Thursday, October 25, 2007

The truth about Iran's nuclear co-operation with the IAEA

The pronouncements are grave. They talk openly of a nuclear weapon program and threaten Iran with dire consequences. Added to unproven allegations of interference in Iraq – galaxy size hypocrisy aside – it adds up to a massive campaign of rhetoric against Iran. So what is the truth about Iran’s nuclear capability? What is the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) investigating in Iran and what have they found? Bear in mind that Iran is a signatory to the NPT and has opened its doors to IAEA inspection for years. Reading the IAEA reports it is hard not to reach the conclusion that the accusations against Iran are politically motivated lies, just as the nuclear accusations against Iraq were false. It is instructive to compare the actual findings of the IAEA with the hysteria in the media. Note also the media silence about the massive nuclear arsenal of Israel which gets automatic approval despite daily Israeli terrorism against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. Presented below are some findings in the latest IAEA report. The report shows that Iran:

  • Has consistently co-operated with the IAEA inspections
  • Has supplied full and scientifically credible answers to technical questions regarding its operations
  • Has satisfactorily explained leakage and contamination problems
  • Has continued small scale testing with full knowledge of the IAEA
  • Has satisfied the physical inventory verification process
  • Has dismissed allegations about secret documents [no doubt like the infamous Iraq-Niger documents] that it has yet to see with claims about conversion of uranium dioxide to UF, high explosive testing and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle.
  • Questions remain on how it acquired P1 centrifuge technology in 1987; clarifications of dates; information on purchase of magnets for P2 centrifuges
  • Since 2006, Iran has not provided information about research on advanced centrifuges [since the campaign against Iran started].
  • The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use

Parts of the report are reproduced here:

Since May 2007, Iran has continued to test single centrifuge machines, the 10- and 20-machine cascades and one 164-machine cascade at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP). Between 17 March and 22 July 2007, Iran fed 14 kg of UF into the single machines; there was no feeding of nuclear material into the cascades. Since February 2007, Iran has fed approximately 690 kg of UF into the cascades at the Fuel

Enrichment Plant (FEP), which is well below the expected quantity for a facility of this design.

While Iran has stated that it has reached enrichment levels up to 4.8% U-235 at FEP, the highest enrichment level measured from environmental samples taken so far by the Agency from cascade components and related equipment is 3.7%. Detailed nuclear material accountancy, which is necessary to confirm the actual enrichment level, will be carried out when the product and tails are withdrawn from the cascades. As of 19 August 2007, twelve 164-machine cascades were operating simultaneously and were being fed with UF; one other cascade was operating without UF ; another cascade was being

vacuum tested; and two more were under construction. Since 22 March 2007, the Agency has implemented safeguards at FEP through interim inspections, design information verification, unannounced inspections and the use of containment and

surveillance measures (GOV/INF/2007/10). To date, four unannounced inspections have been carried out at FEP.

Plutonium Experiments

As agreed in the meeting of 11–12 July 2007, the Agency provided Iran in writing on

1 August 2007 with the remaining open questions regarding plutonium separation experiments carried out by Iran at TRR (GOV/2007/8, paras 20–21). On 7 August 2007, during a technical meeting in Tehran, Iran provided additional information on the neutron flux distribution for the reactor core…... Using this additional information, the Agency made revised estimates of the Pu-240 abundance that could be expected from irradiation of the targets. The revised estimates derived from this new information were not inconsistent with the Agency’s previous findings from samples taken during its investigations. Taking all available information into account, the Agency has concluded that Iran’s statements concerning these experiments are consistent with the Agency’s findings with respect to the dates, and quantities and types of material involved in the experiments (GOV/2006/53, paras 15–16). This issue is therefore considered resolved.

In the meeting on 7 August 2007, the presence and origin of high enriched uranium (HEU) particle contamination found in samples taken from the spent fuel containers at the Karaj Waste Storage Facility (GOV/2006/53, para. 17) was addressed. Iran has maintained that the reason for the contamination was leaking TRR fuel assemblies….

The data indicate that several control fuel assemblies had in fact leaked, and that the stated burnup matched that calculated for a majority of the HEU particles. The Agency has concluded, therefore, that the statements of Iran are not inconsistent with the Agency’s findings, and now considers this issue as resolved.

The Agency has finalized its assessment of the results of the physical inventory verification (PIV) of nuclear material at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) carried out in March 2007, and has concluded that the physical inventory as declared by Iran was consistent with the results of the PIV,

On 12 July 2007, Iran agreed to the designation of five new Agency inspectors (GOV/2007/8, para. 23), bringing the total number of inspectors designated for Iran to 219. Iran also agreed to provide thirteen Agency inspectors with one year multiple entry visas.

In order to clarify certain aspects of the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency has requested discussions with Iran about alleged studies related to the conversion of uranium dioxide to UF, to high explosive testing and to the design of a missile re-entry vehicle (GOV/2006/15, paras 38–40). To that end, the Agency has offered to provide Iran with access to the documentation it has in its possession regarding such studies. As indicated in the work plan, while Iran considers the allegations “as politically motivated and baseless”, it has undertaken to review the documentation and to inform the Agency of its assessment thereof.

The Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has been providing the Agency with access to declared nuclear material, and has provided the required nuclear material accountancy reports in connection with declared nuclear material and facilities…..since early 2006, the Agency has not received the type of information that Iran had previously been providing, including pursuant to the Additional Protocol, for example information relevant to ongoing advanced centrifuge research.....

The work plan is a significant step forward. If Iran finally addresses the long outstanding verification issues, the Agency should be in a position to reconstruct the history of Iran’s nuclear programme.....

The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use. The Agency and Iran agreed that after the implementation of the above work plan and the agreed modalities for resolving the outstanding issues, the implementation of safeguards in Iran will be conducted in a routine manner.


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