Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance
September 23, 2020
with International Obligations
Paul K. Kerr
Several U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted between 2006 and 2010 required Iran
Specialist in
to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s)
Nonproliferation
investigation of its nuclear activities, suspend its uranium enrichment program, suspend

its construction of a heavy-water reactor and related projects, and ratify the Additional
Protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. Iran did not comply with most of the

resolutions’ provisions. However, Tehran has implemented various restrictions on, and provided the IAEA with
additional information about, its nuclear program pursuant to the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(JCPOA), which Tehran concluded with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United
States. On the JCPOA’s Implementation Day, which took place on January 16, 2016, all of the previous
resolutions’ requirements were terminated. The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and U.N. Security Council
Resolution 2231, which the Council adopted on July 20, 2015, compose the current legal framework governing
Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran and the IAEA agreed in August 2007 on a work plan to clarify outstanding questions regarding Tehran’s
nuclear program. The IAEA had essentially resolved most of these issues, but for several years the agency still
had questions concerning “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.” A December 2, 2015,
report to the IAEA Board of Governors from then-agency Director General Yukiya Amano contains the IAEA’s
“final assessment on the resolution” of the outstanding issues. A June 2020 IAEA Board of Governors resolution
calls on Iran to satisfy the agency’s requests concerning possible undeclared nuclear activities in Iran. This
resolution does not contain a formal finding of noncompliance.
This report provides a brief overview of Iran’s nuclear program and describes the legal basis for the actions taken
by the IAEA board and the Security Council. It will be updated as events warrant.

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Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Background ............................................................................................................................... 1
Iran and the IAEA ..................................................................................................................... 6
Potential Noncompliance After September 2005 ................................................................ 8
Iran and the U.N. Security Council ......................................................................................... 12
Authority for IAEA and U.N. Security Council Actions ............................................................... 13
IAEA Statute ........................................................................................................................... 13
U.N. Charter and the Security Council ................................................................................... 14
Has Iran Violated the NPT? ........................................................................................................... 15

Appendixes
Appendix A. Iranian Noncompliance with Its IAEA Safeguards Agreement................................ 18
Appendix B. IAEA Special Inspections ........................................................................................ 20
Appendix C. Extended Remarks by William Foster Regarding Possible NPT Article II
Violations ................................................................................................................................... 21

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 22

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Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations

Introduction
Iran ratified the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970. Article III of the treaty requires
nonnuclear-weapon states-parties1 to accept comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) safeguards; Tehran concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA in
1974.2 In 2002, the agency began investigating allegations that Iran had conducted clandestine
nuclear activities; the IAEA ultimately reported that some of these activities had violated Tehran’s
safeguards agreement. Following more than three years of investigation, the IAEA Board of
Governors reported the matter to the U.N. Security Council in February 2006. Since then, the
council adopted six resolutions requiring Iran to take steps to alleviate international concerns
about its nuclear program. This report provides a brief overview of Iran’s nuclear program and
describes the legal basis for the actions taken by the IAEA board and the Security Council.
For more detailed information about Iran’s nuclear program, see CRS Report RL34544, Iran’s
Nuclear Program: Status
, by Paul K. Kerr. For more information about the July 2015 Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) concerning Iran’s nuclear program, see CRS Report
R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr.
Background
Iran’s nuclear program has generated widespread concern that Tehran is pursuing nuclear
weapons. Tehran’s construction of gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facilities has been the main
source of proliferation concern. Gas centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning uranium hexafluoride
gas at high speeds to increase the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. Such centrifuges can
produce both low-enriched uranium (LEU), which can be used in nuclear power reactors, and
highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is one of the two types of fissile material used in nuclear
weapons. HEU can also be used as fuel in certain types of nuclear reactors. Iran also has a
uranium conversion facility, which converts uranium oxide into several compounds, including
uranium hexafluoride. Tehran claims that it wants to produce LEU for its current and future
power reactors.
Iran’s construction of a reactor moderated by heavy water has also been a source of concern.
Although Tehran says that the reactor, which Iran is building at Arak, is intended for the
production of medical isotopes, it was a proliferation concern because the reactor’s spent fuel
would have contained plutonium well-suited for use in nuclear weapons. In order to be used in
nuclear weapons, however, plutonium must be separated from the spent fuel—a procedure called
“reprocessing.” Iran has said that it will not engage in reprocessing. Pursuant to the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Iran concluded in July 2015 with China, France,
Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (collectively known as the “P5+1”),
Tehran has rendered the Arak reactor’s original core inoperable. Iran has also begun to fulfill a
JCPOA requirement to redesign and rebuild the Arak reactor based on a design agreed to by the
P5+1 so that it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. The agreement also requires Iran to
export the spent fuel from this reactor and all other nuclear reactors.

1 The NPT defines a nuclear-weapon state as “one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other
nuclear explosive device” prior to January 1, 1967. These states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and
the United States.
2 INFCIRC/214.
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Iran and the IAEA agreed in August 2007 on a work plan to clarify the outstanding questions
regarding Tehran’s nuclear program.3 Most of these questions, which had contributed to
suspicions that Iran had been pursuing a nuclear weapons program, were subsequently resolved.
Then-IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, however, told the IAEA board June 2, 2008,
that there was “one remaining major [unresolved] issue,” which concerns questions regarding
“possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”4 The IAEA agency did not make any
substantive progress on these matters for some time.
Tehran has questioned the authenticity of some of the evidence underlying the agency’s concerns
and maintains that it has not done any work on nuclear weapons.5 Iran also expressed concern to
the IAEA that resolving some of these issues would require agency inspectors to have “access to
sensitive information related to its conventional military and missile related activities.” The
IAEA, according to a September 2008 report from ElBaradei, stated its willingness to discuss
with Iran
modalities that could enable Iran to demonstrate credibly that the activities referred to in
the documentation are not nuclear related, as Iran asserts, while protecting sensitive
information related to its conventional military activities.6
Indeed, the agency made several specific proposals, but Tehran did not provide the requested
information.7
The IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution on November 18, 2011, stating that “it is
essential” for Iran and the IAEA “to intensify their dialogue aiming at the urgent resolution of all
outstanding substantive issues.” IAEA and Iranian officials met 10 times between January 2012
and May 2013 to discuss what the agency termed a “structured approach to the clarification of all
outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme.”8 However, during an October 2013
meeting, IAEA officials and their Iranian counterparts decided to adopt a “new approach” to
resolving these issues. Iran signed a joint statement with the IAEA on November 11, 2013,
describing a “Framework for Cooperation.” According to the statement, Iran and the IAEA
agreed to “strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful
nature of Iran’s nuclear programme through the resolution of all outstanding issues that have not
already been resolved by the IAEA.” Iran subsequently provided the agency with information
about several of the outstanding issues. Iran later agreed in May 2014 to provide information to
the IAEA by August 25, 2014, about five additional issues, including alleged Iranian research on
high explosives and “studies made and/or papers published in Iran in relation to neutron transport

