with Dr Olli Heinonen Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Gisela Stuart, MP Birmingham Edgbaston
1 – 2pm, Thursday 14th June 2012
Committee Room 9, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
To attend, please RSVP: email@example.com
Preventing nuclear proliferation is a geopolitical challenge of the highest priority in the 21st Century. The issue is most visibly addressed on the interstate level, with the US leading a coalition of countries seeking to ensure the integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
However, the last quarter of a century has seen more alarming trends than successes. The dismantling of the South African and Libyan nuclear programs are rare positive notes when set against the nuclear tests in Pakistan and North Korea, the proliferation network of A.Q. Khan and the efforts by Syria and above all Iran to build nuclear weapons.
Tensions over the Iranian programme have dominated international attention. Amidst talk of war, the conclusions of the IAEA’s monitors carry significant weight, particularly as their assessments are seen as more technical than political. A thorough understanding of the agency and its methods is thus paramount for policy makers and observers alike.
By kind invitation of Gisela Stuart MP, The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to a discussion with Dr Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director General of the IAEA. Mr Heinonen led the Agency’s efforts to identify and dismantle nuclear proliferation networks, including the one led by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, and he oversaw its efforts to monitor and contain Iran’s nuclear program. He inspected nuclear facilities in South Africa, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, seeking to ensure that nuclear materials were not diverted for military purposes. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on Iran’s nuclear program and will address this and other non-proliferation challenges as well as the international community’s response.
DATE: Thursday 14th June 2012
VENUE: Committee Room 9, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
To attend, please RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Olli Heinonen spent 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna before joining the Belfer Center as a senior fellow in August 2010. Heinonen spent the last five years as Deputy Director General of the IAEA, and head of its Department of Safeguards. He led the Agency’s efforts to identify and dismantle nuclear proliferation networks, including the one led by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, and he oversaw its efforts to monitor and contain Iran’s nuclear program. Heinonen led teams of international investigators to examine nuclear programs of concern around the world. He inspected nuclear facilities in South Africa, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, seeking to ensure that nuclear materials were not diverted for military purposes. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on Iran’s nuclear program. He led the Agency’s efforts in recent years to implement an analytical culture to guide and complement traditional verification activities.
A native of Finland, Heinonen studied radiochemistry and completed his Ph.D dissertation in nuclear material analysis at the University of Helsinki. Before joining the IAEA in 1983, he was a Senior Research Officer at the Technical Research Centre of Finland Reactor Laboratory, in charge of research and development related to nuclear waste solidification and disposal. He is co-author of several patents on radioactive waste solidification. At the IAEA, from 1999 to 2002, he was Director of Operations A and from 2002-2005, he was the Director of Operations B in the Department of Safeguards.
Welcome to the House of Commons, to an event organised by the Henry Jackson Society. I am Gisela Stuart, the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston when I’m not doing this. I am also one of the trustees of the Henry Jackson society. I welcome to you at this event Dr Olli Heinonen about Iran’s nuclear programme in the international atomic energy agency. If I’m allowed just a very brief opening, how many of you have been to Iran? In ten years I was on the Foreign Affairs Committee – it is the only place which, once I’ve been there, I completely changed my mind, and some of my views were reinforced when I changed venue of my advice searches in Birmingham to the church of the Redeemer, not realising this was also the church of the Iranian immigrants, and I have never had such an experience of a whole nation that wishes to entrench its victimhood and share the pain of their victimhood as when dealing with Iranians. It is really quite extraordinary, so I think for someone who has had real experience in trying to deal with a big problem in a country where so few politicians have a first hand experience and where America has got a total blind spot about them, I think that is probably more important than ever and, at a time where the British press may be obsessed with Leveson and same sex marriages, there may be just one or two slightly more crucial problems out there, and I hope that Dr Oli Heinonen can tell us a bit more about it. Over to you.
