Mark HibbsReporting to the Board of Governors

It’s mid-September, so it must be Vienna, and that means it’s time for another spin on the Prater with the IAEA Board of Governors followed by the annual IAEA General Conference. After that there’s one more board meeting on Sept. 26, and, and before you know it, the Riesling vines in Alsace are turning yellow, and I’ll be ready after all this IAEA stuff in Vienna for a quick swing back through the byways of the Route de Vin in Haut- and Bas-Rhin on the way home, inspired this time by a summer reading of Buerger und Soldaten, Alfred Doeblin’s fine novel on the last days of World War I in Strasbourg and Hagenau.

Business before pleasure, however.

DPRK and Israel: A Preludium

IAEA aficionados generally consider the BOG and the GC as discrete and separate events, and so they are, so they are. But this time the relationship between the two meetings is even a little noteworthy.

There’s a double whammy on the DPRK: The BOG tabled the item “Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” as item 6c of GOV/2011/46. This being Tuesday, that might come up tomorrow Wednesday. Next week, we’ll see the same agenda item as item 19 GC/55/1 and GC/55/1/Add.1.

The GC first. The DPRK item is on this year’s agenda because of operative paragraph 10 of this resolution from GC/54.

For this year’s meeting, Director General Yukiya Amano has prepared this report. It was provided to the BOG and the GC a couple of weeks ago.

This report is not without interest. Look, for instance, at Paragraphs 33 and 34. These describe accounts of information which the DPRK provided a Stanford University scholar and ex-LANL director and a private citizen, Sig Hecker, who traveled to the DPRK on non-official business and was briefed by the DPRK on the status of its uranium enrichment programme, including a peek at what Hecker thereafter described as a full-blown and apparently operating centrifuge enrichment plant.

The length of this report on the DPRK might appear to the casual observer as rather unusual, especially given the fact that IAEA safeguards personnel have not been to the DPRK to do inspection-related work since 2008. During the last three years or thereabouts, the agency has received no new first-hand information from its verification activities in that country to report to member states.

Let’s recall that over two years ago, when IAEA Arab states asked Amano to report to the 2010 GC on “Israel’s nuclear capabilities,” which they included on the agenda of GC/54, Amano likewise had little to report back because, as IAEA secretariat officials then pointed out, outside of a very limited number of nuclear activities which are covered under an Infcirc/66 safeguards agreement between Israel and the IAEA, the IAEA has no official information from Israel about its other nuclear activities–the ones that the Arab states are really interested in–because these are not subject to IAEA safeguards. Amano’s report to GC/54 was accordingly extremely perfunctory. Arab states were disappointed, but in fact Amano had little to tell them.

And the DPRK? Amano’s report on September 2 provided the board and the GC an extensive wheeze through North Korean nuclear history. We may hear later this week or next week during the GC about some member states’ misgivings about including the details of Hecker’s trip report from his visit to the nuclear research center in Yongbyon. According to some people at the VIC the last couple of weeks, including this information in the Amano report to the board was unusual, because the Hecker account could not be construed to be “official information” provided by an IAEA member state to the IAEA but was third-party information unverified by the IAEA and therefore might in a legal sense even qualify as hearsay. (Again, think about how the IAEA handled the Arabs’ request for information on Israel’s nuclear weapons activities–the Secretariat wouldn’t touch unverified or unofficial third-party claims about Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities with a 10-foot pole.)

Shortly after Amano provided his DPRK report to board members and circulated it to member states preparing for the GC, the IAEA Department of Safeguards as usual held a closed-door technical briefing at the VIC for IAEA missions and staff about the contents of its findings reported to the BOG (this time, in addition to DPRK, also Iran).

During that briefing, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s IAEA ambassador–who usually has a lot to say about what the IAEA presents during these briefings–raised questions about the procedure by which the Director General reports findings to the BOG on member states’ nuclear activities. The Iranian Ambassador didn’t specifically raise any problems with the Hecker material being included in the DPRK report. But Soltanieh’s remarks in the view of some observers appeared to suggest that Amano’s decision at this time to provide the BOG an extensive overview on North Korea’s nuclear programme was irregular and served a hidden agenda.

Iran and GOV/INF/500/Rev 1

In fact, another IAEA document–there really are no end to these, in this case GOV/INF/500/Rev.1, a.k.a. “Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Board of Governors as Amended up to 23 February 1989”–spells out that it is largely at the discretion of the Director General to decide whether he will report anything to the BOG at or in advance of a board meeting.

