September 8, 2022 | Institute for Science and International Security

The IAEA’s Iran NPT Safeguards Report – September 2022

September 8, 2022 | Institute for Science and International Security

The IAEA’s Iran NPT Safeguards Report – September 2022

Excerpt

Background

  • 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 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 was seeking information about nuclear material and activities at a fourth site.
  • In March 2022, the IAEA found Iran in breach of its safeguards obligations for failing to declare its use of nuclear material at one of these sites, Lavisan-Shian. In June 2022, the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors passed a censure resolution against Iran for non-cooperation with the IAEA with only China and Russia voting against.
  • This analysis summarizes and assesses information in the IAEA’s latest NPT safeguards report on Iran, issued on September 7, 2022. It also provides background information on the former Iranian nuclear weapons sites under IAEA investigation.

Findings

  • Since the last IAEA report in June, there has been no progress or cooperation from Iran to resolve the outstanding safeguards issues.
  • The IAEA requests “technically credible explanations” regarding the presence and origin of uranium particles detected at the three locations, as well as the “current location(s) of the nuclear material and/or of the 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, as of September 2022, it is “not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.” This means the IAEA cannot verify Iran’s compliance with its CSA and the NPT and is implying Iran is violating both agreements.

Recommendations

  • It is critical for the IAEA to continue its investigation of Iran’s violations of nuclear safeguards under the NPT. Absent an immediate, marked shift in Iran’s actions, the IAEA Board of Governors should pass a resolution condemning Iran’s non-cooperation and then refer the issue to the UN Security Council.
  • 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) framework. The West should instead pressure Iran to cooperate with the IAEA by strengthening sanctions, including enacting the so-called snapback of UN sanctions, allowed in case of Iranian non-compliance with the JCPOA.

Latest NPT Safeguards Report

For nearly four years, the IAEA has been investigating the presence of man-made uranium particles at three Iranian sites and was seeking information about nuclear material and activities at a fourth site. The four sites are Turquz Abad, Varamin, Marivan, and Lavisan-Shian, previously referred to by the agency as Locations 1-4. In March 2022, the IAEA found Iran in breach of its safeguards obligations for failing to declare its use of nuclear material at Lavisan-Shian. Out of the four sites of concern, three were discussed in Iran’s Nuclear Archive.

Andrea Stricker is deputy director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program and an FDD research fellow. Follow her on Twitter @StrickerNonpro. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focused on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation