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IAEA - did they or didn't they? Bolton evades so Asman asserts.

Reported by Chrish - February 7, 2006

David Asman sat in for Gibson today 2/7/06 on The Big Story and showed an edited interview with John Bolton, the controversial Bush recess appointee to the UN Ambassadorship and current head of the UN Security Council. It may be pertinent to note that Bolton is president of the UNSC for the month of February and then in the normal course of procedures that position will rotate to someone else. Introducing the segment Asman framed the situation as "the nuclear standoff with Iran."

According to Asman, the US State Department has said that Iran's nuclear weapons program is far enough along to not necessitate any help from outsiders, and Tehran has been referred to the UN Security Council . Asman says that Robert Joseph, who now holds Bolton's former position as Under Secretary of State, now says that Iran has "the means to build and deliver nuclear weapons."

Asman asked Bolton to clarify whether Iran had been merely "reported" to the UNSC or "referred." Bolton replied by saying that the language the IAEA used is exactly the language in the statute of that organization, entirely consistent with what they did regarding North Korea and Libya, so "we're very clear the IAEA has done the necessary." leaving it unclear to the viewer. He continues "we've circulated all the documents, the resolutions and the reports as the IAEA, itself, asked for." I only point out this confusion, this lack of clarity, because a bit later in the segment Asman says (to guest Frank Gaffney Jr., former Asst. Secy of Defense) with certainty "It may be semantics but part of the news that came out of this interview with Bolton was he said 'this is not just a reporting to the Security Council, it is essentially a referral.' So according to Bolton is has been referred to the Security Council , so we are stepping up the pace, are we not?" (Comment: That is not what was presented in the edited interview.)

From what Gaffney said, there is a long way to go before the UN gets to sanctions. Asman asked even if sanctions are imposed, what then? Gaffney's answer only added to the confusion. He said that first we'd have to get to sanctions, a long way off, and before that we'd have to get to the Security Council itself. Assuming that the Russians and Chinese don't come up with new techniques to postpone the reporting, or referral, to the Security Council, assuming they don't perform as they did for Saddam Hussein, assuming you do get economic sanctions, (he's) sure you're going to get a lot of people willing to violate them, thereby creating another Oil-for-Food scenario.

At this point Asman interjected the statement above, that Bolton had confirmed that Iran had already been referred, and Gaffney said "I hope he's right." He went on to say that the UN has become"basically a protection racket for despots", furthering the neo-con anti-UN meme. He persisted, however, saying that the "reporting, referral, whatever it is, is not going to happen until sometime in March. In the meantime, you have an active effort on the part of the Russians who have helped the Iranians get into the nuclear program in the first place to try to find some new diplomatic dodge that will enable their clients, the Iranaians, to avoid any kind of transmission...of the information that Iran is working on a nuclear program and the means to deliver it." Bob Joseph has made this point correctly and we're kidding ourselves, he's afraid, if we think diplomacy can make a silk purse out of this sow's ear.

Asked what he thought of Bush's desire to have Russia enrich the Iranian uranium so there would be some visibility, Gaffney said that, with all due respect to Bush, if we could trust the Russians we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. Russia is becoming increasingly kleptocratic , increasingly authoritarian at home and increasingly engaging with "very bad actors" to gain advantage abroad . (Hmm, and he concludes they can't be trusted. Hmm.)

Asman had one last question: Bush spoke several years ago about pre-emption - we have to pre-empt "these bad guys" before they get a nuclear weapon; have we missed the pre-emption point with Iran? Gaffney doesn't think so, and hopes that Bush will find a way to bring the free world together to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. gaffney's preference is to have the Iranian people involved in preventive steps, but the military option must remain viable.

Comment: The only thing accomplished in this segment was a slap at the UN and another at Bush's former soulmate Putin, and a further muddying of the situation with Iran. One comes away with the feeling of urgency but no real information, not even whether or not Iran has been reported and/or referred to the UNSC by the IAEA. They keep beating the war drums with no hard evidence, just fear, fear, fear.

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