Thank you very much indeed. First of all I would like to thank you, madam, for the invitation – it is a nice opportunity for someone from Harvard from a chamber of scientists to come and talk with real people like you and see how my personal experience is of dealing with Iran at the time of when I was serving for the atomic energy agency. These are certainly my own views, you can quote them at any time – it’s no big secret, most of them have been published anyway. Perhaps you will hear the story of Iran in a way you have never heard before, some of you may not like certain remarks, but I tell it, as a technical person, how I see it, and if you have questions I will try to answer as best I can. I have prepared actually a PowerPoint presentation but I think I can leave it to the Henry Jackson Society – if you want to distribute it fine, if you don’t it’s up to you, but I use it as my talking points. Actually, this summer ten years ago, in August 2002, was when the Iranian dossier became public, when the Natanz were revealed and the IAEA was under certain hiccups, finally visited the place in spring 2003. A lot of things have changed since then; if you look now at what the Iranian programme was on that day and what it is today there is a world of difference. First of all, when this all went public, Iran tried to hide it. They said ‘we have not done anything’, ‘everything has been done according to the safeguards agreement we have fully complied with requirements’, ‘they have moved equipment away’ – but they were misleading us in various ways.
What is in Natanz today? There are more than 9000 centrifuges spinning. Iran is now enriching to 20%, they are introducing the next generation of centrifuges which are much more powerful, they are subject to tremendous sanctions which are going to harden by the end of this month. So actually where are we today? We were supposed to have the Iranian nuclear problem solved by today and now you see that it’s somewhat worse and actually I will talk a little bit about the announcement yesterday by Iran because it tells the rocky road we have in front of us.
So, if we look now at the big picture: Iran goes ahead with the nuclear programme, regardless of the hardships, sanctions are biting the nuclear programme, they delay it, you have heard about the assassinations and unexplained explosions, etc., but Iran as a state with the support of the people is pushing ahead. They continue to buy equipment from the black market in spite of the sanctions, in spite of the UN sanctions committee we see every now and then they try and acquire technology from abroad, but at the same time they are actually trying to improve their indigenous capabilities to produce those commodities which are essential for the nuclear programme, like manufacturing steel, high strength carbonium, carbon fibre or special magnets; any tiny or small pieces of equipment which are under export controls, they try to produce themselves. Actually we are, in my personal technical view, proceeding to the wrong direction. What’s happening now is that Iran’s capabilities are growing and our knowledge about the nuclear programme is going down. How long we can have it we will see, then Iran apparently did have RND related nuclear weapons development, which was most likely, to a great extent, terminated in 2003, but there are certain activities which still continue. It has seemingly arranged its cooperation with the IAEA – its not in compliance with its safeguards undertakings; it doesn’t implement what is called an early provisional design information. Iran often says that they have not diverted nuclear material, and that’s what the IAEA report says – but in reality if you go back in time they did divert nuclear material. They got more than 2000 tonnes of uranium from China which was never declared to the IAEA, it was kept there until 2003 when it was presented. So the IAEA was never able to fully establish what took place with those materials. These are the unknown things that are still there.
Iran goes ahead with the development of sensitive technologies, we see the uranium enrichment, but very little is spoken about the nuclear reactor programme. The reactor, according to information, will be operational in 2014 – that’s two years from now – so they take the necessary steps and that is what they do. But then when you look at what is necessary for nuclear weapons capabilities, nuclear power alone doesn’t bring the capability. What you need to have are the sensitive technologies, access to sensitive technologies like uranium enrichment or reprocessing. The first one Iran is doing, the second it was doing but likely not for the time being. So then why the international community is worried and concerned about their nuclear programme is very simple. It conducted these active 20 years without fulfilling its obligations under the comprehensive safeguards agreement. As I mentioned it diverted material as part of the programme, arranged its cooperation with the IAEA in a way that it is not any more in compliance.
Then if you look at the uranium enrichment, actually Pusher Power plant has a long term contract for the next ten years from Russia, so in the next ten years Pusher will have enough uranium. Then someone says ‘hey, what about the capabilities in Natanz?’ To be honest they are not the technologies you will use to produce for one simple reason – their power is too small, it’s less than what people measure, it is one separative unit kilogram per year. So if you want to produce fuel for Pusher actually you need to build three times the Natanz place in order to be able to supply Pusher, so Iran has other reasons for uranium enrichment and that’s why it has brought to the table the production of fuel for the Tehran research reactor.
Does it need to produce fuel for the Tehran research reactor? Actually no, there is only one country which has produced, for a short period of time, 20% uranium which this reactor needs, and that is Brazil. All other countries that have commercial production, whether it’s the UK or Netherlands and Germany have never produced uranium. Neither has Japan, and there is plenty of this material available on the commercial market as a legacy of the cold war. Russia has a stock of 100 tonnes, so if you take 20 kilos of that, dilute it, the Tehran reactor will have fuel for 10 years, so there is no necessity to do it – they may have other reasons to do it. And then people say ok but Japan is enriching, Brazil is enriching, Germany is enriching, so why worry if the worry is the latent nuclear responsibility. Here comes the difference. First of all, there have been no clandestine operations that the IAEA has found in those countries, there is no open issues related to their enrichment programme, they are implementing the additional protocols which are the key for efficient and effective safeguards, and they are complying with all the prohibitions and safeguards that have been agreed. So it is a different case from that point of view.
