The Iranian Nuclear Inspections

The Major, known Iranian nuclear sites are: Natanz and Fordow. These are hardened sites where Iran has enriched Uranium in the past. Under the JCPOA, Iran will be permitted to continue limited and supervised nuclear research and enrichment at these locations.

The rumor that Iran will be performing its own inspections is not true. It was a product of the journalistic fiasco recorded in the following time line.

Inspection Regimen

Under the roadmap agreement Iran reached with the UN nuclear watchdog alongside the political deal, Iran is required to give the IAEA enough information about its past nuclear program to allow it to write a report on the issue by year-end.

Without IAEA confirmation that Iran is keeping its promises ... the country will not be granted much-needed sanctions relief. (Haaretz)

Iran does not want to allow unsupervised access of inspectors to its military sites due to past experience with spies being inserted as "inspectors."

  • Environmental Samples
    Samples of soil, water, or air intended to detect the presence of radioactive material in the vicinity. No containment of materials is perfect, and radioactive materials have a tendency to irradiate things around them. Environmental Sampling and testing can be used to determine if radioactive materials have been handled in the area.
  • Additional Protocol
    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may take environmental samples anywhere in the country where they have suspicion of nuclear activity (IISS).
  • Complementary Access
  • Managed Access
    The IAEA tells [Iran] it wants access to a location to perform specific verification activities to determine whether a nuclear activity took place there. Following the defined procedure, [Iran] can say no, then managed access must be applied, and [Iran] can propose an alternative that it says will provide IAEA the answer it is seeking. IAEA may accept this alternative, or it may propose another alternative, or it may stick to its original request...A ‘joint commission’ with a majority of Western nations apparently will be established to adjudicate disputes, but ultimately such issues could go to the UN Security Council for resolution (IISS).
  • Timeline

    2013.NOV

    The Joint Plan of Action was signed Iran, United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany as an interim agreement towards a more permanent solution.

    2015.APR

    A framework agreement is reached.

    2015.JUL.14, Tuesday

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in Vienna by Iran, United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and the European Union.

    2015.JUL.28

    Associated Press reports. Please make note of the biased language. Keep in mind that ways to detonate a nuclear weapon is not nuclear material or enriching. It has to do with explosives and detonators.

    Officials: Iran may take own samples at alleged nuclear site

    By GEORGE JAHN

    Jul. 28, 2015 10:15 AM EDT

    VIENNA (AP) — Iran wants its own officials to take soil samples at a site where it is alleged to have experimented with ways to detonate a nuclear weapon, and the U.N. agency probing the suspicions may agree provided it is allowed to monitor the process, two officials told The Associated Press Tuesday.

    The investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency is part of the overarching nuclear deal reached earlier this month between Iran and six world powers. Iran denies any such work but has agreed to give the IAEA access to the Parchin military complex.

    Several U.S. senators cited Obama administration officials last week as saying Iran could conduct its own soil sampling at Parchin. The officials who spoke to the AP said a final agreement has not yet been reached between Iran and the IAEA.

    The officials said stringent oversight of the soil-sampling could include video monitoring. They did not say what reasons Iran gave for wanting to take its own samples. The samples would be analyzed by the agency for traces left by any nuclear experiments.

    The officials come from IAEA member nations and are tasked with following Iran's nuclear program. They demanded anonymity because their information is confidential. The IAEA had no immediate comment.

    David Albright, whose Institute for Science and International Security is often consulted by the U.S. government on proliferation issues, said the IAEA "could instruct Iran in where and how to take the sample, as they would an inspector. They could try to keep a close watch on how Iran follows the instructions."

    At the same time, "the IAEA could not exclude Iran tampering with the sample in some way," he said.

    Iran has refused to give IAEA experts access to people, documents and sites allegedly linked to the suspected weapons work for nearly a decade. But in its quest for the end to nuclear-related sanctions, it agreed earlier this month to work with the agency, and IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has said he expects to be able to deliver a report by December.

    The alleged weapons work and the IAEA's investigation are not central to the nuclear deal, which calls for the U.S. and other world powers to end economic and military sanctions in exchange for concessions from Iran in its nuclear program. Tehran says its program is entirely peaceful, but the U.S. and most other nations believe it is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.

    Still, U.S. lawmakers skeptical of the deal see the matter of whether the U.N. agency will receive full cooperation from Iran as a core issue. Congress began a 60-day review of the accord last week.

    The suspected explosives testing at Parchin, south of Tehran, is only one of 11 alleged cases of nuclear weapons-related work listed by the IAEA, based on U.S., Israeli and other intelligence and its own research.

    Tehran insists Parchin is a conventional military area with no link to nuclear tests. In recent years, it has carried out major construction and paving at the site where the alleged experiments took place, while refusing dozens of IAEA requests for a visit (ap #1).

    2015.AUG.19

    Three weeks later, George Jahn of The associated press (the same reporter) released a report which allegedly claimed that the inspections of Iranian nuclear compliance would be conducted by Iran. The original report is no longer present and so cannot be quoted here in its entirety.

