Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

IAEA Report: Iran Experiencing Difficulties But Researching Weapons

Posted in Iran by Dan on February 20, 2010

After months on the job, the IAEA has finally concluded their official report for the United Nations on Iran’s nuclear program.  And for the most part, the findings are not all that shocking….1) Iran continues to enrich uranium despite the world’s concern and 2) Iranian scientists MAY be starting to study plans for a nuclear warhead.  Notice how I emphasized the word “may,” because in the end, the IAEA only knows so much (if Iran has been good at anything over this entire controversy, it is their skill in concealing and hiding).

But overall, there is not much in the name of substance here.  Iran is doing the same thing they have been doing over the past two years; failing to answer all of the IAEA’s questions and continuing with their nuclear work. The good news is that Iranian scientists are facing a whole host of technical difficulties, which at least shows that they have yet to master nuclear technology.  The bad news is the possibility that the Iranians are now starting research on nuclear weaponization, which would deal a severe blow to the moral and confidence of U.S. intel (the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate originally stated that Iran stopped work for a nuclear warhead years earlier).

What is of significance is not even in the document.  ElBaradei is no longer the nuclear chief.  That position is now filled by someone who appears to be much more direct, assertive, and straightforward in both his language and his actions.  Instead of relying on the soft-spoken nature of the former director, Iran is now getting an earful from the IAEA.  This pressure- from an international body- could not have come at a better time.  Who knows, maybe the new IAEA report will convince China and Russia to back a fourth-round of sanctions on Iran’s economy (although I’m still skeptical that sanctions will work).

What is more, perhaps the new report will pick-up support from nation’s that were previously supportive of Iran’s nuclear program (like Brazil).  One can only hope.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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