3 The text is available at https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/infcircs/2007/infcirc711.pdf.
4 Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, June 2, 2008.
5 See, for example, Communication Dated 7 January 2016 Received from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic
Republic of Iran to the Agency Regarding the Report of the Director General on the Final Assessment on Past and
Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme
, INFCIRC/893, January 8, 2016.
6 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions 1737
(2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran
, Report by the Director General,
GOV/2008/38, September 15, 2008.
7 See, for example, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council
Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran
, Report by the Director General, GOV/2012/23, May 25, 2012.
8 A September 2012 IAEA Board of Governors resolution reiterated the board’s support for the Agency’s negotiations
with Tehran, and stated that “Iranian cooperation with IAEA requests aimed at the resolution of all outstanding issues
is essential and urgent in order to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear
programme.”
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and associated modelling and calculations and their alleged application to compressed materials.”
Iran subsequently provided information about four of these issues.9
According to the JCPOA, Iran was to “complete” a series of steps set out in an Iran-IAEA
“Roadmap for Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues.” According to then-IAEA
Director General Yukiya Amano, this road map set out “a process” under a November 24, 2013,
Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1, “to enable the Agency, with the cooperation of
Iran, to make an assessment of issues relating to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear
programme.”10 According to a December 2, 2015, report from Amano to the IAEA Board of
Governors, “[a]ll the activities contained in the road-map were implemented in accordance with
the agreed schedule.”11 The road map required Amano to present this report, which contains the
agency’s “final assessment on the resolution” of the aforementioned outstanding issues.
In response, the board adopted a resolution on December 15, 2015, that notes Iran’s cooperation
with the road map and “further notes that this closes the Board’s consideration” of the
“outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.”12 Since the IAEA has verified that Iran
has taken the steps required for Implementation Day to take effect, the board is no longer focused
on Iran’s compliance with past Security Council resolutions and past issues concerning Iran’s
safeguards agreement. Instead, the board is focused on monitoring and verifying Iran’s JCPOA
implementation “in light of” United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which the
Council adopted on July 20, 2015. This latter resolution requests the IAEA Director General “to
undertake the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments for the
full duration of those commitments under the JCPOA.”
The December 2015 IAEA resolution requests the Director General to issue quarterly reports to
the board regarding Iran’s “implementation of its relevant commitments under the JCPOA for the
full duration of those commitments.” The Director General is also to report to the Board of
Governors and the Security Council “at any time if the Director General has reasonable grounds
to believe there is an issue of concern” regarding Tehran’s compliance with its JCPOA or
safeguards obligations. The JCPOA and Resolution 2231 also contain a variety of reporting
provisions for the IAEA. For example, the resolution requests the agency’s Director General
to provide regular updates to the IAEA Board of Governors and, as appropriate, in parallel
to the Security Council on Iran’s implementation of its commitments under the JCPOA and
also to report to the IAEA Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council at
any time if the Director General has reasonable grounds to believe there is an issue of
concern directly affecting fulfilment of JCPOA commitments.
Several U.N. Security Council Resolutions required Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA’s
investigation of its nuclear activities, suspend its uranium enrichment program, suspend its
construction of a heavy-water reactor and related projects, and ratify the Additional Protocol to its
IAEA safeguards agreement.13 Tehran has signed, but not ratified, its Additional Protocol.
Resolution 1929, which the council adopted in June 2010, contains these requirements and also

9 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the
Islamic Republic of Iran
, Report by the Director General, GOV/2015/34, May 29, 2015.
10 For more information about the Joint Plan of Action and the JCPOA, see CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear
Agreement
, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr.
11 Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme, GOV/2015/68,
December 2, 2015.
12 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Implementation and Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran
in Light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015)
, GOV/2015/72, December 15, 2015.
13 Iran has a plant for producing heavy water.
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required Tehran to refrain from “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering
nuclear weapons.” Iran has also continued its extensive ballistic missile program. Resolution
1929 also required Iran to comply with the modified Code 3.1 of its subsidiary arrangements.
(See “Potential Noncompliance After September 2005.”) Iran did not take any of these steps prior
to concluding the JCPOA, but did limit and reverse some aspects of its nuclear program since the
government began implementing the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action. Moreover, pursuant to
the Joint Plan of Action and its November 2013 agreement with the IAEA, Iran provided some
information to the agency required by the modified Code 3.1.
Pursuant to the JCPOA, Tehran has implemented additional restrictions on its uranium
enrichment program and heavy-water reactor program, as well as begun implementing its
additional protocol and the modified Code 3.1. On the JCPOA’s Implementation Day, which took
place on January 16, 2016, all of the previous Security Council resolutions’ requirements were
terminated pursuant to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which along with the NPT,
composes the current legal framework governing Iran’s nuclear program.14 Although the IAEA
reports findings of its inspection and monitoring activities and the JCPOA-established Joint
Commission monitors the parties’ implementation of the agreement, compliance determinations
are national decisions. Until July 2019, all official reports and statements from the United
Nations, European Union, the IAEA, and the non-U.S. participating governments indicated that
Iran had fulfilled its JCPOA and related Resolution 2231 requirements.15 16
Beginning in July 2019, the IAEA verified that some of Iran’s nuclear activities were exceeding
JCPOA-mandated limits; the government has since increased the number of such activities.17

14 “Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif,” January
16, 2016.
15 Iran’s stock of heavy water has exceeded the JCPOA-required limit of 130 metric tons on two occasions since the
P5+1 began implementing the agreement. “In both instances, this issue was resolved after Iran shipped out sufficient
amounts of material to get back under the limit,” the State Department reported in April 2017 (Adherence to and
Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,
Department of
State, April 2017). For more information, see CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement and CRS Report
RL34544, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status, by Paul K. Kerr.
16 According to a May 31, 2019, report from then-IAEA Director General Amano, Iran had conducted research and
development using advanced centrifuges; the number of these centrifuges may have exceeded the number permitted by
the JCPOA (Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council
Resolution 2231 (2015)
, Report by the Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, GOV/2019/21, May 31,
2019; Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council
Resolution 2231 (2015)
, Report by the Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, GOV/2019/21, May 31,
2019; GOV/2019/32). In a June 11, 2019, speech to the IAEA Board of Governors, U.S. Ambassador Jackie Wolcott
stated that this activity has violated the JCPOA. However, no JCPOA participating government appears to have issued
a similar public finding. Moreover, EU High Representative Mogherini stated during a June 17 press conference that
“Iran is still compliant” with the JCPOA (Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the
press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council, June 17, 2019).
17 Unless otherwise noted, this paragraph is based on the following sources: GOV/2019/32; Verification and
Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015),
Report
by the Director General, GOV/INF/2019/8, July 1, 2019; Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in
Light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015)
, Report by the Director General, GOV/INF/2019/9,
July 8, 2019; Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council
Resolution 2231 (2015),
Report by the Acting Director General, GOV/2019/55, November 11, 2019; Verification and
Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), Report
by the Acting Director General, GOV/INF/2019/17, November 18, 2019; Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic
Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015)
, Report by the Director General,
GOV/2020/5, March 3, 2020; Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations
Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015)
, Report by the Director General, GOV/2020/26, June 5, 2020; Verification
and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015)
,
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Specifically, according to agency reports, Iran’s heavy water stockpile, number of installed
centrifuges, LEU stockpile, and LEU uranium-235 concentration, exceed JCPOA-mandated
limits. Tehran is also conducting JCPOA-prohibited research and development activities, as well
as centrifuge manufacturing, and has also begun to enrich uranium at its Fordow enrichment
facility.18
In a May 8, 2019, speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cited JCPOA Paragraph 26 as
grounds for reducing the government’s performance of some Iranian commitments pursuant to
the agreement. According to that paragraph,
Iran has stated that it will treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions
specified in Annex II, or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds
to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.
However, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, collectively known
as the “E3,” stated on January 14, 2020, that “Iran is not meeting its [JCPOA] commitments” and
announced that the three governments were referring the matter to the agreement’s dispute
resolution mechanism.19 The statement explains that the E3 “do not accept the argument that Iran
is entitled to reduce compliance” with the JCPOA, and adds that “Iran has never triggered” the
agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism “and has no legal grounds to cease implementing the
provisions of the agreement.”20 Nevertheless, according to the U.S. government, “under the terms
of the JCPOA, Iran may cease performing commitments in whole or in part following the U.S. re-
imposition of sanctions.”21 The E3 sent a letter on January 14 to EU High Representative for
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, who oversees the mechanism’s process.22
A September 2020 report from IAEA Director General Raphael Grossi states that the IAEA has
continued verification and monitoring of the restrictions described in Section T of the JCPOA,
which prohibits a number of nuclear weapons-related activities.23 The agreement, as noted,
describes arrangements for agency inspectors to gain access to Iranian sites, including military
sites, other than those that Tehran has declared to the agency, “if the IAEA has concerns regarding
undeclared nuclear materials or activities, or activities inconsistent with” the JCPOA. The
agreement also provides for alternative means to clarify the matter. The IAEA has not reported
whether it has requested JCPOA-related access to any Iranian military facilities, but the agency
has a number of methods other than inspections, such as analyzing open-source information and
receiving intelligence briefings from governments, to monitor Iranian compliance with these and
other JCPOA commitments. According to the April 2018 State Department report
[t]he IAEA continues to exercise its full authorities in pursuing any new safeguards-
relevant or JCPOA-related information in Iran, including any new concerns regarding
weaponization should they arise, through implementation of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement,

