Spying under the Guise of Nuclear Inspections

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mostafa Entezari Heravi
Doctoral Student of Political Science

Some 58 years ago, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) came into being with the motto of “atoms for peace,” some people believed that an “independent” and “autonomous” institution will be born out of the then US President Dwight Eisenhower’s proposal. Of course, as time went by, it became more and more evident that the world’s nuclear watchdog is still leagues away from those ideals on the basis of which it had been founded.

It seems that the most important threat to independence of the IAEA is political interventions in the Agency’s work; the same interventions which have rendered many organs that are in charge of safeguarding international peace, practically inefficient. Perhaps, if it were not for the political interventions of some global powers in the work of international institutions that protect peace, such as the United Nations Security Council, the IAEA, and the UN Human Rights Council, the world would not have to deal with such double-standard behaviors and unacceptable conditions when respect for the independence of countries is involved.

Myths about Iran's relations with IAEA

Perhaps, the case of Iran's nuclear program is one of those cases in which political intervention of world powers in the IAEA's mission is quite evident. While Iran started to cooperate with the IAEA some 57 years ago by acceding to the Agency, there are many countries in the region that have never given in to the IAEA's inspections after the lapse of over half a century since its inception. About 10 years after its membership at the IAEA, Iran also signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and officially accepted to put its nuclear program, which had started in early 1970s, under the supervision of the IAEA's inspectors. In line with the IAEA's duties, those inspections were supposed to guarantee that Tehran would be able to make peaceful use of the nuclear energy and to pave the way for cooperation between the two sides in this regard. Iran and the IAEA have had relations since that time and despite all pressures, Tehran has never violated its obligations with regard to international inspections. This is why even since 12 years ago, when certain claims were leveled against Iran's nuclear program, the IAEA has frequently confirmed the Islamic Republic’s full cooperation with this international body.

Of course, there are unreal myths about the relations between Iran and the Agency, which have been frequently used as an excuse to promote Iranophobia. There are myths that claim Tehran had hidden its nuclear activities from the IAEA for a long time in defiance of its obligations and this is why there is general distrust surrounding Iran's nuclear activities. However, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently told the US-based PBS channel in an interview that, “let’s look at the realities.” What happened in the case of Iran was a model of deprivation, Zarif said, adding that the country actually owns part of the French Eurodif consortium which produces enriched uranium. In fact, Zarif noted, Iran owns 10 percent of the Eurodif, but the country has not been able to obtain even one gram of uranium from that consortium. He then referred to the construction of a research reactor in Tehran by the Americans in 1950s and 1960s, within the framework of “atoms for peace” initiative. Following the Islamic Revolution, he added, Iran needed fuel for the reactor, but the United States did not supply the needed fuel for the reactor that it had built in Iran.

“This is a peaceful reactor,” Zarif said, emphasizing that the reactor is of no good for production of nuclear weapons, but the United States refrained from supplying its fuel. In 1990, the Iranian foreign minister noted, Iran purchased necessary fuel for its reactor from Argentina, but the need for fuel soared in early 2000 because the fuel bought previously had been spent. Zarif said it was then that Iran asked the IAEA for fuel, but they told Iran that they will not give the country any nuclear fuel. After that, according to Zarif, Iran decided to produce its needed fuel as a result of which, the other party became afraid and asked why Iran should produce the fuel that it needs? “Why? It is quit clear,” Zarif said, adding, “Because you didn’t give us fuel.” He noted that Iran enjoys scientific capabilities and scientific bases on its soil. “We have necessary technical capabilities,” Zarif said, adding that the Iranian people cannot give up this technology because it has been indigenized. The Iranian foreign minister went on to note that Iran is ready to assure the world that its scientific and technical capabilities are solely used for peaceful purposes. “This is what we want and is to our benefit,” he said adding that the West cannot start writing history from where it likes. The history should start from the point when the US government made worldwide efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining necessary fuel for its nuclear reactor, Zarif said.

