Four new, deeply troubling reports suggest Congress, if it is serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program, will have to reject the final deal P5+1 deal in the works.
First, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency has written what may be the decisive verdict on the impending Iran nuclear deal. The short version:
Unfettered access to sites, facilities, material, equipment, people, and documents is imperative to the credible long-term verification of any nuclear agreement with Iran. This “anywhere, anytime” access and short notice inspections must not be subject to a dispute resolution mechanism, which would delay the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) access. Procedures in a final deal, which provide Iran with the ability to define or control access, undermine the verifiability of the agreement and affect the IAEA’s ability to reach timely conclusions. Additionally, the resolution of the IAEA’s outstanding concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s program must be resolved prior to the provision of substantial sanctions relief.
The report, easily accessible to lawmakers and voters alike, is signed by more than 20 foreign policy gurus, Democrats and Republicans alike. Responding to the incoherent rationalizing from the State Department concerning its willingness to accede to Iran on critical issues, Heinonen reviews what appears to be the terms of a final deal. “A final nuclear deal will include restrictions for ten years that, the Obama administration asserts, will put Iran at least one year away from being able to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear device,” he explains. “Under this arrangement, Iran, however, remains a nuclear threshold state.” He could have stopped right there, for the entire purpose of the sanctions, the threat of military action and of the negotiations was to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. Now we are memorializing it.
Other provisions are nearly as alarming — Arak remains, Fordow remains, thousands of centrifuges remain, R & D on advanced centrifuges continues, the issue of possible military dimensions of Iran’s program will not be resolved and inspections will be less than anywhere/anytime. As for the latter two issues, Heinonen explains:
Since PMD issues will apparently not be resolved before the entry into force of the JCPOA, it will create an increased burden on international inspectors to verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s program. As part of the enforcement mechanisms, the agreement should only grant significant sanctions relief after Iran has addressed and satisfied IAEA concerns. . . . Without unfettered access to people and all sites in Iran, and if limitations and sanctuaries are carved out, it will be impossible to convincingly certify that Iran is fully complying with its undertakings. Such measures take on additional salience if not all pathways to a bomb are to be closed off.
The only deal that would be acceptable seem now totally out of reach. “In order to contain Iran within agreed limitations, the provisions worked out on a verification system need to measure up to the task at hand,” the report concludes. “This involves requiring additional provisions to ensure that Iran’s enrichment capacity and stocks of uranium and spent fuel remain capped; unfettered access to all relevant sites, facilities, material, equipment, people, and documents in Iran to maintain a robust verification scheme; ensuring monitoring starts from a well-defined verified baseline, which means the IAEA’s questions related to the military dimension and Iran’s past and potentially ongoing activities are addressed in advance; and constructing a mechanism to monitor Iran’s procurement activities, including any potential outsourcing of activities that should be proscribed.”
These points are echoed in a second, separate report co-authored by Ambassador Eric Edelman and the president’s former senior adviser Dennis Ross. Like Heinonen, Edelman and Ross conclude: “[T]he IAEA brief for Iran would require wide-ranging inspections and safeguard authorities to certify that its expansive nuclear-related infrastructure – declared and possibly undeclared – is rolled back and unable to progress toward nuclear weapons capability. However, it is uncertain whether the potential monitoring and verification regime adumbrated in the White House factsheet would be remotely sufficient for this task.”
A third report co-authored by Mark Dubowitz and Annie Fixler makes two additional and critical points. First, “The emerging deal does not link the sunset of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities to a broader conclusion by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is not engaged in any undeclared nuclear activities and its program is entirely peaceful in nature.” In other words, we give up leverage before we know if Iran has entirely given up its military program. And second, “snapback” sanctions are not an effective means of curtailing Iran’s military program once we have given up initial leverage. (“The international sanctions regime took decades to put in place and to have an impact on Iran’s economy and decision making. In the later years of the agreement, international companies may have invested tens of billions of dollars back into Iran and will likely be less willing to forgo their business interests because of Iranian nuclear violations. It is also at this point, particularly after year ten of the agreement when key constraints on Iran’s nuclear program disappear, that economic leverage will be needed most to deter Iranian violations and to prevent Tehran from using its expanding nuclear infrastructure to move to a nuclear weapon.”) As they point out, after 15 years, Iran will likely have an industrial-sized and widely dispersed nuclear program, with unlimited advanced centrifuge capacity, zero breakout, and multiple heavy-water reactors — all of which will be increasingly seen as legitimate by the international community. And that is if for the first time in history Iran does not cheat on an international agreement.
And finally, the administration itself supplies the fourth indictment of its own efforts. “Iran’s support for international terrorist groups remained undiminished last year and even expanded in some respects, the Obama administration said Friday, less than two weeks before the deadline for completing a nuclear deal that could provide Tehran with billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions,” reported the Associated Press. An administration spokesman lamely said that “grave concern about Iran’s support for terrorism remains unabated. That is all the more reason that we need to make sure they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon.” That is a complete non sequitur. To the contrary, it confirms what critics have said all along, namely that Iran has not changed its nature and that sanctions relief has and will continue to enable the regime to engage in further mischief. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), in a written statement, observed: “Now that the Administration admits nuclear talks haven’t diminished Iran’s support for terrorism, to what extent has Iran used the interim nuclear deal’s $12 billion in sanctions relief payments to fund terrorists or other terror-supporting regimes?” And why in the world would be make an unenforceable, unverifiable deal with a regime that requires us to give up leverage so we reach a point at which we have virtually no leverage over a state sponsor of terror committed to the destruction of the state of Israel?
There is only one logical answer: Obama is desperate for a deal no matter how inimical to U.S. interests. Congress therefore must stop him or be party to this foreign policy calamity.