The International Atomic Energy Agency today shut its file on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, sparking outrage among skeptics of the nuclear deal but praise from the Obama administration.
“The agency assesses 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,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said of the “final assessment” of Iran’s nuclear program.
“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,” Amano continued. “The agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009. Nor has the agency found any credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”
Amano said Iran next has to complete agreed-upon preparatory steps to start implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“As is the case with all my reports, the assessment is factual, technically sound and balanced,” he said. “The methodology and information on which my assessments are based have been set out.”
In Russia today, Secretary of State John Kerry quickly issued a statement welcoming the IAEA’s passage of a resolution to accept the report’s findings.
Amano’s report, Kerry said, “is consistent with what the United States had long assessed concerning Iran’s past nuclear program as well as the IAEA’s own assessment as reflected in the Director General’s November 2011 report – specifically, that Iran pursued a coordinated program of nuclear weapons-related activities until 2003 and engaged in certain activities relevant to nuclear weaponization for at least several years beyond that period.”
“The focus now appropriately moves toward full implementation of the JCPOA and its enhanced verification and transparency regime,” he added.
Kerry vowed that “closing the PMD agenda item will in no way preclude the IAEA from investigating if there is reason to believe Iran is pursuing any covert nuclear activities in the future, as it had in the past.”
“In fact, the JCPOA – by providing for implementation of the Additional Protocol as well as other enhanced transparency measures – puts the IAEA in a far better position to pursue any future concerns that may arise,” he said.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) declared “Iran’s lies and obstruction have paid off.”
“This capitulation allows the ayatollah to keep vital nuclear research, materials and technology away from international inspectors while Iran moves closer to tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief,” Royce said.
“As a result, the president’s deeply flawed agreement is now even weaker. Having beaten the rules, Iran will be emboldened to further dictate which terms will be implemented, and which will not. Until the Obama administration steps up and starts holding Iran accountable for its dangerous acts, the American people will be increasingly at risk.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which lobbied hard against the Iran deal, used the word “deplores” to describe their reaction to the IAEA vote.
“The IAEA is closing this file even after discovering further suspicious evidence and experiencing additional Iranian obstinacy. The IAEA could have recommended delaying Implementation Day until Iran demonstrated substantial compliance with its obligation to explain its past illicit nuclear activities,” AIPAC noted. “…Iran has ignored some IAEA official inquiries, and has provided incomplete or deceptive responses to many others. Moreover, the IAEA has gained only limited access to suspect locations and personnel.”
Furthermore, AIPAC stressed, there’s now no way to determine how far away Iran is from developing a nuclear weapon “so long as the full state of its weaponization efforts remains unknown.”
“The Dec. 2 IAEA report confirmed that Iran has lied about its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, and Iran continues its mendacity to this day. At the same time, Iran in recent weeks conducted a second illicit missile test to develop a capability to deliver a nuclear weapon, in clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The continued pattern of violations and obstruction does not bode well for its adherence to the nuclear agreement.”
Iran’s representative to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, told the agency’s board of governors that the Islamic Republic disagreed with some parts of the assessment but liked this sentence in particular: “The Agency has found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to fully implement its voluntary undertakings in good faith contingent upon the same good faith implementation of all undertakings, including those involving the comprehensive removal of sanctions and restrictive measures under the JCPOA” Najafi said. “We have already started preparatory works that can be completed within 2 to 3 weeks in order to reach the Implementation Day as soon as possible.”