Analysis & Opinions - Task Force on Iran

The Hollow Core of the Iran Nuclear Deal

| June 2015

A good nuclear agreement with Iran requires that we know first, what work has Iran conducted toward nuclear weapons, and second, can we guarantee that Iran has stopped and will not resume this work. If these questions are not answered correctly and completely before the negotiations conclude, the resulting agreement will be illusory. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has spoken forcefully and repeatedly on the so-called “possible military dimensions” (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program, and its director general, Yukiya Amano, has frequently implored Iran to respond to Agency inquiries on the matter.

The possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program were raised by the IAEA in connection with broader questions it had about Tehran’s activities. Was there a parallel clandestine nuclear program? If so, what happened to it? Which elements were terminated, which continued, and what had they achieved? In a November 2011 report, the IAEA said its information “indicates that Iran has carried out activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” including “work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon.” The report also addressed what the IAEA referred to as “design work and modeling studies involving the removal of the conventional high explosive payload from the warhead of the Shahab-3 missile and replacing it with a spherical nuclear payload.” In addition, the report asserted, “There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing.”

In all, the IAEA provided a list of 12 specific sets of activities that are the building blocks of a clandestine nuclear weapons development program and which the IAEA said were “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

They include, among other things: military direction of nuclear-related activities; undeclared procurement of nuclear-related equipment and materials by military institutions; detonator development; hydrodynamic experiments to test weapons designs; work on warhead integration into a missile delivery vehicle; and fuzing, arming, and firing system efforts.

The full text of the article including footnotes may be downloaded below.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Tobey, William H..“The Hollow Core of the Iran Nuclear Deal.” Task Force on Iran, June 2015.