In the by-now-legendary, you-can’t-disprove-a-negative phraseology of the International Atomic Energy Agency when it deals with an Official Enemy of one of the Principals of World Order (see Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2006/27), April 28, 2006, specifically par. 33):
[T]he Agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.
Or to phrase this exact same point a little differently: The Agency is unable “to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities” (par. 35). Nor can the Agency “make a judgment about, or reach of conclusion on, future compliance or intentions” (par. 36).
Verily, this must be what The Guardian's editors meant by Saturday’s headline about the "Scathing nuclear report as US brands Iran enemy No 1" (April 29). A "defiant" Iran failed to prove that it isn't hiding any nuclear material or engaged in any nuclear activities some place that the Agency hasn't discovered.
Just imagine the permutations that are possible along this line. I mean, what is the real difference between the Agency's discovering actual nuclear material and activities within Iran, on the one hand, and the Agency's declaration that it was unable to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, on the other? If the Agency's inspectors cannot confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material or activities within Iran, then what can Iran possibly do to resolve the Agency's lack of confirmation?
Grow a pair of wings and fly away to another planet?
I have another solution. From hereon, all questions related to the proclaimed “gaps” in the Agency's knowledge about the Iranian nuclear program, as well as all questions about its “remaining outstanding issues,” ought to be addressed to Vienna instead of Tehran. Or, better yet, to Washington.
The peace and security of the world very well may be at risk after all. But this is only because the highly politicized and anything-but impartial International Atomic Energy Agency refuses to accept the absence of evidence of undeclared nuclear material and activities within Iran for the evidence of absence of the same.
Update (May 30): For the complete text of a critical nine-paragraph document issued by the Non-Aligned Movement in support of Iran's rights under the NPT, and therefore a counter-weight to the NPT-violating demands of the Americans, see:
Statement on the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Issue (NAM/MM/COB/9), Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, Putrajaya, May 30, 2006
FYA ("For your archives"): Lifted directly from Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2006/27), here are the concluding five paragraphs of the report.
B. Current overall assessment14
33. All the nuclear material declared by Iran to the Agency is accounted for. Apart from the small quantities previously reported to the Board, the Agency has found no other undeclared nuclear material in Iran. However, gaps remain in the Agency’s knowledge with respect to the scope and content of Iran’s centrifuge programme. Because of this, and other gaps in the Agency’s knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency is unable to make progress
in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.
34. After more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern. Any progress in that regard requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran — transparency that goes beyond the measures prescribed in the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol — if the Agency is to be able to understand fully the twenty years of undeclared nuclear activities by Iran. Iran continues to facilitate the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement and had, until February 2006, acted on a voluntary basis as if the Additional Protocol were in force. Until February 2006, Iran had also agreed to some transparency measures requested by the Agency, including access to certain military sites. Additional transparency measures, including access to documentation, dual use equipment and relevant individuals, are, however, still needed for the Agency to be able to verify the scope and nature
of Iran’s enrichment programme, the purpose and use of the dual use equipment and materials purchased by the PHRC, and the alleged studies which could have a military nuclear dimension.
35. Regrettably, these transparency measures are not yet forthcoming. With Iran’s decision to cease implementing the provisions of the Additional Protocol, and to confine Agency verification to the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement, the Agency’s ability to make progress in clarifying these issues, and to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, will be further limited, and Agency access to activities not involving nuclear material (such as research into laser isotope separation and the production of sensitive components of the nuclear fuel cycle) will be restricted.15
36. While the results of Agency safeguards activities may influence the nature and scope of the confidence building measures that the Board requests Iran to take, it is important to note that safeguards obligations and confidence building measures are different, distinct and not interchangeable. The implementation of confidence building measures is no substitute for the full
implementation at all times of safeguards obligations. In this context, it is also important to note that the Agency’s safeguards judgements and conclusions in the case of Iran, as in all other cases, are based on verifiable information available to the Agency, and are therefore, of necessity, limited to past and present nuclear activities. The Agency cannot make a judgement about, or reach a conclusion on, future compliance or intentions.
37. The Agency will pursue its investigation of all remaining outstanding issues relevant to Iran’s nuclear activities, and the Director General will continue to report as appropriate.
14. A detailed overall assessment of Iran’s nuclear programme and the Agency’s efforts to verify Iran’s declarations with respect to that programme was most recently provided to the Board of Governors by the Director General in February 2006. See GOV/2006/15, paras 46–54.
15. In this context, it is important to recall that, in September 2005, the Director General informed the Board of Governors that certain aspects of Iran’s declarations would be followed up as a routine safeguards implementation matter (particularly in connection with conversion activities, laser enrichment, fuel fabrication and the heavy water research reactor programme) (GOV/2005/67, para. 43). Implicit in this statement was the understanding that the Agency would be able to follow up on these matters through the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol. With the suspension of Iran’s voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, the Agency’s ability to do so will be restricted.