Friday, August 30, 2013

Treaty Obligations, War Crimes and Accountability:
A Study in American Hypocrisy

The U.S. Air Force firebombing Japan in 1945

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"
- Juvenal, Satires (VI, 347–8)

"I have no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable," President Barack Obama said in a PBS interview earlier this week.

With allegations of a horrific chemical weapons attack outside Damascus and new reports of a "napalm" bomb being dropped on a school playground in northern Syria, this statement, made by an American Commander-in-Chief, would certainly come as a surprise to many of Obama's predecessors, considering the use of chemical weapons has been standard U.S. military procedure for decades.

Napalm, which is classified as an incendiary, rather than chemical, weapon, is composed of a gel that sticks to the skin and can burn down to the bone. Used extensively by the U.S. military during the last years of World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters, the napalm bombing of Japan killed at least 330,000 people. Twice the amount of napalm as was dropped on Japan in 1945 was used by American forces over three years during the Korean War: 32,357 tons as compared to 16,500 tons.

Between 1963 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped nearly 400,000 tons of napalm on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In 1980, the United Nations declared the use of napalm gel in densely-populated civilian areas to be a war crime.

Agent Orange, a chemical weapon derived from herbicides, was also used by Americans during the Vietnam War. Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand.

A 2008 Globe and Mail article reported that "Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the defoliants, 500,000 children have been born with defects from retardation to spina bifida and a further two million people have suffered cancers or other illnesses. Yet they have received no compensation from those who produced the chemicals and those who made them a weapon of war."

According to the the United Nations, Agent Orange is "one of the most toxic compounds known to human," and the Vietnamese Red Cross has estimated that "as many as one million people in Vietnam have disabilities or other health problems associated with Agent Orange."

A recently published report in Foreign Policy revealed that, during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988, "America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen." Among the findings, the report stated that, in 1988, "U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent," and that "Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence."

In contrast to today's wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein's widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.
When the U.S. role in Saddam's use of chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurds was reported in The New York Times over a decade ago, the revelations were stridently denied by American officials, despite being well-known and documented. Senior military officers with the Defense Intelligence Agency told the Times that "the Reagan administration provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war," but "Secretary of State Powell, through a spokesman, said the officers' description of the program was 'dead wrong,' but declined to discuss it." Furthermore, Powell's deputy, "Richard L. Armitage, a senior defense official at the time, used an expletive relayed through a spokesman to indicate his denial that the United States acquiesced in the use of chemical weapons."

The report also states, "The Pentagon 'wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas,' said one veteran of the program. 'It was just another way of killing people -- whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference,' he said."

Even more recently, the U.S. military used white phosphorus, a chemical compound whose use in civilian areas constitutes a war crime, during its 2004 attacks on Fallujah in Iraq, just as America's best friend in the region, Israel, dropped white phosphorus on civilian areas in its 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza.

It should be noted that, while the United States is a party to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which bans the use of napalm against civilians, it has never signed Protocol III on the convention, the statute that specifically bans the use of all incendiary weaponry. Nevertheless, even without signing it, this protocol came into force for the U.S. on July 21, 2009.

Furthermore, Israel is one of only seven nations on the planet – along with Syria, Angola, South Sudan, Egypt, North Korea, and Myanmar – to refuse to abide by the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).  As such, every year the United States provides upwards of $4.6 billion (with a "b") in military aid collectively to two states - Israel and Egypt - that deliberately do not adhere to the "international norm" of eschewing, let alone the legal prohibition against, the use of chemical weapons.

However, despite this, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said this week that state non-compliance with treaty obligations recognized by the vast majority of the international community - even by non-signatories to such treaties - should not absolve those states from accountability.

During a press briefing on August 27, spokesperson Marie Harf described the CWC as a "multilateral disarmament agreement" that "provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control and prohibits the use of chemical weapons. Currently, 189 nations, which represent about 98 percent of the global population, have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention." As such, she continued, even though there are a few nations that have not yet acceded to the convention, "clearly that should not enable them to escape responsibility for their actions."

Harf added, "There is a reason that the overwhelming majority of the international community – again, that agrees on little else – has stood against the use of these weapons, and Syria should not be able to flout the clearly expressed view of the international community here."

The following day, Harf reiterated this position:
[T]he indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians is a violation of international law. I also talked a little bit about international norms and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they are obviously not a party to, but which clearly laid out that a majority – a vast majority of the world spoke up and said that we are taking a stand against chemical weapons and the world has spoken on chemical weapons. And we're not going back, and they have to be held accountable.
To suggest that the United States does not go back on its word when it comes to commonly-accepted mandates of international law is laughable. In 1998, the vast majority of the world's nations voted to adopted the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) and granting it authority to "bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide." The United States voted against it.

When the statute was officially adopted by the international community in 2002, the United States, Israel and Sudan all signed it, but formally refused to present it for ratification. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General on May 6, 2002, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, stated, "in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000." While the Obama administration has walked back this Bush era rejection, it has still refused to ratify the treaty and accept the ICC's jurisdiction.

Of course, the language of international law and accountability is also never leveled at Israel when it commits war crimes or develops an undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of nuclear weapons in defiance of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Israel - along with only three other countries on Earth - is not a signatory.

In fact, in May 2010, after the 189 signatories of the NPT - including Iran and Syria called for an international conference in 2012 with the goal of establishing "a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction," Israel denounced the accord, describing it as "deeply flawed and hypocritical," and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, "As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation."

At the time, President Obama also decried the resolution for what he claimed was an unfair focus on Israel - the only nuclear-armed state in the region - and promised to "oppose actions that jeopardize Israel's national security."

