Albright Wrong on Legal Analysis AgainPosted: November 15, 2012
See this ISIS report by David Albright, just posted today. It’s a rundown of “facts” about two companies that may have worked with an Iranian defense organization called the Physics Research Center (PHRC) in the 1990’s, and whose work with the PHRC may have aided in the PHRC’s obtaining items from abroad that may or may not have violated other countries’ export control laws. Yawn. And from these facts there can, of course, be no other conclusion than the one reached by Albright that “the PHRC was part of a chain of secret organizations, the long-term aim of which was to lay the basis for nuclear weapons development.”
Sitting here in 2012, it’s hard to see how a study like this of possible export control violations by Iran 15-20 years ago is of any real relevance and usefulness to the current set of legal and diplomatic issues regarding Iran.
But as a legal matter, I take issue substantively with David’s conclusion, which is:
More generally, the IAEA needs to continue investigating the PHRC. It should insist that Iran answer questions derived from PHRC procurement information as part of the IAEA verifying the completeness of Iran’s declarations under its comprehensive safeguards agreement. The IAEA has the legal mandate to do so and the international community should support this effort.
Apparently David just couldn’t resist making another legal assessment, even after our pointed conversation about his doing so a while ago. Well, his assessment is just as wrong on this outing. Currently, the IAEA does not have a legal mandate to assess the completeness of Iran’s CSA declaration. Only its correctness, as I’ve been explaining in my contributions to the current Roundtable at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists site, and as I discussed in greater detail in a previous post here .
So whatever the PHRC may or may not have done back in the 1990’s, it’s ancient history now and irrelevant to, and merely a distraction from, the real current issues regarding Iran. And the IAEA does not in fact have the authority to investigate it. Wrong again, David.