I suspect there will be a lot of fuss this weekend about today's quarterly report from the International Agency Energy Agency, much of it made without actually reading the document. Many in the mainstream media are already primed to see a likely if not inevitable military showdown, and they will be fed soundbites that prove Iran's confrontational approach.
In fact, the major shift is not in substance --- "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material" is the same clause in its conclusions of the last two years --- but in tone.
Previously, the IAEA has called for transparency from Tehran in allowing access to facilities and documents. Now, the Agency adds the warning that it "is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities". And then comes the line that will dominate coverage: "The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme."
This, combined with the general references to increased cascades of centrifuges --- which prove absolutely nothing about a military dimension to the programme but will converted into that proof in media coverage --- is likely to ratchet up the political temperature. While Iran is trying to release the pressure by saying that it was not obligated to open up access to Parchin --- technically true, but tactically suspect in the circumstances --- the only way out may be a confirmation of renewed talks on the nuclear programme.
50. While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, as Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation, including by not implementing its Additional Protocol, the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.
51. The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme, as explained in GOV/2011/65. Iran did not provide access to Parchin, as requested by the Agency during its two recent visits to Tehran, and no agreement was reached with Iran on a structured approach to resolving all outstanding issues in connection with Iran’s nuclear programme.
52. Since the Director General’s November 2011 report (GOV/2011/65), contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran continues to carry out uranium enrichment activities and has: increased the number of cascades being used to produce UF6 enriched to 5% U-235; increased the number of cascades being used to produce UF6 enriched to 20% U-235; and is preparing additional cascades at Fordow (FFEP) and Natanz (FEP). Iran has also announced its intention to install three new types of centrifuge at Natanz (PFEP) for R&D purposes.
53. The Director General urges Iran, as required in the binding resolutions of the Board of Governors and mandatory Security Council resolutions, to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations, including: implementation of the provisions of its Additional Protocol; implementation of the modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements General Part to its Safeguards Agreement; suspension of enrichment related activities; and suspension of heavy water related activities.
54. The Director General calls upon Iran to cooperate fully with the Agency. The Director General urges Iran to work with the Agency to reach agreement on a structured approach, based on Agency verification practices, to resolve all outstanding issues. In particular, the Director General urges Iran to address the Agency’s serious concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme, including, as a first step, by responding to the Agency’s questions related to Parchin and the foreign expert, and by granting early access in that regard.
55. The Director General will continue to report as appropriate.