Information leak proves IAEA's dependence

Therefore, through various historical junctures, Iran has never ceased cooperating with the IAEA, which has never lived up to its obligations toward Iran. However, despite such an extensive cooperation, there are not only false allegations about lack of Iran's cooperation with the IAEA, but Tehran has fallen victim to leakage of sensitive nuclear information by the IAEA's inspectors. The mere leakage of such information is proof to existence of political influences within the IAEA and lack of independence in its actions.

Tehran has consistently expressed its concern about leak of information by the IAEA inspectors during past years and has been complaining that inspections of its nuclear sites have been an excuse for conducting espionage activities on the country. Of course, Article 7 of the IAEA Statute and Article 5 of the Safeguards Agreement have specified that the IAEA should heed security concerns of member countries in its reports. However, there have been frequent cases in which secret information of our country has been published through general reports of the IAEA. In protest to this issue, Iran sent the IAEA a four-page report attached to a letter written by the country’s permanent ambassador to the Agency. While answering some questions related to certain paragraphs of the IAEA director general’s report on the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement in Iran, the report criticized the IAEA for the leak of confidential information and asked the Agency to launch a prompt investigation into disclosure of confidential information on Iran's nuclear program, which had been provided to Western media and news agencies through the secretariat of the Agency. Iran's ambassador to the IAEA said last year that the Agency should fulfill all its obligations with regard to the protection of confidential information. Reza Najafi explicitly noted that “Iran is concerned about spying at the Agency.”

Iran has been following a strategy of disambiguation about its nuclear program with the IAEA for more than half a century and has done its best to win global trust in its nuclear program. The incessant nuclear talks that have been going on for the past 10 years between Iran and world powers are just one example of such a strategy. Therefore, it will not be illogical for Iran to expect the Agency to understand its security concerns and prevent leak of the classified information from the Agency, thus putting an end to the abuse of the Agency by those countries that officially threaten the Islamic Republic with military action. It goes without saying that continued inattention to Iran's security concerns and escalation of distrust in the IAEA's performance and function can have a negative impact on Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and precipitate further decline of the IAEA's credit in the public opinion of the world.

Espionage, a deadline for Iran

The above facts clearly show that the track records of the IAEA are devoid of solid evidence to the independence and impartiality of this international institution. However, when it comes to the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group, the opposite side has been insisting on the necessity of inspections “anytime, anywhere,” and has been alleging that every site in Iran suspected of having any relation with the country’s nuclear program should be inspected. Given the fact that a large portion of the IAEA's information on Iran's nuclear activities has come from unsubstantiated sources affiliated to Israeli lobbies or overseas Iranian opposition, it is not clear why this condition has been brought up in the nuclear talks, which will in practice lead to peeking into Iran's sensitive military centers and spying on the country’s defense capabilities.

Iranian military authorities have unequivocally asserted that Iran's response to any effort for spying on its military centers will be “hot lead.” Even experts from the IAEA have admitted that setting any extralegal conditions for the continuation of the nuclear program of Iran would not be acceptable. Nonetheless, it seems that interventions in Tehran’s nuclear case, which go far beyond the stipulations of the Safeguards Agreement, have prompted certain parties to talk about extralegal supervisions over Iran's nuclear program and expect to be allowed to meddle in the country’s internal affairs. Of course, such an expectation will be met with Iran's firm “no.” Therefore, all those parties, which imagine that a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran will provide them with an opportunity to spy on the country’s military sites, should understand that to protect its political independence, and of course to defend the credit of the IAEA, Tehran will never give in to such demands that are based on empty allegations.

Key Words: Nuclear Inspections, Spying,  International Atomic Energy Agency, Political Interventions, United Nations Security Council, Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Mohammad Javad Zarif, Espionage, Safeguards Agreement, Political Independence, Entezari Heravi

Source: Jamejam Online
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Photo Credit: CBS News, Mehr News

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