When the time of the proposed conference rolled around in December 2012, the United States prevented it from taking place.

It is clear that the United States is not considering military strikes on Syria out of any deference to the obligations of international law or concern for innocent civilians. As Omar Dahi notes in Jadaliyya, "The fact that the United States is threatening to strike now has nothing to do with the welfare of Syrians, and everything to do with the United States maintaining its own 'credibility,' its position as a hegemonic power."

Even taking the U.S. government at its word - a dubious thing to do in light of past experiences - presents problems of its own, namely that any purportedly punitive military action against Syria would itself be a violation of the very laws the United States is claiming to defend.

Recall, for instance, what then-Senator Barack said back on December 20, 2007: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation...As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law."

International relations professor Charli Carpenter has just addressed these factors in Foreign Affairs:
The Obama administration has already confirmed that its primary concern is with protecting the norm and punishing its violators. Given that goal, the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it. The United States claims that it has “no doubt” that Syria was behind last week’s chemical attack, but that remains an open question until the UN inspectors have completed their investigation. Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force. As, a nongovernmental organization notes, these might include condemnation, an arms embargo, sanctions, or any of the other bilateral and multilateral measures that are typically used to respond to violations of weapons norms (and which might be at least as effective than air strikes, if not more so). Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat.

It is thus worrying that the proposed military strikes against Syria rely on Tomahawk missiles, which are capable of carrying cluster munitions and which have been decried on humanitarian grounds by numerous governments and civil society groups. Equally alarming is that the planned strikes would likely involve the use of explosives in populated areas, which is in violation of emerging international concerns about such behavior. Although there is historical precedent for the legitimacy of violating the UN Charter in order to enforce global humanitarian norms, it would be seen as hypocritical to violate those very norms in the service of their affirmation.
As always, with a potentially imminent military strike on the horizon, the American government has once again affirmed its belief that - unlike the rest of the world - when the United States or its friends abrogate international law and commit war crimes, they should not be held to account.



MSNBC's resident loudmouth Chris Matthews - who fancies himself somewhat of an historian - is apparently wholly unaware of the U.S. military's past use of chemical weapons. Speaking on Morning Joe earlier this week, Matthews bellowed:
If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades. Don’t use chemical weapons. We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them, we don’t use chemical weapons, that’s no deal. Although we do know that Assad’s father did. Then he goes ahead and does it.
Let alone Matthews' ignorance of our own actions, even more surreal is the statement that "Hitler didn't use them." Matthews seems to be forgetting about that whole Holocaust thing, when the Nazis committed genocide by gassing millions of Jews in death camps.

Since no allusion to either Syria or Nazi Germany is allowed to pass in the mainstream media without making erroneous comparisons with Iran, Matthews added that, based on Assad's alleged use of weapons of mass destruction, "It makes you wonder what the mullahs will do if they have a couple of nuclear weapons, just a couple."

Well, first off, Iran isn't building nuclear weapons and, even according to U.S. intelligence assessments, hasn't even made a decision to do so. It has also routinely denounced the acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons for the past three decades.

Moreover, that Matthews would think Iranian leaders would instigate atomic armageddon for absolutely no reason is bizarre. But then, again, with a history of promoting misinformation and demonstrating utter ignorance about the Iranian nuclear program, it is no surprise Matthews is pushing such shameless propaganda.

Second, Matthews fails to point out here that, in fact, only one single solitary nation in world history has ever actually used nuclear weapons: the United States of America, which dropped them on civilians, slaughtering hundreds of thousands.

As Robert McNamara recounted to filmmaker Errol Morris in The Fog of War, "[U.S. Air Force General Curtis] LeMay said, 'If we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals.' And I think he's right. He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?"

McNamara wondered, "Was there a rule then that said you shouldn't bomb, shouldn't kill, shouldn't burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?"

(h/t to JTA's Uriel Heilman for jumping on this.)



September 5, 2013 - As usual, Jim Naureckas of the brilliant and essential Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) perfectly articulates yet another aspect of the double standard applied to standards of international law and human decency by both our mainstream media and the government officials who feed it talking points and phony outrage.

Naureckas addresses the recent spate of breathless reporting on the alleged use by the Syrian military of cluster bombs, detailed in a new report by Human Rights Watch and described by The New York Times' Rick Gladstone as a "widely prohibited weapon" responsible for "maiming and destroying indiscriminately."

While the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which has been signed by 112 countries, prohibits the possession and deployment of these bombs, the Times buries the fact that, among the nations who have not signed the protocol is the United States itself, along with its buddy Israel.

Naureckas notes:
Huh–so the country that the New York Times is based in, where most of its readers live, is one of the countries that refuses to sign the treaty banning these horrific weapons? Maybe that's worth a mention before the eighth of 11 paragraphs.
In fact, readers might be interested to know that not only does the U.S. not ban cluster bombs, it actually uses them–they've been used by U.S. forces in Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq, with the most recent target being Yemen. As the Human Rights Watch report notes in a portion not quoted by the Times:
The last reported US use of a cluster munition was in Yemen on December 17, 2009, when one or more TLAM-D cruise missiles loaded with BLU-97 bomblets struck the hamlet of al-Majala in southern Abyan province, causing more than 40 civilian casualties.
But that's the strange thing about cluster bombs: When they're used by official enemies, they're weapons of indiscriminate terror (FAIR Blog, 4/16/11, 1/2/13). When they're used by the United States, they're not much worth talking about.
Israel's own widespread use of cluster bombs, along with white phosphorus, in its 2006 devastation of southern Lebanon was met with widespread international opprobrium.

In September 2006, a Ha'aretz report quoted the head of an IDF rocket unit as saying, "What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs," adding that the Israeli military had "fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets."

