It could take 30 to 40 years to fully decommission the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant due to complexity of the task, UN nuclear watchdog IAEA has reported. However, the plant’s infrastructure may not last that long.
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection last week of the ruined Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma has exposed certain bottlenecks in the plan to clean up the nuclear disaster. A statement by the IAEA released Monday criticized TEPCO’s progress on the cleanup.
Experts of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology believe that a chain of equipment failures of the plant’s essential systems that took place over the last few weeks could become a serious problem in the future. The IAEA called on to TEPCO to maintain plant’s equipment properly to avoid potentially hazardous situations, especially disconnections of the cooling systems of the shutoff reactors and fuel storage pools.
“As for the duration of the decommissioning project, it will be nearly impossible to ensure the time for decommissioning such a complex facility in less than 30 to 40 years as it is currently established in the roadmap,” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, the IAEA’s Director of the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology (NEFW).
The IAEA statement stressed that Japan must still develop technology and equipment to locate and remove melted uranium fuel, given the harsh conditions and strong radiation levels at the Fukushima facility.
Fukushima saw a chain of incidents over the last five weeks, at least three of which were caused by rats that damaged wires in critically important electrical equipment. And on Monday, TEPCO personnel conducted an emergency shutdown of the cooling system of one of the fuel storage pools after two dead rats were found inside a transformer box.
Lentijo, who headed the IAEA delegation to Fukushima, explained that water management is “probably the most challenging” task for the plant at the moment.
Another issue was the multiple leakages of radioactive water from storage tanks and cooling systems, which are not only further contaminating the area around the plant, but may also be expelling radioactive pollution deep underground, where it could pollute underground water tables.
Earlier, TEPCO reported that a steady inflow of groundwater in the basements of the damaged reactor buildings resulted in about 400 tons of contaminated water daily. With the Fukushima nuclear plant’s storage tanks already housing 280,000 tons of liquid radioactive waste, this means the amount of contaminated water would double within just a few years.
Lentijo urged TEPCO to “implement additional countermeasures to regain confidence.” IAEA experts also noted that TEPCO needs to step up protections against “external hazards” similar to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that followed it, which devastated the plant on March11, 2011. “It is important to have a very good capability to identify as promptly as possible failures and to establish compensatory measures,” he said.
“You have to adopt a very cautious position to ensure that you always are working on the safe side,” Lentijo added.
A final report by the 12-member IAEA delegation to Fukushima is expected to be published in May.
On February 22, 2012, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Iran considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons “a grave sin” from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint.
The Leader described the proliferation of nuclear weapons as “senseless, destructive and dangerous,” adding that the Iranian nation has never sought and will never seek atomic bombs as the country already has the conventional capacity to challenge the nuclear-backed powers.
A former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has dismissed as “overhyped” the Western propaganda over the ‘threat of nuclear-armed Iran,’ saying there is no evidence that Tehran is even interested in producing weapons of mass destruction.
“So far Iran has not violated the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) and there is no evidence right now that suggests that Iran is producing nuclear weapons,” Hans Blix said in Dubai.
He added that no action can be justified against Iran’s nuclear activities on “mere suspicions or intentions that may not exist.”
The former IAEA chief had previously said that Iran has been more open to international inspections than most other countries would be.
Iran has repeatedly expressed its strong opposition to any production, possession or use of nuclear weapons, saying such arms have no place in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear doctrine.
On February 22, 2012, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Iran considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons “a grave sin” from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint.
The Leader described the proliferation of nuclear weapons as “senseless, destructive and dangerous,” adding that the Iranian nation has never sought and will never seek atomic bombs as the country already has the conventional capacity to challenge the nuclear-backed powers.
The US, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the NPT and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Despite the IAEA’s numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, the UN nuclear agency has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
Despite what all the media are yammering at you, despite all the fear mongering about Iran’s “nuclear threat” (Iran has been fully verified by the IAEA and ALL the U.S. intelligence community agree and are on record that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons), despite talk that Iran is intolerant, despite the daily barrage of bad press and unpleasant innuendo, Iran is a great country, friendly, cultured, fun and spiritually-minded!
The “Powers That Were” are dead set on taking us to war against Iran, but “They lied about Vietnam… Iraq… Afghanistan…” and “Iran Is NOT Our Enemy ! “
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has just released an important new expert report on Iran’s nuclear program, specifically on the Parchin site of much recent interest to the IAEA. The report is a must-read for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the expertise of the author, Robert Kelley. Kelley is a nuclear engineer and a veteran of over 35 years in the US Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons complex, most recently at Los Alamos. He managed the centrifuge and plutonium metallurgy programs at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and was seconded by the US DOE to the IAEA where he served twice as Director of the nuclear inspections in Iraq, in 1992 and 2001.
Rarely, if ever, has such a technically qualified person spoken publicly on this important topic.
The SIPRI report dramatically revises the standard narrative in the mainstream western press about what is known about the Parchin site, and what – if anything — needs to be done about it. It also perfectly contextualizes the relative (un)importance of the IAEA gaining access to the site, and what the IAEA — and P5+1 countries — stands to gain or lose in the process of making a mountain out of a molehill on this issue. As Kelley states, “a careful review of the evidence available to date suggests that less has been going on at the site of interest than meets the eye.”
The dispute centers on “the IAEA’s request to visit a large military production complex located at Parchin, near Tehran. The request is part of the agency’s efforts to resolve questions about whether alleged Iranian nuclear activities have what IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has called ‘possible military dimensions’.” Note the “possible” there. Specifically, the IAEA says it has secret information (which it will not share, even with Iran) from a member state’s intelligence agency indicating that Iran may have constructed a large steel chamber in one of the buildings for conducting conventional high explosives experiments—some of which may have involved natural (not enriched) uranium—which could be associated with a secret program to do research on nuclear bombs. As Kelley explains in the SIPRI report the whole scenario is a bit of a stretch from a technical standpoint.
“A chamber such as the one claimed to be in the building is neither necessary nor particularly useful for developing a first-generation nuclear weapon. Such development tests have normally been done outdoors for decades.”
“There are a range of experiments involving explosives and uranium that a country presumably would conduct as part of a nuclear weapon development programme. Most of these are better done in the open or in a tunnel. They include basic research on neutron initiators using very small amounts of explosive and grams of uranium and on the very precise timing of a neutron initiator using a full-scale conventional explosion system and many kilograms of uranium. The alleged chamber at Parchin is too large for the initiator tests and too small for a full-scale explosion. If it exists at all, it is a white elephant.”
And if someone is going to build a chamber like the one alleged in the secret evidence passed to the IAEA, they will want to do experiments and make measurements. They will want to measure things with, for example:
· very high speed optical cameras
· flash X-ray systems (like an X-ray strobe light which gives you one x-ray of implosion in a very short time)
· neutron detectors
· Various electric timing and pressure detectors.
The collar that is shown in the alleged graphic of the chamber gets in the way of the optical, X-ray and neutron measurements. So it would be better not to have it there at all. The collar of the alleged chamber also means that when the chamber is used up to its design capacity it could well fail on the ends, the entrance door or the windows and cable ports for the measurements.
But before highlighting more of the take-aways from the SIPRI report, let me first briefly mention what other former senior IAEA officials have said about how the IAEA is handling the Parchin issue more broadly.
Firstly, let’s recall that the IAEA has already visited Parchin twice in 2005 and found nothing – although they did not go to the specific area they are now interested in. However, the IAEA could have gone to that area even in 2005 – they simply chose to go to other sites on the military base. As the IAEA report at the time summarized:
“The Agency was given free access to those buildings and their surroundings and was allowed to take environmental samples, the results of which did not indicate the presence of nuclear material, nor did the Agency see any relevant dual use equipment or materials in the locations visited.”
