Posted tagged ‘Yukiya Amano’

Top Iranian Official Denounces UN Nuclear Watchdog Chief Yukiya Amano, Confirms Tehran Will Not Open Military Sites to International Inspection

September 13, 2017

Top Iranian Official Denounces UN Nuclear Watchdog Chief Yukiya Amano, Confirms Tehran Will Not Open Military Sites to International Inspection, AlgemeinerBen Cohen, September 12, 2017

(How diligently has the IAEA sought evidence to justify inspections of military and other non-declared Iranian sites? The Iranian position appears to be that even with substantial such evidence inspections would not be permitted.– DM)

Amano did not back down on his statement of September 1, delivered in an interview with the Associated Press, that under the provisions of the JCPOA, the IAEA “has access to all locations without making distinctions between military and civilian locations.” In private briefings with journalists, however, IAEA officials have said they are not seeking to inspect Iranian military sites, as they have no evidence to suspect Iran of carrying out banned activities; critics of the JCPOA have depicted such statements as a face-saving device, countering that the IAEA wants to avoid a losing confrontation with Iran, which has made clear that its military sites are off-limits.

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A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader has fiercely denounced Yukiya Amano – the head of the UN’s nuclear monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – for his assertion that IAEA inspectors are entitled to access all “relevant locations,” including military sites, inside Iran.

“The claim of such a right is fabricated by Mr. Amano,” Ali Akbar Velayati – a former Iranian foreign minister who now advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on international affairs – told the regime’s official news agency, IRNAon Tuesday. “If he was independent, and his decisions were based fully on independence, he would have pressed inspecting the nuclear centers of the Zionist regime, because nuclear arms in the occupied lands set as the biggest danger to the entire Middle East region.”

Velayati’s attack on Amano is notable in that it comes two days after the IAEA chief confirmed that Iran, in the view of the agency, is abiding by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)  – the official name of the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, led by the United States, in July 2015.

“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the deal are being implemented,” Amano told the quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors in Vienna. Amano also told the meeting that Iran had agreed to a “high number” of short-notice inspections of its nuclear sites, without specifically addressing the concern voiced last month by Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, that the IAEA does not have enough access in Iran.

At the same time, Amano did not back down on his statement of September 1, delivered in an interview with the Associated Press, that under the provisions of the JCPOA, the IAEA “has access to all locations without making distinctions between military and civilian locations.” In private briefings with journalists, however, IAEA officials have said they are not seeking to inspect Iranian military sites, as they have no evidence to suspect Iran of carrying out banned activities; critics of the JCPOA have depicted such statements as a face-saving device, countering that the IAEA wants to avoid a losing confrontation with Iran, which has made clear that its military sites are off-limits.

In his statement on Tuesday, Velayati bluntly confirmed this position. “Neither Mr. Amano, his officers nor any other foreigner is entitled to visit our military centers, because the centers are fully secret security zones for any foreigner and foreign affiliates,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Velayati’s comments come amid persistent rumors that US President Donald Trump’s Administration is looking to ratchet up pressure on Tehran over its ballistic missile tests and its sponsorship of Shia Islamist organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to a Reuters news agency report on Tuesday, Trump was presented last Friday with a plan assembled by Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and other top officials. The plan “could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi‘ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups,” the report said.

Also in question is whether Trump will re-certify the JCPOA in October, as the president is legally required to do every 100 days. While Trump has made no secret of his distaste for the deal, the Iran strategy presented to him on Friday by his advisers reportedly does not advocate a withdrawal from the JCPOA, but rather increased economic sanctions and limited military moves to counter Iran’s growing influence.

UN atomic chief warns on ‘nuclear terrorism’

March 25, 2016

UN atomic chief warns on ‘nuclear terrorism’ Yahoo News, Simon Sturdee, March 25, 2016

UN Nuke chiefInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano

Vienna (AFP) – The world needs to do more to prevent “nuclear terrorism”, the head of the UN atomic watchdog has warned ahead of an important summit and in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks.

“Terrorism is spreading and the possibility of using nuclear material cannot be excluded,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano told AFP in an interview late Thursday.

“Member states need to have sustained interest in strengthening nuclear security,” he said. “The countries which do not recognise the danger of nuclear terrorism is the biggest problem.”

Amano’s comments came before a summit of around 50 leaders in Washington on March 31-April 1 on ensuring that nuclear material in the world’s roughly 1,000 atomic facilities are secured.

Highlighting the risks, in December Belgian police investigating the November 13 Paris terror attacks found 10 hours of video of the comings and goings of a senior Belgian nuclear official.

The material, filmed by a camera in bushes outside the official’s home, was reportedly found at the property of Mohamed Bakkali, incarcerated in Belgium for his links to the Paris attackers.

One Belgian newspaper reported that the device was collected by none other than brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui — two of the suicide bombers in this week’s Brussels attacks.

– Grapefruit-sized –

The Washington summit is part of a process begun by US President Barack Obama in a speech in Prague in 2009 and follows similar gatherings in Seoul in 2012 and The Hague in 2014.

Major progress has been made, with countries reducing stockpiles of nuclear material, experts say. Japan for example is this month returning to the US enough plutonium to make 50 nuclear bombs.

But according to the International Panel on Fissile Materials, enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium still exist to make 20,000 weapons of the magnitude that levelled Hiroshima in 1945.

A grapefruit-sized amount of plutonium can be fashioned into a nuclear weapon, and according to Amano it is “not impossible” that extremists could manage to make a “primitive” device — if they got hold of the material.

“It is now an old technology and nowadays terrorists have the means, the knowledge and the information,” he said.

But he said that a far likelier risk was a “dirty bomb”.

This is a device using conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material other than uranium or plutonium.

Such material can be found in small quantities in universities, hospitals and other facilities the world over, often with little security.

“Dirty bombs will be enough to (drive) any big city in the world into panic,” Amano said. “And the psychological, economic and political implications would be enormous.”

This is thought to be well within the capabilities of extremists. The Islamic State group has already used chemical weapons, CIA director John Brennan told CBS News in February.

– Tip of the iceberg –

Since the mid-1990s, almost 2,800 incidents of illicit trafficking, “unauthorised possession” or loss of nuclear materials have been recorded in an IAEA database. One such incident occurred in Iraq last year.

Only a few involved substances that could be used to make a actual nuclear weapon, but some could be used to create a dirty bomb.

“It is very possible this is the tip of the iceberg,” Amano told AFP.

A vital step, he said, would be the entry into force of the arcane-sounding but important 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

It is the only legally-binding international undertaking for the physical protection of nuclear material.

Amano said it will reduce the likelihood of a dirty bomb by making it legally binding for countries to protect nuclear facilities and to secure nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport.

Pakistan this week became the latest country to ratify the CPPNM, bringing to just eight the number of adherences still required.

