Wherefore Parchin?Posted: May 22, 2013
Reading these reports, it struck me how the whole Parchin issue appears to be being used by the IAEA so similarly to how the Benghazi consulate attack issue is being used by the US House of Representatives. In both cases, I think we are seeing perfect examples of the use of investigation powers by a legal institution as a political weapon. In both cases, the investigating authorities ask a neverending stream of questions, trying to get at “the truth,” which is really of course merely an attempt to confirm their own unsupported allegations against the target of the investigation. But the fact that no evidence is ever produced through these endless interrogatories that there is in fact anything “there” there, does not deter the investigators. Thats because the purpose of the investigation isn’t really, in the final analysis, a quest for truth. Its a procedural weapon that is being employed to harm the public perception of the adversary target, by maintaining an investigation ad infinitum, in the hopes that the absence of any actual incriminating evidence will be lost on a largely ignorant public audience, and that the fact alone of an ongoing investigation will be enough for media outlets like the Washington Post to parrot the unfounded accusations, keeping the perception of something “there” in the public consciousness.
I hope that readers will understand that the question of what may or may not have happened at the Parchin military base is UTTERLY IRRELEVANT to the current dispute between Iran and the IAEA/the West over Iran’s nuclear program. Even if all of the allegations made about what happened at the site are true – i.e. that experiments were carried on there 15-20 years ago that increased Iran’s understanding of how to construct a nuclear warhead – SO FREAKING WHAT? As I’ve explained over and over, even if that’s all true, it wasn’t illegal in any way.**
And there is not even a scrap of evidence either that Iran actually constructed a nuclear warhead at any point in the past, or that they’ve done any work whatsoever on warhead R&D for the past 10 years – quite the contrary, as we all know. All of the national intel agencies, including that of the US, have concluded that Iran stopped whatever warhead R&D work they were doing by 2003.
So again, THIS QUESTION HAS ABSOLUTELY NO RELEVANCE to the real issue of whether Iran is currently in compliance with its obligations under international law, including the rules of the NPT and its CSA with the IAEA. The entire Parchin issue is a sideshow – a classic red herring. And it’s really frustrating to see how much energy the IAEA keeps devoting to this irrelevant issue, including in its newest report on Iran, released today.
Again, the only sense I can make of it is that the IAEA is acting here per the direction of the US – not much of a stretch, knowing what we know about the amount of funding the IAEA receives from the US, the influence US labs have on the IAEA safeguards program, the amount of the intel on Iran that’s coming from the US and its allies, and, from the WikiLeaks cables, about how closely aligned DG Amano is with the US . And that the US wants this investigation to be used in exactly the same manner, and for the same purpose, that the US House of Representatives is using its investigation of the Benghazi incident – as a political weapon, pure and simple.
Is it any wonder that Iran doesnt trust the IAEA?
** After speaking to some colleagues today, I would make one minor caveat to this statement for the sake of thoroughness and precision. The only aspect of the alleged experiments allegedly conducted at Parchin – and this is only according to the most extreme allegations – that would, if it occurred, have violated international law, is if uranium of a type meeting the threshold criteria of Article 34(c) of the CSA was employed in the experiments. If so, then the failure to declare that material, and the facility in which it was present, would have constituted a violation of Iran’s CSA. That being said, if indeed this was the case, the amount of uranium present is likely to have been small, and it would almost certainly have been unenriched. As such, it would in my opinion have constituted a very minor violation of the CSA. Similar but more serious CSA violations have been committed by a number of other states in the past, including Egypt and South Korea. The level of attention that has been paid by the IAEA to the Parchin issue is out of all proportion to the level of attention paid to these other, more serious instances of safeguards violation. Thus I would maintain my overall argument in this post.