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.
2021-05-20Priority List of Sites Deserving/Requiring International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Inspections, with Employee Interviews
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.
Nuclear talks in Vienna aimed at bringing the United States and Iran back into compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, are said to be making progress, which is good news. But there have been predictable roadblocks. Israel, which is not a party to the talks, appeared to sabotage Iran’s centrifuges just as talks were gaining steam. Republicans in Congress are pushing a bill called the Maximum Pressure Act that would strip President Biden’s ability to lift sanctions on Iran without a vote from Congress, making it impossible for the United States to live up to its end of any bargain.
iran has started enriching its uranium supply to 60 percent purity — the closest the country has ever come to the level needed for a weapon — in response to the sabotage of an Iranian nuclear site last weekend linked to Israel. The move by Iran, reported Friday on state media, made good on threats Iranian officials had announced after the sabotage, which have cast a new cloud over talks to save the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear abilities in exchange for sanctions relief. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has gone further, boasting as those talks resumed in Vienna that his scientists could easily enrich uranium to 90 percent purity — weapons-grade fuel — although he insisted, as Iranian leaders have repeatedly, that Iran “is never seeking to make an atomic bomb.”
2021-04-12Full Text of FM Zarif's Letter to UN Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres, on the Sabotage at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant
I am writing to inform you that in the early morning hours of 11 April 2021, a dangerous, reckless sabotage at the electricity distribution network of the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant caused a blackout and the disruption of the operations of this sensitive nuclear facility which has been under IAEA safeguards and extensive monitoring. The timely and professional containment measures adopted by the highly dedicated management and staff of the NFEP and Iranian Atomic Energy Organization averted what could have become a human and environmental catastrophe. The deliberate targeting of a highly sensitive safeguarded nuclear facility—with the high risk of potential release of radioactive material—constitutes reckless criminal nuclear terrorism. Considering the possible indiscriminate human and environmental consequences of this international crime, those who planned, ordered, participated and carried out this cowardly act committed a grave war crime; one that must not go unpunished. Any power with knowledge of, or acquiescence in, this act must also be held accountable as an accomplice to this war crime.
In effect, if Israel was behind the attack it has assumed for itself a unique kind of leverage. Although officially, Israel is not a member of the P5+1 negotiating group, it has shown that it is, for all practical purposes, able to veto or at least complicate the decisions of the other members. And this, perhaps, is the most powerful impact of its actions. By taking aggressive steps against Iran that Washington is unable or unwilling to prevent, Israel effectively buys itself a seat at the table at the P5+1 it would otherwise be denied. All of this would be a brilliant move, if there was anything new about it. But it has been the Israeli playbook since at least the turn of the century.