Today, the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at Brookings hosted IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, who discussed the IAEA’s role in nuclear verification, including in monitoring the November 2013 interim agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran. Brookings Senior Fellow Robert Einhorn moderated the question and answer session. Below are highlights of the director general’s remarks.
* Update: Read a new take on the event on the Iran@Brookings blog.
On IAEA verification measures: Modern technology, state-level approach, and the Additional Protocol
Director General Amano explained that “the world in which we administer safeguards today is very different to that of our founding fathers in 1957,” largely because modern communications make it easier to “access knowledge, materials and expertise” for easier nuclear proliferation.
On the “Iran Story”
Director General Amano offered a synopsis of the agency’s dealings with Iran on its nuclear program since August 2002, when it was reported that Iran was building an underground nuclear facility in Natanz. The director general wanted to be clear that the “IAEA has not said that Iran has nuclear weapons” and that [the IAEA has] “not drawn conclusions about the information at our disposal about the possible military dimension.” Instead, he explained: “What we have said is that Iran has to clarify these issues because there is broadly credible information indicating that it engaged in activities of this nature.”
“In other words,” he added, “Iran has a case to answer.”
On questions about politicization of the IAEA
In response to a question from Einhorn about questions some have raised about the agency being politicized, Director General Amano responded, “I firmly believe the IAEA is a technical organization and it should stay so.” However, he acknowledged the reality that “everything we deal with is very political … [the] IAEA is a technical organization which is operating under a very political environment.” The director general suggested that “there are ways to make ourselves impartial, nonpolitical, and deliver concrete results.”
On efforts to gain clarification on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program
Einhorn asked the director general “what happens if Iran continues to stonewall in this regard?” Director General Amano replied that the agency has agreed with Iran “that all the outstanding issues past and present should be resolved through cooperation” and that “a very important negotiation is ongoing.”
Listen to the complete audio:
Visit the event’s page for more information, including full video.
Look for analysis next week on the director general’s remarks and continued insight about Iran’s nuclear program on the Iran@Brookings blog.
The question with this administration is, what will Trump see as an acceptable return for this waiver [granted to India for its trade with Russia and Iran]? Will he demand a transaction in return, some give on the trade side or a big defence deal for the US as well? Russia and Iran are sticking points, but the fact that the Trump administration is dealing with these privately is a sign of how much the relationship has changed. [Mr Trump] usually doesn’t give out freebies.
For all of us who care about preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb, what’s the best way to keep preventing that? [The JCPOA is] not perfect, but it’s something. These conventions are never based on the premise that all the parties are telling the truth, it’s about enforcement mechanisms. No arms control agreement is based in trust.