Report by the Director General, GOV/2020/41, September 4, 2020.
18 The JCPOA prohibits Iran from enriching uranium at this facility.
19 “Statement by the Foreign Ministers,” January 14, 2020.
20 “Statement by the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom,” January 14, 2020.
21 Email from State Department official, July 17, 2019. A State Department official reiterated this position in a January
31, 2020, interview with a CRS analyst.
22“ Statement by High Representative Borrell as Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan
of Action on the Dispute Resolution Mechanism,” January 14, 2020.
23 GOV/2020/41.
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Additional Protocol, and the enhanced transparency and verification measures contained
in the JCPOA.24
The June 2020 version of the same report states that “the IAEA continues to monitor and verify
Iran’s compliance with its obligations under its [comprehensive safeguards agreement], and the
Additional Protocol as well as Iran’s adherence to its JCPOA commitments.”25 Grossi told the
IAEA Board of Governors on June 15 that the agency “has not observed any changes … in the
level of cooperation by Iran in relation to Agency verification and monitoring activities under the
JCPOA.”26
Iran and the IAEA
As noted, Iran is a party to the NPT and has concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement
with the agency. Such agreements are designed to enable the IAEA to detect the diversion of
nuclear material from peaceful purposes to nuclear weapons uses, as well as to detect undeclared
nuclear activities and material.27 Safeguards include agency inspections and monitoring of
declared nuclear facilities. Although comprehensive safeguards agreements give the IAEA the
authority “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, the tools available
to it to do so, under such agreements, are limited,” according to the agency.28
As a practical matter, the IAEA’s ability to inspect and monitor nuclear facilities, as well as
obtain information, in a particular country pursuant to that government’s comprehensive
safeguards agreement is limited to facilities and activities that have been declared by the
government.29 Additional Protocols to IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreements increase the
agency’s ability to investigate undeclared nuclear facilities and activities by increasing the
IAEA’s authority to inspect certain nuclear-related facilities and demand information from
member states.30 Iran signed such a protocol in December 2003 and agreed to implement the
agreement pending ratification. Tehran stopped adhering to its Additional Protocol in 2006.31

24 Department of State, April 2018. The August 2019 version of the same report notes that the December 15, 2015,
IAEA Board of Governors resolution that closed the board’s “consideration” of the “outstanding issues” concerning the
possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program,
does not preclude the IAEA from investigating any information that is new or inconsistent with its
previous assessment of Iran’s past nuclear weapons program, or where it has concerns regarding
the potential existence of undeclared nuclear materials or activities. (Adherence to and Compliance
with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments
, 2019).
25 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and
Commitments
, Department of State, June 2020.
26 IAEA Director General's Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors, June 15, 2020.
27 2001 IAEA Safeguards Glossary. (Available at http://www-pub.iaea.org/books/IAEABooks/6570/IAEA-Safeguards-
Glossary-2001-Edition.) Comprehensive safeguards agreements are based on a model described in INFCIRC 153,
available at http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/Others/infcirc153.pdf. According to Amano’s May
2013 report, the IAEA Board of Governors “has confirmed on numerous occasions, since as early as 1992,” that this
model agreement “authorizes and requires the Agency to seek to verify both the non-diversion of nuclear material from
declared activities (i.e. correctness) and the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in the State (i.e. completeness).”
28 Guidance for States Implementing Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols, IAEA Services
Series 21, May 2016.
29 2001 IAEA Safeguards Glossary.
30 Additional Protocols for an individual IAEA member state are based on the agency’s Model Additional Protocol
(INFCIRC/540), available at http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/1997/infcirc540c.pdf.
31 Iran announced that it would stop implementing the protocol two days after the IAEA Board of governors adopted a
resolution in February 2006 that reported Iran’s noncompliance with its IAEA safeguards agreement to the U.N.
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The IAEA’s authority to investigate nuclear-weapons-related activity is limited. Then-Director
General ElBaradei explained in a 2005 interview that the IAEA does not have “an all-
encompassing mandate to look for every computer study on weaponization. Our mandate is to
make sure that all nuclear materials in a country are declared to us.”32 Similarly, a February 2006
report from ElBaradei to the IAEA board stated that “absent some nexus to nuclear material the
agency’s legal authority to pursue the verification of possible nuclear weapons related activity is
limited.”33 There is no requirement that there be any nexus to nuclear material in order for the
IAEA to request access to a facility, but there are disagreements among IAEA member states
regarding the extent of the agency’s rights to access locations where there is no reason to suspect
the presence of nuclear material. Such disagreements could play a role if the IAEA Board is
required to consider a request for special inspections in Iran or another country (see Appendix
B
)
. Therefore, the closer the connection between nuclear material and the location in question, the
more likely the Board would be to approve such an inspection.
The current public controversy over Iran’s nuclear program began in August 2002, when the
National Council of Resistance on Iran (NCRI), an Iranian exile group, revealed information
during a press conference (some of which later proved to be accurate) that Tehran had built
nuclear-related facilities that it had not revealed to the IAEA. The United States had been aware
of at least some of these activities, according to knowledgeable former officials.34 Prior to the
NCRI’s revelations, the IAEA had expressed concerns that Iran had not been providing the
agency with all relevant information about its nuclear programs, but had never found Tehran in
violation of its safeguards agreement.
In fall 2002, the IAEA began to investigate Iran’s nuclear activities at the sites named by the
NCRI; inspectors visited the sites the following February. Adopting its first resolution on the
matter in September 2003, the IAEA board called on Tehran to increase its cooperation with the
agency’s investigation, suspend its uranium enrichment activities, and “unconditionally sign,
ratify and fully implement” an Additional Protocol.35
In October 2003, Iran concluded a voluntary agreement with the E3 to suspend its enrichment
activities, sign and implement an Additional Protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement, and
comply fully with the IAEA’s investigation.36 As a result, the agency’s board decided to refrain
from reporting the matter to the U.N. Security Council. As noted, Tehran signed this Additional
Protocol in December 2003, but has never ratified it.37
Ultimately, the IAEA’s investigation, as well as information Iran provided after the October 2003
agreement, revealed that Iran had engaged in a variety of clandestine nuclear-related activities,
some of which violated the country’s safeguards agreement (see Appendix A). After October

