Iran’s Response to the IAEA’s Most Recent Report

A colleague sent me this today. It’s Iran’s formal response to the IAEA DG’s May 22 report on Iran’s safeguards implementation.  I highly recommend that you read it.  Its a very thorough response, covering all of the issues raised in the IAEA report, and making detailed and substantive factual and legal arguments. The point of most of my writing about Iran’s nuclear program is just to say that their legal arguments about the IAEA and the NPT should be taken seriously, because many of them are correct. This is a good source to see those legal arguments as made by Iranian officials themselves.  I’ll excerpt only the “General Observations” section here, but you really have to read the whole thing – including particularly page 16, where the document says the IAEA is being “more Catholic than the Pope.” LOVE that. Note also the specific calling out of David Albright and ISIS, and the “unprofessional” disclosure of confidential materials to him by IAEA officials.


A.  General Observations


1-         The report is not balanced and factual since it has not duly reflected the cooperation,  letters and explanations  of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the questions of/or communication  made with the Agency. For more elaboration of this assessment, three letters addressed to the DG are attached.


2-          Paragraph    27   of   the    Safeguards    Resolution    adopted    by   the    General    Conference GC(53)/RES/14 as well as GC(54)/RES/11,  mandate the Agency to prepare technically  objective and factually   correct   reports  with  appropriate   references   to  relevant   provisions   of   the  Safeguards Agreement.  Regrettably,  this statutory  requirement  has continuously  been ignored and has not been observed  in  this  and  in the  previous  reports.  The  Agency  should  not  arbitrarily  step  beyond  its statutory  and legal mandate  in preparing  its reports, assessments  and comments  without considering the relevant concrete obligations of a State.


3-          More importantly, the IAEA is an independent  inter-governmental  organization,  not a United Nations   programme  or  fund.  Therefore,  the  Agency’s   mandate  is  to  carry  out  its  activities  in accordance  with  its rights and  obligations  under the Statute and  the Safeguards  Agreements.    The Agency  should  therefore  refrain from  taking  instructions  from anonymous  States  and sources  with vested interests or allow unauthorized parties to interfere with its mandates. There are no provisions in the  Safeguards  Agreements  and  IAEA  Statute  which  may  authorize  the  United  Nations  Security Council  (UNSC)  to take  over  the  role of  the  IAEA  in implementing  the  Safeguards  Agreements, impose new requirements, or modify the obligations of the parties to the Safeguards Agreements; nor does the Agency have the right or authority to impose ultra vires demands on Iran by relying upon the UNSC resolutions.


4-          The Islamic Republic of Iran has already made it clear, based on the legal provisions such as those of the Agency’s Statute and the Safeguards Agreement as to why the UNSC resolutions against Iran are illegal and unjustified, which have been already explained  in INFCIRCs/: 786, 804, 805, 810,

817, 823, 827, 833, 837, 847, 849 and 850. Iran’s  peaceful nuclear activities have unlawfully been put

on the agenda of the UNSC and the Council  has taken a wrong approach  by adopting  its politically­ motivated, illegal and unacceptable resolutions against Iran. Therefore, any request by the Agency stemming from those resolutions is not legitimate and not acceptable.


5-          Although  the  report  once again  reconfirmed  that “the  Agency continues to verify the non- diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards  Agreement”,  it  keeps  using  “unusual”  and  “irrelevant”   language  with  regard  to  the Safeguards  conclusions,  by stating: “the  Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of  undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”, since  the  Agency  has  to  simply confirm that all declared nuclear material is accounted for and therefore “declared nuclear material in Iran remained in peaceful activities”.


6-          The Non-Aligned  Movement  in its several  statements  to the Board of Governors  has stated that “NAM emphasizes the fundamental distinction between the legal obligations of states in accordance with their respective Safeguards Agreements, as opposed to any confidence building measures undertaken voluntarily that do not constitute a legal safeguards obligation.” and also “NAM takes note that the latest report of the Director General includes many references to events that transpired prior to the previous report contained in document GOV/2009/74 dated 16 November 2009, and contrary to the expectation of NAM, does not mention the responses provided by Iran to the Agency on several issues.”, NAM  has also stated that “taking into account the recent developments mentioned above as well as previous Director General’s reports on the implementation of the Work Plan on “Understanding of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Agency on the Modalities for resolution of the Outstanding Issues” (INFCIRC/711), NAM still looks forward to the safeguards implementation in Iran being conducted in a routine manner”. However, the Director General  in preparing   his  report  has  unfortunately   not  heeded  these  important  statements  which  reflect  the concerns of a large number of the United Nations and the Agency Member States.


