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December 8, 2015 No.
1207

The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano's Report On The PMD Of Iran's Nuclear Program

Introduction

On December 2, 2015, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) secretary-general Yukiya Amano released his report on the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran's nuclear program.[1]

The report's findings, whatever they turned out to be, were not supposed to impact the continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in any way - even if they were completely negative regarding Iran. From the outset, it was agreed that all that Iran was obligated to do was to cooperate with the IAEA investigation of its PMD, and nothing more.

The next milestone date for the continued implementation of the JCPOA is December 15, 2015, when Amano's PMD report will be presented to the IAEA Board of Governors and the latter will resolve whether to close Iran's PMD dossier in the IAEA. This resolution is meant to be adopted by the UN Security Council.

The implementation process is meant to be continued by Iran - that is, Iran must meet its obligations under the JCPOA. These consist primarily of the removal of nine tons of low-grade enriched uranium from the country, the dismantling of centrifuges so that only 6,000 active ones remain, the pouring of concrete into the core of the Arak nuclear reactor such that it will not be able to be used to manufacture plutonium, the adoption of the Additional Protocol, and more.

After that, the IAEA will check to verify that Iran has carried these out; when it announces that it has, the next milestone date, Implementation Day, will come into force. At that time, Europe and the U.S. will carry out their promise, made October 19, 2015, to lift and suspend their sanctions on Iran.

It was Iran itself that made Amano's PMD report a problematic issue, and, essentially, a condition for its continued implementation of the JCPOA. Iran demanded that the IAEA Board of Governors close its PMD dossier, and, according to some Iranian spokesmen, it should do so in a way that completely exonerates Iran of accusations against it regarding development of a military nuclear program. That is, Iran will not be satisfied with a closure of the dossier that is merely formal if Amano's report does not completely exonerate it.

To this end, in the days leading up to the release of the report, Iran pressured the IAEA and the P5+1, with the aim of ensuring that the report would completely clear Iran of suspicions regarding PMD.[2]

In addition to its direct pressure on Amano, Iran also implemented political pressure on the P5+1, warning that if the dossier remained open, Iran would not implement its obligations under the JCPOA, and that the West had to choose between the PMD, that is, accusing Iran of developing a military nuclear program, and implementing the JCPOA.[3]

The Findings Of Amano's PMD Report

Iran's pressure netted only partial success. Prior to the report's release, Amano stated: "What I can now say is that this is an issue that cannot be answered by 'yes' and 'no.'"[4] The report included aspects that were both positive and negative for Iran.

On the one hand, it stated: "The Agency has not found indications of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran, beyond those activities declared retrospectively by Iran. The Agency has found no indications of Iran having conducted activities which can be directly traced to the 'uranium metal document' or to design information for a nuclear explosive device from the clandestine nuclear supply network."

However, it also said: "The Agency assesses that explosive bridgewire (EBW) detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device."

With regard to the Parchin facility, Amano's PMD report stated that "[t]he information available to the Agency... does not support Iran's statements on the purpose of the building." Furthermore, the report stated that "the Agency assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the Agency seriously undermined the Agency's ability to conduct effective verification." It continued:

"The Agency assesses that Iran conducted computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009. The Agency notes, however, the incomplete and fragmented nature of those calculations... The Agency assesses that, before the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. Although some activities took place after 2003, they were not part of a coordinated effort. The Agency's overall assessment is that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009."[5]

Iran's Future Moves Vis-à-vis The PMD Dossier In The IAEA Board Of Governors

Assuming that the IAEA Board of Governors follows the Iran-U.S. dictates and closes Iran's PMD dossier[6] in spite of the findings mentioned above, it is not clear that a formal closure of the dossier by the Board of Governors would satisfy Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or whether he would block Iran's implementation of the JCPOA because the Amano report's findings do not exonerate Iran.

The Iranian reactions to the report have been mixed, in accordance with the speakers' affiliation with either the pragmatic camp of President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, or the ideological camp. While the former is willing to settle for a formal closure of the PMD dossier without Iran's complete exoneration,[7] the latter stresses that the reports' findings determine that Iran conducted military nuclear development prior to 2009, and see this as a reason to stop the entire JCPOA process. 

The Appendix below presents statements by Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiator Abbas Aragchi, representing the pragmatic camp, and by Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is affiliated with Supreme Leader Khamenei, representing the ideological camp.

