Breach of Confidence Will Erode IAEA Credibility

Breach of Confidence Will Erode IAEA Credibility  Breach of Confidence Will Erode IAEA Credibility

A prominent non-proliferation expert says releasing details of arrangements for inspection of Iran's sites under pressure would undermine countries' trust in the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"This would severely compromise the ability of the IAEA to carry out its mission around the world," Jeffrey Lewis of the Monterey Institute of International Studies and founder of the blog said, Reuters reported on Friday.

The comment came as several nuclear security experts urged the UN nuclear watchdog and world powers which reached a nuclear deal with Iran in July to release details of how a sensitive Iranian military site will be inspected as part of the landmark accord.

Experts claimed the failure to disclose the details was damaging the credibility of the IAEA, a view that is rejected by the agency itself and the US government.

A confidential plan for the Parchin site has led to differing reports on how it will be carried out, with some critics of the US administration saying Iran had been allowed to conduct its own inspections, including taking samples.

The IAEA says the sampling at Parchin is necessary to verify the allegations that Iran may have done research in the past at the site related to building a nuclear weapon. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that the work has no military objectives.  

David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, expressed unease about the lack of public details on the arrangement.

"(Details) should be released because it's undermining the IAEA's credibility," Albright claimed. "Whatever the outcome of the sampling, the secrecy makes it harder to determine whether it's a credible sampling approach."

Former IAEA deputy director-general Olli Heinonen, now at Harvard University, claimed the secrecy could not be justified.

"This is a very unusual IAEA verification approach, which has no reason to be confidential unless a very special reason - proprietary, economic or security - calls for it."

  No Compromise  

The IAEA says it has a legal obligation to keep details of the arrangement confidential, but insists it is technically sound and will ensure the samples are not compromised.

US Republicans, who tried to sink the July 14 Iran nuclear agreement in Congress, seized on a media report last month that Iran would be able to use its own inspectors to collect samples at Parchin without the IAEA present. The AP report said the arrangement suggested the IAEA would not be present at the site during the inspections.

Four diplomats familiar with the deal told Reuters that UN inspectors would be present at Parchin to oversee the inspections. The samples would be taken by Iranian technicians while IAEA experts present at Parchin observe and oversee the process, the western diplomats said.

The diplomats, who have knowledge of the deal, said while the IAEA inspectors will not be next to the Iranian technicians when they take samples, they will be at Parchin overseeing the process. Cameras will record the process.

Iran will receive sanctions relief promised under the nuclear deal after the IAEA is satisfied it has answered outstanding questions about the so-called "possible military dimensions" of past Iranian nuclear research.

IAEA access to Parchin was one of the most sensitive issues during the negotiations that led to the nuclear deal.

IAEA inspectors usually take samples themselves when searching for trace of nuclear particles that could be a sign of undeclared atomic work. But as Parchin is a military site the agency had to negotiate special arrangements to get in, diplomats said.