Keeping Pandora’s box shut
The US and Russia have sealed a deal on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Washington which would see both sides disposing of 68 metric tons of excess weapons-grade plutonium beginning in 2018.
The agreement signed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is aimed at ensuring the stockpiles can never be used for weapons or other military purposes.
The protocol will be a logical development of the nuclear security summit, Lavrov said.
"The delegates discussed the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism at the plenary
meeting. The position of Russia, which had initiated many important documents, gained unanimous support," the minister said. He referred to the Convention on the Prevention of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the joint initiative of Russia and the United States.
"The delegates also discussed the fulfillment of UN Security Council resolution 1540, which compells member countries to bar terrorists and non-governmental agencies from nuclear material," he said.
Keeping atomic material out of the hands of terrorists is the main goal of the meeting in Washington, which is being attended by leaders of 47 countries.
President Barack Obama opened the summit on Tuesday by declaring that the risk of a nuclear attack has increased.
“Two decades after the end of the Cold War we face a cruel irony of history,” Obama said. “The risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up."
He called the conference with the goal of locking down all nuclear materials worldwide in four years.
The summit already saw some progress on Monday. On the first day of the conference Ukraine announced a decision to get rid of all its weapons-grade nuclear material by 2012, something the US has been seeking for the past 10 years.
Vladimir Sotnikov, an expert on disarmament issues from the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations, also believes that there is a chance that loose nukes may wind up in the hands of terrorists.
“Unfortunately there are some states which would be vulnerable to that, such as Pakistan or North Korea, because of corruption or crooked politicians, because of lust for money,” Sotnikov said. “In the 1990s there was a program for securing nukes from the old Soviet Union, and it worked quite well. The US actually invested a lot of money into this program. The security of Russian nukes is not a question. The same is true about the United States, as well.”
Kingston Reif from the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation thinks that the threat posed by nuclear terrorism is low, but if it were to occur, that it would have terrible consequences.
“It’s not only that there has to be an appropriate physical protection at these sites, but also that those who responsible for securing this material are also up to speed on the best practices for doing so,” Reif told RT. “I’ve heard one commenter suggest that the matter of nuclear security is 20% actual physical security and 80% having an appropriate security culture in place that would make it more difficult for potential terrorists… to attempt to steal or seize this material.”
“Back in the 1960s, there was a tendency to export materials, including highly enriched uranium, to a lot of countries around the world – to their research reactors,” Hans Kristensen, Project Director for the Nuclear Information Project from the Federation of American Scientists, said. “Now we are trying to get that back and trying to secure the materials.”
Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), a Washington-based nonprofit organization, thinks that there are limits to how much information countries can share about how to secure the material and where the material is.
“Each country is not going to say much at some point,” Sokolski told RT. “I think the surest way is to not have anything that would be tempting for them to take. One of these materials – in fact, two materials – that are most tempting, highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium, and even what they call mixed plutonium oxide fuels, are totally uneconomical to use for any civilian purpose and are not necessary to promote nuclear energy for any peaceful application.”
“On the other hand, people exaggerate how much security can be afforded,” he added. “The guarding of sensitive materials, it could conceivably have the opposite effect, giving people the false sense of security while being engaged in activities and work with materials that are pretty dangerous.”
Iran and North Korea were not invited to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, although they must be involved, insists Dr Kate Hudson who is a Chair at Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
“It is a question of getting in. I think that a dialogue with outsiders [Iran and North Korea], involving them into a wider process is absolutely essential,” she said.
“[The possibility of the] theft of nuclear materials needs to be completely ruled out,” insists Hudson, “[and those] materials must be kept away from terrorists or any others who intend to use it with a malign purpose.”
The question is: why did almost 50 countries get an invite and others did not?
Hans Kristensen believes, “This is more an issue for countries that have fissile materials like uranium and plutonium, not necessarily about those countries that have nuclear weapons or are about to get them.”
In addition to Iran and North Korea, Israel refused to attend at the last minute in the fear that Israel’s rumoured nuclear program would be attacked.
“I think it’s a sign that Israel is trying to avoid confrontation with the Muslim and Arab worlds on these themes, clearly,” shared journalist Emilio Riccardi.
According to Riccadri, it was already known in advance what will come out of the DC summit.
“We know all the results more or less. In fact, there is a broad agreement to avoid that nuclear material could finish in the hands of terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and other groups. On that there is a broad agreement, so I don’t think that so much will happen.”
If agreements are followed, analysts say it will mean a huge decrease in the odds of a terrorist nuclear attack, though the danger will not be completely eliminated.
|When "Barack" Decides To Head A Barrack |
By Kourosh Ziabari
"The continued presence of all options on the table"; this is the disappointing message which a Nobel Peace Prize laureate dispatches internationally. In his latest interview with CBS news, American President Barack Obama refused to rule out the possibility of a military strike against Iran by harking back to the famous catchphrase of former U.S. President George W. Bush who once devised, regarding Iran's nuclear program, the popular sentence of "all options are on the table".
