Meir Javedanfar

Iran and Israel Need the IAEA

Today Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) admitted that his country in the past had lied to the West about its nuclear capabilities. He made this comment during an interview with the Al Hayat newspaper. The interview, as can be expected got a lot of attention in Israel.

According to CBS, quoting the Times of Israel Davani stated:

“We sometimes [gave] false information to protect our nuclear sites and our earnings.”

The article then goes on to say:

“The Iranian vice president explained that they wanted to show they really didn’t have the power to achieve their nuclear ambitions to foreign intelligence.”

Was lying the logical thing to do for the Iranians?

Absolutely. Nobody expected that they would tell the truth to the West. This is why the IAEA was involved in the inspections and as Davani himself said that when they were confronted by the IAEA inspectors, they could no longer hide behind their lies.

This shows the importance of IAEA inspections in Iran. They have been very useful in checking Iran’s activities in places such as Natanz and the former secret site in Fordo which Iran initially tried to hide from IAEA. This is why the former head of the IAEA Mohammad El Baradei said that when it comes to Fordo, Iran was operating on the wrong side of the law.

What this admission tells us first and foremost is if it wasn’t for the IAEA we would know a lot less about Iran’s activities and that the Iranian government could continue to get away with its continued lies.

The message to the Israeli government: if you attack Iran unilaterally, you can kiss goodbye to years of inspection which has reached Iran’s enrichment sites and with that we can forget about justifying sanctions against the Iranian regime. That would be a victory for Iran.

At the same time the Iranian government should cease its attacks against the IAEA. Its recent allegations that  ”terrorists had infiltrated the organization to sabotage the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment plants” are completely unfounded and self-defeating. It should also stop its threats that it couldwithdraw from the NPT because of the recent IAEA resolution against it. These are empty threats which no one takes seriously. Iran knows better than anyone else that doing this would make it far more economically and diplomatically isolated than it currently is. This is an existential threat which Khamenei would not risk.

About the Author
Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian-Israeli lecturer, author, and commentator. He has been teaching Iranian politics at Reichman University in Israel since 2012 and is Anti-Defamation League’s Iran consultant.