“The weakest link (in nuclear security) is that this amendment. .. has not entered into force. This is a top priority,” Amano said, expressing hope that this could happen “in the coming months”.

IAEA: Iran Nuke Deal Limits Public Reporting on Possible Violations

March 7, 2016

IAEA: Iran Nuke Deal Limits Public Reporting on Possible Violations, Washington Free Beacon, , March 7, 2016

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano of Japan addresses the media during a news conference after a meeting of the IAEA board of governors at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Monday, March 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano of Japan addresses the media during a news conference after a meeting of the IAEA board of governors at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Monday, March 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

The head of the international community’s nuclear watchdog organization disclosed Monday that certain agreements reached under the Iran nuclear deal limit inspectors from publicly reporting on potential violations by the Islamic Republic.

Yukiya Amano, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, which is responsible for ensuring Iran complies with the agreement, told reporters that his agency is no longer permitted to release details about Iran’s nuclear program and compliance with the deal.

Amano’s remarks come on the heels of a February IAEA oversight report that omitted many details and figures related to Iran’s nuclear program. The report sparked questions from outside nuclear experts and accusations from critics that the IAEA was not being transparent with its findings.

Amano disclosed in response to questions from reporters that the last report was intentionally vague because the nuclear agreement prohibits the IAEA from publishing critical data about Iran’s program that had been disclosed by the agency in the past.

“The misunderstanding is that the basis of reporting is different,” Amano said. “In the previous reports, the bases were the previous [United Nations] Security Council Resolutions and Board of Governors. But now they are terminated. They are gone.”

Most U.N. measures pertaining to Iran—including its military buildup and illicit work on nuclear technology—were removed following the nuclear agreement, which essentially rewrote the organization’s overall approach to the country.

The IAEA, which operates under the U.N. umbrella, must now follow the new resolutions governing the implementation of the nuclear pact, Amano said.

“These two resolutions and the other resolutions of the Security Council and Board are very different,” he said. “And as the basis is different, the consequences are different.”

Amano said that going forward, the agency would only release reports that are consistent with the most recent Security Council resolutions on Iran, meaning that future reports are likely to impact the international community’s ability to determine if Iran is fully complying with its end of the agreement.

Last month’s report was viewed as particularly significant because it allowed the nuclear agreement to proceed to its implementation stage. However, the dearth of information in it has angered some experts.

The latest report “provides insufficient details on important verification and monitoring issues,” Olli Heinonen, the IAEA’s former deputy director general, stated in a policy brief.

“The report does not list inventories of nuclear materials and equipment or the status of key sites and facilities,” Heinonen said in his analysis, which was published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Without detailed reporting, the international community cannot be sure that Iran is upholding its commitments under the nuclear deal.”

The IAEA’s latest report also failed to disclose information about Iran’s stockpiles of low-enriched uranium, which is supposed to be significantly reduced as part of the nuclear deal.

Additional information about Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, the machines responsible for enriching uranium, also was withheld by the IAEA.

Other critics accused the Obama administration of misleading Congress during negotiations over the deal. White House officials maintained at the time that the agreement would provide increased transparency into Iran’s nuclear endeavors.

“When nuclear negotiations began in late 2013, the administration asked Congress to stand down on pressuring the Iranians, and promised to force the Iranians to dismantle significant parts of their nuclear program if Congress gave negotiators space,” Omri Ceren, an official with The Israel Project, which works with Congress on the Iran issue, wrote in an analysis sent to reporters on Monday.

“U.S. negotiators eventually caved on any demands that would have required the destruction of Iran’s uranium infrastructure, and instead went all-in on verification and transparency: Yes, the Iranians would get to keep what they’d built, and yes, their program would eventually be fully legal, but the international community would have full transparency into everything from uranium mining to centrifuge production to enriched stockpiles,” Ceren explained.

However, “now Amano has revealed that the nuclear deal gutted the ability of journalists and the public to have insight into Iran’s nuclear activities,” he said. “In critical areas, it’s not even clear that the IAEA has been granted the promised access.”

Will The West Ease The Sanctions Even Though Iran Is Not Meeting Its JCPOA Obligations?

December 18, 2015

Will The West Ease The Sanctions Even Though Iran Is Not Meeting Its JCPOA Obligations? MEMRI, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon* December 17, 2015

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According to various reports, Iran is holding contacts with the U.S. vis-à-vis implementation of the JCPOA. On November 29, 2015, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that the U.S. must do its part, that is, lift the sanctions, even before Iran meets its obligations – expressly contradicting the JCPOA.

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Introduction

With the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ closure, on December 15, 2015, of Iran’s PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) dossier, the JCPOA is now back on track for the implementation that began on Adoption Day, October 18, 2015.

It is now Iran’s turn to meet its JCPOA obligations, which include removing nine tons of low-level enriched uranium from the country, dismantling centrifuges so that only 6,000 active ones remain, pouring concrete into the core of the nuclear reactor at Arak in a way that will prevent it from being used for producing plutonium, adopting the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and more.

Once the IAEA confirms that Iran has done this, Implementation Day will be declared; under it, the lifting of some of the sanctions on Iran and the suspension of others will take place, as promised by the U.S. and European countries on October 19, 2015.

However, at this point, Iran is providing only a show of making progress in its implementation of its obligations. Inactive centrifuges are being transferred from site to site, and not a single active centrifuge has yet been dismantled. Iran has reached agreements with Russia to store its enriched uranium, and documents have been signed with the superpowers for changing the designation of the Arak reactor. But so far Iran has actually met none of its obligations.[1]

Holding back Iran’s implementation is the October 21, 2015 letter from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to Iranian President Hassan Rohani setting nine new conditions that must be met first.

According to various reports, Iran is holding contacts with the U.S. vis-à-vis implementation of the JCPOA. On November 29, 2015, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that the U.S. must do its part, that is, lift the sanctions, even before Iran meets its obligations – expressly contradicting the JCPOA.[2] Zarif also announced, upon his arrival in New York on December 17, 2015, that there is a possibility that he will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “for discussions on the implementation of the JCPOA.”[3]

Could The U.S. And Europe Ease Or Lift Sanctions Even If Iran Does Not Meet Its JCPOA Obligations?

U.S. representatives have given no indication that the sanctions will be eased or lifted if Iran does not meet its obligations under the JCPOA. However, in his December 15, 2015 statements, when he presented his PMD report to the IAEA Board of Governors, IAEA secretary-general Yukiya Amano hinted at such a possibility. He said: “First, Iran needs to complete the necessary preparatory steps to start implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed with the E3/EU+3 countries. JCPOA Implementation Day will occur when the Agency has verified that Iran has implemented measures specified in that agreement. I will inform the Board promptly when the Agency has verified that the preparatory steps have been completed [emphasis MEMRI’s].”[4]

The term “preparatory steps” does not appear in the JCPOA. It is not reasonable to suppose that the West would be satisfied with mere “preparatory steps” on Iran’s part instead of full implementation of its obligations before sanctions are eased.