Putting the quality and quantity of these options aside, the very "table" on which the options should be placed is as well a matter of controversy. Who is in the position to decide the destiny of Iran's nuclear program? Which table is the U.S. President referring to? What's wrong with Iran's nuclear program in lieu of which a 70-million nation should go on with crippling sanctions, continued threats of military strike, isolation and economic embargo? What's the definite answer to the simple question that "why should the U.S., France and Israel possess nuclear weapons"? Which one is more offensive and violent? Iran's nuclear program which has been demonstrated again and again that does not have anything to do with military purposes, or the adventurous, aggressive trajectory Washington and its European allies have begun to go across?
Robert Parry, an award-winning American investigative journalist austerely answers the questions we have in mind. In an April 2 article in Consortium News, he notes: "if two countries with powerful nuclear arsenals were openly musing about attacking a third country over mere suspicions that it might want to join the nuclear club, we'd tend to sympathize with the non-nuclear underdog as the victim of bullying and possible aggression."
As Robert Parry notes, the "bomb bomb Iran Parlor Game" has much to do with the regular psychological operations the U.S. government ruthlessly directs against its victims and it has been seen several times during the post-World War II era that the U.S. government has resorted to the most brutal methods of black propaganda to demonize and demoralize its opponents.
In order to thwart Iran's efforts to achieve the zeniths of high technology and prevent the country from becoming an influential player in the Persian Gulf region and beyond, Washington has mobilized a large number of conservative think-tanks and pundits to direct psychological warfare against Iran multilaterally. Although the New York Times by itself suffices to wage a spotless and perfect psy-op by running misleading and untruthful articles which get circulated, syndicated and believed globally, numerous websites, blogs and community portals have also been activated to function as the podium of White House so as to disseminate illusive and deceptive stories regularly and misrepresent what's happening in Iran.
Over the past three decades and especially following the eruption of nuclear dispute with Iran, U.S. has been carrying out media operations to incite anti-Iranian sentiments vigorously. Some recent efforts include the establishment of websites such as "United Against Nuclear Iran" and the production of Hollywood-sponsored movies "300" and "The Wrestler".
The American psychological warfare, however, is not limited to mainstream media outlets, NY Times and Fox News-like stuff, campaign websites and TV shows. A number of bloggers also have been mobilized to take part in the cyber maneuver against Iran. It means that the wave of American psychological operation against Iran has become so extensive and far-reaching that even involves bloggers and independent commentators who run e-zines and online publications.
Above all, carrying out psychological operations is one of the most sensitive and delicate responsibilities of the U.S. Army, CIA's Special Activities Division (SAD) and National Clandestine Service (NCS). SAD is in charge of providing the U.S. President with "special" options where diplomacy and military action is likely to fail. U.S. President has the authority to order the commencement of a new clandestine operation whenever necessary. Covert and intangible intervention in foreign elections is one of the main tasks of SAD. It also carries out missions to undermine or even overthrow a regime which does not comply with the interests of the U.S. administration. SAD has a long history of carrying out inconceivable and paralyzing missions of psychological propaganda against different countries including Bolivia, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.
In July 2008, for example, the renowned American journalist Seymour Hersh published an article in the New Yorker and revealed that the Bush administration had taken practical steps, including the authorization of a Presidential Finding to legitimize the illegal entry of paramilitary troops into Iran, through the borders of Iraq, so as to help overthrow the government of Iran. Based on the documents he had obtained, Hersh wrote: "Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran. [...] These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership."
Hersh cited the federal law of America which brands a Presidential Finding as highly classified and only available to the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees. This greatly highlighted the significance of his discovery of the documents. "The Finding was focused on undermining Iran's nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change, working with opposition groups and passing money” Hersh quoted an informed, anonymous source as saying.
SAD has also carried out globally significant actions such as preventing the Italian Communist Party (PCI) from winning the parliamentary elections in 1948 and 1960s, overthrowing the government of Guatemala in 1954 and staging the 1957 coup d'etat of Indonesia which removed from power the popular, democratically-elected President Ahmad Sukarno and led to a terrible massacre in which almost 1 million people lost their life.
Anyway, history seems to be repeated once again. White House and its numerous teams, departments, groups, unions and forces of psychological operation, under the decree of someone who right after winning a Nobel Prize of "Peace" began to drum for a war of bloodshed in the Middle East, are gathering together to launch a new scenario of war game and violence; however, they've simply forgotten an undeniable reality: Iran is a different country; different from all of the countries throughout the world.
Dear President Obama; we know that whoever rises to presidency in your country should be first an expert of psychological warfare and a dexterous pamphleteer; you've done your job successfully by teaching us that you have the potentiality to be a duplicate of Mr. George W. Bush. Now you've satisfied your Zionist supervisors excellently. The only thing which you should know is that you had better take the options off the table and save more space consequently!
Kourosh Ziabari is an independent, Freelance journalist from Iran
Obama's Cruel Irony: Risk of nuclear attack higher than in Cold War