Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blix Denies Existence of 'Technological Point of No Return' Under Questioning

Vital Perspective:
On Tuesday, Vital Perspective attended an Arms Control Association press briefing at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace by former IAEA D-G Hans Blix, who now heads the independent WMD Commission. The Commission has recently presented its report to the UN, and is available for download here in PDF format. A video explaining the report is available here.

The most striking statement came in a private conversation with Blix following the briefing. READ MORE

We hung around afterwards, and the exchange was as follows:

VITAL PERSPECTIVE: You've said specifically that Iran is not a threat to international peace and security as they've "only" enriched a milligram of uranium to 4% purity. At what point, in your opinion, will Iran become a threat to international peace and security, and how do you square your position with the school of thought on Iran nearing the technological point of no return?

DR. BLIX: Well, no, there's no specific point in mind as to when that point has been reached, and to be honest with you, there is no such thing as a technological point of no return.

VITAL PERSPECTIVE: I'm sorry, you said there's no such thing as a technological point of no return?

DR. BLIX: Yes, there is no technological point of no return because you can always go back from where you are. Now, I don't think that the argument that you have to wait for the mushroom cloud is legitimate, IAEA inspections work, and I might add that the proper action in the Security Council at this point is a Chapter VI resolution, as I spoke of earlier.

Several major problems with what Blix has to say in this conversation. First, we learn that he's taking the Potter Stewart "I know it when I see it" approach to determining when a Chapter VII resolution is warranted. Second, we learn that he is not concerned with the ability to produce nuclear weapons, but only the weapons themselves in his dismissal of any existence of a technological point of no return. This is an extremely dangerous position to take, because once Iran masters the process and reaches the technological point of no return, then it's not a matter of if they will produce nuclear weapons, but when. Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is in fact a direct national security threat to the United States, our allies in Europe and to all countries of the region.

Rotation_of_p6070026Blix is obviously no friend of those who see the Iranian nuclear program as a threat to international peace and security. In fact, Blix has said that he does not believe Iran has violated the Nuclear Non proliferation Treaty. Nor do their actions warrant a Chapter VII resolution since Iran has enriched "perhaps a milligram at 4%," as he said today.

Unfortunately, the current IAEA D-G was inclined to agree with him in March of this year. IAEA D-G Mohamed ElBaradei has said that Iran poses no imminent threat and that imposing sanctions on it would be a bad idea. As we have repeatedly said (here and here, among others), once Tehran has reached the technological point of no return, it's simply too late, and as of now their rogue program continues advancing unabated.

These assessments in no way square with what Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph told reporters in a special briefing in late April of this year:

"If you can produce to 3.5 percent, you're well on your way to producing enriched uranium at a much higher content, including weapons grade material..." ... "We are very close to the point of no return... this is likely the greatest strategic threat that we face as a nation and that faces the international community."

On page 70 of the report (72 in the PDF), the Commission begins to write on the reasons behind Iran's nuclear efforts and what could be done to allay them. Rotation_of_p6070034They state that if Israel discarded its nuclear-weapon capability, "it could help reduce tension," and that a "U.S. military presence in Iraq, the Gulf, Pakistan, Afghanistan and several other state in the region" have created a perceived threat by Iran -- therefore, Iran should be offered security guarantees and only carrots, no sticks: "Promises of diplomatic relations rather than of isolation would undoubtedly also be seen as facilitating relaxed relations." We'd also like to point out that both in the briefing and in a interview several days ago with the National Post in Canada, Blix said that the U.S. is being responsible for Iran's nuclear ambitions by having a neocolonialist attitude.

Never mind the fact that Iran worked in a clandestine fashion on its nuclear program for over twenty years. Blix simply wants to reward Iran, blame the U.S., and undermine Israel's defense. Those calling the incentive package appeasement may want to take another look at what real appeasement looks like.

Additionally, we recall that two months ago, Blix said that he does not believe the IAEA has the hard evidence Iran intends to build a nuclear bomb, and his Commission report tells us that the IAEA shouldn't even bother looking for that evidence, since it's "very difficult" to prove a negative:

"As it is very difficult to prove a negative, it is unlikely that the IAEA would ever be able to conclude with absolute certainty that Iran – or at least key elements within its governing system – have not had the intention to use an enrichment capability for weapon purposes. In any case, even if such intentions never existed, there could be a change of mind once Iran’s enrichment technology was fully operational. Accordingly, the question of intention is not decisive."

We are deeply disturbed by his positions, and shocked at this dismissal of the existence of a technological point of no return. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's continued threats against the West, U.S., and Israel, denial of the Holocaust, and open defiance of the Security Council, leave no doubt this is a dictator with a deadly agenda. His messianic vision of extremist Shiite armageddon should not be taken lightly. The world has never seen an Islamic extremist terrorist state armed with nuclear weapons... this is one of those nightmares you don't wake up from. An Iranian-dominated Middle East threatens the future of the West, and whether it be by diplomacy or by military action, the Iranian threat must be put down.