Special IAEA Board Meeting On Iran
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano convened a meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors on Aug. 25 to discuss the agency’s role in implementing the nuclear deal Iran and six world powers reached on July 14.
In opening remarks to the Board, Amano said that with the Board’s approval the agency is “ready to undertake the necessary work” to implement the additional monitoring and transparency measures laid out in the deal, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and has the expertise to do so. Amano requested that the Board authorize him to share information, when appropriate, with the Joint Commission set up by the nuclear deal to oversee implementation and resolve disputes.
UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the deal requested that the IAEA share information when necessary with the Joint Commission, which is comprised of the P5+1 countries, Iran and the European Union.
Amano also confirmed to the Board that Iran submitted information by Aug. 15 as required under a July 14 agreement between Iran and the IAEA on the agency’s investigation into the past possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. Amano said that Iran provided “explanations in writing, and related documents.” He said that all arrangements made with Iran on the investigation are “technically sound and consistent with established IAEA safeguards practices” and do not compromise IAEA standards “in any way.”
Amano also said it would cost the IAEA an additional 9.2 million euros to implement the JCPOA in 2016 and requested member states to contribute funds for the work.
—KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy
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What is the IAEA Board of Governors?
The IAEA Board of Governors is comprised of representatives from 35 member states of the IAEA. The current chair of the Board is the representative from Slovakia, Marta Ziakova.
The Board generally meets five times a year, but can hold additional meetings at any time. Its duties include approving IAEA safeguards agreements and appointing the agency’s director general every four years (subject to approval of the IAEA General Conference).
The Board also makes recommendations to the director general regarding the agency’s activities and budget. The Board reports annually to the General Conference, which meets once a year and is comprised of all member states, on the IAEA’s affairs and projects.
The IAEA statute is set up to ensure regional representation on the Board as well as expertise, including the ten member states “most advanced in the technology of atomic energy.” Some members are designated based on expertise, others are elected by the General Conference for two year terms.
As with the case of Iran, the Board can request that the Director General provide periodic reports on safeguards compliance and request that the Director General report to the UN Security Council.
The 2014-2015 Board includes: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela and Viet Nam.
Beyond 15 Years
Experts and analysts broadly agree the nuclear deal struck between the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran on July 14 will effectively and verifiably block Iran’s potential pathways to nuclear weapons for 15 years or more.
Although several key restrictions on Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity and its stockpile of enriched uranium will expire after 15 years, the deal—known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—establishes several other restrictions and tools that will help constrain and provide deep insights into Iran’s nuclear program far beyond the first 15-year period.
These restrictions include a more intrusive and permanent inspections regime that will provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) far greater access to and information about Iran’s nuclear program than under the current safeguards regime. Among these are continuous monitoring of Iran’s uranium mining activities and its centrifuge manufacturing sites. In addition, the JCPOA permanently prohibits Iran from conducting certain “activities which could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device.”
To reinforce the JCPOA in the out-years, the United States, its P5+1 partners, and other countries in the region can and should make the most of the time provided by the JCPOA to pursue additional measures that would decrease Iran’s incentive and its justification for expanding its indigenous uranium-enrichment program and also guard against the pursuit of dangerous, dual-use nuclear fuel cycle activities by other states in the region.
To read more about the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program beyond 15 years and the steps that the United States and its P5+1 partners can take to reinforce the deal, see the Arms Control Association Issue Brief, Restrictions on Iran’s Nuclear Program: Beyond 15 Years.
How Does Europe Feel About the Iran Deal?
While much of the focus has been whether or not the U.S. Congress votes to approve or disapprove of the July 14 nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran, the debate in Europe seems to be settled, according to an August 25 piece in The New York Times.
Here in France, which took the toughest stance during the last years of negotiation, the matter is settled, according to Camille Grand, director of the Strategic Research Foundation in Paris and an expert on nuclear nonproliferation.
“In Europe, you don’t have a constituency against the deal,” he said. “In France, I can’t think of a single politician or member of the expert community who has spoken against it, including some of us who were critical during the negotiations.”
The article points out several reasons why the mood in Europe is so different than in the United States. First, Europe does not have the same relationship with Iran as Washington. Except for the United Kingdom, EU countries have generally maintained diplomatic relations with Tehran. Second, the Europe is missing Israel’s active influence in the domestic decisions about the Iran deal. Third, large amounts of money are not being spent to influence decisions about the deal, which the article says is uncommon in European politics.
All of these reasons worry Europeans.
As seen from this side of the Atlantic, the shrill tone of the debate has worrying consequences, particularly when Republican presidential candidates talk about “undoing” the deal or when Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, suggests keeping sanctions in place to prevent American and foreign companies from doing business in Iran.
Europeans regard sanctions as a diplomatic tool, the means to an end. Their concern here is that the Americans will use them as a form of open-ended punishment. “How this debate develops on Iran could potentially be a test case on sanctions,” said Ms. Geranmayeh, of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The U.S. Congress may underestimate how much their debate is going to have repercussions on sanctions unity.”
"Scholars: Iran deal will stabilize Mideast" by Nahal Toosi, Politico, August 27, 2015
"Iran diplomacy: History is on Obama’s side," by Representative John Conyers, Jr, The Hill, August 24, 2015
“26 Former Jewish Leaders Call on Congress to Approve,” by Chemi Shalev, Haaretz, August 20, 2015
Looking Ahead ...
Sept. 4: Center for Global Interests briefing, Iran Nuclear Deal: Sability or Threat? With James Fallows, the Atlantic; Ambassador Richard Burt, CGI Board Member; Ariel Cohen, the Atlantic Council; Larry Cohler-Esses, The Forward; Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association; Ambassador Thomas Pickering, the Iran Project; Michael Singh, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Arian Tabatabai, Georgetown Univeristy.
Location: National Press Club, Murrow Room, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Sept. 8: Arms Control Association briefing on the Iran nuclear deal with Colin Kahl, Ellie Geranmayeh, George Perkovich and Kelsey Davenport.
Location: 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. RSVP today.
Sept. 15: Target date for the IAEA to ask Iran follow-up questions on the PMD information.
Sept. 17: End of the 60-day congressional review period.
Sept. 29: End of the 12-day veto period.
Oct. 9: End of the 10-day veto override period.
Oct. 15: Iran provides the IAEA with any follow up information on PMD investigation.
Oct. 19: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is adopted and both sides begin taking steps laid out in the text of the deal.
Dec. 15: Target date for the IAEA issuing its assessment on PMDs.