"In addition," the report revealed, "soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law. According to their claims, the vast majority of said explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war."

Furthermore, "[t]he cluster rounds which don't detonate on impact, believed by the United Nations to be around 40% of those fired by the IDF in Lebanon, remain on the ground as unexploded munitions, effectively littering the landscape with thousands of land mines which will continue to claim victims long after the war has ended."

Indeed, the 500,000 unexploded Israeli cluster bombs have continued to kill Lebanese civilians, as well as livestock, over the past seven years.

United Nations officials deemed the Israeli use of cluster bombs in Lebanon to be "outrageous" and "immoral," while Human Rights Watch found that Israel's "indiscriminate and disproportionate cluster munition attacks on Lebanon" had "violated international humanitarian law."

Despite this, the United States has never sought to punish the Israeli government for its clear breach of what is seems to call "international norms."



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Only Bad Guys Ignore Public Opinion, Right?
Not to Mention International Law

It is conventional wisdom in U.S. government officialdom and among our mainstream punditry that popular opinion in Iran has absolutely no impact on the decision-making of that country's leadership. The common refrain is that the policies, namely with regard to foreign affairs and national security, pursued by Iran's political and military elite have little relation to - and are often at odds with - the will of the Iranian people.

Despite this assumption, in fact, most public opinion polls of Iranian citizens demonstrate a wide range of perspectives and attitudes, much like that of any other diverse and informed population, and consistently find that government policies track closely with public opinion, especially when it comes to foreign policy, relations with the West, sanctions, perceptions of the United States government and the nuclear program.

There are naturally large segments of the Iranian population who disagree with their government's handling of many different issues, from the economy to international relations, just as there are anywhere. One need only look at public opinion polls here in the United States to see similar, if not far more striking, public opposition to official policies.

Nevertheless, politicians and the media continue to push the idea that Iran is an anomaly in this regard - a dictatorial authoritarian state in no way beholden to its oppressed citizenry; a virtual security state in which government officials make life and death decisions of war and peace with no regard to the will of the masses.

Before the recent Iranian presidential election this past Spring, Secretary of State John Kerry presaged, "Ultimately, the Iranian people [will] be prevented not only from choosing someone who might have reflected their point of view, but also taking part in a way that is essential to any kind of legitimate democracy."

Once Western observers were shocked by the result of the June 14 vote - the election of moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani - the White House issued a statement of congratulations to the Iranian people for "making their voices heard."

"It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians," it read.

With the bloody civil war in Syria now driving headlines and drawing battle lines over the alleged use of chemical weapons, this perception has once again been articulated when it comes to Iran's continuing support of the Syrian government and efforts to avoid the escalation of military conflict in the region.

Writing this week for the U.S.-government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reporter Golnaz Esfandiari remarked:
Iran's support for Syria, which has already come under criticism by many Iranians, could become even more unpopular as more and more countries point the fingers at the Syrian regime over the suspected chemical attack on August 21.
That does not mean that Iran will discontinue its support for Syria -- public opinion doesn't count for much in a country like Iran -- and for now Iran appears to be determined to stand by Assad.
The implications here are obvious. We are told that the Iranian public doesn't support its own government's policies on Syria, and the Iranian government simply doesn't care, instead forging ahead with what a Western readership is supposed to immediately dismiss as destructive and wrongheaded policy.

The very same day that Esfandiari published her story, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf - Jen Psaki's late summer pinch-hitter - defended the Obama administration's increased threats of military intervention - most likely in the form of airstrikes - on behalf of anti-Assad rebels, which may occur in a matter of days.

During her daily press briefing, Harf was asked whether she was "aware that most – in fact, if not all – public polls show that the American people, by a very large majority, oppose to any kind of intervention? Should that factor in in any kind of decision?"

The reporter posing the question was referring to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted between August 19 and 23 and released the previous day, which found that a mere 9 percent of respondents currently supported American military intervention in Syria. According the Washington Post, "this is the lowest support for intervention since the poll began tracking opinion on the issue."

So, considering countries like Iran - y'know, the brutal, myopic, dictatorial kind - supposedly don't make foreign policy calculations based upon public opinion (in contrast, presumably, to noble, responsive democratic nations like the United States), how did Ms. Harf reply?

Here's how:
I think the President’s been clear that he makes decisions about our national security based on what's best for national security interests of this country, and I think it's clear here that there are core national security interests at stake for the United States. Clearly, the mass-scale use of chemical weapons or a potential proliferation of these weapons flagrantly violates an important international norm and therefore threatens American security.
Apparently, what is demanded of other nations simply doesn't apply when it comes to our own policy-making.

Back in June, Obama spokesman Jay Carney explained that, when it comes to Syria, "the ultimate goal here is to bring about a political transition -- one that results in a governing authority that respects the rights of all Syrians" and "that reflects the will of the Syrian people -- all of the Syrian people." The Obama administration, he said, is "working with our partners and allies and the opposition to help bring that about."

Yet earlier that same month, Carney told the press just how the governing authority of his own boss - the Commander-in-Chief of the United States - would react to the will of the American people when it comes to arming Syrian rebels or possible militarily enforcing a no-fly zone against Assad's air force. "The President makes a decision about the implementation of national security options based on our national security interests," Carney said, "not on what might satisfy critics at any given moment about a policy."

A reporter followed up. "Public opinion would not factor into that?," he asked. In response, Carney was clear:
Of course not. What does factor in is what's in the national security interests of the United States and what has the best chance of working -- not satisfying an urge to do something today, but beyond today and next week and the following week -- what actually has the potential to help bring us closer to the achievement of the goal.
A similar statement was made almost exactly a year ago by then-Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak when faced with popular protests and polling data reflecting strong Israeli opposition to a potential military attack on Iran. "The prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister have the authority…and the decision will be made as necessary by the government of Israel. That's how it is and how it needs to be — not a group of civilians or even newspaper editorials," Barak declared.

