By Fred Fleitz
On Monday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Yukiya Amano explained what had up to this point been a mystery: namely, why its recent reports on Iran’s nuclear program have been so vague and contain such little data. As it turns out, under the Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), there are now limitations on what the IAEA is allowed to report.
According to Amano, due to new U.N. Security Council and IAEA resolutions, the agency will only monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with its JCPOA commitments and will no longer provide broad reporting on its nuclear program. A December 15, 2015, IAEA Board of Governors resolution directed the organization to cease reporting on Iran’s compliance with its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations and past Security Council resolutions because the Board of Governors is no longer seized of this matter.
This also means that even though a December 2, 2015, IAEA report raised several serious unresolved questions about Iran’s nuclear weapons–related activities, the IAEA will no longer report on this issue because its Board of Governors closed the file on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
But it gets worse. Not only are the new IAEA reports much narrower in focus, they also omit important data on how Iran is complying with the nuclear deal itself.
Many experts were concerned at the vagueness of an IAEA report issued on January 16, 2016, which declared Iran had met the JCPOA’s “Implementation Day” requirements, allowing it to receive up to $150 billion in sanctions relief and other benefits. This was an atypical report for the IAEA which the Institute for Science and International Security said provided few details about the steps Iran took to comply with JCPOA requirements. For example, it lacked information on how much enriched uranium Iran allegedly sent to Russia, whether the IAEA monitored this transfer, and how much enriched uranium Iran may have kept in the country by converting it into uranium dioxide powder, a process that can be quickly reversed.
Experts were even more concerned by a February 26 report which left out important data needed to assess Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA such as the size of its enriched-uranium stockpile, how much uranium Iran is enriching, and details on its centrifuge research and development.
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