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Israel leverages dubious ‘Nuclear Archives’ to secure new IAEA demands on Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency has once again lent itself to the political interests of the United States and Israel, provoking a needless conflict with Iran

by Gareth Porter

Part 3 - Israel enhances its position in the IAEA

This Israeli lobbying coincided with the first phase of a transition within the IAEA that would ultimately advance Tel Aviv’s position. Director General Yukio Amano underwent an unspecified medical procedure in September 2018, grew steadily weaker with a serious illness, and died on July 2, 2019. 

Before his physical decline, Amano had announced plans to step down by March 2020, touching off a competition between senior IAEA officials for election to the top position. US and Israeli influence was immediately enhanced by the race, because any interested candidate required substantial backing from Washington for the requisite votes among the agency’s board of directors.

The Israelis had focused the IAEA’s attention on an alleged Iranian overt conversion program from the very beginning. Drawn from a covert program that took place from 2000 to 2003, the collection of supposedly purloined documents included a one-page flow sheet showing a process for converting uranium ore into a form of uranium that could be enriched. 

But in its December 2015 “final assessment” of questions of “possible military dimensions,” the IAEA had concluded that the process shown in the document “was technically flawed and of low quality in comparison to what was available to Iran as part of its declared nuclear fuel cycle.” In other words, it wasn’t taken very seriously.

Netanyahu’s new “Iranian Nuclear Archive” included what was purported to be a May 2003 letter from the “project manager” of the “Health and Safety Group” for that same alleged covert nuclear weapons program.

The letter described a large covert uranium conversion plant and three plant designs.  But the letter bore no marking that connected it with any Iranian government entity — only a crudely drawn symbol that could have been added by anyone. 

What’s more, nothing about the facility designs supported the document’s authenticity, especially considering a senior Israeli intelligence official acknowledged to pro-Israel lobbyist David Albright that no such plant was ever built.

Israel, nevertheless, continued to deploy those dubious documents to hammer home its point.

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