It is obvious that stark issues of foreign policy should not be left solely to the whims of public opinion; every military decision can not be made via popular referendum. This is not the issue. The issue, rather, is that American rhetoric with regard to how other nations should operate is wholly disregarded when it comes to our own expectations for ourselves or our allies.

It's called a double standard. It's called hypocrisy. It's called American exceptionalism.

Meanwhile, in a striking blow to the Obama administration's efforts to assemble a willing coalition to attack Assad's military installations, the British Parliament voted today against immediate involvement in a military strike against Syria. The decision, won by a margin of just 13 votes, was primarily based on outstanding questions regarding the ultimate culpability for the recent use of chemical weapons based on available evidence.

Reacting to the vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that, despite his personal belief "in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons" he would respect the will of the representatives. "It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action," he said. "I get that, and the government will act accordingly."

When it comes to Syria, the real question yet remains: American public opinion and the war cheerleading from both neoconservative hawks and supposedly liberal voices in the mainstream media aside, will Barack Obama heed not only the mandate of the U.S. Constitution, but also the tenets of international law, which unequivocally prohibit a military strike? What about the fact that such attacks could certainly do far more harm than good by putting even more Syrian civilians lives in danger and exacerbating an already devastating humanitarian crisis?

So far, the signs don't look good.

As Marc Lynch recently wrote in Foreign Policy,
The rumored air strikes would drag the United States across a major threshold of direct military involvement, without any serious prospect of ending the conflict or protecting Syrian civilians (at least from non-chemical attacks). They likely would not accomplish more than momentarily appeasing the whimsical gods of credibility. The attack would almost certainly lack a Security Council mandate. Meanwhile, the response from Arab public opinion to another U.S. military intervention has been predictably hostile; even the very Arab leaders who have been aggressively pushing for such military action are refraining from openly supporting it. And nobody really believes that such strikes will actually work.
According to the New York Times, even in the face of "a stinging rejection" of military action "by America's stalwart ally Britain and mounting questions from Congress," unnamed U.S. "administration officials made clear that the eroding support would not deter Mr. Obama in deciding to go ahead with a strike."

Like his much-maligned predecessor, a lack of solid evidence and respect for legality may not deter this new Decider from launching another war, logic and democracy be damned.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Is This The Most Pathetic Sting Operation the U.S. Government Ever Concocted?

Ali Baba by Maxfield Parrish (1909)

It is well-known that the law enforcement and national security arms of the United States government routinely hatch and orchestrate elaborate sting operations, and then claim victory over thwarting nefarious plots that they themselves manufactured, planned, coordinated, funded and sometimes even led.

An extensive 2011 Mother Jones investigation by journalist Trevor Aaronson found that, since the September 11, 2001 attacks, “with three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.” As a result, agencies like the FBI continue touting their own successful defense of our sacred homeland from the over-hyped scourge of domestic and international terrorism, while fabricating the very schemes they themselves gallantly thwart and racking up convictions based upon clear entrapment.

Aaronson, who is the author of “The Terror Factory: Inside The FBI’s Manufactured War On Terrorism,” has said that the United States’ massive counter-terrorism budget would be better spent “identifying real threats and gathering intelligence rather than finding potential threats and trying to make them real.”

In its endless efforts to cast Iran as the most fearsome nation in the world and its internationally safeguarded and regularly inspected nuclear program as an ever-looming threat, the U.S. government’s sting industry went one step further down the rabbit hole this week when “US prosecutors have charged a man from Sierra Leone with trying to sell undercover agents 1,000 tonnes of yellowcake uranium,” Reuters reported today.

Apparently, the suspect – 33-year-old Patrick Campbell of Freetown – is the stupidest wannabe black market uranium dealer on the planet. He was “arrested at John F Kennedy airport on Wednesday after he arrived from Sierra Leone with the sample of uranium concealed in the soles of shoes in his luggage.”

Here’s the rundown:
Campbell said he was affiliated with a company engaged in mining and selling of uranium, gold, and diamonds for export and communicated via telephone, Skype and email that he was seeking to buy processed uranium 308, also known as yellowcake, to be delivered to Iran, [Homeland Security agent Louise] Miller said.
Yellowcake uranium, when enriched, can be used in the manufacture of nuclear fuel and weapons.
The uranium was to be disguised in a mix with other types of ore. The shipment for delivery to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas was to yield 1,000 tonnes of yellowcake, according to the criminal complaint.
After his arrest Campbell admitted to agents that he had engaged in talks for “a contract for the sale of uranium to be delivered to Iran”, the complaint said. He admitted having a sample with him.
So how did all this go down?

Well, according to the Homeland Security affidavit, Campbell “allegedly responded to an ad in May 2012 on the website seeking to purchase uranium that was placed by an undercover US agent posing as an American broker representing persons in Iran.”

Yes, he responded to an online ad. On a website called (How’s that for a little unintentional Orientalism?) The website is run by the Alibaba Group, “a family of Internet-based businesses which makes it easy for anyone to buy or sell online anywhere in the world.”

Where else would a devious Iranian mineral trader go for all his nefarious, sanctions-busting, nuclear weapons-making needs?

Quite simply, the story is preposterous. That Mr. Campbell would be lured by a fake broker for Iranian buyers to the United States, of all places, to make a secret uranium deal is embarrassing and sad.

Never once, in the series of events revealed through this case, is any actual connection to Iran ever made. With this in mind, the sensational headline accompanying the report – “Man caught in ‘uranium for Iran’ sting” – is all the more misleading and disingenuously alarmist.