It should also be noted that Amano said on the same occasion: “All parties must fully implement their commitments under the JCPOA.”[5]

At this stage, it is unclear whether Amano’s use of the words “preparatory steps” instead of the words “fully implement… commitments under the JCPOA” represents intentions on the part of the U.S. administration; it could be nothing more than a general statement. This will become clear in the near future.

In the meantime, in his December 16, 2015 address to the nation, Iranian President Rohani effusively praised the JCPOA and Iran’s gains under it, and stated that in “January” the sanctions on Iran would be lifted.[6]

However, “January” is not a reasonable time frame. Iran would not succeed in completing all its tasks in such a short time, and IAEA would certainly not be able to submit a report verifying it had done so by then.

 

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 

Endnotes:

[1] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1209, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, December 11, 2015.

[2] See Zarif’s statements in MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1209, Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, December 11, 2015.

[3] ISNA (Iran), December 17, 2015. It was also reported that secret talks were held in Oman in November 2014 between U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Atomic Energy Agency of Iran (AEAO) director Ali Akbar Salehi, on the possibility that Kazakhstan would be the country to which Iran would sent its enriched uranium, instead of Russia. The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2015.

[4] Iaea.org/newscenter/statements/introductory-statement-board-governors-67, December 15, 2015.

[5] Iaea.org/newscenter/statements/introductory-statement-board-governors-67, December 15, 2015.

[6] President Rohani said: “I announce to the Iranian people that in January the sanctions will be lifted; thus, one of the 11th government’s election promises to the people will be kept, the sanctions will be lifted from the feet of the Iranian economy, and the way will be opened for more cooperation with the world.” President.ir (Iran), December 16, 2015.

The inspection joke

December 16, 2015

The inspection joke, Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit, December 16, 2015

Amano knew very well what was expected of him as early as 2014, and he acted accordingly. Obama and other Western leaders wanted an agreement at any cost, and as a result they gave without taking. Rather than letting Amano visit the site on his terms, Iran handed over soil samples collected by Iran itself, with no supervision, making a mockery of the inspection process.

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U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American nation from the Oval Office following the San Bernardino terrorist attack earlier this month. In his address, he beat around the bush, doing all he could to avoid describing the attack as the work of Islamic terrorists. He opted instead for euphemism and bland language. This turned him into the butt of a viral joke online about how he would have responded to the Pearl Harbor attack almost exactly 74 years ago. “A few bad men arrived on planes and shot people on ships,” Obama would have told the nation, making no mention of “Japanese” “war” or “attack on America.” This approach neatly dovetails with what happened on Tuesday, when the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution ending its probe into Iran’s efforts to manufacture nuclear bombs.

The Iran nuclear deal stipulates that the IAEA director general “will provide by 15 December 2015 the final assessment on the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues” regarding “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. Although current IAEA chief Yukiya Amano is highly regarded, it was clear early in the negotiations that the Iran deal was skewed in favor of Tehran.

Almost two years ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon attended a panel in Munich. On stage were Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Amano, among others. When Zarif was asked why his government would not let Amano visit Parchin [where some of the clandestine research was carried out], Zarif lied, telling the audience that such a visit was prohibited. When Ya’alon asked Amano why he didn’t interject and expose Zarif’s lie, Amano said the timing, and the venue, weren’t right. From that moment onward, it was clear that Amano would probably shirk his duty as chief inspector when it came to the Iranian nuclear deal, culminating with the Tuesday’s decision at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting (Iran, for its part, was not convinced that the IAEA would be on its side, and staged a conflict in the upper echelons of the regime, but it calmed down once it became clear that the IAEA would pass a very nonthreatening resolution.)

Amano knew very well what was expected of him as early as 2014, and he acted accordingly. Obama and other Western leaders wanted an agreement at any cost, and as a result they gave without taking. Rather than letting Amano visit the site on his terms, Iran handed over soil samples collected by Iran itself, with no supervision, making a mockery of the inspection process.

Why has Amano let Iran off the hook? Why has he forgone, at the very least, an effort to get to the bottom of Iran’s deception over the years? Why does Amano think that it is not worth exposing the truth, even if the West wants to look the other way and ignore Iran’s bomb making efforts? Only he knows.

Even the proponents of the deal should view Amano’s approach as a mistake. During the 2014 conference in Germany, Ya’alon warned that the West was fooling itself if it thinks the deal would work. Tuesday’s decision has two ramifications: First, Iran will consider it a concession and assume that this will define the West’s conduct down the road, and second, it will embolden the ayatollahs in Iran. From now on their approach to the West will be “anything goes, because we are always successful.” One day, a leader may rise in the West and try to end Iran’s lucky streak, but it may be too late.

History has proven that mistakes are bound to be repeated.

Kerry Welcomes End of Investigation into Iran’s Past Nuclear Efforts (Including Lies)

December 16, 2015

Kerry Welcomes End of Investigation into Iran’s Past Nuclear Efforts (Including Lies), The Jewish PressLori Lowenthal Marcus, December 15, 2015

IAEA-AmanoIAEA’S Dir. Gen. Yukiya Amano in Vienna. Sept. 14, 2015. Photo Credit: YouTube screen capture

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is thrilled that the world’s nuclear watchdog agency has decided, despite the continued lying by Iran about its nuclear weapons program and its violations of UN ballistic missile bans, to close its investigation into whether there had been any possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Kerry’s statement, released on Tuesday, Dec. 15, noted that a Dec. 2 assessment by Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, revealed Iran had engaged in activities consistent with a nuclear weapons program as recently as a mere six years ago.

For some reason, Kerry seemed to find that reassuring.

The Secretary of State said that with the consensus adoption by the IAEA Board of Governors, it will now be able to “turn its focus now to the full implementation and verification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”

In other words, everyone can now move towards lifting sanctions against Iran which not only continued to lie about its past nuclear activity, but which has already twice violated United Nations missile bans on it since the time the JCPOA was agreed to in July.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power acknowledged Iran’s October violation of the missile ban.

Iran’s latest violation of the missile ban was made public by a United Nations Panel in a report dated Dec. 11, Reuters reported on Tuesday. That report was forwarded to the UNSC’s sanctions committee.

Iran has consistently said it will defy any limitations on its ballistic missile program, whether enshrined in UN resolutions or otherwise.

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) was outraged by the IAEA’s decision, and the green light it gives to the administration’s willingness to move towards implementation of its nearly toothless Nuclear Iran Deal.

“The vote today is a total capitulation to the Iranian regime’s aggressively dishonest behavior with respect to its commitment under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Sadly, though not surprisingly, the IAEA Board of Governors closed the investigation into Iran’s nuclear program, despite proof of Iran’s dishonesty and in the absence of thorough, truthful answers to many outstanding issues. The president will now use this decision to lift sanctions on Iran without having the complete truth regarding its nuclear weapons related activity. This is a grave and historic error that sends the wrong message,” wrote Pompeo.

