IAEA knows more about Iran thanks to JCPOA

17 November 2017

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has led to a significant reduction in Iran's nuclear activities while enabling the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to increase its knowledge of the country's nuclear programme, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in a speech at Harvard University. 

Amano addressed the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs John F Kennedy School of Government on 14 November, at the end of his official visit to the USA. He said the JCPOA had given the Vienna-based agency greater powers of inspection in the country, which is now subject to the world's most robust nuclear verification system.

The JCPOA was signed in July 2015 by Iran and the EU3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA - also referred to as the P5+1 - plus the European Union) and implemented in January 2016. Under its terms, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium over the next 15 years. The agreement cleared the way for the lifting of nuclear-related economic sanctions imposed against Iran.

The JCPOA had been a "substantial gain" for verification, because of the combination of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, Additional Protocol and additional transparency measures which represented the most robust verification system in existence anywhere in the world, Amano said. He noted that Iran had committed itself to implementing fully its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and to provisionally applying its Additional Protocol, which he said was a key element.

The Additional Protocol requires Iran to make an extensive declaration of all of its nuclear fuel-cycle-related activities and update that declaration at least once a year, including submitting its future nuclear plans.

"If Iran were to cease applying the Additional Protocol, we would have less access to important information and locations," he said.

The IAEA verifies and monitors that Iran is abiding by the restrictions on its nuclear activities it accepted under the terms of the agreement.

"Our inspectors are on the ground 24/7. We also monitor Iran's nuclear facilities and centrifuge manufacturing and testing locations, using permanently installed cameras and other sensors. We have regular access to more locations under the Additional Protocol, which has also provided the Agency with more information about Iran's nuclear programme," Amano said.

IAEA inspectors now spend around 3000 days in the field in Iran every year - twice as many as in 2013 - and have placed around 2000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment. They have taken hundreds of environmental samples, as well as collecting and analysing images captured daily by surveillance cameras and information from open sources.

"As of today, we had access to all the locations that we needed to visit," Amano said, adding that, for confidentiality reasons, the agency does not disclose details of which locations it has visited.

With Iran now subject to the world's most robust nuclear verification regime, Amano said the IAEA's systematic safeguards processes enabled it to develop a full understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle and to spot any anomalies."With Iran's Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and, in particular, the Additional Protocol, being implemented, we are confident that we can detect diversion of nuclear material, or misuse of nuclear facilities, and any nuclear activities and materials that are not included in Iran's declaration, in a timely manner," he said.

Although the JCPOA's provisions limiting some of Iran's nuclear activities will expire after a specified time limit, the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol are agreements between IAEA and Iran, and will not expire. The safeguards arrangement will remain in force as long Iran country remains a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NTP), Amano noted. He said he had urged the country, which has committed itself to implementing the Additional Protocol, to ratify it "as a very important next step to reinforce the sustainability of the JCPOA".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News