This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Flaw In The IAEA/Iran Agreement

"Why not make this public so we can see whether is this a good agreement or not? Put the facts on the table and then we can have a better understanding of what takes place. I don’t see any reason for secrecy here."
"The key question is: will the IAEA be present during the sample-taking or not? It looks to me that they might be witnessing the sample-taking through some camera view, or from a distance. If that’s really the case I have a lot of reservations about the reasonability and credibility of the arrangements."
"You need to know what you sample, how you sample, and if the sample is representative of the object you sample. You need to be present and see physically the place. Therefore, for the IAEA to do a credible job they need to get to that chamber and take independently their samples."
"This is not only just to take swipe samples and then that thing gets resolved. This is [a] much more wider thing the IAEA wants to investigate. Therefore, again, the camera view is not [satisfactory] for that."
"I don’t think you can establish through the camera if that has been done. On the spot, you can see some places where [such alterations meant to hide nuclear activity] has been done in a imperfect way. These are the places you want to sample. You can’t see this from a camera. You have to look at things from various angles. Therefore it’s essential to be physically present."
Ollie Heinonen, one-time deputy director-general, International Atomic Energy Agency

Iranian nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi and then-deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Olli Heinonen, after talks in Tehran, July 12, 2007. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi and then-deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Olli Heinonen, after talks in Tehran, July 12, 2007. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

According to a leaked draft of the agreement on Iran's nuclear program, reached through lengthy negotiation between the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China, Russia, United States, France, Britain, plus Germany and with European Union input, there is no clarification over how inspections, particularly at the disputed-approach military site at Parchin, inspections will be conducted. 

Much hinges on how that data is received through inspections meant to provide definitive information on Iran's nuclear activity. Ollie Heinonen, in an interview, expressed grave doubts over the workability and trustworthiness of the possibility that Iran may insist on providing the IAEA with photographs, videos and environmental samples. In other words, that the IAEA and the P5+1 would agree to accepting that Iran, which has in the past used deception and is famously skilled in deceit, would provide its own data and samples, not an outside, neutral agency.
It’s difficult to assess changes that might have been done to such a questionable and hidden facility — such as the installation of false walls or efforts to hide or sanitize equipment — efforts to evade notice which the Islamic Republic of Iran is particularly skilled at, by merely looking at photographic or video material provided by them as proof of what they assert to be true.

Article five of the Safeguards Agreement between the IAEA and Iran addresses the requirement for confidentiality of proprietorial data, of commercially sensitive matters, and of safety and security-related issues, but should the AP report be correct and any Parchin investigation restricted to the provision of footage to IAEA inspectors by Iran: "There’s no need to keep secrecy around this approach. There’s no safety-related information that is compromised if this procedure is made public."
As someone integrally involved in IAEA inspections for close to three decades, and a man who headed the Department of Safeguards for the agency, Mr. Heinonen emphasized that the taking of samples at a site suspected of having hosted illicit nuclear activity is not simple. The IAEA's Parchin mission is not meant only to take environmental samples, but it is crucial to carefully examine the diagnostic equipment and technical arrangements on site. To do this, the IAEA must have a physical presence, right there, and right then.

Sketch of a large-explosives containment vessel believed to be situated inside Iran's Parchin military site, in which hydrodynamic experiments can be conducted (photo credit: AP)
Sketch of a large-explosives containment vessel believed to have been situated inside Iran’s Parchin military site, in which hydrodynamic experiments can be conducted. (photo credit: AP)

There are various ways in which the surfaces of equipment at Parchin could be surreptitiously altered: the Iranians could add layers of paint or lacquer, scrape them, or both, said Mr. Heinonen . "One must welcome this global innovation and outside-the-box thinking", Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said sarcastically at the time. "One can only wonder if the Iranian inspectors will also have to wait 24 days before being able to visit the site and look for incriminating evidence?"

2004 satellite image of the military complex at Parchin, Iran (photo credit: AP/DigitalGlobe - Institute for Science and International Security)
2004 satellite image of the military complex at Parchin, Iran. (AP/DigitalGlobe-Institute for Science and International Security)

Any of the 35 states on the International Atomic Agency’s board of governors can demand of the  secretariat that it disclose the secret agreements should they feel it would aid their understanding of any particular verification process. Canada has done just that on a number of occasions. Israel,  a member of the IAEA since its founding in 1957, has been adamant in demanding all secret side agreements with Iran be released.

"In order for there to be a truly informed discussion of the deal with Iran it is crucial that all relevant documents be opened to scrutiny", insisted a senior Israeli official.The six world powers who negotiated the deal — the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — are currently on the IAEA board, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, known to be not so pleased with the agreement with Iran.

"It’s up to the member states. They are in the driving seat here. If they are happy with [the current arrangements], then fine. But one should exercise good judgment how to proceed with that", emphasized Mr. Heinonen in the interview. However, should the IAEA agree to the current arrangements and inspect Parchin at a remove via video cameras, reversal of the procedure would be difficult to obtain.

"It would be very difficult to make another mission there after you’ve already agreed on certain technical arrangements. This is the time to do a proper job", he stated unequivocally.

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