Analysis of IAEA's Latest Report on Implementation of Safeguards Agreement in Iran

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mohammad Hassan Daryaei
University Professor & Senior Disarmament Researcher

Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), issued his latest report on the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Safeguards Agreement in Iran on September 5, 2014. In his report, the director general has reaffirmed the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities while underlining Tehran’s commitment to cooperation with the IAEA. The report has been organized around five main topics and, as usual, the director general has used ambiguous phrases in relation to Iran's nuclear work, which may give rise to different interpretations.

In fact, the report has gone far beyond its scope as a report on the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran and has ventured into new areas, which customarily and legally have nothing to do with the main elements of an IAEA reports on the Safeguards Agreement. For example, in addition to the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement, three other topics have been the focus of the recent report, which include: 1. Implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions; 2. Implementation of an agreement signed between Iran and the IAEA known as the Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation” (or simply as the Framework for Cooperation); and 3. Supervision over the implementation of voluntary measures on the basis of the Joint Plan of Action, which was signed between Iran and the member states of the P5+1 group of countries in the Swiss city of Geneva in November 2013.

As for the first area of interest, which is directly related to the official mission of the IAEA, that is, supervision over the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA has noted that Iran has taken positive and constructive measures. According to the new report of the IAEA, the Agency has reaffirmed the lack of any diversion in Iran's nuclear energy program and has also pointed to positive measures taken as per the Safeguards Agreement. The IAEA has announced that it has carried out all supervisory measures on 18 nuclear facilities and nine locations outside facilities as well as all locations, mines and workshops in accordance to previous agreements with Iran. The IAEA has also confirmed through extensive inspections that measures, status reports, and information provided by Iran with regard to each and every one of its nuclear facilities have been totally correct. In fact, Iran has given the go-ahead to the IAEA to continue its supervisions and has given the Agency access to locations it has demanded according to accepted principles as a result of which the IAEA has been able to verify the correctness and validity of Iran's statements as well as the information given to the UN nuclear body by Iranian authorities. This issue has been the most important point in the IAEA's recent report on the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic, which is totally positive for Iran.

With regard to the second focus of the IAEA's report, which is the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution, no new information has been given in the report and its contents are the repetition of the Agency’s previous reports. As a result, differences between Iran and the IAEA still remain in this regard. Iran believes that since the Security Council resolutions against Tehran are illegal, it is not possible for the Islamic Republic to implement them. On the other hand, following the agreement that was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in Geneva about working out secondary mechanisms, this issue is being pursued as part of those mechanisms through negotiations and, therefore, its repetition in the IAEA's report will not help to improve the situation in any way.

The third part of Amano’s report is about the progress made with regard to voluntary and bilateral cooperation between Iran and the IAEA for the implementation of the Framework for Cooperation. The report has said in this part that Iran's performance has been relatively satisfactory, noting, “Iran has implemented three of the five practical measures agreed with the Agency in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation, two of which were implemented after the agreed deadline of 25 August 2014,” about which negotiations have already started between the two sides. Iran has mentioned technical complexities as the main reason behind the delayed implementation of the last two measures and has declared its readiness to facilitate exchange of viewpoints on this issue. In his new report, like his previous ones, Amano has provided a historical account of the West’s claims under the title of “possible military dimensions” to Iran's nuclear energy program. However, only those informed of the background of this debate are aware that in the agreement they reached in Tehran, Iran and the IAEA had decided to take a step by step approach to discussing outstanding issues, including this issue. Therefore, there is nothing new to such allegations.

Amano has also tried to show that the implementation of the agreement signed between Iran and the IAEA is more important than its contents, so that the way would be paved to influence further political negotiations and facilitate further activities by the Agency in Iran. It seems that the Agency has been somehow cautious in this regard, so as to avoid a deadlock. Therefore, Iran's delay in implementing all five practical measures has not been introduced as a negative development and his report has reflected on continued cooperation from Iran after the expiry of the August 25 deadline. When it comes to two outstanding practical measures, the report has not considered it a sign of Iran's failure to abide by its obligations, but has noted that negotiations and discussions have begun between Iran and the Agency in this regard. The IAEA has done this in order to apparently prevent certain parties to reach the conclusion that Iran has refrained from cooperating with the IAEA, or is planning to do that. In this report, the IAEA has confirmed that Iran has given answers to 16 key questions. This is an important part of Amano’s report, which has largely gone unnoticed because the Agency has waited for years in order for Iran to give answers to these 16 questions and this issue had been mentioned in previous reports released by Amano.

As for the outstanding issues, Iran has produced documents and provided information about Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators, proving that these detonators have been used by Iranian oil and gas industries and that their use is not incompatible with common industrial practices. From the viewpoint of Iran, this case, which has been a main basis for baseless claims against Iran, has been closed, though this view has not been properly reflected in the Agency’s report.

The main point with regard to the outstanding issues is Iran's cooperation with the IAEA for giving answers to questions which have been there since many years ago and have not been answered so far. In fact, Iran has cooperated properly in this regard, but instead of being praised for its cooperation, the country has seen its secret nuclear information leaked as a result of which five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated. In some cases, when Iran has answered one question, the Agency has come up with more than 10 new questions, which prove that the IAEA has been trying to impose an abnormal, illegal and impractical trend on Iran with regard to the country’s nuclear energy program.

In the fourth part of his report, which is about supervision over the implementation of Iran's obligations as per the Joint Plan of Action, the IAEA has repeated its previous report in saying that during this period, Iran has remained committed to its obligations. This part of the report is the only part where there is no doubt and ambiguity with regard to Iran's performance, and the positive points given to the country in this part of the report are more than other parts. Naturally, this part of the report is more related to the issue of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries than other parts of the report. Since the situation here is totally positive and in favor of Iran, one may predict that the IAEA's report will have a generally positive effect on the overall course of nuclear negotiations in the future.

Key Words: IAEA's Latest Report, Implementation of Safeguards, Iran, IAEA, Yukiya Amano, Framework for Cooperation, P5+1 Group of Countries, Possible Military Dimensions, Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) Detonators, Joint Plan of Action, Daryaei

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*Photo Credit: IRNA

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