When the IAEA last went to Parchin, Olli Heinonen was head of IAEA safeguards and led the inspections – the methodology for choosing which buildings to inspect is described in an excellent Christian Science Monitor article which is worth reading in its entirety, but I quote the relevant bits:
“At the time, it[Parchin] was divided into four geographical sectors by the Iranians. Using satellite and other data, inspectors were allowed by the Iranians to choose any sector, and then to visit any building inside that sector. Those 2005 inspections included more than five buildings each, and soil and environmental sampling. They yielded nothing suspicious, but did not include the building now of interest to the IAEA.
“The selection [of target buildings] did not take place in advance, it took place just when we arrived, so all of Parchin was available,” recalls Heinonen, who led those past inspections. “When we drove there and arrived, we told them which building.”
Would the Iranians really have risked exposing some nefarious nuclear weapons-related work at Parchin by making all of Parchin available to the IAEA in 2005?
“Also unusual is how open and specific the IAEA has been about what exactly it wants to see, which could yield doubts about the credibility of any eventual inspection.
“I’m puzzled that the IAEA wants to in this case specify the building in advance, because you end up with this awkward situation,” says Olli Heinonen, the IAEA’s head of safeguards until mid-2010.
“First of all, if it gets delayed it can be sanitized. And it’s not very good for Iran. Let’s assume [inspectors] finally get there and they find nothing. People will say, ‘Oh, it’s because Iran has sanitized it,’” says Mr. Heinonen, who is now at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. “But in reality it may have not been sanitized. Iran is also a loser in that case. I don’t know why [the IAEA] approach it this way, which was not a standard practice…”
As for the typically tendentious reporting on this topic, which almost always casts Iran in a negative light, the words of Hans Blix, former head of the IAEA, bear repeating:
“Hans Blix, former chief of the IAEA and later of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, has also expressed surprise at the focus on Parchin, as a military base that inspectors had been to before.
“Any country, I think, would be rather reluctant to let international inspectors to go anywhere in a military site,” Mr. Blix told Al Jazeera English… “In a way, the Iranians have been more open than most other countries would be.”
One of the reasons that Mr. Blix says that is because normally the IAEA does not have the legal authority to inspect undeclared non-nuclear-materials related facilities, in a nation – like Iran — that has not ratified the Additional Protocol. The IAEA can call for “special inspections” but they have not done so. They can also choose arbitration, as specified in the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, but again they have not done that.
In fact, the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement between Iran and the IAEA states quite clearly that its “exclusive purpose” is to verify that nuclear material “is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” Nothing else – that is it exclusive purpose. It does not cover conventional explosives testing, as suspected at Parchin (according to secret information given by a third-part intelligence agency). The IAEA itself has admitted that “absent some nexus to nuclear material the Agency’s legal authority to pursue the verification of possible nuclear weapons related activity is limited.”
Regarding the secret information from an unidentified intelligence agency, it is useful to keep in mind that in the past, forgeries have been passed along to the IAEA. (And, if recent leaks that the IAEA is using mathematically flawed graphs in its case against Iran are to be believed, the IAEA’s case is further weakened.)
So as Hans Blix stated, Iran has been more cooperative than other countries would be in the same situation, and indeed more cooperative than it legally needs to be. It has shown great goodwill by allowing the IAEA a visit to Parchin in 2005. And let’s not forget that in 2004, Brazilian authorities refused to give IAEA inspectors full access to the Resende uranium enrichment facility with nary a peep out of the “world community”.
But coming back to the SIPRI report, a couple more of the highlights:
“The IAEA says that Iran did very complex experiments involving explosives and many fibre-optic detectors and possibly uranium. However, the IAEA says these experiments were not done at Parchin but rather 500 km away at Marivan. In any case, the experiments at Marivan described in great detail by the IAEA would not use uranium.”
And has Iran demolished the building at Parchin that the IAEA wants to visit as some “experts” have claimed?
“No. Some reports implied that Iran had destroyed the building, but this is incorrect. The IAEA claims that five buildings on this site have been demolished but this cannot be seen in satellite imagery. Iran did demolish a small outbuilding on the same site that appears to have been a garage. It was probably demolished to make way for a new road that is being built at the Parchin complex. Another small structure, probably a garage or material store was reported destroyed but is still in place in the latest satellite imagery…The building of interest for the IAEA remains standing.”
“Iran has engaged in large-scale bulldozing operations on about 25 hectares near the Parchin building. This includes the bulldozing of old dirt piles to level a field 500 metres north of the building of interest. However, there has been no such activity in the area west of the building, except for removing some parking pads within about 10 m of it. The fact that the building’s immediate vicinity has been largely untouched on the west side strongly suggests that the purpose of the earth-moving operations was for construction and renovation work and not for ‘sanitizing’ the site by covering up contamination.”
What about the pink tarps mentioned by ISIS, supposedly to prevent satellites from viewing the inside of the buildings ?
“In the summer of 2012 Iran began major renovations at the site. Workers decreased perimeter security by tearing down fences, demolished one outbuilding and began renovation of two buildings. They covered both buildings with pink styrofoam insulation…One building is completely covered with insulation and the other is about 60 per cent covered. Raw materials can be seen on the ground nearby. The buildings were then reroofed and are at different stages of renovation even today.”
A picture of the pink insulation is shown in the report.
Kelley concludes, “The impasse over the Parchin visit has taken on a symbolic importance that is distracting attention from the IAEA’s efforts to address a range of questions about the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme… The IAEA is stretching its mandate to the limit in asking for access to a military site based on tenuous evidence.”
And, of course, let’s keep in mind that these allegations, suspicions and “concerns” (as opposed to actual legal issues) that the IAEA has about Parchin date from about a decade or more ago – if they are true at all. And that they relate to conventional explosives testing.
As for any current worries about nuclear weapons work in Iran, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has confirmed that he has “a high level of confidence” that no such work is going on now. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also weighed in: “Are they [Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” And Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent more than a decade as the director of the IAEA, said that he had not “seen a shred of evidence” that Iran was pursuing the bomb. Adding, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.”
There are a number of other problems in the IAEA reports on Iran: For example, the agency keeps saying in its reports that it cannot “provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran” nor that “all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” But the agency cannot be expected to do this – that is not its job. Pierre Goldschmidt, the former deputy director of Safeguards at the IAEA summed it up well: “The Department of Safeguards doesn’t have the legal authority it needs to fulfill its mandate and to provide the assurances the international community is expecting.”
In fact, not only is it legally problematic to fulfill such a verification, it is a logical impossibility: The agency cannot prove the absence of something. There can always be somewhere in Iran where the IAEA has not looked. In fact, no one can reasonably task the IAEA to prove a negative in any country, whether it be in Brazil, Argentina, or the 49 other nations for which it is still evaluating the absence of undeclared nuclear activity.
The only real concern with Iran at the moment is that it is stockpiling 20% enriched uranium and that it could — if it decided to weaponize in the future — further enrich it to weapons grade. This is a worry about a future potential, not something that is happening now. Brazil and Argentina could do similar things. Japan could leave the NPT and breakout also. This breakout potential is a well known and inherent flaw (or a “feature”, depending on one’s perspective) of the NPT. If the P5+1 countries (all nuclear-armed, aside from Germany) would like to close this loophole, they should consider a bold new “NPT 2.0” Treaty, such as the one I outlined in an article for Foreign Policy.
Despite the generally alarmist reporting on Iran, it is not at all an eminent threat. For 30 years it has been claimed that Iran is just about to weaponize, when in fact none of those claims have ever panned out. For example, in 1984, Jane’s Defence Weekly quoted West German intelligence sources as saying that Iran’s bomb production “is entering its final stages”. In 1992, Bibi Netanyahu said Iran is 3-5 years from a bomb. He is just as wrong now, as he was then.
