Verification Requirements for a Nuclear Agreement with Iran

Negotiations are currently underway with Iran regarding their nuclear program; as a result, one of the main questions for U.S. government policymakers is what monitoring and verification measures and tools will be required by the United States, its allies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful.

To answer this question, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) convened a non-partisan, independent task force to examine the technical and policy requirements to adequately verify a comprehensive or other sustained nuclear agreement with Iran. Through various methods, the task force interviewed or met with over 70 experts from various technical and policy disciplines and compiled the results in the new report, “Verification Requirements for a Nuclear Agreement with Iran.” Authored by task force leaders Christopher Bidwell, Orde Kittrie, John Lauder and Harvey Rishikof, the report outlines nine recommendations for U.S. policymakers relating to a successful monitoring and verification agreement with Iran.  They are as follows:

 

Six Elements of an Effective Agreement

1. The agreement should require Iran to provide, prior to the next phase of sanctions relief, a comprehensive declaration that is correct and complete concerning all aspects of its nuclear program both current and past.

2. The agreement should provide the IAEA, for the duration of the agreement, access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA, as currently required by UN Security Council Resolution 1929.

3. The agreement should provide that any material acts of non-cooperation with inspectors are a violation of the agreement.

4. The agreement should provide for the establishment of a consultative commission, which should be designed and operate in ways to maximize its effectiveness in addressing disputes and, if possible, building a culture of compliance within Iran.

5. The agreement should provide that all Iranian acquisition of sensitive items for its post-agreement licit nuclear program, and all acquisition of sensitive items that could be used in a post-agreement illicit nuclear program, must take place through a designated transparent channel.

6. The agreement should include provisions designed to preclude Iran from outsourcing key parts of its nuclear weapons program to a foreign country such as North Korea.

 

Three Proposed U.S. Government Actions to Facilitate Effective Implementation of an Agreement

1. The U.S. Government should enhance its relevant monitoring capabilities, invest resources in monitoring the Iran agreement, and structure its assessment and reporting of any Iranian noncompliance so as to maximize the chances that significant anomalies will come to the fore and not be overlooked or considered de minimis.

2. The U.S. Government and its allies should maintain the current sanctions regime architecture so that it can be ratcheted up incrementally in order to deter and respond commensurately to any Iranian non-compliance with the agreement.

3. The U.S. Government should establish a joint congressional/executive branch commission to monitor compliance with the agreement, similar to Congress having created the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the implementation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords.

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Report Examines MANPADS Threat and International Efforts to Address It

On November 28, 2002, terrorists fired two Soviet-designed SA-7 man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) at an Israeli plane destined for Tel Aviv as it departed from Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya. The missiles missed their target but the incident was a wake-up call for governments around the world. Shortly after the attack, the United States created an inter-agency task force to counter the threat posed by MANPADS, with other countries following suit. These countries launched several initiatives aimed at securing and destroying surplus, obsolete and poorly secured stockpiles of missiles; strengthening controls on international transfers of MANPADS; and improving information sharing on the international trade in these weapons. But are these efforts enough?

In the report,“The MANPADS Threat and International Efforts To Address It”, Matt Schroeder, Director of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project, assesses the terrorist threat from MANPADS, evaluates efforts by the international community to curb this threat, and proposes additional measures that governments can take to further reduce the illicit proliferation and use of MANPADS.

The Federation of American Scientists would like to thank the following individuals and institutions for their invaluable contributions to this report: James Bevan, Jeremy Binnie, Peter Courtney-Green, Gene Crofts, Alan Flint, Andy Gleeson, Jose Manuel Heredia Gonzalez, Paul Holtom, J. Christian Kessler, Stephanie Koorey, Jonah Leff, Cheryl Levy, Maxim Pyadushkin, Steve Priestley, Saferworld, Small Arms Survey and officials from the Organization of American States, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Wassenaar Arrangement , along with officials from numerous governments.  Without their talent and support, this study would not have been possible.