Campbell is charged with violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, in addition to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which regulates trade involving foreign countries deemed by the President of the United States to pose an "unusual and extraordinary the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States." Iran has been deemed such a threat by every Commander-in-Chief since 1979.

If found guilty, Campbell - who was never contacted by anyone from or in Iran or with any connection whatsoever to that country - faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for moronically doing what an American intelligence agent asked him to do.

Such a bogus scare story about yellowcake being transferred from Africa to a Middle Eastern country accused of having a nuclear weapons program is eerily reminiscent of the claims made in the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. Similarly silly allegations have been made about Iran obtaining aluminum tubes and magnets for its nuclear work – another echo of the Iraq narrative.

That Iran would even need to purchase black market yellowcake makes no sense considering Iran currently has adequate uranium ore resources of its own and the facilities to process it. Nevertheless, allegations about Iran acquiring yellowcake from Africa have proliferated for years.

This sting operation is the latest evidence of the utter waste of time and energy wasted on fear-mongering about an Iranian nuclear threat that literally does not exist.


Originally posted at Muftah.



August 24, 2013 - In response to reports about the U.S. government's sting operation, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman of Iran's Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said today that this "US scenario" was a "joke."

He stated that because Iran has no need to buy yellowcake from the private citizens from other countries, the entire operation (or perhaps just its publicity) appears manufactured with the intent to undermine diplomatic overtures made by Iran toward the United States since the June election of Hassan Rouhani.

"Iran is among the producers of yellowcake; therefore, the claim has been designed with the aim of affecting Iran's talks with the P5+1 group under the new administration," Boroujerdi said, according to PressTV.

"Instead of waging a psychological war, Washington should seize the emerging opportunity in the new Iranian administration and pursue constructive dialog for putting an end to the issue of Iran's nuclear energy program,” Boroujerdi added.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rachel Maddow and Chemical Weapons:
Inaccurate Information & Telling Omissions

During her August 21 broadcast, in a segment on the reported use of chemical weapons in a horrific attack that killed hundreds of civilians in Syria, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow discussed the possible implications of such an horrendous act and touched upon past uses of potentially similar substances such as Sarin and mustard gas.  She spoke about Saddam Hussein's use of these chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and civilians during the Iran-Iraq War and in the massacre of thousands of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja on March 16, 1988.

Maddow did not deem it necessary, however, to tell her audience about the United States government's role in actively supporting the Iraqi military at the time and perhaps even providing Saddam with the very chemical weapons he then used to slaughter countless human beings.

Furthermore, Maddow noted that, following the Gulf War, the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was established in 1993 and that only "a handful of countries refused to sign onto that convention: Angola, North Korea, Egypt, South Sudan, Somalia and Syria."

Her list of these six nations was accompanied by an onscreen graphic.

But it wasn't quite right.

In fact, only five states - Angola, North Korea, Egypt, South Sudan and Syria - have never signed nor implemented the Chemical Weapons Convention.

While Somalia did not sign the treaty before it came into force, the country is now, as of June 28, 2013, a member of the convention through the process of "accession," which the United Nations defines as "the act whereby a state accepts the offer or the opportunity to become a party to a treaty already negotiated and signed by other states" and which "has the same legal effect as ratification."

Somalia is not alone in having acceded to the CWC. Other states like Serbia, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Belize, Botswana, Sudan and Iraq have all voluntarily adopted its protocols without being original signatories to the convention.

Missing from Maddow's commentary on the CWC, however, was any mention of the only two states on the planet that have signed the convention yet never ratified it, thereby reneging on their original promise to abide by its rules.

These two nations are Myanmar and Israel. They join the five countries (not including Somalia) mentioned by Maddow in explicitly refusing to adhere to the ban on using chemical weapons.

Israel has a history with Sarin gas and has routinely used chemical weaponry such as white phosphorus in densely populated areas, an act regarding as potentially a war crime.  Despite ongoing claims that it would "stop using artillery shells with white phosphorus to create smokescreens on the battlefield" and that shells containing white phosphorus would be "removed from active duty soon," in early July of this year, Israel's High Court of Justice actually "dismissed a petition calling for a ban on the Israeli military’s use of white phosphorus munitions in populated areas."

Furthermore, Israel is one of only 16 states to never sign nor ratify the Biological Weapons Convention and the only state among those with substantial military might and believed to have actually developed an offensive biological warfare capability. An August 1993 report by the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment identified Israel as a country possessing a long-term, undeclared, offensive biological warfare program.

In 1998, Bill Richardson, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, declared, "I have no doubt that Israel has worked on both chemical and biological offensive things for a long time," adding, "I don't think you'll find much on it. We've always seemed to have a double standard on Israel, compared to talking about the threats from other countries. There's no doubt they've had stuff for years, but getting anybody to say anything publicly about it is going to be pretty hard."

Louis Toscano, a former UPI Jerusalem bureau chief and author of "Triple Cross," a 1990 book about Israel's clandestine nuclear arsenal, revealed, "I've never had much doubt that they were producing a limited arsenal of chemical weapons. In fact, it was widely rumored that a chemical factory was operating under the guise of a university research center around Haifa."

Moreover, Toscano said, "What makes it all the more dangerous is that they, unlike Saddam or any of the other Middle East bogeymen, have developed weapons systems capable of delivering such weapons."

Perhaps Maddow should have pointed that out.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Calls for Diplomacy with Iran Come from Unlikely Sources

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
(Photo Credit: Abdolvahed Mirzazadeh)

As Congress and Israeli leaders continue to make threats and take actions that serve to dismiss and prevent any possibility of real diplomacy between Iran and the West, namely the United States, a number of unexpected voices are now chiming in on the side of moderation, pragmatism and a negotiation.