7-          The Agency should strictly observe its obligations under Article VII.F of the Agency’s  Statute and Article 5 of the Safeguards Agreement between the I.R. oflran and the Agency, both emphasizing on the confidentiality  requirements. As was emphasized in previous Iran’s Explanatory Notes, the information collected during inspections of nuclear facilities should be considered as confidential information.  However, once again, the report in contradiction to the Agency’s  statutory  mandate and the Safeguards  Agreement (INFCIRC/214)  contains a lot of confidential technical details that should have not been published. The DG by including detailed information in his reports such as the number of installed and/or operating centrifuges, amount of nuclear material fed and/or produced, etc., has demonstrated  his  inability  to  fulfill  his commitments  on  confidentiality  measures.  It comes  as  no surprise that almost at the same time the DG report is released, some websites such as ISIS, publish the report contained  with sort of fictitious calculations as its evaluation on the detailed  information of the report. This fact leaves no doubt that ISIS has real time access to the safeguards confidential information,  thanks  to the  DG’s  generosity  in disclosing  confidential  information  to  unauthorized circles  before even  the less privileged  Member  States  have a chance  to examine  such  reports.  We strongly  object to this unprofessional and wrong pattern of non-compliance with the legal framework of the IAEA. This continuous violation must be stopped.


8-          Regrettably, the main portion of the DG’s  report  is based on certain  information  related to missile issue, not involving nuclear material activities. The Agency is not entitled to step beyond its mandate to the bilateral Safeguards  Agreement, or interfere with Iran’s  national security concerns on the  pretext of Iran’s  nuclear  program. Moreover, the DG has relied on some forged,  fabricated  and false  information   provided  by  western  intelligence  services  and  known  sources  hostile  to  Iran, assessed  as “overall  credible” information,  without any authenticity  verification,  while  independent observers  have revealed part of the false information  used by the Agency and criticized  ironically its immature assessment on allegations against Iran.


9-          The report  in its introductory  part enters into a legal qualification  and judgment  that is not absolutely  at  the  discretion  and the  responsibility  of  the  Director  General  of  the  IAEA.  Defining unilaterally obligations on a sovereign State is beyond the mandate of the Director General. As clearly described  above, the DG has deviated from his mandate. Iran reserves its right to file claims against his acts on the damages arising.


10-        In the light of the above, the claims and baseless allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s  peaceful nuclear activities as contained in the DG’s  report (GOV/2013/27, dated 22 May 2013) are unprofessional,  unfair, illegal and politicized.


26 Comments on “Iran’s Response to the IAEA’s Most Recent Report”

  1. Don Bacon says:

    I like the way Scott McConnel at American Conservative puts it:

    “For those who hoped Washington would bomb Iran into a smoldering ruin (for there are no troops available to invade and occupy it) sanctions are a necessary part of “coercive diplomacy”—a paper trail which could allow American diplomats to claim they’ve “tried everything” to avoid a war.”

    And we’ve seen this pattern of behavior with Obama, and not only on Iran. “Gosh, I tried, I really did, but I got no help and now we must take other action.” Like assassinations and cyberwarfare, so far.

    • Cyrus says:

      I have always said that sanctions are intended to serve as stepping-stones towards a conflict. People point out that the sanctions have been ineffective in stopping Iran’s nuclear program however everyone must understand something: the real target of the sanctions nowdays is primarily Washington, not Tehran. The goal is to steer the US into a box on Iran, so that war is the inevitable outcome (or at least, any sort of engagement and detente is absolutely ruled out in the meantime.) The US is being led down the path to conflict, and with the passage of each set of sanctions laws it becomes politically harder to do an about-face and adopt a more conciliatory policy towards Iran. After all, what politician is willing to be called the “Defender of Iran”? So, the only politically-viable option becomes to double-down and dig the hole deeper. This is no accident. For years, multiple compromise solutions which would have addressed any *real* proliferation concerns have been dismissed and ignored by the US, and instead we have been told that the range of options on Iran consists of a false choice: either bombing/sanctioning them, or else Iran will “go nuclear” and we have to “live with a nuclear-armed Iran.” Since the latter alternative was clearly meant to be unacceptable, the only question to be debated is simply over *when* to bomb them, not why. We were treated practically on a daily basis to some long article accompanied by glossy colorful maps and charts about the various routes that the airplanes will take and the targets they will hit etc. instead. One day, I’d like to go back and count the number of “Israel about to bomb Iran” articles that I suffered through over the last 20+ years since speculation about Iranian nukes started in 1984.

      • Dan Joyner says:

        I agree with this. That’s why I’m generally pessimistic about there being a negotiated resolution to the dispute. The US Congress simply will not allow meaningful sanctions reversal, and without this card to play the US really has no negotiating leverage, and Iran really has no incentive to make concessions.

  2. Johnboy says:

    One sentence had my eyes popping out of their sockets.

    There is a paragraph in the General Observations that refer to DG Amano stepping outside his mandate when he unilaterally defines what international obligations Iran must commit itself to.

    The Iranians not only point out that the Emperor has no clothes but, pointedly, end that paragraph with “Iran reserves its right to file claims against his acts on the damages arising.”

    Apparently they are seriously considering suing Amano for slander…..

