The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of IAEA’s headquarters during a board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria June 12, 2017. (REUTERS)

May 22, 2018

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is obligated to rigorously investigate all outstanding questions about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program regardless of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran deal, according to a research memo issued today by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

The research memo, “Deal or No Deal, the IAEA Must Monitor Iran’s Nuclear Program,” explains that the cache of documents removed from a Tehran warehouse by Israel’s Mossad shows that the scope of Iran’s weaponization program was likely far greater than suspected. The retention of this archive indicates that Iran sought to preserve its ability to weaponize for the indefinite future.

Authors Olli Heinonen, a former IAEA Deputy Director General and head of its Department of Safeguards, and Jacob Nagel, a former Israeli acting National Security Advisor, write that the IAEA’s responsibilities derive from Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) that all parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) must conclude with the IAEA and from United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.

“Iran has a binding legal obligation to grant the IAEA access to all relevant sites, materials, equipment, documents, and personnel to resolve outstanding questions about the military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear activities,” they write. “The IAEA’s obligations require a more robust approach to investigate outstanding questions related to the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program – including new questions raised by the documents seized by the Israelis. It is now the IAEA’s obligation to investigate fully the personnel, sites, equipment, and activities described by the archival materials, even if this requires inspections at military sites.”

Heinonen is senior advisor on science and nonproliferation at FDD. Nagel, who led the Israeli experts team working with the countries that negotiated the JCPOA, is an FDD visiting fellow.

A major point of contention between the U.S. and Europe is how to remediate the sunset clauses of the JCPOA, which direct the expiration of critical restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program on a preset schedule. “The archive has shattered a core assumption that justified sunsets, namely that Iran had quit its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” they write. “The matter of intentions is crucial, since the JCPOA allows Iran to build an industrial-size enrichment program and shrink its breakout time from one year to less than a few weeks, on the assumption that Tehran would have neither the intention nor the capability to build a nuclear explosive device or affix a nuclear warhead to a delivery vehicle.”

 Foundation for Defense of Democracies

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Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.