Scott Ritter says IAEA report a face-saver

Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter: case against Iran has run its course
For full coverage of business developments in Iran and the Middle East, see MEED

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) final assessment of Iran’s nuclear programme, which declared the Islamic Republic is adhering to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and there are no indications of Tehran trying to develop nuclear weapons after 2009, has been described as “face-saving” by Scott Ritter, a former Iraq weapons inspector.

“The road-map the IAEA and Iran signed in July 2015 was… more a face-saving mechanism for the IAEA to step back gracefully from its charges than a means for Iran to provide a mea culpa explaining past nefarious activity,” Ritter said in an article published by Huffington Post yesterday. “In every case, the IAEA was either forced to concede that their information was baseless (allegations concerning the manufacture of “uranium metal, for instance), or else could be explained through “alternative applications” involving Iranian commercial and military activities unrelated to the Iranian nuclear program. There was, in short, no “smoking gun” which could breathe life into the moribund PMD (possible military dimension) issue.”

The JCPOA was signed by China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US and Iran in July 2015 to limit the scope and scale of Iran’s civilian nuclear energy programme, including uranium enrichment in exchange for a relaxation of sanctions imposed by the US, the UN and the EU. A separate agreement, named the road-map, was signed. It set out a framework for addressing allegations that Iran had an undeclared nuclear weapons-related programme.

Iran has always denied the existence of such a programme.

“In November 2011, the IAEA put its reputation on the line by publicly detailing much of the information it had been using to sustain the PMD allegations,” Ritter said. “The IAEA’s final assessment (released last week) is less than earth-shattering … There was, in short, no “smoking gun” which could breathe life into the moribund PMD issue.”

“…the IAEA’s final report is more a political face-saving exercise than technical expose,” Ritter said. “Fortunately, reason prevailed, and the PMD case against Iran has run its course, not with the bang anticipated by its supporters, but rather a whisper.”