Reprocessing is less in focus, but I bet in two years from now you will be equally worried about that. It is some RND related to processing without reporting to the IAEA so the story is pretty much the same as it has been for uranium enrichment, but the problem comes from the IR 40 reactor which is under construction in Iraq. This kind of reactor is very ill-suited to produce medical isotopes. Nobody in the world, at this point in time, uses this kind of reactor to produce isotopes for medical or industrial purposes because of the neutron flux, because of the physics of the reactor, but it is good to produce plutonium. Like you did here in the UK in the 1950’s, it is actually similar, not exactly the same reactor but similar type.
So, if we look now at the lessons we have learnt here from the IAEA perspective, first of all when you look at these things there is always a good explanation for why under a civilian programme you can have it, the lesson is what is the reason they were done clandestine. If you look at the problem from the IAEA technical point of view, because we don’t give any judgement value over whether something is peaceful, what is the intention of the country so to say, as Mohamed ElBaradei always said, even though I disagreed with him a little over this as Mohamed as you know is a lawyer, and my father was a lawyer, and my father always said he can see the difference between manslaughter and murder. So I asked Mohamed ‘why can’t we see a difference between civilian and non-civilian nuclear research?’ – And I think that question still remains unsettled. I don’t think we found an agreement. If you look from the verification point of view, it’s almost like looking for a needle in a haystack to see whether things belong to the scope of a peaceful use of atomic energy.
Here then comes the actual lesson – when non-proliferation treaty was created in the 1960s, the world was different. We had two power blocks and they kept the people in order. Today there is no one country with such control over a huge amount of other countries, so maybe we should rethink the NPT differently. I quote my father again, who is a lawyer. He said ‘the law is how it is read, not how it is written’, and if I look at the NPT actually the basic objective of the NPT is to prevent the diversion of nuclear energy to nuclear explosives. It is not the nuclear material, not the diversity of nuclear material but the energy which is a much wider concept. Then Article 2 talks also about how a non-nuclear weapon state which is party to the NPT should not acquire knowledge on nuclear weapon design know-how, and this is where Iran has a problem. This is something that we really need to look at – how we can prevent the diversion before it takes place. We should not wait until it comes, and once it comes to that it is actually too late, and here I quote the disarmament because you see that once a country has arms, whether it is nuclear arms or some other arms, they are very difficult to remove, so therefore maybe one of the things the international community has to look at is do the reinterpretation of the NPT, which is extremely difficult (some people say mission impossible) but worth rethinking, and I’ll just list them: South Africa, which actually succeeded because there is an incentive on the South African side, Libya, same thing, and your government was actually very instrumental for that, that was the same story. Iraq could have done better, but Iraq was disarmed of its nuclear on the nuclear part 91 92 93 to a great extent, and North Korea, another good one, is still there, and actually there is an universary on that because one month ago North Korea NPT safeguards agreement entered into the force they had maps nuclear plans for separate plutonium but they have today after leaving the NPT and creating an awkward precedent, they have done two nuclear tests, they are now boosting their nuclear capabilities by introducing uranium enrichment.
Having said that, Iran continues with uranium enrichment, you see it every day. In my view the rights come with the obligation, but Iran thinks they are there. Then let’s go to the nuclear weapon part, which the IAEA finally came out with a comprehensive report last November. There are basically two messages there, one is that the agency has serious concerns about those RND activities which have taken place, and at the same time concerns that the agency has not been able to verify a full inventory on nuclear material activity. Actually it’s a very bad combination because you have the ambiguities there and you see the nuclear capabilities growing. Then let’s look at where the nuclear programme is as of today, I read it from the IAEA reports: by the end of this year the inventory of the low end uranium in Iran will be about 7/8 tonnes if they continue the way they now do and don’t boost it more. If you take that seven tonnes, which is about 3.5% enriched uranium, and turn it into 90% enriched uranium you can make perhaps half a dozen nuclear weapons out of it.
