A fundamental requirement of the interim deal — Iran’s cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency personnel — is not being fulfilled. The White House’s own fact sheet on the interim deal listed Iran’s obligations:
Provide daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordow. This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring. This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and shorten detection time for any non-compliance.
Provide IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities.
Provide IAEA access to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities.
Provide IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.
Provide long-sought design information for the Arak reactor. This will provide critical insight into the reactor that has not previously been available.
Provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor.
Provide certain key data and information called for in the Additional Protocol to Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Modified Code 3.1. . . .
The IAEA will be called upon to perform many of these verification steps, consistent with their ongoing inspection role in Iran. In addition, the P5+1 and Iran have committed to establishing a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation and address issues that may arise. The Joint Commission will also work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s activities at Parchin. [Emphasis added.]
We now know this is not happening. Since this was the basis for sanction relaxation there is no reason to continue giving Iran any relief.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany want to reduce Iran’s present nuclear weapons-making potential. Tehran has been engaging with them over the past six months in exchange for full sanctions relief, even though it insists it has no interest in such arms.
But the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency is no nearer to closing the books on persistent allegations that Iran worked on nuclear arms in the past. While the IAEA’s probe is formally separate from the talks, the U.S. and its allies insist that Tehran must provide satisfactory explanations to the U.N. agency as part of any overall deal.
As part of an evolving November agreement Tehran agreed three months ago to go into deeper explanations of its work on detonators that have a variety of uses, including sparking a nuclear explosion.
That has not happened. Three diplomats told The Associated Press Monday that in a recent formal response, Iran continues to insist that there is no nuclear link to the detonators. Tehran says they were developed only to set off conventional military blasts, and later for civilian uses.
An official with a pro-Israel organization tells me, “Iran’s continued refusal to come clean on their ongoing work on detonators calls into question any hope that they would abide by a final agreement – even if a good deal would be achievable. Tehran has always relied on deception and deceit about their nuclear program and there is no indication they will be changing their ways.” The administration is unlikely to declare Iran to be in breach (for fear it might have to do something). Therefore, the official argues, “It is Congress’s critical role to blow the whistle on Iran’s deceitful behavior.”
It is even more troubling that the administration hasn’t reported back to Congress and the American people on Iran’s refusal to comply. Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies was instrumental in designing anti-Iran sanctions. He warns, “I hope the Obama administration doesn’t adopt an approach of punting on demands for full disclosure on past nuclear weaponization activities or they will find themselves with insufficient leverage after a deal to design and implement a verification and inspection regime that permits weapons inspectors full access to the any suspected site.” But that seems to be precisely what it is doing.
This is why the West must insist Iran ship out its nuclear centrifuges and stockpiles, dismantle the heavy water plant at Arak, destroy warheads and give up the notion of a “right to enrich.” We can assume that whatever is left in the country (e.g. centrifuges, stockpiles) will be used for nefarious purposes. Dubowtiz explains, “Iranian nuclear mendacity has been persistent, pervasive and pernicious. As as result, you cannot design a technical algorithm that can solve what is essentially a strategic problem, which is the nature and conduct of this regime. If Iran refuses to come clean on its past nuclear weaponization activities, and the IAEA doesn’t get unfettered, ‘go anywhere, go anytime’ access to any Iranian site, a nuclear deal will not be worth the paper it is written on.”
That is precisely what has happened even now, under the interim deal. (“Two of the diplomats said senior agency officials met Monday with Iranian representatives in attempts to persuade Tehran to engage on three additional areas of suspected weapons work even as they sought more answers on the detonators. The diplomats are involved with international efforts to track and curb Iran’s nuclear program. They did not detail what those new areas could be and demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge confidential information.”)
None of this comes as a surprise to critics of the administration’s Iran policy. Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams tells Right Turn, “The IAEA has been pressing Iran literally for years to learn about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear work — a code word for building nuclear warheads. Iran continues to make promises about future cooperation — and to stonewall.” He cautions that “this reminds us is that any deal with Iran must cover not only centrifuges and the uranium route to the bomb, and the plutonium route, and the Iranian missile program, but must also require Iran to answer fully all the IAEA’s questions about warhead development.” Abrams makes the case, “A deal that doesn’t cover warheads would be a joke — but a bitter joke, because it would weaken and undermine the IAEA. Surely the United States ought to be at least as tough as the IAEA in demanding that Iran meet its obligations.”
With news of Iran’s refusal to cooperate and President Obama’s former Iran adviser sounding the alarm, Congress should be prepared to act no later than July 20, when the interim deal expires. Iran hasn’t ceased its terrorism, hasn’t come clean on its nuclear weapons program and hasn’t permanently dismantled anything. It’s time to return to sanctions and provide whatever assistance Israel may need to act. Longtime Democrat and head of the Israel Project Josh Block advises, “If Iran is in violation of its obligations not only under successive U.N. Security Council resolutions, but also its promise to come clean on all aspects of its effort to develop nuclear weapons and the capabilities needed to produce them, Congress should act to increase pressure though sanctions, and as President Obama’s
former advisers have also counseled, by making clear the United States Congress is prepared to support the use of force should it be needed.”
Certainly, we know this administration will never declare Iran to be in violation of a deal or admit that all alternatives to renewed sanctions and/or military action exhausted. Congress should immediately convene oversight hearings and find out why the administration is tolerating noncompliance. Then it’s up to Congress to try to tighten the noose on Iran.