It cannot be known whether Khamenei and ideological camp spokesmen will accept the Board of Governors' resolution as sufficient. Furthermore, even if Khamenei decides to accept a closure of the PMD dossier by the Board of Governors as sufficient, his nine new conditions for Iran's implementation of the JCPOA, as set out on October 21, 2015, remain an obstacle to Iran's implementation of the JCPOA.[8]

Appendix

Statements By Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi Immediately After The Release Of Amano's PMD Report

On December 2, 2015, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian Channel 1: "In the matter of the [Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran's Nuclear Program], the Amano report states explicitly that all the claims about PMD [refer] strictly to scientific studies [and not to military development]. This is the most salient point in the Amano report. The general view of the IAEA vis-à-vis Past and Present Outstanding Issues in Iran's nuclear program counters the claims made against Iran in the past decade.

"The IAEA assessment is that prior to 2003, research activity was carried out in Iran, not by it. Likewise, there is no sign that nuclear material was diverted to any initiatives that are not for peaceful purposes.

"The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time, even though previously Amano said that his report was not black or white, but in my opinion it leans more towards the white side, particularly when the conclusion of the report explicitly rejects [the claim] that there is in Iran a military program, and it is preparing the ground for the Board of Governors to close the issue of the PMD dossier.

"The report states that there is no sign of nuclear material in matters that are not for peaceful purposes, and also that there is no sign of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran. In the matter of equipment [for] dual use, the IAEA says that in the past Iran worked on detonators, but the report declares that these detonators had uses for both peaceful and non-peaceful purposes, and that the IAEA could not make a determination in this matter...

"Likewise, Iran's procurements [activities] are not against [the law] and there is no organization in Iran that was established to produce an atomic bomb and nuclear weapons. The IAEA pointed out that in the past there was an organizational structure for this purpose [i.e. to create a nuclear weapon] and that in Iran's view this, this organization could have been used for conventional weapons.

"Nowhere in the IAEA report does it say that Iran conducted dual use activity, except it is written that dual use activity was carried out in Iran; nowhere in the report does it accuse the Iranian government of operating in this direction.

"An additional positive point is that nowhere in the IAEA report is the term PMD used, since we have never officially recognized this matter and have not allowed the use of it in official documents or discussions. The JCPOA and the [IAEA] Road-map likewise do not use this term. In this report, there is use of [the term] '[Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran's Nuclear Program] and there is no use at all of the term Possible Military Dimensions.

"The IAEA's claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report.

"All in all, when all the IAEA's previous claims are placed next to the [Amano report's] findings, it appears that the report's fairness leans in Iran's favor. The Board of Governors has no excuse to leave this dossier open...

"Although the IAEA took samples from the Parchin site, it is not declaring that it found nothing to justify its claims. We expected the IAEA to act fairly and realistically and not to present these things in the report...

"Amano is not in a position to close the PMD dossier. Amano is a [strictly] technical element that must report on his assessment according to reality, facts on the ground, and research that was carried out. The Board of Governors must resolve whether to close the PMD dossier. In my opinion, with regard to the report that Amano published, this procedure should be ended, because there is no proof that Iran's nuclear program is military, or [was so] even in the past... 

"According to the JCPOA, the P5+1 must submit to the Board of Governors a draft resolution with the aim of closing the PMD dossier. It does not appear that the board will decide otherwise in the matter, because the [political] will is to close [the dossier], and the Amano report provides a reason to do so.

"Another positive point in the Amano report is its pointing out that the Road-map was carried out perfectly by Iran. According to it, Iran met all its obligations.

"Still, the absolute Iranian position is that if this dossier is not closed, and if even the smallest window remains open [that will allow] a return to this issue, the JCPOA will not be implemented. We have conveyed this message, in a serious manner, to the other side, that if the PMD dossier is not closed [as noted above], we will not carry out our main steps in the JCPOA. The P5+1 and the Board of Governors must choose one or the other: the PMD or the JCPOA. 

"The IAEA report mentions a prohibition on the use of dual equipment in illegal matters, particularly nuclear weapons, but there is no prohibition on the use of dual equipment in ways that are for peaceful purposes or for conventional weapons. The IAEA has said that EBW [Exploding-Bridgewire Detonator] and MPI [Multipoint Initiation] are equipment that has a use in nuclear weapons, Iran has manufactured them and used them. The IAEA says explicitly that it cannot determine [which] use Iran has made of them. We have presented the IAEA with documents that show the use of this equipment in the oil industry and Amano mentioned that Iran has used dual equipment in matters of peaceful purposes..."[9]

Hossein Shariatmadari In Kayhan Editorial, December 5, 2015

In Kayhan's December 5, 2015 editorial, Shariatmadari wrote: "On Wednesday, December 2, the IAEA released its final report on the PMD. In this report, without presenting any evidence or proof, the IAEA rejects the opinion of Iran, which Iran has stated many times, and writes that up until 2009 Iran engaged in a series of activities connected to the production of nuclear weapons. This is despite the fact that in the past 12 years Iran has absolutely rejected any deviation [in a military direction] in its civilian nuclear activity.

