Experts urge release of details of IAEA inspection at Iran site

"This is a very unusual verification approach, which has no reason to be confidential unless a very special reason - proprietary, economic or security - calls for it," expert says.

By REUTERS
September 18, 2015 05:52
3 minute read.
Vienna

The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

UNITED NATIONS/PARIS - Several nuclear security experts are urging the United Nations nuclear watchdog and world powers to release details of how a sensitive Iranian military site will be inspected as part of a landmark nuclear deal reached in July.

The experts, with long experience in international weapons inspections, said the failure to disclose the details was damaging the credibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a view that is rejected by the agency itself, the United States government and another prominent non-proliferation expert.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The confidential plan for the Parchin site has led to differing reports on how it will be carried out, with some critics of the US administration saying Iran had been given too much leeway to conduct its own inspections, including taking samples.

The inspections are needed to resolve questions about whether Iran did research in the past at Parchin related to building a nuclear weapon.

David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, expressed unease about the lack of public details on the arrangement.

"(Details) should be released because it's undermining the IAEA's credibility," Albright said. "Whatever the outcome of the sampling, the secrecy makes it harder to determine whether it's a credible sampling approach."

Former IAEA deputy director-general Olli Heinonen, now at Harvard University, said the secrecy could not be justified.



"This is a very unusual IAEA verification approach, which has no reason to be confidential unless a very special reason - proprietary, economic or security - calls for it," he said.

The IAEA has said it has a legal obligation to keep details of the arrangement confidential, but insists it is technically sound and will ensure the samples are not compromised.

One prominent non-proliferation expert, Jeffrey Lewis of the Monterey Institute of International Studies and founder of the ArmsControlWonk.com blog, agreed. Releasing the details under pressure would undermine countries' trust in the agency, he said.

"This would severely compromise the ability of the IAEA to carry out its mission around the world," he said.

US Republicans, who tried to sink the July 14 Iran nuclear agreement in Congress, seized on a media report last month that Iran would be able to use its own inspectors to collect samples at Parchin without the IAEA present. The Associated Press report said the arrangement suggested the IAEA would be not be present at the site during the inspections.

Iranian officials have also said that international experts would not be allowed in.

Four diplomats familiar with the deal told Reuters that UN inspectors would be present at Parchin to oversee the inspections. In the unusual arrangement struck in July, the samples would be taken by Iranian technicians while IAEA experts present at Parchin observe and oversee the process, Western diplomats told Reuters.

The diplomats, who have knowledge of the deal, said that while the IAEA inspectors will not be next to the Iranian technicians when they take samples, they will be at Parchin overseeing the process. Cameras will record the process.

Iran cannot receive sanctions relief promised under the nuclear deal until the IAEA is satisfied it has answered outstanding questions about the so-called "possible military dimensions" of past Iranian nuclear research. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that it did not conduct atomic weapons research.

After the AP report, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano rejected as a "misrepresentation" suggestions that Iran would inspect Parchin on the agency's behalf.

In response to Reuters' questions, the AP said its story had no factual errors and that it stood by the article, which was based on what it said was an authentic draft document and additional reporting.

Reuters has not been able to verify the draft text.

IAEA access to Parchin, a facility the agency has not visited in a decade, was one of the most sensitive issues during the negotiations that led to the nuclear deal.

IAEA inspectors usually take samples themselves when searching for trace nuclear particles that could be a sign of undeclared atomic work. But as Parchin is a military site the agency had to negotiate special arrangements to get in, diplomats said.

Iran is unlikely to agree to release the details, diplomats say, because it would show it has opened up Parchin to foreign experts despite public pronouncements to the contrary.

Related Content

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
July 21, 2018
Khamenei backs blocking Gulf oil exports if Iranian sales stopped

By REUTERS