Technical Review of IAEA Sept. 2013 Safeguards Report on Iran

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


There are a number of salient points in the latest report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which are of strategic importance:

1. The first point is that the report shows all sections of Iran's nuclear energy program are going on at a regular pace and on schedule with no problem reported about the natural course of the program. Iran's uranium enrichment activities are also going on using gas centrifuges. The program has been also progressing both in terms of the nuclear material it produces, and with regard to streamlining of machines and installation of new centrifuges.

2. The report shows that there has been no diversion “of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs (locations outside facilities) declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement.” There has been also no instance in which Iran's nuclear material has been found to be used for non-peaceful purposes. The IAEA has also found no sign of undeclared nuclear materials, facilities, or activities in Iran. These are among the most important legal and strategic highlights of IAEA's August 2013 report on the implementation of Safeguards Agreement in Iran. There are only two cases in which the IAEA has found faults with Iran's nuclear energy program. Firstly, the IAEA has announced that Iran is not implementing the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions in some of its facilities. Secondly, there are still certain questions with regard to specific aspects of Iran's nuclear activities about which no mutually agreed modality has been formulated so far in order to find appropriate answers to those questions. The interesting point is that even in those instances when the IAEA has been compelled to announce that Iran has not implemented the provisions of the Security Council resolutions in some of its facilities, it has been forced to immediately admit that the country, however, is in full compliance with the IAEA's Safeguards in all its facilities. In other words, the IAEA has indirectly admitted that the Security Council resolutions have banned the activities of Iranian facilities which are under the Agency’s Safeguards Agreement and there is no possibility of any diversion in their activities.

3. The report also shows that Iran is still going on with its technical strategy to reduce accumulation of produced material while increasing production capacity of its nuclear energy program. In line with this strategy, Iran has increased the number of centrifuge machines at Natanz facility to over 15,000. The country has also taken steps to install more second generation machines at the underground part of Natanz facility. Meanwhile, the IAEA report shows that the conversion of 20-percent enriched UF6 to uranium oxide is steadily going on. It says that although Iran has produced more than 300 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium, it is only keeping 180 kg of that uranium as UF6. This shows that at the present juncture, Iran has no interest in accumulating more 20-percent enriched uranium than it needs. However, the Islamic Republic has developed its infrastructure in such a way that in future, if the need arises, it would be able to produce a considerable amount of nuclear material within a short period of time. This issue can send the technical message that the Iranian facility at Natanz is past the point of no return. Therefore, in any future negotiations, there would be no room for bargaining over possible limitation of its activities. In fact, Natanz is a red line for Iran's uranium enrichment program and cannot be included in any possible negotiations.

4. The IAEA report also contains a few important points on Iran's heavy water reactor near the city of Arak, which include:

    4.1. Paragraph 33 of the report shows that Iran has broken major grounds at Arak facility. However, in a strange turn, the report says that although the reactor vessel has been placed into position, a number of other major components had yet to be installed, including the control room equipment, the refueling machine and reactor cooling pumps. The question which may occur to the reader is why and with what goal in mind has the IAEA given the exact name of the equipment which has not been installed at Arak facility yet? Given the background of past cooperation between the IAEA and some Western secret services and countries, the most straightforward answer which may come to one’s mind is that the agency is actually giving secret information to the Western intelligence community. In doing so, the IAEA is alerting the Western intelligence agencies and countries that Iran is in need of such equipment as refueling machines and reactor cooling pumps. Therefore, if the Western countries aim to prevent full commissioning of Arak facility, they should focus their efforts on preventing Iran from getting its hands on this equipment.

    4.2. There is also another important point in this report. Unlike previous reports in which the IAEA insisted that it had no direct access to the reactor at Arak facility, here, it has announced that on August 7, 2013, the Agency has had direct access to Arak reactor. According to the Safeguards Agreement, Iran is under no obligation to give the IAEA any kind of access to the reactor at Arak facility at the current juncture. In spite of this fact, Iran has provided that access to the IAEA. The IAEA has made no reference to this measure by Iran in its report, which it should have done as the measure taken by Iran was beyond the scope of its obligations. This has been the result of a traditional trend in reports prepared for the Board of Governors by the Director General of the IAEA according to which any cooperation from Iran has been regularly underemphasized, or if possible, concealed. The points of difference, on the contrary, have regularly become so highlighted that as if Iran's nuclear energy program is a real threat and concern for the international community.

    4.3. One of the most important items of new information in the latest IAEA report on Iran's nuclear energy program is related to the beginning of fuel production for Arak reactor in Iran. In its Paragraph 47, the report says, “On 17 and 18 August 2013, the Agency carried out an inspection and a DIV (Design Information Verification) at FMP (Fuel Manufacturing Plant) and confirmed the ongoing manufacture of pellets for the IR-40 Reactor using natural UO2. As indicated above (Paragraph 34), since the Director General’s previous report Iran has started to manufacture fuel assemblies containing nuclear material for the IR-40 Reactor. As of 17 August 2013, the Agency had verified that Iran had manufactured ten such assemblies, all of which were stored at FMP.” Analysts believe that the beginning of the industrial operations for manufacturing nuclear material for the IR-40 Reactor in Iran indicates that it will not take long before Arak reactor becomes fully operational.

5. As for the situation of Parchin military site in Iran, the IAEA report has practically done away with recent suspicions that the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) had risen on this site. On August 22, 2013, the ISIS published photos claiming that “Iran has conducted further spreading, leveling and compacting of material over most of the site, a significant proportion of which it has also asphalted” in order to destroy any evidence attesting to previous nuclear tests at the site. The latest IAEA report, however, has noted in its Paragraph 54 that the activities alleged by the ISIS have been underway at Parchin site, but the report has clearly noted that the building which the IAEA intends to inspect has remained unchanged. Of course, the IAEA has claimed that there is a building in which Iran has “constructed a large explosives containment vessel in which to conduct hydrodynamic experiments…. The … containment vessel was installed at the Parchin site in 2000.” The IAEA report clearly says that the building is still in its place and has remained intact. Therefore, there is no reason why Iran should stop other construction activities which are going on inside the Parchin site which is a very large compound.

Key Words: Technical Review, IAEA Safeguards Report, Iran, Nuclear Program, Natanz, Parchin, Uranium Enrichment, IranNuc.IR

Source: IranNuc.IR
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Photo Credit: Al Manar News

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