"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Friday, May 20, 2005
Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it wants to sign an obscure agreement that the U.N. nuclear watchdog has warned could keep international inspectors from monitoring any atomic activities within its borders.
The "small quantities protocol" is an agreement that states who say they have little or no nuclear material can sign with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. But diplomats close to the agency have described it as a dangerous loophole in the IAEA inspection regime.
"The representative of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a letter to ... the IAEA on March 9, 2005, attached to an authorization to sign the (IAEA's) comprehensive safeguards agreements and the small quantities protocol," Saudi disarmament director Naif Bin Bandar Al-Sudairy said at a U.N. conference on the global pact against nuclear weapons....
One result of the protocol is that it allows NPT states to remain exempt from rules which compel them to notify the IAEA of stocks of natural uranium up to 10 metric tons, which experts say could be purified into fuel for at least one bomb....
[O]nce a state has signed the protocol it is assured that U.N. inspectors will have virtually relinquished their authority to uncover secret activities, a diplomat said.
"Once you sign the small quantities protocol, you're off the hook," said the diplomat from an IAEA member state.
Earlier this year, Pakistan denied media reports that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced founder of Pakistan's atomic weapons program linked to a global nuclear black market, had sold Saudi Arabia nuclear technology usable in atomic weapons.
Of course, since the Saudi monarchy is so very stable, there is no danger that any resulting A-bomb would fall into the hands of a dangerous, Taliban-like regime. So it's all good.