Well there is perhaps good news and bad news here – its not going to be simple still, because these uranium centrifuges are not performed very well which I mentioned at the beginning. If they want to use the current ones they have to reconfigure them and make with the current number of centrifuges one nuclear weapon will take about half a year, so if we see that the international community has time, provided there is not another facility somewhere, not another *inaudible* and the more advanced centrifuges have not yet been introduced. What is a little bit of a disturbing factor here is that Iran continues to produce 20% enriched uranium, it has now something like 150 kilos of that, they moved 50 kilos to produce the fuel plates for the Tehran research reactor, but the other 100 is still there, and you saw from the latest IAEA report that they are boosting that capability. So, by the end of this year they will have perhaps 200/250 kilos of material, which is enough for one nuclear weapon.
Here comes the difference now: let’s assume someone wants to produce a nuclear weapon which requires 90% enriched uranium. Once you go from natural uranium to 3.5% you have done 75% of your work which is required. But, if you have 20% enriched uranium as a starting point, actually you have already done 90% of your work, which in plain language means that your breakout time, if you want to do it, gets much shorter. It gets only a few weeks or a couple of months in the case of 20% enriched uranium, and this is I think one of the biggest concerns of B5+1, these talks which are now there, and they try to talk Iran out of this 20% enriched uranium. But I personally don’t think its enough to ready concerns they are to breakdown because this big cake is still there, 5/6 tonnes of enriched uranium which can be at any point of time turned to higher enrichments.
Then, for a couple of closing remarks before we close for discussions, as we saw this has been now ten years on the table, one of the problems has been the oldest negotiations that in my personal opinion was a little bit missing of leadership. The international community needs to have a shared vision here, what we really want out, what kind of nuclear Iran we want to have, and at the same time we should not create and accept these bad precedents with such tolling to the questions, non-compliance without punishment, using rights without fulfilling obligations, in other words bad behaviour should not be avoided. On the other hand, we cannot continue, I think, this way. We have basically four options here. One is constrain/cut back, or just start to work in a very different way and sift the narrative to more positive things, and pursue that route, and I think that’s what the B5+1 is now doing, the military action solution.
But I think the way Iran has been putting their nuclear programme there in the last five years is going to be difficult, because they have diversified, they have gone underground, they have redistributed the assets, and they probably do the same things Gaddafi did in Libya which is move them all the time, which makes it difficult more for the Intel organisations to find out where they are. Therefore I think we have to engage them, they have to do a few things, they have to build the confidence by cooperating with the IAEA but also at the same time we need to address their security concerns, provide perhaps some economical assistance in industry, that might be the things to do. Most likely, knowing the Iranian character, punitive actions will not help here, there is a pride and there is a thing. And I also want to report one of the things an Iranian said to me which is ‘you try to play chess, chess has rules, but we play poker – and that’s why you will never beat us’.
I think I will stop here, and now these Moscow talks which are coming, Iran has yesterday brought a new topic to the table, the naval proposal of nuclear energy for their submarines. This is probably, for them, a way to justify the existence of additional enrichment now that they realise they cannot anymore pass to have fuel for the Tehran research reactor, there is enough there, but for nuclear propulsion there are a few other countries that are doing it, not in practise, but planning – Argentina, Brazil, a couple of them, I think the people that go to the Moscow talks will have a good time because there is now a new pawn at least on the table which they want to trade on the table for a queen which is, I think, the sanctions. I will stop here to answer technical and other questions that you my have, but what has stayed here at the very end actually the credibility of the NPT regime, if you have a country which doesn’t comply, doesn’t heed to the security council resolutions, which are under international law compulsory, doesn’t look good and sets a bad example for future proliferators, and Syria has already taken good measures to that end.
Thank you very much. Before I open it up to questions can I just because you have a scientific technical background and you have done the inspection regimes in sort of all the places you wouldn’t go on holiday to, and you mentioned a the beginning the capacity has increased but our knowledge about the capacity has decreased. If someone were to ask you now, what is your assessment of the breakout time, what would you say?
I think it’s getting shorter and shorter, and the problem is the annuals. It is very difficult to assign a figure and if you go back a little bit in the history, somewhere around 2005, Iran created this passive defence organisation which sole job is to protect the national assets, and most likely this was the reason for the Fordo facility. They said at this time when it went public that they are going to build ten of them. So my biggest nightmare, so to say, is that there is one more facility – the way Iran does their interpretation of the safeguards agreement they can build it to be ready, and then they go off when they make a decision, and therefore we need this additional protocol, but its not enough because we have this long history of non-compliance, and it will appear in the interests of Iran to build the confidence, so the IAEA would have much better access rights at least for some period of time to make sure the nuclear energy is only used for peaceful purposes.
You say its nightmare, what’s the shortest period within which you think they could put those jigsaw pieces together?
Some people say it’s a few weeks but I personally don’t think. It depends, because they have a few options, but it would be months most likely. There are options here – is it a secret place? Or is it somewhere like Natanz or Fordo, so then the time scales are different if it I a public place the IAEA will see it, and it becomes known fairly soon. Then there is the other part of the equation which is the response time from the international community, which is not always the quickest because there are so many other vested interests in it.
Thank you for that cheerful message, any questions? We will take them three at a time.
*First question inaudible*
The sanctions up to now, it is pretty clear, have not worked. Why is it that the international community don’t propose sanctions which do have teeth? My second question is on the cyber level we have the cyber-tech when we ran which apparently did put them back a little, but I assume they will overcome that, and is there possibility that there will be stronger cyber effects and risks of missing the appropriate number?
I made a note when you said at the beginning about the black market – have AQCON actually been superseded or is that still the main network and the configurations there together with the sanctions on cyber
I think that the AQCON as such doesn’t exist any more, but what has come in the place is the Iranian network. They have a very efficient system to bypass the sanctions by these pieces of equipment. This might be one of the reasons why the Stantec found its way to Iran, and we saw the same thing happening in Iraq, which started with the help of some foreign dealers from Europe, but at the end it was Iraq which was running its own procurements, so I think that this is what is the answer. We need to keep vigilant but as I said now Iraq has the basic knowledge on the centrifuges, they know which is the materials, they have talented engineers, they have resources and they have had time, so they are more independent. The sanctions can only slow it down, and that’s why the people have put other kinds of sanctions which are non-nuclear related sanctions in order to show how serious they are. Then, the Iranian new types of centrifuges, what has happened here is, I don’t know very much about IR5 and IR6 about what they really are, but Iran is mainly looking for the IR2M and IR4, they seem to be the only ones they plan to use. They are 3 or 4 times more powerful than the current ones which are running in Natanz in the underground facility or in Forgo, which means simply that if you want to produce something you will be 4 times more powerful either in time or in quantity. You just decide which way you do it.
Here the sanctions still apply, because you need sophisticated materials and the question is really how much of this special aluminium they are able to produce, and whether they are able to produce maritime steel as an example. Then, this 1987 document related to nuclear weapons. It is not like a cookbook on nuclear weapons, its more like an appetiser where you show a few pieces of, or steps in the process of producing highly enriched uranium, which starts with the conversion of high enriched uranium to uranium metal, machining of those pieces and making some special coatings and things. So, if you get this one and you are manufacturing nuclear weapons, is almost nil in help. The question is what about these 3 other designs which were in the network – who has them? IAEA found some of them in Libya, never in Iraq, they vehemently deny it, and also the Libyans didn’t have apparently all of them – so the question for international communities is with this information do we see only a tip of the iceberg, or did it get distributed somewhere else, or was this still something that was a ? in hand, so that the network at the end was actually planning to produce a CD or DVD, a cookbook on how to make a nuclear weapon, because that’s what they did for centrifuges, for IR1 and P2’s, how you manufacture every piece, start from the chunk of metal, how you produce the tiny small delicate thing, quality assurance testing that you have a good product, so that one there.
North Korea, there are a lot of rumours about the relations of Iran and North Korea, in the missile area there’s a cooperation, but there’s no hard evidence to my knowledge which ties them to nuclear programme together. There may be some circumstantial evidence that their needs could be the same, but when you look at the centrifuges in North Korea they are different to the Iranian ones, they use the same basic sizes, but use different material. What is also strange in this thing is that, and this is not so widely known, that they all started at the same time, in 1985, 86, and 87. The North Koreans made the first steps to the direction of enrichment, then it flopped, then they went to the AQCON in 1994. Iran had the same thing, started around 1987 and went 1994 to AQCON and the Libyans actually started a little earlier, they tried another mechanism, they made their first deal with AQCON in around 1988/89, which then because of Lockerbie and other unfortunate events got stopped, and then they went again in 1995. So there are commonalities but I would not tie them, at least with the current evidence, together.
