The IAEA’s Iran NPT Safeguards Report - November 2022

by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Andrea Stricker [1]

November 14, 2022

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  • Iran has consistently violated its obligations under its comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA), a key part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), under which it must cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and fully account for its past and present nuclear activities. The IAEA refers to this process as a country providing both a correct and complete nuclear declaration.

  • For four years, the IAEA has been investigating the presence of man-made uranium particles at three Iranian sites. Earlier, it sought information about nuclear material and activities at a fourth site. In March 2022, the IAEA found Iran in breach of its safeguards obligations for failing to declare its use of nuclear material at the fourth site, a former Amad Plan site called Lavisan-Shian.

  • The IAEA concluded in September 2022 it is “not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.” This means the IAEA cannot verify Iran’s compliance with its CSA and the NPT and is implying Iran is violating both agreements.

  • This analysis summarizes and assesses information in the IAEA’s latest NPT safeguards report on Iran, issued on November 10, 2022. It also provides extensive background information on the former Iranian nuclear weapons sites under IAEA investigation, in conjunction with the IAEA findings.


  • The Director General states he is “seriously concerned” that there has been no progress in clarifying and resolving the outstanding safeguards issues during this reporting period.

  • The IAEA is requesting “technically credible explanations” regarding the presence and origin of uranium particles detected at the three locations, as well as the “current location(s) of the nuclear material and/or of the contaminated equipment.” Thus, it is unlikely that the four locations publicly discussed by the IAEA are the only remaining sites in Iran with traces of undeclared uranium.

  • Although Iran has engaged with the IAEA during this reporting period, the IAEA reported that no progress was made. The day before the reports were released, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told Reuters, “They didn’t bring anything new.”

  • Iran agreed to hold a technical meeting with the IAEA “before the end of November” aimed at resolving the outstanding safeguards issues, but it provided no credible indication that it will truly cooperate. In anticipation, the IAEA reiterated to Iran that “at this meeting it expects to start receiving from Iran technically credible explanations on these issues, including access to locations and material, as well as the taking of samples as appropriate.”

  • The IAEA provides additional, significant details on two of the three undeclared locations where nuclear material was detected.


  • It is critical for the IAEA to continue its investigation of Iran’s violations of nuclear safeguards under the NPT. Due to Iran’s prolonged, ongoing lack of cooperation, the IAEA Board of Governors should pass a resolution condemning Iran’s non-cooperation. It is also overdue to refer the issue to the UN Security Council. However, a referral would not in any way halt the IAEA’s investigations of Iran’s undeclared materials and activities; in fact, it should encourage IAEA members to provide additional information and resources aimed at assisting the IAEA in pressing Iran to come into compliance with its safeguards obligations.

  • The United States and Europe should refuse any Iranian demands to end the ongoing IAEA investigation as a condition for a revival of the nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The West should instead pressure Iran to cooperate with the IAEA by strengthening sanctions, including enacting the so-called snapback of UN sanctions, allowed in case of Iranian non-compliance with the JCPOA.

Read the full analysis as PDF here.

1. Andrea Stricker is deputy director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program and an FDD research fellow.

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