  • Rule 8a: “The Director General shall… bring to the Board’s notice as a matter of urgency any fact which may require its intervention, in order to enable it to take any necessary action within the scope of its functions.”
  • Rule 10: “Under the direction of the Director General, the Secretariat shall prepare papers on any matter submitted to it by the board… and generally perform all other work which the board, its committees and other subsidiary bodies may require.”

Then there’s the agenda of the board meetings themselves:

  • Rule 15: “The Director General shall prepare, inconsultation with the Chairman, or, in his absence of disability, the Vice-Chairman  acting as Chairman, the provisional agenda for meetings of the board. The provisional agenda shall include:… (b) all items referred to the board by the General Conference… (c) All items the inclusion of which is requested by any member of the agency … (e) reports of the Director General, including reports concerning action taken on decisions and recommendations of the board.”

Now,  Ambassador Soltanieh appeared to suggest in his remarks during that internal briefing this month that the IAEA secretariat was about to depart from established procedures by permitting any member state from requesting a report on a state’s nuclear activities. Rule 15c however might suggest that Amano could decide to report to the BOG on the DPRK on the basis that just one member state may have requested such a report.

In theory, it would appear that Rule 15c would permit any member state on the  board to clog up the agenda of the board meetings with agenda items or reports which could result in a filibuster of the BOG.  In practice, over the years it has been the practice that a consensus rule has been applied to prevent that from happening. In recent years, as we know, however, that consensus has been abandoned on a lot of important issues.

In any case, under GOV/INF/500/Rev.1 it would appear there is nothing to prevent–let’s just assume my hunch may be right about this–that, say, maybe the ambassadors from the Republic of Korea and Japan have a chat with Amano and encourage him to provide a helpful comprehensive and historical overview of the DPRK’s nuclear activities. (A pundit last week suggested to me more than just a little facetiously that maybe Japan might remind the DG that Japan pays about 18% of the IAEA’s budget in this regard… I’m not saying that anything like that happened, mind you, but, as one IAEA lawyer once told me, “All IAEA states are equal, but some are more equal than others…”)

So why a detailed account of DPRK’s nuclear history right now? On this issue I can’t confess to know what makes the board tick, but I was informed at the last board meeting that the BOG’s Syria resolution, which cited Damascus for non-compliance following a report to the board on Syria which had been requested by governors, was seen as a dry run for pending non-compliance resolutions on the DPRK, first, and then Iran.

And my hunch is that Iran is a little concerned about that possible outcome, and may well make some diplomatic moves before the next board meeting to try to deter it.

We can be sure there won’t be any such resolutions served up by the time this week’s BOG ends, probably on Thursday. But that could happen in November, or if not then, then in early 2012. As in the case of Syria in June, whether that happens may depend on Amano’s future course of action, as I argued here.

The Director General’s Next Move

What are the Director General’s options, should he decide to go that route? Well, as I see it off the bat there are two possible options:

  • OPTION A: AN ASSESSMENT OF PMD IN IRAN. Amano could provide an assessment of Iran’s nuclear program, including the information which the IAEA has compiled on the topic of a “posssible military dimension” in that program. On the basis of such a report, the board could rule Iran in non-compliance and report that finding to the UN Security Council.
  • OPTION B: AN AMANO CITATION OF IRAN FOR NON-COMPLIANCE. Amano could go further and on behalf of the IAEA Secretariat cite Iran as in non-compliance with its safeguards obligations. The IAEA board could then in effect rubber-stamp that finding in a consensus resolution and report that finding to the Security Council.

Let’s look a little closer at each of these two options.


The IAEA has in its Iran safeguards portfolio a dossier of information concerning the PMD issue. As in the case of the information it had on allegations that Syria had built a clandestine plutonium production reactor–allegations which were the backbone of the BOG’s June determination that Damascus was in non-compliance–in the case of Iran the IAEA likewise has two sets of information: one set comprising information it has been provided by member states, and a second set of information which the IAEA itself compiled–as in the case of Syria, including in the field and on the ground.

