Jane VaynmanPolicy Changes, Podvig on Russia & Bushehr

Pavel Podvig has a good column over at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The article, “Behind Russia and Iran’s Nuclear Reactor Dispute” addresses changes in Russia’s position towards Iran, which I blogged about last week, and argues that Russia should in fact complete Bushehr construction and ship fuel.

Last week, Russia reportedly threatened to deliver fuel to Bushehr only if Iran stopped its uranium enrichment program. Podvig makes a good point in assessing the magnitude of the policy change; something is happening and it is significant, but probably not a radical turn.

From some Russian experts, I have heard additional views on a few points Podvig raises, particularly on Russia’s commercial benefits of cooperation with Iran, and on delaying fuel delivery to Bushehr. Podvig writes:

There are other powerful institutions in Russia that would like to keep the current Russian-Iranian cooperation going, even if this means confronting the West (think of arms sales, for example).”

While I frequently hear mention of pro-Iranian lobby or interest groups in the Russian government, the arms trade may be a more mixed example. Several experts, including Ruslan Pukhov and Konstantin Makienko at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST, which focus on conventional arms trade issues) told me that, in comparison to Russia’s arms trade elsewhere in the world, the current contracts and possibilities for future sales with Iran are rather small. (See also Wade Boese’s similar comment quoted in a CFR brief.)

In addition, I have heard the comment that, considering how much a hassle Bushehr has been, Rosatom is not all that interested in building more reactors in Iran. This assessment is hard to verify, but given resent overtures to India, I would not be surprised if Rosatom set their sites on other partners, which would not only be paying on time in the right currency, but would also be more acceptable partners internationally. When Rosatom and India’s Atomic Energy Department signed a cooperation memorandum in January 2007, Putin highlighted India a good actor on nonproliferation: “Russia supports the initiatives for lifting NSG restrictions from India as this country has perfect reputation in terms of compliance with nonproliferation requirements.”

Podvig also argues that if Russia further delays fuel delivery to Bushehr, this would damage its reputation as a fuel supplier:

The paradox of the current situation is that as much as it is in the international community’s best interest for Iran to suspend its enrichment program, termination of the Bushehr project or further delays with fuel shipments would be the wrong decision. Doing so would undermine any confidence in future arrangements of guaranteed fuel supply for nuclear power reactors. Whatever elaborate schemes the international community comes up with to provide reliable access to nuclear fuel—fuel banks, IAEA oversight, etc.—they may as well not exist if they’re not insulated from political pressure.

I disagree. First, schemes for international fuel supply or fuel banks are tied to the recipient country forgoing domestic enrichment. It appears that this is what Russia has done with its ultimatum. The approach with Iran would support a yet to be established fuel supply system; if a country moves ahead with its own enrichment program, then it is not entitled to guaranteed fuel from suppliers.

Secondly, a reputation could of course be even more dramatically ruined, but Russia’s reputation as reliable energy supplier is on rocky ground anyway. Russia’s cut off of gas to Ukraine in January 2006 and of oil through Belarus in January 2007 has partners hesitating in relying too much on Russia in the future. Regardless of whose fault these dispute really were, Russia clearly has the capacity and the will to cut off very significant energy flows in times of disagreement.

Specifically on Iran, we can also look at the Bushehr situation as example of energy cooperation which has continually been used for political pressures. Commenting in Nezavisemaya Gazeta earlier this month, Rose Gottemoeller said that Russian policy very carefully uses work on Bushehr as a lever in diplomatic relations between the two countries. Delivering fuel now is not going to save Russia from being perceived as using Bushehr, its nuclear fuel supplies, or even its other energy resources, for political purposes.


  1. Anna L (History)

    Jane, great post! To your point about the bad reputation of Russian energy supply reliability, how can one compare RF’s gas and nuclear energy strategies? I am suprised that those are lumped together into one – the market structures and dynamics are rather different, and so are the personalities at the helm. My perception has always been that RosAtom really worked hard to be perceived as a nonpolitical and reliable supplier, quite to the contrary of Gazprom’s way of doing business. Has the scuffle over Busher really changed that?

  2. Binh (History)

    Good analysis but I think that the importance of arms sales is not important because of the income it provides for Russia but for the influence it buys for Russia with Iran. If I’m not mistaken, Iran (and maybe Syria) are the only countries that buy arms from Russia these days and it’s in Russia’s interest to have satellites/clients/allies in the center of the world’s energy supply.

    Russia is trying to get Iran to back down and suspend enrichment in order to avoid another U.S. war. I think that concern is overriding the fear of hurting their own credibility.

  3. Jane (History)

    Anna, good point. As far as I understand the sectors are quiet separate, and as you say, run by different people. It may be wrong to assume that perception about one sector affects perception of another, but on the other hand these sectors are both energy related so not completely apples and oranges. To me, a general sense sort of link between oil/gas reputation and nuclear power reputation seems intuitive, but I am not an econ or trade expert, so this is just my sense. If there is indeed an establishment of a nuclear fuel supply scheme, do you think recipient countries would judge the guarantees provided by Russia’s nuclear sector without comparing to performance in other sectors? Maybe, and perhaps there are other cases of trade issues which are similarly de-linked in perception and reputation. My guess would be that reputation can cross sectors, especially if countries are looking for excuses or more extensive guarantees.

