IAEA PMD REPORT OUT. Official Copy and Initial Legal Observations

Here it is, folks:

IAEA PMD REPORT OFFICIA

I’m still reading over it myself, but here’s the punchline from the Summary section:

The Agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.

The Agency has found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.

I’ll have more to say on this in the coming days, and will try to get some technical folks to do guest posts. But my first reaction from a legal perspective is:

1. The IAEA has in effect now given its opinion that Iran has not violated NPT Article II through any of the alleged PMD activities, because none of the assessed activities can be said to rise to the prohibited level of the manufacture or other acquisition of a nuclear explosive device.

2. Since the IAEA has now assessed that none of the alleged PMD activities involved the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful to military uses, it has in effect determined that none of these activities constituted a violation of Iran’s safeguards obligations.  As Article 1 of Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement makes explicit, the IAEA’s safeguards activities in Iran are implemented “for the exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

3. This second subject, regarding the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful to military uses, is in fact the only subject that the IAEA had any legal authority to investigate and assess.

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17 Comments on “IAEA PMD REPORT OUT. Official Copy and Initial Legal Observations”

  1. yousaf says:

    The IAEA basically said that there was some nuclear weapons research in Iran but that it did not rise to the level of a CSA violation (nuclear materials diversion):

    https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/infcircs/1974/infcirc214.pdf

    “… the exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

    NOTE: **exclusive** purpose.

    The IAEA just said:

    “The Agency has found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

    Note: they did not say declared or non-declared — they have found no evidence of either declared or non-declared material diverted. No evidence at all. Any nuclear material.

    That is all the IAEA’s job is per the CSA cited above (“exclusive purpose”).

    This means the IAEA has now fully completed its mandated job.

  2. Dan Joyner says:

    Some lovely stuff going on on Twitter. Take a look at Acton’s and Lewis’s comments about David Albright’s reaction to the IAEA report. Love it.

  3. yousaf says:

    The ACA basically agrees with your take Dan, although they don’t seem to realize how important the “no nuclear materials diversion” finding is:

    http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/press-release/2015-07-14/IAEA-Report-on-Irans-Past-Weaponization-Activities-Unsurprising

  4. noone nowhere says:

    What does “relevant to” mean, and since when is this the standard the IAEA applies to any other signatory? The IAEA continues to apply illegal standards and “departs from standard language” in its reports when it comes to Iran. http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/india-with-nam-in-slamming-iaea-report-on-iran/682728/

  5. Dan Joyner says:

    You all have to check out James Acton’s Twitter feed (@james_acton32) to see the mainstream arms control wonk community (Acton, Cirincione, Lewis, Joshi, Pollack, etc.) roundly bashing David Albright for his comments that started on the IAEA report, but then escalated into a rant about the Ploughshares-supported think tanks and their bias towards the USG. It’s a classic Albright unhinged diatribe. And it seems that people in the community who used to support Albright are finally sick of him. It’s an early Christmas present to me.

  6. masoud says:

    David Albright really should just change his handle to @TheJustAsBadIsis

    • The Donald says:

      David Albright, I know you are reading this and you have a very firm grasp of the truth. You know truth like I know truth. Don’t listen to the naysayers! They don’t know shit!

      Please join my ticket!

      Trump-Albright 2016

      We’ll be yuuuuuuuuge together!

  7. Cyrus says:

    This is a report that clearly both exculpates and vindicates Iran, and yet according to Barbara Slavin of the NY Times it confirms the existence of a nuclear weapons program. You have to wonder if these people don’t know that their writings will be available to future generations, any of whom can easily debunk it even now. The media coverage of the whole Iranian nuclear threat thing can serve as a rich source of analysis and comedy for generations. The blatant, in-your-face coordinated lying by the top few sources (that the rest follow) is astounding proof of the “truth effect”: if you keep repeating it, it becomes “true.” Surely not even N Korea or the old Soviets could hope for a more controlled and manipulated media.

    We learned nothing from the “WMDs in Iraq” fiasco.

  8. Maurits says:

    Dan,

    Thank you for your initial assessment of the report. I would like to ask you a question regarding your first point. Leaving the politics aside, I’d be grateful if you could explain further your comments concerning: “The IAEA has in effect now given its opinion that Iran has not violated NPT Article II… because none of the assessed activities can be said to rise to the prohibited level of the manufacture or other acquisition of a nuclear explosive device.”

    (i) Are there any conditions or factors (state practices) that determine or define prohibited manufacture and/or acquisition of a nuclear explosive device?

