Jeffrey LewisIAEA Safeguards Report on Iran

Arms Control has a copy of the latest report by Olli Heinonen, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards, on Iran’s implementation of its safeguards agreement.

I will post the full text a little later.

Agence France Presse and Associated Press both emphasized the revalation that Iran received a 15 page document from the AQ Khan network that detailed how to cast metal into uranium spheres.

This information was reported in November. (See my post, Great Balls of … Uranium, November 20, 2005. Still, Heinonen adds more details about the document and Iran’s cooperation with IAEA. Here is the full paragraph:

Iran has shown the Agency more than 60 documents said to have been the drawings, specifications and supporting documentation handed over by the intermediaries, many of which are dated from the early- to mid-1980’s. Among these was a 15-page document describing the procedures for the reduction of UF6 to metal in small quantities, and the casting of enriched and depleted uranium metal into hemispheres, related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components. It did not, however, include dimensions or other specifications for machined pieces for such components. According to Iran, this document had been provided on the initiative of the network, and not at the request of the AEOI. Iran has declined the Agency’s request to provide the Agency with a copy of the document, but did permit the Agency during its visit in January 2006 to examine the document again and to place it under Agency seal.

Elaine Sciolino and Bill Broad in the New York Times have a very competent summary.

They picked up on a passing reference to apparent “administrative interconnections” among a program to convert uranium dioxide, tests related to high explosives and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle. Such connections would be extremely suspicious.

I’ve been skeptical about bureaucratic connections. Matt Bunn pretty much captured my reaction to that paragraph:

We haven’t heard this from the I.A.E.A. before,” said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “It’s interesting that the I.A.E.A. is putting that level of credence into it. I don’t believe there has previously been any I.A.E.A. reference to such interconnections.”

I’ve been tough on the Gray Lady lately, but this was good journalism.

Overall, the report is pretty tough on Iran, with some space dedicated to ongoing efforts to resolve other outstanding issues including the razed facility at Lavisan-Shian.

One bit of good news. Despite Iran’s resumption of enrichment related activities, “Agency inspectors had not seen any new installation or assembly of centrifuges, or the feeding of UF6 material for enrichment.”


  1. AHM (History)

    And here I was about to send it to you.

    Your Lavizan-Shian link is broken:

  2. Siddharth Varadarajan

    IS the document 15 pages long or 1.5?

    This AP report says it is 1.5:
    “Diplomats in Vienna said that IAEA inspectors in Iran had received last week 1.5 pages that describe how to cast fissile uranium into the hemispherical shape of warheads. The document, which Iran acquired on the nuclear black market, was apparently handed over to allay suspicions ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation board.”

    Ali Larijani has also cited the multiplication of 1.5 by 10 times as proof of European misinformation. Here is the IRNA report:

    “Larijani accused the European diplomats of telling lies and said they multiplied by 10 the 1.5 page report for building bomb and “I ask them how is it possible to build bomb with 1.5 page guidelines.” Larijani deplored that European foreign ministers have placed such a lie in a statement of their London meeting.”

    Am I also correct in assuming that
    (a) Plans to assemble nuclear bombs are available in library books and on the internet?; and
    (b) Prima facie, it would be odd for Iran to provide documentary proof of weaponising activity if indeed they were building a bomb?

  3. Otfried Nassauer (History)

    1. On the XY page document:
    When I was researching the issue of the document in December 2005, nobody spoke of 15 pages. It was said to be 1.5 pages. Maybe it’s simply a typo. However, it makes a difference in respect to the ammount of content.
    One should also mention, that IAEA GOV/2005/87 reports, that “Iran stated that it had been provided on the initiative of the procurement network, and not at the request of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.” Iran also claims, that it never made use of the document, which meanwhile is under IAEA seal.
    From IAEA GOV/2005/87 it does not become clear whether Iran showed the document to IAEA, because it had been mentioned in the 1 page document about the 1980ies contacts with the “procurement network” or whether Iran turned up deliberately with this document.

    2. On the “Green Salt Project”
    I share Matthew Bunn’s skepticism. Furthermore I read the respective para in Heinonens paper to say, that this information was provided by an unnamed (Western) intellegicence service. Heinonen claims that Iran was confronted with this information in late January 2006 and dismissed it, promissing to provide further documentation at a later pont of time.

  4. Hassi (History)

    Lets address the fact that Iran apparently offered on Jan 31 to suspend enrichment for an additional two years but the EU refused the offer—incidentally this was a fact ignored in the Western media but reported in Iran.
    See: Asia Times Feb 7, 2006

    Sideshows on Iran’s frogmarch to the UN
    By Kaveh L Afrasiabi