IAEA Report on Iran’s NPT Safeguards – September 2022
IAEA Report on Iran’s NPT Safeguards – September 2022
by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard and Andrea Stricker 
September 8, 2022
Iran has consistently violated its obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA), a key part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to fully account for its past and present nuclear activities.
For nearly four years, the IAEA has been investigating the presence of man-made uranium particles at three Iranian sites and seeking information on nuclear materials and activities at a fourth site.
In March 2022, the IAEA concluded that Iran breached its safeguards obligations for failing to declare its use of nuclear material at one such site, Lavisan-Shian. In June 2022, the 35-nation IAEA Board of Governors passed a no-confidence resolution against Iran for non-cooperation with the IAEA, with only China and Russia voting against.
This analysis summarizes and assesses the information contained in the IAEA’s latest report on NPT safeguards on Iran, published on September 7, 2022. It also provides background information on Iran’s former nuclear weapons sites making the subject of an IAEA investigation.
Since the IAEA’s last report in June, there has been no progress or cooperation from Iran to resolve outstanding safeguards issues.
The IAEA requests “technically credible explanations” concerning the presence and origin of the uranium particles detected at the three sites, as well as “the current location or locations of the nuclear materials and/or contaminated equipment”. Thus, it is unlikely that the four locations publicly discussed by the IAEA are the only remaining sites in Iran with traces of undeclared uranium.
The IAEA concludes that as of September 2022, it is “unable to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful”. This means that the IAEA cannot verify Iran’s compliance with its CSA and the NPT and implies that Iran is in violation of both agreements.
It is essential that the IAEA continue its investigation into Iran’s violations of nuclear safeguards under the NPT. In the absence of an immediate and marked change in Iran’s actions, the IAEA Board of Governors should pass a resolution condemning Iran’s non-cooperation, then refer the matter to the Security Council of the UN.
The United States and Europe should refuse Iran’s demands to end the ongoing IAEA investigation as a condition for a revived nuclear deal under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The West should instead pressure Iran to cooperate with the IAEA in tightening sanctions, including enacting the so-called UN sanctions rollback, authorized for non-compliance by Iran from the JCPOA.
Latest report on NPT safeguards
For nearly four years, the IAEA has been investigating the presence of man-made uranium particles at three Iranian sites and seeking information on nuclear materials and activities at a fourth site. The four sites are Turquz Abad, Varamin, Marivan and Lavisan-Shian, previously designated by the agency as locations 1-4. In March 2022, the IAEA concluded that Iran breached its safeguards obligations for failing to declare its use of nuclear materials at Lavisan-Shian. Of the four sites of concern, three have been discussed in the Iranian nuclear archive.
It is unlikely that these four locations are the only remaining sites in Iran with traces of undeclared uranium. In reports and press briefings, IAEA Director General Grossi has expressed concerns about other unknown locations from or to which Iran may have moved nuclear materials or contaminated equipment.2 In addition, the IAEA may have identified additional sites to which it seeks access based on information contained in the nuclear archive. The IAEA has corroborated information in the nuclear archive against Iran’s mandatory declaration of nuclear materials and activities, in line with the IAEA’s mandate to ensure that Iran’s declaration is correct and complete . On September 7, the Institute released the location of another identified site in the nuclear archive, where Iran may have conducted tests using uranium.3 While the site was previously known, the Institute only recently obtained the coordinates of the site from officials knowledgeable about the nuclear archive. The site, called Golab Dareh, is one of four known sites associated with explosives testing of nuclear weapon components and the development of associated high-speed diagnostic equipment. This appears to be another site that may harbor traces of undeclared uranium, and there are likely others.
On March 5, 2022, the IAEA and Iran agreed on a timeline for Iran to provide the agency with information and explanations to clarify the IAEA’s discovery of man-made uranium particles at Turquz Abad. , Varamin and Marivan, a process culminating in a 2022 IAEA report. Under its legal nonproliferation obligations, Iran is required to explain the activities that led to the use or production of these nuclear materials. The IAEA noted, as in its previous report, that it “provided Iran with many opportunities, in different formats through exchanges and meetings in Vienna and Tehran, to clarify these issues, but without success”. . At the time of the Director General’s June report, Iran had not provided a technically credible explanation, and the IAEA reported that Iran had failed to meet the agreed timeline. This led the IAEA’s Board of Governors, made up of 35 countries, to pass a censure resolution against Iran at the June board meeting, with only Russia and China voting against.
In its latest report, the IAEA reported no further progress or cooperation from Iran, noting that “safeguards issues related to these three sites remained unresolved.” The report states: “…Despite the Agency’s stated willingness to engage Iran without delay to resolve these issues, Iran has not engaged with the Agency. Consequently, there have been no developments during the reporting period and none of the outstanding issues have been resolved. The Director General writes that he “is increasingly concerned that Iran has not engaged with the Agency on outstanding safeguards issues during the reporting period and, therefore, that ‘there has been no progress towards their resolution’.
The IAEA, in essence, reports that Iran is violating the NPT and will remain so until it cooperates. It “reaffirms that unless and until Iran provides technically credible explanations for the presence of anthropogenic uranium particles at three undeclared locations in Iran and notifies the Agency of the location or current locations of nuclear material and/or contaminated equipment, the Agency will not be able to confirm the accuracy and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its comprehensive safeguards agreement. , the Agency is unable to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.
The IAEA Board of Governors, which will next meet September 12-16, is expected to pass a new no-confidence resolution demanding Iran’s compliance with its NPT obligations. This resolution is expected to include a stipulation that if Iran does not cooperate by the next board meeting, the board will refer the matter to the UN Security Council for countermeasures.
The United States and its European counterparts, Britain, France and Germany (the E3), should reject Iran’s attempt to link the closure of the IAEA investigation to the renegotiation or to the re-implementation of the 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the JCPOA. Iran has demanded that the parties guarantee the closure of the investigation before implementing a new agreement. Moreover, if the parties lift sanctions against Iran before the day of re-implementation of a new agreement, Iran is unlikely to cooperate with the IAEA. Linking the JCPOA and IAEA investigation could also force a showdown with Iran at the IAEA that could end with the US and E3 board voting to preemptively close. investigation by the IAEA in order to reimplement the agreement, just as they did to implement the JCPOA in 2015. Director General Grossi, however, remained firm, saying there could be no political solution to his investigation.
Member states have a second chance to respect the NPT and send a signal to Iran, as well as other potential proliferating states, that they will not tolerate violations of the NPT. Their failure to act will undermine the authority of the IAEA, lead to the degradation of the NPT and other states seeking nuclear weapons.
IAEA/Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Joint Statement
On March 5, following a visit by Director General Grossi to Tehran, the IAEA and the AEOI issued a joint statement to “accelerate and strengthen their cooperation and dialogue towards the resolution of [outstanding] issues.” The agreement aimed to resolve by the June 2022 board meeting the IAEA’s remaining questions about three undeclared Iranian sites where it found man-made uranium in 2019 and 2020.
Unlike the work plan leading to the implementation of the JCPOA, the agreement did not commit the IAEA to ‘close’ its investigation or settle for a series of joint meetings and Iranian misrepresentations or declarations. . The IAEA/Iran joint statement denied Iran the ability to simply “check the boxes” of a project without honest cooperation. As Grossi said, “There is no artificial time limit [for concluding the investigation]there is no predefined result, there is no predefined name for what I am going to do.
The IAEA reported in June that, in accordance with the agreed timetable, Iran provided the agency on March 19 with information described as “primarily information that Iran had previously provided to the Agency, but also new information, which was then assessed by the Agency”. The information provided by Iran did not answer all of the Agency’s questions. The IAEA submitted additional questions to Iran on April 4. The IAEA and Iran met in Tehran on April 12, May 7 and May 17. 3 and 4.” Still, the IAEA found the explanations not technically credible.
IAEA member states must support Grossi’s quest for answers.
Read the full analysis in PDF format here.
1. Andrea Stricker is Deputy Director of the Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and Associate Researcher at the FDD. ↩
2. For example, Grossi wrote in a report on backups from May 2022: “[Some of the] isotopically modified particles [found at Turquz Abad] must be from another unknown location. See: IAEA Director General, “NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran”, GOV/2022/26, May 30, 2022, https://isis-online.org/uploads/iaea-reports/documents/gov2022 -26 .pdf. ↩
3. David Albright and Sarah Burkhard, “Fourth Nuclear Weapons-Related Test Site Located: Another Parchin Site, Other Undeclared Nuclear Material Possible,” Institute for Science and International Security, September 7, 2022, https://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/the-fourth-nuclear-weapons-related-testing-site-located/. ↩