Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New details on Iran don’t change the game...U.S. and Israel continue beating the drums for war

Editor's Note: Laicie Olson is Senior Policy Analyst at The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, where her work focuses on weapons proliferation, military spending and global security issues. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to enhancing international peace and security in the 21st century. The views expressed in this piece are solely those of Laicie Olson.

A new report on Iran’s nuclear capability from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) does not contain any startling new developments, but already it has some conservatives in the U.S. and Israel beating the drums for war.

While the report contains a level of detail not seen before, it does not contain a “smoking gun.” Details of Iran’s likely weaponization activities prior to 2003 are laid out clearly and include:

• Efforts, some successful, to procure nuclear related and dual use equipment and materials by military related individuals and entities (Annex, Sections C.1 and C.2);
• Efforts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material (Annex, Section C.3);
• The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network (Annex, Section C.4); and
• Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components (Annex, Sections C.5–C.12).

It is clear from the IAEA’s report that these activities took place under a highly structured nuclear program. Iran’s major nuclear effort, identified as the AMAD plan, was stopped “rather abruptly” by Tehran in late 2003, but some staff may have “remained in place to record and document the achievements of their respective projects.”

Unfortunately, more recent activities receive a far lower level of clarity from the IAEA. According to the report, there are, “indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing,” but “the Agency’s ability to construct an equally good understanding of activities in Iran after the end of 2003 is reduced, due to the more limited information available to the Agency.” Read More