The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

IAEA's Iran Report Represents Critical Inflection Point

For first time, the UN agency unequivocally charges Iran with nuclear weapons work

2 min read
IAEA's Iran Report Represents Critical Inflection Point

The disclosure by the International Atomic Energy Agency in March and November 2003 that Iran had systematically violated Nonproliferation Treaty Requirements for more than two decades was a major turning point. So too was the report disclosed yesterday, in which the IAEA finds that Iran has had a well organized program to develop an implosion bomb that could be fitted to one of its medium-range missiles.

Before, the IAEA had determined that Iran was secretly building facilities to obtain materials for a nuclear bomb--the enrichment plant at Natanz, and a heavy-water production plant that could provide means of obtaining plutonium from natural uranium--and that it only made reports to the agency about the facilities once the agency had learned of them from other sources. Now the agency is saying Iran not only sought materials for a nuclear weapon but also was actively designing the weapon and obtaining components for it, and that in all likelihood such work only appeared to have fully stopped in 2003--04, contrary to previous U.S. intelligence assessments.

The new IAEA report is enormously detailed and takes care to indicate where evidence came from an how it was corroborated. Though it does not name the member state that provided a key 1000-page document, or some ten member states that provided other evidence, it's clear that the agency did an enormous amount of cross-checking over a long period to test the plausibility of various allegations.

What it found was that up to 2003-04 Iran had an elaborate program to develop everything needed for a deliverable implosion bomb. Upon coming under intense international scrutiny and pressure in 2003, it shut down that program and physically destroyed all traces of it. But elements of the program appear to have continued, under the leadership of the same scientist who had managed it up until 2003.

 

 

 

 

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

Keep Reading ↓Show less