Saturday, February 23, 2008

IAEA Report, etc

This is one last post before I leave to visit the country that is the subject of this blog. I am hoping I will have access to my blog while there and be able to report on my experiences. If not, I will certainly post a report upon my return to the U.S. in mid-March.

The much awaited report from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Mohammed ElBaradei was published yesterday. It really came as no suprise that on the one had, the report noted Iranian cooperation to resolve outstanding questions agreed to in the August 2007 work plan. According to the report: "[The] Agency considers those questions no longer outstanding at this stage."

On the other hand, the report notes:

"The one major remaining issue relevant to the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme is the alleged studies on the green salt project, high explosives testing and the missile re-entry vehicle. This is a matter of serious concern and critical to an assessment of a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear programme. The Agency was able to show some relevant documentation to Iran on 3–5 February 2008 and is still examining the allegations made and the statements provided by Iran in response." Iran's response has been that the evidence is fabricated and the accusations baseless.

Another welcome development is that "The Agency has recently received from Iran additional information similar to that which Iran had previously provided pursuant to the Additional Protocol, as well as updated design information. As a result, the Agency’s knowledge about Iran’s current declared nuclear programme has become clearer." The report notes, "However, this information has been provided on an ad hoc basis and not in a consistent and complete manner. The Director General has continued to urge Iran to implement the Additional Protocol at the earliest possible date and as an important confidence building measure requested by the Board of Governors and affirmed by the Security Council."

The report also finds that "Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, having continued the operation of [the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant] PFEP and [Fuel Enrichment Plant] FEP. In addition, Iran started the development of new generation centrifuges. Iran has also continued construction of the IR-40 reactor and operation of the Heavy Water Production Plant."

The report concludes:

With regard to its current programme, Iran needs to continue to build confidence about its scope and nature. Confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme requires that the Agency be able to provide assurances not only regarding declared nuclear material, but, equally importantly, regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. With the exception of the issue of the alleged studies, which remains outstanding, the Agency has no concrete information about possible current undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. Although Iran has provided some additional detailed information about its current activities on an ad hoc basis, the Agency will not be in a position to make progress towards providing credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran before reaching some clarity about the nature of the alleged studies, and without implementation of the Additional Protocol. This is especially important in the light of the many years of undeclared activities in Iran and the confidence deficit created as a result. The Director General therefore urges Iran to implement all necessary measures called for by the Board of Governors and the Security Council to build confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme."

Here is an interview entitled "IAEA Report: Beginning of the End?" with Iran representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh and myself on the release of the report.

Also, yesterday, the Seattle Post-Intellingencer published an editorial entitled "Are we on the brink of war? Reasons to worry" by D. Parvaz.

Be sure to check the New York Review of Books on Monday. It will feature an article by two retired senior diplomats, William Luers and Thomas Pickering, and a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jim Walsh (also on the Center's Board of Directors). The article urges the United States to use the intelligence report as a reason to open unconditional talks with Iran, and ultimately to establish an international fuel-production facility on its soil.

1 comment:

lotf ali said...

I suspect you're traveling with the FOR contingent to Iran - I look forward to your observations.