    The other point is that an international fuel bank scheme really should not rely on just one country for supply (and I don’t believe any of those proposed so far do), so by its very conception should integrate Russia without relying solely on its facilities. In that case, I would still not be so worried about the damage that stopping fuel supply to Bushehr would have on Russia’s reputation as a supplier. Under a stable fuel supply scheme, if Iran were in full compliance it would not have to worry since even in the case of issues with Russia, it would have guaranteed access from another source – a country, IAEA managed fuel bank, etc.

  4. hass (History)

    You seem to leave out the question of what Iran’s perception is about the reliability of Russian or “international” fuel bank deliveries. Believe it or not, they too do actually count. Article IV of the NPT was supposed to be an international guarantee of access to nuclear technology which has hitherto included enrichment technology. If Iran can’t rely on Article IV to be enforced on an non-discriminatory basis when it comes to Iran (note recent attempts to re-interpret Art IV to exclude enrichment) then on what basis can Iran trust any other subsidiary arrangement such as international fuel banks, or Russian good will? Would the US allow its energy security to be held hostage to the whims of foreign suppliers? Why should Iran?

  5. Haninah (History)

    Excellent post, Jane. I agree with you that a Russian suspension of fuel delivery to Busheshr shouldn’t affect perceptions of reliability of international fuel guarantees, because Iran is not meeting precisely the condition that would be imposed on recipients of such guarantees (though that’s no guarantee that it WON’T affect those perceptions).

    I have another question, though: if Iran really limits cooperation with IAEA inspectors, as it has threatened to do in the wake of the latest UNSC resolution, won’t that FORCE Russia to suspend the delivery? Wouldn’t continuing to provide nuclear reactor technology to a country that has suspended its cooperation with the IAEA be a basic violation of the NPT, NSG rules, etc etc.?

  6. Pavel Podvig (History)

    Jane, a good point on the arms sales, but this is not about money – it is about who decides with whom Russia can trade. How much money is involved is pretty much immaterial.

    On fuel supply, I could counter your logic – “if a country moves ahead with its own enrichment program, then it is not entitled to guaranteed fuel from suppliers” – with something like this “if a country is not entitled to guaranteed fuel from suppliers, then it moves ahead with its own enrichment program”. Which is exactly the lesson that all prospective “client states” would draw from the current situation in Iran. So, the issue is not Russia’s reputation (which, as you rightly point out, is not stellar anyway). It is a reputation of the whole idea of guaranteed fuel supply.

    Of course, if Iran were in full compliance with IAEA requirements, it would not have to worry about fuel supply. But what is the guarantee if you cannot use t when you need it? Linking the guarantee to full compliance is like selling a health insurance that turns void the moment a patient falls ill. To be sure, there will be lot of people who would like to sell stuff like that, but I’m not sure there will be many buyers.

  7. Russ Wellen (History)

    The triangulation between Russia, Iran and the US has reached a fever pitch. M.K. Bhadrakumar describes it in detail in “A new dividing line in Europe” (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/IC24Ag01.html) on Asia Times Online. (Sorry, I can’t get the linking function to work.)

  8. asdf (History)

    > Russia’s cut off of gas to Ukraine in> January 2006 and of oil through Belarus in> January 2007 has partners hesitating in> relying too much on Russia in the future.

    And Russia is often blamed for pipelines to Georgia getting blown up. Not good for Russian reputation regardless of who was behind it. Taking over/ “deprivatising” private oil companies doesn`t go down well with many people either. Especially those who think the privatization wasn`t messy but the way things are supposed to be. One could call them the “de-baathification privatization shock therapy freedom support act greeted as economic liberators crowd” of pro free market democracy people that buy their power with pork politics, shaking down casino tribes and (Gay Chinese terrorists) fear mongering their way trough elections.http://www.president.gov.ge/?l=E&m=0&sm=3&st=40&id=1369

    But, the perceived politics behind those gas cutoffs may actually help in this specific case.

    The cutoffs are often perceived by the west as punishments and warnings for the new governments of these states. Governments that came to power after Russian friendly governments fell. Often with a little help from at least Woolsey`s freedom house, the endowment of democracy and not just American but European NGO`s. (Perhaps the ACW Russia correspondents can clarify, which NGO`s were busted in the British embassy/radiorock thing?).http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4797875.stm

    These revolutions potentially move the EU, NATO membership and perhaps even bases and BMD line closer to Russia and China. Something missing from the “freedom is on the march” speeches.

    Uncool as perceived punishments like that may be considered in the (NATO) west, it may play very favorably with every government that currently fears its at the wrong end of western backed “regime change” efforts, propaganda and even terrorism. Iranian leaders might even feel solidarity with Russia which is experiencing the first colorful student protests in the run up to the elections around Putins “retirement”.http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/2007/03/brad_pitt_and_the_girl_guerrillas.html

    Then again Chechnya may make Russia less trustworthy in the eyes of Muslims, or maybe thats just arabs or al Jazeera watching masses who tend to think in terms of people killed instead of unclear Russian strategic objectives… Regional power politics may not be a new game for leaders in Iran.

