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EU3 Lacks Moral Authority to Lecture Iran
[Analysis] Open letter to the members of the European Parliament
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2006-06-08 11:01 (KST)   
In a message he delivered in Monterey on May 30, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and current IAEA director, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei emphasized the necessity of all nuclear weapon states to set a positive example for the world community.

These states must fulfill their disarmament commitment under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They must take concrete steps to demonstrate that they are serious about Non-Proliferation.

"What is good for the goose should be good for the gander," Elbaradei said.

The NPT is among the most unpopular treaties in force as it legitimates injustice at the international level. Some states are allowed to have nukes, others are not. According to Elbaradei, a new NPT should "totally abolish nuclear weapons." It should also be done within a set timeframe.

Elbaradei's proposal is realistic. For instance, chemical weapons are banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). He rejects the idea that nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation are inter-connected. He emphasized that are no technical reasons to rely on Highly Enriched Uranium.

According to Elbaradei, the United States does not have the moral authority to lead the charge against Iran, owing to its lack of commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, has been appointed as the top negotiator of the Iranian crisis. He will present proposals agreed by six world powers in Vienna on Thursday.

I seriously question whether Solana has the moral authority to lecture Iranian leaders on Nuclear Proliferation.

Question 1: Does the EU3 set a positive example? Answer: No.

To state the obvious, France and the U.K. have a military nuclear program. The British government plans on spending billions of pounds to modernize their nukes. French President Jacques Chirac recently claimed that France will not hesitate to use their nuclear weapons in retaliation against a terrorist attack.

For such countries to tell other nations not to develop nuclear weapons "is like dangling a cigarette from your mouth and telling everybody to stop smoking," ElBaradei said.

Question 2: Does the EU3 care about human rights when their nuclear interests are involved? Answer: No.

The EU3 nations have demonstrated than when their civilian nuclear interests are involved, nothing is off limits, not even their sacred human rights.

On Dec. 13, 1974, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 3295 (XXXIX). Here is a summary of this rather unambiguous text:

"The General Assembly...strongly deploring South Africa's continued refusal to comply with the resolutions and decisions of the U.N., its continued illegal occupation of Namibia, its brutal repression of Namibian people and its persistent violation of their human rights, as well as its efforts to destroy the national unity and territorial integrity of Namibia...urges all States to take all possible economic and other measures with a view of compelling South Africa to withdraw immediately from Namibia...reaffirms the rights of Namibian People to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources and condemns the policy of those States which continue to support foreign economic and other interests engaged in exploiting the natural and human resources of Namibia in some case to the point of foreseeing the exhaustion of such natural resources..."

This resolution imposed that no one should extract or exploit Namibian resources without explicit approval from the Security Council. As is usually the case when an international legal instrument does not serve their economical interests, France, Germany and the UK simply ignored Resolution 3295.

"The Government of France, as many other Governments, does not recognize the legality of Resolution 3295," said Jean-Francois Poncet, the Minister of Foreign affairs.

Members States of the European Union needed a safe supply of Uranium and their government would not let any human rights considerations interfere with an issue affecting their National Security. Paris and Pretoria signed an agreement concerning the delivery of 1,000 tons of uranium per year beginning in 1980.

"South Africa offers long term uranium contracts without the usual constraints, i.e. very different from the usual rules of pacific use of nuclear energy," said a spokesperson of Synatomein.

In February 1979, M. Brunner, Head of the Energy Department of the EU Commission admitted that EU member states import on average 30 percent of their uranium form Pretoria. He refused to tell which percentage originated from Namibia, although there is little doubt that most of it did.

In May 1981, France, Germany and the U.K. (as well as the United States) refused to participate in the International Conference concerning sanctions against South Africa. Without these key countries on board, the sanctions were not worth the paper they were written on. South Africa remained one of the top commercial partners of the European Union, at the same level as Canada. Apartheid continued.

Question 3: Does the EU3 care about nuclear proliferation when their economic interests are involved? Answer: No.

France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain have been, and possibly remain, the leading suppliers of illegal nuclear technology over the last three decades. There is very little these countries are doing to uncover the truth, to arrest the perpetrators or to put an end to their nuclear Wal-Mart.