What about the claims that Iran’s allegedly covert enrichment plant at Fordow indicates a sinister weaponization intent? Not necessarily — Iran’s perspective on its national security environment is likely different than the view in Washington or Jerusalem. The Iranians may see this location as a defensive measure to protect its legitimate nuclear program. They have surely heeded the lesson from Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s civilian Osirak reactor in 1981: There is no guarantee of safety when it comes to nuclear facilities in the Middle East, not even civilian ones. It’s a rough neighborhood. What is viewed with suspicion in the West may simply be seen as a defensive no-brainer in Tehran.
And, of course, Iran’s nuclear enrichment program was not covert by initial design. Iran’s nuclear program was kicked off in the 1950s with the full encouragement and support of the United States, under the auspices of president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. In 1983, after the Islamic revolution, Iran went – in an overt way – to the IAEA to get help in setting up a pilot uranium enrichment facility. And the IAEA was then very receptive to the idea. According to an authoritative Nuclear Fuel article by the renowned Mark Hibbs, “IAEA officials were keen to assist Iran in reactivating a research program to learn how to process U3O8 into UO2 pellets and then set up a pilot plant to produce UF6, according to IAEA documents obtained by Nuclear Fuel.” But, according to Hibbs, “when in 1983 the recommendations of an IAEA mission to Iran were passed on to the IAEA’s technical cooperation program, the U.S. government then ‘directly intervened’ to discourage the IAEA from assisting Iran in production of UO2 and UF6. ‘We stopped that in its tracks,’ said a former U.S. official.”
So, yes, when Iran’s overt attempt was stymied politically, they obtained more covert means to set-up their enrichment facility. Enrichment facilities by their nature can be dual-use, of course, but they are certainly not disallowed under the NPT. And Iran’s allegedly “covert” or “sneaky” behavior may be largely a response to past politicization at the IAEA, and a lesson-learned from Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s civilian nuclear facility at Osirak in 1981. Unfortunately, the politicization has evidently only gotten worse since the 1980s. As representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at an IAEA board of governors meeting in 2010 already noted: “NAM notes with concern, the possible implications of the continued departure from standard verification language in the summary of the report of the director general [Yukio Amano].” (NAM represents over 100 nations, a clear majority of the world community).
Regarding how intrusive IAEA inspectors are supposed to be, the model safeguards agreement (INFCIRC-153), is quite clear:
“The Agency shall require only the minimum amount of information and data consistent with carrying out its responsibilities under the Agreement. Information pertaining to facilities shall be the minimum necessary for safeguarding nuclear material subject to safeguards under the Agreement.”
This completely validates Mr. Hans Blix statement that Iran has already exceeded the typical level of cooperation required of it by letting the IAEA visit Parchin twice: “Any country, I think, would be rather reluctant to let international inspectors to go anywhere in a military site…in a way, the Iranians have been more open than most other countries would be.”
So, back to current events: Iran is known to be converting part of its 20% enriched UF6 gas to metallic form making a “breakout” that much harder. And Tehran has signaled that it is willing to suspend 20% uranium enrichment if some sanctions are removed: so if the P5+1 countries are serious about their concern about a — completely legal — possible future potential Iranian breakout capability using its 20% enriched uranium stockpile, and they would like Iran to foreclose that option then they should take Iran up on its offer to suspend 20% enrichment by lifting some sanctions. What is definitely not constructive is making a mountain out of the Parchin molehill – a molehill that the IAEA has visited twice before and found exactly nothing at.
Professor Yousaf Butt is a nuclear physicist, and is currently professor and scientist-in-residence at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The views expressed here are his own, and do not reflect institutional views of CNS or MIIS.Yousaf has a piece just out in Foreign Policy today on how the Parchin obsession may be obstructing progress on the larger Iran issue.
- When Fact Becomes Opinion: Half-Truths, Non-Truths & the Phony Objectivity of the Associated Press (alethonews.wordpress.com)
An Associated Press report from this past week demonstrates how plain facts and provable, documented historical events are often described as subjective perceptions and matters of perspective in the mainstream media whenever an honest presentation and assessment of those facts would serve to reduce the fear-mongering propaganda over Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Writing from Tehran on January 15, 2013, AP‘s Iran correspondent Ali Akbar Dareini reported that Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had declared Iran’s intention to register its long-stated (and officially binding) prohibition on nuclear weapons as a legally-recognized, secular, international document.
“Mehmanparast could not be more definitive in dispelling suspicions that Iran may ultimately develop a nuclear weapon,” Dareini wrote, before explaining that while Iran is confident that “any ambiguities or concerns” regarding its nuclear program can be addressed and resolved as long as “a structured approach” is first agreed upon.
Iranians say they have a bitter memory of allowing IAEA inspections and providing replies on a long list of queries over its nuclear program in the past decade. Now, Tehran says such queries should not be revived or remain open-ended once the IAEA has verified them.
Mehmanparast said Iran provided detailed explanations to IAEA questions on six outstanding issues in the past but instead of giving Iran a clean bill of health, the agency leveled new allegations on the basis of “alleged studies” provided by Iran’s enemies.
Iran uses that term to refer to a list of questions including a dispute at Parchin, a military site southeast of Tehran, where the agency suspects Iran ran explosive tests needed to set off a nuclear charge.
Note the repeated use of the same basic construction: “Iranians say…” and “Tehran says…” and “Mehmanparast said…” and “Iran uses…” The statements made after this routine prefix are therefore presented as subjective declarations coming from Iran and are never qualified or substantiated as facts. In short, they are used as disclaimers, readily understood by a suspicious and ill-informed audience.
The readers of this AP report are therefore intentionally left with the perception that these are simply Iranian contentions and therefore automatically suspect, dubious, disputed or otherwise easily dismissed; after all, the comments all came out of an Iranian government spokesman’s mouth and the mainstream media (and politicians, of course) has spent decades training its readers to believe nothing the Iranian government says or does can be trusted.
While Dareini writes that “Mehmanparast said Iran provided detailed explanations to IAEA questions on six outstanding issues in the past,” he omits that this isn’t just a claim made by the Iranian government. Amazingly, the “bitter memory” that Iranians have about cooperating with the IAEA inquiries only to receive international sanctions and more military threats from the world’s most well-armed and aggressive states is not merely some crazy Persian fantasy! No, it actually happened.
In August 2007, Iran and the IAEA agreed to a “Work Plan” which defined modalities and a timetable in order to “clarify the outstanding issues” in relation to Iran’s nuclear program. With regard to the memorandum of understanding itself, IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei pointed out at the time that although “these outstanding issues are the ones that have led to the lack of confidence, the crisis,” he confirmed, “We have not come to see any undeclared activities or weaponization of their programme.” This conclusion was reached after two years of Iran’s voluntary implementation of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, including a complete suspension of its enrichment program, which allowed intrusive and unfettered access to Iranian facilities for its inspectors.
Despite the constant allegations of nuclear weapons work, the IAEA has confirmed both that “[t]o date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme” and found that ”all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”
The IAEA has consistently reaffirmed this finding in each of its reports over the past decade.
It too should be remembered that Iran only suspended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol after the EU-3 (now referred to as the P5+1) failed to offer any substantive proposals and reneged on its agreement to acknowledge Iran’s inalienable right to enrich uranium as part of a peaceful, safeguarded nuclear energy program. The proposal eventually brought to Iran by Western negotiators has been described as “vague on incentives and heavy on demands,” and even dismissed by one EU diplomat as “a lot of gift wrapping around an empty box.”
Regarding the Work Plan itself, it affirmed that the “[t]hese modalities cover all remaining issues and the Agency confirmed that there are no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran’s past nuclear program and activities” and that that IAEA had “agreed to provide Iran with all remaining questions according to the above work plan. This means that after receiving the questions, no other questions are left. Iran will provide the Agency with the required clarifications and information.”
In October 2007, ElBaradei confirmed, “I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons program going on right now [in Iran],” adding, “Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weapons program? No.”
By February 2008, due to Iranian cooperation and efforts at transparency, ElBaradei was able to report, “We have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran’s enrichment programme” and the IAEA continued “to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.”
