Quote of the Week

The Secretariat will have to review such a request in light of legal authorities, mandate, and resources and must determine whether there is a scientific basis for conducting a highly speculative investigation of this kind.  In short, this will need further study.  Looking past the current context, Mr. Chairman, it is our view that [such] requests for . . .  analyses of hypothetical scenarios are beyond the IAEA’s statutory authority.  The IAEA has never before conducted this type of analysis, and it would exceed IAEA’s mandate, and have far-reaching implications that exceed IAEA capabilities and authorities.

Guess who said it?

If you guessed the Iranian representative to the IAEA, regarding the IAEA’s continuing refusal to find Iran in compliance with its safeguards obligations, based largely on unevidenced suspicion and speculation about what may have happened, or what might in the future happened in Iran . . . . YOU’D BE WRONG!

This was, in fact, the US representative to the IAEA, Joseph Macmanus, complaining about a Russian request that the IAEA consider how a potential US strike on Syria might create new threats through the destruction of storage facilities for nuclear material in Syria. That, Macmanus argues, would clearly be an overstepping of the IAEA’s legal mandate.

Can someone loan me a knife with which to cut this irony?




11 Comments on “Quote of the Week”

  1. Nick says:

    Fantastic Dan! 🙂

  2. Fiorangela says:

    off topic, perhaps —

    Is there a statute of limitations on war crimes?

    Kerry said “Assad now joins Hitler and Saddam; dictators who gassed their people.”

    — The Jewish people received enormous reparations re having been gassed.

    — We KNOW that US was complicit in Saddam gassing Iraqi Kurds and also Iranian civilian men, women and children. Dr. Amy Smithson of Nonproliferation Institute said that “US corporations sold 650,000 tons of chemical precursors” to Saddam during Iraq-Iran war in which100,000 Iranians were victims of gas attack, 20, 000 died, and ~50,000 live lives debilitated due to chemical attack. I sat next to the sister of an Iranian CW victim on a flight from Frankfurt to Tehran. She was returning from a visit to her brother in a hospital in Berlin. She showed me X-rays of her brother’s lungs. He can’t breathe on his own. He’ll never leave the hospital.

    Don’t those people deserve reparations? Should there be a trial in the ICC for the perpetrators or those complicit with use of CW against Iranians and Iraqi Kurds?

    Smithson mentioned that two of the companies that sold CW to Saddam had been taken to court in US. It’s reasonable to believe that some prosecutor somewhere has damning evidence of the complicity of at least two corporations.

    The Obama administration feels compelled to “respond” and “deter” Assad from using CW.

    Doesn’t full justice give ALL victims some rights, i.e. to reparations; and aren’t money damages a universal element by which victims are made whole?

    Jews have received reparations.
    Jews in Israel have also used proscribed weapons.

    Iranians have not received reparations.
    When Iranians were attacked, Khomeini refused to allow retaliation with CW.
    There do not seem to be any accusations that Iran has used CW in the past 30 years.

    Israelis receive favored treatment and Iranians are starved, sanctioned, punished, warned.

    Is that what equal justice under the law looks like?

    • Dan Joyner says:

      I will say that I think you make a fair point specifically about accountability for those involved in CW attacks in the 1980’s against both Iraqi Kurds and Iranian soldiers and civilians. I honestly dont know how much has been done through domestic law to try and do this. I’m thinking of the alien tort statute line of cases, that until very recently was still quite robust. I’m not sure how many if any corporations and individuals were sued under the ATS for those crimes. Someone else might know more than me about this.

      I also dont know how much domestic criminal law, reflective of international law, has been utilized both in the US and other countries, to being charges against those persons and corporations that were involved in these atrocities.

      The ICC itself would be problematic I think because its statute only dates to 1997 or so, and so I dont think it would have jurisdiction over things that happened before then. If I’m wrong about this, I hope someone will correct me.

      You know who should be asked about this – Kevin Jon Heller. He’s an international criminal expert.

      • Fiorangela says:

        Thank you, Dan and Cyrus, for your replies and for direction to effective ways to do so.

        I intend to follow up on this, if for no other reason than to clear the stench of hypocrisy surrounding US government leaders’ declarations that “leaders who use these horrific weapons must not go unpunished.”

