IAEA Iran Report: A Courteous Brush Off

Recent reports that IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei is resisting pressure from Western governments to make public intelligence reports demonstrating past Iranian weaponization efforts as part of its nuclear program got SWJ’s Robert Haddick pretty worked up. But they strike me as a bit disingenuous.

After all, as the IAEA’s just-released Iran report (.pdf, via ACW) makes clear, the agency is having some trouble getting Tehran to respond to the weaponization claims because of restrictions placed by the source countries on sharing the intelligence with the Iranians. So if ElBaradei has his hands tied on sharing the dossier with the Iranians, it’s hard to see how he might make it public. In addition, IAEA inspectors (i.e., the techies fed up with the politicos’ soft shoe routine) gave a briefing on the intelligence to agency diplomats, who promptly leaked it to the press, at the time of a previously released report. (If memory serves correctly, it was last November.) So the essential claims are already pretty well-known.

All that notwithstanding, it’s curious that even in light of token Iranian gestures towards increased compliance described by the new report (access to the Arak heavy water reactor, an improved inspection measures), ElBaradei chose to deliver it on a Friday afternoon. Was it to gloss over the fact that, contrary to recent reports, the pace of Iran’s uranium enrichment has remained steady (.pdf), and the number of centrifuges has increased (even if the amount online has slightly decreased)? Or was it the part about Iran shedding no new light on the weaponization charges that they wanted to downplay?

Either way, there’s nothing dramatically different from the Iranians in this report, and certainly nothing to match the degree to which the tone and rhetoric coming out of Washington has changed since January. Essentially a slightly more courteous brush off than the previous ones, but nothing more.

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