Nevertheless, the so-called “alleged studies” – information provided to the IAEA by Western and Israeli intelligence agencies that accuses Iran of engaging in research regarding uranium conversion, high-explosives testing that could be linked to the creation of a nuclear-weapon trigger, and ballistic missile designs that might be capable of accommodating a nuclear warhead – remains the sole point of contention and is often pointed to by Iran alarmists and the mainstream press as evidence of Iranian duplicity and intransigence.
As Iran itself has repeatedly noted, according to the Work Plan, the IAEA was obligated to submit “all related documents” regarding these “alleged studies” to Iran and, in return, while reiterating its insistence that these accusations were “politically motivated and baseless,” Iran would “review and inform the Agency of its assessment,” which was acknowledged “as a sign of [Iran's] good will and cooperation.”
As per this agreement between Iran and the IAEA, “no visit, meeting, personal interview, [or] swipe sampling were foreseen for addressing this matter.” Still, in yet another example of constantly moving goalposts, after Iran examined the documents it was allowed to see (far from the “all related documents” as promised in the Work Plan) and delivered a detailed “117-page assessment in which it asserted that the documentation was forged and fabricated,” the IAEA dismissed the evaluation as being too “focused on form rather than substance” and “requested Iran to provide a substantive response.”
That Iran’s assessment wasn’t as substantive as the IAEA may have hoped is perhaps unsurprising considering that the IAEA didn’t provide Iran with “all related documents” as required. In fact, the IAEA openly admitted to concealing most of the alleged documentation from Iran, claiming that it had “received much of this information only in electronic form and was not authorised to provide copies to Iran” and revealing that while “the Agency had been shown the documents that led it to these conclusions, it was not in possession of the documents and was therefore unfortunately unable to make them available to Iran.”
Furthermore, the IAEA itself “noted that the [IAEA] currently has no information – apart from the uranium metal document – on the actual design or manufacture by Iran of nuclear material components of a nuclear weapon or of certain other key components, such as initiators, or on related nuclear physics studies.” The alleged “uranium metal document” referred to is identical to one produced by Pakistan, was neither commissioned nor requested by Iran and, along with other alleged documents, dates to “the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s.”
The IAEA also repeatedly emphasized that, despite all the allegations, “the Agency has not detected the use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies, nor does it have credible information in this regard” but still “urged Iran to engage actively with the Agency in a more detailed examination of the documents available about the alleged studies which the Agency has been authorized to show to Iran.”
In a reasonable world, that the IAEA lacks both full access to and authorization over any alleged documentation purporting to show past weaponization research and testing and upon which is based its own claims that it demand Iran substantively explain would cast considerable doubt on the authenticity of such information and clearly demonstrates the dubious integrity and political nature of the allegations themselves. As the Iranian Mission to the IAEA has noted:
The Agency has not delivered to Iran any official and authenticated document which contained documentary evidence related to Iran with regard to the Alleged Studies.
The Government of the United States has not handed over original documents to the Agency since it does not in fact have any authenticated document and all it has are forged documents. The Agency didn’t deliver any original documents to Iran and none of the documents and materials that were shown to Iran have authenticity and all proved to be fabricated, baseless allegations and false attributions to Iran.
Iran has also wondered, “How can one make allegations against a country without provision of original documents with authenticity and ask the country concerned to prove its innocence or ask it to provide substantial explanations?“
In his own memoir, published in 2011, former IAEA head Mohammad ElBaradei echoed that question:
Absurdly, we were limited with regard to what documentation we permitted to show Iran. I constantly pressed the source of the information to allow us to share copies with Iran. How can I accuse a person, I asked, without revealing the accusations against him? The intelligence crowd refused, continuing to say they needed to protect their sources and methods.
Iran, for its part, continued to dismiss most of the allegations as fabrications. Since the Iranians’ cooperation on the work plan had been rewarded with yet more Security Council sanctions, their cooperation on the alleged weaponization studies had been minimal. Their predicament, they said, was that proving the studies were unrelated to nuclear activities would expose a great deal about their conventional weaponry, particularly their missile program. (p. 291)
ElBaradei also lamented the “willingness, on the part of Israel and the West, to treat allegations as fact,” admitting that the IAEA “did not have the tools or expertise, however, to verify the authenticity of documents.” (p. 290)
It should also be remembered that, in early 2007, an unnamed senior official at the IAEA revealed to the Los Angeles Times, “Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that’s come to us [from the United States about the Iranian nuclear program] has proved to be wrong” and has never led to significant discoveries inside Iran. Additionally, the paper noted that “U.S. officials privately acknowledge that much of their evidence on Iran’s nuclear plans and programs remains ambiguous, fragmented and difficult to prove.”
When, in 2009, “the Israelis provided the IAEA with documentation of their own, purportedly showing that Iran had continued with nuclear weapon studies until at least 2007,” in order to “create the impression that Iran presented an imminent threat, perhaps preparing the grounds for the use of force,” ElBaradei has written that the IAEA’s “technical experts, however, raised numerous questions about the document’s authenticity.” He also pointed out that “[t]he accuracy of these [Israeli] accusations has never been verified; however, it is significant that the conclusions of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate were not changed, indicating that they, at least, did not buy the ‘evidence’ put forward by Israel.” (p. 291)
This history of IAEA allegations and Iranian assessments is completely absent from the recent Associated Press report, leading readers to believe Iran is making claims that can’t be backed up with evidence.
Also, that reporter Dareini states that the “alleged studies” referred to by Mehmanparast is a term used by Iran “to refer to a list of questions including a dispute at Parchin,” gives the distinct impression that this term is not an official one and that only Iran claims the studies in questions are merely “alleged” to have taken place rather than “proven,” “corroborated,” and “authenticated.”
But the term “alleged studies,” is not an Iranian creation. Rather, that phrase is a construction of the IAEA itself; Iran didn’t make it up. The first informal use of the term, referring to “topics which could have a military nuclear dimension” appears to be found in an IAEA Safeguards report on Iran from February 26, 2006.
These “topics,” purportedly revealed in documents taken from a mysterious stolen Laptop of Death, the authenticity of which has long been known to rest somewhere on the spectrum of dubious to fabricated, and which was provided to the IAEA by the United States by way of the MEK by way of the Mossad in late 2005; in fact, information gleaned from the laptop does not even contain any words such as nuclear or nuclear warhead.
It is unsurprising, then, that IAEA chief ElBaradei once stated, “The IAEA is not making any judgment at all whether Iran even had weaponisation studies before because there is a major question of authenticity of the documents.”
The IAEA continued to use the term informally throughout 2006 and early 2007, before elevating the term to an official section heading in its August 30, 2007 report. It was subsequently used as such until May 26, 2008, when the more alarmist phrase “Possible Military Dimensions” superseded “Alleged Studies” in IAEA nomenclature. These allegations, unverified and long considered to have questionable authenticity by the IAEA’s leadership, were suddenly resurrected and “assessed by the Agency to be, overall, credible,” when Yukiya Amano (the America’s man in Vienna who has proudly boasted of being, not an objective arbiter of truth and evidence, but as “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision”) took over stewardship of the agency and began secretly meeting with White House and National Security Council officials before presenting biased IAEA reports on Iran.
Back to the AP report: While Dareini notes that “Tehran has in the past allowed IAEA inspectors twice into Parchin,” he fails to explain that because Parchin is not a nuclear facility, but rather a military complex not safeguarded by the IAEA, it is therefore off-limits legally to its inspectors. When Iran voluntarily allowed two rounds of inspections of Parchin by IAEA personnel in 2005, the agency revealed that its inspectors “did not observe any unusual activities in the buildings visited, and the results of the analysis of environmental samples did not indicate the presence of nuclear material at those locations.”
