Jeffrey LewisIAEA Reports on Iran, Syria

Here are the IAEA Director-General Reports on Iran (GOV/2010/62) and Syria (GOV/2010/63).

Comments

  1. FSB (History)

    IAEA report on Iran continues to over-reach, as have the previous reports from the new DG.

    Let’s see:

    “I. Summary

    37. While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran
    has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in
    Iran is in peaceful activities.”

    Well, since Iran has not ratified the AP, the IAEA has no basis for insisting on safeguards verification of anything beyond the accounting of declared nuclear material.

    Yes, it would be real nice if Iran ratified the AP. It would also be real nice if other middle eastern countries joined the NPT — but no one can force sovereign nations to sign or ratify whatever they feel like.

    Who says so? The IAEA:

    http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Factsheets/English/sg_overview.html

    QUOTE:

    “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.”

    • kme (History)

      I’m pretty sure that the IAEA says something similar (“unable to determine the absence of undeclared material”) about all states without an AP.

  2. WFR (History)

    And look what the IAEA also says:

    http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/SV/Safeguards/safeg_system.pdf

    In February 1992, the Board of Governors affirmed that the scope of comprehensive safeguards agreements was not limited to nuclear material actually declared by a State, but included any material that is required to be declared. Expressed differently, the Board confirmed
    that the Agency has the right and obligation, under such agreements, not only to verify that State declarations of nuclear material subject to safeguards are ‘correct’ (i.e. they accurately describe the type(s) and quantity (ies) of the State’s declared nuclear material holdings), but that they are also ‘complete’ (i.e. that they include everything that should have been declared). Soundly based
    safeguards conclusions regarding ‘completeness,’ in States with comprehensive safeguards agreements in force, depend on the extent to which the Agency is equipped to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities in such States.

    • Anon (History)

      Their website is the more up to date source of authoritative information, one assumes.

      Too bad the IAEA contradicts themselves.

      Once the IAEA knows itself what it is talking about, it then may have a right to complain about Iran.

      As Iran has not ratified the AP, the IAEA has no right to verify anything beyond declared nuclear material accountancy. This is a straighforward reading of the 1974 CSA document. Otherwise what is the point of having an AP!?

      FSB is right that the latest report over reaches.

    • Arnold Evans (History)

      The agency has the right and obligation to attempt to draw findings that it admits are only possible to reach if a State implements the additional protocols.

      So now does that mean each state has an obligation to implement the additional protocols? It seems very clear to me that states that have not ratified the additional protocols do not have any binding obligation to implement them, even if the agency has the right or the duty to ask them to.

      I’ve yet to see a plausible argument that a state that has not ratified the additional protocols has an obligation just based on the safeguards agreement to implement the AP. Maybe today we’ll see the first. More likely the question will be evaded. I’ve seen that a bunch of times.

    • MWG (History)

      WFR is right. FSB and anon are wrong. Comprehensive safeguards agreements are – well – comprehensive. They apply to all source and special nuclear material in peaceful use in the state or under its jurisdiction or control. The IAEA has the right to verify that all such material – whether declared or not – is not diverted to nuclear weapons. Iran and Syria have the obligation to accept IAEA safeguards on all such material and to cooperate with the IAEA. Read articles 1, 2, and 3.

      The AP is not needed in order to give the IAEA the basic right and responsibility to seek out undeclared material. It is needed to give the IAEA stronger tools, so that it is in a stronger position to provide assurances that everything is declared. Outside declared facilities, comprehensive safeguards agreements offer few tools beyond provisions for consultations, clarifications, cooperation, and – normally as a last resort – special inspections.

    • Arnold Evans (History)

      MWG:

      You’re being a little slick right now. Do Iran and Syria or do they not have a legal obligation to implement the AP?

      Only by implementing the AP can the IAEA declare that “all”, as the term is used in the AP, of Iran’s nuclear material is accounted for.

      If the IAEA exercises its right and obligation to request that Syria and Iran implement an agreement neither has ratified, are you arguing, or are you not arguing that Iran and Syria now have an obligation to implement this agreement they have not ratified?

      Does the CSA’s requirement that signatories cooperate with the IAEA extend beyond the CSA to unratified agreements that were written twenty years after the CSA was written?

      I’ve yet to find a plausible argument that Iran and Syria have an obligation to implement the AP. I’ve seen plenty of evasions of the question.

    • Anon (History)

      Mr Evans, FSB and I am correct and MWG is wrong.

    • FSB (History)

      In fact, WFR’s quote from the IAEA is correct and there is no contradiction with the blurb I cite above:

      WFR quotes the IAEA —

      “Soundly based safeguards conclusions regarding ‘completeness,’ in States with comprehensive safeguards agreements in force, depend on the extent to which the Agency is equipped to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities in such States.”

      In the case of Iran, due mainly to its non-ratification of the AP, the IAEA is ill-equiped to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities.

      It is sad but true.

    • MWG (History)

      There are two related but distinct questions here.

      First, does Syria’s safeguards material apply to possible undeclared nuclear material? The answer is clearly yes. This includes Syria’s obligation to place all nuclear material under safeguards, and the IAEA’s right and obligation to verify Syria’s declarations. As the Board of Governors has confirmed, this includes verifying that those declarations are both correct and complete.

      Second, does the IAEA have sufficient tools to verify completeness? As donny points out (below), this involves proving a negative, and is impossible to do with high confidence, with or without an AP. An AP provides additional tools and allows the IAEA to draw stronger conclusions than otherwise, but the level of assurance the IAEA can provide is limited even with an AP.

      Several commenters seem to argue that IAEA is simply out of luck in investigating indications of undeclared activities if the state does not have an AP. This argument is wrong. Comprehensive safeguards provide a rudimentary basis for such investigations, including the right to request clarifying information and if necessary to conduct special inspections.

  3. Mohammad (History)

    As Iranian media are complaining about the access of Western media to the ‘classified’ report, I’m curious if that is right. Are you (or your colleagues who have handed you this report) violating any IAEA rules or regulations?

    • Fahad (History)

      Mohammad, thank God these reports are leaked as soon as possible. We in the West appreciate freedom of speech, exchange of ideas, tolerance (I don’t want to go further and further). By the way, even your Secretary of State has got the report. He seems to be pretty satisfied.

    • Mohammad (History)

      Fahad,
      The issue is not freedom of speech, but special access of some people to IAEA. I know it’s not really serious in the case of these particular IAEA reports, but it fuels Iran’s concerns about how the information gathered in IAEA inspections are used, such as what seems to have happened in Iraq WMD inspections.

    • MWG (History)

      Iran seems to be arguing that the reports contain information that should be considered “safeguards confidential” and not made available, either to the Board of Governors or the public.

      The relevant provision of Iran’s safeguards agreement is Article 5(b)(i):

      “The Agency shall not publish or communicate to any State, organization or person any information obtained by it in connection with the implementation of this Agreement, except that specific information relating to the implementation thereof may be given to the Board of Governors of the Agency (hereinafter referred to as “the Board”) and to such Agency staff members as require such knowledge by reason of their official duties in connection with safeguards, but only to the extent necessary for the Agency to fulfil its responsibilities in implementing this Agreement.”

      My view is that Iran’s criticism is essentially without merit. The Board has responsibility to oversee safeguards implementation (see Articles 18 and 19 of Iran’s safeguards agreement and Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute), and the reports on Iran provide a similar level of detail to reports on similar investigations in the past (e.g., Iraq, North Korea, Libya).

  4. donny (History)

    “Completeness” in this case means PROVEN CONDITION of ABSENCE of UNDECLARED MATERIAL (provided all DECLARED material is accounted for), can NEVER be satisfied but -let’s not be naive- indeed a perfect excuse (“obligation”) to arbitrarily harass non-allies.

    • Anon (History)

      You are right.

      Also, there would be no point to an AP if the IAEA could get the benefits of an AP without an AP.

  5. donny (History)

    …and BTW, this “fuel bank” idea won’t make any difference since its use is also predicated on first PROVING a NEGATIVE by a client state.

    So, allies don’t have to “proof” anything and can use this fuel bank but why bother because they’ll probably be allowed to have their own fuel cycle anyway.

  6. Anon (History)

    The 1974 CSA is pretty clear:

    http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/Others/infcirc214.pdf

    “NATIONAL SYSTEM OF ACCOUNTING FOR AND CONTROL OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL
    Article 31

    Pursuant to Article 7 the Agency, in carrying out its verification activities, shall make full use of
    Iran’s system of accounting for and control of all nuclear material subject to safeguards under this
    Agreement and shall avoid unnecessary duplication of Iran’s accounting and control activities.

    Article 32

    Iran’s system of accounting for and control of all nuclear material subject to safeguards under
    this Agreement shall be based on a structure of material balance areas, and shall make provision, as
    appropriate and specified in the Subsidiary Arrangements, for the establishment of such measures as:

    (a) A measurement system for the determination of the quantities of nuclear material
    received, produced, shipped, lost or otherwise removed from inventory, and the quantities
    on inventory;
    (b) The evaluation of precision and accuracy of measurements and the estimation of
    measurement uncertainty;
    (c) Procedures for identifying, reviewing and evaluating differences in shipper/receiver
    measurements;
    (d) Procedures for taking a physical inventory;
    (e) Procedures for the evaluation of accumulations of unmeasured inventory and unmeasured
    losses;
    (f) A system of records and reports showing, for each material balance area, the inventory of
    nuclear material and the changes in that inventory including receipts into and transfers out
    of the material balance area;
    INFCIRC/214
    – 9 –
    (g) Provisions to ensure that the accounting procedures and arrangements are being operated
    correctly; and
    (h) Procedures for the provision of reports to the Agency in accordance with Articles 59-69.
    STARTING POINT OF SAFEGUARDS
    Article 33

    Safeguards under this Agreement shall not apply to material in mining or ore processing
    activities.”

  7. Allen Thomson (History)

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-syria-nuclear-20101126,0,5558036.story

    U.N. nuclear agency makes little progress in Syria
    By Julia Damianova, Los Angeles Times
    November 26, 2010

    [EXCERPTS]

    The United States is about to push for so-called special inspections in Syria by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, a rarely used tool to seek access in a country that otherwise denies entry to sensitive sites, diplomats familiar with the issue say.

    After a report Tuesday from the International Atomic Energy Agency that showed no substantial progress in its investigation of Syria’s nuclear activities, Western countries may start to play hardball by implementing the rarely used procedure, the diplomats told The Times this week.

    “The United States wants to bring up the subject of special inspections in Syria at the IAEA Board of Governors in December,” said a European diplomat who asked to remain unnamed because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    Countries that are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty may be subject to special inspections if the agency decides that the information obtained in routine visits is not adequate to fulfill its duties, which include watching for signs that a country may be trying to obtain nuclear weapons.

    Currently, a reactor in Damascus is the only Syrian nuclear facility under international watch, and the agency needs the country’s permission to visit any other location.

    [deletia]

    Western diplomats following the case are frustrated by what they describe as Syria’s intransigence.

    “The new IAEA report on Syria seems to be similar to the one from September, showing no progress in the agency’s investigation,” said one diplomat in Vienna who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Another diplomat familiar with the issue said patience with Syria’s lack of cooperation is wearing thin and that the country may now be ripe for the special inspections procedure.

  8. Arnold Evans (History)

    37. While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

    Well, since Iran has not ratified the AP, the IAEA has no basis for insisting on safeguards verification of anything beyond the accounting of declared nuclear material.

    Yes, it would be real nice if Iran ratified the AP. It would also be real nice if other middle eastern countries joined the NPT — but no one can force sovereign nations to sign or ratify whatever they feel like.

    So let’s look at FSB’s original statement.

    After a little skirmish, it seems that all sides now agree that the IAEA’s statement —Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.— is true by necessity because Iran and Syria have not implemented the AP. And Iran and Syria do not have any obligation to implement the AP.

    The statement, contrary to Amano’s implication, does not point to a failing on Iran’s part, but rather to Iran’s exercise of its right to choose which treaties it ratifies. The same as Israel’s choice, far further outside international norms and also far less punished, not to implement the NPT at all.

    • WFR (History)

      Arnold,

      You say

      Well, since Iran has not ratified the AP, the IAEA has no basis for insisting on safeguards verification of anything beyond the accounting of declared nuclear material.

      So, I assume you disregard, or at least disgaree with MWG’s comment:

      Several commenters seem to argue that IAEA is simply out of luck in investigating indications of undeclared activities if the state does not have an AP. This argument is wrong. Comprehensive safeguards provide a rudimentary basis for such investigations, including the right to request clarifying information and if necessary to conduct special inspections.

      ???

    • Arnold Evans (History)

      The IAEA can insist upon what it wants to insist upon. Iran and Syria have never committed to disclosure beyond those spelled out in its CSA. Iran and Syria have no obligation to make disclosure beyond that spelled out in its CSA.

      If the conditions necessary for special inspections are met, then the IAEA should feel free to call for one or more special inspections, as described (and limited) by the CSA.

      After any number of special inspections, the IAEA will still be able to make the statement that Iran has not implemented the AP (as is fully and we’ve seen unarguably its right). It will also, because Iran has not implemented the AP be able to make the statement: –-Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities–.

      And that’s OK. Iran does not have an obligation to provide the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities, as Amano defines the terms.

      Remember, until the AP was created twenty years after the NPT, any IAEA director could make that statement about every single NPT signatory. Amano is using that, as donny said earlier, to arbitrarily harass non US allies.

