Iran and IAEA Information Confidentiality Measures

31 January 2012 | 15:46 Code : 1897482 Interview
Elham Aminzadeh believes that the IAEA should take further security measures to ensure the safety of sensitive Iranian nuclear documents.
Iran and IAEA Information Confidentiality Measures

Senior IAEA inspectors-- led by Herman Nackaerts-- visited Tehran on Sunday, Jan 29th, to investigate Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to clarify concerns over the country’s nuclear activities and intentions. Following the assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist, Tehran is reluctant to put faith in the IAEA’s data protection activities. In an interview with IRD, Elham Aminzadeh discusses this issue further.


IRD: To What extent is the IAEA responsible for the protection of a country’s confidential nuclear information?


EA: The IAEA is not a normal agency. It is an organization that holds sensitive information regarding the nuclear structure of most nations. Nuclear power is a universal type of energy with the potential to be used in a variety of ways. Therefore, the IAEA takes the outmost care to keep this information classified, as its security is essential for countries’ national safety. This agency has been created to ensure peace between the nations; therefore, by violating information confidentiality it will jeopardize its own existence.


IRD: Following the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, some have expressed concerns over the leakage of confidential IAEA information regarding Iran’s nuclear program. How can Iran investigate this?


EA: When authorizing IAEA inspection visits to Iranian nuclear sites or disclosing confidential information, the Iranian government must take measures to obtain written contracts regarding the agency’s potential failure to protect this information. In the unlikely event of violation of this contract, Iran could pursue investigation through the International Court of Justice. There are no international prohibitions on legal measures to guarantee the protection of sensitive documents regarding the security of a country and its citizens.


Considering the past incidents regarding Iranian nuclear scientists, Iran’s request for further security obligations with the IAEA are justified.


IRD: You mentioned taking international legal measures. In the event that the assassination of the Iranian scientist was the result of leaked information through the IAEA, what actions could Iran take?


EA: The only possible way for a country to file a complaint against an international agency is though the UN Security Council. However, international legal action could be taken by requesting an advisory opinion through the International Court of Justice. Specific procedures should be taken before requesting an advisory opinion. Distinguished lawyers must present the court with well crafted questions regarding the IAEA’s violation of international laws by not taking appropriate action to ensure the protection of sensitive Iranian documents and nuclear related information.


The International Court of Justice advisory opinion previously has had satisfactory results. The Israeli-built wall in occupied Palestine, for instance, was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice and declared as against human rights. The verdict was however overlooked, and did not take effect. The UN Security Council could have taken the International Court of Justice’s ruling against the Israeli wall into consideration and enforced it as a resolution. The UN Security Council, however, does not act on issues that are not in its interest.


IRD: To what extent can Iran use international law to protect its national interests and its citizens?


EA: In my opinion, as a lawyer, the Iranian government has had several available legal solutions; yet the government tends to favor politics over legal actions. I believe better use could have been made of Iran’s available legal options.


*Elham Aminzadeh is a lawyer and professor at Tehran University.