Through a worldwide smuggling network, Dr. A.Q. Khan has sold the technology of ultracentrifuges. Khan used a factory in Malaysia to manufacture key parts for centrifuges. One of his collaborators, B.S.A. Tahir, ran a front company in Dubai to ship centrifuge components to Libya, North Korea, Iran and possibly other countries.

Pakistan isn't pursuing charges against him or any of his closed collaborators. He had, still has, dozens of collaborators in Europe. Pakistan made it clear that they would block any attempt by foreign governments to send investigators to interview Khan or any of his associates.

U.S. lawmakers want Pakistan to seriously probe Khan's illicit nuclear network. "Given the grave consequences of Khan's acts and his relevancy to the current Iranian and North Korean crises, the U.S. and the international community should expect more from Musharraf," said Republican legislator Ed Royce, who chaired the hearing by a House panel dealing with international terrorism and non-proliferation. "Some question whether the A.Q. Khan network is truly out of business," he added.

Unlike U.S. lawmakers, no EU member states have pressured Pakistan to allow foreigners to question Khan. Neither has the EU Commission. Most members of Khan Network remain free, such P. Griffin, a Briton suspected of organizing the shipment from Dubai, who now enjoys a sweet retirement in the South of France. His son is rumored to have taken over the family business.

Cases of the few who have been arrested are languishing. Defense lawyers are denied access to government documents directly relevant to their case and they are not even sure what they can say without breaking secrecy laws. In yet another case, the defendant died before the beginning of the trial.

A few courts have brought their trials to an end. Henk Slebos was convicted of exporting five shipments of nuclear equipment to Pakistan between 1999 and 2002. Although he did business with Khan for more than 30 years -- they met in college -- he got caught just once, by accident. During a strike of the Dutch custom office, officers were checking every single shipment.

He was sentenced to 12 months in jail. Eight have been suspended. His accomplice, Zoran Filipovic, was sentenced to 180 hours of community service as well as a 5,000-euro fine. Members of Khan's nuclear mafia have made millions of dollars trafficking in the nuclear black market. How will this type of sentences discourage anyone from continuing their deadly business?

"Many suppliers approached us with the details of the machinery and with figures and numbers of instruments and materials...In the true sense of the word, they begged us to purchase their goods. And for the first time the truth of the saying: 'They will sell their mother for money,' dawned on me. We purchased whatever we required," said Khan.

Europeans countries do not care about proliferation because it goes against their economic interests. No country ever got the bomb as fast as Pakistan did because all Europeans countries were competing to sell Pakistan their nuclear technology.

"It was just an economic consideration," Paul Stais, a former European parliament member.

Instead of lecturing Iran on Non-Proliferation, the EU3 and Solana would be well advised to check their own turf. None of these governments, neither the EU Commission have launched investigations into these disturbing matters.

How is it that the Nuclear Authorities of the EU member states have failed to detect any of the hundreds of illegal dual-use items transactions? Why have the EU nuclear inspectors failed so miserably to perform their task under the obligations attributed to them by the EURATOM Treaty? Aren't these questions worthy of a clear answer? Or are they just too hot to handle?

In the European Union, the council regulation (EC) No. 1334/2000 of June 22, 2000 set up a community regime for the control of exports of dual-use items and technology. The council regulation (EC) No 394/2006 of Feb. 27, 2006 amends and updates regulation (EC) No 1334/2000. What difference will the new directive possibly make? If the old one did not stop the smugglers, why would anyone expect the new one, with its cosmetic changes, to be of any use?

Einstein defined madness as doing the same thing in the same way over and over again while hoping for a different result. By his definition, the attitude of the EU Commission is truly mad. Surely, they understand that a real change is needed if we want to avoid a nuclear disaster.


