Understanding the IAEA's Mandate in Iran: Avoiding Misinterpretations
Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (2012)
8 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2013
Date Written: November 1, 2012
This article analyzes and counters the claim that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has exceeded its legal mandate in applying safeguards in Iran in accordance with a comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It does so in view of the importance of the IAEA's activities regarding Iran, the persistent efforts by Iran to call into question the legitimacy of those IAEA activities, and the authors' concern to ensure that there is no misunderstanding as to the agency's mandates.
Much attention has focused on Iran's advancing nuclear program, on the peace and security concerns which that program has raised, and on the international policy debate over how to respond to that program. Far less attention has been paid to the various arguments used by Iran and a few academics to call into question the mandate of the IAEA to investigate and make determinations about actual or suspected violations of Iran’s legal obligations. Although arguments used by Iran and these academics to undermine the legitimacy of IAEA activities regarding Iran are patently incorrect, they are nevertheless dangerous to both current and future nonproliferation efforts. Unless these arguments are clearly countered, and their incorrectness clearly demonstrated, these arguments may decrease the chances of Iran agreeing to comply with its international legal obligations, could provide a fig leaf to those countries disinclined to hold Iran accountable, and might undercut the IAEA's and the United Nations Security Council's potentially pivotal roles in facilitating a peaceful resolution to disputes over the nuclear programs of Iran and future proliferators. In that light, this article systematically analyzes and counters those arguments.
Keywords: International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
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