The Kansas member of Congress pointed out that the Iran deal, which lasts for more than a decade, means many more years of the U.S. and its partner nations look the other way while the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism continues “cheating, lying, and breaking the rules.”

“This is wholly unacceptable and will most assuredly lead to more of the same from Ayatollah Khamenei. Other rogue nations now know too that America will accept deceit and fraud in dealings with respect to nuclear proliferation.”

Kerry said on Tuesday that the watchdog agency can still investigate Iran if “there is reason to believe” that country is “pursuing any covert nuclear activities in the future, as it had in the past. In fact, the JCPOA – by providing for implementation of the Additional Protocol as well as other enhanced transparency measures – puts the IAEA in a far better position to pursue any future concerns that may arise.”

The IAEA may be able to continue to investigate, but given that past violations have been met with no consequences, it’s a cold assurance that such investigations can continue.

Incredibly, Kerry’s statement concludes:

Today’s resolution makes clear that the IAEA’s Board of Governors will be watching closely to verify that Iran fully implements its commitments under the JCPOA. We will remain intensely focused going forward on the full implementation of the JCPOA in order to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Isn’t that comforting?

Nuke watchdog approves Iran for sanctions relief

December 15, 2015

Nuke watchdog approves Iran for sanctions relief, Washington ExaminerDavid Brown, December 15, 2015

(The watchdog’s teeth were extracted and its glasses taken away by the “side deals.” — DM)

730x420-79ad08c54362ad0f598ff795dd9dc307Director General of the IAEA Yukiya Amano said, “the agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.” (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

The board of the nuclear watchdog group agreed to close the file on Iran’s past nuclear work on Tuesday, clearing the way for Tehran to receive billions in relief from international sanctions, according to news reports.

The board’s decision, according to diplomats quoted by Agence France-Presse, followed the recommendation of International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano, who earlier on Tuesday said “the agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.”

“Nor has the agency found any credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” he said.

“Significant progress has been made on the Iran nuclear issue, but now is not the time to relax. This issue has a long and complex history, and the legacy of mistrust between Iran and the international community must be overcome,” he said. “Much work lies ahead of us. All parties must fully implement their commitments under the JCPOA. Considerable effort was required in order to reach this agreement. A similar and sustained effort will be required to implement it.”

The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program

December 8, 2015

The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, MEMRI, A. Savyon, Y. Carmon, and U. Kafash, December 8, 2015

Introduction

On December 2, 2015, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) secretary-general Yukiya Amano released his report on the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.[1]

The report’s findings, whatever they turned out to be, were not supposed to impact the continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in any way – even if they were completely negative regarding Iran. From the outset, it was agreed that all that Iran was obligated to do was to cooperate with the IAEA investigation of its PMD, and nothing more.

The next milestone date for the continued implementation of the JCPOA is December 15, 2015, when Amano’s PMD report will be presented to the IAEA Board of Governors and the latter will resolve whether to close Iran’s PMD dossier in the IAEA. This resolution is meant to be adopted by the UN Security Council.

The implementation process is meant to be continued by Iran – that is, Iran must meet its obligations under the JCPOA. These consist primarily of the removal of nine tons of low-grade enriched uranium from the country, the dismantling of centrifuges so that only 6,000 active ones remain, the pouring of concrete into the core of the Arak nuclear reactor such that it will not be able to be used to manufacture plutonium, the adoption of the Additional Protocol, and more.

After that, the IAEA will check to verify that Iran has carried these out; when it announces that it has, the next milestone date, Implementation Day, will come into force. At that time, Europe and the U.S. will carry out their promise, made October 19, 2015, to lift and suspend their sanctions on Iran.

It was Iran itself that made Amano’s PMD report a problematic issue, and, essentially, a condition for its continued implementation of the JCPOA. Iran demanded that the IAEA Board of Governors close its PMD dossier, and, according to some Iranian spokesmen, it should do so in a way that completely exonerates Iran of accusations against it regarding development of a military nuclear program. That is, Iran will not be satisfied with a closure of the dossier that is merely formal if Amano’s report does not completely exonerate it.

To this end, in the days leading up to the release of the report, Iran pressured the IAEA and the P5+1, with the aim of ensuring that the report would completely clear Iran of suspicions regarding PMD.[2]

In addition to its direct pressure on Amano, Iran also implemented political pressure on the P5+1, warning that if the dossier remained open, Iran would not implement its obligations under the JCPOA, and that the West had to choose between the PMD, that is, accusing Iran of developing a military nuclear program, and implementing the JCPOA.[3]

The Findings Of Amano’s PMD Report

Iran’s pressure netted only partial success. Prior to the report’s release, Amano stated: “What I can now say is that this is an issue that cannot be answered by ‘yes’ and ‘no.'”[4] The report included aspects that were both positive and negative for Iran.

On the one hand, it stated: “The Agency has not found indications of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran, beyond those activities declared retrospectively by Iran. The Agency has found no indications of Iran having conducted activities which can be directly traced to the ‘uranium metal document’ or to design information for a nuclear explosive device from the clandestine nuclear supply network.”

However, it also said: “The Agency assesses that explosive bridgewire (EBW) detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device.”

With regard to the Parchin facility, Amano’s PMD report stated that “[t]he information available to the Agency… does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the building.” Furthermore, the report stated that “the Agency assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the Agency seriously undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification.” It continued:

“The Agency assesses that Iran conducted computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009. The Agency notes, however, the incomplete and fragmented nature of those calculations… The Agency assesses that, before the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. Although some activities took place after 2003, they were not part of a coordinated effort. The Agency’s overall assessment is that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.”[5]

Iran’s Future Moves Vis-à-vis The PMD Dossier In The IAEA Board Of Governors

Assuming that the IAEA Board of Governors follows the Iran-U.S. dictates and closes Iran’s PMD dossier[6] in spite of the findings mentioned above, it is not clear that a formal closure of the dossier by the Board of Governors would satisfy Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or whether he would block Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA because the Amano report’s findings do not exonerate Iran.

The Iranian reactions to the report have been mixed, in accordance with the speakers’ affiliation with either the pragmatic camp of President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, or the ideological camp. While the former is willing to settle for a formal closure of the PMD dossier without Iran’s complete exoneration,[7] the latter stresses that the reports’ findings determine that Iran conducted military nuclear development prior to 2009, and see this as a reason to stop the entire JCPOA process. 

The Appendix below presents statements by Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiator Abbas Aragchi, representing the pragmatic camp, and by Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is affiliated with Supreme Leader Khamenei, representing the ideological camp.

