Iran's Transparency

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

The
November
report
of Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to the Board of
Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency begins by noting
that the Board had adopted a resolution in September in which, inter
alia, it “urged” the Islamic Republic of Iran to implement “transparency
measures” that extend beyond the formal requirements of the
Iranian Safeguards
Agreement
and the Additional Protocol.

Iran’s
Safeguards Agreement — which gave the IAEA the “right and the obligation”
to ensure that safeguards are applied on “all source or special
fissionable material” in all peaceful nuclear activities
“for the exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is
not diverted to nuclear weapons” — entered into force in 1974.

Under
that agreement, IAEA inspections are routinely limited to those
locations within a facility through which “safeguarded” nuclear
material is expected to flow.

Then,
in 2002, at the 46th IAEA General Conference, Reza Aghazadeh, president
of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced
that Iran planned to construct within two decades nuclear power
plants with a total capacity of 6,000 MW:

I take this opportunity to invite all the technologically advanced
member states to participate in my country’s ambitious plan for
the construction of nuclear power plants and the associated technologies
such as fuel cycle, safety and waste management techniques.

In
the early 1990s, Russia had agreed, inter alia, to complete
the nuclear power plants at Bushehr, whose construction had begun
under the Shah, and build a gas-centrifuge uranium-enrichment facility
at Natanz.

Also
in the early 1990s, China had agreed, inter alia, to provide
Iran two 300 MW nuclear power plants and a uranium-conversion plant
at Isfahan.

But,
in 1995, as a result of intense U.S. pressure on Russia and China
— and on European suppliers of auxiliary equipment — Russia canceled
the gas-centrifuge facility contract and China canceled the power
plant contract. In 1997, China also cancelled the uranium-conversion
plant contract.

The
Russians continued to honor their contract to complete at least
one of the 1,000 MW power plants at Bushehr.

So,
the Iranians decided to try to develop or acquire (unbeknownst to
the U.S.) elements of the nuclear fuel-cycle, themselves. It is
important to note that under their existing safeguards agreement,
they are — and were — under no obligation to inform the IAEA about
any of those activities until shortly before they actually involved
the chemical or physical transformation of safeguarded nuclear materials.

In
August 2002, the Iranians subjected the uranium-enrichment pilot
plant they had under construction at Natanz to IAEA safeguards.
They had already subjected the uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan.

The
IAEA in subsequent inspections has yet to find anything “wrong”
at those or other fuel-cycle related safeguarded facilities. However,
in 2002 and early 2003, the IAEA did find imports of small amounts
of “source or special nuclear materials” and activities involving
their physical or chemical transformation that should have been
reported, but weren’t.

The
most serious Iranian “violation” was the failure to report the importation
from China in 1991 of 0.13 “effective-kilogram” of U235 to be used
for testing of different processes involved in the then-to-be-supplied
Chinese uranium conversion facility. The facility the Iranians built
themselves had been subject to safeguards ever since construction
began, but the Iranians had never reported the test materials —
which they had not yet used — they got from China. It was the Iranian
view — as well as that of South Korea et al. — that only
“significant” quantities (one effective-kilogram) had to be reported.

Then,
in December, 2003, Iran signed the IAEA Additional Protocol and
announced it would “cooperate with the Agency in accordance with
the [Additional] Protocol in advance of its ratification.”

Now,
after two years of intrusive inspections and reporting on imports
of nuclear material and related equipment that would be required
by the Additional Protocol (if it were in force) and implementation
by Iran of some “transparency measures” that extend beyond
the formal requirements of the Iranian Safeguards Agreement and
the Additional Protocol, ElBaradei had this to say:

In
order to clarify some of the outstanding issues related to Iran’s
enrichment program, Iran’s full transparency is indispensable and
overdue.

Transparency
measures should include the provision of information and documentation
related to the procurement of dual-use equipment, and permitting
visits to relevant military owned workshops and R&D locations
associated with the Physics Research Center and the Lavisan-Shian
site.

These
should also include interviews on the acquisition of certain dual-use
materials and equipment, and the taking of environmental samples
from the above [non-safeguarded] locations.

December
5, 2005

Physicist
James Gordon Prather [send
him mail
] has served as a policy-implementing official for national
security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency,
the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department
of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department
of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for
national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. –
ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the
Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather
had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory
in New Mexico.

Gordon
Prather Archives

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts