The Hill op-ed: What to Do with the Crown Jewels of Iran’s Nuclear Program

by David Albright and Olli Heinonen**

May 16, 2019

At the end of an IAEA inspection process, proliferation-sensitive information and equipment found in Iran’s Nuclear Archive should be destroyed or removed from Iran in a verifiable manner.

Israel’s acquisition in early 2018 of a significant portion of Iran’s nuclear archive, which details an effort to build five nuclear weapons and prepare an underground nuclear test site in the early 2000s, has revealed an unpleasant truth: Iran has been in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the 2015 nuclear deal, and other non-proliferation commitments. This finding is supported by the recent U.S. State Department’s arms compliance report that “Iran’s retention of the archives … raise[s] serious questions regarding whether Iran intended to preserve the option to resume elements of a nuclear weapons program in the future.”

Instead of demanding a nuclear standard for Iran that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has applied to other countries, however, many are turning a blind eye to Tehran’s dangerous transgressions. This tendency could be worsened by Iran’s recent announcement that it intends to stop abiding by some of the nuclear limitations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Why would a country that claims its nuclear program is permanently peaceful maintain such information and equipment? Continuing to permit it to do so will further weaken the nonproliferation regime and increase the odds that other states will exploit similar negligence, concessions and loopholes.

Read the full-op ed on The Hill’s website here.

** Olli Heinonen is Former Deputy Director General of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards. He is a Senior Advisor on Science and Nonproliferation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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