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By Geoff Metcalf

May 12, 2008

Excessive courtesy must contain deceit. --Chinese proverb.

Israel has reiterated (for the umpteenth time) they will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "Yes, Israel will not tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of people who say openly, explicitly and publicly that they want to wipe Israel off the map. Why should we?"

Meanwhile, the prime minister held out hope that diplomatic efforts by the United States, the European Union and Russia could bear fruit. However, he vehemently disagrees with last year's US National Intelligence Estimate, which claimed that Iran's military nuclear program had been halted in 2003.

When the five biggie nuke powers gathered in Geneva they said the Non-Proliferation Treaty is under threat...primarily because of Iran's uranium enrichment 'Jones'.

NPT challenges have been and are significant:

North Korea's nuclear test blast in 2006
Iran's pursuit of potentially bomb-capable enrichment
New allegations Syria covertly tried to build an atomic reactor with North Korean

On the last day of a two-week meeting of the 106 NPT member nations, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France said, "The proliferation of nuclear weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security."

Iran continues to claim it only wants electricity from enrichment. That’s their story and they are sticking to it…despite the empirical reality of their oceans of oil.

The three Western powers and Russia and China have often struggled to agree on a mix of carrots and sticks for dealing with Iran. But they told NPT members they aimed to resolve the standoff with Iran "innovatively through negotiations."

Iran denounced their surprise statement as "destructive and counterproductive" and said it "seriously questions their political will for the negotiated solution they call for."


"We will never bow to threats and definitely not give up our inalienable right" to peaceful nuclear energy under the NPT, Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said, his voice rising. Gee, sounds kinda like Leonides of Sparta blowing of the Persian hordes trying to gobble up Greece?

However, Iran (posturing notwithstanding) is not the Lone Ranger. North Korea, bailed from the NPT in 2003, and six countries have been embroiled in coalition myopia and duplicity trying to get North Korea to disarm.

Meanwhile Syria (chronically tagged a provocateur) was not included in the harsh words because Russia and China doubt U.S. claims that Damascus was close to finishing a secret reactor before Israel destroyed it last September.

By the way…Israel unplugged Syria the same way they unplugged Iraq back in June 1981 in the world’s first (but not to be last) air strike against a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear states have said that what the NPT needs most is tougher safeguards on transfer of nuclear technology.

Developing states recoil saying this would wipe out their NPT right to peaceful uses of atomic energy. However there is a systemic ‘Catch-22’. The most basic problem with ‘peaceful uses of atomic energy’ is that it creates a by product that can (and most fear would) be used for non-peaceful purposes.

Deceit, mendacity, and simple lying are at the core of the nuclear power debate. However, perhaps because I am not burdened with superior intellect or Foggy Bottom diplomatic duplicity, I can see an adequate compromise if or when the grown ups ever get control.

Nuclear power is a clean, safe, prolific source of energy. However, EVERYone is hinky about the prospect of ‘someone’ exploiting the inevitable by products of nuclear energy for weapons building purposes.

Here is a simple solution grounded on logic…if or when anyone is serious about fixing the problem. It involves compromises that some countries will consider anathema, but it could and would work, if or when truth, honesty, and honor can ever squeeze into the geopolitical mix.

1. Nuclear power is made available to ANY country that wants/needs it.
2. They will have to pay for the development, construction and maintenance, but anyone who wants it can get it.
3. HOWEVER, the use of nuclear power will be restricted to the power and NOT the by products. Countries would own the power generated but not the waste products.
4. The NPT signatories establish a monitoring, and management entity to extract any and all weapons grade materials to a NPT depository co-managed by the US, Britain, France, Russia and China.
a. The coalition entity would be embedded systemically into the system on site.
b. By Treaty all participants would share responsibility and authority for the routine monitoring, removal and safeguarding of ALL weapons grade waste by products.
c. Special attention would be necessary for multi-national redundancy to preclude any one country from assuming supremacy.

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I’m not smart enough to solve the national sovereignty challenges and the inevitable compromises that are probably insurmountable, but the concept could and would work…IF, anyone really wanted to solve the problems, and IF Duty, Honor, Country are really Universal Values.

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Iran denounced their surprise statement as "destructive and counterproductive" and said it "seriously questions their political will for the negotiated solution they call for."