It cannot be known whether Khamenei and ideological camp spokesmen will accept the Board of Governors’ resolution as sufficient. Furthermore, even if Khamenei decides to accept a closure of the PMD dossier by the Board of Governors as sufficient, his nine new conditions for Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA, as set out on October 21, 2015, remain an obstacle to Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA.[8]

Appendix

Statements By Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi Immediately After The Release Of Amano’s PMD Report

On December 2, 2015, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian Channel 1: “In the matter of the [Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program], the Amano report states explicitly that all the claims about PMD [refer] strictly to scientific studies [and not to military development]. This is the most salient point in the Amano report. The general view of the IAEA vis-à-vis Past and Present Outstanding Issues in Iran’s nuclear program counters the claims made against Iran in the past decade.

“The IAEA assessment is that prior to 2003, research activity was carried out in Iran, not by it. Likewise, there is no sign that nuclear material was diverted to any initiatives that are not for peaceful purposes.

“The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time, even though previously Amano said that his report was not black or white, but in my opinion it leans more towards the white side, particularly when the conclusion of the report explicitly rejects [the claim] that there is in Iran a military program, and it is preparing the ground for the Board of Governors to close the issue of the PMD dossier.

“The report states that there is no sign of nuclear material in matters that are not for peaceful purposes, and also that there is no sign of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran. In the matter of equipment [for] dual use, the IAEA says that in the past Iran worked on detonators, but the report declares that these detonators had uses for both peaceful and non-peaceful purposes, and that the IAEA could not make a determination in this matter…

“Likewise, Iran’s procurements [activities] are not against [the law] and there is no organization in Iran that was established to produce an atomic bomb and nuclear weapons. The IAEA pointed out that in the past there was an organizational structure for this purpose [i.e. to create a nuclear weapon] and that in Iran’s view this, this organization could have been used for conventional weapons.

“Nowhere in the IAEA report does it say that Iran conducted dual use activity, except it is written that dual use activity was carried out in Iran; nowhere in the report does it accuse the Iranian government of operating in this direction.

“An additional positive point is that nowhere in the IAEA report is the term PMD used, since we have never officially recognized this matter and have not allowed the use of it in official documents or discussions. The JCPOA and the [IAEA] Road-map likewise do not use this term. In this report, there is use of [the term] ‘[Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program] and there is no use at all of the term Possible Military Dimensions.

“The IAEA’s claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report.

“All in all, when all the IAEA’s previous claims are placed next to the [Amano report’s] findings, it appears that the report’s fairness leans in Iran’s favor. The Board of Governors has no excuse to leave this dossier open…

“Although the IAEA took samples from the Parchin site, it is not declaring that it found nothing to justify its claims. We expected the IAEA to act fairly and realistically and not to present these things in the report…

“Amano is not in a position to close the PMD dossier. Amano is a [strictly] technical element that must report on his assessment according to reality, facts on the ground, and research that was carried out. The Board of Governors must resolve whether to close the PMD dossier. In my opinion, with regard to the report that Amano published, this procedure should be ended, because there is no proof that Iran’s nuclear program is military, or [was so] even in the past…

“According to the JCPOA, the P5+1 must submit to the Board of Governors a draft resolution with the aim of closing the PMD dossier. It does not appear that the board will decide otherwise in the matter, because the [political] will is to close [the dossier], and the Amano report provides a reason to do so.

“Another positive point in the Amano report is its pointing out that the Road-map was carried out perfectly by Iran. According to it, Iran met all its obligations.

“Still, the absolute Iranian position is that if this dossier is not closed, and if even the smallest window remains open [that will allow] a return to this issue, the JCPOA will not be implemented. We have conveyed this message, in a serious manner, to the other side, that if the PMD dossier is not closed [as noted above], we will not carry out our main steps in the JCPOA. The P5+1 and the Board of Governors must choose one or the other: the PMD or the JCPOA.

“The IAEA report mentions a prohibition on the use of dual equipment in illegal matters, particularly nuclear weapons, but there is no prohibition on the use of dual equipment in ways that are for peaceful purposes or for conventional weapons. The IAEA has said that EBW [Exploding-Bridgewire Detonator] and MPI [Multipoint Initiation] are equipment that has a use in nuclear weapons, Iran has manufactured them and used them. The IAEA says explicitly that it cannot determine [which] use Iran has made of them. We have presented the IAEA with documents that show the use of this equipment in the oil industry and Amano mentioned that Iran has used dual equipment in matters of peaceful purposes…”[9]

Hossein Shariatmadari In Kayhan Editorial, December 5, 2015

In Kayhan’s December 5, 2015 editorial, Shariatmadari wrote: “On Wednesday, December 2, the IAEA released its final report on the PMD. In this report, without presenting any evidence or proof, the IAEA rejects the opinion of Iran, which Iran has stated many times, and writes that up until 2009 Iran engaged in a series of activities connected to the production of nuclear weapons. This is despite the fact that in the past 12 years Iran has absolutely rejected any deviation [in a military direction] in its civilian nuclear activity.

“In spite of the extensive and comprehensive visits by IAEA inspectors, there is no finding to this claim. Several minutes after it was released, the report was welcomed by the media in the U.S. and in the Zionist regime. It was said that this report confirms their previous statements against Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran was accused of lying and cheating for several years.

“It may be that the IAEA report will have dangerous ramifications, that should be stated:

“1.   It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution. About this, it must be said that:

“a.    If this is a matter of an official agreement, where is this mentioned in the JCPOA? The answer is: Nowhere.

“b.   And if this was an oral agreement, how can the oral agreements of the rival be trusted when it has violated and continues to violate its formal obligations?!

“c.    It was told [to us] that the IAEA report would be grey – that is, with black and white points, positive and negative. Contrary to the opinion of our dear brother Dr. Araghchi, not only does this report not lean more towards white, but most of its sections are black. Additionally, the white points that the members [of the negotiating team] mention have only a white exterior, and their essence is completely black; we will address this later on.

“2.   The report states that up to 2009, Iran engaged in research and development connected to [nuclear] weapons – that is, the part of the report that addresses Iran’s nuclear challenge, which has continued for 12 years, is decided in favor of the rival. This is because in the past 12 years, the U.S. and its allies, and after that the P5+1, accused Iran of deviating in its nuclear program in the direction of nuclear weapons… Ultimately, the IAEA carried out more extensive oversight activity than [that required] in the Additional Protocol, and found no document attesting that Iran’s nuclear activity was not civilian. [Our] technical and judicial expectation was that the report would reject the claims that Iran had deviated in its nuclear program or at the very least that it would be stated [in it] that it had found no sign of such a deviation. But the report confirms the groundless and evidence-free claim of the U.S. and its allies.

“3.   Our friends [on the negotiating team] say that the general view of the report shows that its conclusion contradicts all the claims and talk against Iran’s nuclear program in the past 12 years… For 12 years [the U.S. and its allies] have claimed that Iran’s nuclear program is not civilian and is advancing in the direction of nuclear weapons. The IAEA report justifies this claim. How, then, can it be said that ‘the report contradicts the claims [against Iran] in the past 12 years!?’

