Nuclear Mangos

This blog is intended to provide reliable technical analysis of nuclear issues with non-state actors and nuclear beginner states. Some technical issues have important policy implications that citizens in a democracy should be able to make informed decisions about. The motivation for the blog has been the incredible amount of lies & hyperbole on the Iran situation of early 2006. The blog title is to remind you constantly of the quality of minds in charge of our nuclear security today.

Location: MA

Until recently I was a physics professor at Harvard, where I taught the nuclear and particle physics course, among others. I've recently left that position to work as an R&D physicist in security applications. I have never done classified weapons work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Iran Work Plan

The report by Mohammed El-Baradei of the IAEA to the UN this week is the "Work Plan" for resolving questions about Iran's nuclear program, and in particular to address questions about the possible existence of a weapons program. I could not find a copy of the work plan on the IAEA website, but found a text of the Work Plan here.

The plan does not (on a skimming) seem to draw many technical conclusions, but the news headlines (in the image, click to enlarge) are interesting. Apparently, the plan either completely vindicates the Iranians, or warns that they are about to build a bomb...
Update: has a nice writeup of the IAEA report (h/t hass). I'll summarize their summary of the report:
1. Iran is in compliance with their NPT obligations
2. The IAEA finds no evidence for undeclared activities, though of course
Iran has not signed the Additional Protocol.
3. Most issues have been resolved in favor of determination of Iranian
compliance with the IAEA
4. A few issues outstanding, primarily the "laptop
of death
" and traces of HEU in the centrifuges, remain
unresolved. However, no evidence counter to Iranian explanations has
been found.
5. Iran has not suspended enrichment of uranium. IAEA-monitored sites
are not enriching to weapons grade.
NB UN Security Council Resolution 1696 requires that Iran halt enrichment. This is manifestly in conflict with guarantees NPT; I plead utter ignorance as to which takes precedent.
Finally, we may be hearing a lot about the Additional Protocol in the next few days. In short, the original NPT was written to monitor that declared nuclear facilities were not diverting material to a weapons program. The IAEA was really not empowered to search the country looking for undeclared facilities. This was an obvious hole, though one that, for various reasons, is not quite as stupid as it sounds. In any case, it is precisely the hole which the pre-1991 Iraqi program exploited. In response to this, a model Additional Protocol was created for states to ratify in addition to their original obligations under the NPT. States that ratify the protocol are subject to broader reporting requirements and more wide-ranging inspections for verifying the completeness of the declarations. Iran has not ratified the AP, though it did operate under its aegis unratified for two years during negotiations before last summer.


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