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Analysis of Yukiya Amano's New Report on Iran's Nuclear Activities

By Hassan Beheshtipour (source: Iran Review)

The new Iran Safeguards Report released by Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano is, in fact, repetition of his past periodical reports which have been presented to Board of Governors of the IAEA every three months. This time, however, Mr. Amano has pointed to four major technical achievements in Iran's nuclear energy program which are telltale signs of the Islamic Republic’s progress toward self-sufficiency in the field of enriching uranium for peaceful purposes.

1. Iran has continued to install more IR-2m (or the second generation of) centrifuges at its nuclear facility in Natanz. This issue is important because the second generation of centrifuges is almost three times more potent than the first generation in terms of enriching uranium. Iran started installing the second generation of centrifuges at Natanz facility about six months ago under the supervision of the IAEA experts and painstakingly within framework of relevant international regulations, including Iran Safeguards Agreement.

A previous report by Amano had noted that Iran has installed 180 of such centrifuges at Natanz facility. According to his new report, the number of such machines at Natanz facility has increased to 689. That is, Iran has increased its capacity to enrich uranium both in terms of quality and quantity over a short period of time.

Amano’s report has also clearly stated that “as of May 15, 2013, 13,555 IR-1 centrifuges” have been installed at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) in Natanz, which is up by 886 machines since the director general’s previous report.

It seems that this measure has been taken by Iran for two purposes. Firstly, the Islamic Republic aims to prove to the Western side that its policy to impose sanctions on Iran has had no effect in terms of stopping scientific advances in the field of nuclear energy in the country. Secondly, by increasing its capacity for enriching uranium, Iran is actually boosting its political bargaining power in any future negotiations.

2. According to Mr. Amano’s report, Iran continues to convert the uranium, which it had already enriched to 20 percent level, back to uranium oxide. Since converting uranium gas into uranium oxide powder for the fabrication of fuel plates will foil propaganda hype launched by the Western media around Iran's nuclear energy program, this step has been taken as a positive measure by Iran in order to build confidence.

Of course, since conversion of the uranium enriched up to 20 percent into uranium oxide for the purpose of fabricating nuclear fuel plates will make it practically impossible to use uranium oxide to build a nuclear bomb, the Western media have been trying to make the world believe that this step is only a temporary safety measure as the process can be easily reversed. However, they ignore the fact that Iran is currently lacking the necessary technology to reconvert uranium oxide, which it has used to make fuel plates, back to its original state. Therefore, such propaganda hype is merely aimed at creating doubts in the world public opinion about peaceful purposes of Iran's nuclear activities.

3. Mr. Amano has said in his 14-page report, which was released on May 22, 2013, that activities at Arak nuclear facility have also progressed. He has noted that Iran's IR-40 Reactor in Arak “is a 40 MW heavy water moderated research reactor designed to contain 150 natural uranium fuel assemblies.” He added, “During the DIV [design information verification], Iran confirmed the following commissioning schedule for the IR-40 Reactor: Phase 1 - pre-commissioning (using dummy fuel assemblies and light water) in the fourth quarter of 2013; Phase 2 - commissioning (using real fuel assemblies and heavy water) in the first quarter of 2014; expected to become operational during the third quarter of 2014.”

4. The fourth major breakthrough in Iran's nuclear activities, as per Amano’s report, is the increased capacity for storing uranium enriched up to 5 percent, which has been mentioned in the IAEA's report. In the aforesaid report, Amano has noted, “Since Iran began enriching uranium at its declared facilities, it has produced at those facilities:

  • 8960 kg (+689 kg since the Director General’s previous report) of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235, of which 6357 kg (+383 kg since the Director General’s previous report) remain in the form of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-23512 and the rest has been further processed (as detailed in paras. 18, 24, 25 and 39 below); and
  • 324 kg (+44 kg since the Director General’s previous report) of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235, of which 182 kg (+15 kg since the Director General’s previous report) remain in the form of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-23514 and the rest has been further processed (as detailed in para. 48 below).”

Reason behind futility of Iran-IAEA negotiations

The IAEA director general has pointed to ten rounds of futile talks between Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency, but he fails to cover all the realities which led to the failure of negotiations and has sometimes reflected those realities in a flawed and incomplete way. This is true because without pointing to topics discussed and agreements reached between Iran and the IAEA delegates, and even without any mention of Iran's active cooperation with the Agency, the director general has merely noted that Iran has not provided the IAEA with access to Parchin site. He has also noted that the two sides have reached no agreement on a new working plan or modality for further cooperation.

It should be noted that before the first round of talks started, both sides laid emphasis and agreed on the general principles governing negotiations, including respect for Iran's national security considerations, respect for the modality, study and conclusion of all the existing cases one by one, producing proof and evidence on “alleged studies,” recognizing the authority of the negotiating delegation, the schedule of talks, as well as the best way for discussing issues at hand. In spite of that agreement, the IAEA has been neither willing to make any evidence on the alleged studies available to Iran, nor has it been ready to accept that after having visited Parchin site once, the case of this military, non-nuclear site should have been closed for good and ever.

Yukiya Amano in Tehran (May 2012)

It is the minimum responsibility for the director general of an international organization such as International Atomic Energy Agency to appear professional and impartial when preparing his reports and remain within the limits of the Statute of the IAEA when presenting his reports to Board of Governors of the IAEA. However, that part of Amano’s report which is about accusations leveled against Iran on the basis of the alleged studies contains clear traces of pressures which have been exerted on Amano by the United States and its allies.

*A researcher, documentary producer, and expert on nuclear issues, Hassan Beheshtipour was born on June 22, 1961 in Tehran. He received his BA in Trade Economics from Tehran University. His research topics span from US and Russian foreign policy to the Ukrainian Orange Revolution.

... Payvand News - 05/27/13 ... --

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