People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 51

December 18, 2011

Flawed IAEA Report on Iran


Yohannan Chemarapally


THE events related to the Arab Spring gave the government in Teheran some respite as the US and its allies focussed their energies in securing their interests in the region. Now after effecting a regime change in Libya, the focus has shifted to Syria and Iran. These two countries are among the few remaining countries in the region that have dared to challenge the hegemony of the West. They are also close political allies. Iran’s nuclear programme continues to provide the pretext for the destabilisation programme that the West is now conducting with renewed vigour. The Vienna based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is now proved to be a compliant tool in Washington’s gameplan to corner the Islamic Republic in the international arena and impose even more punitive sanctions. In the case of Libya, the United Nations Security Council had provided the cover for military intervention.




On November 17, the IAEA passed a resolution expressing “deep and increasing concern” over Iran’s nuclear activities. A total of 32 countries, among them India, out of the 35 member IAEA Board voted for the resolution. Indonesia abstained while Cuba and Ecuador voted against the resolution. India had chosen to abstain on a UN resolution which condemned the assassination attempt on the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US. Though Iran was not specifically blamed for the attempt, the resolution had demanded that Iran cooperate with the investigations. Very few people, even in the United States, have given credence to the so called assassination plot; yet the UN General Assembly chose to vote on the issue which was passed with 106 in favour, nine against and 40 abstentions. The Israeli ambassador to the UN was quick to claim that the vote, coupled with that in the IAEA, showed that the international community viewed Iran as “a terror state.”


The IAEA resolution came after the agency’s critical report in early November on Iran’s nuclear programme. The report which was selectively leaked to the western media, before it was officially released, stated that Iran had engaged in activities related to the development of nuclear weapons before 2003 and that “these activities may still be ongoing.”


The toughly worded IAEA resolution, which followed, stopped short of reporting Iran to the UN Security Council or imposing a deadline on Teheran to comply with the IAEA’s demand for ending its nuclear programme. This was done to bring Russia and China on board. These two veto-wielding countries have so far been against any additional sanctions being imposed on Iran. Russia’s representative to the IAEA, Grigory Berdinnikov, went on record stating that the leak of the report alleging that Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons “plays into the hands” of those who object to a diplomatic solution to solve the impasse. Berdinnikov was also critical of the IAEA report itself which he said was “disappointing that in the context of the absence of convincing evidence there have begun assumptions and suspicions and juggling with information in order to produce an impression of some military component present in Iran’s nuclear programme.”


Iran has been insisting that its nuclear programme is completely peaceful in nature and that its uranium enrichment programme is only meant for producing fuel for its power plants. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, was defiant while reacting to the new IAEA resolution. “The only immediate effect is a further strengthening of the determination of the Iranian nation to continue its nuclear activities for peaceful purposes without any compromise,” he said. He went on to add that the report was “unprofessional, unbalanced, illegal and politicised” that has “deeply ruined the reputation of the Agency as a technically competent authority.” Soltanieh emphasised that Iran would not halt its uranium enrichment programme “even for a second.” Ali Larijani, the influential speaker of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) and a former national security chief, said that the tone of the IAEA report reflected “hostility and (was) a copy of orders” issued by the US and Israel and was also “meaningless and hasty.”




The Russian foreign ministry too described the IAEA report as being “highly politicised.” The IAEA relies a lot on intelligence provided by western intelligence agencies and Israel for its reports on Iran.


The IAEA report barely talked about the ongoing research in Iranian nuclear research facilities and, instead, chose to revert to allegations about that had surfaced in the early part of the last decade. The latest IAEA report stresses on the development of “explosive bridge water detonators (EBW’s) which are also used in nuclear weapons. IAEA had admitted in 2008 that it was informed by Iran in 2008 that it was developing the detonators for use in conventional and civilian applications. The IAEA has admitted that there could be non-nuclear uses for these kinds of specialised detonators. The IAEA report also focuses on computer and design modelling research undertaken by Iranian scientists. This kind of work is being pursued by Iran, according to many specialists, to strengthen Iran’s conventional warhead missile programmes. Iran has in recent years made great strides in missile technology.


Daniel Joyner, an American academic who specialises on nuclear non-proliferation issues, was of the view that the IAEA “simply has no mandate to produce such a report on activities being carried on within an IAEA member state concerning items and technologies that may be related to the development of a nuclear explosive device, but that are not directly related to fissionable materials or associated facilities.” A respected US based organisation, the Arms Control Association (ACA) said that the only conclusion from the latest IAEA report is that Iran “is working to shorten the timeframe to build the bomb once and if it makes the decision. But it remains apparent that a nuclear armed Iran is still not imminent nor is it inevitable.”


The IAEA report did concede that all of the low enriched uranium produced inside Iran is accounted for. The Christian Science Monitor, an American daily, reported that the latest IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear programme may not be the “game changer” it was billed to be, as “some nuclear experts raise doubts about the quality of evidence --- and point to lack of proof of current nuclear weapons work.” The IAEA in its report had also talked about the role of a former Soviet atomic scientist in helping Iran construct a detonation system that could be used in a nuclear weapon. Gareth Porter, an investigative journalist, revealed in an article that the scientist, Vyacheslav Danilenko, was not even a nuclear weapons scientist “but a top specialist in the world in the production of nano-diamonds by explosives.” The story of the “renegade Soviet scientist” apparently originated from Israeli security services.       




Iran is particularly angry with the new head of IAEA, Yukiya Amano. He is viewed in Teheran as a man close to the American establishment. Unlike his predecessor, Mohammed El Baradei, who had angered Washington by taking an unbiased and principled stand on Iran’s nuclear programme, Amano, according to many experts on disarmament studies, seems to be bending over backwards to please the Obama administration. This is not surprising. Wikileaks cables reveal Amano assuring the Americans of his undying fealty, telling American diplomats that he was “solidly in the US court on every key strategic issue, from high level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme.”


Iranian lawmakers have described the latest IAEA reports as “US authored and read by Amono.” Soltanieh, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, asserted that the latest report is based on forged documents. Robert Kelley, a retired IAEA director who spent 30 years with the US Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons programme, told the noted investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, that he could find very little information in the new IAEA report. Kelley observed that hundreds of pages of materiel in the report came from a single source --- a laptop computer supplied by a western intelligence agency. This information was “old news,” Kelley said, but the new IAEA director still chose to accept it as evidence.


On November 16, the Iranian mission to the IAEA had released a copy of the letter which it had sent to the IAEA head. The letter said that Amano’s “leaking” of names of Iranian scientists involved in the country’s nuclear programme have made them “targets of assassination” by terrorist groups, aided and abetted by US and Israeli secret services. In the last two years, Iranian scientists working in the country’s nuclear sector have been selectively targeted for assassinations and kidnappings. 


In the run-up to the IAEA report’s release, top leaders and officials in the US and Israel started beating the drums of war. Frontrunners in the Republican primaries for next year’s presidential elections have in one voice suggested the immediate bombing of Iranian nuclear installations. Meanwhile the US Congress is all set to approve a bill --- “The Iran Threat Reduction Act.” If it becomes a law, it will prohibit American officials from having any contact with Iran. This will be the first time in American history that government officials would be banned from meeting with representatives of another country. The Obama administration has said that it is not taking any option off the table.


The Israeli president, Shimon Perez, arguing for an Israeli attack, claimed that Iran is the only country which threatens the existence of another country. There are reports in the American media that the warmongering prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is determined to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities with or without Washington’s permission. Netanyahu has been repeatedly saying that the Jews are facing an existential threat from Iran, similar to the one they faced from the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.




The Israelis have test-fired their new Jericho missiles which they claim can hit targets in Iran and Pakistan. The Israeli media is also full of stories about Israel’s German-supplied nuclear-armed submarines lurking off the Iranian coast, ready to go into action at a moment’s notice. But Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, in an unguarded moment, told a television channel that Iran’s nuclear programme is not aimed against Israel. He said that he would not “delude himself” into believing that the Iranians “are doing it because of Israel.” He went on to add that if he were an Iranian he would go for the nuclear option. “They (the Iranians) look around. They see the Indians are nuclear, the Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear, not to mention the Russians.”


Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has never attacked another country. In 1980, it was the victim of aggression when Saddam Hussein, goaded by the US, invaded the country. President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad has said that Iran is not seeking a confrontation with anyone and once again emphasised that acquiring nuclear weapons was against the basic tenets of the Islamic Revolution. “The Iranians are a nation of culture and logic and are not warmongers,” he said in a recent statement. A former president, Mohamed Khatami, dismissed Israeli cries of an Iranian threat as “psychological warfare or a bluff” and an attempt to persuade the West to take the military initiative against Iran. Meir Daggan, who retired in early 2011 as the chief of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, has said that bombing Iran is a “stupid idea.” He said that an Israeli military attack would give Teheran the “best excuse” to acquire nuclear weapons arguing that it was attacked by a country with nuclear weapons at a time when it was engaged in peaceful nuclear research.