June 4, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s Nuclear Violations to Test Resolve of IAEA Board of Governors

June 4, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s Nuclear Violations to Test Resolve of IAEA Board of Governors

Latest Developments

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors will convene tomorrow for its June quarterly meeting following a report from IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi that Iran continues to stonewall the agency’s investigation into secret nuclear sites, material, equipment, and personnel. In its report, the IAEA found that Iran carried out high explosive work relevant to nuclear weapons at a site called Marivan and deemed Tehran’s explanations for the activity — munitions disposal — “not technically credible.” At the board of governors meeting, U.S. and European governments will have the opportunity to hold Iran to account for prolonged non-compliance with the IAEA’s four-plus year investigation. Meanwhile, the West also faces serious questions regarding the value of any prospective nuclear deal with Iran that does not fully account for secret nuclear work.

Expert Analysis

“We need to know what occurred at undeclared sites under IAEA scrutiny. The IAEA calls for Iran’s engagement regarding the Turquz-abad warehouse and Varamin. What was being stored at Turquz-abad, where did it come from, and where is it today? We also need to know why trucks were running between Turquz-abad and Marivan in 2018, more than 15 years after the Amad Plan supposedly ended — and what other sites, material, equipment, and personnel are still hidden in Iran. Without a full accounting of its secret nuclear work, how could any nuclear deal prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons?” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor and former White House Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction

“The IAEA needs full support from the United States and its European allies if the agency is to make headway in its investigation. Iran watchers should pay close attention to whether the West holds Tehran accountable for prolonged non-compliance with the NPT — namely giving Iran a deadline for compliance — or helps the regime sweep its infractions under the rug.” — Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program

Iran’s Secret Nuclear Infrastructure

Since 2018, the IAEA has been investigating four formerly secret Iranian sites involving the use of nuclear material and equipment that Iran failed to declare to the IAEA: Marivan, where Iran may have conducted high explosive tests related to nuclear weapons development; Turquz-abad, where Iran allegedly stored nuclear material and equipment; Varamin, where Iran planned to produce precursor material for weapons-grade uranium; and Lavisan-Shian, where the agency suspects Iran conducted uranium metal work.

Secret Nuclear Archive Helped Uncover Hidden Sites

As a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has a binding obligation to declare to the IAEA its production, use of nuclear material, and related locations to the IAEA. It is prohibited from engaging in any effort to develop nuclear weapons. In 2018, Israeli intelligence discovered and exfiltrated tens of thousands of files from a Tehran warehouse that shed new light on Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons.

Drawing on these files that same year, Israel publicly revealed the Turquz-abad warehouse. Commercial satellite imagery then exposed Iran moving containers out of the warehouse before the IAEA could inspect the site. According to the IAEA, Iran may have moved equipment from Varamin to Turquz-abad before moving it elsewhere. The IAEA also observed trucks at Marivan similar to those at Turquz-abad. In 2019 and 2020, the IAEA visited all three sites and found evidence of man-made uranium, a formidable indication that Tehran is violating its agreement with the agency pursuant to the NPT.

Related Analysis

Analysis of the IAEA’s Iran NPT Safeguards Report – May 2023,” by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Andrea Stricker

Iran Needs an Ultimatum, Not a New Deal,” by Richard Goldberg and Andrea Stricker


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