How good and how credible is that information? Iran asserts that it is all fabricated. The IAEA doesn’t share that view. Now, in the Syria case, Amano and the Secretariat applied a “credibility scale” recently derived by the Deparment of Safeguards to categorize information it has obtained which potentially point to significant and undeclared activities in a member state. The scale is similar to a scale used by intelligence analysts at US national laboratories. In the case of Syria, Amano reported to the board that the cumulative information suggesting that Syria had built a reactor at Al-Kibar was “very likely.”  “Very likely” is at the top of the IAEA scale, and means that the IAEA Department of Safeguards is highly confident that its conclusion is accurate and correct.

How credible is the IAEA’s information that it would prompt the conclusion that Iran has carried out activities to develop a nuclear weapon? If it is good enough for the IAEA to deem it “very likely,”  that’s actionable by the board and could be cited as non-compliance by Iran, if as in the case of Syria in June, the board strongly takes into consideration that Iran has refused to discuss with the IAEA the PMD allegations in any detail. (For both Iran and Syria, the non-cooperation with the IAEA on these matters extended for three years.)

Obviously, if the information isn’t that credible, and the IAEA instead classifies it as likely, less likely, or unlikely, then the governors–if they know what is good for them–won’t take the risk that a non-compliance finding would be based on bad and politically motivated information.


Let’s suppose Amano is as confident about his data on PMD in Iran as he was about the Syrian reactor construction. In other words, that the Department of Safeguards is highly confident that Iran has pursued activities or is pursuing activities for the development of a nuclear weapons capability.  Amano might then simply declare Iran in non-compliance with safeguards. In that case, doing this would provide some definite advantages:

  • It would give the  board, 151 member states, and the rest of us a solid imprimatur from the IAEA that Iran is not in compliance with its legal obligations under international law.
  • It would in that case (as John Carlson argued in that recently leaked cable) deprive Iran of legitimacy for its nuclear program under its NPT safeguards agreement.
  • A technical finding by the IAEA Secretariat (as opposed to a politically contentious determination by the board of governors) would be less likely to be interpreted as a subjective and motivated judgment.
  • It would also make it more likely that, in response to the citation, the board would act in something like or close to consensus, since the determination that Iran was out of compliance was made by the IAEA Secretariat and not by the board of governors representing member states.

Could Amano do this?

In principle, yes. Keep in mind that on March 30 1993–as my colleague Pierre Goldschmidt reminded me last week–former Director General Hans Blix cited the DPRK for non-compliance with its safeguards obligations, one day before the BOG then confirmed that finding in a resolution. Considerably before that, Blix had warned the DPRK in a report that if the DPRK refused to permit a special inspection, Blix would have no alternative than to declare the DPRK in non-compliance.

Hans Blix was well-informed. This in fact is the procedure called for under Article XII C. of the IAEA Statute. It specifically states: IAEA “inspectors shall report any non-compliance to the Director General who shall thereupon transmit the report to the Board of Governors.”  Thereafter, it would be up to the board to “remedy forthwith any non-compliance” and if that doesn’t happen “within a reasonable time” then the board can suspend assistance to the state, and the IAEA can under Article XIX of the statute “suspend any non-complying member from the exercise of the privileges and rights of membership.”

There you have it.

In all 5 subsequent citations of non-compliance by member states since 1993, including on Iran in 2006 and on Syria this June, it was the board–not the DG–which took that action.

Will Yukiya Amano take this step on Iran as Hans Blix did on North Korea? So far, the IAEA’s governors and member states are fairly confident that the answer is no. But an IAEA assessment for the board on Iran including PMD? Stay tuned.

Additional Protocol, Iran, and the Board

There is no firm consensus about what constitutes non-compliance with NPT safeguards agreements. That will certainly play out over how the IAEA and the board handle Iran in coming months.

The BOG in June cited Syria for non-compliance on the basis of Syria’s failure to notify the IAEA of the construction of the facility at Al-Kibar, deemed a reactor by the IAEA secretariat and, thereafter the board. Notification would have been required by Code 3.1 in Syria’s safeguards agreement.

In the case of Iran, it isn’t spelled out clearly for all to see that the Secretariat or the board could arrive at a non-compliance finding alone on the basis of determinations that Iran has carried out weapons-related R&D and even the design and development of a nuclear warhead, according to officials from some board member states. They assert that for a postive finding on PMD to be actionable by the IAEA or the BOG, Iran would have to have an Additional Protocol, which of course Iran claims that it doesn’t have since there was no formal ratification process in Iran for the AP.

