• Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • IAEA Iran Report Fit Facts to Strengthen Hardliners

    Robert Kelley Pt2: The report misleads and manipulates facts in attempt to prove a forgone conclusion -   November 17, 2011
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

    I support The Real News Network because it is not is real news. - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


    IAEA Iran Report Fit Facts to Strengthen HardlinersPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. American calls and Israeli calls for tougher sanctions against Iran at the United Nations are being backed up by a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which some people say more or less concludes that there is an active weapons program, nuclear weapons program in Iran. The question is: is there any new evidence about that in this report? Now joining us to talk again about the report is Robert Kelley. He's a nuclear engineer who has carried out IAEA inspections in many countries, including Iraq. He worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States. And he's currently a senior research fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. He joins us from Vienna. Thanks for joining us again, Robert.


    JAY: So when I listen to you and other critics of this report, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that the IAEA set out to prove that there was some kind of weapons program--at least to suggest it strongly, if not come right out and say it. And then they kind of fit the facts to that conclusion. Am I being too harsh here?

    KELLEY: No. I think what you're saying is what I would call kind of the law enforcement model where you identify a suspect, you exclude the other suspects, and you try to pin it on them. I ran into that a few times when we were dealing with espionage in the United States. The scientific method says you try to look at all the information available to you and try to figure out what fits it best. This report doesn't do that very much. It says, well, we think we know the answer, so we're going to selectively tell you what fits.

    JAY: So in our previous interview, we did kind of overview of the report. And for anyone watching this that hasn't seen that, you'll see that player beneath here, and you can watch the part one of this interview. But now let's drill into a few other aspects of the report that you think are important for people to understand.

    KELLEY: Well, one thing I think is important--and I think the IAEA knows it, but they didn't write it very well in the report--is they emphasize that they have been focusing on a uranium implosion nuclear weapon, because that's where most of the action is, and that they really haven't paid much attention to plutonium. I think we really need to stop and think about that, that Iran is building a reactor that will be capable of making a lot of plutonium for a military program and it should start up quite soon. And so I think that we all need to expand any concern that we have to that reactor, and also to thinking if any of the weaponization information we're getting is more applicable to plutonium than it is to uranium.

    JAY: So what's the significance of that? Does that mean that it suggests that there is a program or isn't? I'm not sure what to conclude from that.

    KELLEY: There's no question that they're building a plutonium production reactor in a place called Arak. That was revealed by the National Council of Resistance of Iran around 2004--don't hold me to that date. And we've watched that reactor under construction for years. For a long time we didn't think it was a very important thing, because it was years from being completed. But now many years have gone by. It's getting close to being completed. Plutonium gives them a second route to a bomb should they need it, and plutonium allows you to make a smaller bomb that fits into a reentry vehicle better. So I'm not saying that the IAEA has been wrong in looking at uranium implosion, but they need to realize that maybe within a year or two there are going to be two different paths, and they need to pay attention to both. This report says they're only paying attention to one.

    JAY: What else is significant in the report?

    KELLEY: Well, one of the things I think everybody wanted to know: what is the source of this information that you're dumping on us? Okay? And the IAEA said to us, well, we we got information from at least ten different member states, and all of this information, we're putting it together, and it's very consistent. So I went through and figured out who the ten member states must be, and I came up with a list that included states that involved police information that was provided to the IAEA six, seven years ago related to the A. Q. Khan network. You can only get to ten if you bring in states like that. This has nothing to do with this thousand pages of alleged weapons studies that the US provided. If you go through the report line by line, after a while you'll see the vast majority of what they're citing in this report comes from the US-alleged studies. The US-alleged studies were given to them in 2004. There's nothing new since then. So I think there, again, we've got kind of an effort to pad the results and to say, well, we want you to believe it came from a lot of different sources, when in fact, if you do the homework yourself, you see it didn't.

    JAY: Yeah, there are references [incompr.] other places, I think, to two states about some of the specific information. I guess everyone's assuming that's the United States and Israel.

    KELLEY: Well, I can only assume what I can assume. I have looked at most of the information that's come out on this topic. A large part of it is from leaks. And what you see is that most of the information they're citing comes from the sources that people didn't trust, and the sources ended around 2004, so it matches the national intelligence estimate.