    One could think that the “faster please” crowd could be scarier than bombing to agovernment that has seen CIA backed coups (“Mullahs”, west: nil, one), student coups (one all) and military conflict on the Iran/Iraq border (two, one, with team neocon in and now out of the penalty box).

    This would make Reagan era the regime changing neocons much more credible “bad cops” in any negotiations. Or you could just think “Gazprom/rosatom bad!!! Esfahan good!!” and worry whether a post Putin Russia will even sell those matryoshka dolls to Iran.

    I bet the answer is simply in some “Persian enterprise institute” policy paper. Maybe fuel bank endorsements from the US presidential wannabes could give the current administration more leverage, if it has any.

    Even after reading neocon “if only bombing brought regime change” stuff its still scary.http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070327/62697703.html

  9. Miles Pomper (History)

    Classifying punishing Iran for its failure to abide by IAEA rules (ie nonproliferation standards) as “political pressure” seems to me well off the mark. Any realistic fuel supply regime will have to make fuel supply conditional on nonproliferation performance. And the only “objective” standard one could devise would be an IAEA BOG decision. The issue of political pressure would have been more relevant in terms of past events such as Iran’s relation with UNIDIF, when their lack of nonproliferation bona fides was not as evident.

  10. hass (History)

    Exactly which IAEA rules has Iran violated by insisting on its right to have enrichment? Has Iran not allowed IAEA inspections that were required? Has Iran divered fissile material to miltiary use? Has the IAEA found any actual evidence of a military program? Or is this just speculation?

  11. Anon

    Ummm… In response to Hass’s remarkably curious line of questioning, I refer all to the article below, written by Dr. Pierre Goldschmidt, former IAEA DDG and head of agency safeguards, and Dr. George Perkovich, CEIP VP. Goldschmidt and Perkovich summarize clearly the IAEA rules which Iran has violated.

    Correcting Iran’s Nuclear DisinformationBy Pierre Goldschmidt and George PerkovichCarnegie Endowment for International PeaceMarch 27, 2007http://www.carnegieendowment.org/npp/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=19078

    Iran is becoming more isolated because of its refusal to take steps to build international confidence that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

    Last Saturday, for the third time in less than nine months, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution expressing its concern about the proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear program and emphasizing the importance of political and diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated solution guaranteeing that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

    Much of Iran’s isolation stems from its refusal to act on the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the legally binding requests of the UN Security Council. Recent statements by Iranian officials may confuse the Iranian people and even leaders of the state, and can only reduce international confidence that Iran is acting in good faith. Therefore, it may help to clarify what is incorrect and misleading in these statements.

    Most Iranians don’t have the time or access to the most balanced and objective information that would allow them to get a full picture of Iran ’s nuclear program as reported by the IAEA over the last 4 years. They deserve to be well informed on this important issue, since it could affect significantly their future economic development and well being.

    On March 8, 2007, Ambassador Soltanieh issued a statement to the IAEA Board of Governors which is so misleading that it is unjust to the Iranian people. They have a right to understand the reality of why their nation has become so isolated. The statement has been published by Fars News Agency and other prominent Iranian newspapers. Unfortunately, as we shall demonstrate, his statement is a masterpiece of disinformation. It shows disrespect to the Iranian people and can only reinforce the distrust of the international community in Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

    It should be a matter of utmost concern that even Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears to be misinformed. In his national address marking the first day of Nowruz, the Persian New-Year, he was quoted as saying that “Until today what we have done has been in accordance with international regulations” and “Western governments don’t agree with Iran possessing nuclear power… ”

    Both statements are clear indications that Ayatollah Khamenei is misinformed by his entourage.

    > “Until today what we have done > has been in accordance with > international regulations.”

    Quite the contrary.

    Iranian officials are trying to portray Iran as a victim of Western neo-colonialist attitude, arguing that the West wants to deprive Iran of its inalienable right to reap the benefits of nuclear energy.

    The reality is that Iran is a victim of its own specific behavior.

    In his report of November 2003 to the IAEA Board of Governors, Mohamed ElBaradei stated that “it is clear that Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement” and “in the past, Iran had concealed many aspects of its nuclear activities, with resultant breaches of its obligation to comply with the provision of its Safeguards Agreement.”

    How can Ambassador Soltanieh deny the evidence by saying that “Iran has complied with its obligation under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement”?

    Trying to make his point he states that “Iran had no legal obligation to notify the IAEA about the enrichment facility at Natanz earlier” than ElBaradei’s visit to Natanz on 21st February 2003.

    This is both incorrect and misleading.

    It is incorrect because Iran had introduced nuclear material (UF6) in the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz on June 25, 2003 (GOV/2003/40-§27). It should have informed the IAEA of the existence of this facility at the latest 180 days in advance, that is, in December 2002, before ElBaradei’s visit.

