European Official: Size of Iranian Nuke Site Incompatible with Peaceful Program
President Barack Obama announced a continuation of a national emergency with respect to Iran Thursday (Nov. 12), citing the Islamic Republic’s “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.“ The national emergency was initially implemented Nov. 14, 1979 as an executive order in response to the Iran hostage crisis in which Iranian revolutionaries held 52 workers at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days.
This announcement comes as a European official said Thursday that the size of Iran’s once-secret nuclear plant near Qom is incompatible with a peaceful enrichment program and instead suggests the facility is intended to develop weapons-grade uranium. The official and other diplomats also revealed that construction on the site began seven years ago and that it is one year away from completion.
The official’s statement echoes President Obama’s assertion that “The size and configuration of [the] facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.” Iran’s other enrichment plant at Natanz—also developed covertly—was discovered in 2002 after an Iranian dissident group revealed its existence.
IAEA inspectors returned Oct. 29 to their Vienna headquarters after visiting the Qom site to determine whether the plant is part of a military nuclear program, and will report to the IAEA Board of Governors at its Nov. 26-27 meeting. However, laboratory results from the inspection will not be available in time for the meeting, a delay that could slow diplomatic momentum against Iran’s nuclear program.
As the world awaits more details of the inspection, following is a summary of IAEA reports on Iran.
Summary: International Atomic Energy Agency Reports on Iran
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) reports about Iran’s nuclear program have consistently found that Iran has failed – and continues to fail – to fully cooperate with the IAEA, pointing to a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program.
In its latest report, released on August 28, 2009, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it has pressed the Islamic Republic to clarify its uranium enrichment activities and reassure the world that it’s not trying to build an atomic weapon. The report was blunt: “Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities.” 
The IAEA reports that Iran refuses to provide the Agency with design information for a planned reactor at Darkhovin. The IAEA highlights Iran’s continued refusal to implement the updated version of its safeguards agreement. It notes that Iran is the only “state with significant nuclear activities which has a comprehensive safeguards agreement in force but is not implementing the provisions…”
Iran has acknowledged working on a nuclear program for more than 20 years and pursued a policy of concealment until October 2003, even denying in December 2002 that it had a nuclear weapons program. Since then, Iran has failed to provide satisfactory information about and access to its program. On Aug. 21, 2009, Iran granted IAEA inspectors access to its almost- completed Arak nuclear reactor, as well as increased monitoring of the Natanz uranium enrichment site.
The reports have also found that Iran is continuously developing and operating new centrifuges and enriching uranium in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions. This is a major concern for the IAEA. Other findings conclude that Iran apparently is conducting secret studies to convert uranium dioxide into “green salt,” which can be used to make fuel for a nuclear reactor or fissile material for a bomb. Iran is also testing “high explosives” and redesigning the inner cone of the Shahab-3 missile re-entry head to accommodate a nuclear warhead, a subject of concern to the Agency.
To further complicate matters after the contested election, there is confusion about who actually has authority to commit Iran to negotiations. “If all that raises the question of who in the Iranian government would be worth negotiating with, those doubts were reinforced the other day by the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t remarks of Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh. After state television reported that Mr. Soltanieh declared Iran ready ‘to take part in any negotiations with the West based on mutual respect,’ the ambassador announced a few hours later that he had told state TV no such thing. The flip-flop may have been just confusion, or it may have been a symptom of a key official serving more than one master in Tehran. Either way, it underscores the challenge for Washington in engaging with a regime of questionable legitimacy, dubious lines of authority and an uncertain grip on power,” The Washington Post wrote in an Aug. 27 editorial.
Nuclear Weapon Breakout Calculations
As the Institute for Science and National Security has noted in previous reports, nuclear weapons “breakout capability” is a scenario that involves enriching LEU up to weapon-grade uranium. This could be accomplished within 3-6 months at either the Natanz facility or in a clandestine gas centrifuge facility. It provides a measure of Iran’s growing nuclear weapons capabilities. Whether Iran intends to pursue this approach is unknown. 
Timeline: IAEA Reports on Iran’s Nuclear Pursuits
August 28, 2009
- The IAEA reports that Iran has significantly increased its ability to produce nuclear fuel over the summer, while slowing the pace at which it is enriching the uranium that could fuel nuclear weapons. If Iran enriches its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium it would have nearly two warheads’ worth of bomb fuel. The IAEA also said that Iran still refuses to turn over important documents linked to suspicions that its military was involved in the nuclear program, or to allow the agency to interview key personnel suspected of roles in weapons development.” 
