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IAEA chief calls for beefed up verification of Iran’s nuclear program

March 23, 2015 at 6:35 PM EDT
Yukiya Amano, chief of the nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran needs to agree to greater verification of its nuclear program. He joins Judy Woodruff for a discussion.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And with me now is the director general of the nuclear watchdog agency, or IAEA, Yukiya Amano.

Mr. Amano, thank you for being with us.

YUKIYA AMANO, International Atomic Energy Agency: Thank you for inviting me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, based on everything you know about this deal that is being worked on, does it give your agency the ability to do what you need to do?

YUKIYA AMANO: The IAEA has an ability to verify and monitor the activities in Iran.

The important thing is that Iran needs to agree to implement powerful verification tool which is called additional protocols. We also need to clarify the issues that Iran may have done in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, so, well, let’s take the additional protocol first. Iran has agreed to some of this. What would that mean? We know it hasn’t been ratified yet in Iran, but they have, in essence, agreed to it. What would that mean if that’s carried out?

YUKIYA AMANO: I don’t anticipate that. Iran signed the additional protocol, and Iran implemented this additional protocol for some time, but it is not implementing the additional protocol.

What is the advantage of the additional protocol? With the implementation of the additional protocol, we can have access to the site which is not declared, for example, or we can request a short notice of inspection to the country. These activities are very useful to detect undeclared activities.

JUDY WOODRUFF: If you don’t get that, is this deal worth having? If you cannot have that kind of access, is this a deal that’s worth what it — all the effort that would have gone into it?

YUKIYA AMANO: I think the implementation of the additional protocol is essential to have the confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran nuclear activities.

Otherwise, we can give the assurance that the activities under — in the declared activities are in peaceful purpose, but we cannot say whether everything is a peaceful purpose or not.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What is the — Mr. Amano, what is the inspection situation now? I think many people don’t realize that there have been some inspections going on. What is the extent of what your agency is able to do right now, even without a new agreement?

YUKIYA AMANO: There is an agreement which is called a comprehensive safeguard agreement between Iran and IAEA.

In light of this, in accordance with this agreement, Iran places a number of facilities under IAEA monitoring and verification. For these facilities, we can tell — we can send the inspectors. We can install camera and stills, and we can tell these activities are in peaceful purpose.

But what we don’t know whether they have undeclared activities or something else. We don’t know what they did in the past. So, we know a part of their activities, but we cannot tell we know all their activities. And that is why we cannot say that all the activities in Iran is in peaceful purposes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have a sense, are you able to get a read on whether Iran is prepared to give the kind of access you say there must be?

YUKIYA AMANO: The additional protocol, Iran has already signed. And some — they gave indications that, when the agreement is reached, they are ready to implement it, at least.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But they have said that, but it just hasn’t been implemented, is what you’re saying?

YUKIYA AMANO: Just take an example. Iran and — Iran and P5-plus-one agreed a joint plan of action.

JUDY WOODRUFF: These are the other world powers negotiating.

YUKIYA AMANO: Yes, in Autumn 2013, and they are implementing it.

They are implementing comprehensive safeguard agreement. But they have not said yet that they implemented the additional protocol. This is the point and this is the problem.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So there are still sites, there are still people, there’s still data that IAEA wants access to.

I also want to ask you about the work of your agency — you have referred to several times — is doing. You want to know what they have done in the past on nuclear weapons and you — whether they have worked on nuclear weapons. They say they have not.

You’re not getting cooperation on that, though; is that correct?

YUKIYA AMANO: We have received some information. We have collected our own information. And we have heard from Iran.

And our information indicates that Iran engaged in activities relevant to the development of nuclear explosive devices. We do not draw conclusions. But we are requesting Iran to clarify these issues.

The policy-making organ, which is called board of governors of the IAEA, and United Nations Security Council resolutions request Iran to engage with the IAEA And clarify the issues. So far, there has been some clarification, but the progress has been very limited. We need to accelerate and clarify all the areas that we have identified in 2011.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And how long has your agency been asking for this information?

YUKIYA AMANO: We make — since quite a long time, but, in 2011, we have shared the analysis of such information with the member states. Since that time, we negotiated for two years. And in 2013, we reached an agreement. It worked well at the beginning, but then the clarification, I think, is stalled.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But without that information, not to mention the additional protocol you have been talking about, are you comfortable, would you be comfortable with a new agreement if they are able to reach one?

YUKIYA AMANO: I think it is very important that Iran engage with us to clarify these issues.

That is necessary to restore the confidence of the international community in the peaceful nature of Iran nuclear activities.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, at this point, what do you believe what will happen?

YUKIYA AMANO: My fear is that clarifying this issue is in the interest of Iran.

And if Iran wants to restore the confidence, it is much better to do it sooner than later. I had a meeting with Minister Zarif in Munich in February.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Iranian foreign minister,

YUKIYA AMANO: Yes.

And I had a meeting with the deputy foreign minister, Araghchi, and I’m making this point, to accelerate and engage with us proactively.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, we thank you very much.

YUKIYA AMANO: Thank you very much.

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