IAEA Report on Iran's Past Weaponization Activities Unsurprising

Task Now Must Be to Effect Implementation of the Nuclear Deal

For Immediate Release: December 2, 2015

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 102; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext. 107; Timothy Farnsworth, communications director, 202-463-8270 ext. 110.

(Washington, D.C.)—The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released his final assessment today on Iran’s past activities that could be related to nuclear weapons development, the so-called possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Tehran’s nuclear program.

Yukiya Amano’s Dec. 2 report assessed that Iran conducted a coordinated “range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” prior to the end of 2003 and some of the activities continued after 2003. According to the assessment the “activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.” The report said that the IAEA had no credible indications of these activities continuing after 2009.

The investigation was completed as part of a July 14 agreement between Iran and the IAEA. The agency had laid out its concerns in an annex to a November 2011 report, which covered a range of issues primarily relating to activities pre-dating 2004—from acquisition of materials to explosive testing.

“The IAEA’s assessment that Iran was engaged in activities relevant to the development of a nuclear weapon prior to 2004 is not surprising. That finding is consistent with what U.S. intelligence agencies, and nonproliferation watchdogs—including the Arms Control Association—have long-assumed,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.

“The agency’s finding that there are ‘no credible indications’ that Tehran continued weaponization activities after 2009, or diverted nuclear material in connection with its past activities, is a strong indication that Iran has abandoned a coordinated nuclear weapons effort,” she added.

"While the director-general’s report is a critical step, it does not, however, ‘normalize’ Iran’s nuclear program in the eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency or the international community. Iran’s nuclear activities will remain under a microscope and subject to a multi-layered monitoring and verification regime. The IAEA also will continue to work to reach a ‘broader conclusion’ on Iran’s nuclear program – meaning that there has been no diversion of declared nuclear materials and no indication of undeclared nuclear materials and activities over a period of time. That will provide greater assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful,” Davenport said.

“Iran’s long-overdue cooperation with the IAEA’s investigation is an important and necessary step forward to ensure that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons in the future,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "It opens the way for the the Board of Governors to recognize the director-general’s report and for Iran to take the steps necessary to implement the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers—known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Kimball said.

“Under the terms of the JCPOA, the IAEA will have more wide-ranging authority to monitor Iran’s ongoing nuclear work and verify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. The IAEA will have increased access to Iran’s nuclear sites, including every element of its fuel supply chain, and the ability to investigate evidence of any alleged illicit nuclear activities at undeclared sites, including military bases. That will provide greater assurance that Iran is not pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program in the future,” Kimball added.

The IAEA Board of Governors will convene for a special meeting on Dec. 15 to discuss the results of the director-general’s report and to determine the appropriate response to the report’s findings.

“Contrary to the assertions of some, the agency does not need to know every detail of Iran’s past work to monitor and verify Iran's compliance with the terms of the JCPOA. This is due to the fact that the IAEA’s verification scheme is based on the widely-held assumption that Iran did engage in weapons-related research in the past and that it achieved the capability to produce weapons-grade nuclear material and to weaponize that material some time ago,” said Davenport.

“With the JCPOA, the IAEA will have considerable flexibility to investigate evidence and concerns about any possible future weaponization activities. Without the JCPOA, the agency would have far less access and information to detect and deter illicit nuclear activities in the years ahead. Moving forward, it is critical that Iran and the P5+1 continue to take steps to follow-through on their commitments under the nuclear deal,” Kimball noted.


The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.