Iranian rhetoric since the June election and recent Cabinet appointments of President Hassan Rouhani's new administration signal a strong desire for renewed talks and a reduction in international tensions. Earlier this month, Rouhani stated in a press conference that Iran is "ready to immediately resume talks on nuclear issue," explaining that the "key" to success for the United States "to understand that threats are not the solution. We can resolve the nuclear dispute if all sides have the political will."

Rouhani added, "Actions matter more than words. My administration will defiantly reciprocate actions by U.S.", which he says has been "sending mixed messages" due to "the warmongering lobby," which "has the interest of another country in mind" and "opposes dialogue and is imposing its will…" Essentially, Rouhani concluded, "Statements by White House do not match the actions we see from them. All we want US to do is to hear the message of Iranian people in the recent elections and end sending these mixed messages."

Other Iranian politicians have echoed the president's sentiments. Esmail Kowsari, a member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said last week, "Once the United States exhibits a confidence-building and realistic behavior, the Islamic Republic of Iran will take a proper decision concerning talks with the U.S.", adding, "What is important for us is the US administration’s practical response and not statements."

"Therefore," Kowsari said, "no decision can be made about negotiations with the United States unless such a change of behavior is displayed by Americans."

Mansour Haqiqatpour, Vice-Chairman of the same parliamentary commission, told the press, "Unfortunately, the U.S. behavior is totally hypocritical and dishonest and the country is pursuing an inappropriate diplomatic trend with regard to establishing relations with Iran."

"In order to talk with Iran," he suggested, "the Americans should renounce their paradoxical behavior and also avoid adopting stances in bad temper so that the process of talks between the two countries can be shaped based on realities."

It is wholly unsurprising that Iranian leaders would look for concrete changes from Washington before taking its alleged overtures seriously. For the past four years, as Reza Nasri has explained in Tehran Bureau, the Obama administration's notion of diplomacy with Iran has been "predicated on intimidation, illegal threats of military action, unilateral 'crippling' sanctions, sabotage, and extrajudicial killings of Iran's brightest minds." These actions demonstrate Washington's goal of complete Iranian capitulation and even regime change, rather than dialogue based upon mutual respect and international law.

Surprisingly, however, the editorial board of the usually hawkish Washington Post last week called upon the West to "resume negotiations soon to explore the depth of Mr. Rouhani’s seriousness and whether his election has come with room to maneuver," couching its appeal in the usual alarmist terms that "talks must proceed with urgency" due to the progress of Iran's nuclear program. Still, they argued, "Western powers should swallow hard and show up ready to talk. Mr. Rouhani's demand for mutual respect is not unreasonable."

Even former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, a vocal proponent of continued collective punishment against the Iranian people, took to the oped pages of the Israeli press last week to express a similar view. "Israel should support the launch of negotiations as soon as possible rather than make it more difficult for the sides to return to the negotiation table," he wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth, the state's leading daily, condemning the dismissive remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Iran's new president, which imply to "Iranian voters that their actions are insignificant; that there is no chance their situation will improve and that Israel is determined to delegitimize their choice."

"I do not believe Rohani would establish a moderate government unless he knew there was a genuine willingness on the part of the US to negotiate with him," Halevy continued, adding that "Israel officially announce its support for negotiations between the US and Iran" and "add a word of praise for the Iranian people," recognizing the "dignity and honor of the masses in Tehran."

In true Israeli fashion, of course, Halevy suggests that, all the while, "Israel will continue to have its finger on the trigger."

Furthermore, in addition to the advocacy of former diplomats like William H. Luers, Jim Walsh and Thomas R. Pickering - who have long sought to advance a different path forward with Iran and published a comprehensive plan for a new approach this month in the New York Review of Books - a new report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) urges the Obama administration to be more flexible in its consideration of negotiations and potential solutions with Iran.

The report, titled "Great Expectations: Iran's New President and the Nuclear Talks," calls for "Washington to engage in direct bilateral talks with Iran alongside the P5+1 and to be more forthcoming in the negotiations – by offering greater sanctions relief in exchange for Iranian concessions and describing an 'end-state' that would include de facto recognition of Tehran's 'right' to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes," writes IPS's Jim Lobe.

The ICG report not only suggests the scope of discussions between the West and Iran be expanded to include regional security issues, such as the current situations in Syria and Egypt. Perhaps most importantly, however, the report states that "now is not the time to ramp up sanctions," as such actions "could well backfire, playing into the hands of those in Tehran wishing to prove that Iran's policies have no impact on the West's attitude, and thus that a more flexible position is both unwarranted and unwise."

It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will heed these calls or continue to follow the lead of a lobby-influenced Congress and an obsessed Israeli prime minister.


Originally posted at Muftah.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Plan B" From Outer Space: The Hype Over Iran Continues

Nearly identical headlines from The Telegraph on February 26, 2013 and The New York Times on August 8, 2013

The following is the 79th update to my comprehensive, ongoing compendium of constant predictions and prognostications regarding the supposed inevitability and imminence of an alleged Iranian nuclear weapon, hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past three decades.

As predicted, tautologies based upon the speculative allegation that Iran is "pursuing a parallel track to a nuclear capability through the production of plutonium" are rapidly proliferating, just in case a deal is struck between Iran and the United States that alleviates concerns over Iran's enrichment of uranium.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, master-alarmist Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli Military Intelligence and current director of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, repeats the tired talking points that we've heard again and again by now.

