall be in accordance with strict non-proliferation measures to provide assurance of exclusively peaceful non-explosive use;

(b) to support the continued effectiveness of the international non-proliferation system based on the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system.

Now while the CNS report shows well that Australian officials saw, in the past, the SPNFZ as barring uranium sales to India, the report does not take a definitive stance:

If Australia is legally barred from nuclear trade with India in light of the statements of the Foreign Affairs Department, for Australia to vote in favor of ending the Nuclear Suppliers Group embargo would be to authorize others to do what it cannot under the South Pacific treaty. This might be seen as violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone pact.

Yes, if Australia is “legally barred” from a certain act and then does it—it broke the treaty.

But is Australia breaking the treaty? Australia is obliged “not to provide source of special fissionable material” unless one of two conditions are met. The first condition requires NPT safeguards to be met. This would seem impossible since India is not even a member of the NPT.

But the second condition states:

“any nuclear-weapon State unless subject to applicable safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”

The IAEA endorsed the US-India nuclear deal, or at least their head ELBaradei:

“This agreement is an important step towards satisfying India´s growing need for energy, including nuclear technology and fuel, as an engine for development. It would also bring India closer as an important partner in the non-proliferation regime,” he said. “It would be a milestone, timely for ongoing efforts to consolidate the non-proliferation regime, combat nuclear terrorism and strengthen nuclear safety.”

“The agreement would assure India of reliable access to nuclear technology and nuclear fuel. It would also be a step forward towards universalisation of the international safeguards regime,” Dr. ElBaradei said. “This agreement would serve the interests of both India and the international community.”

As such the IAEA governing board will have to improve inspections of India’s nuclear sites. Now while this might not be finalized when Australia votes on the US-India nuclear deal at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), any ‘yes’ vote at the NSG will be premised on successfully completed IAEA negotiations.

Rediff looks into this “long and hazardous” process of gaining dual approval from the NSG and IAEA:

The negotiations on an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA Governing Board and talks with members of the NSG to seek an exception for India are likely to be long and hazardous. The United States has considerable influence in the IAEA Board and, as the founder of the NSG it has the necessary clout to determine the outcome of the informal group. But, over the years, positions of individual countries have crystallized in these bodies and they are likely to give us a hard time despite the US being our ‘sherpa’ on the climb.

It would seem India 1) getting the blessing of the IAEA chief and 2) undergoing IAEA approval could be read as being “subject to applicable safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

And what is the intent of these two SPNFZ exceptions? “[T]o support the continued effectiveness of the international non-proliferation system based on the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system.”

It would seem approving a deal that America (a leading, recognized nuclear power under the NPT) is vying for meets that intent.

Now could a new American president change this calculus? Yes. The point here, though, is that it seems any hard prohibition against Australia selling uranium to India appears to stand on weak foundations.

The CNS report, while not taking a firm stand but simply highlighting past views of Australian officials, suggests Australia has reason to vote against the US-India nuclear during the NSG meeting. But it seems there is more reason—given current IAEA approval, apparent backing from Russia and China, and ongoing IAEA deliberations—that Australia voting against the US-India nuclear deal might do more harm to nonproliferation aims.

Posted in America, Australia, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, China, ElBaradei, IAEA, Leah Kuchinsky, Leonard S. Spector, South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, US | Leave a Comment »

Energy Security, But At What Cost? Glancing at the NPEC’s New Report on Security at Nuclear Power Sites and It’s Catch by Economist Magazine

Posted by K.E. White on August 29, 2007

Economist brings attention to a new NPEC report on nuclear security: specifically the urgent need for tighter security at civilian nuclear sites.

The Economist article points for the need for greater funding and real-time camera monitoring of nuclear sites. (Yes, putting real-time cameras at nuclear sites is a ‘new’ idea. And yes, the NPEC report highlights black-out periods in current video monitoring of nuclear sites)

So has the IAEA put the cart in front of the horse? The concept of international fueling stations has been floating around for years. But, as the Economist points out correctly, what’s the point of international sites if these sites aren’t monitored:

Henry SokolskiThat is because of the volume of material involved and the way the plants work. Material unaccounted for (called MUF) is often stuck in piping. Discrepancies, even at the best-run plants, can amount to many bombs’ worth. And it can take months for inspectors to be confident they have it all more or less accounted for. Imagine the problems if the IAEA is attempting to monitor such plants in a country like Iran, with its past record of lying to inspectors.

Mr ElBaradei and others have suggested multinational fuel centres as a way to avoid dangerous technologies being abused by individual governments. But safeguarding those would be no easier. Better that such fuel-making technology isn’t spread around at all.

If the IAEA wishes to show nations—like the United States—that they can adequately monitor future nuclear power nations (whether they be Turkey or Iran), their monitoring regime must be developed and more adequately funded.

Especially when even Hans Blix is praising nuclear power:

Hans BlixDr Blix says an international inspection regime and treaty would help remedy that, and ease the environmental pressures of India’s growing economy.

“It is highly desirable that countries like India and China, huge counties that will consume more and more electricity, that they switch increasingly from the coal, which dominates enormously and which really hurts the environment, to nuclear power, that does not,” he said.

“China does that in a big way and India wants to. And I think it would be good that they get access to the latest technology.”

Posted in ElBaradei, Hans Blix, Henry Sokolski, IAEA, NPEC, Nuclear power, nuclear security | Leave a Comment »