    • Dan Joyner says:

      Yeah I saw that too, Johnboy, and I agree its significant. As far as I know, Iranian officials have never explicitly threatened legal action against the IAEA and/or its officials. This of course begs the question (to a lawyer) of what kind of legal action that would be. As I’ve noted before, the IAEA Statute does contain a clause submitting disputes to the ICJ, and the IAEA CSA contains an arbitration clause in Article 22. Between the two, the arbitration clause in the CSA would appear by far the most likely and practicable route for Iran to use. The ICJ Statute specifically reserves its jurisdiction to disputes between states, which the IAEA is not. An ICJ advisory opinion is always an option, but I would think an arbitration under the CSA would be preferable. It would be a binding judgment of an international tribunal, established pursuant to the CSA clause, and as far as I can tell if Iran was to invoke the arbitration clause, the IAEA would have no choice but to go along with it, and would be legally bound by its judgment. Here’s what CSA article 22 says:

      “Any dispute arising out of the interpretation or application of this Agreement, except a dispute with regard to a finding by the Board under Article 19 or an action taken by the Board pursuant to such a finding, which is not settled by negotiation or another procedure agreed to by the Government of Iran and the Agency shall, at the request of either, be submitted to an arbitral tribunal composed as follows: the Government of Iran and the Agency shall each designate one arbitrator, and the two arbitrators so designated shall elect a third, who shall be the Chairman. If, within thirty days of the request for arbitration, either the Government of Iran or the Agency has not designated an arbitrator, either the
      Government of Iran or the Agency may request the President of the International Court of Justice to appoint an arbitrator. The same procedure shall apply if, within thirty days of the designation or appointment of the second arbitrator, the third arbitrator has not been elected. A majority of the members of the arbitral tribunal shall constitute a quorum, and all decisions shall require the concurrence of two arbitrators. The arbitral procedure shall be fixed by the tribunal. The decisions of the tribunal shall be binding on the
      Government of Iran and the Agency.”

      • yousaf says:

        I’ve advocated arbitration from the very beginning — not sure why Iran never invoked it. (Before)

      • Cyrus says:

        Dan, it is instructive with respect to the definition of non-compliance under XII.C. that this provision on arbitration makes an exception to Article 19 findings. As you know under Article 19, the Board is authorized but not obligated (“may”) to report a country to the UNSC under XII.C if the IAEA is “not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material…required to be safeguarded…to nuclear weapons.” Then how can a safeguards breach automatically become a violation of the NPT when there has clearly been no such diversion, and when all the material has been accounted-for? This and the text of the safeguards agreements and XII.c itself seem to me to make it pretty clear that the only time a safeguards breach amounts to a violation of the NPT is if as a result the IAEA is unable to verify the absence of diversion. Simple failures to report otherwise legal activity that involved no diversion of nuclear material to weapons cannot constitute a violation of the NPT, especially once the safeguards breaches have been resolved and corrected as the rules allow.

      • Johnboy says:

        Hmm, OK, but that doesn’t quite gel with the actual sentence, which said this:
        “Iran reserves its right to file claims against his acts on the damages arising.”

        Now maybe I’m reading too much into that, but IMHO the Iranians are doing much more than simply threatening to take the IAEA to arbitration when they issue a statement like that.

        No. They appear to be directly threatening legal action against **Amano** by reserving the right to seek redress from **him** for the damages that **he** has caused by **his** comments.

        I have no idea how they would go about that but, hey, slander is slander is slander is slander in any number of jurisdictions.

      • Bibi Jon says:

        Eric Bril wrote up a very comprehensive piece which included ‘arbitration’ back in 2010.
        See page 20, Part 3. (PDF)

      • Geronimo says:

        (1) Iran has in fact on several occasions, at the Board of Governors, stated that it may bring legal action against the IAEA for damages resulting from dissemination of ‘false’ information by the IAEA, technical details about its enrichment activities (such as numbers/types of centrifuges, operating history and amounts of LEU produced), and other information on PMD, which information was used by the US and its poodles to impose sanctions against Iran — the compensation sought would be for the damages to Iran caused by UNSC and unilateral sanctions.
        (2) The Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) in fact includes provision for arbitration (para. 22, INFCIRC/153) >> ( “The Agreement should provide that any dispute arising out of the interpretation or application thereof except a dispute with regard to a finding by the Board under paragraph 19 above or an action taken by the Board pursuant to such a finding which is not settled by negotiation or another procedure agreed to by the parties should, on the request of either party, be submitted to an arbitral tribunal composed as follows: each party would designate one arbitrator, and the two arbitrators so designated would elect a third, who would be the Chairman. If, within 30 days of the request for arbitration, either party has not designated an arbitrator, either party to the dispute may request the President of the International Court of Justice to appoint an arbitrator. The same procedure would apply if, within 30 days of the designation or appointment of the second arbitrator, the third arbitrator had not been elected. A majority of the members of the arbitral tribunal would constitute a quorum, and all decisions would require the concurrence of two arbitrators. The arbitral procedure would be fixed by the tribunal. The decisions of the tribunal would be binding on both parties.”)
        (3) The CSA and the NPT are integrally linked — INFCIRC/153 defines the safeguards required under Article III of the NPT for NNWS party. Findings of non-compliance are made by the Board of Governors (BoG) pursuant to Article XII.C of the Statute based on safeguards findings by the Director General — the Statute is not ‘self-executing’, it requires a safeguards agreement pursuant to which the BoG can make a determination of non-compliance with the relevant safeguards agreement. The IAEA DG has never cited Iran for ‘non-compliance’ to the BoG and Iran has never been found to be in non-compliance at any time in the present — in September 2005, the BoG took a decision by vote to cite Iran for non-compliance with ‘past’ activities: GOV/2005/77, 24 September 2005), OP.1: “Finds that Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT Safeguards
        Agreement, as detailed in GOV/2003/75, constitute non compliance in the context of Article XII.C of the Agency’s Statute.” Thus, that finding concerned ‘past’ activities as detailed in GOV/2003/75.
        (4) Iran does in fact have an obligation to report new nuclear activities under Code 3.1 of its subsidiary arrangements, 180 days before the introduction of nuclear material (under the modified code, as soon as a decision is taken), as such if Iran is undertaking new construction of nuclear facilities it must report as noted above — and, as a matter of good faith and transparency it is in Iran’s interest to report as required under the modified Code 3.1 (even if the Majlis has instructed AEOI not to do so).