    It is misleading because, while focusing on what may appear to be a small reporting failure, Ambassador Soltanieh forgets to remind the reader that Iran had tested centrifuges for enriching uranium between 1999 and 2002 at the undeclared Kalaye Electric Company facility using undeclared nuclear material imported in 1991.

    He also forgets to recall the undeclared “import of natural uranium metal in 1994 and its subsequent transfer for use in laser enrichment experiments, including the production of enriched uranium,” and a long list of other undeclared nuclear material and activities described in the IAEA reports. The failure to declare each of these activities and materials was a violation of Iran’s obligations.

    Does anyone in Iran believe that when their official representative to the IAEA distorts the facts as he does, it will reassure the international community about the exclusively peaceful objective of Iran ’s nuclear program?

    Ambassador Soltanieh is arguing that the “Iranian nuclear issue has been reported to the Security Council in clear contradiction with the provision of the IAEA Statute” and that “referring the Iranian dossier to the Security Council has been done only because of the resumption of the voluntarily suspended R&D enrichment activities.”

    This is incorrect. Indeed, Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute states that “the inspectors shall report any non-compliance to the Director General who shall thereupon transmit the report to the Board of Governors” and that “the Board shall report the non-compliance to all members and to the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nation.”

    The November 2003 report of the IAEA Director General to the Board of Governors is clearly a report on Iran ’s non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement. The failures and breaches reported by the Director General preceded—and have therefore nothing to do with—Iran’s decision to end its suspension of enrichment related activities. This is directly contrary to Ambassador Soltanieh’s claim that Iran was referred to the Security Council “only because of the resumption…”

    It is therefore quite astonishing to hear Ambassador Soltanieh saying, against all evidence, that “there is no legal, logical or even political justification for involvement of the Security Council of the United Nation on this issue.” This mocks the IAEA Board of Governors’ decisions and the UN Security Council resolutions, and cannot be regarded as a constructive way to resolve the outstanding issues. It is to Iran’s credit that it places great emphasis on international law and, by implication, follows the dictates of these laws. Yet, Iran is practically alone in its interpretation of the legal issues here. The IAEA Board of Governors and all 15 Members of the UN Security Council recognize Iran ’s legal violations and the valid, legally binding demands the Security Council has made on Iran to restore international confidence. Iran has isolated itself by not heeding these demands and obstructing IAEA’s verification activities.

    > “Western governments don’t agree > with Iran possessing nuclear > power…”

    Quite the contrary. Iran’s international counterparts, led by the European Union and Russia, are offering to assist Iran in expanding its use of nuclear energy. Even the United States has agreed to this position once Iran has resolved the IAEA’s outstanding questions and restored confidence that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

    In the Tehran declaration of 21 October 2003 agreed upon by Iran and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany (the E3) it is stated that the latter three “governments recognize the right of Iran to enjoy peaceful us of nuclear energy in accordance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

    In the Paris agreement of 15 November 2004 (IAEA-INFCIRC/637), it is stated again that “The E3/EU recognize Iran’s rights under the NPT exercised in conformity with its obligations under the Treaty, without discrimination.”

    This principle is reaffirmed in the offer made by the E3/EU on 8 August 2005 as a framework for a long-term agreement with Iran (IAEA-INFCIRC/651).

    And finally, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council dated 13 July 2006 (S/2006/521), China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the UK and the USA, with the support of the High Representative of the EU, made a proposal for developing “relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect.”

    The offers of cooperation “reaffirm Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with its obligations under the [NPT] and in this context reaffirm our support for the development by Iran of a civil nuclear energy programme.”

    This right has been reaffirmed in all three UN Security Council resolutions concerning Iran, making it quite clear that no one disputes Iran ’s right to develop nuclear energy.

    But, considering the fact that Iran has been over an extensive period of time in breach of its safeguards undertakings, the international community is asking Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities and in particular all uranium enrichment-related activities, in line with what Dr ElBaradei has called a “probation period to build confidence again, before you can exercise your full rights” (Newsweek, 23 January 2006).

    This request is all the more justified by Article IV of the NPT, which states that it is “the inalienable right of all the Parties to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.”

    Under Article II, each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes “not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons […] and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

    This undertaking has not been fulfilled by Iran, since the IAEA reported the following:

    * “Iran was in possession of a document, provided by intermediaries, describing the procedures for the casting of enriched and depleted uranium metal into hemispheres related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components” (GOV/2006/15-§20, emphasis added).

    * “Since 2004, the Agency has been awaiting additional information and clarifications related to efforts made by the Physics Research Center (PHRC), which had been established at Lavisan-Shian, to acquire dual use material and equipment that could be used in uranium enrichment and conversion activities.” The PHRC was established, inter alia, to “support and provide scientific advice and services to the Ministry of Defence ” (GOV/2006/15-§33).

    As indicated by the Agency (GOV/2004/60§46) “dual use equipment and materials have applications in the conventional military area and in the civilian sphere as well as in the nuclear military area.”

    * The Agency discussed in February 2006 alleged studies related to “high explosive testing and to the design of a missile re-entry vehicle, all of which could have a military nuclear dimension…” (GOV/2006/27-§27).

