So the IAEA report, released to the public on Tuesday afternoon after several days of media hoopla and build-up, was essentially debunked even before it came out, and all it took was a simple Google search by B at Moon of Alabama who discovered that the "Soviet Nuclear Scientist" cited in the report and touted by the warmongers was not a nuclear scientist after all, and the "bus-sized metal chamber" was not nuclear-related, but was in fact related to perfectly legitimate civilian uses, specifically the manufacture of industrial diamonds.
And by Wednesday, the mainstream press has already delivered the coup de grace to the IAEA report, and probably to the IAEA itself under Amano, though some people are still in denial about what a complete fiasco this IAEA report turned out to be for the US and allies as far as creating an even believable (let alone true!) case against Iran.
In retrospect, getting the IAEA to release the so-called "Secret Annex" was probably the worst thing that the US could have done. The US showed its hand, and turned out to be bluffing. Now that this "evidence" is public, its quite apparent that it is actually quite thin and not terribly reliable, which is why the former IAEA head had resisted including the information in previous IAEA reports. (Elbaradei - who also earned the emnity of the Bush administrtion when he cast doubt on the "Iraqi WMD claims" - is vindicated, once again.)
So the claims about a continuing nuclear weapons research program in Iran are debunked. But amongst even the skeptics of the latest IAEA report, there is a persistent belief that somehow, the conclusion that Iran actually did have a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003 remains valid. There's no particular reason to believe that either.
If you remember, the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate put out by the US had two conclusions - first, that Iran had a nuclear weapons research program prior to 2003, and second that the program ceased after 2003. But the IAEA, whilst agreeing with the latter conclusion, never endorsed the former.
In his book, Age of Deception, Elbaradei states that the US never shared the intelligence they had to support the claim that Iran had a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003 with the IAEA. The only information the US provided was what Elbaradei himself refers to as "unverified alleged studies." And with regard to those, he also stated:
And I have been making it very clear that with regard to these alleged studies, we have not seen any use of nuclear material, we have not received any information that Iran has manufactured any part of a nuclear weapon or component. That’s why I say, to present the Iran threat as imminent is hype.
And in response to allegations that the IAEA was "hiding" evidence against Iran, the IAEA issued a press release which stated quite unequivocally:
With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran.
Just to make sure the message was clear, later in October 2009, ElBaradei stated,
The IAEA is not making any judgment at all whether Iran even had weaponisation studies before because there is a major question of authenticity of the documents.
So now you know.
By the way folks, the "cannot verify the absence of undeclared material" statements in the IAEA reports has a very prosaic explanation: the IAEA does not verify the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in any country - not Iran, not Egypt, not Argentina, not Brazil - unless that country has signed onto the Additional Protocol. Under the "basic" IAEA safeguards, a country is obligated to report its nuclear facilities/materials, and the job of the IAEA is merely to account for the nuclear material to make sure none of the declared material has been diverted to non-peaceful uses (if there is a suspicion that a country has not declared all of its nuclear facilities/material, the IAEA Board can demand "special inspections" - which has never happened.)
However once the Additional Protocol is in force, allowing more instrusive inspections, the IAEA can also verify that there are "no undeclared" nuclear facilities/materials, and furthermore that a country's nuclear program is "exclusively peaceful." That process can take years to complete.
In the meantime, note that even the Additional Protocol only allows inspections of nuclear material/places and does not amount to a carte blanche to poke noses in non-nuclear matters such as missile programs, centrifuge design plants etc. And pursuan to the Safeguards, the inspections still have to be minimally intrusive on a country's nuclear program.