Reactions in mainstream media were as usual after International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IADR) Director General Yukiya Amano’s second report on Iran had been leaked on Monday. According to some, Iran has now enough low-enriched uranium (LEU) to assemble two nuclear warheads within a couple of months.
But that is not the main message in the report. We know already that Iran won’t cease enriching uranium for its declared peaceful purposes at its Fuel Enrichment Plant near Natanz. So, given a slightly increased enrichment rate (from 117 to 120 kg per month), it is not surprising that Iran seems to possess now about 2400 kilograms LEU. We also know that, due to lack of confidence even after the successful negotiation of a fuel swap deal by Brazil, Turkey and Iran last month, further enrichment to 20%, which has been started in February, seems to go on. Tehran pretends that the country is capable of producing fuel for its research reactor in Tehran on its own. Many doubt, of course, that Iran would be able to manufacture the fuel rods or plates. But who would hold it against the country after a decades-long mutual distrust and the month-long charade about the TRR fuel which started with Ambassador Ali Ashgar Soltanieh’s letter to the IADR exactly one year ago.
More significant is that Amano rather points to continuing lack of adequate implementation of Iran’s safeguard obligations. Also this is not news. That Iran does no longer implement the Additional Protocol which would, in particular, provide IAEA inspectors with greater rights of access to Iran’s nuclear facilities is a direct consequence of the IAEA’s referral of the issue to the UN Security Council in 2006. The same holds for the modified Code 3.1 as regards design information for, e.g., its IR-40 heavy water reactor under construction, which was suspended in March 2007 for similar reasons. It is interesting to note in that respect that, as one of his last acts as president, G. B. Bush had enforced the Additional Protocol for the U.S. on January 6, 2009, two weeks before Barack Obama moved to the White House.
But Amano suggests in his report that Iran consistently fails to address certain issues, which have been called, with reference to possible military dimension, the ‘alleged studies’ in previous reports (‘the laptop’, the ‘green salt project’). Iran has always claimed that information found on that respective laptop which has been smuggled out of the country in 2004, may be forged or fabricated and would not respond to allegations if not at least being provided with the original material. Amano’s predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei has constantly appealed, in his reports, to “Member States (i.e., the United States) which have provided documentation to the Agency would agree to share more of that documentation with Iran, as appropriate.” No word about this in Amano’s recent report.
In addition, in contrast to his predecessor, Amano does not seem to exercise due care in his report. He reports, for instance,
“28. On 9 January 2010, during a DIV (Design Inventory Verification) at the Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Research Laboratory (JHL) in Tehran, the Agency was informed by the operator that pyroprocessing R&D activities had been initiated at JHL to study the electrochemical production of uranium metal. On 14 April 2010, the Agency conducted another DIV at the JHL, during which Iran reiterated what it had stated in its letter dated 21 February 2010, specifically that the activities were related to “a research project aiming purely [at] studying the electrochemical behavior or uranyl ion in ionic liquid”, using a uranyl nitrate solution. During the latter DIV, the Agency observed that the electrochemical cell had been removed.” (Emphasis added.)
Supposedly, these activities might be seen in relation to Iran’s efforts to produce fuel rods or plates for the TRR.
Doubt is spread here by Amano since metal uranium might be used for both military and civilian purposes. According to Soltanieh, “nothing has been removed. Whatever that is in the paragraph is wrong.” According to Reuters, “an official with knowledge of the Iran investigation said the missing part was the “outer vessel” of the equipment and that the main section had been left in place.”
Soltanieh has submitted a letter of complaint to the IAEA today asking for amendments in the report. In that letter, he also notes that Amano’s report amazingly does not mention the successful negotiations of Brazil, Turkey and Iran for the swap deal and a conjoint declaration which has been sent to the IAEA in the meantime.
Last update June 3, 2010.