  3. Dan Joyner says:

    This is a good piece on possible Iranian withdrawal from the NPT that I just saw, written by Reza Sanati. I’m not sure I agree with it 100% but he does make good, persuasive points.

  4. Denis says:

    I agree w/ Cyrus 100%. We are in the steep, final descent phase of this 20-year roller-coaster ride. We are in the single digits phase of the countdown. There was nothing IRI could have done from the beginning to prevent the coming attack short of re-installing the Shah, and he’s been dead since 1980.

    And so I don’t know what the purpose of Iran’s reply to/attack on Amano is. Even if the legal points they develop are sound, so what? Do they think they can fend off a military attack with a lawsuit? Are they trying to leave a record so that the world will judge them as the victims when the (radioactive) dust settles? Fat chance. What did the world care about 200,000 dead Iraqis and a country still reeling in bloody turmoil?

    The IRI response really makes the point that IRI sees ISIS as driving this campaign. Fair enough. In his last two reports – Jul17 and Jul30 – Albright all but calls for a B-2 attack on the centrifuges. I mean he has the break-out period calculated down to a tenth of a day: 9.6-13 days. Pretty scary stuff. Nearly as scary as pink tarps and water leaks. If the world doesn’t limit IRI’s capacity very, very soon, Albright tells us, break-out will be here by mid-2014. Thankfully, Bloomberg seems to be the only MSM shill still willing to spread this ISIS dung around.

    The American Conservative article linked to by Don raises the specter of America’s “destiny” to bomb the Middle East in perpetuity. It’s a thought. Iran is dug in so deeply now that even the nuke bunker buster B61-11 will only set them back for a few years while they re-open the tunnels and dig deeper. Then what? More bombs. Bigger bombs. Then more digging. Unless US gets control of IRI to the point it has boots inside the nuke plants, this will go on for as long as Israel can keep convincing Congress that Iran is the real danger in the Middle East.

    As to the threat (made 2x in the reply) to sue Amano for damages, I find that quite frightening in its complete lack of connection to anything any lawyer could call reality. I mean we had Gadaffi and Saddam threatening to unleash mothers of all wars. We have constant faux-foaming at the mouth NoKo making all sorts of crazy threats. And now we have IRI threatening to sue Amano, probably the craziest threat of all. What is wrong with these people? How puerile can insanity get? I was taught by my law mentor to never, ever threaten to sue anyone. Ever. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by advertising a lawsuit and everything to lose. Keep your mouth shut, keep your client’s mouth shut, and file the papers. Of course, in this case there are no papers to file and no court of jurisdiction to file them in. So the threat makes IRI look like impotent idiots who, by definition, lack the capacity to understand they’re impotent, not that they don’t have genuine reason to be infuriated with Amano and his IAEA/ISIS circus.

    • Johnboy says:

      I disagree with almost everything Denis has just said.

      Any review of the USA’s many wars over the last twenty-thirty years shows a distinct pattern of behaviour, and it goes like this:

      USA has invariably faced up against countries that have been utterly dependent upon foreign (usually Russian) military equipment, and usually without any real effort to master the task of maintaining that equipment.

      So the USA follows a very carefully scripted game-plan:
      a) Cobble together crippling sanctions that dries up the supply of overseas weaponry
      b) Wait, wait, wait until the existing weaponry rusts away or wears out
      c) Then and only then does the US military step up and kick the door in.

      Therein lies the conundrum for the USA i.e. the Iranians (unlike almost everyone else) has taken that history lesson to heart and shaped itself accordingly, so much so that we find that almost everything that the Iranian military needs to fight is… made in Iran.

      Guns, Tanks, Ammo, Choppers, Vehicles, all the way down to the mundane – the boots on their feet and the tires on their helicopters – are all made in-house.

      And if they can’t make it in-house (e.g. AA missiles, radar, etc.) then they will insist on being able to maintain it themselves. And if they can’t do that then they won’t field it.

