Nuclear negotiations are exciting; heaven knows the media is buzzing about the resumption of talks in Geneva and the possibility of a signing this week. Which probably explains its relative lack of interest in the other track – that of the IAEA.
The recent IAEA report, for instance, aroused positive – albeit blasé – headlines emphasizing an enrichment slowdown and increased communication between Iran and the Agency.
Never mind that Iran continues to advance its nuclear program. Indeed, as pointed out by an ISIS analysis, “Iran has continued to produce near 20 percent and 3.5 low-enriched uranium (LEU) at the same rate as the last reporting period.” Iran actually accumulated 10 kilograms more of 20% enriched uranium than in the previous report.
Much less comforting than the headlines.
The media was also upbeat about the recent Tehran visit by IAEA head Yukiya Amano and the planned December meeting between Iran and the Agency, as per the agreement signed between them. But that, too, is only half the story: while the agreement stipulates that Iran must provide “information and managed access” to contested nuclear sites (such as Parchin), it apparently does not require Tehran to address suspicions it’s already conducted research into nuclear weapons components.
There’s more. Despite the positive spin about the IAEA report and its agreement with Iran, Amano said there had been “no radical change” in Iran’s nuclear program under President Hassan Rouhani. He emphasized further that “activities which are not allowed (under U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to suspend all enrichment) are continuing”.
All this is our way of reminding negotiators reconvening for nuclear talks that while they chat in Geneva, Tehran continues to place obstacles before the other track – the IAEA’s decade-long investigation into the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. This, too, must have bearing on confidence building.