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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

CNS Experts React to Impending IAEA Report on Iran Weaponization Efforts

James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute of International Studies

A Graduate School of Middlebury College


November 7, 2011

Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), later this week will submit an assessment of Iran’s nuclear program to the IAEA Board of Governors. According to early news reports, the report concludes that Iran has mastered the critical steps needed to build nuclear weapons. While not a “smoking gun,” this new information appears to discredit Iran’s claims its program is solely for peaceful purposes. CNS experts react:

Leonard Spector, Executive Director, CNS Washington, DC Office: “The report will certainly lead the United States and others to press for intensified sanctions against Iran at the United Nations Security Council. It is by no means clear, however, that the Council will endorse measures strong enough to persuade Iran to abandon its apparent bid for a nuclear weapon “break-out” capability.

Dr. Avner Cohen, Senior Fellow: “There is no way to understand a renewed public discussion of the ‘military option’ against Iran without linking its timing to the issuing of this report. This is true especially in Israel, where the intensity of the debate last week on military options has been unprecedented. While some of this discussion seems motivated by domestic politics, the fact that it is actually allowed to happen by the Israeli Censor suggests that someone in the Israeli leadership (probably Minister of Defense Barak) wants to use this opportunity to enhance the credibility of the Israeli military option and shape the reaction of the international community to the IAEA Iran report.”

Bilal Saab, Visiting Fellow: “The debate over the IAEA report will take place in an already tense regional environment. With the war of words between Israel and Iran and new missile testing by both countries, Middle Eastern leaders and publics are likely to come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that an attack against Iran by Israel and/or the United States is closer than ever."

Guakhar Mukhatzhanova, Senior Research Associate: "The report is likely to provoke mixed reactions among the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries, both on the IAEA Board of Governors and outside. On the one hand, the NAM has previously expressed concerns about the “politicization” of the IAEA and the Agency possibly overstepping its mandate. Investigation and reporting on non-nuclear activities in the upcoming report may well raise another round of questions and further complicate the Director-General Amano’s uneasy relationship with the NAM. On the other hand, evidence of research and development that could lead to weaponization in Iran would seriously undermine its claims of peaceful intent and potentially damage its standing in the NAM, which is especially pertinent given that Iran is due to assume chairmanship of the NAM in summer 2012."

For more information:

Avner Cohen, Senior Fellow, acohen@miis.edu; 1 (831) 647-6437

Nabil Fahmy, Chair of the CNS Middle East Nonproliferation Project, and former ambassador of Egypt to the United States, nfdpl@usa.net

Chen Kane, Senior Research Associate, ckane@miis.edu; 1 (202) 842-3100 ext. 303

Patricia Lewis, Deputy Director and Scientist-in-Residence, plewis@miis.edu; 1 (831) 647-6575

Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, Senior Research Associate, gaukhar@miis.edu; 1 (202) 842-3100 ext. 307

Bilal Saab, Visiting Fellow, bilalsaab50@hotmail.com; 1 (202) 372-6774

Leonard Spector, Executive Director, Washington DC Office; 1(202) 842-3100 ext. 302

Monterey Institute of International Studies, Center for Nonproliferation Studies
1400 K Street, NW, Suite 450
Washington, DC 20005

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