November 16, 2015
By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) puts Iran’s nuclear program under greater scrutiny than before and reduces the likelihood of an overt dash to the bomb for the next 10 years. But the agreement contains a number of notable weaknesses—particularly regarding undeclared nuclear activity and weapons- related research—that should be mitigated by adopting stronger verification measures.
November 4, 2015
Op-Ed, Institute for Science and International Security
While Iran continues to keep the pressure on to weaken the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) effort to get to the bottom of the well-founded allegations that it had a nuclear weapons program, the Obama administration is giving the impression that it is softening its position on this critical issue. The administration should publicly state that the results of the IAEA’s investigation are critical and are linked to sanctions relief.
October 23, 2015
Journal Article, Science & Global Security, issue 3, volume 23
By Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
New public information allows a fresh estimate of China's current and under-construction uranium enrichment capacity. This paper uses open source information and commercial satellite imagery to identify and offer estimates of the capacity of China's 10 operating enrichment facilities, located at 4 sites, using centrifuge technology most likely based on adapting Russian technology. The total currently operating civilian centrifuge enrichment capacity is estimated to be about 4.5 million separative work units/year (SWU/year), with additional capacity estimated to be about 2 million SWU/year under construction. Also China could have an enrichment capacity of around 0.6 million SWU/year for non-weapon military uses (i.e., naval fuel) or dual use. These estimates are much larger than previous public estimates of China's total enrichment capacity. Further expansion of enrichment capacity may be likely since China will require about 9 million SWU/year by 2020 to meet the enriched uranium fuel needs for its planned nuclear power reactor capacity of 58 gigawatts-electric (GWe) by 2020 under its policy of self-sufficiency in the supply of enrichment services.
October 20, 2015
By Trevor Findlay, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
In this new report, Trevor Findlay provides the first comprehensive study of the IAEA's handling of states not complying with their non-proliferation obligations. The report finds that none of the cases have followed the non-compliance process outlined in the Agency's Statute and safeguards agreements. Rather, each case has posed unique challenges to the non-proliferation regime. The report concludes that creativity and deft statecraft are key to the handling of complex non-compliance cases.
October 14, 2015
By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School
Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs hosted Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, October 13, for a discussion of diplomacy and challenges in key hotspots around the globe.
In a one-on-one discussion with Secretary Kerry, Belfer Center Director Graham Allison asked Kerry about his concerns and plans related to Iran, Syria, Russia, and the Islamic State, among others.The overflow event in the Charles Hotel ballroom included questions from the audience of more than 500 Harvard students and faculty.
Included here is the complete U.S. Department of State transcript from the event. The video is included with the original transcript.
October 8, 2015
Op-Ed, The Diplomat
By Se Young Jang, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
"South Korea has been trying to develop its nuclear energy industry over half a century. Insufficient energy sources, increasing domestic energy consumption, and rising oil prices in the 1970s were significant drivers that turned South Korea into a nuclear energy producer. Today, the country runs 24 nuclear reactors in four nuclear power plant sites, the second highest number of reactors among Asian countries after Japan and fifth highest in the world. Despite the contribution of nuclear energy to the South Korean economy, however, the country is currently facing mounting domestic concerns over its pro-nuclear energy policy."
Journal Article, International History Review, issue 5, volume 37
By Jayita Sarkar, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom
The article examines the strategic circumstances leading to non-aligned India's safeguard of its nuclear option during a crucial period in its proliferation trajectory, when it was one of the states closest to nuclear-weapons development, and faced US pressures to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that was being negotiated at the time.
September 29, 2015
"In a speech before the UN General Assembly on September 28, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani heralded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the rest of the world. After a heated and largely politicized national debate, Congress is set to move forward with nuclear agreement. This treaty limits Iran’s nuclear enrichment capabilities over the next decade in exchange for sanctions relief."
September 21, 2015
Two proliferation experts discuss the risk of other regional states pursuing nuclear capabilities of their own to counter Iran, and whether they have the necessary funds, technical capability, outside help, and political will.
September 22, 2015
On September 21, 2015, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano informed the Board of Governors that one day earlier he had visited a suspect site within the Parchin Military Complex in Iran. A few days prior to Director General Amano’s visit, as foreseen in an unofficial draft Iran/IAEA agreement, Iran, took environmental samples at the suspect location. Amano said in a public statement that access to the site was important in order to “clarify issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” However, the manner in which environmental samples were taken raises troubling precedents for both the IAEA’s investigation into Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons and the verifiability of the long term nuclear deal, the Joint Compreheansive Plan of Action (JCPOA).