      That’s a very serious problem for the USA, because while this results in a Mid-Tech Iranian military it also results in a military that can’t be degraded by cutting it off from its overseas supplier.

      That’s a daunting problem for the USA, because no matter how long they sanction Iran its military refuses to rust away, and the US military has zero desire to go up against an army that is willing AND ABLE to shoot back and keep on shooting back.

      That’s why this has been dragging on for decades: the USA wants to step up and kick in a rotten door, and that door simply refuses to rot away.

      And while that continues (and the Iranians can keep this up indefinitely) then there simply won’t be a shooting war.

      At least, not a shooting war that is started by The Big Dawg.
      But that excitable little waggy tail, though, that’s another issue altogether……

    • Johnboy says:

      “Even if the legal points they develop are sound, so what? Do they think they can fend off a military attack with a lawsuit?”

      They aren’t addressing themselves to the USA and/or Israel.
      They aren’t even addressing their letter to Amano.

      The legalese in that reply is addressed to the NAMs.

      And the reason why is this: if/when the USA and/or Israel attacks Iran then the Iranian response will be to attempt to pull down the entire NPT.

      Not *just* to walk out of the NPT, but to bring about the end of the NPT.

      And the obvious way to do that is to convince the NAMs to walk out with them.

      That’s what all this legalese is about i.e. to convince the NAMs that this is an outrage, the thin edge of the wedge, this-is-crazy-batshit-stuff, don’t-think-you-won’t-be-next, etc, etc.

      That message is falling on some receptive ears, Denis, and you’d be remiss not to see that.

    • Denis says:


      I appreciate your response. Not sure I follow all of your points.

      My points were:
      1. We are on the eve of a US/Israeli attack on IRI, very likely involving tactical nuke bunker busters. This situation is the result of Israel’s insistence on maintaining nuclear hegemony in the Middle East, nothing more.

      2. B/c of Point 1, nothing IRI could have ever done w/in the context of NPT or any other international agreements could have or will prevent that attack. This is not about the niceties of negotiation or rights/obligations under international law. It’s about Israel’s own perceptions of “existential” threats, which must be eliminated at all costs, and/or its own image of Manifest Destiny as re: the Levant.

      3. USG will either have to put boots on the ground – well, under the ground – to eliminate the IRI “nuclear threat” or else engage in a cycle of Middle East bombing runs over the coming decades.

      4. IRI’s threats to sue Amano “for damages” are, legally speaking, idiotic bluffs and, politically speaking, puerile posturing.

      I don’t see how your theory that IRI is some sort of invincible, technological island unto itself really addresses my points. What I do see, and agree with you on, is that although Soltanieh’s letter is ostensibly addressed to the IAEA, it was written for the benefit of the NAMs. Ditto his speech on Jun05.2013, which was a much more convincing, but less informative, effort.

      It seems that in response to my Points 1-3 you are arguing that b/c of its self-reliance Iran can successfully repel an attack by USG/GoI and, so, there will be no attack. Well, that’s the question isn’t it? And I’m sure Chuck Hagel has a better answer than either of us.

      But in order for your theory to be correct, IRI would have to be a far stronger super-power viz a viz the US in 2014 than Japan was in 1941. And it would have to maintain its edge and, particularly, its munitions manufacturing edge over the long run of an all-out war. I don’t think so.

      Your position could find some support in the periodic results of simulated war games published by DoD suggesting US would have a rough time if they attempted a limited attack on IRI or if IRI blocked Hormuz. But I take these as just advance advertisements/justifications for a full-scale attack when it comes.

      As to Point 4, your theory that by threatening to sue Amano, IRI some how intends to “pull down the entire NPT” is absolutely fascinating. I had not considered that, probably because I have a higher opinion of the intelligence of NAMs.

      Your prediction that because of the threats of a law suit, the NAMs will walk out of the NPT indicates to me that in your opinion (most of) the NAMs are too stupid to see the inanity of such bluster. Yes, well perhaps Gadaffi and Saddam were also trying to look like heros to the NAMs with their mother-of-all-wars BS, and you saw how well that worked out. Gadaffi and Saddam go down in history looking like blathering, bloody, bluffing tyrants, first because the winner writes the history books, and second because that’s what they were.

      A better way to address Point 4, if you would be so kind, would be to set forth what legal grounds a country like IRI would have to have to sue the director general of an international organization “for damages” – meaning provide the international law, national law, or city by-law that such a suit would be based on and identify the court that would have jurisdiction over the defendant.

      I would love to be proven wrong on this point b/c I would love to see Amano dragged into court and forced under discovery to give up all of the documents provided by “unidentified diplomats” over the years. But that is not legally possible and it’s not going to happen. The IRI’s threat is a fart in the wind and the NAMs are not so stupid that they can’t smell it.

