THERE IS a global consensus that any agreement with Iran on ensuring its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only will have to involve inspections to verify its disarmament. But as a former weapons inspector, I have very bad news for you: a weapons-inspection regime in Iran will not work. Inspections themselves are most effective when both the state being inspected and the inspecting countries are fully on board-and even then there are limits. An inspection regime can never ensure full disarmament. We can only hope it would detect major violations.
Tehran has shielded its nuclear program from outside examination, and, moreover, the Iranian government has made clear that it will not fully divulge-even when caught-all of the details of its nuclear activities and their support networks, both domestic and foreign. Iran has refused repeated IAEA requests for interviews with the scientists and engineers responsible for large areas of its secret atomic work, and it has refused to disclose the details of its involvement with North Korea and with Pakistan's A. Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network. To date, the unmasking of Tehran's activities owes far more to the tip-offs provided by an Iranian dissident group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which in 2002 told the world about Iran's nuclear facility at Natanz, than to the regime itself.