If this is true, it raises some interesting questions and possible conclusions:

  • If without an AP in Iran neither the IAEA nor the board can cite Iran for non-compliance related to PMD-related activities (assuming these are positively determined by the IAEA to be for real or confirmed), then why should references to PMD be included in the IAEA’s reports to the board on Iran’s safeguards compliance?
  • It might be argued that the IAEA could nonetheless use the PMD information it has collected in the process of forming a “broader conclusion” about the nature of Iran’s nuclear activities, and the IAEA could make an assessment as to whether it believes that Iran’s nuclear program is indeed all for peaceful use.
  • The IAEA could perhaps invoke special inspection language to hunt for evidence or confirmation of PMD-related activities in Iran, but given the nature of these kinds of activities, the chances of finding them or confirming that they took place is very risky, including for practical considerations.
  • Remaining is the issue whether, as some argue, “non-cooperation equals non-compliance.” Syria failed to respond to IAEA requests to explain the reactor allegations for three years. Iran also has not responded to the PMD issues for the same amount of time.

If board members aim to prepare a non-compliance resolution on Iran, they will have to sort all this out in advance.

If they want to do that in November, they don’t have a lot of time.


  1. Anon (History)

    thank you for that tour de force!

    Couple of questions re. what seems to politicization and just plain weird statements in the DG reports:

    1-Given that Iran has not ratified the A.P. can one
    ever _expect_ the IAEA to be able to attest to the nondiversion of undeclared nuclear materials?

    this is the IAEA’s view:


    “What verification measures are used?

    Safeguards are based on assessments of the correctness and completeness of a State’s ___declared____ nuclear material and nuclear-related activities. Verification measures include on-site inspections, visits, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. ******Basically, two sets of measures are carried out in accordance with the type of safeguards agreements in force with a State.*******

    * One set relates to verifying State reports of ___declared_____ nuclear material and activities. These measures – authorized under NPT-type comprehensive safeguards agreements – largely are based on nuclear material accountancy, complemented by containment and surveillance techniques, such as tamper-proof seals and cameras that the IAEA installs at facilities.

    * Another set adds measures to strengthen the IAEA’s inspection capabilities. They include those incorporated in what is known as an “Additional Protocol” – this is a legal document complementing comprehensive safeguards agreements. The measures enable the IAEA not only to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material but also to provide assurances as to the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in a State.”

    2- Is it appropriate to talk about missiles in the DG’s report?

    3- Should the DG report contain political invocations for iran to ratify the AP?

    4- Why did not the IAEA carry out special inspections in Iran if they felt they needed more info in 2003?

    5- Since 19.75% enriched U is LEU according to the IAEA, what’s the big deal if Iran stockpiles a bit? I’m sure it is worried it may be bombed and needs extra stock.

    6- The ex-DG and our DNI confirm no current weapons program in Iran. So — besides stopping enrichemnt which won’t happen — what PRECISELY would the IAEA like from Iran, consistent with the fact that Iran has not ratified the A.P., and is the IAEA over-reaching possibly?

    • Anon (History)


      sorry I know I asked a bunch of questions already but please one more: given that the UN Security Council passed resolution 487 after Israel’s attack on Osirak, is there a possibility that Chapter 7 sanctions for a “breach of the peace or act of aggression” will be kicked off against Israel for its continued use of violence in Syria? What if it attacks Iran?

      Here is what the UN Security Council told Israel in no uncertain terms:

      UN Security Council resolution 487:


      2. *****Calls upon Israel to refrain in the future from any such acts or threats thereof;*****

      3. Further considers that the said attack constitutes a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime which is the foundation of the non-proliferation Treaty;

      4. Fully recognises the inalienable sovereign right of Iraq, and all other States, especially the developing countries, to establish programmes of technological and nuclear development to develop their economy and industry for peaceful purposes in accordance with their present and future needs and consistent with the internationally accepted objectives of preventing nuclear-weapons proliferation;

      5. ****Calls upon Israel urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards; ****


      So the question is: Do you think its appropriate that Iran has Chapter 7 sanctions when it has not breached the peace, but Israel has not when it has done so twice (over nuclear matters)?

      I know this is a UNSC and not an IAEA question but it is pertinent to the debate and I’d like your view as to what the NAM countries think about the general state of affairs and possible politicization against Islamic nations at the IAEA and UNSC?

