refuses Iran cooperation
pact By Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON - Director General of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya
Amano has signaled that there will be no agreement
with Iran in meetings in Vienna on Monday and
Tuesday on the terms for Iranian cooperation in
clarifying the issue of alleged nuclear weapons
Amano indicated in an interview with
The Daily Beast on Friday that he intended to hold
up an agreement on Iranian cooperation in
responding to allegations of military involvement
in its nuclear program until the IAEA was allowed
to visit to Parchin, the military complex about 30
kilometers southeast of Tehran.
journalist Michael Adler the "standoff" over
access to Parchin "has become like a symbol" and
vowed to "pursue this objective until there's a
Adler cited an "informed
source" as saying that the IAEA rejected
any linkage between a
visit to Parchin and the rest of the plan for
cooperation being negotiated, and insists that a
visit to Parchin must come first before any
But the actual draft
negotiating text of the agreement on
"Clarification of Unresolved Issues" with Iran's
proposed changes from the original IAEA proposal,
which has been posted on the website of the
Washington-based Arms Control Association, shows
that the major conflict over their cooperation was
whether the process had a definite endpoint, not
access to Parchin.
representative to the IAEA, ambassador Ali Asghar
Soltanieh, has said that Iran was willing to grant
access to Parchin, but only under an agreed plan
for Iranian cooperation with the IAEA.
Amano and Western officials have justified
the insistence on immediate access to the Parchin
site to investigate an alleged explosive
containment vessel for testing related to a
nuclear weapon by suggesting that satellite
photographs showed Iran may be trying to "clean
up" the site.
Amano hinted at that
accusation in the interview with Adler without
making it explicitly. "We have information and
there are some moves - there's something moving
out there," he said. "Going there soon is better."
But it is well known that no amount of
washing would eliminate traces of radioactivity,
which would be easily detected by any IAEA
On March 8, in response to a
presentation by Soltanieh to the IAEA Board of
Governors detailing the negotiations, Amano
confirmed, in effect, that agency was insisting on
being able to extend the process by coming up with
more questions, regardless of Iran's responses to
the IAEA's questions on the agreed list of topics.
He complained that Iran had sought to force the
agency to "present a definitive list of questions"
and to deny the agency "the right to revisit
Amano's demands for immediate
access to Parchin and for a process without any
clear endpoint appear to be aimed at allowing the
United States and its allies to continue accusing
Iran of refusing cooperation with the IAEA during
negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group
scheduled to resume in Baghdad May 23. The P5+1,
also known as the "Iran Six", consists fo the five
permanent members of the United Nations Security
Council - the US, the United Kingdom, China,
France and Russia - plus Germany.
was elected to replace the more independent
Mohamed ElBaradei in 2009 with US assistance and
pledged to align the agency with US policy on Iran
as well as other issues, as revealed by a
WikiLeaks cables dated July and October 2009.
The draft text as of February 21 shows
Iran seeking a final resolution of the issues
within a matter of weeks but the IAEA insisting on
an open-ended process with no promise of such an
negotiating draft explains why Iran was holding on
to Parchin access as a bargaining chip to get an
agreement which would give Iran some tangible
political benefit in return for information
responding to a series of IAEA allegations.
The still unfinished draft represented the
original draft from the IAEA, as modified by Iran
during the last round of talks, according to
Soltanieh in an interview with Inter Press Service
(IPS) on March 15.
The negotiating draft
shows that Iran and the IAEA had proposed and Iran
agreed that the very first issues on which Iran
would respond were "Parchin" and the "foreign
expert". Those were references to the allegation
published in the November 2011 IAEA report of a
bomb test chamber there, as well as the allegation
that a Ukrainian scientist had assisted in the
building of the chamber.
A second topic
included "detonator development", "high explosive
initiation" and "hydrodynamic experiments". All
three of those subtopics have been discussed as
connected to the alleged test chamber at Parchin,
and the draft shows that Iran proposed all five
subtopics be considered together as a single topic
The issue of whether or not
the plan would provide for a clear-cut closure if
Iran provided satisfactory answers comes up
repeatedly in the draft. In the third paragraph,
the IAEA draft refers to "a number of actions that
are to be undertaken before the June 2012 meeting
of the IAEA Board of Governors, if possible".
But the draft appears to anticipate a
process without any specific terminal point.
"Follow up actions that are required of Iran," it
says, "to facilitate the Agency's conclusions
regarding the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear
programme will be identified as this process
The draft text shows that Iran
amended that paragraph so that the process would
be completed by the June 2012 IAEA board meeting.
The entire sentence providing for identification
of further actions required of Iran during the
process is struck out in the text.
agrees in the draft agreement to "facilitate a
conclusive technical assessment of all issues of
concern to the agency." But Iran inserted the
sentence, "There exist no issues other than those
reflected in the said annex."
insistence on a commitment that the agency would
not introduce additional issues parallels Iran's
approach to a similar agreement with the IAEA in
August 2007. That agreement was aimed at clearing
up a six issues on which the IAEA had expressed
suspicions that Iran had secretly done work on a
In that case, the IAEA
agreed that there would be no further issues
introduced. But new issues were subsequently
raised by the agency.
A crucial element of
the plan presented by the IAEA is a provision
under which the agency "may adjust the order in
which issues and topics are discussed, and return
to those that have been discussed earlier, given
that the issues and topics are interrelated". In
other words, there would be no promise of closure
on an issue, regardless of what information Iran
provides on the topic or topics.
draft envisions a process that would begin with an
Iranian "initial declaration", after which the
IAEA would "provide initial questions and a
detailed explain of its concerns" with regard to
each successive topic and "where appropriate,
documents related to the agency's concerns".
But the draft shows an Iranian
strikethrough on the word "initial", rejecting the
IAEA's right to come up with more questions even
after the initial questions were answered.
Iran and the IAEA had conflicting
approaches to how the process would work. The IAEA
draft provided that, after Iran had responded to
questions and requests, and the IAEA had analysed
the responses, "the agency will discuss with Iran
any further actions to be taken."
another demand for flexibility to continue the
inquiry on a particular topic regardless of
whether Iran had answered all questions initially
posed by the agency, the IAEA draft provides that
the agency "may adjust the order in which issues
and topics are discussed and return to those that
have been discussed earlier, given that issues and
topics are interrelated".
Iran deleted the
language allowing the return to issues that had
been discussed earlier.
proposals for change indicate Tehran believes that
the IAEA draft is intended to keep Iran under
suspicion for an indefinite period as part of a
larger negotiating strategy by the United States
and its allies in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran.
Gareth Porter is an
investigative historian and journalist
specializing in US national security policy. The
paperback edition of his book, Perils of
Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War
in Vietnam, was published in 2006.