- The IAEA Report on Iran reports no substantive progress in resolving questions about possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear program. The report does appear to rebut Iran’s charges that the documentation forming the basis of the alleged studies is forged. The report states that “the information contained in that documentation appears to have been derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, appears to be generally consistent, and is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed that it needs to be addressed by Iran with a view to removing the doubts which naturally arise, in light of all of the outstanding issues, about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.” The IAEA also chastises member states for placing undue constraints on the IAEA’s use of the information and “making it more difficult for the agency to conduct detailed discussions with Iran.”
June 5, 2009
- In defiance of the decisions of the United Nations Security Council, Iran has continued its enrichment activities, including operation of its Fuel Enrichment Plant. Iran continues to make substantial progress on constructing and operating its centrifuges.
- Iran has produced 2,945 lbs. (1,339 kg) of low enriched uranium (UF6).
- Iran still refuses to grant access to the Iranian Nuclear Research Reactor. Iran is now the only nation with significant nuclear activities which has a comprehensive safeguards agreement yet is not implementing some of its most significant aspects.
- Contrary to the request of the IAEA and the requirements of the Security Council, Iran refuses to cooperate with the IAEA on crucial issues pertaining to its program, one of many issues those points to a military dimension to the program.
February 19, 2009
- Iran continues to deny the IAEA the ability to perform an inspection of the Iranian Nuclear Research Reactor, as requested by the Security Council. Furthermore, Iran has completed the construction of a dome over the reactor, making it impossible to monitor further construction inside the reactor using satellite imagery.
- Iran has produced 1,845 lbs. (839 kg) of low enriched uranium (UF6).
- In spite of the IAEA’s repeated requests to Iranian authorities, Iran continues to refuse access to relevant information, documentation, locations, and individuals which would enable the IAEA to determine whether the program is solely for peaceful purposes or if it has a military dimension.
November 19, 2008
- Iran doesn’t permit the IAEA to carry out an inspection of the Iranian Nuclear Research Reactor originally scheduled for Oct. 26, 2008, in violation of Iran’s Safeguard Agreement. 
- Iran has produced 1,386lbs. (630 kg) of low enriched uranium (UF6).
- A military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program is possible, as Iran still refuses to cooperate on multiple outstanding issues. 
September 15, 2008
- Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has continued its enrichment activities, including operation of the Fuel Enrichment Plant and installation work on four new centrifuges.
- Iran has produced 1,056 lbs. (480 kg) of low enriched uranium (UF6).
- Iran continues to deny access to relevant documentation and individuals concerning the nature of its nuclear program. 
May 26, 2008
- Iran is making significant progress on developing and operating its centrifuges.
- Iran continues to withhold cooperation on numerous aspects of its nuclear program. A military dimension to the program is therefore possible.
- Iran’s “green salt project,” – efforts to convert uranium dioxide into fuel for a nuclear reactor – as well as high explosives testing and studies to redesign the inner cone of the Shahab-3 missile re-entry head to accommodate a nuclear warhead remain matters of serious concern.
February 22, 2008
- Iran’s green salt project is a matter of serious concern and critical to an assessment of a possible military dimension to the nuclear program.
- Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities and has started the development of new-generation centrifuges.
November 15, 2007
- Iran’s past and current enrichment program and its green salt project suggest military applications for Iran’s nuclear program; these are major issues relevant to the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
August 27, 2007: IAEA-Iran Agreement
Due to numerous outstanding concerns about Iran’s nuclear program considered of major importance by the IAEA, the Agency and Iran sign an agreement outlining plans on how to resolve them. Once that happens, the IAEA will have no further concerns pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program. The agreement is summed up as follows:
- The IAEA and the Iranian government agree to prepare a “safeguards approach” paper for the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant. The paper will be compiled in accordance with Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. A draft of the paper was written and further discussed by the end of September 2007;
- Iran agrees to the IAEA’s request to visit the heavy water research reactor (IR40) site in Arak. The visit occurs July 30, 2007;
- Iran accepts the naming of five additional inspectors and agrees to issue one-year multiple-entry visas for 14 IAEA inspectors and staff;
- The issue of Iran’s plutonium experiments is satisfactorily resolved on Aug. 20, 2007;
- The agreement sets target dates for Iran to provide written answers on the still-outstanding issue of Iran’s centrifuges.
February 22, 2007,  May 23, 2007 and August 30, 2007
- Iran still has not suspended its enrichment activities and is uncooperative. Additionally, the amount of information the IAEA is receiving has decreased since early 2006. The peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program is not confirmed.
November 14, 2006
- The Agency is unable to confirm the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program due to a lack of cooperation.
August 31, 2006
April 28, 2006 and June 8, 2006
- The Agency is still unable to determine the full scale of Iran’s nuclear program due to Iran’s continuing lack of full cooperation.