    JAY: Now, you've done some work on what's happening in Burma and the fact that there is some evidence that there's an active nuclear weapons program in Burma, but nobody seems very interested in it.

    KELLEY: Well, it's a strange situation that in Burma you have a defector who came out, much as, apparently, we have in Iran. The defector came out. He brought photographs and all kinds of information with him. He shows his face on television. He writes reports. He's made himself available for interviews. And people say, well, he's not trustworthy. In the case of Iran, we have defector information that's come out on the so-called laptop. We don't know who brought it up, we don't know who made it up, we don't know what the information looks like, and we have no train of custody to know where this stuff came from. So I'd say there's a certain amount of hypocrisy here in saying information that is very easy to substantiate is less valuable [than] the information that's very vague.

    JAY: Right. In terms of what this report says, is there any reason to think if there is continuing work on a program, that it goes past the idea that they're seeking knowledge, and/or they are sort of preparing [so] that they could if they ever wanted to, versus actively trying to realize a weapon? And I guess the short of what I'm saying is: are we any less than several years away before--even in the sort of worst-case scenario, that there'd actually be a real threat there?

    KELLEY: Paul, I worked for years on Iraq, and we argued and argued, even after we got into Iraq and took their program apart, blew buildings up, seized documents, and people still couldn't agree on how much longer it was going to take. And there we had lots and lots of information. What you're asking I think, is quite political. I've been reading a lot besides the technical information in the last few days. People are saying, well, Germany could do this or Japan could do this, and they're comparing Iran to Germany and Japan because they have the capability but they don't have the intent. I don't go there. I'm not a political scientist. That's the context. The context is maybe they could do it if they wanted to. But I'm not going to try to make a judgment like that.

    JAY: But in terms of the timeframe, is there a judgment that can be made on that? Or you're saying there's not enough known to give a timeframe?

    KELLEY: Oh, I don't think there's enough known to give a timeframe. If the program really ended in 2004 and they've been doing some things since then that they've decided to keep some paper studies going or, for all we know, experimental studies, they could be very far along. Let's put it this way. Where they were in 2004, if they had continued in a very aggressive way since then, there's no reason they shouldn't have solved a lot of the problems that would face a nuclear weapon developer. We just don't have any information. The information cuts off for the IAEA with the alleged studies. There's not much since then, certainly nothing that we can trace where it came from. And the national intelligence estimate has told us they had a window that they really trusted that said, look, this thing stopped. So maybe there's a little bit of work going on in the background. Hard to say. But you don't have enough information.

    JAY: Add how legitimate are the charges by the IAEA that Iran is not cooperating enough and that's why there isn't enough information?

    KELLEY: I'm not going to answer that question. I'm not in the shoes of the deputy director general. He's a very solid, very highly qualified individual to go and meet with Iran. He's the one who knows how much cooperation there is, and it's not for me to say that he's right or wrong.

    JAY: What other issue do you think jumps out at you?

    KELLEY: Well, the kind of things I see is that there's not enough breadth in the analysis that's going on. The IAEA report tells us that this warhead is going to have an air-burst option; that is, it's going to go off way above the surface of the earth and spread its nuclear blast over a larger area, which is what people try to do with nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, when you look at parade photos and things of these missiles being moved, you don't see a radar window on the reentry vehicles. Well, if there's no radar window, then there's no radar. So how does this warhead know how to go off when it's above the surface of the earth? You need some kind of a sensor. I think the answer is there. I think they know the answer. They've either chosen not to tell us the answer or they've realized that the answer is so silly that it shows that the program was not very advanced and was pretty amateurish, the uranium program, as of 2003.

    JAY: And that's the answer that's there, you're saying, that it's clear that they weren't so advanced.

    KELLEY: Well, I'm saying that the information that's been presented in the board report is they say this is going to be an air-burst. But actually, if you look at the data, you say, I don't think they can do an air-burst with the system that we see marching in parades. So why is the IAEA telling us that? Why aren't they being more critical? Why aren't they analyzing the data and saying, a-ha, they actually didn't know what they were doing? So this is an incredible piece of the alleged studies.

    JAY: Okay. Thanks very much for joining us, Robert.

    KELLEY: Okay. It was good.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End of Transcript

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at


    Latest Stories

    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35-Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7), Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting