Testimony of John Lauder Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Verifying Iran's Nuclear Compliance

June 10, 2014

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

A Gold-Standard Monitoring Regime:

An effective monitoring regime for Iran, should have the following attributes:

--It should be capable of detecting at least militarily significant noncompliance.

--It should create synergy in discovery of relevant Iranian activities among negotiated measures, international inspections, national intelligence means, and publically available information.

--It should establish mechanisms for anomaly and dispute resolution.

-- It should build greater transparency and enhance channels of communication by making contacts between monitoring experts and Iranians a matter of routine.

Monitoring approaches are applicable to any material, equipment, and activity that might be limited in the agreements with Iran.) These interlocking approaches include:

– Data declarations and notifications to provide a baseline for normalcy and the functional equivalent of a tax return or internal audit. Iran should be asked, for example, to identify where all of its centrifuges, by type, are located, and to notify when centrifuges are being moved from one location to another. There needs to be a certain logic and consistency to such declarations both internal to the declarations and to the information available to the international community. The declarations are compliance tools in themselves that help test the willingness of Iran to be transparent. The declarations also help establish those areas where equipment subject to the agreements with Iran are located and thus those areas that should be among those subject to inspection and persistent monitoring.

– Routine inspections and cooperative monitoring measures to provide scrutiny of geographic locations where cheating would be easiest. These routine inspections or persistent monitoring of declared sites are the functional equivalent of an audit of the data declarations. They also would help deter and discover Iranian noncompliance in the areas where such noncompliance would be easiest – using, for example, the existing infrastructure to support the operation of two thousand centrifuges at a location where only a thousand centrifuges had been declared. Routine inspections would also serve as early tripwires of any Iranian decision to break out of an agreement. Iran would need to suspend the inspections or limit the access of inspectors in ways that would provide warning of impending actions inconsistent with the agreements. Conversely, strict Iranian adherence to the inspection and other aspects of the monitoring regime would contribute to regional stability and confidence.

– Challenge inspections available to gather data on compliance concerns. Iran may not declare all of the sites in its declarations where centrifuges or other material or activity subject to the agreements may be present or occurring. So there should be provision to allow inspections in new areas. These inspections too should have a routine tone to them. The conduct of such inspections should not be an accusation of agreement violation in themselves but rather another form of audit to build confidence that the Iranians are in compliance. Neither the routine nor challenge inspections can be just guided tours. The inspectors will need to visit on short notice, spend extended periods at the designated sites, be provided with appropriate site diagrams, and be allowed to bring and use appropriate equipment. These forms of managed access will need to be subject to negotiation. It will be important too to carry out challenge inspections early in the life of any agreement to establish the precedent for their use and to reinforce that such inspections are routine monitoring and not accusations of noncompliance.

– Modalities and scope of inspections need to be broad. Both routine and challenge inspections should be focused on understanding the full status and scope of Iranian nuclear weapons programs. The inspectors will need to have a nonconfrontational but investigative mindset, inclined to ask the type of low-key but probing questions characteristic of Inspector Columbo in the old TV series. The inspections should go beyond the scope of just IAEA Safeguards inspections – as important as they may be in understanding Iranian activities. It may be useful to augment the IAEA inspections with special inspections carried out by the P-5 + 1 or similar ad hoc body. Such inspections would have the advantage of involving the other participating states directly in the compliance regime and taking advantage of some of their more robust access to Iran. The involvement of the Russians and the Chinese in the inspections would raise complications, but it would begin to establish relationships that might be helpful in the event of noncompliance or in a subsequent move to broader arms control and nonproliferation agreements beyond Iran.

– National Technical Means look for anomalies across broad areas and cover the backdoor during inspections. The amount of area in Iran likely to be subject to routine inspections is relatively small in a large country. Thus, a monitoring regime to be effective will require the commitment of substantial US and international satellite coverage, other technical collection, and covert intelligence means to search for any sign of noncompliant behavior. The data declarations also make detections from this form of monitoring less ambiguous. For example, if the locations of all centrifuges are to have been accounted for in the data declarations, but a centrifuge is detected elsewhere in Iran, it is potential evidence of noncompliance that needs to be addressed. (The mechanisms for such resolution of anomalies and noncompliance are addressed later in this paper.) Intelligence means should also be used to observe locations about to undergo routine or challenge inspections. Is material moving out the back gate in advance of such inspections or is there other evidence of efforts to cover up activities that may be contrary to the agreements?

The key to all of these measures working effectively is the synergy created among them. Data declarations tell us where to look, routine inspections audit the declarations, national and international unilateral monitoring and intelligence means detect anomalies, and challenge inspections seek to gather more information relevant to the resolution of those anomalies. The inspections themselves serve as forcing events that may trigger concealment activities on the part of the Iranians that might be indicative of noncompliance. The inspectors are also in a unique position to provide ground-truth situational awareness of Iranian nuclear capabilities and intent that remote access means cannot duplicate.