      As to the other novel points you raise:

      1. You suggest a theory regarding the US’s “carefully scripted game-plan” over the last 20-30 years of using sanctions to turn a country’s military into a rusted-bucket that can then be kicked across the sandlot. Like, how many examples can you provide of this strategy? Granada? No sanctions there. Panama? Nope. Iraq? Maybe, but there was no bucket left to rust after Iraq/Iran war and Gulf War. NoKo? Well, it seems to be doing a lot better than a rusted-bucket. It’s putting satellites into orbit and blowing off test nukes. Russia? It’s now running the ISS after the US space mission has multiply crashed. China? Fastest growing military in the world with a brand new aircraft carrier.

      Whether or not the sanctions against IRI have a rust-bucket side-effect, they are primarily implemented to bring the Iranian people to their knees economically so that they will force a regime change from within, IMO. Damn near worked in 2009, also IMO.

      2. As to your theory of IRI’s Simon and Garfunkle-type I Am An Island self-reliance, I’d suggest you google:” maraging steel tubes IR-1″ and see how self-reliant they really are in building centrifuges.

      While the IR-2m uses carbon fibre tubes, maraging steel, which IRI cannot make, is still required for other components. The failure rate of the IRI centrifuges is reported at something like 20% per year, so without help from Russia, China, Pakistan, whomever, the enrichment efforts are, centifugally speaking, dead in the water in about 3 years. I have never seen a technical report that IRI is 100% self-reliant in producing weapons grade uranium. Tech-heads please correct me if I am goofed up here.

      You say IRI does not invest in technology it cannot maintain and doesn’t need foreign tech anyway. Did you fact-check that? Please look at their aircraft inventory as Dec.2012, available at Wiki.

      Of fighters and ground attack aircraft, IRI has only a half-dozen or so currently operating aircraft that are home-made. The vast majority are Russian aircraft.

      In the 1970’s Iran rec’d 79 F-14A Tomcats, of which only 26 are still flying, indicating, in contrast to your theory, that parts are being cannibalized, not manufactured. Of the 24 Mirage F1’s that escaped from Iraq to IRI in 1991, only 5 are flying. That smells like Franco-cannibalism. IRI’s F-4 Phantoms are undergoing upgrade, not by IRI but by China. Now that must be embarrassing to a country that is supposed to be technologically omnipotent.

      I’ll allow how IRI’s technology has repeatedly exceeded the experts’ expectations over the last 30 years and that they have some brilliant technical people. But their capabilities seem to stop at reverse engineering others’ technology. In spite of Ahmadinejad’s photo-ops with “hacked” US drones and Photoshopped images of the phony F-313, they are not the omnipotent, genius, mini-superpower they make themselves out to be. If they were as technically advanced and self-sufficient as you suggest, they wouldn’t have needed Russia to finish Bushehr after 35 years or to fix it after the recent earthquakes.

      You say IRI can make an unlimited supply of their own ammo and helicopters. Not impressed. The net effect of all of their helicopters combined trying to stop a flight of B-2’s dropping BLU or B61-11 bunker busters on Natanz is going to be zero, unlimited ammo notwithstanding.

      3. I take also take issue with your point: That’s why this has been dragging on for decades: the USA wants to step up and kick in a rotten door, and that door simply refuses to rot away.

      My reading of VN-era authors Ellsberg, Gordon Goldstein, George Ball & etc. is that every administration tries to save the worst, most distasteful chores for its successors, whether it be pulling out of a war or starting one. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama will bend over backwards to delay starting this dustup as long as he can, hoping to leave the inevitable task to whomever beats Hillary in 2016.

      My guess is that the “intel” Obama leaks to the press will continue to assert that IRI does not have a bomb and is not “seeking” a bomb, and suddenly that “intel” will change 180 degrees about July 2016, sort of the way the Bush people realized late in 2008 that “Oh my gosh!! A surge is needed in Afghanistan!”, leaving Obama to eat it. Just guessing.

      If the US has decided to kick Iran’s bucket, they don’t have to wait for it to rust. They wait because after the Iraq debacle they know it will take many years of droning false accusations, faked data, and MSM scare tactics to bring the public around to the point they are willing to once again soak the Middle East dirt with their sons’ and daughters’ blood.

      In the end, I prefer your view of this mess to my view. You are optimistic that an attack on IRI will not happen b/c IRI is too strong; I am 90% resigned to another US-led bloody disaster in the ME. I hope you’re right. I really do.

      • Johnboy says:

        Here’s where I disagree with you:
        1) You say “We are on the eve of a US/Israeli attack on IRI,”

        I disagree.

        I say there is z.e.r.o. chance of an attack so long as the Iranian armed forces are able to maintains its current military efficiency.

        Furthermore, I say that the current military efficiency of the Iranian military can be maintained indefinitely – even in the face of these sanctions – precisely because Iran Makes Its Own Weapons.

        2) You argue that I claimed that “I don’t see how your theory that IRI is some sort of invincible, technological island unto itself really addresses my points.”

        I made no such “theory”.

        I said what I said, and what I said was this: The Iranians have deliberately made the military efficiency of their armed forces immune to the effects of extended sanctions. The effect of that upon US thinking is this: whether the USA goes in *now* or it goes in *later* makes no difference: either way it goes up against an enemy that’s ready to fight.