Regarding the current accusations centered around an alleged detonation chamber located at the site (a charge made in documents provided to the IAEA by Israel), nuclear expert and former IAEA inspector Robert Kelley has explained, “The IAEA is stretching its mandate to the limit in asking for access to a military site based on tenuous evidence.” Kelley also called the Parchin impasse “a secondary issue” that is deliberately serving Israel and the West as “a distraction for the negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (the ‘P5+1′).” He adds (and explores in depth) that “the case for visiting the Parchin site—a matter on which the IAEA continues to insist—is not as clear-cut or compelling as some experts and officials portray it.”
It is undeniable that AP‘s Dareini is nowhere close to the propagandist that his colleague George Jahn is. Considering Jahn contributed “additional reporting” to Dareini’s article, perhaps the problematic sections were his work.
Regardless, for the Associated Press to omit crucial and easily accessible information from its characterizations of Iran’s nuclear program is irresponsible and serves to continually misinform (or under-inform) the public on the facts. And when facts aren’t important, innuendo, allegations and demonization take over, inevitably setting the stage for something far more dangerous: an uncritical and unscrupulous press, aiding and abetting (wittingly or not) the dissemination of propaganda, dutifully presenting a manufactured justification for the supreme international crime, the initiation of (yet another) a war of aggression.
That Associated Press story displaying a graph alleged to be part of an Iranian computer simulation of a nuclear explosion — likely leaked by Israel with the intention of reinforcing the media narrative of covert Iranian work on nuclear weapons – raises serious questions about the International Atomic Energy Association’s (IAEA) claim that it has credible evidence of such modeling work by Iran.
The graph of the relationship between energy and power shown in the AP story has now been revealed to contain absurdly large errors indicating its fraudulence.
Those revelations indicate, in turn, that the IAEA based its publication of detailed allegations of nuclear weapons-related Iranian computer modeling on evidence that should have been rejected as having no credibility.
Former senior IAEA inspector Robert Kelley, who has challenged the accuracy of IAEA reporting on Iran, told Lobe Log in an e-mail that “It’s clear the graph has nothing to do with a nuclear bomb.”
“The pretty, symmetrical bell shaped curve at the bottom is not typical of a nuclear explosion but of some more idealized natural phenomena or mathematical equation,” he said. “Clearly it is a student example of how to perform integrals to which someone has attached some meaningless numbers.”
Nuclear physicists Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress also pointed out that the graph depicted by AP is not only so rudimentary and crude that it could have been done by an undergraduate student, but is based on a fundamental error of mind-numbing proportions.
The graph shown in the AP story plots two curves, one of energy versus time, the other of power output versus time. But Butt and Dalnoki-Veress noted that the two curves are inconsistent. The peak level of power shown in the graph, they said, is nearly a million times too high.
After a quick look at the graph, the head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Cal State Sacramento, Dr. Hossein Partovi, observed, “[T]he total energy is more than four orders of magnitude (forty thousand times) smaller than the total integrated power that it must equal!” Essentially, the mismatch between the level of total energy and total power on the graph is “more than four orders of magnitude”, which Partovi explained means that the level of energy is 40,000 times too small in relation to the level of power.
One alert reader of the account of the debunking of the graph at the Mondoweiss blog cited further evidence supporting Kelley’s observation that the graph shown by AP was based on an another graph that had nothing to do with nuclear explosions.
The reader noted that the notation “kT” shown after “energy” on the right hand scale of the graph does not stand for “kilotons” as Jahn suggested, but “Boltzmann constant” (k) multiplied by temperature (T). The unit of tons, on the other hand, is always abbreviated with a lower case “t”, he pointed out, so kilotons would be denoted as “kt”.
The reader also stated that the “kT” product is used in physics as a scaling factor for energy values in molecular-scale systems, such as a microsecond laser pulse.
The evidence thus suggests that someone took a graph related to an entirely different problem and made changes to show a computer simulation of a 50 kiloton explosion. The dotted line on the graph leads the eye directly to the number 50 on the right-hand energy scale, which would lead most viewers to believe that it is the result of modeling a 50 kiloton nuclear explosion.
The graph was obviously not done by a real Iranian scientist — much less someone working in a top secret nuclear weapons research program — but by an amateur trying to simulate a graph that would be viewed, at least by non-specialists, as something a scientist might have drawn.
Although AP reporter George Jahn wrote that officials who provided the diagram did so “only on condition that they and their country not be named”, the country behind the graph is not much of a mystery.
Blogger Richard Silverstein has reported that a “highly-placed Israeli source” told him the diagram “was stolen by the Mossad from an Iranian computer” using one of the various malware programs deployed against Iran.
Whether one chooses to rely on Silverstein’s reporting or not, it is clear that the graph is part of a longer stream of suspicious documents supposedly obtained by Israeli intelligence from inside Iran’s nuclear program and then given to the IAEA over the past few years.
Former IAEA Secretary General Mohammed ElBaradei refers in his memoirs to documents provided by Israel in 2009 “purportedly showing that Iran had continued with nuclear weapons studies until at least 2007.” ElBaradei adds that the Agency’s “technical experts” had “raised numerous questions about the documents’ authenticity”, and suggested that US intelligence “did not buy the “evidence” put forward by Israel” in its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate.
Jahn’s story indicates that this and similar graphs were the basis for the IAEA’s publishing charges by two unnamed states that Iran had done computer modeling that the agency said could only have been about nuclear weapons.
Jahn cites a “senior diplomat who is considered neutral on the issue” as confirming that the graph accompanying his story was one of “a series of Iranian computer-generated models provided to the IAEA by the intelligences services of member nations.”
Those “computer generated models” were discussed in the November 2011 report, which referred to “[i]nformation provided to the Agency by two Member States relating to modelling [sic] studies alleged to have been conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Iran….” The unnamed member states were alleging that the Iranian studies “involved the modelling [sic] of spherical geometries, consisting of components of the core of an HEU nuclear device subjected to shock compression, for their neutronic behaviour at high density, and a determination of the subsequent nuclear explosive yield.”
Nothing in that description of the alleged modeling is documented by the type of graph shown by the AP story.
The IAEA report concludes by saying, “The information also identifies models said to have been used in those studies and the results of these calculations, which the Agency has seen.”
In other words, the only evidence that the IAEA had actually seen was the graphs of the alleged computer modeling, of which the graph shown in the AP story is alleged to be an example. But the fact that data on that graph has been credibly shown to be off by four orders of magnitude suggests that the Israeli claim of Iranian computer modeling of “components of the core of an HEU nuclear device subjected to shock compression” was completely fabricated.
Former IAEA Inspector Kelley also told Lobe Log that “We can only hope that the claim that the IAEA has relied on this crude hoax is false. Otherwise their credibility has been shattered.”
- Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
TEHRAN – The 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement on Friday demanded that Israel join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty without precondition and further delay.
The demand was made during the United Nations High Level Meeting on Countering Nuclear Terrorism in New York. The demand was read out by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on behalf of the NAM bloc.
Iran assumed the rotating presidency of NAM for a three-year term on August 30.
Following is the text of Salehi’s speech:
1. I am honored to speak on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
2. The Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism reflects the success of multilateralism to which NAM attaches great importance. The movement values this opportunity to express its views on this subject of cotemporary interest.
3. NAM strongly and unequivocally condemns as criminal and rejects terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as well as all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism wherever, by whomever, against whomsoever committed, including those in which states are directly or indirectly involved, which are unjustifiable (no matter what) considerations or factors… may be invoked to justify them.
4. NAM expresses its satisfaction with the consensus among states on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. NAM welcomes the adoption by consensus of the General Assembly Resolution 66/50 entitled “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” and underlines the need for this threat to humanity to be addressed within the UN framework and through international cooperation.
5. While stressing that the most effective way of preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction is through the total elimination of such weapons, NAM emphasizes that progress is urgently needed in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation in order to help maintain international peace and security and to contribute to the global efforts against terrorism.
