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By John Helmer, Moscow

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

Grossi is an Argentine by nationality; he’s been employed by the Argentine Foreign Ministry as well as serving as the Argentine nominee as chief of staff at both the IAEA and OPCW.  He’s very sensitive to the difference between simple majority and super-majority voting on the IAEA board because in 2019, in Grossi’s first attempt at election to the secretary-general’s job, he failed to muster enough votes to win. On his second attempt,  Grossi won with 24 votes, one more than the 23 needed. If Grossi wants to keep his job and win re-appointment when his term runs out next year,  he must keep counting on the votes of the war faction on the IAEA board;  Grossi’s job and pay depend on giving them what they want to hear.  

Grossi’s spokesman at IAEA headquarters in Vienna is Fredrik Dahl; he was a Reuters employee on the NATO side in the war against Serbia and the Israeli side in the war against Iran. Dahl’s job and pay depend on repeating what the war faction wants Grossi to say. Dahl not only refused to answer questions on the last week’s voting rules and roll call; he has also not published the texts of the two Ukraine war resolutions which the IAEA board has voted – the first on March 3 and the second last week – on the IAEA website.  Read the March 3 resolution here  and the September 15 resolution here.  


Source: https://www.iaea.org/ 
The resolution was drafted and tabled for the Ukraine by Canada and Poland.

Source: https://www.iaea.org/
Like its March 3 predecessor, this resolution was also drafted and presented for the Ukraine by Canada and Poland.

When the March 3 resolution was presented by Canada and Poland on behalf of the Ukraine for IAEA board debate and vote, the US governor at the time, Louis Bono, claimed the US “fully support the DG’s [Grossi] efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to this unprecedented aggression against civilian nuclear power plants.”  Russia was excluded, Bono said, from “mutual acceptance” because of “the nuclear safety and security implications of Russia’s unprovoked and premediated invasion of Ukraine and attacks harming Ukraine’s nuclear installations. The regular updates [Grossi] highlight the dangers of Russia’s military offensives, including at Ukraine’s civilian nuclear sites, which had been safe and secure for decades.”

Just how demonstratively Bono identified the US with the Ukrainian side in the war is clear from the display next to the identification of the US by a placard reading “today we are all Ukraine”, and the wearing of Ukrainian flag colours by his staff assistant.  

Louis Bono, deputy chief of the US mission at the IAEA, presenting his allegations against Russia on March 3, 2022, ahead of the board of governors’ vote on Resolution Number 17; the Ukrainian colour-flyer behind is unidentified. Source: https://vienna.usmission.gov/ On the same day, March 3, in New York,  the UN General Assembly voted 193 to 141, to condemn the Russian military operation. In that roll call,  Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria joined Russia in voting against, and there were 35 abstainers, including China.

The March 3 IAEA resolution used similar language to the text of the September 15 resolution. The war faction declared it “deplores the Russian Federation’s actions in Ukraine, including forcefully seizing control of nuclear facilities and other violent actions in connection with a number of nuclear facilities, nuclear and other radioactive material, which have caused and continue to pose serious and direct threats to the safety and security of these facilities and their civilian personnel, significantly raising the risk of a nuclear accident or incident, which endangers the population of Ukraine, neighbouring States and the international community; 2. Expresses further grave concern that the Russian Federation’s aggression is impeding the Agency from fully and safely conducting safeguards verification activities at Ukrainian nuclear facilities within its internationally recognised borders, in accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Ukraine’s safeguards agreement and the Statute…”

The earlier resolution also called for a ceasefire around the nuclear plants – “to immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine, in order for the competent Ukrainian authorities to preserve or promptly regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and ensure their safe and secure operations, and in order for the Agency to fully resume its safeguards verification activities, including the necessary verification of material accountancy and control.”

However, the vote of March 3 stopped short of accusing Russia of the shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear plant; the vote of September 15 made this allegation explicit.  Follow that story here.  

The only precedent in IAEA history for a direct military attack on a nuclear reactor was the Israeli Air Force bombing of the Osirak reactor being built near Baghdad in June 1981.

 Before that,  in 1979,  Israelis had sabotaged French equipment intended for installation at Osirak; in 1980 they assassinated an Iraqi nuclear scientist. For an American review of what happened, click to read.    Iran had also tried air-bombing the site in September 1980 at the start of the Iraq-Iran War, but the damage was repaired by the French.   

The Osirak reactor site after the Israeli attack on June 7, 1981.

The Osirak attack has helped to support the case for balance and independence between warring sides among IAEA’s staff and in voting at the board of governors and the general conference; take this US paper, for example,   arguing that the effect of the Iranian and Israeli attacks on Osirak was short-term delay but reinforcement for the long term of plans to develop a secret reactor program to give the Arabs their own nuclear deterrent to Israeli nuclear attack. The IAEA could not ignore the likelihood that Israel would fire its nuclear weapons at the Arab cities, and neither could the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. In 1990, nine years after the Osirak attack,  Hussein discussed the problem with Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. “[Arafat]: [Israel] has 240 nuclear warheads, 12 out of them for each Arab capital…[Saddam]: I say this and I am very calm and wearing a civil suit [everyone laughs]. But I say this so that we can get ready at this level.” The IAEA board of governors was never as partisan in the Arab-Israeli conflict as it is now anti-Russian in the present war.

Israel is a member of IAEA but its nuclear weapons program is protected from censure and from IAEA inspection by the US.  Annually, the Israelis claim they adhere to the IAEA guidelines; they attack  the Arab states and Iran for violating them.  

In responding to the development of the Pakistan bomb and the role of the A.Q. Khan network in assisting states to follow with their own weapons,  Pakistan actively cooperates with IAEA but protects its own security stake in nuclear weapons  as does India.

Listen to the discussion by clicking on the Gorilla Radio link, commencing at Min 00:40.

As you listen, the Ukrainian shelling of the Zaporozhye has continued. According to this bulletin from the Ministry of Defence in Moscow, on September 20, “five artillery attacks on a thermal power substation located in the immediate vicinity of the nuclear power plant were recorded. In total, 24 artillery shells were fired from the settlement of Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk region, controlled by the Kiev regime. One of the technical buildings was damaged. The artillery units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine which shelled the territory of the nuclear power plant were suppressed by return fire. The radiation situation at the Zaporozhye NPP is normal.”  

Gorilla Radio is broadcast every Thursday on CFUV 101.9 FM from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  The radio station can be heard here .  The Gorilla Radio transcripts are also published on the blog.    For Chris Cook’s broadcast archive, click to open.

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