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June 29, 2007


Is there a list of states/sponsors that have defaulted on their promises?
I could (snarkingly) give a few "good" reasons to starve the agency.

1.Why should we finance the snoopers, if that means that they could find out about our secret programs?
2.How can we attack anyone for violation, if the agency gives them a clean bill and we can't accuse them of sloppy work?
3.An efficient agency is against the dogma.
4.They are not under our direct control, so giving them money is out of the question.
5.They lack the muscle to act against violations and we can't give them an army.

Clarification: those reasons are not US-specific (except #3)

OCS, you might not have had the benefit of my standard UN rant, as I haven't delivered it in quite a while. I'm not going to go into the whole thing, but it's really that we get very good value funding the UN because, flawed though it may be, it is a tool appropriate to some tasks, can never really be used against US interests, and indeed can really only be used to further them.

Even though is sits on the shelf rusting most of the time, we're much better for having it, and having it without legitimate beef against the US. Because sometimes it's the right tool for the job.

I understand the statement in the BBC documentary to mean that he'd like to see Iran make an acceptable deal and stick to it.

Hilzoy: before Gary comes along with a better explanation - the odd characters are because your browser doesn't realise, or hasn't been told, that the page contains Unicode characters encoded as more than one byte in UTF-8. From View on the menu bar, select Encoding (Internet Explorer 6) or Character Encoding (Firefox), then Unicode (UTF-8). Other browsers should have something similar.

Given that the US and Japan had, in 1998, a little less than 30% of the world's GDP, coupled with the fact of us using the bomb and them having it used on them, makes the 44% figure seem a lot more plausible.

An ineffective IAEA makes it more likely that Iran will be able to develop a nuclear weapon, whch makes it more likely that we will attache them - which is exacly what Cheney et. al want to do.

CC: I understand the statement in the BBC documentary to mean that he'd like to see Iran make an acceptable deal and stick to it.

First, note that I said they should be fully funded, if we are withholding funds that should stop, heck they can have the money we budget for useless abstinence programs. So no where did I come even close to saying we should stop funding the IAEA or any other UN program. My only point on their funding is that while we already carry the biggest load when they don’t get a budget increase it becomes our problem while there are 143 other countries that could collectively increase their contribution at any time they wanted to.

My point is that elBaredei’s statement at best opens the door to challenging the IAEA’s credibility. “I have no brief other than to make sure we don't go into another war…” is pretty darned explicit. I don’t think you will find that “brief” anywhere in the IAEA’s mission statement or in Mr. elBaredei’s job description.

I presume Bush's objections to funding are:
•The IAEA disagreed with his assessment that Iraq was a vast nuclear armed camp, and disagreeing with the Decider automatically makes you a bad person.
•A general disdain for using inspections and investigations as a solution instead of military might. Remember, the administration hasn't done much to support the Nunn-Lugar program for decommissioning Soviet nukes; that makes no sense either unless the White House simply figures sissy programs like that can't be important.

OCSteve, I understand your reaction to the statement. However, taking the full stateme3nt into account, I think he is really talking about the crazies (Bush, Cheney, etc) who got us into this war. He wants to make sure accurate information comes out and is heard and acknowledged.

I don't read it to mean he would be dishonest. And by the way, I woudl hope everybody's brief would be not to get into another war.

As always YMMV.


I can't tell from the Reters article just what the full context of those remarks is, what question he was replying to or what the drift of the conversation at that point was. I do, however, think that you're misreading him. I don't take him to be saying that it's his job to do whatever it takes to prevent an invasion of Iran, but rather to ensure that the same sort of lies and misstatements used to justify the Iraq invasion are not also used by the "crazies" to justify an attack on Iran. Had there not been such a campaign of fear-mongering about Saddam's potential nuclear threat, I'd be more likely to think your reading of elBaredei's comments a reasonable one. Given the recent history in the region of matters under his agency's purview, however, I think mine's probably more likely. YMMV, of course.

OCSteve: As Larv said, it's hard to tell what the context of the remarks is. I went looking for the BBC thing, and found it here. I am listening to it now. I can think of ways to read el B's statement, but I prefer to find the actual statement in context.

Plame. The covert CIA WMD training program was blown by her as planned. They never liked Rice's degree.

The future is Bio WMD. States are competing for the new facility. UN should widen it's mandate beyond conventional WMD and start a Bio WMD program.

I would interpret ElBaradei as "we should make sure that what we report can't be easily (ab)used as a pretext for (an already planned) war", i.e. we will not willingly play the fig leaf again.
But he has essentially no chance against the "spin a heresy out of any two words" crowd, especially if it is again "they can't prove that they have not made a pact with the devil and we won't accept God's or the Devil's testimony on that.".