6. NAM calls upon all UN member states to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. It also urges all member states to take and strengthen national measures, as appropriate, to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.
7. While noting the adoption of resolution 1540 (2004), resolution 1673 (2006), resolution 1810 (2008) and resolution 1977 (2011) by the Security Council, NAM underlines the need to ensure that any action by the Security Council does not undermine the UN Charter and existing multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction and of international Organizations established in this regard as well as the role of the General Assembly.
8. NAM further cautions against the continuing practice of the Security Council to utilize its authority to define the legislative requirements for member states in implementing Security Council decisions. In this regard, NAM stresses the importance of the issue of non-state actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction to be addressed in an inclusive manner by the General Assembly, taking into account the views of all member states.
9. The NAM emphasizes the need to improve national, regional, and international preparedness and response to nuclear accidents and calls for a strengthened role of the IAEA in emergency preparedness and response, including through assisting member states, upon their request, on emergency preparedness and response to nuclear accidents, promoting capacity building, including education and training in the field of crisis management.
10. The NAM underlines that measures and initiatives aimed at strengthening nuclear safety and nuclear security must not be used as a pretext or leverage to violate, deny, or restrict the inalienable right of developing countries to develop research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.
11. NAM affirms the need to strengthen the radiological safety and protection systems at facilities utilizing radioactive materials as well as at radioactive waste management facilities, including the safe transportation of these materials. The movement reaffirms the need to strengthen existing international regulations relating to safety and security of transportation of such materials.
12. The primary responsibility for nuclear safety and nuclear security rests with the individual states. In that sense, NAM underlines that the states with nuclear power programs have a central role in their own countries in ensuring the application of the highest standards. NAM also emphasizes that the IAEA is the sole intergovernmental organization within the UN system with the mandate and expertise to deal with the technical subjects of nuclear safety and nuclear security.
13. NAM reaffirms the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities – operational or under construction- constitutes a grave violation of international law, principles and purposes of the UN Charter and regulations of the IAEA. NAM recognizes the urgent need for a comprehensive multilaterally negotiated instrument prohibiting attacks or threat of attacks on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
14. NAM stresses its concern at the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and of their possible use or threat of use. NAM reaffirms that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
15. NAM reaffirms its principled positions on nuclear disarmament, which remains its highest priority, and on the related issue of nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects. NAM stresses the importance that efforts aiming at nuclear non-proliferation should be parallel to simultaneous efforts aiming at nuclear disarmament.
16. NAM emphasizes that progress in nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects is essential to strengthening international peace and security.
17. NAM reiterates deep concern over the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament and the lack of progress by the Nuclear-Weapon States (NWS) to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals in accordance with their relevant multilateral legal obligations. The movement reaffirms the importance of the unanimous conclusion of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. In this regard, NAM underscores the urgent need to commence and to bring to a conclusion negotiations on comprehensive and complete nuclear disarmament without delay.
18. NAM reaffirms the importance of the application of the principles of transparency, irreversibility, and verifiability by the NWS in all measures related to the fulfillment of their nuclear disarmament obligations.
19. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, NAM reaffirms the need for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional, and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances to all NNWS as a matter of high priority.
20. NAM urges the UN Secretary General and the co-sponsors of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, in consultation with the states of the region, to exert utmost efforts in ensuring the success of the Conference to be convened in 2012, to be attended by all states of the Middle East on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. NAM stresses the need to avoid any further delay in convening this Conference.
21. NAM also demands (that) Israel, the only country in the region that has not joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) nor declared its intention to do so, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, to accede to the NPT without precondition and further delay, and to place promptly all its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full-scope safeguards.
22. NAM reiterates that the issues related to proliferation should be resolved through political and diplomatic means, and that measures and initiatives taken in this regard should be within the framework of international law, relevant conventions, and the UN Charter, and should contribute to the promotion of international peace, security, and stability.
23. Mindful of the threat posed to humankind by the existing weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons and underlining the need for the total elimination of such weapons, the movement reaffirms the need to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction, and therefore supports the necessity of monitoring the situation and triggering international action as required.
24. Finally, on behalf of the movement, I express the hope that the secretary general will duly reflect these views in his summary of today’s proceedings as well as the views of member states. Any possible follow-up should be inclusive and member state driven.
Thank you, Messrs. Co-chairs.
Parchin is a military site that has been in the news lately because the IAEA is insisting on sending inspectors there, and Iran has been resisting the pressure. While this has naturally led many US media outlets to suggest that Iran is hiding something there, Hassan Beheshtipour explains Iran’s position over at IranReview.org
1. No country [would] ever allow the IAEA to inspect its military sites because the agency is missioned to merely visit nuclear sites, and non-nuclear military bases [are not] covered by its inspections [authority].
2. In order to prove its goodwill and reveal [the] falsehood of the Western media propaganda, Iran has already allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the site twice in 2005, and after each visit, the inspectors said nothing illegal had been found there. Olli Heinonen, the deputy to the then director general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, had orally promised that if Iran allowed inspection of the military site in Parchin, they would announce once and for all that Parchin is a non-nuclear site and would need no further inspection. However, as the agency’s deputy director general for safeguards changed, the new deputy, Herman Nackaerts, announced in 2011 that Parchin site needs to be inspected again in the light of alleged studies whose information had been provided by some member states of the agency. This issue has caused Iran not to trust the promises given by the IAEA officials anymore.
3. Following three rounds of negotiations with delegates of the IAEA, Iran announced that the agency would be able to revisit Parchin site if two conditions are met. Firstly, they should promise that following the visit, there would be no further request to inspect Parchin again. Secondly, documents related to the agency’s alleged studies should be made available to Iran in order to make it possible for Tehran to evaluate that information and give an appropriate answer. The IAEA, in return, responded to Iran’s logical request by claiming that countries providing information about the alleged studies would not allow copies of those studies to be provided to Iran. As a result, the agency rejected Iran’s request and denied the Islamic Republic of an opportunity to defend itself by alleging that the IAEA, an impartial international organization, is competent enough to verify the studies.
4. The Islamic Republic of Iran expects the IAEA to guarantee that after its inspectors visit the military site at Parchin, there would be no leak of confidential information related to this non-nuclear military site and such information remain secret. This is a result of the background of the IAEA’s performance in similar cases. For example, during the agency’s work in Iraq, information related to non-nuclear military sites of that country were made available to other states a few years before military invasion of Iraq by the United States. Of course, the United States announced that it had not gained that information through the IAEA inspectors, but at any rate, the leak of confidential information about Iraq’s military sites dealt a drastic blow to credit of the agency regardless of the source of the leaked information.
The writer goes on the remind readers that the IAEA and Iran resolved most of the “outstanding issues” between them back in 2007-2008, after they had reached a “Modalities Agreement“ for a step-by-step process of cooperation, and,
At present, Iran is also ready to cooperate with the agency on all issues provided that the cooperation is mutual and based on a correct understanding of Iran’s security considerations.
I should point out here that regarding point no. 3 raised by Beheshtipour, former IAEA head El-Baradei wrote in his memoirs entitled “Age of Deception“ about how ridiculous a thought it was that Iran was expected to rebut evidence that it was not allowed to see. In fact, under the 2007 Modalities Agreement, which led to the resolution of all of the claims against Iran except for the “alleged studies”, Iran agreed to provide an evaluation of these claims if it was presented with the documentation first. However the US has prevented the IAEA from sharing the information with Iran, and in some cases the US has even prevented the IAEA itself from seeing the full documentation which forms the basis of these “Alleged Studies” even though there are signficant doubts about the veracity of these same documents. Iran supplied their promised evaluation in the form of a 117-page document anyway. Under the terms of that Modalities Agreement, this was all Iran was obligated to do, and the IAEA was then bound to conclude the issue. That, of course, is not what happened. Read more here
- IAEA leaks confidential information about Iran: Lawmaker (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Analysis of latest IAEA report on Iran – August 2012 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran: “We Lied!” – not really (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Senior Iranian lawmaker Javad Jahangirzadeh says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not fulfilled its responsibilities regarding the confidentiality of information obtained from Iran.