    (ii) To what extent can feasibility and scientific studies contribute to prohibited activities? Especially if these are, to quote the IAEA, a coordinated effort. Is it prudent or traditional to also include the intent of the studies, i.e. to discern a pattern of behavior which indicates or confirms prohibited conduct – e.g. a review of state policy to initiate and conduct studies with the possible aim to facilitate diversion?

    and (iii) how do you interpret text of the IAEA concerning “the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.”

    • yousaf says:

      I defer to Dan, but only the International Court of Justice can adjudicate whether or not a state has violated the NPT. The NPT has no enforcement mechanism. Just like the Outer Space Treaty.

      There is the separate bilateral Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements which have an exceedingly simple way to judge whether or not a given state is in violation. eg.

      https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/infcircs/1974/infcirc214.pdf

      “… the exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

      Thus, the standard to be used is whether nuclear material is being used for military ends.

      The IAEA in their latest report just said:

      “The Agency has found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

      Note: they did not say declared or non-declared — they have found no evidence of either declared or non-declared material diverted. No evidence at all. Any nuclear material.

      Therefore despite the 2005 finding (GOV/2005/77), a simple reading of the texts of the CSA and the PMD report shows that there was never a CSA violation to begin with. Which in turn means the UNSC referral is questionable.

      Bottom: line Iran may have done quite some research and calculations re. nuclear weaponry and the physics but, according to the IAEA, did not divert any material to military uses.

      I’m curious to hear Dan’s view also.

    • noone nowhere says:

      First someone has to define what “relevant to” means, and sine when has that become a standard for the IAEA to apply. Learning calculas or computer programming are all “relevant to” making nukes, so Iran should just stay illiterate and technologically backward? Far from that, the NPT requires sharing nuclear technology, even data from test explosions, and does not prohibit anything just because it is “relevant to” nukes. The IAEA says that the technology that Iran investigated (supposedly) even “in a coordinated way” has civilian or conventional military applications too.

    • Dan Joyner says:

      Hi Maurits,
      These are good questions. And I am covering them in considerable detail in my new book. Right now I can refer you to the Jurist piece I wrote right after the November 2011 IAEA report was published:

      http://jurist.org/forum/2011/11/dan-joyner-iaea-report.php

      The matter of the phrase “relevant to” in the IAEA PMD report just released is really not a legal term of art so I can’t offer any assistance in interpretation. Most of the PMD report really has no legal significance, it’s just the IAEA making a technical report. I don’t know how many shades of grey are represented by phrases like “relevant to” in this report. The only legally relevant paragraphs in the report are those that I’ve referenced in this post.
      Dan

      • Cyrus says:

        Gareth Porter on the Parchin imaginary steel cylinder that disappears but we’re really sure was there take our word for it…
        http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33914-iaea-s-final-report-on-iran-nuclear-program-defends-discredited-parchin-cylinder-claims

      • Johnboy says:

        I believe Dan is making the argument (nicely) that the phrase “relevant to” is an example of using weasel-words.

        Think of it in this way:
        An international conglomerate mulls enteringa field in which it has not previously competed. So it goes about buying up companies whose expertise would be “relevant to” a move that this conglomerate might decide to make into that commercial field.

        Q: Has that conglomerate *actually* moved into that field?
        A: No, and it may subsequently decide that such a move would be Most Unwise, at which point it can decide to divest itself of those acquisitions.

        The IAEA’s weasel-words amounts to pretty much the same thing i.e. all it really amounts to is that Iran was gathering in expertise, capabilities, know-how that would be “relevant to” a decision to proceed with a “nuclear weapons program”.

        But that’s not the same thing as claiming that Iran *had* a “nuclear weapons program”.

        The IAEA report actually gives the game away when it points out that a crunch time came in 2003 (Iran decided *not* to pursue a coordinated “nuclear weapons program”) but that nonetheless the IAEA was aware of programs that continued to run in an uncoordinated fashion until 2009.

        Personally, I think that’s quite important.

        It indicates to me that those “dual-use technologies” were actually examples of Iran acquiring a technology for its CIVILIAN application.

        Think about it: from an Iranian PoV there would be no reason to can a program simply because the IAEA didn’t know how useful that technology can be in civvie-street.

        The IAEA – and quite a few commentators – seem to simply assume that every “dual-use technology” is acquired for nefarious reasons.

        And that any “dual-use technology” that survived that 2003 cut-off had to have been double-plus-bad – you know, nefariously-speaking.

        Helloooooooooooo.

        By definition these are technologies that have two uses, only one of which is nefarious.

  9. yousaf says:

    Regarding the “relevant to” comment above, pls see comments by HLC at bottom of:

    http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1200632/the-jcpoa-and-the-broader-conclusion/


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