Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct.12 / Trend, T.Konyayeva /
Iran's remaining in serious violation of its obligations before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and lack of full cooperation with it has left the Agency unable to confirm that all aspects of Iran's nuclear program are peaceful, Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to IAEA, believes.
"As the IAEA has consistently reported, Iran remains in serious violation of its obligations. Iran refuses to provide the information and access necessary to address the IAEA's questions, not only with respect to the possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program, but also with Iran's ongoing expansion of its uranium enrichment program," Davies told Trend in the exclusive interview.
Iranian nuclear program has caused concerns since 2003, when the IAEA became aware of its secret activities. In late 2003, Iran signed the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and voluntarily announced suspension of uranium enrichment. However, it later returned back to these activities.
Enriched uranium can be used to produce nuclear weapons. However, it is also necessary as fuel for nuclear power plants. Several countries, including the U.S., believe that Iran seeks to develop nuclear weapons, and demand to prevent the pace of developments.
In response to Tehran's refusal to stop uranium enrichment the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against it. But Iran asserts that as a participant of the NPT it has the full right to use nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes.
Davies believes that Iran's refusal to provide clear responses, or in some cases any responses, to the IAEA's questions about military nuclear research and undeclared nuclear facilities has left the Agency unable to confirm that all aspects of Iran's nuclear program are peaceful.
The Director General's latest report notes that "...the Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued beyond 2004."
The IAEA has been clear that Iran's 2003 agreement to modify Code 3.1 of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement means Iran is legally bound to provide early notification of new nuclear facilities.
"Iran is the only state with significant nuclear activities that has a comprehensive safeguards agreement in force but is not implementing the provisions of the revised Code 3.1.," he said.
According to Davies, Iran has not provided critical design information about the heavy water reactor it is building at Arak, or the new power reactor it plans to build at Darkhovin.
"With regard to the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant at Qom, Iran still refuses to provide the information needed to fully understand the purpose and chronology of the construction of this facility, such as the original design documentation or access to companies involved in the design and construction of the plant," Davies added.
The plant for heavy water production in Arak produces plutonium, which can be used for nuclear weapon production.
Already in early 2008 it was announced that Iran will soon start constructing a nuclear power plant Darkhovin with annual capacity of 300 megawatts.
Tehran informed the IAEA about existence of the second uranium enrichment plant (the first plant is located at Natanz) near the city of Qom (the Fordo plant) only in September 2009. IAEA Board of Governors approved on Nov. 27 a resolution condemning Iran for constructing its secret plant. The IAEA resolution confirmed that Iran has violated its obligations, starting construction of this facility and not informing the Agency about it in proper time.
"After nearly three decades of violations to its agreements with the IAEA, the obligation is on Iran to build the confidence of the international community that its nuclear program is peacefully intended," Davies said.
According to Davies, the United States and others have supported confidence-building measures, but Iran has not taken advantage of them.
"Last October, the United States supported a proposal by the IAEA to provide fuel for the continued operation of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), a facility used, among other things, for the production of medical isotopes," Davies said. "It would have addressed a humanitarian need of the Iranian people, and served as a confidence-building measure to create an opportunity for further dialogue. Iran has not accepted this offer."
In October 2009, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and "six international mediators on Iran" (Russia, the U.S., China, Britain, France and Germany) offered Tehran to exchange low-enriched uranium (3.5-percent) to high-enriched uranium (20-percent). According to this plan, Iran was proposed to export its LEU to Russia where it would be further enriched and then sent to France for processing it into fuel assemblies for the Tehran reactor. But Tehran said it was ready to buy more highly enriched uranium or exchange with its reserves, provided that the exchange will be held in the Iranian territory. World powers and the IAEA, with its headquarters in Vienna, declined the proposal of Iran.
According to the IAEA's initiatives, 1.2 tons of the input material for the foreign nuclear fuel to be supplied to Iran was supposed to come from the Natanz Plant, which holds 80 percent of all of Iran's reserves (1,500 kilograms). IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano issued a report in May noting that Iran has already amassed 2,427 kilograms of uranium enriched to 4.8 percent. However, the last report puts the figure at 2,800 kilograms.
Two successive IAEA Director Generals (ElBaradei and Amano) have long reported to the IAEA Board that the IAEA is not in a position to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran unless Iran implements the Additional Protocol.
"IAEA reports contain exhaustive detail showing Iran's continued failure to comply with its international obligations and its sustained lack of cooperation with the IAEA, including with respect to its Safeguards Agreement. Iran should cooperate fully and transparently with the IAEA. We believe that the comprehensive safeguards agreement with an additional protocol should become the universally recognized verification norm," he said.
Standard additional protocol to the NPT was developed in 1993-1997. This document is signed between the IAEA and individually by each country. It provides IAEA inspectors' easier access to those places as they may deem it necessary to see.
In addition, a county undertakes an obligation to provide more detailed documentation for the construction of new nuclear facilities even at the design stage. Conducting unannounced inspections is not ruled out if the IAEA has any doubts.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered to suspend the additional protocol in February 2006.
Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement , which Iran signed in 1973, is a document of the application of guarantee to all nuclear material in all peaceful nuclear activities in any country.
Davies believes that IAEA inspectors should be free to report on what they see during the course of their duties.
"It is worrisome that Iran has taken this step, which is just the latest example of a long-standing Iranian practice of intimidating inspectors," he said. "Reducing cooperation with the IAEA or trying to prevent the IAEA from reporting its findings will only deepen the world's concerns with respect to its nuclear program," he added.
In June, Iran refused to two IAEA inspectors to enter the country. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that "the inspectors, who were declared as personae non grata" provided false information "about Iran's nuclear program and "prematurely disclosed official information. "In response, the IAEA issued a statement in which it reported full confidence in the professionalism of these inspectors.
According to Davies, the Director General has confirmed that Iran's actions with regard to rejecting experienced inspectors hampers the inspection process and detracts from the Agency's ability to implement safeguards in Iran.
"This is one more example where Iran is inviting further censure by dodging its obligations to the international community," he said.