Framework Deal Raises Questions About Inspection Of Iranian Nuclear Sites
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
A key part of boxing in Iran's nuclear program will be a system of inspections and monitoring. The U.S. view of the framework, reached last week, spells out regular access to all of Iran's nuclear facilities. The U.S. says inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, will have access to Iran's centrifuges, supply chain, uranium mines and any suspicious sites. But how this will all happen is still unclear. Many specifics have yet to be worked out with Iran. And that's one major unresolved concern for David Albright. He is a former U.N. weapons inspector, now president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
DAVID ALBRIGHT: The verification and inspection arrangements are critical to the framework. I mean, you want to be able to determine if Iran is abiding by the stated limitations in the agreement. And you want to also make sure that the arrangements are sufficient, that you could catch any significant cheating by Iran.
BLOCK: And as you look through how this was laid out, the president has called this an intrusive and a robust schedule of inspections. How did it strike you?
ALBRIGHT: Much seems to be unresolved. There are questions I have in the measures themself - whether they're adequate. I mean, one of the critical things in any verification arrangements is that the inspectors can go anywhere in Iran. It's not clear to me that they could go to any military site in Iran. More importantly, the one issue that seems unresolved is, how quickly can they go there? The United States has taken the position - and I agree with it - that the methods the IA uses through its traditional safeguards, through its additional protocol - those measures are not sufficient. And the U.S. is trying to work out a procedure with Iran in order to provide quicker access or more guaranteed access. And those provisions are not negotiated yet.
BLOCK: As a former U.N. weapons inspector yourself, how - what is that process like and how confident were you that you were actually seeing everything that you were supposed to be able to see?
ALBRIGHT: Well, my involvement was more on the analytical side - trying to make sense out of what Iran declared. It's very difficult. And it depends critically on the cooperation of the state and its willingness to allow the IA, in a sense, to do its job. And Iran has not been willing so far to do that. And so the - these conditions, such as anywhere, anytime, particularly - you can never have anytime in a real sense. You can't show up. It's not like "Star Trek" where you can beam down inspectors. But it - you have to have quick access, unimpeded access, and so it needs to approach anytime. And the U.S. has used a term of snap inspections, so it has to be quick. And then you need to be able to go anywhere.
BLOCK: When inspectors go to these facilities, are they inspecting by physically moving around the entire structure? Are they looking at documents? Video? Computer data? What exactly are they inspecting?
ALBRIGHT: Well, it - again, it depends. What they can look at and probe into depends on what the state allows. And that has to be defined in this agreement. I mean, you want to be able to go to sites, interview people who work there. You want to be able to look at things. You want to be able to take environmental samples to check if there is uranium at - been used at the site. You want to be able to look at documents. And all that has to be established. I mean, there's nothing in the additional protocol that would give the inspectors the kind of access and the ability to see things that's actually needed in a country like Iran. And again, just as background, I mean, Iran has cheated and been more noncooperative with its nonproliferation obligations than I think any other country.
BLOCK: Does the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, have the resources that it would take to really fully carry out a robust inspection and verification program as seems to be laid out in this framework?
ALBRIGHT: They'll have to receive more money. They're going to have to staff up. I mean, they're going to need probably additional people with nuclear weapons expertise. They need to bring back the people who were really top-notch on gas centrifuges. I mean, right now it would be hard for the IA to do everything.
BLOCK: David Albright, thanks very much for talking with us.
ALBRIGHT: OK, thank you.
BLOCK: David Albright is a former U.N. weapons inspector and president of the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security.