“4.   The U.S. and its allies accused Iran, without presenting any proof, that up until 2009 it made efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Now, the report justifies the claims and accuses Iran of lying, cheating, concealing, breaking the law, and more. Those responsible for the nuclear negotiations must be asked: Was this the intention of the ‘acquisition of international confidence for Iran’ that you talked so much about? Take a quick look at the statements by American, European, and Zionist elements, and at the commentary and analysis by the foreign media, that were published immediately after the report was released: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says proudly that everything we [the U.S.] said about Iran’s nuclear program was true.[10] He stresses that we [the U.S.] had never had any doubts that Iran had striven to attain nuclear weapons.[11] Reuters rejected Iran’s statements that we had never wanted nuclear weapons, and wrote, with a large headline: ‘Iran had ‘coordinated effort’ relevant to atom bombs – IAEA.’ USA Today accuses Iran of lying about its non-civilian nuclear activity up to 2009. The Times of Israel spoke respectfully of the opinion of Israeli experts that from the outset, they had said that Iran was making efforts to create nuclear weapons, and more.

“5.   The first article of the [IAEA] report states that it is ‘based on information available to the IAEA… [The points in the original report] include information obtained by the IAEA from Iran in the Framework for Cooperation, including the Road-map and the JCPOA.’ This article says, or at least can be interpreted as saying, that even the elements in Iran (as the IAEA supposes) agreed that up to 2009 Iran engaged in non-civilian [nuclear] activity. Now, tell me: What is white in this report [as Araghchi said], and what in it arouses pride?!

“6.   The IAEA report on the PMD is a final report, and the IAEA saw no need to continue to investigate. Perhaps there will be those who will see this as a white point, and as a point in [Iran’s] favor. But in effect, the IAEA is stating absolutely that Iran made efforts to attain nuclear weapons, and that there is no need to reexamine this. That is, the ground has been prepared for future exploitation [of this claim against Iran].

“7.   The report justifies the suspicion of the U.S. and its allies regarding Iran’s nuclear activity and their perception of it non-civilian. Therefore, this justifies grave restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity, as well as unprecedented oversight on it. If we accept this report, we will destroy [with our own hands] all our achievements gained through great effort and sacrifices in blood.

“8.    The IAEA report could be more dangerous than the JCPOA, because it is an international document that proves that the opinions and proof that Iran submitted concerning its non-civilian nuclear program are unrealistic and unreliable. Therefore, the U.S. can extend the implementation of the JCPOA from 15 years to 25 years, or even for eternity, on the pretext that the IAEA report shows that you [i.e. Iran] have lied  for 12 years about your nuclear program and there is guarantee that you will not want to produce nuclear weapons under your civilian program.  

“9.    If Iran accepts the IAEA report, as unfortunately is becoming clear from statements by certain elements, the document will gain international [validity], and even if the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, this document [i.e. the report] is sufficient in order to permanently restrict our nuclear program and to leave Iran’s nuclear activity in the laboratory and as pilot [project]. That is, on the level of ‘nothing.’ Not for nothing have the rival’s media published the report enthusiastically and applauded the IAEA and its secretary-general.

“10. With regard to the U.S.’s long list of broken promises and deception in the past 12 years of [Iran’s] nuclear challenge, it can be said fervently that even if we assume that the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, as the friends [in the negotiating team] say it has promised, the IAEA’s final report can serve as a good basis for future extortion and excessive demands on the part of the U.S…

“11. In conclusion, the defense of [Iran’s] national and scientific interests requires that the elements connected to the nuclear [issue] in Iran show strength and might and explicitly oppose the report and [demand that it be considered] an illegal report and not a technical report [that is, that it be considered a political report] lacking all findings and proof.”[12]

 

Endnotes:

[1] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme, Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[2] Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said: “In the coming days, our experts will be in touch with IAEA experts, and if necessary, they will raise further points. It is even possible that I will meet with Amano again… According to what we were told, there are some weak points in the IAEA report, on which I have commented. I am optimistic that they will be amended. I have provided necessary comments to the Americans and Europeans.” ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015. On November 29, 2015, he said: “We expect [IAEA secretary-general] Amano to present the Board of Governors with a realistic and moderate report. It is true that it is not possible to determine absolutely what happened 10-15 years ago, and there are various possibilities. We do not expect that Amano will present an absolute report… In any event,  the resolution [about closing the PMD dossier]  lies with the Board of Governors [and not with Amano]. Our criterion is the closure of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. We are waiting for its resolution.” Mehr. Iran, November 29, 2015. Also see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[3] Aragchi said on November 29, 2015: “We are now in consultation on the content of the draft resolution that the P5+1 is meant to present to the Board of Governors. In the content [of the draft resolution], they must use terms that mean closure and conclusion of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. If this dossier is not closed, our position is absolutely clear – this dossier must be closed, so that we implement the JCPOA. If not, we will not implement our obligations, that according to the JCPOA Iran must implement after the closure of the PMD dossier. That is, the JCPOA will not be implemented fully. Mehr (Iran), November 29, 2015. Araghchi added, “If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA.” Press TV, Iran, November 26, 2015. Also, at a November 26, 2015 press conference, Foreign Minister Zarif said: “The Amano report, in the coming days, will help close the dossier permanently. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction envisioned for it in the past [that is, it will implement the JCPOA].”The PMD is encapsulated, though we believe undeservedly, as ‘concerns past and present’ in the text of the JCPOA; we hope Amano’s report within upcoming days will help close the case forever. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction predicted for it before.” Mehr (Iran), November 26, 2015. Also see similar statements by Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, ISNA, Iran, November 29, 2015. Additionally, on December 1, 2015, the daily Etemaad, which is affiliated with pragmatic camp leader Hashemi Rafsanjani, stated that the negotiating team had said clearly that the West must choose between the PMD and the JCPOA.

[4] Reuters, November 26, 2015.

[5] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme. Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[6] A hint at this could be found in the December 5, 2015 editorial of the Iranian daily Kayhan, in which the paper’s editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, wrote: “It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution” (see Appendix for the full editorial). Also, Araghchi’s November 26, 2015 statements to Iran’s Press TV hinted at commitments to Iran in this vein: “If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA.”

[7] Although the members of the negotiating team also claimed that the Amano report contains statements that are unacceptable. Following the report’s release, Araghchi said in a December 2, 2015 television interview: “The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time… The IAEA’s claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report” (for the full statements, see Appendix). ISNA, Iran, December 2, 2015. See also statements by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Ali Akbar Salehi: “Based on the Amano report, there remains no way to leave the PMD dossier open… Based on this [report], and on my extensive experience in the IAEA, the PMD dossier will be closed for certain, because they have not succeeded in presenting any document. Therefore, this false dossier that has entangled us for many years will be closed permanently.” Nasimonline, Iran, December 3, 2015.

