Some Saturday reading:
At our Global Affairs group blog, Farideh Farhi takes a closer look at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran. This issue may be the most important one in world politics today, on which war and peace hang. Farhi shows that the IAEA is saying that Iran has satisfactorily answered questions about its past nuclear energy research, and that the international body can certify that Iran has not diverted nuclear material to weapons purposes. Farhi points out that the NYT did not report either of these important findings.
The IAEA is clearly frustrated with Iran for a) continuing to enrich uranium (the Iranians say it is for fuel and international law allows them to do this), and for not being 100% transparent about their energy research program. But it finds no evidence that Iran even has a weapons program, and finds a consistency between Iranian statements and IAEA findings.
Farhi doesn’t bring this point up, but the Israeli government is trying to get the IAEA head, Mohammed Elbaradei, fired, because he is not producing the reports that the Kadima and Likud parties want him to produce. The Israeli government had also been a big proponent of the theory that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2002, with Efraim Halevy, the head of Mossad [Israeli intelligence], making wild charges that he may have known were not true.
Ironically, Israel is the country that broke the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in the Middle East and introduced nuclear weapons into the region, kicking off an arms race with Iraq that in many ways led to the Iraq War. US and American complaints about Iran’s civilian energy research program never acknowledge Israel’s own outlaw status with regard to nonproliferation.
[Some kind readers have written in anonymously to maintain that Israel cannot violate a treaty that it never signed. This allegation betrays a misunderstanding of how international law works. There is a sufficient basis in the sources for international law for proliferation to be considered illegal. The UNSC encourages member states to incorporate the NPT Treaty into their own national law by formally adopting the treaty. States may neglect to do so but that does not blunt the force of international law. Note that only three other states in the whole world join Israel in declining to sign the NPT. Sudan can violate the UN Convention on Genocide, which it has not signed, and Burma can violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which it has not signed. Not only has Israel ignored UNSC resolutions against proliferation itself, but it helped the odious South African Apartheid State with its nuclear weapons program in the 1970s. That’s an outlaw status.]
At the Napoleon’s Egypt blog, lots of new letters posted this week from French officers and politicians in Egypt, mostly concerning their perilous situation after the British fleet destroyed much of the French fleet off Alexandria at the beginning of August, 1798. The despair is palpable: “Eleven sail of the line taken, burnt, and lost for France, our best officers killed or wounded, the coasts of our new colony laid open to invasion of the enemy; such are the dreadful results of an engagement which took place on the night of the 1st instant, between our fleet and that of the English under the command of Admiral Nelson.”