    * “The Agency is not at this point in time in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran” […] “because of the inadequacy of information available on its centrifuge enrichment programme, the existence of a generic document related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components, and the lack of clarification about the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, including, as mentioned above, about recent information available to the Agency concerning alleged weapon studies that could involve nuclear material” (GOV/2006/15-§53).

    These findings are clear indications that Iran has not complied with its NPT obligations. Iran’s noncompliance justifies the request by the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council, that Iran suspends, inter alia, its enrichment-related activities, at least as long as the IAEA is not able to conclude that there is no undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

    Ambassador Soltalieh also claims that “Iran has demonstrated its goodwill and a lot of patience for removing ambiguities and by taking confidence building measures beyond its legal obligations, has cooperated with the Agency and other parties.”

    How does Ambassador Soltanieh reconcile this opinion with Dr. ElBaradei’s report of February 2006 (GOV/2006/15-§54) stating that “it is regrettable, and a matter of concern, that the above uncertainties related to the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme have not been clarified after three years of intensive Agency verification”?

    And what about the fact, reported in April 2006, that because of the “gaps in the Agency’s knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency is unable to make progress in its effort to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran” (GOV/2006/27-§33), a statement reiterated in the IAEA report of February 2007?

    On the basis of the IAEA report of November 2003, the Board could have reported Iran to the UN Security Council at the time. It decided not to do so in order to provide Iran sufficient time to clarify all outstanding issues and to privilege a diplomatic course of action. It is only in February 2006, when Iran’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA made impossible the necessary progress to resolve outstanding issues that the Board of Governors decided to report the case to the Security Council.

    Iran’s uncompromising behavior has left no choice but for the Security Council to progressively resort to sanctions, after a Presidential Statement and a first non-sanctioning resolution were ignored by Iran.

    However, the last Security Council resolution contains a clause stating that the implementation of sanctions shall be suspended if and for so long as Iran suspends all enrichment-related activities (as verified by the IAEA) “to allow for negotiation in good faith in order to reach an early and mutually acceptable outcome.”

    Therefore, Iran knows exactly what to do to transform the present crisis into a great opportunity to improve the Iranian people’s living conditions, while confirming Iran ’s major role in the region.

    The main problem is that Iran’s leadership has turned the issue of uranium enrichment into a matter of pride and strength, pretending that even suspending these activities would be tantamount to a defeat of the Islamic revolution.

    Such slogans are counterproductive and make it more difficult for the Iranian leadership to change course. But with a little imagination and flexibility on both sides, solutions can be found that would lead to major security and economic advantages for the Iranian people.

    * Pierre Goldschmidt, formerly deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where George Perkovich is director of the nonproliferation program.

  12. hass (History)

    Sorry, but Perkovich and Goldschmidt make a number of errors in their article (nor are they exactly unbiased sources as they’ve both gone on record opposing Iran’s enrichment rights per se.)

    Specifically, with respect to Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute:

    The Statute primarily requires Iran to allow IAEA inspections to account for fissile material, and to establish that fissile material has not been diverted for military purposes (“accounting referred to in sub paragraph A-6 of this article”)

    Iran allowed the inspections. The inspectors stated that nuclear material has been accounted for, and none has been diverted for military purposes: El-Baradei wrote (in paragraph 52) of IAEA’s Nov. 2003 report that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme.” And 1000man-hours of inspections, El-Baradei wrote again (in paragraph 112) of the Nov 2004 IAEA report that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

    Thus, there has been no violation of Article XII.C of the Statute, and there is no basis for referring Iran to the UNSC due to diversion. Nor is there any basis on Article 22 of Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA (which also requires evidence of diversion to military use)

    And that’s precisely why China, when voting for the referral, stated that its vote was NOT based on Article XII.C of the Statute.

    From the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy:

    “The resolution also refers to the fact that the IAEA has not yet been able to determine the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran. However, the IAEA certifies the absence of undeclared nuclear activities only for states that implement the Additional Protocol…. which is presently true for Iran, is also true for 40 other states including Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa… For some it is tempting to declare, based on the inability of the IAEA to presently draw a conclusion on the absence of nuclear activities, that Iran continues to operate concealed facilities and that any such facilities must be for a military program. But the IAEA has cautioned that the lack of a conclusion does not imply suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities, as the matter is frequently spun in the media and by some governments.” (Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy, Commentary on Resolution 1696 – http://www.lcnp.org/disarmament/iran/UNSCres-jul06.htm)

    But then again, facts are such inconvenient things . . .

  13. Anon

    Respectfully, you selectively quote from—and, by so doing, misrepresent the substance—Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute.

    Article XII.C states, “The staff of inspectors shall also have [besides the responsibilities described in Article XII.B] the responsibility of [i] obtaining and verifying the accounting referred to in sub paragraph A-6 of this article and of determining whether there is compliance [ii] with the undertaking referred to in sub paragraph F-4 of article XI, [iii] with the measures referred to in sub- paragraph A-2 of this article, and [iv] with all other conditions of the project prescribed in the agreement between the Agency and the State or States concerned.” You acknowledge, albeit it a narrow manner, [i], but wholly ignore [ii], [iii] and, most important for our purposes, [iv].