In an article entitled, "Iran's Plan B for the Bomb" - a headline swiped almost verbatim from the Telegraph's February 26 report called "Iran's 'Plan B' for a Nuclear Bomb" about the same exact thing - Yadlin and a colleague write that, according to the IAEA, "Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium to produce several nuclear bombs if it chooses to further enrich the fuel," adding that "Western experts like Graham T. Allison Jr. and Olli Heinonen estimate that if Iran decided to develop a bomb today, it could do so within three to five months."

In fact, a recent article by Graham Allison in The Atlantic demonstrates exactly the type of disinformation, conventional wisdom and faulty assumptions that passes for expert analysis in the Western debate over the Iranian nuclear program.

Yadlin also cites a recent ISIS study, which "estimates that at the current pace of [second-generation centrifuge] installation, Iran could reduce its breakout time to just one month by the end of this year. The report also estimates that at that pace, by mid-2014 Iran could reduce the breakout time to less than two weeks."

Using the recent overwrought reporting on Iran's nascent Arak reactor, Yadlin explains, "Some American and European officials claim that Iran could produce weapons-grade plutonium next summer" which he says means "Iran is making progress on this alternative track." Yadlin goes on:
A functioning nuclear reactor in Arak could eventually allow Iran to produce sufficient quantities of plutonium for nuclear bombs. Although Iran would need to build a reprocessing facility to separate the plutonium from the uranium in order to produce a bomb, that should not be the West’s primary concern. Western negotiators should instead demand that Iran shut down the Arak reactor.
Hilariously, Yadlin then proceeds to try and justify the cause for concern, writing without irony, "Of the three countries that have publicly crossed the nuclear threshold since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, two — India and North Korea — did so via the plutonium track."

Catch the operative word there? Publicly.

Everyone knows that Israel crossed that very same threshold decades before India, Pakistan or North Korea. Yadlin is also clever enough to note 1970 as the beginning of his timeline, since Israel already had a fully-functional, undeclared nuclear weapons program by the late 1960s - a program still unacknowledged and unmonitored.

Yadlin concludes by demanding the United States continue its useless policy of "sanctions and a credible military threat" and warns that the "moderate messages" emanating from the Iranian leadership since the June election of Hasan Rouhani "should not be allowed to camouflage Iran's continuing progress toward a bomb."

For Israeli officials past and present, when it comes to Iran the lies never stop.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art, On Display and In Demand

Untitled, by Abolghassem Saidi (1973). Oil on canvas.
(Collection of Sam Bayat and Charlotte Denise Madeleine Bayat)

An upcoming exhibition at the Asia Society in New York City will highlight over 100 pieces of pre-revolution Iranian art – paintings, photography, drawing and sculpture – created by “the most noteworthy Iranian artists of the 1950s to 1970s” compiled to “shed light on a period when Iranian artists were engaged with the world through the Tehran Biennial in Iran as well as exhibitions overseas, and when their work was collected by institutions inside and outside of Iran.”

The landmark loan exhibition, entitled Iran Modern and running from September 6, 2013 to January 5, 2013, “maps the genesis of Iranian modernism in order to argue that the development of modernist art is inherently more globally interconnected than previously understood” and “provides a dynamic perspective on Iran’s rich culture and history for the public.”

Meanwhile, a recent article in Art Radar Asia, an online magazine that tracks contemporary art trends, calls Iran “one of the most prolific and productive countries for contemporary art” in the Middle East and identifies eight innovative, influential and internationally-renowned Iranian artists of the past 35 years.

Included in Art Radar‘s list and accompanied by concise and illuminating blurbs about their work are photographer Abbas Kowsari, abstract calligrapher Golnaz Fathi, and painters Afshin Pirhashemi, Alireza Adambakan, and Babak Roshaninejad.

Here is an excerpt:
Reza Derakshani
Born in Sangsar in 1952, painter, musician and performance artist Reza Derakshani grew up in a tent in the countryside. His nomadic childhood inspires his art. He studied art in Tehran and Pasadena, California. In 1983, following the Islamic Revolution, he lived in exile in New York and Italy. He currently lives and works in Dubai and Austin, Texas.
Derakshani’s gallery, Kashya Hildebrand, had this to say about the artist and his method of working: “By investigating the essential nature of his cultural identity in a singularly original manner, he has connected to the spirit of the most exciting art made internationally today.”
Derakshani’s artwork is collected by high-profile figures such as Leon Black, Sting and Trudie Styler and the Royal family of Abu Dhabi. The British Museum has recently commissioned new works.
Masters of Persian, Reza Derakshani (2008). Mixed media on canvas.
Afshin Pirhashemi 
Afshin Pirhashemi, born in 1974 in Urmia, where he lives now, is known for his black and white photo-realistic paintings of women. 
His artistic talent was seen from childhood. As a teenager, he received a grant from the Italian Ambassador to study at the Rome Art Academy, and then received his BA at Azad University. 
According to ArtTactic, the price range for his paintings is from USD 10,000- 50,000, and he is listed as having high market confidence. Pirhashemi won awards for his painting at the 2003 Tehran 6th International Art Biennial, and the 2004 Beijing Art Biennial Award.
Marriage, Afshin Pirhashemi (2012). Oil on canvas.
(Ayyam Gallery)
Farhad Moshiri 
According to Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Tehran-based Farhad Moshiri, who was born in Shiraz, Iran, in 1963 and educated at California Institute of the Arts, “overturns both pop culture and highbrow imagery by transforming it into figurative artwork.” His works are often hand-embroidered and sparkle with his use of glitter, sequins, and crystals. Even though his shimmery works look playful, he is addressing ”the flaws of contemporary Iran all while toying with its traditional forms; he acknowledges the appeal of the western world in addition to its limitations.”
God in Color, Farhad Moshiri (2012). Hand embroidery on canvas.
(Galerie Perrotin)

From high-priced auctions in Tehran to exhibitions in New York, Iranian artwork from the past six-plus decades – created in the midst of monarchy, modernization, foreign intervention and popular revolution – never ceases to reflect the complexity of Iranian culture, reinvent itself, attract attention and amaze the world.