Okay sanctions I guess I answered, stats next off? Which is the latest which goes there – yes there are ways and means of which some of the members of the international community fight against the proliferates, this is nothing new. In 1950’s Americans were saboteurs in Russian nuclear weapons programmes, as much as they were able to do, and then when you come to the 1960’s the same thing is going on with the Chinese, and then in the end of 1970’s and early 80’s I’m sure some British people even did some sabotage in Pakistan. So these are not new things, it’s just the ways and means are different, and people are also ? different. I don’t think it stops here, someone will find something else, this went to the centrifuges. There was actually an earlier incident around 2006 which Agasadec said at a conference in public in Iran that there was also another attempt to manipulate the electronics of the centrifuges. I think this will continue and I think most important is that this B5+1 ? unity and come with a good deal from Moscow, its not going to end up there – it will be a process, but at least we start to talk about the substance. So it was a bit long answer but so many questions.
Matt Wahnsiedler, Henry Jackson Society:
I’m curious as to the future non-state activism and immigration
Tony, Former MP:
Could you comment whether in fact we need an additional to the additional protocol to move us forward on this, and could you comment on how many countries have not yet signed, and do you think there is a role for a cannacascius 1998 10+10+10 concept coming forward for dealing with, if you like, the nuclear scientists, not just in Iran, but also possibly in North Korea and elsewhere, in terms of moving them into gainable employment for the good of the world. Can you add to that, because you say we need leadership and I’m just not sure, and I’m sitting beside Tony as to what level you think that extra leadership must come from? Will it be p5+1 eu3, or is it the more people that are at the table the less you think will happen? Was the American black spot about Iran now beginning to hit us?
That’s very difficult to say, and I start from the leaders. I think things were pretty good in my personal view in 2003 when we went to September October November when these 3 foreign ministers had a shared decision with what needs to be done. I think that for example Chinese vs. the US and Russia have a very different way of how they think what is the risk of the Iranian nuclear programme, and what’s the best way to deal with it. On the other hand, if you look at it from the – there are various yardsticks here, but if you look at the UN sanctions, there has been actually hardening. If you look at the latest IAEA board of governors voting in last November, so its quite a change if you compare five years ago, because if I remember correctly Indonesia abstained, then was Ecuador voting against, and was it, not Cuba but I think perhaps Egypt. So three countries against, actually two against one not voting and 32 were of the opinion that Iran is non-compliant. If you go to the previous round it was almost 10 which was either against or involved. So there is improvement, but now we are in a very difficult situation in my view because we have the US election and next year is the Iranian election, so there will be a president elected in Iran, and that will be perhaps the most difficult part of this equation. Then AQCON and the network non-state actors and who are the next ones. There is one thing which first of all I think for the non-state actors terrorist organisation, to build centrifuges and get weapons through that route I think is quite an undertaking; I don’t think we should believe that that’s any time soon. It’s more stealing new material, acquiring nuclear material from unstable countries like for example Pakistan; we should be more worried of that route than anything else.
Then, do we need an additional additional protocol. Actually I would like to have it, but I’m a realist at the same time. I don’t think that the political climate at this particular moment in time is such as in 1995, or 93 when the additional protocol was introduced. It was a very peculiar situation in those days and if we had to do today I think at the world is so polarised on this nuclear issue, particularly the way Iran have been handling, and are handling it. It’s a very difficult to find a consensus, because the IAEA works with this authority based on consensus, not by voting. Now that the IAEA has 154 member-states and 118 comes from that group even though most are against nuclear Iran but they just keep quiet. So, are there other ways? I think that there are still, first of all, nuclear suppliers groups is one of the important parameters, and also nuclear security summit, maybe actually at one point of time we need NPT kind of maybe higher level meeting than what was before and that can perhaps create an environment, but in order to do that we need a champion, a real leader, and I don’t think its any time soon on this particular topic.
Can you comment on the canacascius initiative being part of the *inaudible*nuclear states that were left over after the breakout from the Soviet Union?
