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.
The 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was preventable. The Great East Japan earthquake and the tsunami that followed it were unprecedented events in recent history, but they were not altogether unforeseeable. Stronger regulation across the nuclear power industry could have prevented many of the worst outcomes at Fukushima Daiichi and will be needed to prevent future accidents.
In an FAS issue brief, Dr. Charles Ferguson and Mr. Mark Jansson review some of the major problems leading up to the accident and provides an overview of proposed regulatory reforms, including an overhaul of the nuclear regulatory bureaucracy and specific safety requirements which are being considered for implementation in all nuclear power plants.
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.
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).
The nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran have been, for many years, two of the most pressing and intractable security challenges facing the United States and the international community. While frequently lumped together as “rogue states,” the two countries have vastly different social, economic, and political systems, and the history and status of their nuclear and long-range missile programs differ in several critical aspects.
The international responses to Iranian and North Korean proliferation bear many similarities, particularly in the use of economic sanctions as a central tool of policy. Daniel Wertz, Program Officer at the National Committee on North Korea, and Dr. Ali Vaez, former Director of the Iran Project at the Federation of American Scientists, offer a comparative analysis of U.S. policy toward Iran and North Korea in a FAS issue.