Published on December 12th, 2012 | by Jasmin Ramsey1
IAEA Reliance on Third-Party Data Could Compromise Political Credibility
Beginning with a reference to a contentious report by the AP that used an alleged Iranian document provided by an “unnamed country” to suggest “that Iran is working on a bomb,” Mark Hibbs, a senior associate in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program, writes that increasing reliance by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on third-party data can compromise the agency’s political credibility:
The true significance of this document is that it landed in our e-mailboxes in the midst of renewed internal debate about how the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should determine whether member states are in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations. Beginning two decades ago, the IAEA started relying less on information it gathers during its own field inspections alone and more on information that others provide, most of which is open-source, but some of which is not. This third-party data has become central to the IAEA’s work, and it is about to become even more so. The leak of the graph to the AP underscores that if this data isn’t rigorously vetted and handled carefully, the IAEA’s technical and political credibility will be seriously compromised.
Meanwhile the Guardian reports that the IAEA has attempted to tighten internal security by “narrowing the circle of officials and analysts who deal with the most sensitive material.” The measures apparently include prohibiting any Persian speakers from working in the safeguards department to fulfil the imperative task of analyzing documents about Iran’s nuclear program.