    Article XII.C continues, “The inspectors shall report ANY [emphasis added] non-compliance [with respect to [i], [ii], [iii] or [iv]] to the Director General who shall thereupon transmit the report to the Board of Governors. The Board shall call upon the recipient State or States to remedy forthwith any non-compliance which it finds to have occurred. The Board shall report the non-compliance to all members and to the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations. In the event of failure of the recipient State or States to take fully corrective action within a reasonable time, the Board may take one or both of the following measures: direct curtailment or suspension of assistance being provided by the Agency or by a member, and call for the return of materials and equipment made available to the recipient member or group of members. The Agency may also, in accordance with article XIX, suspend any non- complying member from the exercise of the privileges and rights of membership.”

  14. hass (History)

    You’ve copied and pased Article XII.C – but apparently you’re not familiar with the law.

    The ”[i]” you refer to requires accounting for fissile material to make sure it hasn’t been diverted for military purposes (“accounting referred to in sub paragraph A-6 of this article”) -and that has been verified by the IAEA.

    [ii] requires that “Agency Projects” referred to in Article XI not be diverted for military purposes – and Iran’s enrichment project is not an “Agency Project” under XI since the US shot down IAEA technical assistance to Iran on enrichment in 1983 – and there’s no evidence that it has been diverted for military use anyway.

    The ”[iii]” requires that health and safety standards not be violated – and there’s no allegation that they have been violated.

    And finally [iv] again applies to “projects” and again, there’s no evidence that it has been violated since the IAEA itself has said that all fissile material has been accounted for and nothing has been diverted for miltary purposes.

  15. Anon

    Respectfully, I submit that you, Hass, have interpreted the IAEA Statute in a misleading, and wholly incorrect manner.

    If I understand correctly what you’re claiming, it is that: Even if Iran violated INFCIRC/214—that is, Iran’s NPT Article III-required, comprehensive safeguards agreement (“CSA”) with the IAEA—Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute (“Statute”) does not provide the IAEA Board of Governors (“BoG”) with a legal basis to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

    You apparently support this claim by arguing that Statute’s Article XII.C refers narrowly to “Agency projects,” as defined by the Statute’s Article XI; and that any of Iran’s nuclear materials and activities declared to the IAEA in accordance with its CSA, or any of Iran’s undeclared activities which Iran should have been declared to the IAEA in accordance with its CSA, do not fall under the category of “Agency projects.”

    1. To begin with, you argument about the Statute’s Article XII.C referring only to “Agency projects,” as defined by the Statute’s Article XI, is incorrect. Article XII.A clearly establishes that the substance of Article XII applies not only “to any Agency project,” but also to “other arrangement where the Agency is requested by the parties concerned to apply safeguards.” Thus, Iran’s CSA with the IAEA falls under the category of “other arrangements.”

    2. Moreover, Article 19 of Iran’s CSA clearly establishes that the nuclear materials and activities of Iran fall under the scope of Article XII.C:

    “If the [IAEA] Board [of Governors], upon examination of relevant information reported to it by the Director General,finds that the Agency is not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material required to be safeguarded under this Agreement, to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, it may make the reports provided for in paragraph C of Article XII of the Statute of the Agency (hereinafter referred to as “the Statute”) and may also take, where applicable, the other measures provided for in that paragraph. In taking such action the Board shall take account of the degree of assurance provided by the safeguards measures that have been applied and shall afford the Government of Iran every reasonable opportunity to furnish the Board with any necessary reassurance.”

    3. In February 1992 the IAEA BoG affirmed that the CSA’s objective of detecting, and deterring, the diversion of “nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to themanufacture of nuclear weapons or of other nuclear explosive devices or for purposes unknown” applies not only “to nuclear material declared by a State,” but also to “any nuclear material [and related activities] subject to safeguards that should have been declared.” (See THE SAFEGUARDS SYSTEM OF THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY at http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/SV/Safeguards/safeg_system.pdf.)

    4. As IAEA DG ElBaradei and the IAEA Secretariat have stated in numerous reports to the IAEA BoG (most recently in GOV/2007/8, para. 29, February 22, 2007): Over a roughly 20-year period Iran, among other things, failed to declare to the IAEA a number of nuclear materials and related activities, which, under its CSA with the IAEA, it should have declared. (Messrs. Goldschmidt and Perkovich summarize these undeclared nuclear materials and activities above.) The existence of 20-years-worth of undeclared nuclear materials and related activities—the nature of which Iran still has not fully explained to IAEA DG ElBaradei and the IAEA Secretariat—constitute Iranian noncompliance with its CSA. Thus, Article 19 of Iran’s CSA provided the IAEA BoG with a clear legal basis to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

  16. hass (History)

    Short answer: The standard for “Non-Compliance” in Article XXI.C and Article 19 as yourself outlined, is “diversion for military use” – and there hasn’t been any, as certified by the IAEA itself.

