Iran experts react to IAEA: 'It’s time for the world to get involved'

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) held a conference call, hosting four prominent experts to analyze the recent report filed by the UN Agency.

A volunteer from Basij forces wearing a protective suit and face mask sprays disinfectant as he sanitizes a bus station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, in Tehran, Iran (photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/ALI KHARA VIA REUTERS)
A volunteer from Basij forces wearing a protective suit and face mask sprays disinfectant as he sanitizes a bus station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, in Tehran, Iran
(photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/ALI KHARA VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The International Atomic Energy Agency sounded an alarm regarding Iran’s behavior, signaling the world that it’s time to get involved, Washington-based experts said on Monday.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) held a conference call, hosting four prominent experts to analyze the recent report filed by the UN agency.
In a report to member states on Friday, the IAEA expressed “serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to the Agency... to two locations.”
The UN agency posited that those sites may have been used for storing or processing nuclear material, and that one may have been used for converting uranium ore, including fluorination, in 2003.
The IAEA also warned that Iran has stockpiled more than five times as much enriched uranium as permitted by the 2015 nuclear deal with the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the US, which has since withdrawn from it. The agreement limited Iran to 300 kg. of enriched uranium, but it had 1,571.6 kg. as of May 20.
Iran also surpassed the deal’s enrichment limit of 3.67%, with the highest level currently reaching 4.5%. Experts say 90% is necessary for a nuclear weapon.
Of their stockpile, 483 kg. of the uranium is only enriched to 2% or less, making it useless. As such, the Institute for Science and International Security says Iran does not have enough low enriched uranium for a second significant quantity of enriched uranium.
In recent months, the IAEA chartered planes to visit Iranian nuclear sites because of the lack of available commercial flights during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The IAEA’s clearly decided to sound an alarm that Iran is not allowing access to two sites to see if there’s a presence of ‘undeclared uranium’ or ‘undeclared nuclear-related activities,’” said David Albright, a physicist and the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
“What you have is the IAEA pretty much telling the world that there is a huge problem here, and that it’s time for the world to get involved, to try to solve this problem,” he added. Albright noted that the IAEA said that Iran had no willingness to engage in questioning with regard to potential undeclared activities for almost a year.
“We’re finding that Iran has accumulated so much low enriched uranium... it’s enough material in order so that you can shorten the breakout times quite dramatically,” he continued. “It’s kind of a threshold amount of low enriched uranium where you can get the breakout timelines down to as low as three months, in some cases.”
Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the FDD, who previously served as the director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Security Council, estimated that these reports would play a role in the upcoming diplomatic efforts at the United Nations Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
“I think they absolutely will play a role,” he said. “They’re very significant, both reports, in terms of the snapback track.”
“I think importantly, not only does the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]-related reports on compliance obviously heed the evidence for the case for snapback,” Goldberg added. “Under the Security Council resolution you have to demonstrate that Iran is in significant non-performance of its commitments, that’s rather obvious from the JCPOA report that’s coming out now, and that evidence only continues to be stronger, but I think it also addresses some of the concerns of those based on Iranian threats of what they would do in response to a snapback.”

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.