“The IAEA is obliged to protect the information about the nuclear activities of [its] member states but it has not fulfilled its responsibility regarding Iran and has transferred Iran’s nuclear information to the country’s enemies,” the member of Iran’s Majlis Presiding Board said on Saturday.
“[IAEA Director General Yukiya] Amano’s repeated trips to Tel Aviv and asking the Israeli official’s views about Iran’s nuclear activities indicates that Iran’s nuclear information has been leaked to the Zionist Regime [of Israel] and other enemies of the Islamic Republic,” Jahangirzadeh added.
“If the agency’s actions lead to Iran cutting cooperation with this international body, all responsibility will be with the IAEA director general,” the Iranian lawmaker said.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran argues that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but has never found any evidence of diversion in Tehran’s nuclear energy program toward military purposes.
Naturally, the New York Times seized on this — the story that an official in charge of Iran’s nuclear program, Fereydoon Abbasi, has “admitted” that Iran occasionally tried to mislead on its nuclear program:
Iran’s top atomic energy official said in an article published Thursday that because of foreign espionage, his government had sometimes provided false information to protect its nuclear program.
Note the crucial bit of missing information here, left out by the NY Times in order to spin this sentence as some sort of “confession” by Iran of having hidden nukes: WHO WHOM? TO WHOM has he said Iran provided false information – to the IAEA or to Western spies?
Because that’s a real crucial bit of difference! Needless to explain: There’s generally no obligation on a country to allow foreign spying, especially when its scientists are being assassinated. However the NY Time’s simply runs with the assumption that this official is saying “We lied to the IAEA because we’re making nukes” rather than “We tried to mislead foreign intelligence agencies so they would not assassinate us”. Go back and read it again, better yet read the original Arabian news report. Or translate it. You won’t see him saying “We lied TO THE IAEA because we’re hiding nukes” Instead, he’s referring to foreign intelligence agencies. But that’s not how the NY Times spins it.
The bottom line is, as much as the NY Times and friends would like to exploit this sentence, there is still no evidence of any nuclear weapons program, and Iran has never diverted nuclear material for non-peaceful uses, and all of this is verified by regular, intensive IAEA inspections. So what precisely is it that Iran has been lying about to the IAEA? Because the IAEA would sure like to know.
Of course the NY Times has to raise the suspicions by referring to a list of events in a one-sided way. For example, the Times repeats the lie that Iran “hid” its enrichment facilities until 2002 — but in fact Iran had simply not officially declared them to the IAEA since legally it wasn’t obligated to do so yet, and in any case Iran’s enrichment program was in fact never a secret. Or, the lie that Iran was “hiding” Fordo and only disclosed it when it had found out that the US knew about it? What a sad attempt to distort the true facts: Iran is not legally obligated to disclose a facility until 180-days prior to the introduction of nuclear material into the facility. If the US “beats them to the punch” and makes the site publicly known, it wasn’t because Iran was “hiding” it – it was simply not within the 180-day time limit yet. And aside from that, the IAEA went to Fordo and investigated it, and the IAEA director said bluntly that it was nothing more than a hole in a mountain and nothing to be concerned about. That’s another crucial bit of fact left out by the Times. Or the lie that Iran is not cooperating with IAEA efforts about the infamous “Alleged Studies” — leaving out the crucial fact that Iran has responded to them, to the best degree possible, especially considering that the IAEA has not been permitted by the US to actually show the evidence to Iran, that Iran is expected to rebut – something the former IAEA director complained about in his book where he also recounted that some of the documents cited as proof of Iranian nukes were in fact so obvious forgeries that in one case he simply returned the document to the Israelis who had provided it to him. (I’m too tired to find all the links verifying what I’ve written here – google it.)
So what’s really going on here? Why is the NY Times putting this spin on the story? Because for the longest time they’ve been looking for a way to kill the US National Intelligence Estimate, which has been saying for a while now that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and has shown no interest in one either. Boy when that NIE came out, it went off like a bomb. Bush ran off to Israel and disassociated himself from his own intelligence agencies. There was talk about intelligence agencies having carried out a “coup” and gone rogue. The Israelis were steaming. They’ve been pressing ever since to either get that NIE rewritten, or to somehow find a way around it, even if it means denigrating US intelligence analysts. Well, here you go! Here’s an Iranian official saying “We lied”. How much hay can you make out of that?!
So the latest IAEA report on Iran is out. The media have been trying very hard to put as scary a spin on the report as possible. Here’s my analysis.
Paragraphs 1 and 2 attempt to portray UNSC resolutions on Iran, demanding that Iran give up enrichment, as being “binding”. They further demand that Iran ratify the Additional Protocol.
Sorry, but the UNSC is not legally authorized to make such demands. A very fundamental principle of the international law of treaties is the principle of “voluntariness” – treaties are only binding when a country voluntarily agrees to them, and the UNSC cannot demand that any country sign and ratify a treaty. This is a basic principle of international law: “International treaty law comprises obligations states expressly and voluntarily accept between themselves”
Nevertheless Iran not only implemented the Additional Protocol for a period of about 3 years in the past (with no evidence of any nukes found) but has offered to permanently ratify the treaty as long as its rights under the NPT are also recognized. Thus far, the US has refused.
There are also references to the “Annex” published by the IAEA in the Nov 2011 report which was touted as proof positive of Iranian nuclear perfidy. But as reporters like Scott Peterson and Seymor Hersh pointed out, it was just a repeat of well-known and still unsubstantiated claims that the previous IAEA head Elbaradei had refused to endorse. The same Annex in the news in Sept 2009, having been partially leaked to George Jahn of the AP. Back then, Elbaradei stood accused of “censoring” this “secret annex” which supposedly proved that Iran had an on-going nuclear weapons program, contrary to the NIEs. The IAEA denied there was such a “secret” annex, and the IAEA spokesman characterized it as simply information that was insufficiently verified to be included in the IAEA reports. Apparently, with the replacement of ElBaradei with Amano, this view changed, and the annex was included in the latest report, but under Elbaradei the IAEA issued a press release stating that “it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran.”
Paragraph 3 attempts to justify the expanded role of the IAEA as the “enforcer” of the NPT on Iran, but in fact if you read the text of Iran’s safeguards agreement you’d see that the role of the IAEA is quite limited — its function is “exclusively” to send inspectors to measure the declared nuclear material in Iran to ensure non-diversion to weapons use — and the IAEA has fulfilled this role already, which is why every single IAEA report on Iran (including this one) states that there is no evidence of such a diversion.
Paragraphss 5 – 7 are mainly about Parchin. The IAEA demands access to this site — even though it is not a declared nuclear facility, and therefore falls outside of the IAEA’s legal inspection authority. However Iran voluntarily allowed the IAEA to inspect this site already in 2005 — twice — with no evidence of any nuclear material or activities found. If the IAEA was serious about the “suspicions” here, all it has to do is present the evidence to the IAEA Board and get a “special inspections” authorization which Iran is legally required to allow — but the IAEA has not done so because the IAEA simply does not have any actual evidence of any nuclear work there. In fact the IAEA officials complained previously that the US intel on Iran’s nuclear program were bogus. Note that the Iranians have not refused another visit to Parchin, but want a “structured approach” to be determined beforehand. This was arranged for the previous IAEA visits to Parchin so why is the IAEA not doing so for this visit?
Paragaph 9 is the key paragraph where the IAEA verifies the non-diversion of nuclear material to non-peaceful uses. This is key, because that’s the relevant standard in determining whether Iran is in compliance with the NPT or not. As Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy has explained:
The conclusion that no diversion has occurred certifies that the state in question is in compliance with its undertaking, under its safeguards agreement and Article III of the NPT, to not divert material to non-peaceful purposes. In the case of Iran, the IAEA was able to conclude in its November 2004 report that that all declared nuclear materials had been accounted for and therefore none had been diverted to military purposes. The IAEA reached this same conclusion in September 2005.
