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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

IAEA leaps into action: Says it can't keep up with Iranians at Natanz

In a report released on Monday, the IAEA told the world that 'improvements' are needed to the containment and surveillance measures that it uses in Iran's main nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz.
In its latest report, the IAEA said that "given the increasing number" of centrifuges, "improvements to the containment and surveillance measures at the Fuel Enrichment Plant are required in order for the Agency to continue fully to meet its safeguards objectives".

Sources said the inspectors were finding it increasingly difficult to monitor Natanz because of the facility's rapid expansion. Cameras have been installed to cover the plant's work, but they need adjusting to keep the new centrifuges under surveillance. Some parts of Natanz are under construction, others are in full operation and the cameras need to be trained on the right locations.

The IAEA report said that inspectors had "proposed a solution and initiated discussions with Iran". In particular, they are believed to want Iran to allow "remote monitoring" of Natanz.

At present, Iran's officials will not allow the cameras to beam their pictures directly to the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna. Instead, the inspectors must travel all the way to Natanz to download the footage.

As long ago as February 2007, the IAEA asked for "remote monitoring" and said this would become necessary when Iran was running more than 500 centrifuges. That threshold was crossed more than two years ago and, today, almost ten times that number of machines are operating. But the cameras are still not allowed to send live footage to Vienna.

Mark Fitzpatrick, the senior fellow in non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said this had been an "ongoing problem". The lack of "real time monitoring" of Natanz meant the safeguards in place may not "give a timely warning" if Iran diverted its enrichment efforts towards making a nuclear weapon.

So far, the IAEA is still able to guarantee that Iran has not taken this step. The latest report says that all centrifuges and nuclear materials "remain under Agency containment and surveillance". The question is whether this assurance will remain valid if Iran does not agree to improve the safeguards regime.
I don't believe that the IAEA can monitor that plant today. For starters, how can they make sure the film isn't switched while the inspectors are away from the facility? What a ridiculous system!

I guess Iran doesn't feel the love enough yet to let the IAEA inspectors actually see what it's doing. What could go wrong?


At 3:48 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The international community couldn't stop North Korea. What makes any one think it can stop Iran?

Party like its 1938!


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