Aijaz Ahmad commentary: Western calls for sanctions against Iran ignore IAEA report - February 26, 2008
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Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad has appeared many times on The Real News Network; he is Senior Editorial Consultant, and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science, and has written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.
(CLIP BEGINS)HOST, FOX NEWS: The latest report from the United Nations nuclear watchdog is a mixed bag, giving Iran credit for addressing some major issues, but contending that Iran continues to enrich uranium.(CLIP ENDS)AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST: The way the Iran nuclear issue dealt in the international arena keeps getting more and more ridiculous. Each time the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency goes to his board with a report in hand saying he has made progress in his negotiations with Iran, the United States and a couple of its western allies go off to the Security Council demanding more and more sanctions. The result is that some sanctions are already in place, and the Security Council has even passed a resolution demanding from Iran that it stop its nuclear enrichment program. The demand is, of course, in violation of the basic requirements of the non-proliferation treaty, which gives its signatories the right to enrich uranium for civil nuclear purposes. This drama is being staged again now. Mr. ElBaradei has just submitted his most recent report to the board of the agency for its meeting on March 3 in Vienna. The report, as usual, has not been released so far. But Mr. ElBaradei's comments on international television make quite clear what the essential recommendations are. (CLIP BEGINS)February 22, 2008MOHAMED ELBARADEI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: Well, our task in Iran is to make sure that the Iranian nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.(CLIP ENDS)In putting it that way, he's diplomatically saying that he's not there to implement the resolution of the Security Council demanding from Iran that it cease nuclear enrichment altogether, which as head of the IAEA Mr. ElBaradei cannot do, because he is the guardian of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which gives Iran that right. He goes on then to say that except for one issue, all other issues have been settled.(CLIP BEGINS)ELBARADEI: In the last four months in particular, we have made quite a good progress in clarifying the outstanding issues that has to do with Iran past nuclear activities, with the exception of one issue. And that is the alleged weaponization studies that supposedly Iran has conducted in the past. We have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues.(CLIP ENDS)He is saying that he has no evidence of such a program. It is alleged that such a program existed in the past. And the allegation is of course being made by the United States. He hastens to add, however, that in all the five years of his work, he has seen no evidence that there was any such program related to nuclear materials. The only thing which he is asking Iran to do really substantially is to sign the additional protocol.(CLIP BEGINS)ELBARADEI: We have been asking Iran to conclude the so-called additional protocol, which gives us additional authority to visit places, additional authority to have additional document, to be able to provide assurance not only that Iran declared activities are for peaceful purpose, but there are also no undeclared nuclear activities.(CLIP ENDS)However, this is something that every state has the sovereign right to consider whether it's in its interest or not, and then decide whether it can sign this additional protocol. Iran is perfectly within its rights not to have done so so far. The most interesting part of Mr. ElBaradei's report actually comes at the end.(CLIP BEGINS)ELBARADEI: I hope that Iran will continue to work closely with the Security Council to create the conditions for Iran and the international community to engage into comprehensive negotiation that would lead to a durable solution. A durable solution requires confidence about Iran nuclear program, require regional security arrangement, require normal trade relationship between Iran and the international community.(CLIP ENDS)Mr. ElBaradei doesn't mention either the United States or Israel, but it's very well known that these two states have threatened time and again that they might invade or intervene or bomb Iran at one time or another. So to say that there should be a security environment in the region is to say, actually, that Iran should be assured in one way or another that it will not be the object of aggression by any of these forces.(CLIP BEGINS)ELBARADEI: The ultimate aim should be normalization relationship between Iran and the international community.(CLIP ENDS)Now, this runs directly counter to the kind of sanctions that the United States has imposed on Iran through the Security Council, but also contrary to the US policies in general, considering that the US has not had normal trade with Iran since the revolution of 1979. The onus, in other words, according to this report is for the West to take these crucial steps in order to undertake meaningful negotiations. Mr. ElBaradei has directly asked for normal trade. In response to that, Condoleeza Rice has marched off immediately, asking for the Security Council to extend the scope of the sanctions, and its allies, UK and France, have drafted a resolution to that effect, as if ElBaradei had not said in his reports what he has actually said. Condoleeza Rice says that there seems to be some progress. As a matter of fact, what ElBaradei has said is that all outstanding issues have been settled, except for what he calls the alleged issue of a weapon studies program in the past.DISCLAIMER:Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
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