    Past failures to account for material – which at worst constituted breaches of safeguards and not NPT violations – are not the standard for referral. Current refusals by Iran to provide “transparency measures” that “go beyond” its obligations are also not the standard either (despite repeated demands by EL-Baradei on Iran to “throw away the rule book” – demands which exceed his authority and are not legal.)

    Note however that Iran did voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol’s more strict inspections regime – which turned up no evidence diversion either.

    As to your points1- the section explicitly referrs to paragraf f of Article XI which is about “submitted projects” and Iran’s enrichment project was not a submitted project & there’s no evidnece of diversion of military use anyway even if it was a submitted project.

    2- Article 19 does indeed refer to XII.C and both use the “diversion to military use” standard – which has not been met.

    3- The BOG did indeed say that its mandate extends to material that “should have” been reported and no one doubts that. I don’t see your point, since Iran has remedied its past failures to report and the IAEA has acknowledged that all material has been accounted for.

    4- Past failures to account do not constitute “non-compliance” basis for referral (see above.) Iran voluntarily implemented the stricter Additional Protocol inspections regime, and even then there was no evidence of diversion, and Iran has even offered to implement even greater limits on its enrichment program – as long as Iran’s right is recognized. The US and EU have refused Iran’s offer. Conclusion: their purpose is to deny Iran’s enrichment right intoto, not just to enforce the NPT and IAEA Statute.

  17. Mark Gubrud (History)

    It would be easier to take all this international lawyering seriously if the UN and the “world community” had not stood mutely and watched, then officially acquiesced in and legitimized, George W. Bush’s sodomizing of the concepts of arms control compliance verification and inspections, UNSC enforcement procedures and international law in general. Is there a more pathetic figure in the world today than Hans Blix, with his findings that essentially confirmed Iraq’s disarmament, wandering the world in search of someone who’s interested?

    No serious person can doubt that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, primarily in order to either bargain with or deter the United States, nor that they have been given very understandable, if not necessarily good, reasons for doing so. What Iran is doing may ultimately prove foolish, but the Iranians would have to be complete fools to place their faith in the UN, the IAEA and its laws. It will take many years before these can regain credibility.

  18. Anon

    Respectfully, Hass, I counter that you wholly misrepresent the noncompliance-and-UNSC-referral standard that Article 19 of Iran’s CSA establishes. The standard is not the IAEA’s affirmative finding of (to use your phrase) “diversion for military use,” but rather the Agency’s INABILITY “to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material required to be safeguarded under this Agreement, to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices” (INFCIRC/214, art. 19).

    1. You are right to point out that the IAEA has accounted for all of Iran’s declared nuclear material. In para. 27 of GOV/2007/8 (February 22, 2007), DG Elbaradei and the IAEA Secretariat state: “The Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.” However, you fail to acknowledge the IAEA’s INABILITY, “given the existence in Iran of activities undeclared tothe Agency for 20 years” (GOV/2007/8, para. 29)—“to make further progress in its efforts to verify fully the past development of Iran’s nuclear programme and certain aspects relevant to its scope and nature” (ibid., para. 27).

    2. Contrary to what you claim, Iran still has not accounted for, and fully explained, its past undeclared nuclear materials and activities to the IAEA Secretariat’s satisfaction. This is why DG ElBaradei continually reiterates the Agency’s continuing INABILITY “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran” (GOV/2007/8, para. 29).

    3. Thus, “given the existence in Iran of activities undeclared tothe Agency for 20 years” (ibid.), if the IAEA remains UNABLE “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities” in Iran, then the Agency remains UNABLE to verify that all of the “nuclear material [and related activities] required to be safeguarded” under Iran’s CSA have been fully declared to the IAEA, and thus remains UNABLE “to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material required to be [declared to the IAEA and] safeguarded under this Agreement, to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices” (INFCIRC/214, art. 19). Iran’s case therefore meets the noncompliance-and-UNSC-referral standard of the CSA’s article 19.

  19. hass (History)

    Read this again, Anon:

    From the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy:

    “The resolution also refers to the fact that the IAEA has not yet been able to determine the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran. However, the IAEA certifies the absence of undeclared nuclear activities only for states that implement the Additional Protocol…. which is presently true for Iran, is also true for 40 other states including Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa… For some it is tempting to declare, based on the inability of the IAEA to presently draw a conclusion on the absence of nuclear activities, that Iran continues to operate concealed facilities and that any such facilities must be for a military program. But the IAEA has cautioned that the lack of a conclusion does not imply suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities, as the matter is frequently spun in the media and by some governments.” (Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy, Commentary on Resolution 1696 – http://www.lcnp.org/disarmament/iran/UNSCres-jul06.htm)

  20. Anon

    We’re debating what constitutes legal grounds for the IAEA’s Board of Governors (“BoG”) to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council. Respectfully, Hass, I must say that neither what you have written on this question, nor your appeal to the authority of the Lawyers’ Committee for Nuclear Policy (“LCNP”), a non-governmental organization (“NGO”), persuades me.

    1. To begin with, both you and the LCNP fail to acknowledge the extent to which Iran’s case severely differs from the cases of states, which have yet to ratify the Additional Protocol (“AP”)—e.g., Canada, the Czech Republic. Unlike those other states, the IAEA found Iran to be consciously and actively hiding nuclear materials and activities (all of which it should have declared) from the Agency for some 20 years. This is why Iran is, in DG ElBaradei’s words, “a special verification case,” and is therefore being treated differently from Canada, the Czech Republic, et al., and rightly so.

    2. You cite the LCNP as claiming: “The IAEA has cautioned that the lack of a conclusion [of the absence of nuclear materials and activities] does not imply suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities.”

    (a) I’m curious: When and where did DG ElBaradei or someone else from the IAEA Secretariat officially say this,? If they did say this, was it with specific reference to Iran’s case; or with general reference to states which haven’t ratified the AP, but haven’t been found to be hiding nuclear materials and activities from the IAEA for two decades; or both? Neither you, nor the LCNP’s John Burroughs and Michael Spies, offer citations for, quote directly from, or provide context for, what you all claim someone from the IAEA to have said.

    (b) An any rate, I find what the LCNP wrote to be imprecise. I would agree with what this NGO wrote, if it said the IAEA’s inability “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities” in a given state does not NECESSARILY, AND BY ITSELF, imply “suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities.” But this can change, depending, in part, on the extent to which a given state has established a history of concealment, and failed to account for that history.

    3. Regardless of what you or this NGO opines: Given Iran’s 20-some years of undeclared nuclear materials and activities, the IAEA’s continuing inability “to verify [in both the past and the present] the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities” in Iran establishes conditions, which fully meet both the spirit and the letter of Article 19 of Iran’s CSA (“INFCIRC/214”), and thus clearly provides a legal basis for the IAEA BoG’s referral of Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

    To conclude with an aside, it’s worth noting that the LCNP, in the same commentary you cite, also opines :

    “If Iran were to ratify the Additional Protocol and make rapid progress toward facilitating the conclusion of the IAEA investigation, it could go a long way toward restoring confidence in its intentions, regardless of the status of its enrichment program. More generally, despite its understandable resentment of the high-handedness of the Security Council, Iran would be well advised, and the non-proliferation regime would be well served, if it were to suspend enrichment throughout the duration of negotiations, and enter into negotiations as proposed in the package, which does appear to promise real benefits for Iran’s cooperation.”

    To the extent you value the LCNP’s authority, you would do well to heed their opinion here also.

  21. hass (History)

    S. Korea’s secret nuclear experiments (including extracting plutonium and making uranium metal and 77% weapons-grade? enrichment of uranium ) happened in the 1980s & continued in 2000 – and came to light in 2004. As for Egypt, the IAEA has reported “repeated failures to report nuclear materials and facilities are a matter of concern” in the Feb 2005 BoG report.

    And note that Iran did sign and implement the Additional Protocol and allowed the AP inspections (and more) even when it was under no obligation to do so. There was still no evidence of diversion of fissile material diverted for military use.

    The explicit letter the IAEA statute and Iran’s safegards agreement sets the standard as “diversion of fissile material for military use”. The IAEA has certified that all fissile material has been accounted for and non has been diverted. Therefore, there is no basis for referal.

    Sure, the IAEA has also said that it can’t certify that there are no undeclared facilities – and as the LCNP states, that’s just not the relevant standard for referral – not for Egypt, not for S. Korea, and not for Iran.

    If you disagree with that, then I suggest you take it up with LCNP.

  22. Anon

    Respectfully, Hass, I have stated my case for what I take to be the legal basis under which the IAEA BoG can refer a noncompliant state to the UNSC, and you have stated your case. We disagree.

    In comparing, and failing to contrast, Iran’s “special verification case” with the cases of Egypt, however, you have muddled the issues surrounding Iran further. Iran’s case differs from the other cases in crucial ways.

    1. The scope of South Korea and Egypt’s previously undeclared nuclear activities pale in comparison to the scope of Iran’s. (For South Korea, see IAEA DG reports GOV/2004/84; for Egypt, see IAEA DG reports GOV/2005/9; and for Iran, see, inter alia, IAEA DG reports GOV/2003/40, GOV/2003/63, GOV/2003/75, GOV/2004/83, GOV/2005/67.)

    2. South Korea, having both signed AND ratified the Additional Protocol (see http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/SV/Safeguards/sg_protocol.html) and, by so doing, further facilitated and substantially empowered the IAEA Secretariat’s verification activities.

    3. In investigating the respective state histories of formerly undeclared nuclear materials and activities, DG ElBardei and the IAEA Secretariat view the cooperation of South Korea (since 2004) and Egypt (since 2005) as satisfactory; in sharp contrast, they view Iran’s cooperation (since 2003) as most unsatisfactory. (See citations in [1], esp. GOV/2005/67.)

    If you dispute the IAEA Secretariat’s findings on Iran in contrast to South Korea and Egypt, and the IAEA BoG’s decision to refer Iran to the UNSC, then I suggest you take it up with the IAEA Secretariat and BoG respectively.