Today was a big day for Iran watchers. The much anticipated IAEA report on the status of Iran's nuclear program was released. The possibility of war hangs in the balance.
Would Iran cooperate with the UN inspectors? Would Bush use the report as a justification to attack Iran? Would harsher sanctions be imposed? IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei gave an interview in which he made public some, not all, of his agency's findings. You can view a video of the full interview here.
Let the spin begin!
Reuters reported on ElBaradei's remarks.
"In unusually strong wording, the IAEA said in a report Iran had not so far explained documentation pointing to undeclared efforts to "weaponise" nuclear materials by linking uranium processing with explosives and designing of a missile warhead."
Here is what Mr. ElBaradei actually said on the issue of "weaponization."
"We need Iran to implement the Additional Protocol. We need to have that authority as a matter of law. That, I think, is a key for us to start being able to build progress in providing assurance that Iran´s past and current programmes are exclusively for peaceful purposes. So we have the Protocol issue and we have the weaponization, alleged weaponization studies. I should however add that in connection with the weaponization studies, we have not seen any indication that these studies were linked to nuclear material. So that gives us some satisfaction but the issue is still critical for us to be able to come to a determination as to the nature of Iran´s nuclear programme."
Reuters implied that the documentation obtained by the US pointed "to undeclared efforts to "weaponize" nuclear materials linking uranium processing with exposives." ElBaradei said that the weaponization studies (the alleged weaponization studies)" did not offer any indication that they were "linked to nuclear material."
The issue of whether Iran was or is "weaponizing" nuclear materials will have a major impact on how countries around the world will view the conflict between Tehran and Washington. ElBaradei, a very polished diplomat, has made it clear to Iran that he cannot certify the status of Iran's nuclear program without a greater degree of cooperation to implement what he called the "Additional Protocol." Nevertheless, he was equally clear that the IAEA has not seen any evidence, including evidence provided to the IAEA by the US and their allies, that links Iran to the building of nuclear weapons.
The Reuters report and the IAEA report are at polar opposites on the weaponization issue. We have ElBaradei's exact words on the IAEA.org website. What we don't have from Reuters is anything to back up their allegations. Allegations of Iran's development of nuclear weapons is serious business. Did the editors at Reuters not read what ElBaradei actually said? Were they given misinformation by the Bush administration that led them to distort the information in ElBaradei's report? Do they have an agenda beyond reporting the facts as we know them? The American press already sold us the last war; let's be a little more awake this time and ensure that we don't let them sell us the next one. War with Iran would be catastrophic for all countries involved and perhaps for many countries not involved as well.
Eternal vigilance is our best defense.