In 2004, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that a member state had violated its Safeguards Agreement by carrying out covert uranium conversion and enrichment activities and plutonium experiments for more than two decades. The nature of certain of those enrichment activities, moreover, raised legitimate suspicions of interest in a nuclear weapons program.
The state was found to have lied to the IAEA even when it began investigating these suspicious activities, claiming that its laser enrichment research did not involve any use of nuclear material.
If that sounds like a description of Iran’s troubled relationship with the IAEA up to 2004, that’s because it bears striking resemblance to it. In fact, however, it is a description of the deception of the IAEA by the government of South Korea.
There was just one major difference between the South Korean and Iranian cases: Iran never enriched uranium at a level that could only represent an interest in nuclear weapons, but South Korea did.
Yet the IAEA treated Iran as a state to be investigated indefinitely, after failing to give South Korea even a slap on the wrist.
Even more remarkable is the fact that the two cases were the subject of IAEA reports issued within the same week in November 2004.