Jeffrey LewisFull Text of GOV/2011/40

As you probably know, the IAEA Board of Governors is meeting June 6-10 in Vienna, with a major fight looming over Syria.

The US and 12 other countries will table a resolution at the BOG to find Syria in breach of its safeguards obligations and to report Syria to the United Nations Security Council. Arms Control Wonk has obtained the full-text of a draft of the IAEA Board of Governors resolution on Syria (Gov/2011/40).

An interesting question is how India will vote.  Russia and China are almost certainly opposed.

Marks Hibbs is currently in Vienna.  I would expect something from him soon on the Carnegie Endowment website to follow his excellent backgrounder on Sunday.


  1. mike (History)

    Jeff – “What does 6. Decides to remain seized of the matter.” mean?

    And off topic, any thoughts on this supposed report in Japan on melt-through?

  2. Allen Thomson (History)

    Well, since this thread is developing slowly, let me ask:

    Does the argument, “Well, even if it was a plutonium production reactor, it’s now OBE and there’s no sense in making things difficult because of it now” valid?

    I tend to think that the matter, given the assumption that it was in fact a reactor, is still worth serious attention but would like to see other positions argued.

    • Anon (History)

      The thread is developing slowly since it is intermittently purged.

      The basic point that this IAEA action shows is that it is unaware of world events — such as what is happening within Syria right now.

      We also see no IAEA action to examine the nature and purpose of Dimona.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      This thread is, in fact, being intermittently purged. I am sick and f’ing tired of all the trolling.

      As you very well know, Dimona is not safeguarded nor are certain reactors in India and Pakistan. They didn’t sign the NPT. Syria did.

      Moreover, the “IAEA” did not refer Syria, the Board of Governors did on a split vote. I don’t understand why you insist on blaming the IAEA for things that members states do, other than it serves as a convenient excuse to change the subject from the fact that Syria appeared to be covertly constructing a nuclear reactor in violation of its international commitments.

      You know what the IAEA has control of? The color of the carpet in the VIC. The IAEA does not get to decide which states sign the NPT, nor does it have the authority to give free passes to those states that decide to cheat on their obligations because it isn’t fair Israel that is outside the regime.

  3. Andy (History)

    So does this effectively kill special inspections as a viable tool? It seems to me that Syria should be the poster-child case for a special inspection. If These circumstances don’t rate one, what circumstances would? A special inspection would put Syria in an uncomfortable position: Refuse and suffer consequences or agree and risk the Agency finding a smoking gun. If you are the US, what’s not to like?

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I think that’s right, unfortunately.

      Josh Pollack, on the old Total Wonkerr site, wrote a wonderful primer on the implications of the Syria case for special inspections, with links to older posts at ACW as well as a call for a special inspection by Pierre Goldschmidt, Mark Fitzpatrick and the one and only Jimmy Action.

  4. Arnold Evans (History)

    A quick google search does not turn up the document where Syria accepted a modified code 3.1 that demands design information earlier than 6 months before introducing safeguarded fissile material.

    Can anyone point to it for me?

    If my suspicion that Syria is not bound by the modified 3.1 is true, then of course Syria had every right not to disclose the plant, assuming it had been a plutonium reactor.

    If not, I think Syria is still reasonable to hold the US and its allies to a choice, either you get to inspect a facility or bomb it, but not both.

    If Israel is not brought before the security council for attacking a UN member state, then it only diminishes the credibility of the UNSC if it takes up the case of Syria supposedly building a plutonium reactor that in the future, in a scenario in which Syria might have legally left the NPT, might have been used to potentially build a nuclear weapon as a counterthreat to the hundreds of weapons Israel already has in real life.

    • wfr (History)

      I think the answer is that by the time Syria signed up, Modified Code 3.1 had become the standard and was, therefore, simply Code 3.1. In other words, Syria’s Code 3.1 is the same as the Modified Code 3.1. Perhaps someone else can explain it better!

  5. Anon (History)

    The UNSC can only take up the issue if there is a finding of a “threat to peace”.

    Eric Brill has written on this in the context of Iran — I paste the abstract below:

    “In early 2006, the International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council, which has since ordered Iran to comply with numerous IAEA requests. Though nearly all commentators overlook this, the Security Council has no authority to enforce Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. Although the Security Council has also imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, the UN Charter authorizes punishment only if the Security Council determines that a threat to the peace exists, which it has never done. Authorized or not, the Security Council’s actions appear to most observers as firmly grounded in international law, from which Iran appears to drift farther and farther away – indignantly demanding broad rights while suspiciously refusing to make required disclosures. Iran insists it is not seeking nuclear weapons and that its position is the well-grounded one, from which the IAEA and the Security Council are drifting farther and farther away in a relentless moving of goalposts. Under its Safeguards Agreement, Iran may demand that independent arbitrators identify the true drifter, and neither the IAEA nor the Security Council can prevent this. Iran’s predictable arbitration victory would replace its ineffective protests with an authoritative confirmation that Iran is being asked to perform obligations that do not exist, to accept restrictions that no one has a right to impose. Handled well, it could lead to a broad resolution of the Iran nuclear dispute.”


    I don’t know if the Syrian CSA has an arbitration clause, but if it does then that is the proper way forward — not the UNSC route, which is a legal gray-area at best.

    I would be pleased to hear your views on what Eric Brill has to say.