"In spite of the extensive and comprehensive visits by IAEA inspectors, there is no finding to this claim. Several minutes after it was released, the report was welcomed by the media in the U.S. and in the Zionist regime. It was said that this report confirms their previous statements against Iran's nuclear program, and Iran was accused of lying and cheating for several years.

"It may be that the IAEA report will have dangerous ramifications, that should be stated:

"1.   It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution. About this, it must be said that:

"a.    If this is a matter of an official agreement, where is this mentioned in the JCPOA? The answer is: Nowhere.

"b.   And if this was an oral agreement, how can the oral agreements of the rival be trusted when it has violated and continues to violate its formal obligations?!

"c.    It was told [to us] that the IAEA report would be grey - that is, with black and white points, positive and negative. Contrary to the opinion of our dear brother Dr. Araghchi, not only does this report not lean more towards white, but most of its sections are black. Additionally, the white points that the members [of the negotiating team] mention have only a white exterior, and their essence is completely black; we will address this later on.

"2.   The report states that up to 2009, Iran engaged in research and development connected to [nuclear] weapons - that is, the part of the report that addresses Iran's nuclear challenge, which has continued for 12 years, is decided in favor of the rival. This is because in the past 12 years, the U.S. and its allies, and after that the P5+1, accused Iran of deviating in its nuclear program in the direction of nuclear weapons... Ultimately, the IAEA carried out more extensive oversight activity than [that required] in the Additional Protocol, and found no document attesting that Iran's nuclear activity was not civilian. [Our] technical and judicial expectation was that the report would reject the claims that Iran had deviated in its nuclear program or at the very least that it would be stated [in it] that it had found no sign of such a deviation. But the report confirms the groundless and evidence-free claim of the U.S. and its allies.

"3.   Our friends [on the negotiating team] say that the general view of the report shows that its conclusion contradicts all the claims and talk against Iran's nuclear program in the past 12 years... For 12 years [the U.S. and its allies] have claimed that Iran's nuclear program is not civilian and is advancing in the direction of nuclear weapons. The IAEA report justifies this claim. How, then, can it be said that 'the report contradicts the claims [against Iran] in the past 12 years!?'

"4.   The U.S. and its allies accused Iran, without presenting any proof, that up until 2009 it made efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Now, the report justifies the claims and accuses Iran of lying, cheating, concealing, breaking the law, and more. Those responsible for the nuclear negotiations must be asked: Was this the intention of the 'acquisition of international confidence for Iran' that you talked so much about? Take a quick look at the statements by American, European, and Zionist elements, and at the commentary and analysis by the foreign media, that were published immediately after the report was released: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says proudly that everything we [the U.S.] said about Iran's nuclear program was true.[10] He stresses that we [the U.S.] had never had any doubts that Iran had striven to attain nuclear weapons.[11] Reuters rejected Iran's statements that we had never wanted nuclear weapons, and wrote, with a large headline: 'Iran had 'coordinated effort' relevant to atom bombs - IAEA.' USA Today accuses Iran of lying about its non-civilian nuclear activity up to 2009. The Times of Israel spoke respectfully of the opinion of Israeli experts that from the outset, they had said that Iran was making efforts to create nuclear weapons, and more.

"5.   The first article of the [IAEA] report states that it is 'based on information available to the IAEA... [The points in the original report] include information obtained by the IAEA from Iran in the Framework for Cooperation, including the Road-map and the JCPOA.' This article says, or at least can be interpreted as saying, that even the elements in Iran (as the IAEA supposes) agreed that up to 2009 Iran engaged in non-civilian [nuclear] activity. Now, tell me: What is white in this report [as Araghchi said], and what in it arouses pride?!

"6.   The IAEA report on the PMD is a final report, and the IAEA saw no need to continue to investigate. Perhaps there will be those who will see this as a white point, and as a point in [Iran's] favor. But in effect, the IAEA is stating absolutely that Iran made efforts to attain nuclear weapons, and that there is no need to reexamine this. That is, the ground has been prepared for future exploitation [of this claim against Iran].

"7.   The report justifies the suspicion of the U.S. and its allies regarding Iran's nuclear activity and their perception of it non-civilian. Therefore, this justifies grave restrictions on Iran's nuclear activity, as well as unprecedented oversight on it. If we accept this report, we will destroy [with our own hands] all our achievements gained through great effort and sacrifices in blood.

"8.    The IAEA report could be more dangerous than the JCPOA, because it is an international document that proves that the opinions and proof that Iran submitted concerning its non-civilian nuclear program are unrealistic and unreliable. Therefore, the U.S. can extend the implementation of the JCPOA from 15 years to 25 years, or even for eternity, on the pretext that the IAEA report shows that you [i.e. Iran] have lied  for 12 years about your nuclear program and there is guarantee that you will not want to produce nuclear weapons under your civilian program.  