February 27, 2006
- Iran is allegedly secretly studying the conversion of uranium dioxide into “green salt” which can be used to make fuel for a nuclear reactor or fissile material for a bomb. Iran is also supposedly conducting tests related to high explosives and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle to hold a nuclear warhead, all of which could have military nuclear dimensions.
November 18, 2005
- A definite conclusion with respect to uranium contamination found at various locations is not possible due to a lack of full cooperation by Iran.
- Iran is overdue in showing full transparency about outstanding issues related to its enrichment program.
September 2, 2005
- The results of an environmental sample analysis support Iran’s statement that uranium contamination found at various locations is of foreign origin. However, it is still not possible to establish a definitive conclusion about all of the contamination because there are two different types of contamination.
- The Agency has not yet verified the accuracy and completeness of Iran’s statements concerning its centrifuge program, due to lack of cooperation.
November 15, 2004
- Iran has made substantial efforts during the past two decades to master an independent nuclear fuel cycle.
- Many aspects of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle activities and experiments, particularly in the areas of uranium enrichment, uranium conversion and plutonium separation, were not declared to the Agency despite Iran’s obligations under the Safeguards Agreement. The sources of uranium contamination found at various locations are not determined.
- The extent of Iran’s efforts to import, manufacture and use centrifuges is still not determined.
September 1, 2004
- The sources of uranium contamination found at various locations, including on domestically manufactured components, are not determined.
- The extent to which Iran is trying to import, manufacture and use centrifuges is not fully determined.
June 1, 2004
- Iran failed to provide adequate information concerning the origin of uranium contamination found at various locations in Iran.
- The extent of Iran’s efforts to import, manufacture and use centrifuges is not fully determined due to Iran’s lack of cooperation.
February 24, 2004
- Uranium contamination found at the Kalaye Electric Company workshop and around Natanz are still major outstanding issues.
- Iran failed to clarify activities in relation to its centrifuges and laser isotope enrichment research.
November 10, 2003
- Iran’s nuclear program consists of an almost complete front-end of a nuclear cycle. This includes uranium mining and milling, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, heavy water production, a light water reactor, a heavy water research reactor and associated research and development facilities.
- Iran acknowledges that it has worked on developing a uranium centrifuge enrichment program for 18 years and a laser enrichment program for 12 years.
August 26, 2003
- Iran has acknowledged that it carried out uranium conversion experiments in the early 1990s which it should have reported, in accordance with its obligations under the Safeguard Agreement.
- Highly enriched uranium is found in environmental samples taken around Natanz, although Iran stated that it had not carried out any enrichment.
June 6, 2003
- Iran failed to meet its obligations under the Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material, and the subsequent processing and use of that material.
- Iran failed to declare the facilities where nuclear enrichment material was stored and processed. Although the quantities of the material aren’t large, Iran’s lack of cooperation is a matter of concern.
Footnotes for Press Release
 “Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Iran,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Nov. 12, 2009
 “Clinton Continues Iran National Emergency,” GlobalSecurity.org, March 4, 1998, 200http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iran/1998/98030404.htm
 “444 Days: America Reacts,” American Experience, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/sfeature/sf_hostage.html, accessed Nov. 12, 2009
 Jahn, George, “Sources: Iran nuke plant 7 years old,” AP, Nov. 12, 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jHz-Bz3Pa0Ivga_oNIvTbrBoIN7QD9BU3KKG1
 Jahn, George, “Sources: Iran nuke plant 7 years old,” AP, Nov. 12, 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jHz-Bz3Pa0Ivga_oNIvTbrBoIN7QD9BU3KKG1
 “Statements by President Obama, French President Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Brown on Iranian Nuclear Facility,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, Sept. 25, 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Statements-By-President-Obama-French-President-Sarkozy-And-British-Prime-Minister-Brown-On-Iranian-Nuclear-Facility/
 Johnson, Zachary K., “Iran going nuclear, background to a crisis,” Frontline World, May 2005, http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/iran403/background.html
 Tirone, Jonathan, “Iran Raises Uranium Output as Photos Show Need for Wider Checks,” Bloomberg News, Nov. 4, 2009, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aMtzNb9WS83I&pos=9
 Gerami, Nima; Acton, James M., “Why a Month Matters,” Foreign Policy, Oct. 19, 2009, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/19/why_a_month_matters
Footnotes for Summary: Intenrational Atomic Energy Agency Reports on Iran
 Report on Iran, Institute for Science and International Security, by David Albright, Paul Brannen and Jacqueline Shire, August 28, 2009, pg. 3
 “Communication dated 27 August 2007 from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Agency concerning the text of the ‘Understanding of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA on the Modalities of Resolution of the Outstanding Issues’,” International Atomic Energy Agency, Aug. 27, 2007, http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/2007/infcirc711.pdf
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