Security Council. Iran has been implementing the protocol pursuant to the JCPOA.
32 “Tackling the Nuclear Dilemma: An Interview with IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei,” February 4, 2005,
available at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_03/ElBaradei.
33 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Report by the Director General,
GOV/2006/15, February 27, 2006.
34 Gary Samore, former Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Export Controls on the National Security Council,
personal communication June 5, 2008; then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, “DCI Remarks on Iraq’s
WMD Programs,” February 5, 2004, available at https://www.cia.gov/news-information/speeches-testimony/2004/
tenet_georgetownspeech_02052004.html.
35 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Report by the Director General,
GOV/2003/75, November 10, 2003.
36 The text of the agreement is available at https://fas.org/nuke/guide/iran/uk2005.pdf.
37 Iran has been implementing the protocol pursuant to the JCPOA.
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2003, Iran continued some of its enrichment-related activities, but Tehran and the E3 agreed in
November 2004 to a more detailed suspension agreement.38 However, Iran resumed uranium
conversion in August 2005 under the leadership of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who
had been elected two months earlier.
On September 24, 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution (GOV/2005/77)39
that, for the first time, found Iran to be in noncompliance with its IAEA safeguards agreement.
The board, however, did not report Iran to the Security Council, choosing instead to give Tehran
additional time to comply with the board’s demands. The resolution urged Iran
 to implement transparency measures including access to individuals,
documentation relating to procurement, dual use equipment, certain military
owned workshops, and research and development locations;
 to reestablish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related activity;
 to reconsider the construction of the research reactor moderated by heavy water;
 to ratify promptly and implement in full the Additional Protocol; and
 to continue to act in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol.
No international legal obligations required Tehran to take these steps. But ElBaradei’s September
2008 report asserted that, without Iranian implementation of such “transparency measures,” the
IAEA would “not be in a position to progress in its verification of the absence of undeclared
nuclear material and activities in Iran.”
Iran announced in January 2006 that it would resume research and development on its centrifuges
at Natanz. The next month, the IAEA Board of Governors reported Iran’s case to the U.N.
Security Council.40 Tehran announced shortly after that it would stop implementing its Additional
Protocol. (For details, see “Iran and the U.N. Security Council” below.)
Potential Noncompliance After September 2005
Iran further scaled back its cooperation with the IAEA in March 2007, when the government told
the agency that it would stop complying with a portion of the subsidiary arrangements for its
IAEA safeguards agreement.41 That provision (called the modified code 3.1), to which Iran agreed
in February 2003, requires Tehran to provide design information for new nuclear facilities “as
soon as the decision to construct, or to authorize construction, of such a facility has been taken,
whichever is earlier.” Beginning in March 2007, Iran argued that it was only obligated to adhere
to the previous notification provisions of its subsidiary arrangements, which required Tehran to
provide design information for a new facility 180 days before introducing nuclear material into
it.42

38 The text of the agreement is available at https://fas.org/nuke/guide/iran/uk2005.pdf.
39 Available at http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2005/gov2005-77.pdf.
40 For details on the IAEA’s authority to refer noncompliance cases to the Security Council, see “Iran and the U.N.
Security Council.”

41 According to the 2001 IAEA Safeguards Glossary, subsidiary arrangements describe the “technical and
administrative procedures for specifying how the provisions laid down in a safeguards agreement are to be applied.”
42 During a November 2011 session of the Non-Aligned Movement, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, then Iran’s
Permanent Representative to the IAEA, characterized the modified Code 3.1 as “merely a suggestion” by the IAEA
Board of Governors. See “Iran Provides 20 Answers to Clarify Ambiguities about Its Nuclear Program,” Tehran Times,
November 9, 2011.
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This decision constituted the basis for Iran’s stated rationale for its subsequent refusal to provide
the IAEA with some information concerning its nuclear program. For example, Tehran had
refused to provide updated design information for the heavy-water reactor under construction at
Arak.43 As part of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action, Iran submitted this information to the
IAEA on February 12, 2014.44 Similarly, Tehran had refused to provide the IAEA with design
information for a reactor that Iran intends to construct at Darkhovin. Although Iran provided the
agency with preliminary design information about the Darkhovin reactor in a September 22,
2009, letter, the IAEA requested Tehran to “provide additional clarifications” of the information,
according to a November 2009 report.45 Amano reported in September 2010 that Iran had
“provided only limited design information with respect to” the reactor.46 IAEA reports since 2012
do not appear to address this issue.
Tehran also argued, based on its March 2007 decision, that its failure to notify the IAEA before
September 2009 that it has been constructing a gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment facility, called
the Fordow facility, near the city of Qom was consistent with the government’s safeguards
obligations. Exactly when Iran decided to construct the facility is unclear. Amano reported in May
2012 that the IAEA has requested information from Iran regarding the Fordow construction
decision. But Tehran, according to Amano’s November 2015 report, has not yet provided all of
this information. Subsequent reports from Amano have not addressed the issue.
Both the 2007 decision, which the IAEA asked Iran to “reconsider,” and Tehran’s refusal to
provide the design information appear to be inconsistent with the government’s safeguards
obligations. Although Article 39 of Iran’s safeguards agreement states that the subsidiary
arrangements “may be extended or changed by agreement between” Iran and the IAEA, the
agreement does not provide for a unilateral modification or suspension of any portion of those
arrangements.47 Moreover, the IAEA legal adviser explained in a March 2009 statement48 that
Tehran’s failure to provide design information for the reactors is “inconsistent with” Iran’s
obligations under its subsidiary arrangements. The adviser, however, added that “it is difficult to
conclude that” Tehran’s refusal to provide the information “in itself constitutes noncompliance
with, or a breach of” Iran’s safeguards agreement. Nevertheless, a November 2009 report from
ElBaradei described Tehran’s failures both to notify the agency of the decision to begin