"9.    If Iran accepts the IAEA report, as unfortunately is becoming clear from statements by certain elements, the document will gain international [validity], and even if the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, this document [i.e. the report] is sufficient in order to permanently restrict our nuclear program and to leave Iran's nuclear activity in the laboratory and as pilot [project]. That is, on the level of 'nothing.' Not for nothing have the rival's media published the report enthusiastically and applauded the IAEA and its secretary-general.

"10. With regard to the U.S.'s long list of broken promises and deception in the past 12 years of [Iran's] nuclear challenge, it can be said fervently that even if we assume that the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, as the friends [in the negotiating team] say it has promised, the IAEA's final report can serve as a good basis for future extortion and excessive demands on the part of the U.S...

"11. In conclusion, the defense of [Iran's] national and scientific interests requires that the elements connected to the nuclear [issue] in Iran show strength and might and explicitly oppose the report and [demand that it be considered] an illegal report and not a technical report [that is, that it be considered a political report] lacking all findings and proof."[12]

 

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; U. Kafash is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

 

Endnotes:

[1] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran's Nuclear Programme, Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[2] Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said: "In the coming days, our experts will be in touch with IAEA experts, and if necessary, they will raise further points. It is even possible that I will meet with Amano again... According to what we were told, there are some weak points in the IAEA report, on which I have commented. I am optimistic that they will be amended. I have provided necessary comments to the Americans and Europeans." ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015. On November 29, 2015, he said: "We expect [IAEA secretary-general] Amano to present the Board of Governors with a realistic and moderate report. It is true that it is not possible to determine absolutely what happened 10-15 years ago, and there are various possibilities. We do not expect that Amano will present an absolute report... In any event,  the resolution [about closing the PMD dossier]  lies with the Board of Governors [and not with Amano]. Our criterion is the closure of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. We are waiting for its resolution." Mehr. Iran, November 29, 2015. Also see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA's PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[3] Aragchi said on November 29, 2015: "We are now in consultation on the content of the draft resolution that the P5+1 is meant to present to the Board of Governors. In the content [of the draft resolution], they must use terms that mean closure and conclusion of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. If this dossier is not closed, our position is absolutely clear - this dossier must be closed, so that we implement the JCPOA. If not, we will not implement our obligations, that according to the JCPOA Iran must implement after the closure of the PMD dossier. That is, the JCPOA will not be implemented fully. Mehr (Iran), November 29, 2015. Araghchi added, "If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA." Press TV, Iran, November 26, 2015. Also, at a November 26, 2015 press conference, Foreign Minister Zarif said: "The Amano report, in the coming days, will help close the dossier permanently. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction envisioned for it in the past [that is, it will implement the JCPOA]."The PMD is encapsulated, though we believe undeservedly, as 'concerns past and present' in the text of the JCPOA; we hope Amano's report within upcoming days will help close the case forever. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction predicted for it before." Mehr (Iran), November 26, 2015. Also see similar statements by Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, ISNA, Iran, November 29, 2015. Additionally, on December 1, 2015, the daily Etemaad, which is affiliated with pragmatic camp leader Hashemi Rafsanjani, stated that the negotiating team had said clearly that the West must choose between the PMD and the JCPOA.

[4] Reuters, November 26, 2015.

[5] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran's Nuclear Programme. Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[6] A hint at this could be found in the December 5, 2015 editorial of the Iranian daily Kayhan, in which the paper's editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, wrote: "It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution" (see Appendix for the full editorial). Also, Araghchi's November 26, 2015 statements to Iran's Press TV hinted at commitments to Iran in this vein: "If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA."

[7] Although the members of the negotiating team also claimed that the Amano report contains statements that are unacceptable. Following the report's release, Araghchi said in a December 2, 2015 television interview: "The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time... The IAEA's claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report" (for the full statements, see Appendix). ISNA, Iran, December 2, 2015. See also statements by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Ali Akbar Salehi: "Based on the Amano report, there remains no way to leave the PMD dossier open... Based on this [report], and on my extensive experience in the IAEA, the PMD dossier will be closed for certain, because they have not succeeded in presenting any document. Therefore, this false dossier that has entangled us for many years will be closed permanently." Nasimonline, Iran, December 3, 2015.

[9] ISNA (Iran), December 2, 2015.

[10] MEMRI did not find Kerry's exact words in this regard.

[11] Kerry said at a December 4, 2015 press conference that "nobody has had any doubts whatsoever about Iran's past military endeavors." State.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/12/250362.htm.

[12] Kayhan (Iran), December 5, 2015.