IAEA Declines to Inspect an Area Where They Formally Alleged Weaponization Activities Took Place in Iran

Here is another absolute must read piece from Bob Kelley over at LobeLog.  He titled it “The IAEA Faces a Major Credibility Test,” and he hit the nail right on the head with that title. What he’s talking about is the recent offer that Iranian officials made to the IAEA to come and inspect a site in Iran, in the city of Marivan in Northwestern Iran, that was named in the IAEA’s 2011 PMD report as being linked to weaponization-related activities. The IAEA has declined the invitation to visit. This paragraph from Bob’s piece sums the situation up perfectly:

Marivan is important. In fact, it is the litmus test for the credibility of the IAEA’s 2011 report. If the IAEA claims detailed knowledge of a test and its location, it is critical that it work with Iran to verify that information. If, however, the information turns out to be false, irrelevant, inactionable or beyond the scope of IAEA’s expertise, then the agency should either withdraw its 2011 “Weaponization Annex” or issue a revised report after a thorough vetting of the rest of its contents. As noted above, the large-scale high explosive experiments are the most detailed claim in the agency’s weaponization report. That claim needs to be investigated and resolved, and the IAEA’s reluctance to do so is deeply disturbing.

I agree with Bob that the IAEA’s decision to decline this invitation is in essence an admission by the IAEA that this allegation in its November 2011 report was incorrect. And if this allegation was incorrect, by the IAEA’s on implicit admission, then that should call into question all of the allegations in the 2011 report.  Again, the sources of these allegations were never made public, or communicated to Iran, or subjected to any transparent qualitative assessment.  The question of the IAEA’s ability to assess third-party-source information about nuclear weapons programs is something that Bob has addressed at length before.

Although I doubt it actually will, this development should make all of the Iran hawks in NGOs and in governments think twice about the evidence they are relying on in their rush to scuttle diplomatic negotiations between Iran and the West.


11 Comments on “IAEA Declines to Inspect an Area Where They Formally Alleged Weaponization Activities Took Place in Iran”

  1. yousaf says:

    Great piece by Kelley. Just another piece of evidence that the IAEA is acting unprofessionally.

    I’d made a tally earlier of the other things in the PMD annex (and elsewhere) that did not pass the scientific smell test:


    Since then we had the (non-)issue of the 19.8kg of natU that the IAEA tried to concoct into an issue:


    and Kelley’s recent piece on how the hype around Parchin does not compute:


    I summarized here how the IAEA is over-reaching by thinking it has the expertise to do nuclear weapons investigations while their mandate remains nuclear materials accountancy:


    The IAEA is trying to do things it is not qualified to do. Nor does it have the mandate to do them.

    Kelley’s recent LobeLog pieces lay it out well.

  2. Johnboy says:

    They really are acting as if they are shameless.

    Mainly because…. they are shameless.

    The IAEA insinuated that there was something Dark and Disturbing going on in Marivan, and Amano must have been confident that if he kept the insinuations vague enough then the Iranians wouldn’t be game to call “Bullshit!” on him.

    But the Iranians have called his bluff, and now he is standing there butt-naked.

    The least he could do is man-up about it.

    A quick and insincere mea-culpa is in order, and if he isn’t man enough to do that (and, apparently, he isn’t) then the next best thing is for everyone who cares about the reputation of the IAEA to point out that his donger is swinging in the breeze.

  3. masoud says:

    This is at best marginally connected to the formal topic of this thread, but I think readers of a blog that is focused on the nexus of International Law and geo-politics, would find this interesting. It turns out there is a very strong predictor of what kind of position a state is going to take with regards to Iran: How many of it’s own population it locks up in jail.

    • Cyrus says:

      Pretty unscientific, actually. Correlation is not causation. And the assumption built-in that Iran is a “rogue” is unjustified.

      • masoud says:

        Yeah, so is the assumption that people rotting in US jails for being black and smoking weed are ‘criminals’ in any meaningful sense of the word, rather than victims of white supremacist racism and class based intolerance. I’m not happy with the way the study is framed either, but I think it’s findings are striking nonetheless.

        I actually think it would be nice if this study was expanded to include so called non-democratic states like Cuba, Russia, Indonesia, China etc… My hunch is that the correlation would become even more pronounced, with the world’s foremost Jailer States being much more likely to carry water for the US than not.

  4. yousaf says:

    Can anyone figure out what Mark Hibbs is trying to say here?

    He seems to be saying that absent a link to nuclear materials the IAEA’s authority is limited. Also he seems to say that without an AP the IAEA’s obligations/responsibilities are also limited.(?)

    I’m not sure why so many words need to be written about Marivan: does the IAEA have an interest in investigating something there? If so, then why not go and check it out per Iran’s invitation. If not, why have it in the IAEA report?

    If the Marivan allegation is unfalsifiable as Cheryl Rofer suggests then it should not be in the IAEA report either.

    • masoud says:

      That’s the kind of doubleplusgood analysis that can only be produced by a man singing for his supper. I get the same feeling reading pieces like that as I do when passing by homeless panhandlers in the winter.

    • Johnboy says:

      “If the Marivan allegation is unfalsifiable as Cheryl Rofer suggests then it should not be in the IAEA report either.”


      If the “evidence” that was supplied to the IAEA is “unfalsifiable” then it isn’t “evidence” at all – it is “scuttlebutt”, and the IAEA has published it “on faith”.

    • Johnboy says:

      “I’m not sure why so many words need to be written about Marivan”

      Oh, that’s easy to answer: the Iranians have put Amano’s credibility on the line, and so the wonk-community has to come to his defence.

      As Masoud points out – correctly – they are expected to sing for their supper, and that’s exactly what they are doing.

  5. John Carter says:

    Playing cat and mice? Iran will let see what they want to be seen! Iran has never cooperated and intents on NOT cooperating until they get what they want. Oh well, Merry Christmas to all!

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