43 This lack of information was “having an increasingly adverse impact on the Agency’s ability to effectively verify the
design of the facility and to implement an effective safeguards approach,” according to a May 22, 2013, report from
Amano (Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in
the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Report by the Director General, GOV/2013/27, May 22, 2013). A November 2013 report
from Amano explains that the IAEA “needs updated design information as early as possible in order ... to ensure that
all possible diversion paths are identified, and appropriate safeguards measures and customized safeguards equipment
are put in place.” (Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council
Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran
, Report by the Director General, GOV/2013/56, November 14, 2013.) Iran
has concluded “a safeguards approach for the reactor” (Status of Iran’s Nuclear Programme in Relation to the Joint
Plan of Action
, Report by the Director General, GOV/INF/2015/8, April 20, 2015).
44 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the
Islamic Republic of Iran,
Report by the Director General, GOV/2014/10, February 20, 2014.
45 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions 1737
(2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Report by the Director General,
GOV/2008/59, November 19, 2008.
46 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the
Islamic Republic of Iran
, Report by the Director General, GOV/2010/46, September 6, 2010.
47 See also GOV/2007/22, available at http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2007/gov2007-22.pdf.
Security Council Resolution 1929 affirmed that Code 3.1 “cannot be modified nor suspended unilaterally.”
48 “Statement by the Legal Adviser,” Meeting of the Board of Governors, March 2009.
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constructing the Fordow facility, as well as to provide the relevant design information in a timely
fashion, as “inconsistent with” Iran’s safeguards obligations. The report similarly described Iran’s
delay in providing design information for the Darkhovin reactor.
Iran may also have violated its safeguards agreement if it decided to construct other new nuclear
facilities without informing the IAEA. The agency has investigated whether Iran has made such
decisions. For example, the IAEA has asked the government for information about Iranian
statements that the government is planning to construct new uranium enrichment facilities, is
designing a nuclear reactor similar to a research reactor located in Tehran, is producing fuel for
four new research reactors, and is planning to construct additional nuclear power reactors.
Pursuant to its November 2013 agreement with the IAEA, Iran has provided at least some of this
information to the agency.
Iran’s March 2007 decision regarding the provision of information to the IAEA also formed the
basis for Tehran’s refusal until August 2009 to allow agency inspectors to verify design
information for the Arak reactor. This action also appeared to be inconsistent with Tehran’s
safeguards agreement. Article 48 of that agreement states that the IAEA “may send inspectors to
facilities to verify the design information provided to the Agency”; in fact, the agency has a
“continuing right” to do so, according to a November 2008 report from ElBaradei.49 Moreover,
the legal adviser’s statement characterized Iran’s refusal to allow IAEA inspectors to verify the
Arak reactor’s design information as “inconsistent with” Tehran’s obligations under its
safeguards agreement.50 IAEA inspectors visited the reactor facility in August 2009 to verify
design information, according to a report ElBaradei issued the same month.51 Inspectors have
visited the facility several more times, according to reports from Amano.
In addition to the lapses described above, Iran’s failure to notify the IAEA of its decision to
produce enriched uranium containing a maximum of 20% uranium-235 in time for agency
inspectors to adjust their safeguards procedures may, according to a February 2010 report from
Amano, have violated Iran’s IAEA safeguards agreement.52 Article 45 of that agreement requires
that Tehran notify the IAEA “with design information in respect of a modification relevant for
safeguards purposes sufficiently in advance for the safeguards procedures to be adjusted when
necessary,” according to Amano’s report, which describes Iran’s enrichment decision as “clearly
relevant for safeguards purposes.”
The IAEA board has neither formally found that any of the Iranian actions described above are in
noncompliance with Tehran’s safeguards agreement, nor reported these issues to the U.N.
Security Council. The IAEA board adopted a resolution on November 27, 2009, that described
Iran’s failure to notify the agency of the Fordow facility as “inconsistent with” the subsidiary
arrangements under Iran’s safeguards agreement, but this statement did not constitute a formal
finding of noncompliance. A September 13, 2012, IAEA board resolution expressed “serious
concern” that Tehran has not complied with the obligations described in IAEA Board of

49 GOV/2008/59. Security Council Resolution 1929 affirmed this statement.
50 Iran stated in an April 2007 letter to the IAEA that, given Tehran’s March 2007 decision regarding the subsidiary
arrangements to its safeguards agreement, such visits were unjustified.
51 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions 1737
(2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran
, Report by the Director General,
GOV/2009/55, August 28, 2009.
52 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions 1737
(2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Report by the Director General,
GOV/2010/10, February 18, 2010.
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Governors and U.N. Security Council resolutions, but the September resolution did not contain a
formal finding of noncompliance.53
More recently, a March 3, 2020, report from IAEA Director General Grossi to the agency’s Board
of Governors states that the IAEA has “identified a number of questions related to possible
undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities” that had taken place at three
undeclared Iranian locations.54 Pursuant to Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement and
additional protocol, the agency has requested information about these activities, as well as access
to two suspected sites.55 Iran has begun to comply with these requests.
In a March 4 press interview, Grossi explained that “[t]he fact that we found traces (of uranium)
is very important. That means there is the possibility of nuclear activities and material that are not
under international supervision and about which we know not the origin or the intent.”56 A June 5,
2020, report from Grossi explains that Iran’s lack of cooperation was “adversely affecting the
Agency’s ability to clarify and resolve the questions and thereby to provide credible assurance of
the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities at these locations in Iran.”57 The IAEA
Board of Governors adopted a resolution on June 19, 2020, calling on Iran “to fully cooperate
with the Agency and satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay, including by
providing prompt access to the locations specified by the Agency.”58 This resolution does not
contain a formal finding of noncompliance.
Grossi and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) President Ali Akbar Salehi issued a joint
statement on August 26, 2020, explaining that “Iran is voluntarily providing the IAEA with access
to the two locations specified by the IAEA and facilitating the IAEA verification activities to
resolve these issues.”59 The IAEA has since inspected one of the two above-mentioned locations,
at which inspectors took environmental samples, according to a September report from Grossi,
which adds that the agency is to inspect the other location “later in September 2020.”60 With
respect to the third location about which the IAEA has questions, the agency “will conduct an

53 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of United Nations Security Council
Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran
, GOV/2012/50, September 13, 2012.
54 NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Report by the Director General, GOV/2020/15, March
3, 2020. Grossi’s June 5 report (GOV/2020/26) reiterates that in January 2019, the IAEA detected “natural uranium
particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the Agency.” As part of its investigation into the
matter, the IAEA has taken “environmental samples at two declared nuclear facilities in Iran” based on information
provided by Tehran. The IAEA has analyzed the samples and assesses that “some findings are not inconsistent with the
additional information provided by Iran,” according to a September 2020 report by Grossi, which adds that that the
agency “has recently informed Iran that there are a number of other findings for which further clarifications and
information need to be provided and questions need to be answered” (GOV/2020/41). Feruță reported the uranium
detection in his November 2019 report (GOV/2020/15; GOV/2020/5; GOV/2019/55).
55 NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Report by the Director General, GOV/2020/30, June
5, 2020; GOV/2020/15.
56 Didier Lauras and Jastinder Khera, “IAEA Chief Demands 'Clarifications' on Iran's Nuclear Program,” Agence
France Presse
, March 4, 2020.
57 GOV/2020/30.
58 NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, GOV/2020/34, June 19, 2020.
59 “Joint Statement by the Director General of the IAEA and the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and
Head of the AEOI,” August 26, 2020. 31/2020.
60 NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Report by the Director General, GOV/2020/47,
September 4, 2020.
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additional nuclear material inventory verification at a declared [Iranian] facility” later in
September 2020.61
According to a June 2020 State Department report, “Iran’s intentional failure to declare nuclear
material subject to IAEA safeguards would constitute a clear violation of Iran’s [comprehensive
safeguards agreement] required by the NPT and would constitute a violation of Article III of the
NPT itself.”62
Iran and the U.N. Security Council
As noted, Iran announced in January 2006 that it would resume research and development on its
centrifuges at Natanz. In response, the IAEA board adopted a resolution (GOV/2006/14)63 on
February 4, 2006, reporting the matter to the Security Council and reiterating its call for Iran to
take the measures specified in the September resolution. Two days later, Tehran announced that it
would stop implementing its Additional Protocol.
On March 29, 2006, the U.N. Security Council President issued a statement, which was not
legally binding, that called on Iran to “take the steps required” by the February IAEA board
resolution. The council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program:
1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835
(September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010). The second, third, fourth, and sixth resolutions imposed
a variety of restrictions on Iran.
The Security Council adopted Resolution 1696 under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the UN
Charter. That article empowers the council to “call upon” governments “to comply with such
provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable” before the council decides upon or
recommends responses addressing threats “to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of
aggression.” Except for Resolution 1835, the council adopted the remaining resolutions, as well
as Resolution 2231, under Article 41 of Chapter VII. This article enables the Security Council to
adopt “measures not involving the use of armed force,” including sanctions, “to give effect to its
decisions” concerning “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression.”
Resolution 1696 was the first to place legally binding Security Council requirements on Iran with
respect to its nuclear program. That resolution made mandatory the IAEA-demanded suspension
and called on Tehran to implement the transparency measures called for by the IAEA board’s
February 2006 resolution. Resolution 1737 reiterated these requirements but expanded the
suspension’s scope to include “work on all heavy water-related projects.” It is worth noting that
the Security Council has acknowledged (in Resolution 1803, for example) Iran’s rights under
Article IV of the NPT, which states that parties to the treaty have “the inalienable right ... to
develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful Purposes.” As noted,
Resolution 1929 also required Tehran to refrain from “any activity related to ballistic missiles
capable of delivering nuclear weapons” and to comply with the modified Code 3.1 of its
subsidiary arrangement.
Resolution 2231, which the U.N. Security Council adopted on July 20, 2015, states that all of the
previous resolutions’ requirements would be terminated when the council receives a report from
the IAEA stating that Iran has implemented the nuclear-related measures by Implementation Day,
as described by the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As noted, Implementation