  2. anon (History)

    Two questions for Mark on non-compliance:

    First, on what basis could Amano report Iran for non-compliance over the PMD issue? Iran’s safeguards agreement requires that Iran declare all nuclear material and facilities, but the PMD issues Amano has reported to date do not involve nuclear material. Wouldn’t Amano would have to find that Iran had diverted nuclear material or failed to declare nuclear material or facilities associated with PMD?

    Second, what are the five findings of non-compliance since 1993? I recall: (1) North Korea (further non-compliance) in early 2003, (2) Libya in early 2004, (3) Iran in 2005-2006, and (4) Syria in June 2011. What was the fifth – the original North Korea case in 1993 or something else? Is there a published list?

  3. Ataune (History)

    Not everyone consider this hypothetical request for action (by the IAEA) to the UNSC as politically meaningful. Here’s a quote from today’s NYT regarding the opinion of the US and Israeli diplomats on another issue, so far on track to be brought into the UNSC in September:

    *** Israel and the United States have both argued that turning to the United Nations is a distraction if not a departure from peace talks, turning away from the path laid out in the Oslo peace accords. American and Israeli diplomats argue that only direct talks with Israel can lead to true statehood, in reality and not just on United Nations paper. President Obama has called the United Nations bid “counterproductive.” ***

    *** ***

    Now, in the same tune, one would easily argue that the US doesn’t have the financial, political, and even in a sens, the military power to enforce its will in the Middle-East, and (re)submitting a non-compliance ***paper*** will not change this ***reality*** of the world. It will only tie a bit more the hands of the US in the region and play into the hands of other competitors.

  4. masoud (History)

    The fact that even American analysts like don’t think twice about an assumption that “depriv[ing] Iran of legitimacy for its nuclear program under its NPT safeguards agreement” is thought of by Amano as an ‘advantage’ of a particular course of action, shows how much of a mockery of it’s stated principles the IAEA has become. If major reform of the IAEA governing structures aren’t carried out soon, Amano might just go down as the DG who presided over the death(symbolic, at least) of the IAEA.

    Which brings me to my question for the ever-so even handed Mark Hibbs. When do elections to select the board of directors who will be replacing(or re-electing) Mr. Amano take place? I think I remember that the DG is usually selected up to year before he is to take office, is the politicking over this issue beginning to manifest itself yet?

    PS: As I remember, the DPRK withdrew from the NPT a while back. How the hell can they be in non-compliance with any safeguards agreement? The circus just seems to get more unreal by the day.

  5. FSB (History)

    Hello Mark!
    I’d like to add to the list of 6 good questions from Anon.

    This has to do more broadly with the impartiality and consistency of non-compliance findings.

    It has now come to light that the U.S. has, well, um, kindda misplaced 16,000 kg of HEU and Pu.

    16,000 kg.


    a. Do you think the IAEA will find the U.S. in non-compliance with its NPT obligations and report the U.S. to the UNSC?

    b. If this happens will the UNSC find that this oversight was a “threat to the peace” since 16,000 kg of weapons-grade material I consider a threat, but who knows how the UNSC thinks.

    c. If the U.S. is not found in non-compliance over misplacing 16,000 kg of weapons grade material is there, in your view, much legitimacy left at the IAEA?

    d. If one of the P-5 members is brought up for sanctioning under Ch. 7, does the UNSC self-destruct?

    e. Would this self-destruction be good for world peace?

    f. How well do you think Amano is doing his job? Are the NAM countries — the real international community — justified in their protests?

    • Anon (History)

      Whoa! Looks like someone may have inadvertently diverted some _declared_ nuclear material to possible weapons’ uses abroad.

      Let me know if bombing is imminent so I can sell my DC apt!

  6. IAEAFan (History)

    The inconsistency is completely consistent with past IAEA practice. For Fukushima no information was released until it was “completely confirmed,” which meant blessed by the Japanese government. Maybe that 18% funding leverage plus what IAEA gets from the US is a majority stake.

  7. mark (History)

    I arrived in London from Vienna today for a meeting going through Friday. I’ll be back in Vienna on Friday nite. Over the next few days depending on my schedule I’ll get into the questions that were raised by readers.

    I will address one question right away:

    Masoud, it is in reference to a point you made.