[8] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[9] ISNA (Iran), December 2, 2015.

[10] MEMRI did not find Kerry’s exact words in this regard.

[11] Kerry said at a December 4, 2015 press conference that “nobody has had any doubts whatsoever about Iran’s past military endeavors.” State.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/12/250362.htm.

[12] Kayhan (Iran), December 5, 2015.

Nuclear Agency Says Iran Worked on Weapons Design Until 2009

December 2, 2015

Nuclear Agency Says Iran Worked on Weapons Design Until 2009, New York Times

(Please see also, Iran threatens to walk away from nuke deal. — DM)

[W]hile the International Atomic Energy Agency detailed a long list of experiments Iran had conducted that were “relevant to a nuclear explosive device,” it found no evidence that the effort succeeded in developing a complete blueprint for a bomb.

In part that was because Iran refused to answer several essential questions, and appeared to have destroyed potential evidence in others.

**********************

VIENNA — Iran was actively designing a nuclear weapon until 2009, longer than the United States and Western intelligence agencies have publicly acknowledged, according to a final report by the United Nations nuclear inspection agency.

The report, based on partial answers Iran provided after reaching its nuclear accord with the West in July, concluded that Tehran conducted “computer modeling of a nuclear explosive device” before 2004. It then resumed the efforts during President Bush’s second term and continued them into President Obama’s first year in office.

But while the International Atomic Energy Agency detailed a long list of experiments Iran had conducted that were “relevant to a nuclear explosive device,” it found no evidence that the effort succeeded in developing a complete blueprint for a bomb.

In part that was because Iran refused to answer several essential questions, and appeared to have destroyed potential evidence in others.

The report, issued here Wednesday evening to the 167 countries that make up the board of the agency, is intended to complete a decade-long attempt to determine what kind of progress Iran made toward the technological art of designing a warhead that could fit atop a nuclear missile.

The completion of the report is one of the steps that Iran had to take — along with dismantling centrifuges and shipping nuclear fuel out of the country — before sanctions will be lifted under the nuclear deal.

Mr. Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, concluded this year that it was more important to secure a deal that will, if carried out fully, prevent Iran from gaining the material to build a bomb for at least 15 years than making it admit to past activities. So, the report’s publication allows the deal to go through, no matter how definitive or inconclusive the final result.

But Iran’s refusal to cooperate on central points could set a dangerous precedent as the United Nations agency attempts to convince other countries with nuclear technology that they must fully answer queries to determine if they have a secret weapons program.

The agency’s bottom line assessment was that Iran had a “coordinated effort” to design and conduct tests on nuclear weapon components before 2003 — echoing a United States national intelligence estimate published in 2007 — and that it had conducted “some activities” thereafter.

“These activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies” and the acquisition of technical capabilities, the agency concluded. The efforts ended “after 2009,” or just as Mr. Obama was taking office and accelerating the sanctions and cyber sabotage program against Iran’s nuclear facilities that ultimately brought Iranian officials to the negotiating table.

Tehran gave no answer to one quarter of the dozen specific questions or documents it was asked about, leaving open the question of how much progress it had made.

The report, titled “Final Assessment of Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program,” will not satisfy either critics of the nuclear deal or those seeking exoneration for Iran. Instead, it draws a picture of a nation that was actively exploring the technologies, testing and components that would be needed to produce a weapon someday, without coming to a conclusion about how successful that effort was.

The agency’s director, Yukia Amano, said last week that the document would not be “black and white,” and that assessment proved correct.

Nothing in the report suggests that Iran will prevent the I.A.E.A. from monitoring its production of nuclear fuel for the next decade and a half, the crucial element of the July agreement. But Iran’s refusal to answer some of the questions also does not portend well for its transparency about its activities.

At Iran’s Parchin complex, where the agency thought there may have been nuclear experimental work in 2000, the agency said “extensive activities undertaken by Iran” to alter the site “seriously undermined the Agency’s ability” to come to conclusions about past activities.

Diplomats familiar with the compilation of the report said that they met “experts” in Iran, but would not say if they met the leader of the effort, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. (Other diplomats said Mr. Fakhrizadeh was definitely not among those the inspectors met.) One diplomat said Iran had said it feared the scientists could be assassinated if they were identified. The agency appeared to have visited two laboratories.

Time and again, the agency seemed close to rejecting Iranian arguments that its experimentation was for civilian purposes. The inspectors found that Iran’s nuclear program was “suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” and that its experiments have “characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device.”

In one or two areas, notably a document provided by Western intelligence agencies indicating that Iran was looking at how to make uranium metal, a step needed for a weapon, it found “no indication of Iran having conducted activities” related to the document.

Recently, as the report’s publication approached, Iran’s position of complete denial that it had sought a bomb seemed to soften. In October, a former Iranian president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, told journalists in Tehran that the nation had considered making nuclear arms during its war with Iraq in the 1980s but backed away.

“We sought to have that possibility for the day that the enemy might use a nuclear weapon,” he was quoted as saying. “That was the thinking. But it never became real.” He said nothing about what happened up to 2004 or the more sporadic efforts beyond.

The issues the I.A.E.A. addressed in Wednesday’s report date back a decade. Starting around mid-2004, thousands of pages of detailed evidence of Iran’s suspected research on how to design a weapon were collected by intelligence agencies in the United States, Israel and Europe, and eventually turned over to the agency’s inspectors here in Vienna.

Some of the evidence came from a laptop computer smuggled out of Iran by a person American and German officials identified as an Iranian technician, who had access to some of the most sensitive results from two secret Iranian nuclear projects. Both appeared related to different technologies needed to design a nuclear warhead, including the vital process of building a detonation system to fit inside the nose cone of Iran’s Shahab-3 missile, Persian for shooting star.

Iran claimed that the documents were fabrications, part of a Western conspiracy to set the groundwork for bombing the country’s nuclear facilities or overthrowing the government. The technician apparently never made it out of the country; he remained in Iran after sending the laptop out with his wife and family.

“We never figured out if he was imprisoned or executed,” a former intelligence officer involved in the operation said in an interview in 2008.

The year before that interview, however, the American intelligence community had warned the Bush administration of a surprising finding: While Iran once had a full-scale weapons development effort underway, it had suspended the project sometime in late 2003, shortly after the American invasion of Iraq.

“Prior to 2003 they had a full-scale Manhattan Project,” said Gary Samore, Mr. Obama’s top nuclear proliferation expert in the first term. After that, he said, the effort was sporadic, even as Iran pressed ahead to build the facilities to produce uranium fuel — the program that was rolled back and frozen by the agreement reached in July.