61 Ibid.
62 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and
Commitments
, Department of State, June 2020.
63 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, GOV/2006/14, February 4, 2006.
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Day took place on January 16, 2016. Resolution 2231 also “reaffirms that Iran shall cooperate
fully as the IAEA requests to be able to resolve all outstanding issues, as identified in IAEA
reports.” The IAEA Board of Governors’ December 2015 resolution noted that the board had
closed its consideration of the “outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.”
The JCPOA spells out a process for Iran or the P5+1 to resolve disputes over alleged breaches of
their JCPOA commitments pursuant to the agreement. Both the JCPOA and Resolution 2231
contain a “snapback” mechanism to reimpose sanctions should Iran fail to resolve satisfactorily a
P5+1 claim regarding Iranian JCPOA noncompliance. This mechanism provides that any
permanent UN Security Council member would be able to veto a Security Council resolution that
would preserve U.N. sanctions relief in the event of Iranian noncompliance. The JCPOA specifies
that, in such a case, “the provisions of the old U.N. Security Council resolutions would be re-
imposed, unless the U.N. Security Council decides otherwise.” The other P5+1 states are able to
invoke this mechanism, but whether the United States may do so is unclear because Resolution
2231 provides that only a “JCPOA participant state” may bring a noncompliance finding to the
Security Council; U.S. officials have stated that the United States is no longer participating in the
agreement.64 In an August 20 letter to Security Council President Indonesian Ambassador Dian
Triansyah Djani, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo initiated the snapback process by notifying
the council that Iran “is in significant non-performance” of its JCPOA commitments. However,
Djani explained in a In an August 21 letter to the council that the “United States cannot invoke
the snapback mechanism … because it has withdrawn from” the JCPOA.65 Consequently, he
added, the August 20 letter “has no legal effect.”
Authority for IAEA and U.N. Security
Council Actions
The legal authority for the actions taken by the IAEA Board of Governors and the U.N. Security
Council is found in both the IAEA Statute and the U.N. Charter. The following sections discuss
the relevant portions of those documents.
IAEA Statute66
Two sections of the IAEA Statute explain what the agency should do if an IAEA member state is
found to be in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement.67 Article III B. 4. of the statute states
that the IAEA is to submit annual reports to the U.N. General Assembly and, “when appropriate,”
to the U.N. Security Council. If “there should arise questions that are within the competence of
the Security Council,” the article adds, the IAEA “shall notify the Security Council, as the organ
bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Additionally, Article XII C. states that IAEA inspectors are to report noncompliance issues to the
agency’s Director General, who is to report the matter to the IAEA Board of Governors. The

64 For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11583, Iran’s Nuclear Program and U.N. Sanctions Reimposition, by
Paul K. Kerr.
65 Letter Dated 21 August 2020 from the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations Addressed to the
President of the Security Council
, S/2020/824
66 The IAEA Statute is not self-executing; the Agency implements safeguards agreements reached with individual
governments and certain regional organizations. As noted, comprehensive safeguards agreements are based on a model
described in INFCIRC 153.
67 The text of the IAEA Statute is available at https://www.iaea.org/about/statute.
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board is then to “call upon the recipient State or States to remedy forthwith any non-compliance
which it finds to have occurred,” as well as “report the non-compliance to all members and to the
Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations.”
In the case of Iran, the September 24, 2005, IAEA board resolution (GOV/2005/77) stated that the
board
found that Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT
Safeguards Agreement, as detailed in GOV/2003/75 [a November 2003 report from then-
Director General ElBaradei], constitute non compliance in the context of Article XII.C of
the Agency’s Statute;
According to the resolution, the board also found
that the history of concealment of Iran’s nuclear activities referred to in the Director
General’s report [GOV/2003/75], the nature of these activities, issues brought to light in
the course of the Agency’s verification of declarations made by Iran since September 2002
and the resulting absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively for
peaceful purposes have given rise to questions that are within the competence of the
Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of
international peace and security.
ElBaradei issued the report cited by the resolution, GOV/2003/75, in November 2003.68 It
described a variety of Iranian nuclear activities, which are detailed in Appendix A, that violated
Tehran’s safeguards agreement. ElBaradei subsequently reported that Iran has taken corrective
measures to address these safeguards breaches. As noted above, the 2005 resolution called on Iran
to take a variety of actions that Tehran was not legally required to implement.
U.N. Charter and the Security Council
Several articles of the U.N. Charter, which is a treaty, describe the Security Council’s authority to
impose requirements and sanctions on Iran.69 Article 24 confers on the council “primary
responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” The article also states that
the “specific powers granted to the Security Council for the discharge of these duties are laid
down” in several chapters of the charter, including Chapter VII, which describes the actions that
the council may take in response to “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of
aggression.”
Chapter VII of the charter contains three articles relevant to the Iran case. Security Council
resolutions that made mandatory the IAEA’s demands concerning Iran’s nuclear program
invoked Chapter VII. Article 39 of that chapter states that the council
shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of
aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in
accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Resolution 1696 invoked Article 40 of Chapter VII “in order to make mandatory the suspension
required by the IAEA.” As noted, that resolution did not impose any sanctions on Iran. Article 40
states that