    I did say in the post that there would in a specific case be “advantages” to a non-compliance citation by the IAEA secretariat and these included delegitimizing Iran’s nuclear program. But please recall that I had conditioned that remark in the blog upon a careful judgment by the IAEA Secretariat that the information on PMD was deemed by the IAEA Secretariat to be most credible. If it were spelled out by the IAEA that Iran had a parallel program to develop a nuclear weaponization capability I think it would be fair to consider a solution that delegitimizes Iran’s nuclear program an advantage over a solution that did not do that. Please note that I also said in the post that if the information collected by the IAEA is not credible, then there should be no non-compliance finding by either the board or Amano.

  8. camtankerous (History)


    “a. Do you think the IAEA will find the U.S. in non-compliance with its NPT obligations and report the U.S. to the UNSC?”

    One of us has a peculiar interpretation of the GAO report and the NPT. Maybe I’m missing something..

    First, I read the GAO report to mean that DOE, NRC, and State have not systematically sought inventory reports for U.S.-obligated nuclear material, and that an inventory database does not currently exist, NOT that the material is lost or no longer under safeguards. The report touches on this point: “[All three agencies] maintain that IAEA safeguards are sufficient or an important tool to account for U.S. nuclear material overseas.” While this certainly seems problematic, the fact that the USG is not duplicating the work of the IAEA does not necessarily mean the material is no longer under safeguards.

    Second, NPT Article III.2 requires supplier states to ensure a safeguards agreement is in place between the recipient state and the IAEA before the recipient can receive nuclear material. If the recipient diverts U.S.-supplied nuclear material from its declared program, it is the recipient state that is violating its safeguards agreement and NPT obligations, not the United States.

    Can you comment or clarify your interpretation? Thanks.

    • FSB (History)

      Why, you’re welcome Bud!

      You might have noted I asked a question and do not have any interpretation. I am not very smart like the people who work for the USG and its contractors.

      I just see stuff on this internet-thingee that Al Gore invented so I ask you smart people some questions. e.g.:

      “That could be a major violation of America’s international treaty obligations. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which the United States signed, requires that nuclear export agreements “should commit parties to establish and maintain a system of accounting for nuclear material, with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses,” the GAO report said.”

      Sorry if my innocent questions make you so angry.

      So this 16,000 kg weapons-grade materail that this internet thingee tells me is missing is not missing and we know where all of them nu-cu-ler stuff is?

      So why did GAO write what it did?

    • Spruce (History)

      That has more to do with US’s peculiar definition of what is US nuclear material than any real problem from the viewpoint of international safeguards. US considers all US-enriched material to be “US nuclear material” even when the responsibility of it – both of inventory control and safeguards obligations – have been transferred to recepient country.

      That report is speaking of nuclear material that is manufactured in US and sold to other country. From safeguards point of view, that material is the responsibility of of the recipient country once it’s been transferred according to international provisions. No treaty obligation requires a country to be able to know exactly where the material it has sold is if the recipient country has implemented safeguards treaties.

      The problem is GAO’s mistaken reading of the safeguards treaty as it confuses the national US requirements in Atomic Energy Act (which maintains the requirement of control by the exporting country even after export) with the international safeguards requirements (which end the exporters control responsibility to the moment the material is exported if the recipient has implemented safeguards).

    • Anon (History)

      I think Spruce has it right. The GAO is primarily concerned with US congressional mandates being possibly violated.

      The report:

      “In addition, NRC and DOE could not fully account for the current location and disposition of U.S. HEU overseas in response to a 1992 congressional mandate.

      U.S. agencies, in a 1993 report produced in response to the mandate, were able to verify the location of 1,160 kilograms out of 17,500 kilograms of U.S. HEU estimated to have been exported. DOE, NRC, and State have established annual inventory reconciliations with five U.S. partners, but not the others it has transferred material to or trades with. Nuclear cooperation agreements do not contain specific access rights that enable DOE, NRC, or State to monitor and evaluate the physical security of U.S. nuclear material overseas, and the United States relies on its partners to maintain adequate security. In the absence of access rights, DOE’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security, NRC, and State have conducted physical protection visits to monitor and evaluate the physical security of U.S. nuclear material at facilities overseas when permitted. However, the agencies have not systematically visited countries believed to be holding the highest proliferation risk quantities of U.S. nuclear material, or systematically revisited facilities not meeting international physical security guidelines in a timely manner. Of the 55 visits made from 1994 through 2010, U.S. teams found that countries met international security guidelines approximately 50 percent of the time.”