Paragraphs 10-12 admits that all of the nuclear activities in the declared nuclear sites and facilities in Iran are under IAEA safeguards, which again means Iran is in full compliance with the actual requirements of the NPT, even though the UNSC has tried to impose additional demands and restrictions on Iran.
Footnote 14 is interesting because it states that Iran reportedly intends to make several more reactors that manufacture medical isotopes. This again is in full compliance with Iran’s rights under the NPT
Paragraphs 13-16 are about the Natanz enrichment facility, which operates under IAEA safeugards, and specifically paragraph 16 essentially states that the operations are not violating the NPT either, and the uranium is enriched to less than 5% which is low-enriched uranium used for reactors.
Footnote 17 states that a small amount of uranium is enriched to slightly more than 5% due to a “known technical phenomenon associated with the start up of centrifuge cascades”. This was previously misrepresented in the media as evidence of Iranian perfidy when the same phenomenon was found at Fordo, the site where Iran enriches uranium to 20%, but is in fact simply an unavoidable phenomenon: when introducing uranium into the centrifuges, the process takes a bit of time, so some of the uranium initially introduced into the a centrifuge may be enriched to slightly higher levels than the rest. In fact paragraph 26 , which addressese this “overshoot” phenomenon at Fordo, confirms that this “Iran’s explanation is not inconsistent with the further assessment made by the Agency.”
Paragraphs 18-22 are about the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant — again in Natanz, which according to paragraph 22 continues to operate in accordance with the NPT.
Paragraphs 23-26 are about the enrichment facility at Fordo, which makes the 20% enriched uranium for use in the Tehran Research Reactor. It states that Iran has expanded the number of centrifuges there, but that they’re not operating. In any case this hasn’t stopped the media scaremongering about the facility, which operates under IAEA safeguards. Of course, the media scaremongers don’t bother mentioning that Iran would not have had to start 20% enrichment had the US not interferred with Iran’s right to acquire the fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor in the first place, nor that Iran has already announced plans to covert 1/3 of this material into fuel rods thus precluding their use for bomb-making. In fact Iran has suggested that it would agree to a plan of immediately converting all of its enriched uranium into fuel rods. This is not what a country intent on making nukes would do.
Paragraph 27 states that the IAEA is awaiting information about Iran’s plans to make new reactors in the future. Well, according to Iran’s safeguards agreement, Iran is only required to formally disclose such reactors 180-days prior to the introduction of nuclear material into them. Since these reactors have yet to be built, then Iran is under no obligation to provide any other information – yet.
Paragraph 28 states that Iran is not reprocessing uranium — a process that is used to extract plutonium from reactor fuel rods, and Iran has stated that it has no intention of doing so. Again, no NPT violatons there either.
Paragraphs 29-31 are about the heavy water reactor that Iran is building which according to the report continues “under Agency safeguards”. Specifically Paragraph 31 complains that the IAEA has not been allowed “further access” to the Heavy Water Production plant. However, since heavy water is not fissile material, and the IAEA’s inspection authority is limited to the inspection of fissile material and places where fissile material is stored, Iran is not obligated to allow ANY IAEA inspections of the plant at all – even though it has already done so voluntarily.
Paragraphs 32-37 are about Iran’s Uranium conversion and fuel plate manufacture facilities. It is interesting to note that the report states Iran has been making fuel plates on its own, when a few years ago we were told that Iran could not possibly figure out how to do this, and so any enriched uranium it was making was necessarily intended for nukes rather than reactor fuel (the fact that making fuel plates is a lot easier than making nukes, went unmentioned). Again, nothing violates the NPT here either.
Section H (paragraphs 38-44) are about the continued saga of the “alleged studies” from the Laptop of Death, as well as allegations about Parchin, specifically the “explosives testing container”. Note however that the IAEA report does not state that there were nuclear activities here — rather it refers to “undisclosed nuclear related activities” — which is funny because the IAEA’s inspection authority is limited to nuclear material not “nuclear related” material. The report states that the IAEA has “become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities” since 2002, but in fact Elbaradei stated clearly that the IAEA has no evidence of any such “undisclosed” activities. Furthermore Robert Kelley and others have already debunked a lot of the allegations about this “explosives testing chamber“
In fact, the chamber is far too small to contain explosive proof tests of a full scale mock-up, and far too big to contain smaller tests of research interest. Thus, a container of this size is irrelevant to a Iranian nuclear weapons program.
If you’re interested, here’s what the former IAEA head Elbaradei had to say about these alleged studies.
Section I (paragraphs 45-47) are the IAEA’s complaints that Iran should provide information on plans to build nuclear facilities (such as the Fordo enrichment facility) earlier than what its standard safeguards agreement requires. This is a long-standing technical dispute between the IAEA and Iran about when precisely Iran should provide design information on planned nuclear facilities. For a while Iran agreed, as a gesture of good faith, to adopt a “Modified” version of a safeguard agreement that required it to provide this info earlier than its existing standard safeguards require, but Iran ended that voluntary cooperation after the Paris Agreement negotiations fell apart. Since then, the IAEA has been insisting that Iran is somehow obligated to continue this practice, but this demand is legally questionable. The bottom line, however, remains that regardless of when Iran declares a nuclear facility, the declared facility will still operate under IAEA safeguards and so cannot be used to secretly make nukes anyway, so this is really a side issue and involves no violation of the NPT as long as the IAEA continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material.
Section J (paragraph) 48 says that Iran hasn’t implemented the Additional Protocol, and so the IAEA cannot verify the absence of undeclared material until it does. Which is true, but the same is true for many other nations including Egypt, Argentina, Brazil. However, unlike those countries Iran voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol, and has since allowed inspections that exceed even the Additional Protocol, with no proof of any nuclear weapons work found.
Section K is about other technical matters that involve no violation of the NPT either.
So that’s about it: Iran continues to work on enrichment, and the IAEA continues to verify this program and there’s still no proof of any nuclear weapons work
- Iran’s right to enrichment questioned again (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israel has become infuriated by a fresh initiative of Arab member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which seeks to launch a global campaign to slam Israel’s possession of nuclear stockpile.
The motion tabled by 17 Arab IAEA members has been submitted to a preparatory commission to be put to vote at the Agency’s September meeting which is to be attended by 154 countries, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
The initiative is widely expected to be ratified, as it enjoys the support of Muslim countries as well as other states critical of Israel’s stance on Palestine, the report said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the IAEA Ehud Azoulay, has censured the initiative, saying the Arab nations have no moral right to point fingers.
Tel Aviv has also repeated its allegations against Iran’s nuclear energy program and claimed that the new motion seeks to distract attention from Iran’s nuclear case at the IAEA.
US President Barack Obama Administration had initially supported the plan but later condemned the initiative Under Israel’s duress, which is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Defending the Arab initiative, Jordan’s Ambassador to IAEA Makram Queisi argued that Israel has been exposing the Middle East “to nuclear risks and threatening peace” by continuing its secretive military nuclear program.
He lashed out at Tel Aviv for thwarting “all initiatives to free the region of the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, and in particular of nuclear weapons.”
Since Israel began building its Dimona plutonium- and uranium-processing facility in the Negev Desert in 1958, it is believed to have secretly manufactured hundreds of nuclear warheads, becoming the Middle East’s sole possessor of nuclear weapons.
Enjoying Washington’s support, however, Tel Aviv has steadily refused to either declare the nuclear arsenal or join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
This is while the US, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program and have used the false accusation as pretext to impose international and unilateral sanctions against Iran and to call for military attack on the country.
Iran argues that as a signatory to the NPT and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to acquire and develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, while promising a crushing response to any possible attack on its nuclear facilities.