Why Doesn’t Iran Give IAEA Inspectors Permission to Visit Parchin?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Interview with Hassan Beheshtipour

Based on the nuclear safeguard – an agreement signed with countries for enforcement of the NPT – the IAEA can only visit regions where nuclear activities are done. It means that the IAEA’s responsibility is to supervise the nuclear activities of countries and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. On the issue of Parchin, it must be said that this site was twice visited by IAEA inspectors in 2005 and the IAEA has officially announced that no nuclear activity was observed in this site. When the IAEA itself has twice visited this center and has not found any nuclear activity, it does not have the right to ask to visit a region which is not nuclear.

Q: Can the fact that no nuclear activity was done in this area in 2005 be considered as a guarantee that no nuclear activity is being performed there now?

A: The IAEA claims that it has evidence and there are signs that military nuclear activity is executed in this region. Iran states that this evidence must first be handed to Iran, but the IAEA refuses to do so pointing out that countries which have delivered this evidence to the IAEA do not allow the source of this information to be handed over to Iran. Secondly, Iran states that a modality and a comprehensive program must be designed in which the issue of Parchin and other issues can be placed and considered and gradually resolved. If any of these issues is solved, then the IAEA can officially announce its finalization. But the IAEA says that reaching a modality may prolong the process, and also one item may not be resolved and this could lead to the halt of the whole process. They intend to solve the issue in one framework. The present negotiations between Iran and IAEA representatives are also taking place around this issue.

If this modality or comprehensive program is formed, Iran, within the same framework, will allow visitation of Parchin, provided that this inspection is done once and for always. The reason is that no country has, hitherto, permitted its military centers to be inspected several times, because Parchin is a military site and its information is completely confidential, and inspections by IAEA inspectors or other institutions may lead to the leakage of the sensitive information of the country which is not in Iran’s interests. This is while Iran believes that if there are nuclear activities in a region, the IAEA must supervise those activities. The issue is that this region is not a nuclear zone but rather a military site.

But if the IAEA accepts that this visit will be done once and for always and then be resolved, Iran has no problem with its visitation. But a few months later, they may say that we have received some new information, thus, a new inspection must be performed. No country allows foreigners to repeatedly visit and inspect its military centers.

Q: Considering the statements made after the last visit of IAEA inspectors to Iran claiming that a structural agreement had been created, is it possible that the inspectors will be allowed to visit Parchin?

A: A structural agreement means that both sides have reached an agreement on general issues but they are supposed to negotiate about the details and the method of its enforcement in this round.

Yes, it is possible that this permission will be issued, provided that an agreement is made about its modality. Iran has based the inspection of Parchin by IAEA inspectors on reaching an agreement on the framework of Iran-IAEA cooperation. Iran has not rejected the issue, but it believes that this measure must be taken within the framework of a comprehensive agreement between Iran and the IAEA.

Q: Iran still views the IAEA’s outlook as being political and the IAEA still accuses Iran of not fully cooperating with the IAEA inspectors. When no change has been made in the positions of either party, what does holding such negotiations mean?

A: There is no doubt about the political behavior of the IAEA. The statements made last week by Mr. Amano are an example of such political behavior. He publicly announced that Iran has dubious activities, it does not issue permission for an inspection of Parchin, and there are serious concerns in several regions including Khondab near Arak. These statements show that he intends to politicize the atmosphere, otherwise they should not be proposed in the media. They should be discussed in negotiations. But when Amano talks about them in the media, his intention is to politicize the matter and not solve it from the technological and legal aspects. But the issue is that there is no solution but negotiation.

It seems that the Iranian party must be more active in this regard, because they have increased pressure on Iran and obviously this is not to their disadvantage. It is the Iranian party which is under pressure and must propose new initiatives, otherwise the continuation of this trend and prolonging the negotiations will not safeguard Iran’s interests whereas the IAEA will not be hurt. Therefore, Iran must propose new initiatives and new plans. The remark made by Mr. Salehi proposing that the religious decree of the Supreme Leader with regard to the prohibition of nuclear weapons should be transformed into an international legal document can be a suitable proposal, provided that this issue is pursued and propagated in the media and in the nuclear diplomacy scene. The West would then be disarmed in its propagations.

Q: The issue of the time and venue of Iran-P5+1 negotiations is presently proposed. What will the effects of the outcome of Iran-IAEA negotiations be on Iran-P5+1 negotiations?

A: These two negotiations are practically intertwined. The reason is that the political and security part of the issue is discussed within the framework of Iran-P5+1 negotiations, whereas the technical and legal aspects are discussed within the framework of Iran-IAEA negotiations. These two trends have mutual effects on each other. It means that if Iran reaches an agreement with the IAEA, it will have a determining impact on Iran-P5+1 negotiations and vice versa. And the opposite is also true, meaning that if Iran does not reach an agreement with any of these parties in any of these scenes, it will have a negative impact on the other.

*A researcher, documentary producer, and expert on nuclear issues, Hassan Beheshtipour was born on June 22, 1961 in Tehran. He received his BA in Trade Economics from Tehran University. His research topics span from US and Russian foreign policy to the Ukrainian Orange Revolution.

Key Words: IAEA, Nuclear Safeguard, NPT, Parchin Site, Iran, Military Nuclear Activity, Modality, P5+1, Beheshtipour

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Source: Beheshtipour's Blog

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