      Whatever the legal case it is not a happy day, and we certainly lose some moral high ground in lecturing other states about their accountancy.

    • FSB (History)

      “And there’s just one other problem. Subtracting all the nuke material that’s been accounted for and secured still leaves 2,700 kg — nearly three tons — outstanding. And that’s enough material to make dozens of nuclear weapons.

      Where that uranium and plutonium is located — or, where it’s supposed to be located — the GAO report doesn’t say. That information was considered too sensitive to disclose in a public document, and was instead laid out in a classified report sent to Congress over the summer. But it’s worth noting that the U.S. currently has 27 so-called “Nuclear Cooperation Agreements” with 27 countries, from China to Ukraine to Colombia. America previously had similar deals with 11 other countries — including Israel, Pakistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Iran.

      “Theoretically, we know [where the nuclear material is kept]. But we don’t have a good accounting of where it all is. We’re relying on them. We’re not, to coin a phrase, trusting but verifying,” the source says.”

      Iran? The hostiles might have some of our HEU?

      So we should treat them like a weapon state already?

  9. Anon (History)


    Have a good trip.

    In addition to the questions above could you please also weigh in on whether nuclear-**related** activity (e.g. alleged missile programs, warhead designs etc. etc.) is something that IAEA is tasked with examining given that paragraph 52 of the Feb 2006 IAEA report on Iran said that, “[A]bsent some nexus to nuclear material the Agency’s legal authority to pursue the verification of possible nuclear weapons related activity is limited.” ?

    Also, do you think that the politicization of the IAEA will hurt chances for CTBT ratification around the world?


  10. FSB (History)

    Flynt Leverett of the New America Foundation (where, I think, Jeffrey used to work) on confusing Foreign Policy and military policy and hegemony — see minute 30 and onwards:

    This is the source of the alleged Iran threat.

  11. Anon (History)

    has anything about the following alleged Israeli propaganda campaign in the U.S. come to light in Vienna?

    This was written by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, who is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest.


    “What the FBI uncovered was a massive and highly focused campaign referred to by the Israelis as “perception management,” but which the CIA would refer to as a covert action. Much of the activity was illegal or incompatible with the role of foreign diplomats in the United States, which is why Leibowitz took action after his supervisors refused to proceed with prosecution. The focus was on Iran, with Israeli officials intent on preparing the American public for war against the mullahs. They were spreading disinformation on Iran’s nuclear program, promoting international sanctions, and trying to obtain Washington’s support for an ultimatum on the nuclear program as a final diplomatic gesture that would be turned down by Iran, leading to war with the U.S. playing the lead role. The Israeli Embassy’s activities consisted of drafting articles and editorials that were placed with an accommodating media, paying journalists to write pieces making the same points, and working closely with groups like WINEP and AIPAC to present policymakers with a coordinated list of arguments for war. At least one congressman from Indiana was approached directly by Israeli intelligence and agreed to host an anti-Iran conference as well as to introduce legislation tightening Iran sanctions. The recorded telephone conversation between an Israeli intelligence officer and Rep. Jane Harman in April 2009, in which she agreed to intervene on behalf of accused AIPAC spies Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman in exchange for chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, was also part of the special FBI counterintelligence operation.

    Leibowitz’s concern that the illegal activity would not be prosecuted by the Justice Department proved correct. No Israeli or American named in the extensive FBI investigative dossier has been in any way punished.”


    Any further info you may have about this would be welcome.

  12. yekbir (History)

    Hi, I’m new to the forum and greet you.

  13. Jodi Lieberman (History)

    I first met you at one of these Mark. I do miss them, as trying as they can be. Super analysis.

  14. yhqare (History)

    Hi all,
    whether there is a chance to become a moderator of your forum?

    • mark (History)

      Not likely, sorry. We moderate what we do and it’s not enough to keep us employed…

  15. Anon (History)

    I hope you will be able to fine some time to help us address the questions that were raised here — or perhaps another article in in order?

    • mark (History)

      Dear Anon,

      I have been in Vienna more or less since 9/12 with the exception of four days in London in the middle of this trip, and I’m still in Vienna. It may comfortably be assumed that there will be more than one article appearing from me on the most salient of the questions raised by the blog last week, in particular concerning non-compliance and PMD. As you no doubt are fully aware, this issue is significant and timely enough to warrant in coming weeks more attention than would be appropriate in a short response by me to the comments elicited by my post.