    • Cyrus says:

      Statutes of Limitations are creations of national and subnational legislatures. There is no recognized international statute of limitations, certainly not for war crimes. Iran can chose to indict the officials named in the declassified files tomorrow, and can legally apply for and obtain Interpol Red Notices on them. In addition to Iran, cases may be brought in any national court that recognizes the principle of universal jurisdiction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Belgium used to have the broadest statute but after someone tried to apply to Rumsfeld, the Belgian legislature limited it. Civil suits in US courts would be problematic for a variety of reasons, including the National Security Privilege which has been regularly invoked to summarily end such cases. In effect, this means that certain officials are quite literally above the law — they don’t answer to domestic, foreign or international law.

  3. Dan Joyner says:

    Some good commentary here by friend of ACL Robert Kelley:


    “If the building were somehow attacked, the reactor is at the bottom of a deep well. Unless the bomb went exactly down this narrow well, the result would be to collapse the building and earth on the reactor where it would sit doing absolutely nothing until someone could dig it up again,” Kelley told AFP.

    Looks like Luke will have to turn off his targeting computer and use the force on this one!

    • yousaf says:

      The article continues:

      “He added, however, that it is also the site of a large food irradiation facility using powerful gamma sources — probably in shielded vaults above ground — to sterilise food, largely dates.

      If these were scattered by a bombing this would represent a local hazard and necessitate a “nasty clean-up” of the immediate vicinity of hundreds of metres (yards), he said.”

  4. Fred NKUSI says:

    Dear Prof. Dan,

    I need to express my passionate view about Syrian situation. Any military strikes by the US-led forces without the sanction of the UNSC is clearly illegal. And, given the words by President Obama and Kerry, the threat to use force is not intended to avert current humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, but to punish Assad for alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people. Then, one would ask whether killing nearly 1,400 people by the use of chemical weapons is worse than 100,000 people who have been killed since the civil war started. Gross violations of human rights and IHL would seem immaterial perhaps in the eyes of many.

    My view is more of a humanitarian reason, if no action taken the risk is far worse than taking action. Take an example of Kosovo crisis, the NATO acknowledged its military actions were “illegal but legitimate”; and they truly brought the situation under control. In Rwanda, UNSC failed to act and consequently nearly million people were killed. If no action taken, and people continue to die, in the end, the international community will say like what they oftentimes say in Rwanda—because of 1994 tragic event, “Never Again”. To me, this is nothing other than paying lip service! International community has no mercy at all. It is utterly unspeakable for the international community to stand idly by while abhorrent crimes are being committed.
    To me, Russia and China are mercilessly reluctant even to condemn such mass atrocities happening in other areas of the world, only looking at their selfish interests. Even if Russia is ostensibly speaking up for the observance of international law, in opposition to any USA military intervention, but in actual sense is trying to perpetuate its economic interests from any sabotage.
    Personally, I support the US intervention, even if it is unlawful but it is a lesser evil (than inaction).

    Fred NKUSI (from Rwanda)

    • Fred NKUSI, Your point is well taken, but consider — nothing that the US has discussed or proposed is intended to prevent anything; the US knew about small-scale use of CW over a year ago but did nothing to prevent future uses. Prof. Amy Smithson stated that rebels may have have been responsible for the first, smaller uses of CW but again, the US did nothing to prevent.

      Re Rwanda, nothing having been done to PREVENT, it might have been a blessing to Rwanda that the US did NOT get involved after the fact to “punish” or “protect.” Rwanda undoubtedly endured much suffering and still does, but on the other hand, they enacted their own Truth and Reconciliation courts and processes to judge offending leaders, and to confront neighbor-to-neighbor and insist that truths be told, confessions be made, forgiveness be begged, and ways to amend and learn to live together be considered and implemented.

      Samantha Power’s major credential is her outrage over the Rwanda genocide, but she does not seem to have progressed with the Rwandan people as they have worked to resolve their problem: that intellectual glitch is based on human nature — she is ‘resting on her laurels.’ But to the extent that it is backward-thinking, and reflects a deeply ingrained American sense of moral superiority that does not exist in fact, Power’s philosophy does not move the policy ball forward and does not make the world a better place.

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