    2015.AUG.20

    Israel National News, Quoting The Associated Press, claims that Iran will ..use its own inspectors to investigate... Parchin. They further claim that this is part of a secret deal made directly between the IAEA and Iran. The agreement diverges from normal procedures by allowing Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence of activities it has consistently denied — trying to develop nuclear weapons. (INN #2).

    Keep in mind that heretofore no inspection of Parchin has ever been made, and there is no evidence of the facility having been used for nuclear work. The INN did not provide a reference to the AP report which by this time had already been redacted.

    The AP, deliberately or not, has distorted that into something that sounds much worse, but actually isn't...

    This all started when the Associated Press published a story with an alarming headline: "AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site.

    Readers were given the impression that President Obama had made a catastrophically foolish concession to the Iranians; that our much-touted inspections regime was a big joke. And indeed, a number of prominent political journalists tweeted out the story with exactly this alarmed interpretation.

    In fact, the text of the article said something much more modest. It said that in a one-time set of inspections at one military facility known as Parchin, Iranians, rather than nuclear inspectors, would take "environmental samples" (Vox #2).

    Even then, the AP report was based on a draft copy of an agreement shown to George Jahn by an anonymous source.

    The AP redacted the report within 24 hours, But this has not stopped Congressional opponents of the deal, like Sen. Tom Cotton, from using the AP story to claim that Iran will be inspecting "its own nuclear facilities" — implying all of them, which was way further than even the original AP story went (Vox #3).

    IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano issued a statement rejecting the report, saying "Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work. (haaretz)

    2015.AUG.28

    The Associated Press releases their correction of their AUG.19 report. Full text:

    Correction: Iran-Nuclear story

    By GEORGE JAHN Aug. 28, 2015 5:55 PM EDT

    VIENNA (AP) — In a story Aug. 19 about an arrangement over alleged past nuclear weapons work between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, The Associated Press erroneously referred to Parchin as a "nuclear site. In fact, it's a military site where some believe nuclear work occurred.

    A corrected version of the story is below:

    An unusual secret agreement with a U.N. agency will allow Iran to use its own experts to inspect a site allegedly used to develop nuclear arms, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.

    The revelation is sure to roil critics who argue the deal is built on trust of the Iranians.

    The investigation of the Parchin military site by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency is linked to a broader probe of nuclear weapons allegations.

    2015.SEP.20, Sunday

    Yukiya Amano the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA personally inspected some of the Parchin site in Iran. This is the first time anyone has inspected the site. Environmental samples were taken, under supervision, by Iranian personnel (CNN)(IAEA).

    Behruz Kamalvandi of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization was quoted as saying that IAEA inspectors had not taken part in the sampling process (CNN).

    Extensive construction has been conducted at the site in recent years, and this undermines the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification there (IAEA).

    In the case of Parchin, the Iranian side played a part in the sample-taking process by swiping samples.

    The Agency can confirm the integrity of the sampling process and the authenticity of the samples, which were taken at places of interest to the Agency at the particular location in Parchin.

    Authentication by the Agency of the samples was achieved through use of an established verification process. The process was carried out under our responsibility and monitoring. The samples have been brought to Vienna and will be analysed by Agency experts (IAEA).

    Follow Up

    The Agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009. (IAEA #2)

    The Associated Press links are now dead. They buried the whole thing; Its too embarrassing I guess.

    Sources

    The Associated Press

    1. The Associated Press. 2015.JUL.28 Officials: Iran may take own samples at alleged nuclear site
    2. The Associated Press. 2015.AUG.28 Correction: Iran-Nuclear story

    CNN

    CNN. 2015.SEP.21. IAEA inspects Iran's Parchin military site for first time

    Democracy Now

    Democracy Now. 2015.AUG.20 "The Danger of a Failed Iran Deal": Could GOP Rejection of Nuke Pact Lead to War?

    Haaretz

    Haaretz. 2015.AUG.20 UN Watchdog Says Access to Suspected Iran Nuclear Site Meets Demands

    International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

    1. IAEA. 2015.SEP.21 IAEA Director General's Remarks to the Press on Visit to Iran
    2. IAEA. 2015.DEC.02 "Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme"

    International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

    IISS. 2015.JUN.16 Mark Fitzpatrick: Inspecting Iran anywhere, but not anytime

    Israel National News

    Strongly Biased

    1. Israel National News. 2015.AUG.6 Report: Iran Sanitizing Suspected Nuclear Military Site
    2. Israel National News. 2015.AUG.20 Revealed: IAEA Will Allow Iran to Use its Own Inspectors
    3. Israel National News. 2015.SEP.21 IAEA Chief Granted Access to Covert Iran Military Site

    Jeffrey Lewis

    Jeffrey Lewis. 2015.AUG.19 Why did @AP delete the grafs explaining the details of the Parchin sampling plan? Were they incorrect? Inconvenient?

    VOX

    1. VOX World. 2015.JUL.14 The Iran nuclear deal, translated into plain English
    2. VOX World. 2015.AUG.20 The AP's controversial and badly flawed Iran inspections story, explained
    3. VOX World. 2015.AUG.20 Vox Sentences: From Bombshell to Busted, the sad, strange saga of the AP’s Iran-deal story

    The Washington Institute

    The Washington Institute. 2015.MAY.26 Khamenei's Nuclear Instructions: Public Versus Private