Excellent New Article on the Polonium Issue

This is an outstanding new article by Jonathan Tirone, posted at Bloomberg. And very courageous – the IAEA under Amano does not take criticism well. But this is an important piece, setting the record straight about how bringing up the polonium issue now is both technically ridiculous, and threatening of the small signs of trust and cooperation that have started to emerge between Iran and the West. It includes some very good quotes by Bob Kelley and Tariq Rauf. It also cites to fascinating evidence of US and French officials intentionally trying to revive the polonium issue, after it had been resolved by the IAEA – which could be seen as an attempt to artificially gin up controversy where technically there was none, and thereby unnecessarily prolong the dispute between the West and Iran. As described in the article:

The IAEA’s March 2008 decision to suspend the investigation into Iran’s polonium experiments, made during Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei’s tenure, prompted French and U.S. diplomats to seek new ways to reintroduce the issue. At the time, some diplomats didn’t want ElBaradei’s initiative to resolve allegations against Iran to derail sanctions.

France “suggested intensifying our involvement in verification of formerly outstanding issues, such as polonium, by feeding the secretariat additional information,” former U.S. IAEA envoy Greg Schulte wrote in March 2008 after the polonium file had been cleared.

Congratulations to Jonathan for this very valuable article, and for his and Bloomberg’s courage in publishing it.


5 Comments on “Excellent New Article on the Polonium Issue”

  1. yousaf says:

    BTW, The extended wikileaks quote is even better:


    ¶11. (S) In a follow-on discussion, Ambassadors Schulte and
    Deniau brainstormed on ways to keep the Iran nuclear issue at
    the forefront in Vienna. Deniau suggested that PolDirs in
    Shanghai consider convening a meeting of P5 1 technical
    experts in Vienna to conduct a joint analysis of
    weaponization or centrifuge work (*****the topic was less
    important than the _____optic____ of a joint approach*******). He further
    suggested intensifying our involvement in verification of
    formerly outstanding issues, such as polonium, by feeding the
    Secretariat additional information.


    The alleged weaponization work was LESS IMPORTANT than optics of the issue.

    Any questions?

    • Dan Joyner says:

      Yes that is pretty damning. And good to remember when thoughts turn more generally to how this whole crisis has been in many important respects manufactured, as Gareth Porter has put it well.

  2. Johnboy says:

    Can I play devils advocate and put forward an alternative explanation: now that Iran has agreed to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding PMD’s then Amano can be interpreted as throwing an easy one to the Iranians i.e. someone in the audience threw out a soft pitch, and that allowed Amano to thrown up a “concern” that both he and they know can be addressed within, oh, 5 minutes, and to everyone’s complete satisfaction.

    Confidence-building ‘n’ all that…..

    Stranger things have happened in the Wacky Way Out World that Amano appears to inhabit….

    Not saying it IS. Not saying it ISN’T.

    But worth a thought, perhaps.


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