Originally posted at Muftah.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Alas, Arak: Plutonium, the Press & a New Path to Propaganda

Heavy-water production plant near the central Iranian city of Arak

The following is the 77th update to my comprehensive, ongoing compendium of constant predictions and prognostications regarding the supposed inevitability and imminence of an alleged Iranian nuclear weapon, hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past three decades.

One of the Wall Street Journal's resident Iran hysterics and consummate warmonger Jay Solomon offers up a lede today that should go down in history as one of the most shameless pieces of propaganda seen in a mainstream newspaper:
Iran could begin producing weapons-grade plutonium by next summer, U.S. and European officials believe, using a different nuclear technology that would be easier for foreign countries to attack.
This single line, from an article with the spooky headline, "Iran Seen Trying New Path to a Bomb," not only implies the Netanyahu-approved shibboleth that Iran is actively (and clandestinely) seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, but also hints at a potential Israeli or American military attack on Iran without ever mentioning that such an action would be - incontrovertibly - a war crime.

Solomon, in his tireless efforts to paint Iran as intransigent and nefarious in order to persuade an ignorant readership that diplomacy is futile and violence the only option, suggests that this alleged, hypothetical and wholly speculative "second path to potentially producing a nuclear weapon could complicate international efforts to negotiate with Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, who was sworn in Sunday in Tehran." And, again, only two sentences after he first floated the potential for military action, repeats: "It also heightens the possibility of an Israeli strike, said U.S. and European officials."

And, yet again, just two sentences later, repeats essentially the same exact thing: "Now, the West is increasingly concerned Iran also could use the development of a heavy water nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for a bomb. A heavy-water reactor is an easier target to hit than the underground facilities that house Iran's uranium-enrichment facilities."

Solomon's report constantly cites "U.S. and European officials" as its unnamed sources for these oh-so-alarming revelations, sometimes throwing in the undefined term "U.N. officials" for variety. The tangential and circumstantial reasoning behind this manufactured hype is pathetic. Writes Solomon, "A reactor like the one under construction is capable of using the uranium fuel to produce 40 megawatts of power. Spent fuel from it contains plutonium—which, like enriched uranium, can serve as the raw material for an explosive device. India and Pakistan have built plutonium-based bombs, as has North Korea." Ergo, bombs away!

"The Arak facility, when completed, will be capable of producing two nuclear bombs' worth of plutonium a year," Solomon writes, crediting "U.S. and U.N. officials" for the assessment. Just two months ago, it was said that, in theory, "Arak would potentially be able to produce one bomb's worth of weapons-grade plutonium a year."

In truth, the facility at Arak is years away from becoming operational and no decision has been made (nor is it likely ever to be made) by the Iranian leadership to weaponize its civilian nuclear program, thereby making any such predictions totally irrelevant.

Earlier this year, the Telegraph, Associated Press and Reuters all published nearly identical reports on the potential of the heavy-water plant at Arak becoming a proliferation risk and raising the possibility of an Israeli attack. For instance, an anonymous "Western diplomat in Vienna" told Reuters in early June, "The concern about that plutonium route and the Arak site has got much stronger. I think it is another red line."

Unsurprisingly, none of the reports amounted to anything but hysteria. The Telegraph's report, from February 26, 2013, even admitted (far down towards the end of its report) that Iran "still lacks the technology to reprocess plutonium and use it for a weapon."

It also featured Mark Fitzpatrick - think tank pundit and permanent fixture in mainstream media articles on the Iranian nuclear program - warning that any attack on Arak would have to occur before it becomes operational due to the catastrophic consequences of bombing an active nuclear facility. Because "the option of a military strike on an operating reactor would present enormous complications because of the radiation that would be spread," Fitzpatrick told the Telegraph, "Some think Israel's red line for military action is before Arak comes online."

Similarly, in the new Wall Street Journal incarnation, Solomon writes, "Any Israeli strike on the reactor complex, said current and former U.S. officials, would likely have to take place before Tehran introduces nuclear materials into the facility, because of the potential for a vast environmental disaster a strike could cause."

What breaking news!

Buried at the end of this latest propaganda piece, after myriad misleading statements about UN Security Council resolutions, Israeli military capabilities, and Iranian obligations under international law, Solomon quotes go-to nuclear alarmist Olli Heinonen, a former high-level IAEA official, as saying, "There is a good possibility that [the reactor] can reach its first nuclear criticality by the end of 2014."

"However," Heinonen adds, in a conclusion that undermines the entire tenor and tone of Solomon's article up to that point, "no significant quantity of plutonium should be available for actual extraction before 2016."

Beyond this, Solomon cites "U.N. officials" (whatever that means) as claiming that Iran has "significantly restricted the IAEA's ability to inspect the reactor and its development plans." He deliberately omits this tidbit of information, reported by Bloomberg News back on June 6, 2013: "Iran encouraged United Nations nuclear monitors to use powerful new detection technologies to dispel international concern that the Persian Gulf country is seeking to build atomic weapons."

"We always welcome the agency to have more sophisticated equipment, to have more accuracy in their measurements, so that technical matters will not be politicized," Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the press in Vienna at the time, adding that Iran "won't object to IAEA monitors using new technologies to determine whether plutonium is being extracted from spent fuel at its new reactor in Arak."

Solomon's report, which surely will be seized upon by an endless parade of disingenuous warmongers and professional liars as proof that Iran must be bombed posthaste, is as embarrassingly transparent as they come.