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New Report on Aftermath of Fukushima Nuclear Accident

The U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working Group, co-chaired by FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson, has released a new report recommending priorities for the Japanese government following the March 11, 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

USJapanNukeReportApril2013

The U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working Group is composed of bi-national experts who have come together to examine the broader strategic implications of the Fukushima accident. The mission of the group is to understand, articulate and advocate for shared strategic interests between the United States and Japan which could be impacted through changes to Japan’s energy program. In the past twelve months, the group has conducted meetings with industry leaders and policymakers in Japan, the United States and the nuclear governance community in Vienna to examine the implications of Japan’s future energy policy. As a result of these meetings, the group released a report of its findings and recommendations, “Statement on Shared Strategic Priorities in the Aftermath of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident”.

The report discusses specific issues that must be addressed regardless of Japan’s energy policy decisions, including:  strategy for reducing Japan’s plutonium stockpile, new standards for radiation safety and environmental cleanup and treatment of spent nuclear fuel.

The report also examines broader concerns to Japan’s energy policy including:  climate change concerns, emerging nuclear safety regulations and global nuclear nonproliferation leadership (as Japan is a non-nuclear weapons state with advanced nuclear energy capabilities). The group offers strategic recommendations for Japanese and U.S. industries  and governments regarding the direction of Japan’s energy policy, and how both countries can work together for joint energy security.

Read the report here (PDF).

For more information on the U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working Group, click here.

New Report Analyzing Iran’s Nuclear Program Costs and Risks

Iran’s quest for the development of nuclear program has been marked by enormous financial costs and risks. It is estimated that the program’s cost is well over $100 billion, with the construction of the Bushehr reactor costing over $11 billion, making it one of the most expensive reactors in the world.

The Federation of American Scientists and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have released a new report, “Iran’s Nuclear Odyssey: Costs and Risks” which analyzes the economic effects of Iran’s nuclear program, and policy implications of sanctions and other actions by the United States and other allies. Co-authored by Ali Vaez and Karim Sadjadpour, the report details the history of the program, beginning with its inception under the Shah in 1957, and how the Iranian government has continue to grow their nuclear capabilities under a shroud of secrecy. Coupled with Iran’s limited supply of uranium and insecure stockpiles of nuclear materials, along with Iran’s desire to invest in nuclear energy to revitalize their energy sector (which is struggling due to international sanctions), the authors examine how these huge costs have led to few benefits.

The report analyzes the policy implications of Iran’s nuclear program for the United States and its allies, concluding that economic sanctions nor military force cannot end this prideful program; it is imperative that a diplomatic solution is reached to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. Finally, efforts need to be made to the Iranians from Washington which clearly state that America and its allies prefer a prosperous and peaceful Iran versus an isolated and weakened Iran. Public diplomacy and nuclear diplomacy must go hand in hand.

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Trimming Nuclear Excess

Despite enormous reductions of their nuclear arsenals since the Cold War, the United States and Russia retain more than 9,100 warheads in their military stockpiles. Another 7,000 retired – but still intact – warheads are awaiting dismantlement, for a total inventory of more than 16,000 nuclear warheads.

This is more than 15 times the size of the total nuclear arsenals of all the seven other nuclear weapon states in the world – combined.

The U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals are far beyond what is needed for deterrence, with each side’s bloated force level justified only by the other’s excessive force level.

The FAS report – Trimming Nuclear Excess: Options for Further Reductions of U.S. and Russian Nuclear Forces – describes the status and 10-year projection for U.S. and Russian nuclear forces.

The report concludes that the pace of reducing nuclear forces appears to be slowing compared with the past two decades. Both the United States and Russia appear to be more cautious about reducing further, placing more emphasis on “hedging” and reconstitution of reduced nuclear forces, and both are investing enormous sums of money in modernizing their nuclear forces over the next decade.

Even with the reductions expected over the next decade, the report concludes that the United States and Russia will continue to possess nuclear stockpiles that are many times greater than the rest of the world’s nuclear forces combined.

New initiatives are needed to regain the momentum of the nuclear arms reduction process. The New START Treaty from 2011 was an important but modest step but the two nuclear superpowers must begin negotiations on new treaties to significantly curtail their nuclear forces. Both have expressed an interest in reducing further, but little has happened.

