Sunday, August 30, 2009

Confusion Paves the Road to War

As one disastrous war founded on falsehoods winds down, it is even more important now than a decade ago to ensure that another war—this time between Israel and Iran and a war in which Israel would most likely use nuclear weapons to commit aggression for the first time in human history—does not break out…again on the basis of falsehoods. Unfortunately, people are remembering unproven allegations and forgetting the details of the historical record.

Unless you truly have a private agenda entailing the provocation of nuclear war between Iran and Israel, you will presumably agree that the world needs to know the truth about what both countries are doing in the nuclear field, specifically including the possibility that Iran is pursuing militarization of nuclear technology and the possibility that Israel intentionally misleads the world about its opponents’ activities as a cover for aggression simply designed to maintain Israel’s military and technological supremacy in the Mideast.

Many examples of forgetfulness and confusion about critical details in the rhetorical war between Iran and Israel could be noted, and it is in fact critically important that they all be compiled and evaluated. A case in point for the former possibility is the inaccuracy of Iranian estimates of Natanz’ rate of production of uranium being enriched to low (i.e., electrical-production) levels. A case in point for the former possibility is the failure of Israel or the U.S. to provide the IAEA with evidence about the alleged Syrian reactor before it was bombed.

Israel’s disputes with its neighbors have been transformed over the past 60 years from local issues, albeit with profound moral implications, to global security issues. The well-being of all of mankind, in an era when Israel’s disputes could easily provoke war of unpredictable scope and nuclear fallout of global scope, depends on knowing the truth.

Israeli/U.S. Failure to Provide Evidence Concerning Alleged Syrian Reactor.

In December 2008, IAEA Spokesperson Melissa Flemming wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

The way the international nonproliferation system is meant to work is as follows: If states, many of which have surveillance capabilities, have any suspicions of clandestine nuclear activity, they should report them to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Armed with this information, the IAEA investigates its veracity. In the case of Syria, instead of providing the IAEA with images of a building alleged to be a reactor, Israel unilaterally bombed the installation. Meanwhile, information was withheld from the IAEA for more than six months, by which time Syria had cleaned away the rubble and built a new facility. This made the agency's verification work difficult and complex.

The results, so far, are inconclusive and the verification process continues. To aid his inspectors, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is calling on Syria to provide maximum transparency. He is also calling on other states, including Israel, that have inexplicably withheld critical information on the site, particularly the images from the immediate aftermath, to provide that information to the IAEA.

Israeli Atomic Energy Commission spokesperson Nili Lifshitz responded a few days later with a letter noteworthy not only for its accusatory tone of attack on the IAEA but for its complete avoidance of the issues at hand. Lifshitz made no effort to justify (or deny) Israel’s alleged decision to attack Syria without first calling on the IAEA for an inspection or to justify Israel’s failure to provide photographic evidence of Syria’s alleged transgression.

Iranian Estimates of Natanz LEU Production.

In February 2009, IAEA spokesperson Melissa Flemming stated:

The (IAEA) has no reason at all to believe that the estimates of LEU produced in the (Natanz) facility were an intentional error by Iran. They are inherent in the early commissioning phases of such a facility when it is not known in advance how it will perform in practice.

These details constitute essential lights being shed on the truth of issues at the core of global security. This week the world is trying to sort out the truth of two other issues: the significance of Iran’s sudden permission for the IAEA to inspect the Arak reactor that could one day be producing plutonium and the significance of Iran’s failure to resolve questions that the U.S. and Israel claim to be outstanding on the basis of some alleged intelligence that A.) is several years old and B.) has not been fully shared with the IAEA. The pattern of such details provides the road to both the truth and to global security. The details must not be forgotten.

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