Former IAEA -International Atomic Energy Agency- official Olli Heinonen commented on Amano’s recent report on Iran’s nclear program.
SHAFAQNA- TEHRAN, Sep. 24– A former IAEA deputy-general has said IAEA reports have been mutually agreed but it has provided no factual information.
The report of IAEA was published. What is your assessment of this report? And what are the positive and negative points of it?
P5+1 and Iran are getting together in the UN in one week’s time to proceed with formal negotiations on the comprehensive agreement. The latest IAEA report gives an opportunity to take a stock on the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) between the six parties and on the progress made between the IAEA and Iran in the Framework of Co-operation (FOC), which agreements were both concluded in November 2013.
The implementation of the JPOA has proceeded according to the plan albeit Iran appears to be running late in conversion of 20 % enriched uranium and low enriched hexafluoride to oxides and manufacturing fuel plates from 20 % enriched uranium for the Tehran research reactor. These delays can likely be attributed to technical difficulties encountered with uranium conversion processes. P5+1 appears to be satisfied with the progress, and sanctioned funds have been released according to the original schedule.
But the progress in the implementation of the FOC is less encouraging. The IAEA paid visits to Saghand and Gcchine mines and milling facilities, to heavy water production plant in Arak, and more recently to a centrifuge R&D center. The IAEA stated in its reports that it received “mutually agreed information”, but did not provide to its Member States any factual information, for example in terms of numbers uranium produced at the milling facilities. The IAEA is likely not be able to make, at this stage, any assessment on the completeness of Iran’s declarations on its inventory of nuclear materials and facilities. A disclosure of such numbers would demonstrate true transparency, which the Iranian leadership so often refers to. It is also a surprising that some of these visits got delayed beyond the agreed deadlines, when such accesses to these kind of installations are pretty straight forward and do not require any complicated arrangements.
What is the impact of this report on the later negotiation between Iran and 5+1?
The other part of the implementation of the FOC – addressing questions raised on possible military dimension (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear program – is clearly in headwinds. Though some information on the R&D on the Exploding Bridgewires (EBW) has been provided, the IAEA has not received anything substantially new to information provided in April 2008. Furthermore, the report does not indicate that there has been any direct discussion with the scientists about the experiments, which is essential to confirm the scope of such activities. It is also disturbing that one of the IAEA experts on these issues has not received a visa to join the discussions in Iran. EBWs have civilian, conventional and nuclear military applications, which together with other one dozen topics highlighted, inter alia, in the IAEA reports in May 2008 and November 2011, are essential to be resolved so that the IAEA can conclude that all nuclear material and activities in Iran are peaceful. The fact that issues have been on the table for years, and simple deadlines in having more thorough discussions on these long outstanding issues -which are also mentioned in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions – is not encouraging and might delay or complicate conclusion of the comprehensive agreement between Iran and P5+1 unnecessarily. A meaningful and robust verification system with requisite elements is essential to support a long-term deal. If issues remain open, it will likely require additional milestones to be included to the agreement, which will make already complex negotiations increasingly challenging.