68 Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Report by the Director General,
GOV/2003/75, November 10, 2003.
69 The text of the charter is available at http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/un-charter-full-text/.
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the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the
measures provided for in Article 39 [of Chapter VII], call upon the parties concerned to
comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable.
Resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1929, which did impose sanctions, invoked Article 41 of
Chapter VII. According to Article 41, the Security Council
may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give
effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply
such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations
and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the
severance of diplomatic relations.
As noted, Security Council resolution 1835 did not impose new sanctions, but reaffirmed the
previous resolutions and called on Iran to comply with them.
It is worth noting that Article 25 of the U.N. Charter obligates U.N. members “to accept and carry
out the decisions of the Security Council.” Moreover, Article 103 of the Charter states that
[i]n the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations
under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement,
their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.
The IAEA also has an obligation to cooperate with the Security Council, “[b]y virtue of its
Relationship Agreement with the United Nations.”70 As noted, Security Council Resolution 2231
requests the IAEA Director General “to undertake the necessary verification and monitoring of
Iran’s nuclear-related commitments for the full duration of those commitments under the
JCPOA.”
Has Iran Violated the NPT?71
Whether Iran has violated the NPT is unclear. The treaty does not contain a mechanism for
determining that a state-party has violated its obligations. Moreover, there does not appear to be a
formal procedure for determining such violations. An NPT Review Conference would, however,
be one venue for NPT states-parties to make such a determination.
The U.N. Security Council has never declared Iran to be in violation of the NPT; neither the
council nor the U.N. General Assembly has a responsibility to adjudicate treaty violations.
However, the lack of a ruling by the council on Iran’s compliance with the NPT has apparently
had little practical effect because, as noted, the council has taken action in response to the IAEA
Board of Governors’ determination that Iran has violated its safeguards agreement.
Iran’s violations of its safeguards agreement appear to constitute violations of Article III, which
requires NPT nonnuclear-weapon states-parties to accept IAEA safeguards, in accordance with
the agency’s statue, “for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations
assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful
uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
Tehran may also have violated provisions of Article II which state that nonnuclear-weapon states-
parties shall not “manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive
devices” or “seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other
nuclear explosive devices.”

70 GOV/2013/27. The agreement is contained in INFCIRC/11.
71 Portions of this section are based on interviews with U.N. and State Department officials.
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As noted, the IAEA investigated evidence of what then-IAEA Director General Mohamed
ElBaradei described in June 2008 as “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”
Such activities may indicate that Tehran has violated both Article II provisions described above.
Moreover, a November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stated that “until fall 2003,
Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.”72
This past program could be a violation of Article II, although the estimate does not provide any
detail about the program. Nevertheless, the IAEA has never reported that Iran has attempted to
develop nuclear weapons.
Despite the lack of such an IAEA conclusion, a 2005 State Department report regarding states’
compliance with nonproliferation agreements argued that the country had violated Article II of
the NPT:
The breadth of Iran’s nuclear development efforts, the secrecy and deceptions with which
they have been conducted for nearly 20 years, its redundant and surreptitious procurement
channels, Iran’s persistent failure to comply with its obligations to report to the IAEA and
to apply safeguards to such activities, and the lack of a reasonable economic justification
for this program leads us to conclude that Iran is pursuing an effort to manufacture nuclear
weapons, and has sought and received assistance in this effort in violation of Article II of
the NPT.73
The report also stated that Iran’s “weapons program combines elements” of Tehran’s declared
nuclear activities, as well as suspected “undeclared fuel cycle and other activities that may exist,
including those that may be run solely by the military.”
The State Department’s 2005 reasoning appears to be based on an interpretation of the NPT
which holds that a wide scope of nuclear activities could constitute violations of Article II. The
2005 report states that assessments regarding Article II compliance “must look at the totality of
the facts, including judgments as to” a state-party’s “purpose in undertaking the nuclear activities
in question.” The report also includes a list of activities which could constitute such
noncompliance.74
The 2005 State Department report cites testimony from then-Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency Director William Foster during a 1968 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.75
Foster stated that “facts indicating that the purpose of a particular activity was the acquisition of a
nuclear explosive device would tend to show non-compliance” with Article II. He gave two
examples: “the construction of an experimental or prototype nuclear explosive device” and “the
production of components which could only have relevance” to such a device. However, Foster

72 Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, National Intelligence Estimate, November 2007. Subsequent U.S. official
statements have been consistent with the NIE.
73 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and
Commitments
, Department of State, August 2005.
74 According to the report, such activities can include (1) the presence of undeclared nuclear facilities; (2) procurement
patterns inconsistent with a civil nuclear program (e.g., clandestine procurement networks, possibly including the use
of front companies, false end-use information, and fraudulent documentation); (3) security measures beyond what
would be appropriate for peaceful, civil nuclear installations; (4) a pattern of Article III safeguards violations
suggestive not of mere mistake or incompetence, but of willful violation and/or systematic deception and denial efforts
aimed at concealing nuclear activities from the IAEA; and (5) a nuclear program with little (or no) coherence for
peaceful purposes, but great coherence for weapons purposes.
75 Nonproliferation Treaty, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy [Part 1] July
10-12, 17, 1968; Session 90-2 (1968). The complete statement regarding Article II violations is in Appendix C.
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also noted that a variety of other activities could also violate Article II, adding that the United
States believed it impossible “to formulate a comprehensive definition or interpretation.”
It is worth noting that the 2005 State Department report’s arguments appear to rely heavily on the
notion that a state’s apparent intentions underlying certain nuclear-related activities can be used to
determine violations of Article II. This interpretation is not shared by all experts.76 The 2005
report “primarily reflected activities from January 2002 through December 2003.” Whether the
State Department assesses that Iran has violated Article II since then is unclear. A version of the
report released in 2010, which primarily reflected activities from January 1, 2004, through
December 31, 2008, states that “the issues underlying” the 2005 report’s conclusion regarding
Iran’s Article II compliance “remain unresolved.”77 Subsequent versions of the report reiterated
the 2010 report’s assessment until 2016, when the State Department assessed that “previous
issues leading to NPT noncompliance findings [regarding Iran] had been resolved.”78 As noted,
the 2007 NIE assessed that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003; subsequent U.S.
official statements have consistently reiterated that Tehran has not yet decided to build nuclear
weapons.79 The United Kingdom’s then-Foreign Secretary William Hague would not say whether
Iran had violated Article II when asked by a Member of Parliament in March 2012.80