At my last link, you can listen to the interview by clicking on 'Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, on the right. The relevant bit starts around the 15th minute, though it's worth listening to the beginning as well, in order to see more context -- the interviewer is pressing him hard to say, you know that Iran has a military program, and el B keeps saying: we do not have clear evidence of that. We have evidence of a covert enrichment program; we do not have evidence of an ongoing military program.

First note: the AlertNet article you cite presents this as one big quote: ""I have no brief other than to make sure we don't go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say 'let's go and bomb Iran'." -- It is not. The two sentences are not together. There is intervening stuff. I think this is irresponsible of Reuters.

On to actual context: In the part of the interview that the quote is taken from, the interviewer asks el B about his proposal for some sort of "cooling off period", in which Iran completely suspends enrichment and related activities, and we suspend sanctions, for some period of time, and the interviewer asks: aren't you going beyond your brief here? Aren't you getting into policy questions that are outside your job? It's in response to this (after a bit) that he says: I have no patience with people who say this is outside my brief; I am the custodian of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, I am trying to get the minuet of negotiations going again, this is provided for by the Sec. Council resolution itself; and my brief is to avoid a war.

In context, it's pretty clear that this is a response to the idea that suggesting diplomatic options is outside his brief.

His 'not providing arguments' statement comes at the end of this. He's saying: it is part of my brief to avoid getting us into a situation of confrontation in which we have very few options. You do not want to provide arguments to the people who want to bomb. Here again, I think that if you listen to it in context, he is absolutely not saying that he wants to provide false information. He's saying: compare two situations, Situation A, in which we have only two options, a horrible option and war, and Situation B, in which we had hundreds of options. In situation A, the arguments for war are a lot stronger. By letting ourselves get into something like situation A, we provide arguments for those who want to bomb. I therefore favor trying to move us to something more like situation B.

Note -- this isn't what I thought the context would show. I thought it would turn out that the quotes were separate, and that the "not providing arguments to crazies" part would mean something like: stick very close to the evidence, do not leap to conclusions that you are not absolutely sure of, like for instance the conclusion that Iran has a military program, rather than an enrichment program that it has been trying to conceal (which is pretty darn suspicious, but that it's a military program is not established by the available evidence.) If you stick to the evidence, other people can draw their conclusions, as is their right, but you will not be treating as fact something that you do not know about. If you do go beyond the actual evidence in this way, you will be providing arguments for people who go to war, which is not what you should be doing.

But I was wrong.

I think this is irresponsible of Reuters.


You beat me to it, but I did manage to dig up a transcript.

I don’t know how reliable these guys are as a transcript source, but it is the only full transcript I can find and they are adamantly against intervention or even sanctions, so I think we can assume they are not pro-war or anti-IAEA…

Your summary of the interview is accurate - better than Reuters anyway. ;) I’ll have to listen to the whole thing to see if I agree with you analysis.

Or rather, if I agree with your analysis.

OCSteve: at a glance, the transcript seems accurate. The relevant bit is about halfway through.

I can think of ways to read el B's statement, but I prefer to find the actual statement in context.

A good choice!

That reminds me of another one kind of like it. There have been thousands of reports that Muhammad Habash, a syrian politician, announced to Al Jazeera that syria is preparing for war with israel and expects the war to start this summer. bad example

This is widely interpreted as saying that syria intends to attack israel this summer.

I have not yet found a translation of the original interview. I have found a handful of reports that quote a little bit more of the interview.

1st example
For its part, Syria has indicated its belief that Israel will initiate military hostilities. Muhammad Habash, a member of parliament, told Al-Jazeera on May 5 that it was no secret that Syria was “actively” preparing for a military encounter with Israel, which wanted war in order to survive politically.

2nd example
The Syrian street wants to restore the Golan," Habash said. But he noted recent peace overtures by Assad's regime and said that if there is a new conflict, it would be Israel's doing. "The Israeli government feels threatened and is liable to create new tensions, even war, just to survive," Habash said.

russians warn syria

Put this in the context that apparently the russians are telling syrians that israel intends to attack this summer.

Israel is of course training for an offensive war in syria, while syria is training for a defensive war in syria. This doesn't mean that israel intends to attack, it's a consequence of geography -- syria has no reasonable hope to invade israel, so of course any war would have to take place inside syria.

But given israeli preparations to fight in syria and russian warnings of attack, it makes sense that syria should prepare a defense. And Habib's announcement of that, complete with a claim that they expect israel to attack, somehow in the USA got turned into a syrian threat to attack and cause for israeli preparations for war.

But I'd like it much better if I could find a realiable translation of the whole interview.

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