Iran Joined by a Third of IAEA Members Shirking Nuclear Duties

Iran and 55 other countries failed to comply last year with United Nations reporting requirements to ensure nuclear material isn’t diverted, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

About a third of the agency’s member nations didn’t report nuclear safeguards information on time in 2013, while others hindered inspections, counted badly and failed to report nuclear activities, the Vienna-based body said in a report obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Several states did not sufficiently facilitate the clarification or resolution of agency questions, including questions concerning the correctness and/or completeness of their declarations,” according to the 86-page report. “Delays in resolving issues can result in the agency being unable to attain the safeguards objectives.”

For the second year in a row, the IAEA’s annual review shows that Iran, where atomic work went undeclared for decades, isn’t alone in flouting international rules. While other transgressions don’t match the scale of Iran’s, the report underscores the limits of control over possible nuclear-weapons material worldwide.

IAEA inspectors visited 1,264 sites last year, accounting for enough uranium and plutonium to build 188,500 nuclear weapons, according to the report.

Inspections in Iran, which has one nuclear reactor, consumed about 12 percent of the agency’s 106.5 million euro ($145 million) safeguards budget. Iran hosted 211 inspections and was late with less than 1 percent of the 8,283 reports it was required to file, according to the document.

Japan, Uzbekistan

In addition to special scrutiny of Iran, Syria and North Korea, the document highlighted inspector concerns in Japan and Uzbekistan.

It could take “several years” to account for nuclear material from cooling ponds at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant after the 2011 reactor accident, according to the report.

There were “failures by Uzbekistan to report small amounts of nuclear material and some small-scale nuclear activities,” though those lapses don’t “give rise to a proliferation concern.” Uzbekistan, which operates two research reactors, received four inspections last year and was late on 31 percent of its reports, according to the IAEA.

The world’s officially recognized nuclear-weapons states -- China, France, Russia, the U.K and the U.S. -- hosted a combined 85 inspections last year.

The IAEA’s 35-member board of governors convenes next week in Vienna where the safeguards report will be presented. Diplomats will also discuss continuing efforts to resolve the investigation into Iran’s nuclear work.

Iran meets with world powers June 16 in the Austrian capital to negotiate a long-term nuclear accord.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.