The latest IAEA report on the Possible Military Dimension (PMD) in Tehran’s nuclear program is conclusive on three critical points:
- Tehran is guilty of past PMD development: The report shows unequivocally that Tehran did try to develop nuclear weapons between the years 2003 and 2009.
- Tehran consistently lied about PMD’s in the past: The report is a direct attack on all of the denials by Iranian leaders and the credibility of Khamenei’s much touted and suspicious “nuclear fatwa”.
- Tehran is still evading issues on its past PMD: The report outlines that many questions remain unanswered by Tehran regarding key issues regarding militarizing its nuclear program.
And yet, this report is to be swept under the rug in a united effort by the UN, the US and Tehran in order to justify and to implement the JCPoA – it will be conveniently buried and will only resurface as an inconvenient reminder if or when Tehran does finally build a nuclear bomb.
IAEA PMD Report: Tehran Lied
There are many inconclusive parts to the IAEA report: There is much evidence that is lacking and some evidence could actually point to a non-PMD possibility. And yet, the IAEA makes it clear that Tehran, at least in the past, did try to develop nuclear weapons and that, therefore, Tehran has consistently lied in regards to PMD of its nuclear program:
- Testing detonators: 79. “The Agency assesses that explosive bridgewire (EBW) detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device“.
- Hydrodynamic tests in Parchin: 80. “The information available to the Agency…does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the building. The Agency assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the Agency seriously undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification“.
- Computer modeling of Explosions: “…The Agency assesses that Iran conducted computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009“.
- Missile delivery systems: 82. “The Agency has verified the existence in Iran of two of the workshops referred to in the alleged studies documentation on the integration into a missile delivery vehicle, but has not received any other information on this area since the 2011 Annex“.
- Arming tests: 83. “The Agency has not received information additional to that contained in the alleged studies documentation on conducting a test or on fuzing, arming and firing systems since the 2011 Annex“.
- Pre-2003 program: 84. “The Agency assesses that, before the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device“.
The Iranians will be quick to point out that there is no “smoking gun”, only “possible” and “probable” facts which could be construed as evidence and yet one conclusion cannot be escaped: all the Iranian leaders who continuously denied any PMD in Tehran’s nuclear program probably lied (it is impossible to prove whether they knew all the facts or not) and Khamenei definitely lied when he issued his “nuclear fatwa” (it is impossible to believe that he did not know about these experiments).
So Tehran Lied and Cheated…Now What?
The report makes it clear that Tehran has cheated and lied in the past but just as in a case of a cheating spouse, this doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a “divorce”. Some might say that people can’t change and as such, Tehran should never be trusted in the future. Others will point out that the fact that a spouse cheated in the past is secondary to the ability of the couple to live a long and prosperous life together. And still others will rightfully point out that the comparison of Tehran’s PMD’s to a cheating spouse breaks down the minute someone new comes into power. Who’s right? Only time can tell.
Khamenei was caught lying and will probably never change his ways but Khamenei is an old man and will soon pass on his Supreme Leadership to someone else who may not harbor aspirations to militarize Tehran’s nuclear program.
Is Tehran to be trusted under the JCPoA? The definite answer is “NO”: The P5+1 should do all it can to not take Tehran at is word and to demand all the necessary information and access required to make sure that Tehran doesn’t build a nuclear bomb.
Will the JCPoA ensure that Tehran won’t build a nuclear bomb? The definite answer is, once again, “NO”: According to all the IAEA reports, including the last, Tehran is still not providing all the information and the accesses necessary to rule out any possible PMD and it is hard to believe that it will do so in the future.
The IAEA Report is Dead, Long Live the JCPoA
The overall consensus among the UN, Washington and Tehran is to put Tehran’s shadowy lies in the past and to focus on a brighter future by implementing the JCPoA, the fruit of thousands of hours of negotiations.
This is definitely understandable in regards to Tehran’s wish to look forward since it has the most to gain from the lifting of sanctions. Rehashing accusations of its past is not productive to leading Iran out of its isolation.
Burying the doubts of past PMD infringements by Iran is also understandable among the many countries who want to exploit Iran’s untapped markets and its military-political power post-JCPoA. There is a lot of untapped power and money in Iran and unless a regional/global war erupts, many people are keeping their eyes locked on future prizes instead of looking back doubtfully to the past.
Even Washington, the biggest loser of the nuclear deal (it not only lost face and power, it will be banned from reaping the potential of the Iranian markets) is focusing to the prospects of a better future. Washington’s stance is best understood through Kerry’s thoughts following the damning IAEA report: “Nobody has had any doubts whatsoever about Iran’s past military endeavors. From the get-go, we have consistently said we know that Iran was pursuing a nuclear project” but what really mattered now was “making certain that none of whatever happened in the past can happen going forward into the future”.
Tehran may huff and puff over the accusations on its nuclear past and critics of the nuclear deal are sure to brandish the IAEA report as proof that the JCPoA is built on shaky ground but the JCPoA is a done deal which none of its creators want to undo. May history prove them right.