Nov 30, 2007

Iran’s Nuclear Program: UN and IAEA Reporting and Developments

Influence Specialists detailed to the War With Iran account will find a treasure trove of exploitable nuggets in a new working draft by Tony Cordesman (CSIS) titled: Iran’s Nuclear Program: UN and IAEA Reporting and Developments (55-page pdf).

Be forewarned however, that some of the items in the report (Green Salt Project, the Purloined Laptop, et al.) are recycled from earlier use in the anti-Iran IO.

This report focuses on the evidence provided by the IAEA. The sections dealing with IAEA reporting – particularly the latest reports as of November 2007 -- quote the key technical judgments and findings of IAEA inspectors and not just the summary comments. These detailed findings often do a far better job of revealing the level of Iranian non-compliance, delay, and obfuscation than the summary comments.

The evidence presented provides strong indications that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Specifically, Iran is known to have made significant efforts in all of the following areas, most of which have been tracked by the IAEA for some time:

■ Beryllium (neutron reflector)

■ Polonium (neutron initiator)

■ Plutonium separation

■ Uranium enrichment

■ Machining of Uranium hemispheres

■ Re-entry vehicle design

■ Acquisition of North Korean (Chinese) weapons design? AQ Khan network transfers

■ High explosive lenses

The attached briefing shows that the IAEA has traced a pattern of Iranian efforts that fit a coherent and consistent nuclear weapons program that is difficult to explain in any other way, but no certainties are involved. Moreover, major uncertainties exist in virtually every aspect of any effort to characterize what kind of program Iran may be intending to create, when it will have a significant stock of weapons, and how it intends to deploy and exploit such a capability.

At the same time, there is wide range of possible Iranian activities that the IAEA may never be able to fully address, even if Iran does adopt the full range of NPT protocols:

■ Clandestine elements of nuclear weapons research.

■ Passive (non-fissile) testing of nuclear weapons designs and warheads/bombs/reentry vehicles.

■ Clandestine R&D activity in centrifuges, reactors, plutonium separation, LIS.

■ Existence and nature of undisclosed facilities.

■ “Breakout” plans for nuclear power reactors and fuel cycle.

■ True intention of disclosed and inspected activities.

■ Level of North Korean (Chinese) weapons and warhead designs.

■ Existence and validity of national intelligence data.

■ MEK truths vs. half-truths vs. lies.


Anonymous said...

There's certainly no shortage of folks looking for Iran's smoking gun, and they do so with such blatant disregard for objective analysis. It should be no surprise to any anaylyst that Iran wants to be a member of the Nuclear Club, since its been trying to do just that since before 1960. Further, it did so with the aid of the U.S. up until the Iranian Revolution in 1978. However, Iran is not going to risk alienating its allies, Russia and China, by continuing a course that's doomed to failure (i.e., ignoring the IAEA and risking severe sanctions and/or military attack). The fact that Iran wants nuclear weapons is old news. How it will get them is what's being missed. It's waited 50 years so far. It has the patience to wait another 10 as China's burgeoning energy needs give Iran a better and better negotiating position. It's only a matter of time before China becomes the world's next Superpower. Then the game changes.

I covered this in a relatively short analysis "China, Iran, and the Nuclear Imperative" that's available at

Jeff Carr (IntelFusion blog)

David Wilson said...

sorta leaves Mohamed El Baradei and José Bustani out in the cold ... and yet their approaches seemed hopeful to me, wishful thinking I suppose.

Meatball One said...

Yes, listening to El Baradei there seemed good reason to be rather positive. With rogue interpreters like Tony, well who needs the interpreted.

Meatball One said...

...and now the NIE report ;)