Keeping Iran honest
Saturday, September 26, 2009
In March 2007, Iran suspended the implementation of the modified text of Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements General Part concerning the early provisions of design information. As such, Iran was reverting back to its legally-binding requirements of the original safeguards agreement, which did not require early declaration of nuclear-capable facilities prior to the introduction of nuclear material.
While this action is understandably vexing for the IAEA and those member states who are desirous of full transparency on the part of Iran, one cannot speak in absolute terms about Iran violating its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. So when Obama announced that “Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow”, he is technically and legally wrong.
There are many ways to interpret Iran’s decision of March 2007, especially in light of today’s revelations. It should be underscored that what the Qom facility Obama is referring to is not a nuclear weapons plant, but simply a nuclear enrichment plant similar to that found at the declared (and inspected) facility in Natanz.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
The Qom plant, if current descriptions are accurate, cannot manufacture the basic feed-stock (uranium hexaflouride, or UF6) used in the centrifuge-based enrichment process. It is simply another plant in which the UF6 can be enriched.
Why is this distinction important? Because the IAEA has underscored, again and again, that it has a full accounting of Iran’s nuclear material stockpile. There has been no diversion of nuclear material to the Qom plant (since it is under construction). The existence of the alleged enrichment plant at Qom in no way changes the nuclear material balance inside Iran today.
Simply put, Iran is no closer to producing a hypothetical nuclear weapon today than it was prior to Obama’s announcement concerning the Qom facility.
This article was posted: Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 5:37 am