ElBaradei on IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

Lest you think that there are lots of new ideas, bMohamed ElBaradei wrote this in 1992, back before he was DG. Explaining that the IAEA GC in 1989 “requested the Director General to consult with the States concerned in the Middle East with a view to applying Agency safeguards to all nuclear installations in the area,” he added:

In the course of the consultations, which took the Director General to a number of States in the Middle East, it became clear that there was general agreement among States of the region on the desirability of applying IAEA safeguards to all nuclear facilities in the Middle East.

Opinions differed, however, as to whether this should precede or follow the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone and whether this could precede or follow a comprehensive peace in the region. A special emphasis was placed by many States on the need to develop a special and more comprehensive safeguards approach tailored to the special needs of the Middle East. A number of the States emphasized the importance of a system of mutual inspection by the parties, in addition to verification by the IAEA, as a necessary confidence building measure.

Pakistan in 2001 on Overflights and Nuclear Weapons Sites

David Smith, who in September 2001 was the Army attache at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad , includes an interesting anecdote in a recent WOTR piece. During a meeting between then-U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin and then-President Pervez Musharraf, the latter explained his position concerning a U.S. demand that Pakistan grant “blanket overflight and landing rights for all necessary [U.S.] military and intelligence operations:”

Blanket overflight of Pakistani territory was “no problem” as long as no-fly zones over strategic areas — Pakistan’s nuclear sites — were established and honored.

I had not heard that one.


INR Iraq WMD Intel

In this 2005 interview, former INR official Wayne White discussed the intelligence that INR saw RE: Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons program

But on CW and BW, we were as wrong as anyone else. Therefore, it was good that there was a review of the evidence on that because, honestly, I have never seen more Humint on something that apparently no longer existed – Humint in one instance which was not generated by the CIA or State or any U.S. government source, which was utterly convincing to me and incredibly specific. We are not talking about three or four reports, but rather 20 or 30, as I recall. There have been developments that were true and actually had been happening on various Middle East issues for which I only saw two or three reports and deemed them to be correct. It was amazing how much disinformation was thrown at us. A lot of it came from Ahmad Chalabi and his INC, who of course wanted to get back into Iraq. He knew the only way to do that was to get the U.S. to do it militarily.

When an Exocet Met BNPP

In this 2005 interview, former INR official Wayne White discussed an Iraqi Exocet strike on the Bushehr reactor:

There was a fear factor involved in firing the Exocet missile at a ship. In order to get a solid missile lock on the target, you released the missile about 30 miles away from the target using locking radar on the attacking aircraft itself. You had to wait, guiding the missile, as you remained in the area marking time (the military calls it loitering) until the sea skimming missile got within about five kilometers, which is darn close, to the intended maritime target. Then the missile’s own short-range radar got a final lock and sent a signal back to the aircraft that no further assistance was required. What the Iraqi pilots were doing, with Iranian aircraft frequently scrambling against them, would be to leave the area before the aircraft had fully guided the missile to the point at which the missile itself locked onto the target. In this situation, the missile would go wandering around a portion of the Gulf looking for a target, which often wasn’t the intended target.

Iran’s first nuclear plant was practically right on the Gulf at Bushehr,not too far from Kharg Island. The Bushehr reactor had a high dome profile. The dome was being constructed before the machinery was being installed. One of the sea skimming missiles hit the nuclear reactor dome. Why? Missiles went for a high radar profile, which is why all the tankers were hit in the rear. A tanker is a long flat vesselwith a big superstructure in the rear, so the sea skimmer would go toward the rear. It was mainly designed to destroy warships, because of their smoke stacks, bridge, radars, etc., created the highest profile in the center of the vessel. But the tanker was not an ideal target for this missile. It always hit the rear.

Israel and Nukes, 1993 Edition

In this 1993 interview, Walker Smith, III, describes the embassy’s knowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons program in State

Q:…was it accepted at the time–was it the accepted wisdom within the Embassy–that the Israelis had a nuclear capability that could be used?

SMITH: The folk wisdom within the Embassy at that time was that the Israelis were within one to four weeks of assembling a nuclear weapon, if they decided to go that way. They had the know-how and the technology, but [it was believed within the embassy that] they had not done it. They did not have them [nuclear weapons] stored. I do not know whether that was true, but it was the folk wisdom within the Embassy at the time. That war lasted over three weeks, as I remember. They [the Israelis] may very well have assembled a bomb in the course of the war. It was not something which, during the first two or three days of the war, we thought could be just around the corner.


Zia, Enrichment, and a Mustache

This 2014 interview with Ambassador John Wolf has a great account about a meeting between then-Ambassador to Pakistan Deane Hinton and President Zia:

The meeting was just the President, Ambassador, the Foreign Secretary and me (as note takers). The ambassador was saying something like, “Mr. President…your enrichment is over the 8 percent redline we’ve discussed…you need to move back.”

Zia sat patiently quietly twisting his mustache like the villain (Snidely Whiplash) in the old Bullwinkle cartoons. At the end, still twisting his mustache, “Ambassador, there are some times when you just have to trust your friends, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh.” I got it all then went back to dictate the reporting cable. But the DCM had just remonstrated POL for too colorful writing (I think he termed it “dilettantism”), so I left out the mustache references.

Carter, Tarpur, and a Hot Mic

This interview with Ambassador Howard Schaffer describes a 1978 visit to India by President Carter:

The major issue between the U.S. and India at the time concerned
the delivery of fuel to Tarapur, a nuclear reactor. It was the Indian tail wagging the
American dog. On the first day during a break, Carter was huddled with Brzezinski and Cyrus Vance, then the Secretary of State. They were unaware that a microphone near them was open and transmitting their comments. I was in the room and heard Carter say something about sending a cold, hard note to the Indians about the fuel problem. The story subsequently got world headlines.

E3 and MTCR’s Relationship to Nuclear Weapons

In this document, the E3 included an explanation of the relationship between the MTCR Category I definition and nuclear weapons.

According to the MTCR Guidelines, Cat I items

include complete rocket systems (including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles and sounding rockets) and unmanned air vehicle systems (including cruise missiles systems, target and reconnaissance drones) with capabilities exceeding a 300km/500kg range/payload threshold;

The August E3 letter to the UNSC explains that the 300/500 thresholds are “the recognized minima for the mass of a nuclear warhead and the distance required to ensure self-preservation after delivery.”

India UNGA Statement May 2021

In a May statement to the UNGA, India described its nuclear posture:

India is committed to its credible minimum deterrence policy, a posture of non-first use of nuclear weapons and non-use against non-nuclear weapons States. India believes that the goal of a nuclear-weapon- free world can be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that is global, verifiable and non-discriminatory.

India also stated its position on an FMCT:

India supports the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile material cut-off treaty on the basis of document CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein