Jeffrey LewisHow Many NORK Enrichment Sites?

David Sanger and Bill Broad have a gossamer story in the New York Times about whether North Korea might have more centrifuge facilities.

Unfortunately, the story sort of dissolves when you start to pick it apart.  On the first read, Sanger and Broad seem to suggest that the United States has completed a new intelligence assessment and that US officials are rolling it out.

On closer inspection, however, the story is based on a pair of public statements — an extemporaneous comment by Gary Samore, answering audience questions after a presentation on Iran before the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Ambassador Glyn Davies’s statement before the IAEA Board of Governors — and a cryptic remark by an anonymous South Korean intelligence official in the Chosun Ilbo.

The statements don’t appear all that “carefully worded” to me.  And, as far as I can tell, they are not part of a coordinated effort.  Still, it’s an interesting question.  How many enrichment-related sites does North Korea have?

Gary Samore on 12/08

Gary Samore spoke at a Foundation for the Defense of Democracies event on Countering the Iranian Threat.  Although his talk dealt exclusively with Iran, he was asked a question about North Korea.  Gary downplayed any connection between Iran and North Korea — which, by the way, was something David Sanger mentioned in a November 21 story.

QUESTION: Two-part question. Can you rule out that the uranium facility that Sig Hecker reported on in North Korea is in any way connected with Iran? Could you rule that out?

And if you have no concrete information, could you tell us a little bit — give us some of your thoughts on this apparent business of nuclear outsourcing that was going on with the Syrian reactor facility, the discussion of what might be happening in Venezuela and so forth?

Thank you.

SAMORE: Well, on the first question, I would say that the — we can’t confirm, of course what Sig Hecker saw. We’re just going by what he said.

Assuming that what he saw and what the North Koreans told him is accurate, then there’s a very big discrepancy between the North Korean program, which appears to be much more advanced and efficient, and the North — and — and the program in Iran, which appears — which is — it’s a different technology and appears to be having some pretty significant technical problems. So that would suggest no connection.

But in response to your second question, I’m very concerned about the risk of North Korea transferring technology or even nuclear materials.

And of course we have examples in the past where they have done that, you know, apparently providing some nuclear material to Libya, certainly helping the Syrians build a reactor which was destroyed by Israel in 2007.

So I think in the future one of the most important elements of our diplomacy with North Korea and with the other countries in the six-party talks has to be to ensure that North Korea does not sell or transfer nuclear technology or materials to countries in the Middle East.

Because I think that could fundamentally change the pace of the nuclear clock that I talked about, and to the extent that that — in the case in Iran — to the extent that that clock has accelerated, then we lose time for this dual-track strategy that we’re pursuing, which will take months, you know, if it’s going to be successful.

Gary’s response doesn’t seem planned — he asserts that the technology is different when, in fact, the North Koreans appear to be spinning Pakistan-derived P2s, which Iran is also developing.

From the context, it seems clear that Gary is just trying to explain that there is no reason to assume Iran is the culprit — remember, that he is dealing with a slightly disturbed audience.  People who say things like “Just to throw this in at the very last, what about shifting the focus? Cut off the head of the snake in North Korea, and — which is going through a dicey transition right now, and let the people in Iran look at that.”

That was a real comment, by the way. Gary starts his talk by awkwardly joking that he caught the “tail end of the last panel discussion” — when the “head of the snake” comment was made —  “which I thought was very high-spirited.” Gary obviously was aware that he was dealing with a room of lunatics. (The full-text of the Q and A is in the comments.)  I don’t blame him for not executing a letter perfect dissertation on the design heritage of North Korea’s centrifuges.  He was just hoping to escape the mob with the coiffure intact.

Glyn Davies on 12/02

Glyn Davies, the US Ambassador to the IAEA, on the other hand, did make a statement about North Korea’s nuclear program at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting (along with statements about Iran and the assurance of nuclear fuel supply).  The entire thing is worth a read, but here is the graf that interests us:

Based on the apparent scale of the facility, the fast progress the DPRK has made in its construction, and the evidence going back years that North Korea has tried to procure enrichment-related material from abroad, it is likely that North Korea had been pursuing an enrichment capability long before the April 2009 date it now claims.  If so, there is a clear likelihood that DPRK has built other uranium enrichment-related facilities in its territory.

Fair enough.

Anonymous South Korean Intelligence Official on 12/14

Finally, Broad and Sanger refer to South Korean officials, but don’t actually quote any.  Dan Dombey in the Financial Times states that “An unnamed South Korean official told Chosun Ilbo newspaper that Seoul and Washington believed North Korea had ‘three or four’ enrichment sites, not including Yongbyon.”

Actually, that’s not precisely what the anonymous official said.  Here is the quote:

“Yongbyon was not included in the list of three or four locations that Seoul and Washington had previously suspected,” a South Korean intelligence official said Monday. “We understand that the North has long been conducting a uranium enrichment experiment somewhere else.”

If I understand that correctly, the official is saying that there is a list of three or four suspect sites other than Yongbyon.  It isn’t clear to me (can someone check the original Korean?) whether this means there are at least three or four other sites, or whether there are three or four candidates for an R&D site that preceded Yongbyon.  (The story identifies the sites as “a research institute in downtown Pyongyang and a missile base in Yongjori, Yanggang Province, as well as a cave complex in Kumchangri 160 km north of Pyongyang.”)

The South Korean Foreign Minister declined to comment on the intelligence claim — which Reuters characterized as “three to four plants to enrich uranium”– but it seems plausible enough that we had a list of three or four suspect locations.

What Do We Actually Know?

Not very much, it seems.

The long-running issue for the US intelligence community is that the US has never, before Yongbyon, been able to identify a “bricks and mortar” site for centrifuge enrichment.  We knew that the North Koreans were pursuing enrichment, with help from Pakistan, but there were substantial debates about the scope.  Was it a little cheating (a “footnote” to the plutonium program) or a massive, parallel effort?  Size, it appears, matters.

Part of the problem is that gas centrifuges, as I argued at the Wilson Center, are almost ideal for a clandestine nuclear-weapons program.  Centrifuge facilities have virtually no signature.  Policymakers have an understandable tendency to overreact to suggestive procurement data, because that’s all the warning they may ever get. Or, as I put it in the Bulletin, it wasn’t an accident that the mythical Iraqi nuclear weapons program was thought to be based on centrifuges.

The assertion is that North Korea maintains a “sophisticated network of other, secret sites — and perhaps a fully operating uranium enrichment plant — elsewhere in the country” sounds ominous, but it is actually somewhat vague.

As far as I can tell, our analysts still staring at adits in North Korea wondering if there be centrifuges inside.

I take the phrase “network of other, secret sites” to mean what must be several centrifuge workshops (Iran declared 13 to the IAEA) and at least an R&D site (sort of the equivalent of the Pilot FEP at Natanz in Iran) where North Korea could fool around with the two-dozen or so P1 and P2 centrifuges provided by Pakistan, as well as the first cascade or two of North Korean assembled machines.

But that isn’t what we really want to know.  What we want to know is whether or not there is a North Korean equivalent of Qom. Or, rather, three or four Qoms, busy churning out highly enriched uranium for the juche bomb.

On that issue, the Broad and Sanger story suggests that the United States still does not know — “perhaps” another fully operating uranium enrichment plant.  Perhaps not. Sig Hecker suggests that it is “highly likely that a parallel covert facility capable of HEU production exists elsewhere in the country.”  I don’t see any reason to disagree with that assessment.  But where the hell is it?

This is a real problem.  We can’t go looking in every mountainous nook and cranny for centrifuges.  As the whole Kumchang-ri fiasco illustrated, this gets very expensive, very fast.  Moreover, if the IC really missed the construction of a facility, the ritual covering of asses will begin.  In a situation like this, the incentive — if you have to pick a number out of thin air — is to overestimate. If the over/under is 3.5 , go ahead and take 4.

That seems to be what is happening now. But that, of course, is how we ended up destructive fantasies about Iraqi and North Korean centrifuge facilities, fantasies that we are still paying for today.

So what do we do?  The only experience we have with disarming a state that went all the way with the high-tech uranium route is South Africa with jet-nozzle technology.  Although the international community has decided we are satisfied with South Africa’s disarmament, a lot of that confidence is judgment.  The math, as Steve Fetter has pointed out, is still pretty fuzzy.

So, at least this evening, I don’t have any bright ideas.  But I would make the argument, again, that simply accepting worst-case assessments is as dangerous as accepting Pollyannish ones.  The right approach, though not always easy, is to try to construct a policy that is robust to uncertainty.

Comments

  1. Jeffrey (History)

    DUBOWITZ: All right, for those of you who are just joining us, Welcome to FDD’s Washington forum.

    My name is Mark Dubowitz, and I’m the executive director at FDD, and I head up FDD’s Iran Energy Project, which, as many of you know, focuses intensely on Iranian energy sanctions.

    Now, FDD has been focused on the Iranian march to a nuclear bomb and its human rights abuses since we were founded briefly after 9/11, and we’ve conducted extensive research on — on sanctions.

    And I have to — to stop for this brief second and — and really commend the Obama administration. I think in the past 18 months we’ve seen an extraordinary effort by this administration and an extraordinary international effort to put together a comprehensive Iran sanctions package, as well as an international coalition.

    And just to emphasize that, by my count there are about 32 countries that have actually passed sanctions against Iran, representing about a billion people.

    So this is a pretty impressive international sanctions coalition. And certainly FDD has been very privileged to work with this administration and with members of Congress on both sides of the aisles. And again as a reminder, the most recent Iran sanctions law was passed by a vote of 507 to 8 in both houses, and signed into law on July 1st by President Obama.

    It’s worth emphasizing, in a time of bitter partisanship in this town, Iran is a bipartisan issue.

    Now I want to introduce Dr. Samore. I’ve been following his work for many years. He’s a tremendously successful government official. He’s been focused on a topic of deep concern to all of us for a number of years, the issue of weapons of mass destruction and — and proliferation.

    He is the White House coordinator for WMD, counterterrorism and arms control. He serves as the principal adviser to President Obama on all these matters. He — he served as the special assistant of the president and senior director for nonproliferation export controls during the Clinton administration.

    He’s devoted much of his life to this very, very serious issue, and I look forward to his remarks, and thank you for attending.

    SAMORE: Thank you very much, Mark.

    And thanks to all of you and best holiday wishes.

    I caught the tail end of the last panel discussion which I thought was very high-spirited and very enjoyable, and I agreed with a great deal of what was said — probably more than I can publicly admit to.

    (LAUGHTER)

    I think it’s very appropriate that the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has chosen for this year’s forum to focus on the Iranian threat.

    To me, Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons capability poses one of the most serious international security threats that this country faces.

    President Obama has stressed many times that we are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, because we understand that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, it would profoundly destabilize the Middle East and it would have serious consequences for our efforts worldwide to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

    I want to focus my remarks on the role that international sanctions play in the president’s strategy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    Sanctions have three functions.

    First, in the broadest sense, sanctions against countries that violate the nonproliferation rules are essential to enforce the credibility and the integrity of the international regime of treaties and institutions and norms that make up the international nonproliferation system.

    In the case of Iran, they violated the NPT, they violated their IAEA safeguards, they’re in defiance of five U.N. Security Council resolutions which require them to fully cooperate with the IAEA to resolve questions about their nuclear activities and which require them to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities under IAEA supervision.

    So this is a, you know, poster child for a country that is in violation of all of the instruments of the international nonproliferation regime.

    The higher price that Iran pays for its violations and its defiance, the less likely it is that other countries will be tempted to follow in Iran’s footsteps.

    Conversely, if Iran is seen as successfully defying the U.N. Security Council in its bid to acquire nuclear weapons, other countries are less likely to be deterred by the threat of Security Council action.

    As President Obama said in his April 2009 Prague speech, quote, “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”

    And I think this is particularly important for other countries in the Middle East who feel most directly threatened by Iran’s aggressive behavior and by their efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability, and who are most likely to respond by trying to develop nuclear weapons of their own.

    Second, sanctions have a direct impact on the pace of Iran’s nuclear program by making it more difficult for Iran to obtain essential materials and components for its nuclear program.

    Under the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, all countries are legally required to, quote, “take all necessary means to prevent the supply, sale or transfer, directly or indirectly, from their territories or by their nationals or using their flagged vessels or aircraft, of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran’s enrichment-related reprocessing or heavy water-related activities, or to the development of nuclear weapons delivery systems.”

    That’s a pretty airtight, legally-binding requirement on countries to — to deny Iran access to those essential components.

    In addition, individuals and entities involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile program have been specifically targeted with travel restrictions and financial bans. You can see the lists in the various U.N. Security Council resolutions.

    The most recent resolution adds a ban on Iranian investment in nuclear industries abroad, which is primarily intended to block any effort by Iran to invest in foreign mines or other deposits of natural uranium.

    And the latest resolution provides a robust mechanism for inspecting Iranian cargo and seizing contraband.

    These U.N. Security Council sanctions, combined with enforcement by the U.S. and its allies, have had a significant impact on Iran’s nuclear program.

    With restricted access to supplies of specialized raw materials and finished components, that has contributed to Iran’s technical problems in their enrichment program.

    It’s helped to — it’s helped to limit both the number and the reliability of the centrifuges that they’re able to build, and it’s also complicated their efforts to develop more advanced centrifuge machines.

    In addition, the completion of the 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor, which is a potential source of plutonium, has also been seriously delayed by Iran’s inability to acquire essential components from foreign sources.

    Now delaying Iran’s nuclear program is essential to buy time for the dual — dual-track strategy that the administration is pursuing.

    And this takes me to the third row of sanctions, to affect Iran’s calculation of the costs and benefits of continuing to pursue its nuclear weapons program.

    On the benefit side, President Obama has offered to engage Iran unconditionally on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect, and to improve U.S./Iranian relations as Iran complies with its international obligations.

    As President Obama said in Prague, we want Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations, politically and economically. We support Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy with vigorous inspections. This is the path the Islamic Republic can take.

    Of course, Iran has failed to take advantage of that offer. As a consequence, we’ve moved to increase the cost side of the ledger, including economic sanctions.

    And, frankly, Iran’s clear rejection of our offer of engagement, as well as President Obama’s personal involvement in building our international coalition, such as his direct interventions with Russian President Medvedev and Chinese President Hu, has enabled us to produce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 in June of this year, which establishes the most comprehensive set of U.N. sanctions on Iran to date.

    As you all know, Iran tried to block U.N. Security Council resolution action with last-minute diplomatic maneuvers, but President Obama was determined to demonstrate that the threat of increased pressure is real.

    Following the passage of 1929, we’ve seen the E.U. and other countries from Australia, Canada, Norway, Japan, South Korea and others, have adopted measures which go beyond the strict requirements of 1929.

    In other words, 1929 was always intended to provide a platform which would allow other countries to have the political basis to take additional measures.

    The E.U., for example, has prohibited the opening of new outlets of Iranian banks, the establishment of any new correspondent accounts by Iranian banks, and the provision of insurance or reinsurance to any Iranian entity.

    In the U.S., as Mark mentioned, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, which the president signed on July 1st, has significantly amplified this effect by making it difficult for companies doing — some businesses in Iran to also do business in the United States.

    Now, there’s no doubt that these unprecedented sanctions have caused real economic dislocation inside Iran, especially in the financial and the energy-development sectors.

    Iran is effectively unable to access financial services from most banks all around the world, and it’s increasingly unable to conduct transactions in dollars, the pound or — or the euro.

    International companies, including in the energy sector, have recognized the risk of doing business in Iran and are abandoning existing business opportunities and not taking advantage, or not seeking new ones.

    This trend has been replicated across a broad range of industries. Such companies who have made a strategic decision to limit their exposure in Iran include Shell, Total, ENI, Tokyo Lukoil (ph) and many others.

    I think this is particularly important in terms of Iran’s ability to attract foreign investment to modernize its energy infrastructure.

    These economic consequences of sanctions has been amplified by the Iranian government’s own mismanagement of their economy, which has led to high employment and high inflation, and together, sanctions and mismanagement are adding to a sense of political discontent among broad sections of the Iranian public, who of course have other grievances, including their — their dissatisfaction with the election.

    Of course it remains to be seen how high Iran’s pain threshold is, and whether Iran is ultimately prepared to comply with U.N. Security Council demands to suspend its reprocessing and enrichment programs in exchange for suspension of sanctions measures as provided for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929.

    It may be that Iran has decided to resume talks with the P-5- plus-1 at the recent Geneva meeting because it believes it can manipulate the appearance of negotiations to weaken existing sanctions and avoid additional measures.

    This ploy is not going to work. In the wake of the Geneva talks, we and our allies are determined to maintain and even increase pressure.

    We need to send a message to Iran that sanctions will only increase as Iran avoids serious negotiations, and will not be lifted until our concerns are fully addressed.

    Iran has the opportunity to be integrated into the international community or face further isolation.

    It has the chance to benefit technologically, financially and politically, and not continue to be squeezed economically.

    Iran can gain much by fulfilling its obligations, or it can continue to pay an increasing price by continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

    The choice is Iran’s, but it’s up to us to make sure that they’re confronted and have to make that choice.

    Thank you very much. I’d be happy to take some questions from the audience.

    (APPLAUSE)

    DUBOWITZ: OK, folks.

    Eli Lake?

    QUESTION: Eli Lake, Washington Times.

    How would you characterize China’s compliance with UNCR 1929, and what do you say to allies who complain, particularly maybe in Japan, that while they’re giving up business opportunities, China’s just filling the gap?

    SAMORE: I think China is complying with 1929. I think Chinese, you may have noticed that there have been no big new oil or gas development contracts signed since 1929.

    I think Chinese companies and the Chinese government recognize that the objective of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is one that is in China’s national interest, and I think the Chinese also recognize that if their companies are seen as exploiting the restraint that other countries and companies are exercising, that will have consequences for U.S. — for U.S.-Chinese relations, and also have direct — and have direct economic consequences for those Chinese companies.

    Now, obviously the extent to which — as I said in my speech — the extent to which we’re going to make this strategy work is going to require international cooperation, and as the — as the diplomatic process plays out, the challenge for us will be to keep the pressure up.

    I think we want to make sure that during the process of negotiations, the Iranians don’t feel that the pressure is letting up, and I think that’s going to be — and we’ll be working obviously very hard with not only the Chinese but other countries to make sure that we not only comply with 1929, but take additional measures in order to produce a successful outcome at the bargaining table.

    DUBOWITZ: Hilary?

    QUESTION: Hi. Hilary Krieger from the Jerusalem Post.

    There are reports that Iran could be supplying Venezuela now with missiles that could have some capability if used against the United States, and I’m wondering how you see that changing the strategic environment, if you think that’s going to go forward, and what the United States is doing to counter these kinds of efforts by Iran in South America.

    SAMORE: I’m not sure I can specifically comment on the question of missile sales to Venezuela, in part because I don’t think I actually know what the situation is.

    But the U.S. — I mean, under, you know, the various U.N. Security Council resolutions, Iran is prohibited from selling arms to anybody, not just missiles, but small arms.

    So we’re — you know, we have a very intensive program in place to intercept and prevent arm sales, you know, from Iran from taking place. So we’ll continue to do that.

    DUBOWITZ: David?

    QUESTION: Gary, David Sanger from the New York Times.

    There were some reports last week, some of which came out of the State Department documents, about Iran obtaining from North Korea this BM-25 missile, and then there was some question on the part of the Russians and others about whether they’d really obtained it.

    What have (ph) you come out on that, and if they did obtain it, would it make any significant difference or not in the capabilities as we now understand them?

    SAMORE: We’ve been told not to comment on any of the — any of the documents or any of the information contained in — in the leaked cables.

    But — but I do want to make a general point about Iran’s missile program.

    I think Iran’s missile program has moved forward with more success than its nuclear program, you know, and in large part that’s because of the very substantial assistance they’ve received from North Korea going back almost 20 years now.

    And I think one of the reasons why we’ve been successful in convincing the Europeans and even Russia that we need to move ahead with a missile defense program in Europe is because people recognize that the facts on the ground are very convincing.

    Iran is developing liquid- and solid-fueled intermediate-range systems. They’re — they — they are developing a very large-scale production capability.

    And in the face of that, I think we and our allies, and working with our partners like Russia, we have an obligation to put in place an effective missile defense system.

    And you saw in the Lisbon summit progress on that issue, I think, precisely because Iran is driving us in that direction.

    DUBOWITZ: Reuel?

    QUESTION: Assuming the Europeans, the Chinese and the Russians are actually compliant with all the sanctions, do you think the Iranians have the native talent, manufacturing and scientific, to more or less get the bomb, even if these sanctions are quite effective?

    SAMORE: Well, it’s a good question.

    I mean, I think Iran obviously, based on the technology that they received from A.Q. Khan in the mid-1980s, I mean, that technology can be used to produce nuclear weapons material.

    And the, you know, basic technology for, you know, for producing nuclear weapons is, that’s also a very old technology going back to 1945, of course.

    So, I mean, in that sense I think they have the basic knowledge.

    Translating that into actual capability, of course, can take a long time. I mean, as I said, the Iranians have been working on achieving a nuclear weapons capability since the mid-1980s, and I think we’ve been quite effective in slowing that down, and I think we still have good opportunities for slowing it down.

    But I do think at the end of the day there are many countries in the world, including Iran, which if they’re absolutely determined to develop nuclear weapons, they probably have that within their capability.

    DUBOWITZ: Laura?

    QUESTION: Hi. Since part of the strategy you describe involves using pressure to try to get Iran to make concessions at the bargaining table, after the Geneva meeting can you evaluate a little bit how you see the negotiations bargaining table process developing with Iran?

    SAMORE: Well, the Geneva meeting was, of course, just a first meeting, and I think one of my colleagues said that we had low expectations, and we did not exceed them, and I think that’s probably the best way to describe the meeting.

    I mean, as I said, we are not — you know, the Geneva meeting has not in any way changed our determination to maintain pressure, and in my view, makes it even more important that we visibly increase pressure, precisely because the Geneva meeting did not produce what I would consider to be any real progress on trying to resolve this issue.

    And I think you will see the U.S. and its allies continuing to take steps even before the next round which is scheduled to take place in Istanbul in late January.

    DUBOWITZ: Daniel?

    DOMBEY: Dan Dombey, Financial Times.

    Two questions, if I may.

    First of all, you’ve talked about the importance of slowing the Iranians down.

    I don’t want to get into the attribution of where it comes from, but given in recent days people have come out with exactly how centrifuges at Natanz have been affected by Stuxnet, and President Ahmadinejad himself has acknowledged that they have been affected, has that been helpful? A simple yes or no.

    And the other question is…

    (LAUGHTER)

    More than six year — almost six years after the seals at Natanz were broken, is there really any practical prospect of Iran having a complete freeze of all enrichment on its territory?

    SAMORE: Well, the first question, I’m glad to hear they’re having problems with their centrifuge machines, and I think that, you know, the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to try to make sure that we complicate matters for them.

    But I also think that their technical problems are — go beyond, you know, steps that outside countries are taking.

    I think Iran has some very significant limitations in terms of both the technology they’re working with, the particular type of centrifuge machine they have is, you know, not a very efficient, you know, or a very reliable machine, so there’s some inherent technical limits.

    And I just think Iran as a Third World country just has some, you know — just has inherent limits in terms of their, you know, industrial infrastructure and their — and their human talent. Not anything they couldn’t overcome over a long period of time, but, you know, this is not an advanced industrial country, and so there are limits to how quickly they can do things.

    As to the second question, I think what Iran is prepared to do depends upon their cost-benefit analysis. And I believe that if the cost and the risk and the threat is high enough, they will accept suspension.

    So, to me, it’s simply a matter of, to the extent that we’re able to bring pressure to bear on them, so that they feel that the price, the cost, the risk of proceeding in defiance of the Security Council is high enough, I think they will accept suspension, as they have in the past. I mean, in 2003 to 2005 they suspended their enrichment program.

    DUBOWITZ: Actually, Gary, if I could ask you a question, because we talk a lot about the economic impact of sanctions, but what I’ve been taught is one of the fundamental rules of strategic communications is put your opponent in the wrong and keep him there.

    And that — could you comment on the political benefits or strategic communications benefits of sanctions, and have you seen a sea change in attitudes, particularly in Europe, with respect to Iran over the past 18 to 24 months?

    SAMORE: I think that at the end of the Bush administration, I think the United States made a genuine effort to try to engage Iran diplomatically and the Iranians rejected that.

    But I think that it was difficult for the Bush administration to convince other countries that the real obstacle to diplomatic progress was Iran and not the United States.

    I think President Obama has removed any doubt. I mean, he has made it abundantly clear that the — the obstacle to a diplomatic solution is not the United States. It is Iran.

    And I think that has helped us tremendously to exploit that, to take advantage of that, to build international support for sanctions.

    And I think we’re going to be able — I believe we will be able to maintain the upper hand, and I think that as, you know, you’ll see this P-5-plus-1 process work its way through, we will need to continue to make it clear that the country that is blocking agreement is Iran and not the United States or its allies.

    And as long as we can do that, I think we’ll be in a much stronger position to make the case for increasing economic pressure.

    DUBOWITZ: Claudia Rosett?

    QUESTION: Two-part question. Can you rule out that the uranium facility that Sig Hecker reported on in North Korea is in any way connected with Iran? Could you rule that out?

    And if you have no concrete information, could you tell us a little bit — give us some of your thoughts on this apparent business of nuclear outsourcing that was going on with the Syrian reactor facility, the discussion of what might be happening in Venezuela and so forth?

    Thank you.

    SAMORE: Well, on the first question, I would say that the — we can’t confirm, of course what Sig Hecker saw. We’re just going by what he said.

    Assuming that what he saw and what the North Koreans told him is accurate, then there’s a very big discrepancy between the North Korean program, which appears to be much more advanced and efficient, and the North — and — and the program in Iran, which appears — which is — it’s a different technology and appears to be having some pretty significant technical problems. So that would suggest no connection.

    But in response to your second question, I’m very concerned about the risk of North Korea transferring technology or even nuclear materials.

    And of course we have examples in the past where they have done that, you know, apparently providing some nuclear material to Libya, certainly helping the Syrians build a reactor which was destroyed by Israel in 2007.

    So I think in the future one of the most important elements of our diplomacy with North Korea and with the other countries in the six-party talks has to be to ensure that North Korea does not sell or transfer nuclear technology or materials to countries in the Middle East.

    Because I think that could fundamentally change the pace of the nuclear clock that I talked about, and to the extent that that — in the case in Iran — to the extent that that clock has accelerated, then we lose time for this dual-track strategy that we’re pursuing, which will take months, you know, if it’s going to be successful.

    DUBOWITZ: OK.

    Gary, do you have time for one or two more questions? Great.

    Barbara?

    QUESTION: (inaudible) Assuming that you were underwhelmed by what happened in Geneva, can you give us a little bit more detail on — on your sanctions strategy going forward?

    Are you looking toward better enforcement of the sanctions that are already on the books, or are there some new measures that you’re contemplating pushing for even before the next round of talks take place?

    Thank you.

    SAMORE: I think it would be an important message to send to take additional measures in the near future, because I think that’s a way of correcting any misimpression the Iranians might have that just talking for the sake of talking is going to in any way get them out of the sanctions noose that is tightening around their throats.

    So I think it’s important that we take additional measures.

    QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

    SAMORE: No, I can’t talk to discuss what those are. Those are under — under consideration. It’s something the U.S. and its allies have to do together.

    DUBOWITZ: Robert?

    QUESTION: Last week Senator Lieberman and a number of other senators sent a letter to the White House saying under no circumstances should you acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium, yet it seems that they did that precisely because that’s being discussed in the administration, which seems to me like a workable end result or compromise.

    Is there any discussion in the White House about that sort of end state, not that you may put it on the table right away, but that — that from — getting from here to there, that might be a path that the administration could take, or were these senators just all wet?

    SAMORE: Well, our objection — what we’re trying to achieve is compliance with U.N. Security Council resolution. That requires suspension of their enrichment program.

    There could be interim steps to achieve that objective, just as the Bush administration proposed freeze for freeze, but the objective of the talks is suspension. And I think given the history of Iran’s nuclear activities, given the fact that they’re still, you know, not being honest with the IAEA about what they’re doing, I think there’s very good grounds to suspect that they still seek a nuclear weapons capability.

    And to me only full suspension is going to give us confidence that they’re not continuing to pursue that.

    You know, in the meantime, even if they fully suspended at the known sites, we, based on their past behavior, we’d have pretty good grounds to believe that they might be trying to do something secretly somewhere else.

    So I think that even if they complied with U.N. Security Council resolutions, that would not remove, in my view, the need for a very intrusive inspection system, as well as continuing to carry out our own national means to make sure they’re not cheating, because that’s certainly been their record up to now.

    DUBOWITZ: Question over there?

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    My name is (inaudible). I’m from TAS news agency, Russia.

    My question: How you would characterize U.S.-Russian preparations in — in terms of Iran.

    Thank you.

    SAMORE: Thank you. I think — well, the U.S. and Russia have different national interests and so they behave in different ways.

    But on the particular issue of working together to pressure or persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program, I think there’s been extraordinarily good cooperation.

    It’s not perfect, because we do have different interests. You have, you know, a much bigger relationship with Iran than we do, and of course countries will act in their own national interest.

    But I think the — a combination of things including the disclosure of the Qom facility, I think the reset in U.S.-Russian relations, I think the good relationship between President Obama and President Medvedev, I think all of that has led to a much more constructive working relationship between Moscow and Washington on this issue.

    And I think that’s been critical because, frankly, we would not have gotten U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 unless Russia was prepared to agree to it.

    And that — and through that we were able to, you know, to achieve consensus among the P-5.

    DUBOWITZ: I have to apologize to everybody. There’s a lot of press here, and I’m angling to be the next White House press secretary, so I’m trying to curry favor.

    (LAUGHTER)

    Let’s take one more question.

    Is Keith Johnson from the Wall Street Journal here?

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    DUBOWITZ: OK.

    QUESTION: (inaudible) I just had a question about the — we’ve seen a couple of oblique references to Stuxnet and I wanted to ask about these possibilities we heard in — in the prior panel. A lot of discussion about the efficacy of an actual physical strike, and especially we’ve come back to this idea of the — the unknown unknowns and the hidden things.

    And I just wondered in general terms if you could sort of talk about what we may be seeing as the wisdom of using new sorts of tools and attacks to automatically hit the unknowns. We don’t even know where they are. And if you could just talk in general terms about the ability to do things through virtual measures like that.

    SAMORE: I don’t think it would be wise for me to try to construct an answer to that.

    (LAUGHTER)

    All I’ll — all I’ll say is this, is that the — the history of Iran’s program, and if you look at their options from a rational standpoint, I mean from their perspective of what — what — what approach poses the least risk, seeking a covert capability is by far the most safest way for them to try to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.

    And we know that all of their enrichment plants started as secret facilities. Natanz was originally secret before it was disclosed. Qom was secret before it was disclosed.

    So I think we should assume that in the future Iran is going to try to proceed to build, you know, secret facilities. And I think our intelligence agencies, both the U.S. and our allies, have done a marvelously good job up to now of tracking those issues.

    And I hope we’re able to do that in the future, because that has really, you know, given us tremendous diplomatic leverage, and — and — and hopefully in the future we will be able to do — you know, to have that similar kind of advantage.

    DUBOWITZ: Great.

    Gary, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time, your efforts.

    (APPLAUSE)

    SAMORE: Thank you all. Have a good holiday.

    DUBOWITZ: Folks, we have another panel starting right away on cyber-terrorism and intelligence and the green movement. So if you want to hear more about the Stuxnet worm and what intelligence agencies are doing, please stick around, we’ll be starting in about three minutes.

    Thank you.

    Here is the “head of the snake” comment:

    MAY: And right next to you?

    (CROSSTALK)

    QUESTION: North Korea: the message that you need to send here is that being a nuclear power does not make you bulletproof.

    Just to throw this in at the very last, what about shifting the focus? Cut off the head of the snake in North Korea, and — which is going through a dicey transition right now, and let the people in Iran look at that.

    Thank you.

    MAY: OK. Two more questions — one right here?

    QUESTION: Yes. What would the panelists say about — what would the panelists say about a briefing we had on the Hill November 27th, three years ago, by a prominent Air Force general, now retired — I won’t name his name in case I have some of the facts wrong — but he said 2,500 strikes in 48 hours with special ops on the ground, there’ll be little collateral damage, no after effects, and implicitly he was saying there was — there would be a regime change, and that it would not — not include nuclear strikes but only conventional weapons?

    And recently I checked and he’s still of that mind. Is that really what we would do as an America today, and would Israel not do it perhaps more effectively and efficiently, as they’ve shown in Osirak and on the Euphrates?

    MAY: There’s one more question there, and then we’re going to take answers — yes, yes — thank you.

    (CROSSTALK)

    QUESTION: I wonder whether any of you have noticed, if you believe it’s true that Israel may have made a strategic decision to persuade the Obama administration to move toward military strikes, Israel saying you’re going to have to; we’re not big enough?

    Was that a decision Israel may have made to really push the U.S. to do it?

    MAY: All right, I’m going to let the panel respond to any and all of that, but just one housekeeping — after — after this is over, there will be an address (inaudible) by Gary — Dr. Gary Samore, White House coordinator for weapons of mass destruction, counterterrorism, arms control. It will start right here about two minutes after I’ve left. Extensive responses take place, so — but you want to stay in your place for that because we’re going to move right along.

    Who wants to respond to any and all of that that they’ve heard?

    Go ahead.

    AMIDROR: First of all, we — we don’t have the capability for making a naval blockade in — in Iran.

    We don’t have the capabilities to attack North Korea.

    (LAUGHTER)

  2. joshua (History)

    The Chosun actually names three suspect sites, and one of them is a golden oldie:

    “South Korea and the U.S. apparently have their eye on a research institute in downtown Pyongyang and a missile base in Yongjori, Yanggang Province, as well as a cave complex in Kumchangri 160 km north of Pyongyang, as sites suspected of being secret uranium enrichment facilities.”

    • joshua (History)

      It looks like Jeffrey’s reading of the Chosun report is borne out by yesterday’s State Dept. press briefing:

      QUESTION: South Korean media reports are talking about intelligence, saying that North Korea has up to four uranium processing sites. I’m just wondering if that – you think there’s anything credible to that. Do you have any evidence?

      MR. CROWLEY: Well, without getting into intelligence, it has obviously been a longstanding concern about this kind of activity. We’re very conscious of the fact that in the recent revelations to American delegations, what they saw did not come out of thin air. It certainly reflects work being done at least one other site, so this remains a significant area of concern.

      http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2010/12/152819.htm

  3. b (History)

    The unofficial spokesperson for North Korea, Kim Myong Chol, claims that there are a total of 8,000 NoKo centrifuges in several underground enrichment sites.
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/LL15Dg01.html
    “When North Korea’s threats become reality”

    Note: The factual correctness of Kim Myong Chol’s claims is probably as good as the usual David Sanger pieces – i.e. handle with care and a sack of (green) salt.

    /quote/
    Emerging as the fourth most powerful nuclear weapons state after the US, Russia and China, North Korea has several hundred nuclear warheads in its arsenal, including plutonium and uranium-based hydrogen bombs, neutron bombs, nuclear mines and shells.

    North Korea has about 8,000 ultra-modern centrifuges operating at underground sites, churning out highly enriched uranium (HEU) like hot cake.
    /endquote/

    • Jeffrey (History)

      It is possible that the author has confused the number of centrifuges (2,000 at Yongbyon, plus whatever else is out there) with the throughput of the Yongbyon facility (8,000 SWU).

  4. Allen Thomson (History)

    SAMORE: Iran is developing liquid- and solid-fueled intermediate-range systems. They’re — they — they are developing a very large-scale production capability.

    Anybody know details about that production capability? How very is very? Are we talking about a Khrushchevian sausage machine?

  5. Murray Anderson (History)

    Weirdly, Gary Samore in his presentation never mentions Pakistan, from which North Korea got the P2 centrifuge technology in exchange for ballistic missile technology (I assume no one here disagrees). Even more weirdly, “Pakistan” appears only once (on a photo caption) in a Google search of the domain “fddwashingtonforum.org”, nor does it appear in the parts of the transcript posted here.
    I understand that they want to attack Iran, but why so tender towards Pakistan? Isn’t this a Muslim country too?

  6. FSB (History)

    That Samore can spew this nonsense is astounding:

    “In the case of Iran, they violated the NPT, they violated their IAEA safeguards, they’re in defiance of five U.N. Security Council resolutions which require them to fully cooperate with the IAEA to resolve questions about their nuclear activities and which require them to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities under IAEA supervision.

    So this is a, you know, poster child for a country that is in violation of all of the instruments of the international nonproliferation regime.”

    1. They did not violate the NPT:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0504/NPT-101-Is-Iran-violating-the-nuclear-treaty

    2. It turns out that most of the international community agree with Iran over Amano:

    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.”

    3. It turns out, according to wikileaks, that Amano is in the lap of US:

    “…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.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2010/nov/30/iaea-wikileaks

    see also:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B01R720101201

    and:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/1202/WikiLeaks-cable-portrays-IAEA-chief-as-in-US-court-on-Iran-nuclear-program

    ==========

    • Anon (History)

      Samore also says “violated their IAEA safeguards.”

      Absolutely not.

      Which safeguards did Iran violate?

    • Anon (History)

      Samore also said: UN sanctions “require them to suspend their enrichment”.

      This is in contravention of the NPT.

      At most, Iran can be forced to (be seen to) comply with the West’s reading of Iran’s CSA, but no one can force zero enrichment upon Iran. That is a sovereign right.

    • MWG (History)

      It’s a bit disappointing that there is even any debate over whether Iran violated its safeguards obligations. The IAEA’s November 2003 report found large numbers of “breaches” and “failures” by Iran to comply with its safeguards agreement, and criticized Iran’s “policy of concealment.” In particular, Iran failed to declare nearly two decades of uranium enrichment work. The IAEA Board of Governors reached a formal finding of non-compliance almost two years later. That two-year delay was to allow for the E3 process to resolve the matter and ended when Iran walked away from that process.

      Since the NPT safeguards requirement is to place all nuclear material in peaceful use under IAEA safeguards. Iran clearly failed to do that, in violation of its NPT obligation.

      Finally, I would point out that there is much less than meets the eye in the Non-Aligned Movement’s support for Iran. The NAM operates by an odd form of consensus, one that does not require unanimity and often allows a few loud voices to hold sway while most remain silent.

      The NPT has no formal enforcement mechanism. The closest thing is the requirement to report safeguards violations to the UN Security Council. The key to effective enforcement is for NPT parties to hold violators accountable. It is disappointing that the NAM has chosen to undermine the NPT rather than hold Iran accountable.

    • FSB (History)

      The “policy of concealment” and alleged “breaches” etc. are due to a misreading of Iran’s CSA, and misapplication of the law.

      Iran has no obligation to open up every facility that the IAEA desires.

      Re. alleged “concealment” — Iran also has no obligation to adhere to Code 3.1 — modified, so again a non-issue.

      The IAEA needs to verify compliance of nuclear material placed under safeguards — and it always has verified this accountancy.

      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.

      The IAEA would have better instruments to be able to do that had Iran ratified the AP. Alas, it has not.

      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.”
      =====

      That last, Article 33, is also pretty interesting in light of recent events. (Or non-events).

      The latest IAEA report says:

      “37. While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran..”

      That is all it needs to say. The rest of that sentence is irrelevant.

      In any case, if there are any disagreements between IAEA and Iran they should be resolved via arbitration, according to the CSA.

      BTW, as many things on this blog — this horse has already been flogged into a fine paste:

      http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/3285/iaea-reports-on-iran-syria-3

    • MWG (History)

      There is no doubt that Iran violated its safeguards agreement. It has nothing to do with Modified Code 3.1, which was not in force at the time of the reported violations. The activities Iran concealed involved processing of nuclear material outside of safeguards, not the construction of facilities. There is no loophole that might allow this.

    • Anon (History)

      To my knowledge, what both Andy and MWG say is false.

      MWG: Please cite the IAEA report that says Iran violated its nuclear materials accountancy?

      see also:
      http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2010/05/scott-petersons-lies-about-irans-violations-of-the-npt.html

      As for Iran’s alleged “lack of cooperation,” Scott Peterson fails to mention that Iran — unlike Egypt, Argentina, Brazil and many other countries — has signed and voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol for two and a half years even without ratification, and was subject to those more instrusive inspections with still zero evidence of any nuclear weapons found in Iran. If the US had any actual evidence of undeclared sites in Iran, all it had to do was present the evidence to the IAEA Board of Governors, and the IAEA would then be empowered to require “special inspections” in Iran — something neither the US nor the IAEA BOG has ever done. In fact, on occasion, Iran has allowed IAEA inspections that exceeded even the Additional Protocol (such as at the Parchin military base, the subject of much empty, discredited hype by David Albright and ISIS) and has further offered to implement additional restrictions and transparency measures on its nuclear program — such as opening it to joint participation by the United States and other countries –that go well beyond any of Iran’s legal obligations and which no other country has accepted. That, in sum, in not a “lack of cooperation.”

    • MWG (History)

      Here is the relevant quote of the IAEA non-compliance finding for Iran:

      “Finds that Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT Safeguards Agreement, as detailed in GOV/2003/75, constitute non compliance in the context of Article XII.C of the Agency’s Statute;”

      http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2005/gov2005-77.pdf

    • Anon (History)

      So as I said, Iran has never been out of compliance with its nuclear material safeguards like you wrongly said they were.

      MWG said: “The activities Iran concealed involved processing of nuclear material outside of safeguards, not the construction of facilities.”

      That is false.

      As FSB said: “The “policy of concealment” and alleged “breaches” etc. are due to a misreading of Iran’s CSA, and misapplication of the law.

      Iran has no obligation to open up every facility that the IAEA desires.

      Re. alleged “concealment” — Iran also has no obligation to adhere to Code 3.1 — modified, so again a non-issue.

      The IAEA needs to verify compliance of nuclear material placed under safeguards — and it always has verified this accountancy.

    • Andy (History)

      Anon,

      You really need to read the relevant Agency reports. Iran possessed material it should have declared but didn’t. Iran processed that material in facilities that should have been declared but weren’t. Once that material and those facilities were discovered by the IAEA Iran had to make new declarations to the Agency in order to account for them. If Iran was never in violation of it’s CSA then it would not have had to submit new, corrected, declarations. That Iran did submit those declaration for material and facilities ex post facto is proof enough that Iran violated it’s CSA.

      Now, Iran wasn’t officially found in noncompliance by the IAEA board until a couple of years later. Whether or not that finding, made at that time, after Iran made some attempts to correct its previous de facto noncompliance, is a topic of debate. Just search the archives in this site and you’ll find plenty of arguments both ways. So too is the question of whether or not Iran remains in noncompliance today. While I disagree, I can see how some could dispute the legitimacy of the BoG finding and the subsequent referral to the UN.

      None of that changes the fact that Iran was not in compliance with its CSA for many years up to at least 2004. One can’t run secret enrichment facilities processing undeclared nuclear material, lie to the IAEA about the existence of those facilities and that material, attempt to “clean” the facilities up in order to keep the secret, while simultaneously remaining in compliance with a CSA. Not possible. The dispute over Code 3.1 is irrelevant in this regard.

    • MWG (History)

      Anon has it all wrong. I don’t know how you can go from a finding of non-compliance to the conclusion that “Iran has never been out of compliance with its nuclear material safeguards” unless you’ve made a willful decision to ignore the facts.

      Here is the most relevant excerpt from the “Findings” section of IAEA report on which the non-compliance finding is based (note the several violations of “nuclear material safeguards”):

      48. Since the issuance of the Director General’s last report, a number of additional failures have been identified. These failures can be summarized as follows:

      (a) Failure to report:

      (i) the use of imported natural UF6 for the testing of centrifuges at the Kalaye Electric Company in 1999 and 2002, and the consequent production of enriched and depleted uranium;

      (ii) the import of natural uranium metal in 1994 and its subsequent transfer for use in laser enrichment experiments, including the production of enriched uranium, the loss of nuclear material during these operations, and the production and transfer of resulting waste;

      (iii) the production of UO2, UO3, UF4, UF6 and AUC from imported depleted UO2, depleted U3O8 and natural U3O8, and the production and transfer of resulting wastes;

      (iv) the production of UO2 targets at ENTC and their irradiation in TRR, the subsequent processing of those targets, including the separation of plutonium, the production and transfer of resulting waste, and the storage of unprocessed irradiated targets at TNRC;

      (b) Failure to provide design information for:

      (i) the centrifuge testing facility at the Kalaye Electric Company;

      (ii) the laser laboratories at TNRC and Lashkar Ab’ad, and locations where resulting wastes were processed and stored, including the waste storage facility at Karaj;

      (iii) the facilities at ENTC and TNRC involved in the production of UO2, UO3, UF4, UF6 and AUC;

      (iv) TRR, with respect to the irradiation of uranium targets, and the hot cell facility where the plutonium separation took place, as well as the waste handling facility at TNRC; and

      (c) Failure on many occasions to co-operate to facilitate the implementation of safeguards, through concealment.

      Note: This report also refers to earlier reports and recalls that those reports identified additional “failures,” e.g. to report the import of UF6 from China.

      http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2003/gov2003-75.pdf

    • kme (History)

      Anon, I believe the argument about the demand for suspension of enrichment is that this was made as a direct resolution of the Security Council, and that by accepting the UN charter member states have agreed to the jurisdiction of the Security Council (ie. if the Security Council made a resolution forbidding the United States from producing Apple Pie, then such resolution would be legal and binding).

      I am not an international lawyer, so I make no comment on the veracity of this opinion, other than to note that it seems an important question to resolve. Iran certainly isn’t the only UN member to ignore a Security Council resolution.

    • FSB (History)

      Andy, MWG,
      that is cute, but U enrichment as part of fuel cycle is Iran’s right, and it is the obligation of the IAEA to assist Iran in this endeavor.

      You will see from all your citations that NONE of the material was diverted to a nuclear WEAPONS programs, a condition to be in violation of the CSA.

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

      it says the CSA is “for the exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is not diverted to **** nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. ****”

      The alleged breaches came about because the US intervened politically in the internal workings of the IAEA: Read, e.g., the article by Hibbs titled: “U.S. in 1983 stopped IAEA from helping Iran make UF6” (Nuclear Fuel, August 4, 2003, SECTION: Vol. 28, No. 16; Pg. 12 )

      it says : “[T]he U.S. government then ”directly intervened” to discourage the IAEA from assisting Iran in production of UO2 and UF6. ”We stopped that in its tracks,” said a former U.S. official.”

      This political intervention in the IAEA is on-going btw:
      IAEA chief Amano admitted his pro-US bias: “…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.”

      see:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2010/nov/30/iaea-wikileaks

      see also:

      http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B01R720101201

      The IAEA report(s) you cite was before the US NIE finding that Iran has no nuclear weapons program — yes, Iran is diligently pursuing its legal right to a nuclear fuel cycle for energy, even if the US is sticking wrenches in the gears of UN agencies to try to have its way, illegally.

      You two should really read the article by Peter Casey who has deconstructed the US media’s and Albright’s propaganda:

      http://original.antiwar.com/peter-casey/2010/02/28/read-the-iaea-reports-on-iran/

    • MWG (History)

      First, I think kme is basically right about the jurisdiction of the Security Council. Iran freely joined the UN, thereby making itself subject to the jurisdiction of the Council. In practice there are limits on what the Council can do, but these are basically procedural – resolutions require at least nine votes and consensus of the P5. There is no external authority empowered to adjudicate the validity of Council decisions.

      Two responses to the latest from FSB:

      First, the right to enrichment is not absolute. For example, Iran explicitly gave up the right to produce HEU for weapons when it joined the NPT. And NPT Article IV – often cited as the source of this right – is actually the source of the limit on this right, which must be exercised in conformity with Articles I and II. Now Iran has not been found in violation of Article II (except by the Bush Administration, which concluded that Iran had sought and received assistance for the manufacture of nuclear weapons), but pursuing enrichment in secret has to make you wonder.

      Second, it takes a high degree of credulity to accept at face value Iran’s claim that it was the United States forced it to pursue enrichment in secret. No one forced Iran to pursue enrichment. At Iran’s stage of nuclear development, enrichment is not an obvious next step in pursuing a peaceful nuclear program. Again, it makes you wonder.

    • Andy (History)

      FSB,

      “You will see from all your citations that NONE of the material was diverted to a nuclear WEAPONS programs, a condition to be in violation of the CSA.

      There is no such condition per article III of the NPT itself:

      “1. Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Procedures for the safeguards required by this Article shall be followed with respect to source or special fissionable material whether it is being produced, processed or used in any principal nuclear facility or is outside any such facility. The safeguards required by this Article shall be applied on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere.

      All material, all facilities, anywhere. There’s no exception for what you are claiming – an ex post facto determination that two-decades worth of undeclared material, facilities and activities were not linked to a nuclear weapons program. The text clearly says that ALL peaceful activities have to be under safeguards.

      HAD there been a link to a weapons program (a question the IAEA has not completely closed yet) then it would be a violation of the NPT itself and not simply the CSA. Since the CSA is the implementing agreement for article III and since Iran did fail to declare material, facilities and activities as it was obligated to do under article III, then Iran did, in actuality, violate it’s CSA.

    • FSB (History)

      MWG: “At Iran’s stage of nuclear development, enrichment is not an obvious next step in pursuing a peaceful nuclear program. Again, it makes you wonder.”

      That is the problem: you think you have the right to determine what is appropriate for sovereign nations. You don’t.

      Andy: I will be the first to admit there are inconsistencies and outright contradictions within IAEA documents and the NPT.

      That is why it has always been my view that the problems between Iran and the IAEA need resolution via arbitration, as the CSA calls for.

      Further, imposing zero-enrichment upon Iran is over reaching both the letter and spirit of the NPT. The UNSC has over-reached in the conditions for removing sanctions and will eventually cause the collapse of confidence in the impartiality of the IAEA and the UNSC. (See, e.g., NAM statements). The recent wikileaks re. Amano do not help.

    • Anon (History)

      If the US did not actively stop the IAEA from help Iran with its peaceful nuclear program (see Hibb article mentioned by FSB), there would be no need for Iran to import UF6 from China. (In fact China should be punished for this, if anyone). The reason Iran had to be sneaky is that the US interfered politically in the IAEA.

      I am all for people thumbing their nose at corrupt police officers.

      Since we are delving in legalese, that said, in all inspections reports Iran has accounted for all declared material, however these came to be “declared”, as I originally said.

      So-called “Covert” facilities fall under Code 3.1(mod) and Iran has not ratified that yet.

      I agree with FSB (and Presbo from an earlier post) that the only resolution of this is via arbitration.

      The UNSC and Amano and the IAEA are hemorrhaging credibility with the international community each day. Good luck going into Syria.

    • Andy (History)

      FSB,

      There is only inconsistency if one chooses to cherrypick specific phrases within the various texts and then extrapolate from there while ignoring the rest of the texts. There is no inconsistency in terms of what a country is supposed to put under safeguards (“all” is pretty definitive) and what it means when a country intentionally fails to do so. Failing to declare things which must be declared is a CSA violation, full stop.

      Secondly, arbitration is a concept you bring up constantly here. Arbitration is not automatic – it must be invoked by either the IAEA or Iran. To my knowledge, neither party has done so. You might want to think about why each side apparently isn’t as enthusiastic about arbitration as you are.

      Anon,

      Ah, so now your argument switches from Iran not violating its CSA at all to Iran justifiably violating it’s CSA because of the evil USA. Nevermind that those positions are contradictory, let’s go ahead and look at your example:

      Once Iran had received the nuclear material from China, it could have declared it right then and there. After all, they already had the material, so it’s not like the US or anyone else could have done anything about it. But Iran didn’t do that. In short there probably is some justification for Iran to secretly acquire nuclear material and technology, but there is no justification for keeping that material secret once it’s in Iran’s possession, much less take active measures to prevent the IAEA from discovering that material by attempting to “clean” facilities prior to inspection (See Kaleye.).

      Secondly, the old Code 3.1 states that the Agency must be notified 180 days before introducing nuclear material into a facility. Iran introduced material into several facilities without providing any notice at all, much less 180 days. If you want a list, just look at GOV2004-83 section A.2.c. Therefore adherence to the modified code is irrelevant to the question of whether or not Iran violated it’s CSA since it did not adhere to either the old or new version of Code 3.1.

    • MWG (History)

      I agree with Andy on most points, except this one: Iran’s safeguards violations are also violations of NPT Article III.1. The NPT requirement is to accept IAEA safeguards on all nuclear material in the country. Since Iran’s safeguards violations involve failures to place all nuclear material under IAEA safeguards they are on their face NPT violations as well.

      As for FSB’s claim of inconsistencies between the requirements of the NPT and Iran’s safeguards agreements, there are some differences but not in the area we are discussing. Both require Iran to place all nuclear material under safeguards.

      And when a state violates its NPT obligations – particularly in pursuit of the capability to produce fissile material – it is entirely legitimate to ask why. And it’s hard to deny that these are issues within the purview of the UN Security Council, i.e. the maintenance of international peace and security.

      And turning to the comment from anon, I do not dispute the claim that the United States opposed Iran’s nuclear program, and in particular sought – successfully – to limit IAEA assistance to Iran on the nuclear fuel cycle. What I dispute is the assertion that this somehow justifies Iran’s NPT violations by pursuing nuclear fuel cycle capabilities in secret. Iran could just as well have pursued a domestic nuclear fuel cycle capability in the open, under IAEA safeguards. Had it done so, it would be in a much stronger position to argue that it was just exercising its rights. But having gotten where it is by cheating, Iran is in a much weaker position.

    • FSB (History)

      MWG: “Iran could just as well have pursued a domestic nuclear fuel cycle capability in the open, under IAEA safeguards. ”

      No it Bloody-well could not! THAT is the whole point of our discussion. — WHY? Because the US of A does not, and did not, want it to — in contravention of the NPT. And the US of A went out of its way to influence the IAEA to single out Iran.

      The US influenced the IAEA before Iran got sneaky.

      Even now, Iran is not allowed to get out of sanctions unless it gives up its right to enrichment — which contravenes the NPT again.

      Andy, as a US citizen, I do not think the USG is evil — I am saying it is doing what it *thinks* is in its interest (at the bidding of strong domestic lobbies) but in doing so politically taints the IAEA and hurts its credibility and impartiality.

      Andy: “Secondly, arbitration is a concept you bring up constantly here. Arbitration is not automatic – it must be invoked by either the IAEA or Iran. To my knowledge, neither party has done so. You might want to think about why each side apparently isn’t as enthusiastic about arbitration as you are.”

      Thank you, sir. I have thought about it and we posted on this point before: Iran does not bloody-well want to invoke arbitration since WHATEVER the outcome of IAEA-Iran arbitration, the *UNSC* sanctions will still be in place and those will only be taken down if Iran gives up its right to enrichment. The arbitration does not apply to the UNSC — THAT is the problem.

      This is the problem with opening up two tracks: UNSC and IAEA. It is lose-lose for the Iranians and everyone in the world, besides the US and the handful of countries strong-armed by the US politically, realize this.

      see e.g.:

      http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/3069/heinonen-in-haaretz

      “What reduces Iran’s motivation to seek arbitration with the IAEA over CSA details is the illegal meta-demand that they give up enrichment anyway.

      i.e. It is a lose-lose situation for Iran. They may request arbitration, and even win arbitration and the illegal US-domestic-lobby-led UNSC sanctions will still be in place until they are forced to give up their right to a fuel cycle, in contravention of the NPT. The UNSC certainly does not have the right to abrogate international treaties.”

      =========================

      I suggest you also read Brill’s article on why the UNSC “has no authority to enforce Iran’s Safeguards Agreement”:

      http://brillwebsite.com/writings/irannucleardispute-102010.pdf

      Oh, and Anon is right: Iran has always had a perfect accountancy of its declared nuclear material — read the IAEA inspection reports.

  7. Michael (History)

    How Many NORK Enrichment Sites? A simple logical question…

    At least 3… The research (maybe prototype) centrifuge facility, the “civil” enrichment plant at yongbyon site for making low enriched nuclear fuel for the LWR. And… a military uranium enrichment plant?!

    Seasonal greetings

  8. Andy (History)

    Anyone who thinks that Iran did not violate it’s CSA needs to go back and read GOV2004-83 and pay particular attention to section A.2.

    As far as North Korea goes, I don’t remember reading anything in Heckler’s report about testing or R&D at the plant he visited, so I think it’s safe to assume that type of activity is taking place somewhere. Maybe it’s on the same site, maybe in a different facility completely.

    Besides some cryptic statements, however, it doesn’t look like there is much evidence for other production facilities.

    • Murray Anderson (History)

      There is overwhelming evidence of at least one other centrifuge plant – the fact that that they showed off one plant. It’s in a known location, and could be destroyed by bombing. There was no hint that it existed before they showed it off. Only sheer dumb luck will reveal the location of a second plant (unless the North Koreans run a tour).

  9. S. Hong (History)

    Jeffrey Lewis wrote:
    It isn’t clear to me (can someone check the original Korean?) whether this means there are at least three or four other sites, whether there are three or four candidates for an R&D site that preceded Yongbyon.

    I checked original korean article(http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/12/14/2010121400133.html ) It seems fine(somewhat word forward) translation.

    I think former interpretation is correct. “‘a’ uranium enrichment experiment” doesn’t mean one place. Because Korean grammar doesn’t have ‘indefinite article’, it just added for english translation. original korean text doesn’t say(or implicate) ‘one’ place.

  10. Michael (History)

    Absolutly, there is no hard evidence for other enrichment facilities. Maybe we should take a look on the NORKs motivation for presenting the enrichment plant at Yongbyon site to Sig Hecker.

    I think now we have one additional reason (for the case, the NROKs don´t cheat):

    http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/12/16/2010121601038.html

    The self uncovered enrichment activities at Yongbyon site may become a bargaining card for future dealings with the IAEA or the 6PT AND a possible military uranium enrichment project can be covered in the future.

    TGIF

  11. FSB (History)

    any reason for not posting my previous comment? I didnt use any obscenities 😉

  12. FSB (History)

    jeffrey — i think my comments with links are getting blocked could you pls check?

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