The 2014 IAEA Safeguards Implementation ReportPosted: July 5, 2015 Filed under: Nuclear 1 Comment
While we’re all waiting with baited breath for the (hopeful) announcement of an Iran nuclear deal in the next couple of days, I have a treat for those interested in IAEA safeguards. I’m pleased to say that a Vienna delegation has very kindly provided the IAEA Safeguards Implementation Report for 2014 to Arms Control Law in the interest of openness and transparency, as well as to disseminate the results and findings of Agency safeguards to the wider public and civil society. This is especially important as the IAEA is funded by the taxpayers of Member States. The delegation is of the view that all IAEA reports should be publicly available and not on a selective basis as determined by some Member States.
I would offer a few initial observations on the 2014 SIR. Two of these are the same critiques I made when I published the 2013 SIR here. First, that the agency’s use of standards for assessing Iran’s compliance with its safeguards obligations are still incorrect, as they have been pretty much since DG Amano took over. I’ve explained this previously in detail, including in the post I linked to at the beginning of this paragraph. I’ve also just recently been writing up this analysis in even greater detail in my new book manuscript, which I hope to have ready for the publisher in September. In a nutshell, the IAEA has for years been improperly withholding its determination that Iran is currently in compliance with its existing safeguards agreement obligations.
Second, again in the 2014 SIR there is no meaningful discussion of the IAEA’s use of third party intelligence information as a source for its safeguards assessments, even though we know that the IAEA has relied on such sources significantly since at least 2011 when it published its infamous PMD report on Iran. There are still very serious concerns that many member states have about the IAEA using such externally-sourced intelligence, without being able to independently verify its credibility. See here a post I did last October pointing to a statement by the Russian representative to the IAEA on this issue. The continuing failure of the Director General to seriously engage with these very reasonable concerns leads one to wonder whether the DG thinks that by downplaying them or simply refusing to acknowledge their existence, they will just go away. The old head in the sand routine. I think these issues are very important to the IAEA’s continuing credibility as an independent, objective monitoring and verification body, and that the DG should engage with them, and either set up satisfactory mechanisms for the IAEA to rely on third party intelligence, or alternatively stop using such information as a basis for assessments.
As an additional critique this year, note that the SIR finds in Article 24 that:
[N]o new information had come to the knowledge of the Agency that would have an impact on the Agency’s assessment that it was very likely that a building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared to the Agency by Syria.
In this context, I just wanted to draw attention to some very recent, excellent pieces by Ambassador Peter Jenkins, and Robert Kelley over at LobeLog. In their pieces, Jenkins and Kelley call for a review of the IAEA’s assessments of the Al Kibar site, and I think they make a very persuasive case that such an objective, expert review is needed. I think it should be noted that their analysis bears not only on Syria, but also on the IAEA’s assumedly continuing role under the new Iran deal in addressing its concerns regarding PMD in Iran. I invite others to make additional observations about the 2014 SIR in the comments.
Finally, reading the latest dispatch today on the Iran negotiations from one of the best journalists covering them, Jonathan Tirone, I’m gratified that things at least appear to be proceeding roughly as I predicted in my last post here. Time will tell.
Bob Kelly always manages to make uncommon commonsense, doesn’t he?
(And I assume that he is the “ex-inspector” that Peter Jenkins has been talking to, correct?)
Much as I like Peter Jenkins article, it is Bob Kelly who really nails a very important point: the IAEA dismisses the idea that the natural uranium particles could have come from Israeli munitions because…. well…. because that’s not how the USA builds its earth penetrating munitions, ergo, nobody builds earth penetrating munitions that way.
But that’s merely an assumption, and like all good investigators the IAEA should always be prepared to put its assumptions to the test.
And this is something that the IAEA **can** test for itself, precisely because the Israelis have a depressingly frequent habit of dropping bombs here, there and everywhere *including* buildings that are very definitely not Nuclear Reactors.
So the IAEA should dispatch a team to Gaza the next time the IDF obliterates an apartment block and take some environmental sample.
Because – gulp! – it may very well find some natural uranium particles in the wreckage.
Science 101: Always. Test. Your. Assumptions.