Monday :: May 2, 2005

Is The Bush Administration Giving Lip Service To Nuclear Nonproliferation?


by Steve

The schizophrenia in the Bush foreign policy continues. At last week’s press conference, Bush gave encouraging words to the American people about efforts by the European nations to diplomatically get Iran to commit to a peaceful nuclear program subject to IAEA inspection. With an international conference starting Monday to talk about nuclear nonproliferation, international delegates were hoping that the United States would take a moderate position towards Iran so that no harsh rhetoric spoken by the Americans would jeopardize the delicate stage of the talks between the Iranians and the Europeans, especially since the Russians just undercut Bush by selling nuclear material to Tehran.

European officials have been concerned about U.S. aims at the conference, saying a toughly worded speech or narrow focus on Iran could inflame rather than alleviate tensions at a sensitive time in their negotiations with Tehran. "The last thing we want is an inflammatory speech from either side," one senior European official said.
Other observers noted as the conference opened today that if the conference broke down as a result of the Bush Administration’s rhetoric, it would seriously undermine America’s ability to shape nonproliferation efforts throughout the world.
"If the conference fails and the U.S. is seen as the reason for that failure, it is going to be much harder for the United States to get the international cooperation it needs to deal with Iran, to deal with North Korea and to deal with all the other issues we are concerned about," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Cirincione said U.S. research into new nuclear weapons and new uses for nuclear weapons, coupled with a refusal to ratify a treaty banning nuclear testing, has led countries to doubt the U.S. commitment to the treaty. He said the United States must lead by example if it expects others to sustain their pledges.

Yet what tone did the Bush Administration bring to the conference today?

The Bush administration said Monday that Iran was trying to build atomic weapons in secret and suggested the international community should respond by taking away Tehran's right to nuclear energy technology.
Other world leaders attending a nuclear conference seemed to dismiss the U.S. call for punitive measures. Instead, they spoke of incentives and negotiations as a way of encouraging the Islamic republic to give up worrisome aspects of its energy program that could be diverted for weapons work.
The Bush administration went into the conference hoping to increase pressure on Iran, but its speech highlighted the differences between the United States and its allies over how best to handle emerging nuclear issues.
The discovery of secret nuclear facilities in Iran two years ago fueled suspicions it was using its nuclear energy program as a cover for weapons work. So far, international inspectors have found no proof of a bomb program in Iran, which denies it intends to build nuclear weapons. But the top U.S. representative to the conference rejected both the findings of the inspectors and Iran's position.
"For almost two decades, Iran has conducted a clandestine nuclear weapons program," said Assistant Secretary of State Stephen G. Rademaker. He said Iran had failed to live up to its obligations under the treaty and that "no state in violation" of its main articles should receive its benefits.

Given our intelligence failures in Iraq, and the conclusions of several commissions that we have no good idea of what really is going on inside Iran or North Korea, you would think that the Bush Administration would step back from the John Bolton-like arrogance of its ignorance and dial it down a little at this sensitive time.

And you would be wrong.

Rademaker called for complete dismantlement of those components in a speech that focused heavily on Iran, mentioning the country 10 times. North Korea was mentioned half as often.

Did I mention that North Korea, unlike Iran, test-fired a missile successfully into the ocean yesterday, using some of the help they have gotten from Pakistan.

"The assertion that Iran is making nuclear weapons hasn't been backed up by direct evidence," said Daryl G. Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association in Washington. "And the conference isn't going to endorse the plan Rademaker laid out when Iran and the Europeans are engaged in discussions about the program."

Since it was our ally in the war on terror Pakistan, and Dr. A. Q. Khan, who helped Iran get as far as it has, it takes some chutzpah for America to now demand that Tehran discontinue its program when the Iranians have seen full well what happens to members of the "Axis of Evil" that don't have the bomb. And the same people who sold you the Iraq WMD stories are now insisting they know better than the IAEA what really is going on inside Iran.

In response to our hard rhetoric today, Iran is set to offer a vigorous defense of its program tomorrow. With our credibility in tatters, the world community is already dismissing our hard line approach as counterproductive. Since Bush said the right words to the American people last week only to undercut those words with harsh rhetoric this week, obviously the press conference remarks were disingenuous and aimed deceptively only to the domestic audience so that Bush would look like a peacemaker.

But on a bigger picture you have to wonder if the Bush Administration really cares at all about nonproliferation.

Or is this just about setting the stage for our next Iraq?

Steve :: 10:39 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!