Even after the 2007 report, though, I.A.E.A. inspectors pressed Iran to address the questions raised in the documents. In 2008, the agency’s chief inspector gathered officials from around the world into a large auditorium here and displayed the evidence to them. This included, memos signed by Mr. Fakhrizadeh, the elusive academic who ran the program for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Iranian videos appearing to show how to detonate a weapon in an “air burst,” much as the bomb exploded high over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

In 2011, frustrated that Iran had failed to honor several agreements to answer questions and turn over documents, the atomic agency published a list of a dozen issues — “possible military dimensions,” in bureaucratic jargon — that it had to clear up before it could close Iran’s file.

But as the deal got closer last spring, Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry had to make a crucial decision: whether it was worth jeopardizing the deal by insisting that Iran must admit to its past activities. From all indications since then, the president seemed to have decided it was more important to get commitments about limiting future activities than forcing Iranian officials to admit to a past the country insists never happened.

Mr. Kerry, pressed on the question of Iranian disclosure of past activities by Judy Woodruff on the “PBS NewsHour,” said: “They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done.” But weeks later, he said United States intelligence agencies already had “perfect knowledge” of Iran’s activities, suggesting that a public confession was not necessary.

The result was a carefully designed diplomatic compromise. Iran had to meet deadlines to turn over documents, but the agreement did not specify how complete the disclosures had to be, whether important scientists had to be interviewed or whether inspectors had to be allowed into the sensitive research sites, including some universities, where the work happened.

IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently

November 29, 2015

Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, MEMRI, November 27, 2015

(Here’s a link to a July 16, 2015 interview in which Kerry stated,

“The possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another,” Kerry said. “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in. What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way.”

— DM)

Araghchi’s interview indicates that Iran has been following the writing of the IAEA report and has been submitting comments to the IAEA and the P5+1, and has in fact been exerting constant pressure on Amano and on the P5+1 in order to ensure that the PMD dossier be closed and the report be worded unequivocally and to Iran’s complete satisfaction.

********************

In a November 25, 2015 interview on Iranian television, Iran’s deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said that he recently held talks with IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano on “closing the Possible Military Dimension (PMD) dossier”, and the latter filled him in about “some of the points he is to present” in the upcoming IAEA report on this issue. Araghchi noted that he had also spoken with the Americans and Europeans in Vienna, and had understood from them that “they too were heading towards closing the PMD dossier.” [1]

25842Abbas Araghchi (Image: Press TV, Iran)

It should be recalled that Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and a member of the nuclear negotiation team, said in a June 21, 2015 interview on Iranian television that Iran had “reached understandings with the IAEA” on the PMD issue, and added: “Now there is political backing [of the P5+1], and the [PMD] issue should be resolved.” He stated further: “By December 15, [2015], at the end of the year, the issue [of the PMD] should be determined. The IAEA will submit its report to [its] board of governors. It will only submit it. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will continue independently of the results of this report. We have reached understandings with the IAEA… The technical issues are now being resolved in a political framework. They have set a time frame and, God willing, the issue must be resolved by December 15.” In response to the interviewers’ remark that the IAEA has “a bad record” (in terms of cooperating with Iran), Salehi stated: “In short, they [the IAEA] will be the losers. As I have said, the issue has received political backing. The work of [the IAEA] must be reasonable. They cannot do anything unreasonable. When there is no political backing, they do whatever they want, but now there is political backing, and the issue should be resolved.”[2]

In a recent news conference, Amano said that that “the report will not be black and white,” and that the PMD issue “is an issue that cannot be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no'”.[3]

In his November 25 interview, Araghchi said: “In the next few days our experts will be in contact with the IAEA experts, and if necessary they will bring up additional points. I may also meet with Amano again… They [our experts] told us there were some weak points in the IAEA report and I commented on them. I am optimistic that they will be corrected…”

He added: “I don’t think there is any plan behind the scenes to leave the PMD dossier open. We have not received any indications that there is a plan [of this kind] behind the scenes. In any case I provided the Americans and Europeans with the necessary comments.”

He stated further: “On December 1, 2015, we expect this report to be published and submitted to the [IAEA] Board of Governors. A special board meeting has been scheduled for December 15, 2015, in which a resolution on the IAEA report will be taken. During this time [until December 15], the P5+1 group will submit a [draft] resolution [to the IAEA Board of Governors] with the objective of  closing the PMD dossier, and [this draft resolution] will come up for a vote in its December 15, 2015 meeting. Also, on December 7, 2015, there will be a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, attended by [representatives of] Iran and the P5+1, in which we will discuss the P5+1 [draft] resolution on closing the PMD. We have taken all the necessary steps so that on December 15, 2015, [the IAEA Board of Governors] will resolve to close the PMD dossier and this issue will be put to rest.”

According to Araghchi, “if the [IAEA] Board of Governors does not close the PMD dossier, the process of implementing the JCPOA will stop. Hence, the P5+1 must decide between the PMD and the JCPOA… In the past, the P5+1 chose the JCPOA. The [Supreme] Leader [Khamenei]’s letter on Iran’s implementation of the nuclear steps [a document published by Khamenei in October 21 detailing 9 additional conditions for Iranian compliance with the JCPOA][4] likewise emphasizes that they must choose between the JCPOA and the PMD.”[5]

According to Iran’s Press TV news agency, Araghchi said in the same interview: “If Yukiya Amano or the [IAEA’s] board of governors will present their report in such a way that it does not meet the stipulated commitments, the Islamic Republic of Iran will also stop [the implementation of] the JCPOA.”[6] In this statement, Araghchi implies that Iran has received commitments that the PMD dossier will be closed.

Araghchi’s interview indicates that Iran has been following the writing of the IAEA report and has been submitting comments to the IAEA and the P5+1, and has in fact been exerting constant pressure on Amano and on the P5+1 in order to ensure that the PMD dossier be closed and the report be worded unequivocally and to Iran’s complete satisfaction.

It should also be recalled that the inspection of the Parchin military facility, carried out to determine whether Iran’s program had military dimensions, consisted of Iran submitting samples that were not collected in the presence of IAEA inspectors and were later submitted to the IAEA, so that their origin cannot be absolutely determined.

As for the steps currently being taken by Iran to comply with the JCPOA, Araghchi clarified that “none of the steps so far taken by Iran in this matter contravenes the [Supreme] Leader’s letter…  and, as far as I know, [we] are still in the stage of dismantling the inactive centrifuges.” (Both Iranian Atomic Agency Spokesman  Behrouz Kamalvandi and Iranian National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani have indeed said that Iran has transferred inactive centrifuges from one facility to another, but no active centrifuges have been dismantled).[7]

 

Endnotes:

[1] ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[2] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 5014,  We Have Reached Understandings with the IAEA about the PMD; Technical Issues Are Now Being Resolved on a Political Level, July 21, 2015.

[3] Reuters.com, November 26, 2015.

[4] See MEMRI Daily Brief No.65, MEMRI: ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes,’ October 30, 2015.

[5] ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[6] Press TV (Iran), November 26, 2015.

[7] Kamalvandi: ISNA (Iran), November 3, 2015; Shamkhani: Fars (Iran), November 10, 2015.