A report issued on Monday by the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group that specializes in analyzing the findings of the United Nations agency, concludes that a race over the summer to enrich uranium at 60 percent purity — just below bomb grade — has put Iran in a position to produce the fuel for a single bomb in “as short as one month.” A second weapon’s worth of fuel, it says, could be produced in less than three months, and a third in less than five. But a lead author of the report, David Albright, cautioned on Friday that Iran’s actions signaled an effort by the new government of President Ebrahim Raisi to seek new terms, more favorable to Iran, in negotiations over restoring the 2015 deal that Mr. Trump rejected. There have been no formal negotiations since June, a month before Mr. Raisi, a conservative Iranian jurist, won the presidential election. American officials say they have been expecting that he will seek to start the negotiations anew, demanding far more sanctions relief for Iran.
Today, Iran does not appear to have a program focused on the actual building of nuclear weapons. At best, its intentions remain unclear. But it does appear to have a program to be prepared to make nuclear weapons and to do so on short order. Rather than a crash nuclear weapons program, Iran threatens the world with a program ready to produce nuclear weapons “on-demand.” Today, Iran is closer to being able to build nuclear weapons than it was in 2003. A reinstated JCPOA, combined with less than vigorous IAEA verification of Iran’s military sites, of the type that existed from 2015 until 2018, appears particularly unstable and dangerous, likely leading to a worsening Middle East security situation, more violence against nuclear sites and personnel, and greater missile and nuclear proliferation.
We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the sabotage in the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant in Iran on 11 April 2021, as a form of nuclear terror. This attack has been almost universally attributed to Israel, including by the Israeli media, and confirmed by US and Israeli intelligence officials. Such attacks carry a serious risk of high level radioactive leakage which could potentially endanger the lives of thousands of innocent human beings and irreparably contaminate the environment causing long-term genetic malformations and disease, with far-reaching destructive consequences into the future. It has been repeatedly verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran’s nuclear programme is peaceful and under a strict monitoring regime. Israel, in contrast, is the only nuclear weapons state in the Middle East as it is in possession of a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, which is the reason for the country’s refusal to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The deafening silence of the self-proclaimed international community in response to Israel’s nuclear terror could set a deadly precedent for its repetition and escalate into an endless chain of retaliations and an arms race in the already war-ravaged Middle East. Therefore, we call on the UN and the Security Council to responsibly and unreservedly condemn and hold Israel accountable for repeated dangerous and profoundly irresponsible attacks on civilian nuclear installations and the assassination of Iranian scientists. In addition, we urge UN member states to embark, as a matter of urgency, on the long-delayed task of nuclear disarmament of Israel and placing its nuclear programme under the supervision and monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in line with the long-standing drive to creating a Nuclear-Free Middle East.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has failed to return to the internationally backed nuclear deal with Iran four months into his administration. While indirect negotiations continue, Washington is attempting to take the upper hand via demands that make no sense considering the US violation of the deal under former President Trump. What could be reasonably expected to come out of the indirect talks in Vienna? Is the US ready to show some respect after violating the deal? Let us try to find out. The stakes are high as the US hesitates to return to the deal. The outcome of the talks will determine not just the future of the dynamics between Tehran and Washington but also the durability of security in the whole region. The US industrial-military-complex is rarely ready to give an inch when it comes to its financial and adventurous interests mostly under Israeli influence.
2021-05-20Priority List of Sites Deserving/Requiring International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Inspections, with Employee Interviews
Drawing from our newly released book, Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons, 1 this table identifies many locations of Amad-related facilities with varying statuses today, including razed, shut down, repurposed, or active, all highly relevant to the IAEA in determining the origin of undeclared nuclear materials and fate of undeclared facilities, materials, and activities, the completeness of Iran’s nuclear declaration, and whether nuclear weapons efforts have ended or in fact are ongoing. Such a determination requires many steps with one being IAEA visits to key sites in the Amad and post-Amad programs. This table identifies 19-23 priority locations for IAEA visits.2 More sites are possible; this count represents more of an undercount rather than an overcount. About 17-21 out of these 20-24 locations have never been visited by the IAEA, or alternatively only three of the priority Amad sites, Parchin, Marivan, and the Tehran Plant, have been visited to some extent. All three require follow-up visits due to the finding of yet unexplained traces of undeclared uranium.
Based on our newly released book, Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons,1 many Amad facilities were unknown to Western intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) prior to the seizure of the Nuclear Archive in early 2018. This table lists 20 main facilities and sites, representing the bulk of the Amad Plan facilities. Of those, the existence of nine major Amad facilities was completely unknown until after the seizure of the Nuclear Archive, which provided great detail about their activities.2 Interestingly, two sites, Shahid Boroujerdi and Al Ghadir, both tunnel complexes, were visible in commercial satellite imagery, but it was not known until the archive that they were part of the Amad Plan and had a nuclear weapons purpose.3 Another three sites were partially known to exist, but their locations were not known. Seven sites were known by location and certain activities, but many additional activities were revealed by the archive. The final location is unknown, and any of its activities are not described in the archive.
The attack on Natanz nuclear enrichment plant in Iran, on April 11, targeting underground centrifuges operating under (IAEA) safeguards, was an act of nuclear terror with the potential to kill and harm many thousands of human beings and irreparably contaminate the environment. […] Israel’s free license to act with impunity is fast sliding into war. Only fools would believe that attacking Iran’s enrichment plants, its critical infrastructure, shipping, and scientific and military personnel, would remain unanswered, and could not spill over into a destructive regional war with global consequences, from which use of nuclear weapons can not be excluded. The gravity of what is at stake demands action. The only possible path to avoiding a catastrophic war and reaching a just peace in the Middle East, is, in the first instance, the demand that Israel disarm its nuclear weapons and place its nuclear facilities under the same scrutiny as demanded from Iran. That would be in line with the longstanding goal, backed by the UN Security Council, of a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons.
After five weeks of diplomatic shadow boxing, it is clear that the old agreement no longer works for Tehran or Washington, except as a steppingstone.
If the Israeli government is not restrained by the Biden Administration, the ability to reach a viable nuclear deal with Iran might be undermined. To be sure, both sides are learning from the lessons of the 2015 nuclear deal. Netanyahu cannot afford to repeat a public confrontation with a Democratic president on Iran, and Biden cannot ignore Netanyahu on Iran as Obama did. Hence, the new equation might mean that Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal while keeping Israel informed every step along the way; and there is nothing Israeli officials can do to halt the process. In return, Israel will continue to target Iran’s nuclear activities, when it evaluates such a need, without surprising Washington – and the Biden administration might not be willing to use leverage to halt this Israeli deterrence.
In recent weeks, Malley has traveled to Vienna to renew nuclear talks. His position has shifted quickly from tying the lifting of sanctions to Iran returning to JCPOA compliance to simply demanding a commitment to return to the status quo ante. The real talks, however, may not be in Vienna and may not involve Malley directly. In recent days, Bill Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has quietly traveled to Baghdad, according to multiple Iraqi sources on the ground I have spoken to on background. Rather than hold talks in the U.S. embassy or in any Iraqi government building, he has instead quietly met with Iranian officials in the private home of the Iraqi foreign minister.