    • MWG (History)

      Actually, Iran’s safeguards agreement contains very general provisions requiring Iran to cooperate and to provide amplifications on information provided in response to IAEA questions.

      But aside from complaining, the IAEA hasn’t really pressed the point. It has often chosen to ask Iran for voluntary cooperation rather than insist on the IAEA’s verification rights, e.g. with a special inspection. That strategy has not worked well of late.

      It is worth noting that some safeguards experts opposed the Additional Protocol precisely because it could be seen as detracting from the IAEA’s authority under comprehensive safeguards agreements. If the IAEA needed an additional legal instrument it must lack the authority it needs. I have some sympathy for this view, but I don’t share it.

  9. WFR (History)

    You appear to have departed from an interesting discussion to accuse the Director General of the IAEA of “arbitrarily” harassing “non US allies”.

    Just so that I understand you: Amano has picked on Iran for no obvious reason other than it is not an ally of the US? The numerous resolutions of the Board of Governors, and of the UN Security Council, are irrelevant? Iran’s history of concealment should be forgotten? And all outstanding questions about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme are based on fabrications and should be dropped?

    An interesting perspective!

    • Arnold Evans (History)

      I don’t think my comments have been too long. Anyone interested in my positions can read them in the posts I’ve written.

      I actually have not found the discussion that interesting. Iran does or does not have an obligation to implement an agreement it has not ratified. I think we’ve settled on the fact that it does not.

      Amano’s statement that he cannot verify all material says nothing more than that Iran has not implemented the AP. And again, you and those sympathetic with your position are, by necessity, refusing to argue that Iran has any obligation to implement the AP or to prevent Amano from being able to make that statement.

      This is a really straightforward matter. I doubt a reader of this thread could reasonably come to any conclusion other than the one I, FSB, anon, donny and KME have expressed. (Sorry if I forgot anyone.)

    • FSB (History)

      In fact, WFR’s quote from the IAEA is correct and there is no contradiction with the blurb I cite above:

      WFR quotes the IAEA –

      “Soundly based safeguards conclusions regarding ‘completeness,’ in States with comprehensive safeguards agreements in force, depend on the extent to which the Agency is equipped to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities in such States.”

      In the case of Iran, due mainly to its non-ratification of the AP, the IAEA is ill-equiped to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities.

      It is sad but true.

  10. FSB (History)

    Arnold is 100% correct:

    “Iran does not have an obligation to provide the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities, as Amano defines the terms.”

    Amano should consider a career in making straw-men.

  11. Allen Thomson (History)

    There’s an interesting Wikileaked US State Department cable having to do with an earlier (February 2009) set of IAEA Iran and Syria reports at http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/02/09STATE16285.html

    • FSB (History)

      Thanks. The Cable breathlessly holds forth on the “international community” — whither this “international community”?

      118 countries agree with Iran — the real “international community”:

      http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LI17Ak02.html

      “In a strongly-worded statement, representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have supported Iran’s position on the contentious issue of IAEA inspectors and have also expressed concern that the most recent IAEA report on Iran has “departed from standard verification language”.

      “NAM notes with concern, the possible implications of the continued departure from standard verification language in the summary of the report of the director general [Yukio Amano],” the statement said. The statement was read during the IAEA board of governors meeting on behalf of over 100 NAM member states.”

  12. Arnold Evans (History)

    This raises an interesting point. I see the words “special inspection” used by members of the Western nuclear policy community as if they contain some kind of magic.

    The IAEA can call for special inspections of facilities, as long as they follow the procedures agreed upon.

    What do you think they are going to find? They are not going to find a hidden stockpile of fissile material.

    And after they don’t find it, of course, the IAEA will still be able to claim that Iran and Syria have not “provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran [or Syria] is in peaceful activities”.

    And Iran and Syria still will have no legal obligation, regardless of that IAEA claim, to implement the AP to provide that necessary cooperation.

    Amano should go ahead and call as many special inspections as he wants, as long as he does so following the procedures spelled out in the CSA.

    • Allen Thomson (History)

      It is an interesting question: what inspection, short of excavating the site of the alleged reactor, would be likely to resolve the matter one way or the other?

  13. FSB (History)

    Wikileaks shows Amano’s clear bias:

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/leaked-cable-may-prompt-iran-demand-resi

    Among the trove of classified documents leaked by WikiLeaks is one in which U.S. diplomats reported back to the State Department that Amano, shortly before assuming his post a year ago, had told a U.S. envoy “that he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.” Excerpts of the cable were quoted by the London Guardian.

    Amano told reporters at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on Thursday that it was “not appropriate” to comment on leaked documents but said his “professional conscience” was clear.

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