New treaties may be preferable, but reaching agreement on the complex inter-connected issues ranging from nuclear weapons to missile defense and conventional forces may be unlikely to produce results in the short term (not least given the current political climate in the U.S. Congress). While the world waits, the excess nuclear forces levels and outdated planning principles continue to fuel justifications for retaining large force levels and new modernizations in both the United States and Russia.

To break the stalemate and reenergize the arms reductions process, in addition to pursuing treaty-based agreements, the report argues, unilateral steps can and should be taken in the short term to trim the most obvious fat from the nuclear arsenals. The report includes 32 specific recommendations for reducing unnecessary and counterproductive U.S. and Russian nuclear force levels unilaterally and bilaterally.

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Iran and the Global Economy

The escalating confrontation between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program has triggered much debate about what actions should be taken to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. How might certain actions against Iran affect the global economy? FAS released the results of a study, “Sanctions, Military Strokes, and Other Potential Actions Against Iran”  which assesses the global economic impact on a variety of conflict scenarios, sanctions and other alternative actions against Iran. FAS conducted an expert elicitation with nine subject matter experts involving six hypothetical scenarios in regards to U.S. led actions against Iran, and anticipated three month cost to the global economy. These scenarios ranged from increasing sanctions (estimated cost of U.S. $64 billion) to full-scale invasion of Iran (estimated cost of U.S. $1.7 trillion).

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Recommendations to Prevent Catastrophic Threat

Only three days after the 2012 national election, FAS hosted a day-long symposium that featured distinguished speakers and provided recommendations to the Obama administration on how best to respond to catastrophic threats to national security at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

These experts addressed the policy and technological aspects of conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; nuclear safety; electricity generation, distribution, and storage, and cyber security. These policy memoranda call for a coordinated national effort to prepare for, prevent and respond to catastrophic threats to the United States.

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Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

On May 20-21, 28 NATO member countries will convene in Chicago to approve the conclusions of a year-long Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR). Among other issues, the review will determine the number and role of the U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and how NATO might work to reduce its nuclear posture as well as Russia’s inventory of such weapons in the future.

Lack of transparency fuels mistrust and worst-case assumptions and the concerns some eastern NATO countries have about Russia have been used to prevent a withdrawal of the remaining U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe. The DDPR is expected to endorse the current deployment in Europe.

A new FAS report (PDF) concludes that non-strategic nuclear weapons are neither the reason nor the solution for Europe’s security issues today but that lack of political leadership has allowed bureaucrats to give these weapons a legitimacy they don’t possess and shouldn’t have.

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The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States

In the wake of the devastating meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, many Americans are now reevaluating the costs and benefits of nuclear energy. If anything, the accident underscores that constant vigilance is needed to ensure nuclear safety.

Policymakers and the public need more guidance about where nuclear power in the United States appears to be headed in light of the economic hurdles confronting construction of nuclear power plants, aging reactors, and a graying workforce, according to a report (PDF) by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and Washington and Lee University.

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Towards Enhanced Safeguards for Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran’s controversial nuclear program has been front and center on the international stage for more than eight years. Despite negotiations, sanctions, and political tug-of-war, the United States and its allies have yet to tame Iran’s atomic phoenix. At the center of this nuclear standoff is Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment program and efforts to obtain full nuclear fuel-cycle capabilities. To alleviate concerns about the intended nature of these activities, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has demanded -through six resolutions – that Iran suspend enrichment activities as well as construction of a heavy-water research reactor. Yet, Iran has opted to pay no heed to these resolutions and despite numerous proposals from different sides, the stalemate persists.

Dr. Charles D. Ferguson and Dr. Ali Vaez, authored a FAS report (PDF) analyzing the outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program, and provide recommendations to the major stakeholders in this debate including Iran, the United States, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Additionally, the report proposes a multipronged approach to resolving this deadlock, including enhanced safeguards and positive-sum diplomacy with incentives for Iran and other aspiring nuclear states.

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