Reports & Papers

36 Items

The nuclear archive warehouse outside Tehran (Satellite image via Google).

Satellite image via Google

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Iran Nuclear Archive: Impressions and Implications

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The large cache includes some 55,000 pages of documents and a further 55,000 files on CDs that included photos and videos. A clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited the materials out of Iran in early 2018.

The documents that the Belfer group were shown confirm that senior Iranian officials had decided in the late 1990s to actually manufacture nuclear weapons and carry out an underground nuclear test; that Iran’s program to do so made more technical progress than had previously been understood; and that Iran had help from quite a number of foreign scientists, and access to several foreign nuclear weapon designs. The archive also leaves open a wide range of questions, including what plan, if any, Iran has had with respect to nuclear weapons in the nearly 16 years since Iran’s government ordered a halt to most of the program in late 2003. 

This brief report summarizes the group’s conclusions about what the archive reveals about Iran’s program and questions that remain open.

A heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran.

AP

Report

Strengthening the Verification and Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

| November 16, 2015

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.

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, shakes hands with Director General of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, during their meeting in Tehran, Sept. 20, 2015.

AP

Report - Institute for Science and International Security

IAEA Visit to the Parchin Site

| 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).

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide

| Aug. 03, 2015

The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide has been produced in the interest of contributing to informed Congressional review and public discourse on a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It provides a concise description of the agreement and the accompanying UN Security Council Resolution 2231. It also includes a balanced assessment of the agreement's strengths and weaknesses with respect to its central objective to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Sanctions Against Iran: A Guide to Targets, Terms, and Timetables

| June 2015

To assist Members of Congress and observers in analyzing these issues and judging a potential comprehensive agreement, the Belfer Center prepared this brief to outline the key facets of sanctions against Iran. Written as an addendum to our April policy brief, ‘Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal,’ this report is driven by the policy debate’s leading questions.

Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne, Switzerland, Mar. 2015.

AP

Report

Inspections in Iran: What Would Inspectors Need? What Are the Lessons Learned from Iraq?

| June 3, 2015

As nuclear negotiations with Iran near their final stage, the question of inspections has come to the fore. If a final agreement is reached, inspections will be a principal means of assuring that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, either by “breakout” at declared facilities, or by “sneakout” using secret sites. Given the importance being placed on inspections, what type will be necessary?  What inspection and verification regime will be needed to facilitate compliance, detect violations, and ensure effective enforcement?

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Fresh Ideas for the Future: Symposium on the NPT

| April 26, 2015

The abstracts in this booklet summarise the research presented at an academic symposium convened on the sidelines of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. As we write this, journalists and seasoned experts in the nuclear policy field have been speculating about the particularly difficult challenges facing the Review Conference this year. To address those challenges, we would urge all concerned to consider the ideas and analyses presented at this symposium. Experts would be hard-pressed to find a better collection of fresh ideas and approaches for assessing and strengthening the NPT.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal

| April 2015

On April 2, 2015, the E.U. (speaking on behalf of the P5+1 countries) and Iran announced agreement on “key parameters” for a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The E.U.-Iran Joint Statement is buttressed by unilateral facts sheets issued by the U.S. and Iran, which provide further details of the framework accord. Negotiators now turn to translating this framework accord into a final comprehensive agreement by June 30, 2015. Members of Congress and their staffs, as well as informed citizens, are now focusing on the Iranian challenge and assessing the framework accord. The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School has prepared this Policy Brief summarizing key facts, core concepts, and major arguments for and against the current deal aimed at stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The purpose of this Policy Brief is not to advocate support for or opposition to the tentative deal that has been negotiated, but rather to provide an objective, nonpartisan summary to inform Members and others in coming to their own conclusions. The team of experts who prepared this report includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and internationals, who have many disagreements among themselves but who agree that this Brief presents the essentials objectively.

Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Shadow Wars of Weapons Acquisition: Arms Denial and its Strategic Implications

| July 01, 2014

In trying to prevent adversaries from acquiring new military capabilities, countries often employ strategies of arms denial; e.g., “unilateral diplomacy,” supply chain interdiction, covert sabotage, and targeted military strikes. Using a game-theoretical model of weapons acquisition and denial, the authors posit that the prevalence of this approach gives rise to strategic effects that affect all players’ behavior.

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Blocking All Paths to an Iranian Bomb: How the West Can Avoid a Nuclear Maginot Line

| June 2014

"In concentrating so much of their mindshare on imposing constraints on Iran's known nuclear facilities at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak, are the US and its five negotiating partners at risk of creating a nuclear Maginot line?" In this discussion paper, Director of the Belfer Center Graham Allison and MTA/ISP Research Fellow Oren Setter explore what the US might be missing: alternative pathways for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.