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The time is now

We’ve had a sneak peak at the IAEA’s six-page report on Iran’s nuclear program that has just been issued. Here are what appear to me to be key portions:

4. Iran has continued the testing of P-1 centrifuges in the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP). Since 6 June 2006, centrifuges in the single machine test stand and in the 10-machine and 20-machine cascades have been run mostly under vacuum, but with the feeding of UF6 into single machines of the 20-machine cascade for short periods of time. Between 6 and 8 June 2006, the 164-machine cascade was also tested with UF6. Further testing of the 164-machine cascade with UF6 was carried out between 23 June and 8 July 2006. During these tests, a total of approximately 6 kg of UF6 was fed into the machines and enriched to various levels of U-235. The feeding of UF6 into the 164-machine cascade was resumed on 24 August 2006.

5. In June 2006, Iran stated that it had achieved enrichment levels of 5% U-235 in a test run in the 164-machine cascade. Iran provided measurement results from the on-line mass spectrometer to substantiate this statement. The Agency collected environmental samples, the results of which are still pending. Iran has refused the Agency access to operating records concerning product and tail assays which the Agency requires to complete its auditing activities. However, on 30 August 2006, Iran provided the Agency with some information about product assays, which the Agency is currently assessing.

6. The installation of a second 164-machine cascade is proceeding. Iran has informed the Agency that it expects to be able to run the cascade under vacuum in September 2006. In August 2006, the Agency installed additional cameras to monitor this cascade. The Agency has also proposed the implementation of remote monitoring to compensate for the fact that measures normally used for verification at operational enrichment facilities (e.g. limited frequency unannounced access) are not feasible at PFEP. However, Iran continues to decline to discuss the implementation of remote monitoring at PFEP.

7. On 26 July 2006, design information verification (DIV) was carried out at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz, where construction was ongoing. In the course of the inspectors’ visit to Iran between 11 and 16 August 2006, Iran declined to provide the Agency with access to carry out DIV at FEP, stating that the frequency of DIV activities was, in its view, too high and that the Agency had performed 3 DIVs there in 2003, 3 DIVs in 2004, 15 DIVs in 2005 and 12 DIVs as of August 2006.

Iran also expressed concern about the frequency of DIV at PFEP, the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) and the Iran Nuclear Research Reactor (IR-40). The Agency explained that DIV was an ongoing and continuing process, and that it is carried out during all construction, commissioning, operation and subsequent phases of a facility to establish the safeguards measures to be implemented and to ensure that there are no undeclared design features which would permit the diversion of nuclear material. Between December 2003 and February 2006, the Agency, with the consent of Iran, also took advantage of DIV activities to monitor Iran’s suspension of enrichment activities. The Agency explained that DIV also enables the Director General to fulfil the reporting requirements set by the Board of Governors and the Security Council. Between 26 and 30 August 2006, Iran allowed the Agency access to carry out DIV at FEP and at the other facilities mentioned above.

B. Suspension of Reprocessing Activities

8. The Agency has been monitoring the use of hot cells at the Tehran Research Reactor and the Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production Facility, and the construction of hot cells at the IR-40, through inspections, DIV and satellite imagery. There are no indications of ongoing reprocessing activities in Iran.

C. Heavy Water Research Reactor

9. On 12 July and 30 August 2006, the Agency carried out DIV at the IR-40 reactor at Arak. Construction of the facility is continuing.

D. Outstanding Issues

10. As indicated in the Director General’s report of April 2006 (GOV/2006/27, para. 6), on 27 April 2006, the Agency received from Iran a letter in which it was stated that “Iran is fully prepared to continue granting the Agency’s inspection in accordance with the Comprehensive Safeguards provided that the Iran’s nuclear dossier will remain, in full, in the framework of the Agency and under its safeguards, the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to resolve the remaining outstanding issues reflected in [the Director General’s] report GOV/2006/15 of 27 February 2006, in accordance with the international laws and norms. In this regard, Iran will provide a time table within next three weeks.”

No such timetable has as yet been received.

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E.2. Other Matters

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23. Between the end of July 2006 and 29 August 2006, Iran declined to provide one-year multiple entry visas to designated Agency inspectors as agreed to by Iran in the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement. On 30 August 2006, Iran provided such visas for two inspectors, and on 31 August 2006 informed the Agency that “following the normal administration process the multiple one year visa for remaining designated inspectors will be issued by 10 September 2006”.

F. Transparency Measures

24. Analysis of the environmental samples taken from equipment at a technical university in January 2006, referred to in paragraph 25 of GOV/2006/27, showed a small number of particles of natural and high enriched uranium. This equipment had been shown to the Agency in connection with its investigation into efforts made by the Physics Research Centre (PHRC) to acquire dual use material and equipment (GOV/2006/27, paras 24–25).

25. Iran has not yet responded to the Agency’s requests for clarification concerning, and access to carry out environmental sampling of, other equipment and materials related to the PHRC. Nor has Iran provided the Agency with access to interview the other former Head of the PHRC. As noted in GOV/2006/38, paragraph 17, the clarification and access sought by the Agency have taken on added importance in light of the results of the environmental sampling referred to in the previous paragraph.

26. The Agency has continued to follow up on information concerning studies related to the so-called Green Salt Project, to high explosives testing and to the design of a missile re-entry vehicle z9GOV/2006/27, paras 27–29). However, Iran has not expressed any readiness to discuss these topics since the issuance of the Director General’s report in February 2006 (GOV/2006/15, paras 38–39).

G. Summary

27. Iran has been providing the Agency with access to nuclear material and facilities, and has provided the required reports. Although Iran has provided the Agency with some information concerning product assays at PFEP, Iran continues to decline Agency access to certain operating records at PFEP.

28. Iran has not addressed the long outstanding verification issues or provided the necessary transparency to remove uncertainties associated with some of its activities. Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities; nor has Iran acted in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol.

29. The Agency will continue to pursue its investigation of all remaining outstanding issues relevant to Iran’s nuclear activities. However, the Agency remains unable to make further progress in its efforts to verify the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations with a view to confirming the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. The Director General will continue to report as appropriate.

The time is now.

JOHN adds: Since this kind of reading can be mind-numbing, I bolded the key paragraph. Read as a whole, the IAEA report states flatly that Iran is not cooperating. The mullahs are basically telling the U.N. to get lost. The next move is up to us.

John Bolton says that the Security Council must now take action, in the form of sanctions. But the AP reports that the kinds of sanctions on the table are feeble at best:

The State Department has not said publicly what type of punishment it might seek. But U.S. and European officials have indicated they might push for travel restrictions on Iranian officials or a ban on sale of dual-use technology to Iran. The hope is to start with relatively low-level punishments in a bid to attract Russian and Chinese support, the officials have said.

Does anyone seriously think that this sort of action will deter Iran from becoming a nuclear power? Presumably not. President Bush said today that “the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran.” There is an obvious disproportion between the gravity of the threat and the meagre steps now contemplated to counter it.

The biggest problem with the whole U.N. process, in my opinion, is that it can become an excuse for inaction. Many people will gladly accept the illusion that the U.N. is “doing something,” when in fact, Iran is proceeding with all possible speed to create nuclear weapons, and there isn’t a thing the U.N. can do to prevent it.

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