Actually my concern is somewhat different. What this Iranian case has proved is that you can actually work with the very primitive centrifuges, and produce with a reasonable number highly enriched uranium if you want, and using materials which are not really export controlled in a very strict way, because the specifics are so that they are below this nuclear suppliers group or 254 parameters. Yes they call to the *inaudible* but at the same time one is selling them so much for other purposes that it’s very difficult to find it, and finally clandestine enrichment plant – if I look at Fordow, which is now there underground, and you take the whole of that Fordow, maybe it’s smaller than Westminster hall. How many Westminster Hall sized buildings are there in the world? How do you find out that it’s nuclear? There are no particular signs – a reactor is a different thing, but this kind of thing is fairly hard. This technology is out. Already Seeper, when he made his patents in late 50s and some other people in early 60s, so already everything is there, and it’s just more difficult to – it’s easier to build and make high enriched uranium, but if the state has so decided that’s the way – but not for peaceful purposes.
Can I pick you up on this lovely phrase which I shall from now on recite and not always necessarily credit you with it is that the Iranians say we play chess and they play poker. If I was the Iranians, who use irrational behaviour in a very rational fashion in their own interests, I would do my level best to be almost on the verge of, so that people have to take very careful notice of me, but not arrive at, because then responsibilities kick in. we had that very interesting debate here between Liam Fox and Norman Lamont as to whether we ought to take action or not, and Norman Lamont said absolutely not, and Fox was of the view that we need to do something. Politicians always tend to think we need to do something – are we just lighting the fuse if we say we are going to do something.
It could be because that’s what happened perhaps in North Korea, and then I come back to Iran – but 1992 North Korea had maybe a kilo of separated plutonium that they had never declared to the IAEA, then this was considered as a threat, then finally after all concerns we ended up with the agreed framework in 1994, the North Korea nuclear programme was frozen, and at the very end North Korea will be in full compliance with the safeguards agreement. This was a good period from 1994-2002 no plutonium was produced in North Korea, all the*inaudible* were deteriorating at the same time, fuel application plant went beyond the repair, and then the deal collapsed. North Koreas used what they have, which is plutonium, for the first nuclear test – and one can even say that they were pushed to do that because they didn’t have too many other choices the way that they were thinking. So, Iran, what they tried to play here is that, and this is why they are so sticky with the IAEA access to parts and in other places, IAEA safeguards agreement concentrates on the diversion of nuclear material, not preventing or diversifying nuclear energy or weapons. You actually do all the testing and designs without nuclear material, and you do all the drawing and non-nuclear parts are on the shelf. What you do at the end, you produce the highly enriched uranium and then you can go very quickly if you set everything up – here comes the dilemma, because from a safeguards agreement point of view you would be in compliance with your safeguards agreement because you didn’t access any nuclear material, but certainly this is against the spirit of the NPT, because it also talks about not acquiring knowledge of nuclear weapons and acquire that kind of technology. But the IAEA is not the verification organisation of the NPT, and Iran uses this as its argument, that what the IAEA is doing is beyond its legal mandate – however I disagree with that because the mandate comes from the security councils – fine, but there is another mandate. I think that this is the dilemma the international community has had. We have probably not been vocal enough to explain this division, and there will be other countries using this, and I think one of these is Syria, who had it in their plan to build a nuclear reactor and see what the Israelis say and have a nuclear reactor produced in plutonium, and I would bet that it would happen under IAEA safeguards if it had been standing there.
Karen Longin from the Kings Cross institute of Kings College:
First of all thank you for speaking for us today, it’s been very enlightening, and this is relating to the gentleman’s question before regarding the whole non-state actors and the diversion of nuclear material. At the second nuclear summit earlier this year President Obama said that the threat of nuclear terrorism is grave to the world. Would you agree with this statement?
I think that it’s there. It depends, actually I’m from Finland, and I was at this kind of symposium where they talked about chemical nuclear and biological threats, mainly from non-state actors or terrorist individuals. The question is really their access to the material, and how to use that. If you think that someone builds the nuclear weapons which they are operating, yes it’s a heck-heart undertaking, but if you do this kind of premium explosions which are also like a contamination, it could be attractive for terrorism. There is a saying, I don’t know who said it in the US, that many things in this world have been declared impossible before they were done for the first time – and I think that with terrorism it’s the same thing, that there may be organisations that are innovative. There are certain attempts that have been there, but I think that so far we have been extremely lucky – he may have his own reasons but from a technical point of view I think that’s something we need to fix, and to that end when *inaudible* came last year with my colleague Matt Bang we looked at how the IAEA and the international community handles this situation, and we found that any standards of international security are far behind standards of nuclear safety. So there is a lot of work which needs to be done.
Thank you very much Dr Heinonen for a, I wouldn’t say a cheering up session, but a healthy dose of realism.