Quick Reaction to IAEA Safeguards Report on Iran
August 28, 2013
ISIS will release a more detailed report later today. However, some quick reactions are worth discussing.
The just-released IAEA report on Iran is again a mixed bag of developments. The positive aspects include:
• The stock of near 20 percent low enriched uranium (LEU) hexafluoride has increased by only a small amount to 185.8 kilograms. This amount is below the amount assumed sufficient to produce, if further enriched, enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon.
• Iran has made only 10 fuel assemblies for the Arak heavy water reactor so far, despite intending to have made 55 assemblies by now. Not surprisingly, Iran announced that it will delay the commissioning of the reactor. This is a positive development since the reactor would produce plutonium that, if separated, could be used in nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the loading of this reactor could trigger an Israeli strike; Israel has bombed two reactors, one in Iraq in 1981 and the other in Syria in 2007. Negotiations should seek to indefinitely delay the start of the Arak reactor or to convert it to use light water and LEU fuel.
• Iran has not started enriching in any newly installed centrifuges for many months. It could be producing much more enriched uranium in those newly installed centrifuges. Any negotiations should limit Iran’s enrichment activity to those currently enriching and prohibit enrichment in additional installed centrifuges.
The negative developments include:
• Iran has installed over 1,000 IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP).
• Iran has installed another 1,861 IR-1 centrifuges at the FEP, bringing the total to 15,416 IR-1 centrifuges installed at the FEP. Iran is on track to achieve a “critical capability” as of mid-2014, or perhaps sooner. Critical capability refers to Iran’s ability to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon before inspectors could detect the breakout.
• Iran continues to refuse to cooperate with the IAEA on the possible military dimensions of its past and possibly on-going nuclear programs, including refusing to permit an IAEA visit to Parchin. Iran should allow the IAEA access to Parchin immediately, but more importantly, should address the IAEA’s concerns about its suspected past and possibly ongoing work on nuclear weaponization.
For further analysis, please contact David Albright at 703-472-0799 or Christina Walrond at 724-822-3005 for technical questions, or Andrea Stricker at 703-408-2603 for policy related questions.