THE SPINE NOVEMBER 6, 2010
"So why not Israel?" you undoubtedly will say. But we know that Israel has nukes. And Jerusalem told us its intentions long ago when it refused to sign the convention that set up the monitoring mechanism. Other governments also did not sign, among them France which, however, advertised its designs with the force de frappe.
The rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency are relatively simple, as you can read in the article "Proliferation". Still, it's strange that Pakistan which did not sign the treaty is now head of the I.A.E.A., the organization that monitors and enforces the pact explicitly called the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Wouldn't you think that, given the central role of the Pakistanis in our military and diplomatic engagements, some American news source would have noticed? Not on your life. So far as I can tell an article by Fredrik Dahl in Reuters was the only journalistic source to report it. An ironic footnote to this whole tragicomedy is that high Pakistani scientists and hustlers were the folks who provided both North Korea and Iran with atomic technology and materiel.
Syria, which signed the N.P.T. long ago, has been suspected of violating it over at least two decades. At first, perhaps, it was motivated by its competition with Saddamite Ba'athist Iraq. (This is another curious episode in the history of the Arab military "republican" revolution started by Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt.) Now, Damascene ambitions for nuclear weapons are materially motivated towards Israel which it wants to obliterate and symbolically towards Lebanon which it simply wants to overwhelm.
There is much evidence of Syrian violations of the treaty which--remember!--it has signed. Olli Heinonen, former deputy director of the I.A.E.A. and head of its department of safeguards, makes the case for an "immediate special inspection" of Syria's violations.
A key option for inspectors of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world body charged with stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, is a "special inspection" an intrusive visit made when the IAEA judges the information provided by a state to be inadequate. But The IAEA is reluctant to use such inspections, even though, in the case of Syria, circumstances cry out for one. This reluctance challenges the authority and credibility of the agency, its board of governors (made up of the representatives of thirty-five of its member states), and the ultimate guardian of the world nuclear order, the United Nations Security Council.
Of course, up to the day before yesterday, President Obama was snuggling up to Bashar Assad. But Assad kicked him in the groin. Maybe the U.S. will be less indifferent to what Syria now does. But, then, how much influence does America have with U.N. agencies? Not much.