This week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will convene its Board of Governors virtually for the first time in its history. In the weeks leading up to the meeting, much attention has been given to the Agency’s outstanding request to visit two sites in Iran where there may have been undeclared nuclear activity, suspected to have occurred in 2003. These requests are based on the Israeli-obtained “atomic archive” which Mossad allegedly stole from a warehouse outside of Tehran in early 2018.
Even the Trump administration seems to grudgingly have concluded that breaching the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was a mistake. More than two years after the U.S. exit, the deal still stands while the Trump administration is running out of options to force a re-negotiation. It is now so desperate it is seeking to convince the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that it never quit the deal in the first place. The lesson to the U.S. is clear: Diplomatic vandalism carries costs — even for a superpower. The lesson to a prospective President Joe Biden is more specific: Rejoin the nuclear deal, don’t try to renegotiate it.
2020-04-15A Technical and Policy Note on Iran’s Recent Uranium Enrichment Capacity Claims - An Annex summarizes the status of Iran’s enric
On April 8, 2020, one day before Iran’s Nuclear Technology Day, a spokesperson for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) announced that Iran could produce 60 “advanced” centrifuges a day, with the goal to reach an enrichment capacity of 250,000 separative work units (swu) per year, ultimately one million swu per year.1 It is unlikely, for several reasons, that Iran will reach this capacity with its existing advanced centrifuges for many years, if ever. Currently, its enrichment capacity is about 7500 swu per year (see Annex). This capacity represents a growth of about 20 percent since November 2019 with almost three quarters of that capacity invested in first generation IR-1 centrifuges, the rest in a mélange of advanced centrifuges. To reach 250,000 swu per year, Iran would need to increase its current enrichment capacity 30-fold, entailing the installation and operation of tens of thousands of advanced centrifuges. This goal seems out of Iran’s reach, faced with advanced centrifuges that rarely work as planned and often fail, with a chaotic program that appears to be developing far too many centrifuges, all at best mediocre and poorly performing, and with little chance of ever competing economically with Russian and European centrifuges that supply most of the enrichment needs of nuclear power reactors in the world, including Iran’s own Bushehr reactor.
2020-04-01Executive Summary of the 2020 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Co
This document is an unclassified Executive Summary of the Report that is transmitted pursuant to Section 403 of the Arms Control and Disarmament Act, as amended (22 U.S.C. § 2593a), which requires a report by the President on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments. This unclassified Executive Summary is intended to address the requirement in that statute that a report be submitted to Congress not later than April 15 annually. The full-length unclassified version of the Report will be provided at the earliest possible opportunity consistent with safe personnel and reduced staffing practices necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the SECRET and the TOP SECRET/SCI level annexes.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is reportedly planning to rebuke Iran for its lack of cooperation with the Agency and for refusing to provide access to sites related to its nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the sites in question in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, calling them “Iran’s Secret Atomic Warehouse.” Netanyahu claimed that Israel had obtained information about these sites — including a trove of documents that purportedly contain information on nuclear weapons design — through secret operations.
This report of the Director General is on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement1 and the Additional Protocol2 in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran). It describes the Agency’s efforts and interactions with Iran to clarify information relating to the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.
Iranians want their government to push back against foreign pressure, not cave to it, or turn the other cheek. After U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, 60 percent said in May 2019 that Iran should withdraw, too, rather than remain committed along with the other P5+1 countries. The Rouhani government pursued the latter course of action for a year, then started to incrementally exceed some JCPOA limits in an effort to get other signatories to provide more of the promised benefits. That policy was much more popular (74% approval in October 2019) than the previous wait-and-see approach. Comparable numbers favored tit-for-tat responses to other forms of foreign pressure, including violations of Iranian airspace and water, and attacks on Iranian vessels and planes.Despite economic unhappiness, public support for additional nuclear concessions remains low. In October 2019, after a series of more stringent U.S. sanctions had taken effect, only 4 percent of survey Iranians said Iran should accept U.S. demands for a longer-duration agreement, only 35 percent approved of that in return for greater sanctions relief than the JCPOA offered, and 58 percent remained unconditionally opposed to a longer agreement. The 48 percent of respondents who said that sanctions have had a great negative impact are no more willing to extend the duration of JCPOA limits than those who say sanctions have had some, little, or no negative effect. These numbers mirrored Iranian responses when the same questions were asked in 2016 after Trump’s election.
Even though the EU, China, and Russia have spent the past 21 months criticizing the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, in practice they have been unable to create the conditions for Iran to reap its economic benefits. Banks and private businesses are unwilling to work with Iran for fear of U.S. secondary sanctions and punitive measures. As such, it seems the EU, China, and Russia should now take a step towards enforcing the U.N. “Uniting for peace” resolution. The resolution has already been used ten times and resolves that if the Security Council fails to maintain international peace and security when one of its permanent members uses its power of veto in cases of threat against peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly will immediately consider the matter and make recommendations to its members.
In The CIA Insider's Guide to Iran: from CIA Coup to the Brink of War, former CIA Officer John C. Kiriakou and investigative journalist and historian Gareth Porter explain how and why the United States and Iran have been either at war or threatening such a war for most of the forty years since Islamic Republic of Iran was established. The authors delve below the surface explanations for the forty-year history of extreme U.S. hostility toward Iran to blow up one official U.S. narrative after another about Iran and U.S. policy. Against the background of Iran’s encounters with heavy-handed British and Russian imperialist control over its resources, this book shows how the U.S. began its encounter with Iran by clearly siding with British imperialism against Iranian aspirations for control over its oil in its 1953 overthrow of the Mossadegh government, then proceeded to actively support the Saddam Hussein regime’s horrific chemical war against Iran. The book shows how a parade of politically-motivated false narratives have taken U.S. Iran policy progressively farther from reality for three decades and have now brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. It explains how Donald Trump’s trashing of the nuclear deal with Iran and seeking to cut off Iran’s oil exports creates a very high risk of such a war, demanding major public debate about changing course. The CIA Insider's Guide to the Iran Crisis also includes appendices with key official documents on U.S. policy toward Iran, with particular emphasis on the major official statements of the Trump administration’s “Maximum Pressure” strategy.
Early in January, the European members of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran made a risky move by triggering the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism. Though it was a desperate attempt to save the agreement, it could, if not managed carefully, result in the reimposition of United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran—effectively collapsing any remnants of the deal. [...] A snapping back of UN sanctions on Iran could also lead Iran to kick out international nuclear inspectors, resume additional nuclear activities, and threaten a regional war involving great powers, historic adversaries, and non-state actors across the Middle East. In short, it would manufacture a crisis that the world can ill afford.