        And this is the point I was making: the USA has no stomach for going up against any enemy that’s ready to fight.

      • Johnboy says:

        denis: “very likely involving tactical nuke bunker busters”

        Sorry, I can not disagree more.

        Even if the USA were to decide that it had to launch an unprovoked armed conflict with Iran (and I don’t believe that, not in the current circumstances) then that conflict would NOT involve “tactical nuke bunker busters”.

        There are two reasons why I say that:
        1) The politics of launching an unprovoked attack upon another country is bad enough, the politics of initiating that attack by flinging nukes around is so unthinkable that It Just Ain’t Gonna Happen.
        2) How do “tactical nuke bunker busters” work, exactly?

        Fordow is built inside a mountain, and exploding a bomb against the side of that mountain isn’t going to do anything.

        Exploding a TAC NUKE against the side of that mountain isn’t going to do much more, and all the USA would achieve would be to do nothing a whole lot louder.

        You need to get your bomb (conventional or nuke) to penetrate into the mountain before it goes Boom! and the only way to do that is to slam the penetrator down as hard as you can possibly slam it.

        Not much of a problem if it is a conventional warhead that is sitting behind that penetrator, since you can be sure it’ll still go Boom! when it emerges inside the main chamber.

        Not so a nuclear warhead, which is a much more delicate device that is utterly dependent on super-precise alignments and ultra-delicate mechanisms.

        So I’m doubtful – very doubtful indeed – that anyone can actually make a “tactical nuke bunker buster” that actually goes Boom! rather than Fizzle!!!!, and as far as I know the USA has never actually tested one against any mountain anywhere.

  5. robertkelley2012 says:

    If I might change the topic for a moment, INFCIRC/853, the IRI response is 20 pages of claims about who said what, when and to whom from Iran’s point of view. Juicy stuff but pretty hard to confirm, just like the Alleged Studies. So it is stunning that in paragraph 69, the ambassador makes ridiculous and provably untrue statements about one thing that can be checked: the soil disturbance and asphalting at Parchin. The pink tarp and asphalt brigade of the popular press have been prattling on about new roads and parking lots immediately adjacent to the alleged firing chamber. I disagree with their lack of logic but it is very clear what they are concerned about. And then the ambassador comes up with a cock and bull story about trucks making a new road to replace one submerged by the nearby dam. Tommyrot. The dam is more than 2 kilometers away. It has been there for at least 9 years. The access road has not been submerged and this nonsensical answer undermines whatever credibility Iran tries to show in the face of the serious analysis that goes on. On the simplest of facts that can be checked the Iranians shoot themselves in the foot again. I’ve never been one to say that Iran’s stubbornness and refusal to allow access prove the allegations against them. But in this case the stupidity of the “justification” for soil work sends my copy of INFCIRC/853 straight to the wastebasket!

    • Denis says:


      Soltanieh’s comment about a submerged road made me burp up a “WTF?”, too. But after reviewing the GE historical views, I don’t think he’s saying what we think he’s saying. From paragraph 69:

      For instance, when some newspapers were making fuss about the soil displacement in Parchin by trucks, the DG promptly confirmed their claim. Whereas, those trucks transportations were due to construction of Parchin new road and its asphalting (the previous road was submerged as a result of dam construction across the river.)

      I think we may be misinterpreting “trucks transportations” and “new road” viz what Soltanieh intends.

      The “road” Soltanieh is talking about here is almost certainly not the road Albright is talking about. Soltanieh is talking about the divided highway that runs N-S past the Parchin Pink Site. Albright is talking about the service road that runs right up to PPS and terminates in the parking areas. BTW, in the May.2013 GE view, all of this PPS area is completely paved now. Looks good, too. Looks like Best Buy is moving in.

      And by “truck transportations” my bet is Soltanieh is referring to the immense amount of earth-moving that has been going on all over the place N of and including the PPS.

      The main highway as it goes past PPS is divided up to a point roughly 1 mile N of the PPS, where there is an intersection. I don’t see why they would need a major highway there, just stopping like it does, but I’ll bet before dam construction started this was a major connection to the Tehran highway.

      This main highway runs right on the river bed. GE elevations are not the best way to gauge, but they’re all we have. At points, the difference in elevation between the highway and the river is only 2 feet. So it wouldn’t take a lot of water in that river to submerge the road. Submerging the service road at PPS would require some pretty spectacular flooding as elevation difference between the river and the service road looks to be about 10 feet.

      There are periods in the recent past where there has been enormous earth-movement going on, including all around the PPS and all the way to the dam. Mar – Sep.2010 GE show thousands and thousands of dumped loads of dirt all through that area, and the aforesaid intersection is obliterated by what looks like a washout. Dec.2012 parts of the main highway, particularly the S bound lanes (assuming they drive on the R), look like they have been damaged.

      If you follow the progress of dam construction on GE, the control structure on the sluice way on the E. end of the dam has just been completed, or maybe not even completed yet, and so these guys wouldn’t have complete control over flooding in the river until just recently. The idea that the main highway might have been submerged isn’t too crazy. In early 2012 N. Iran experienced a lot of flooding according to Tehran Times.