76 Personal communication with Andreas Persbo, Senior Researcher, the Verification Research, Training and
Information Centre.
77 Quotations are from Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament
Agreements and Commitments
, Department of State, July 2010.
78 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and
Commitments
, Department of State, April 2016.
79 See, for example, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Statement for the Record, U.S. Intelligence
Community Worldwide Threat Assessment, February 26, 2015. The State Department compliance report covering 2019
states that the U.S. intelligence community “continued to assess that Iran is not currently engaged in key activities
associated with the design and development of a nuclear weapon.” (Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control,
Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments
, Department of State, June 2020.)
80 Developments in UK Foreign Policy, House of Commons: Oral Evidence Taken Before the Foreign Affairs
Committee, March 8, 2012.
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Appendix A. Iranian Noncompliance with Its IAEA
Safeguards Agreement
The November 2003 report (GOV/2003/75) from then-IAEA Director General ElBaradei to the
agency’s Board of Governors details what the September 2005 board resolution described as
“Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its safeguards agreement.”
The report stated that
Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its
obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear
material and its processing and use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such
material has been processed and stored.
The report detailed some of these failures and referenced other failures described in two earlier
reports (GOV/2003/40 and GOV/2003/63) from ElBaradei to the IAEA board.81
According to GOV/2003/40, Iran failed to declare the following activities to the agency:
 The importation of natural uranium, and its subsequent transfer for further
processing.
 The processing and use of the imported natural uranium, including the production
and loss of nuclear material, and the production and transfer of resulting waste.
Additionally, Iran failed to
 declare the facilities where nuclear material (including the waste) was received,
stored, and processed;
 provide in a timely manner updated design information for a research reactor
located in Tehran; as well as
 provide in a timely manner information on two waste storage sites.
GOV/2003/63 stated that Iran failed to report uranium conversion experiments to the IAEA.
According to GOV/2003/75, Iran failed to report the following activities to the IAEA:
 The use of imported natural uranium hexafluoride for the testing of centrifuges,
as well as the subsequent production of enriched and depleted uranium.
 The importation of natural uranium metal and its subsequent transfer for use in
laser enrichment experiments, including the production of enriched uranium, the
loss of nuclear material during these operations, and the production and transfer
of resulting waste.
 The production of a variety of nuclear compounds from several different
imported nuclear materials, and the production and transfer of resulting wastes.
 The production of uranium targets and their irradiation in the Tehran Research
Reactor, the subsequent processing of those targets (including the separation of
plutonium), the production and transfer of resulting waste, and the storage of
unprocessed irradiated targets.

81 Those reports are available at http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2003/gov2003-40.pdf and
http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2003/gov2003-63.pdf.
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Iran also failed to provide the agency with design information for a variety of nuclear-related
facilities, according to the report. These included the following:
 A centrifuge testing facility.
 Two laser laboratories and locations where resulting wastes were processed.
 Facilities involved in the production of a variety of nuclear compounds.
 The Tehran Research Reactor (with respect to the irradiation of uranium targets),
the hot cell facility where the plutonium separation took place, as well as the
relevant waste handling facility.
In addition, the report cited Iran’s “failure on many occasions to co-operate to facilitate the
implementation of safeguards, through concealment” of its nuclear activities.
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Appendix B. IAEA Special Inspections
As noted, Iran’s obligations under its Additional Protocol to provide access to certain locations
are unclear; Tehran may refuse to grant the IAEA access to certain facilities. In such a case, the
IAEA Director General could call for a special inspection; the inspection could require approval
from the IAEA Board of Governors. According to the IAEA, an inspection is deemed to be
special when it is in addition to IAEA routine inspections or “involves access to information or
locations” that have not been identified to the IAEA as part of the agency’s implementation of
safeguards in that country.82 Such inspections “are foreseen in all Agency safeguards agreements,
principally as a means for the Agency to resolve unforeseen verification problems,” according to
a 1991 IAEA document.83 Paragraph 73 of the model safeguards agreement, INFCIRC 153, states
that comprehensive safeguards agreements should provide for the IAEA’s ability to “make
special inspections,” subject to certain procedures, if the agency
considers that information made available by the State, including explanations from the
State and information obtained from routine inspections, is not adequate for the Agency to
fulfill its responsibilities under the Agreement.
According to the 1991 document, a special inspection could be triggered by the IAEA’s receipt of
“plausible information, which is not adequately explained by the State or otherwise resolved” by
other IAEA inspections that the country has “nuclear material in a nuclear activity” outside of
IAEA safeguards, or that the state has an undeclared nuclear facility that it had been required to
report to the agency.
The IAEA Director General “has the authority ... to determine the need for, and to direct the
carrying out of, special inspections,” according to another 1991 IAEA paper.84 In the event that
the IAEA argues for a special inspection in a country, the agency and the government “must hold
immediate consultations,” according to the 1991 paper. Any dispute regarding the inspection
request must be resolved according to dispute settlement provisions described in INFCIRC 153.
However, paragraph 18 of INFCIRC 153 states that
if the Board, upon report of the Director General, decides that an action by the State is
essential and urgent in order to ensure verification that nuclear material subject to
safeguards under the Agreement is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear
explosive devices the Board shall be able to call upon the State to take the required action
without delay, irrespective of whether procedures for the settlement of a dispute have been
invoked.
If the state refuses the inspection, the IAEA Board of Governors can take action according to
paragraph 19 of INFCIRC 153, including reporting the matter to the U.N. Security Council.85

82 2001 IAEA Safeguards Glossary. According to that Glossary, special inspections can also be used “to verify the
information contained in special reports.” States with comprehensive safeguards agreements are required to submit a
special report to the IAEA if there is a “loss of nuclear material exceeding specified limits” or if “containment and
surveillance measures have been unexpectedly changed from those specified in the Subsidiary Arrangements.”
Subsidiary arrangements describe the “technical and administrative procedures for specifying how the provisions laid
down in a safeguards agreement are to be applied.” The IAEA negotiates changes to such arrangements with the state if
alterations to the country’s nuclear facilities necessitate such changes.
83 GOV/INF/613, May 29, 1991.
84 GOV/2554, November 12, 1991.
85 Ibid.
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Appendix C. Extended Remarks by William Foster
Regarding Possible NPT Article II Violations
On July 10, 1968, then-Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director William Foster testified
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the NPT. In response to a question
regarding the type of nuclear activities prohibited by Article II of the treaty, Foster supplied the
following statement:
Extension of Remarks by Mr. Foster in Response to Question Regarding Nuclear Explosive
Devices
The treaty articles in question are Article II, in which non-nuclear-weapon parties
undertake “not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear
explosive devices,” and Article IV, which provides that nothing in the Treaty is to be
interpreted as affecting the right of all Parties to the Treaty “to develop research, production
and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes…in conformity with Articles I and II of
this Treaty.” In the course of the negotiation of the Treaty, United States representatives
were asked their views on what would constitute the “manufacture” of a nuclear weapon
or other nuclear explosive device under Article II of the draft treaty. Our reply was as
follows:
“While the general intent of this provision seems clear, and its application to cases such as
those discussed below should present little difficulty, the United States believe [sic] it is
not possible at this time to formulate a comprehensive definition or interpretation. There
are many hypothetical situations which might be imagined and it is doubtful that any
general definition or interpretation, unrelated to specific fact situations could satisfactorily
deal with all such situations.
“Some general observations can be made with respect to the question of whether or not a
specific activity constitutes prohibited manufacture under the proposed treaty. For
example, facts indicating that the purpose of a particular activity was the acquisition of a
nuclear explosive device would tend to show non-compliance. (Thus, the construction of
an experimental or prototype nuclear explosive device would be covered by the term
‘manufacture’ as would be the production of components which could only have relevance
to a nuclear explosive device.) Again, while the placing of a particular activity under
safeguards would not, in and of itself, settle the question of whether that activity was in
compliance with the treaty, it would of course be helpful in allaying any suspicion of non-
compliance.
“It may be useful to point out, for illustrative purposes, several activities which the United States
would not consider per se to be violations of the prohibitions in Article II. Neither uranium
enrichment nor the stockpiling of fissionable material in connection with a peaceful program
would violate Article II so long as these activities were safeguarded under Article III. Also clearly
permitted would be the development, under safeguards, of plutonium fueled power reactors,
including research on the properties of metallic plutonium, nor would Article II interfere with the
development or use of fast breeder reactors under safeguards.”


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Author Information

Paul K. Kerr

Specialist in Nonproliferation



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Congressional Research Service
R40094 · VERSION 109 · UPDATED
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