Considering the answers to the above questions, there is little choice but to conclude that the appointment of Solana as the world community negotiator for the Iranian crisis has about the same rationale as the nomination of Caligula's horse to the Roman Senate. If the past has not been very bright, the future looks even darker. In the aftermath of Khan's public confession, the leading role of the EU in Nuclear-Proliferation was exposed. Suddenly aware of the situation and anticipating the enlargement to 27 States, the European Personal Selection Office (EPSO) organized a competition in the field of Nuclear Inspection in order to establish a list of 180 laureates.

Taking into account their past failure and the fact that they will have to survey twelve additional countries, one should seriously question whether 180 additional inspectors are sufficient to perform the daunting task of keeping us safe from nuclear terrorism.

But then things get even stranger. For a reason that EPSO has yet to explain, only 105 people succeeded in passing the tests. To put it mildly, the competition was a bit peculiar from the start as none of the Committee members are known on the International scene. Internet searches of their names return zero hits. To my knowledge, virtually all previous EU competitions had filled their quotas.

Yet, the EU Commission seems to have taken no measures to resolve this most disturbing crisis.

For sure, nuclear expertise, like many other fields of hard science, has declined sharply in the last decade. According to a study of P. Busquin, the former EU commissioner, 150,000 PhDs have fled Europe during the 90s. As a rule, European Universities are struggling. Among the EU25 colleges, just a single continental University manages to be ranked in the world top 50.

But, if indeed European universities are no longer capable of producing nuclear experts, it is still the Commission's responsibility to act swiftly to address this important matter. And for this purpose, they do not need a constitution that angry French and Dutch Citizens have torpedoed in last year's referenda.

According to Article 9 of the EURATOM Treaty, a university should have been created by the European Council in order to ensure the formation of Nuclear Experts. Fifty years later, Europeans are still waiting for their leaders to take the first step that would give them the beginning of a protection against nuclear terrorism. Come to think of it, after half a century, the EU Commission and the Member States have yet to agree on the definition of a "Nuclear Expert."

Perhaps, the EU should stop lecturing the governments of emerging countries about the way they must treat their citizens and pay more attention to what their own citizens desperately try to tell them. The current President of the Commission likes to present himself as the champion of transparency and dialogue.

Transparency? Dialogue? If true, why is it that the only democratic institution of the EU, the Parliament, has no say whatsoever on nuclear matters, in spite of the facts that Europeans are very concerned by these issues? A recent poll shows that less than 10 percent of European citizens trust the Commission on nuclear issues.


I. The EURATOM Treaty must be adapted in order to give the Parliament lawmaking powers identical to those it enjoys on other matters. Legal instruments concerning nuclear matters should be adopted by the co-decision procedure which gives the Parliament full and equal powers to the Council.

2. The EU Parliament, with the help of national parliaments of the Union, must launch a full scale investigation concerning the role of European citizens, companies and government officials in the last 30 years of Nuclear Proliferation.

The investigators should be chosen among nuclear experts from a country having renounced the nukes. Canada comes to mind. Their finding should be published online in real time with complete transparency. Nothing else will regain the trust of the people.

The sentences should be real and harsh enough to discourage those who consider a career as nuclear smugglers.

3. Officials of various National nuclear Authorities and EU Nuclear Inspectors should be accountable for their appalling performance, like any other public servants in the world. Those proven guilty, by actions or omissions, should be punished.

4. European countries may choose to rely on nuclear energy in the future in order to respect their obligations under the Kyoto Treaty and to keep a bit of political independence from Russia. Then again, they may not. But in any cases, there will be plants to dismantle, waste to be stored and hospitals will need experts in radiotherapy and radiography. The EU Commission must ensure that well trained nuclear inspectors will be available to oversee all these operations. In view of the current crisis, the creation of a specialized institution seems to be the only solution.

5. The EU Commission should join forces with the U.S. to pressure Musharraf to seriously probe Khan's illicit nuclear network.

These actions should be taken very soon. Many experts believe that Khan's network is still up and running. If the EU nuclear watchdogs had no clues about Khan's activity with the so-called rogue states in the past, how can we trust them to intercept current and future endeavors of Khan's network with organizations such al-Qaeda or the FARC?

The issues raised in this letter concern all citizens of the world and not just the Europeans. When it comes to Nuclear-Proliferation, failure anywhere is a threat everywhere.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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