      Albright’s problem is that he is looking just at the 20 acres adjacent to the PPS buildings and going batshit because of trucks are dumping dirt there, whereas if you look at the whole area N of the PPS there is activity going on everywhere. I think this is what Soltanieh is saying.

      What is evident from Soltanieh’s statements is how much ISIS has gotten under the Iranians’ skin. For instance, in the same paragraph 69 Soltanieh quotes from Paragraph 54 of Amano’s May.2013 report: “Satellite imagery available to the Agency for the period since February 2005 to January 2012 shows virtually no activity at or near the building housing the containment vessel.” IAEA thus assumes without providing any evidence that some building at the PPS houses or housed a containment vessel.

      Albright and Jahn are clearly in control of the message – not just to IAEA but to Congress and the US public – and that is causing IRI a lot of headaches. Recalling that in January 1999 Albright told 60 Minutes that Saddam was “within a few months to a year of having a nuclear weapon,” Albright’s is going to cause IRI one tremendous headache if his mendacity re: Iraq is any indication.

      • Johnboy says:

        I would suggest that Denis is doing us a big favour by reminding us all that a good analyst should question his assumptions.

        I agree with Bob that the sentence he quotes from amounts to “tommyrot” when applied to that side access road.

        Denis also agrees, but note the difference: because Robert Kelly assumes that Soltanieh is referring to that side access road he has no qualms about tosses the report in the bin, whereas Denis asks himself a sensible question i.e. maybe the assumption that the Iranians are referring to that dinky little road is, you know, wrong.

        Well, gosh, if they aren’t talking about that road then what the heck are they talking about?

        There is a dam nearby. Tick.
        There is a major new highway nearby. Tick.
        It looks very reasonable that this highway could be flooded but for that dam. Tick.

        Conclusion: Maybe Soltanieh was referring to **that** highway.

        In which case the Iranians are trying to make this point: there are massive earthworks and civil constructions projects going on all around Parchin and therefore ISIS’s obsession with that one side access road is a classic example of not seeing the forest for the trees.

        Sooooo, is that what Soltanieh was trying to say?

        I dunno, but I think Denis shows commendable analytic skills in considering it, whereas Bob Kelly does himself a disservice by not considering it..

    • yousaf says:


      It is not clear what the report is saying: I think it is saying that the “truck transport” traffic was due to construction of a new highway that runs outside the fence. This new highway may be related to an older highway being flooded. I don’t know.

      The bigger point is that Iran ought not have to explain every construction project. The IAEA had full access to random sites of their choice in Parchin and did not pick this site on 2 occasions. Unfortunate and regrettable for the IAEA, but Iran showed cooperation by allowing those 2 2005 visits. They came up with nothing then.

      • robertkelley2012 says:

        Nice comments above and a good history of the four lane highway, river bank and dam that have been there for years. But I think Soltanieh is sly enough to know that the fuss in the press about pink tarps and dirt moving was not about the dam project but about a very specific building, an obsession of some people and of the IAEA. He knows full well that the debate was about sanitization of the immediate vicinity and you do too! So it is classical misdirection to throw in an irrelevant bit about something totally different and assume that 99% of your readers will be too ignorant to have looked at the actual imagery over time and have been sucked in by bogus arguments. He has just added one more bogus argument to the web spun by the IAEA and the NGOsphere.
        I have interacted with the region for many years and this episode is typical. The other side assumes that the inspectors are stupid and not worth the trouble to convince so they just make something up and tell it to you with a straight face. Whether you accept it or not is irrelevant. You have been dealt with and dismissed. If Soltanieh can ignore the real fuss about the building in question and the soil removal from its foundation to 15 meters and more away then he is playing with us, and for that reason the credibility of the rest of the report is on a par with this verifiable incident!
        Yousaf. Of course Iran does not have to explain every construction project especially when there is no credible evidence of nuclear materials. And clearly they think they have done enough in the past beyond their obligations so they have drawn the line here. It would just have been much more credible if Soltanieh had said nothing rather than play games. Denis nailed him in one showing that people are paying attention.

      • yousaf says:

        Agree it would have been better for Soltanieh to have been silent on the issue. And also for IAEA to get some expert help so it can understand why some road construction (inside the fence) does not impact the IAEA’s ability for environmental sampling:

        Bob, I recall a BBC interview where you mentioned that perhaps only 2 people at the IAEA know about nuclear weaponization — is that still the case?

        Do you think IAEA could use some expert assistance in nuclear weapons experts and –especially — satellite imagery analysis?

        It appears that their satellite imagery analysis division could use some help — how big and qualified is this division at the IAEA?

  6. robertkelley2012 says:

    The IAEA was not constituted to do weapons analysis. It is a nuclear material accounting organization and it does that limited and defined job extremely well. It should receive strong praise for that limited task. That task does not include analysis of satellite imagery and the organization should either greatly improve its performance or cede the field to experts.

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