The day after a devastating take-down of the Iran deal from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the Associated Press reports:
Iran, in an unusual arrangement, will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect a site it allegedly used to develop nuclear arms under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.
The revelation is sure to roil American and Israeli critics of the main Iran deal signed by the U.S., Iran and five world powers in July. Those critics have complained that the deal is built on trust of the Iranians, a claim the U.S. has denied.
It surely will. “This establishes the exact precedent that Iran always sought and repeatedly claimed: IAEA weapons inspectors will never get physical access into any military sites,” says sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz in an email. “That the Obama administration agreed to Iranian self-inspections tells you everything you need to know about how far it caved on the essential elements of a verifiable and enforceable nuclear agreement.”
The inspection regime and dispute resolution system was already riddled with loopholes that Iran will exploit. But with this there is not even the pretense that there is a viable inspection process. With self-inspection comes the open door for Iran to cheat with impunity. The AP report continues:
The Parchin deal is a separate, side agreement worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers that signed the Iran nuclear deal were not party to this agreement but were briefed on it by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package. Without divulging its contents, the Obama administration has described the document as nothing more than a routine technical arrangement between Iran and the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency on the particulars of inspecting the site.
Ironically, Menendez’s speech is more true in the wake of the AP report than it was when he delivered it:
For well over a decade, the world has been concerned about the secret weaponization efforts Iran conducted at the military base called Parchin. The goal that we have long sought, along with the international community, is to know what Iran accomplished at Parchin — not necessarily to get Iran to declare culpability — but to determine how far along they were in their nuclear weaponization program so that we know what signatures to look for in the future. . . .
With so much at stake, the IAEA — after waiting over ten years to inspect Parchin, speak to Iranian nuclear scientists, and review additional materials and documents — are now told they will not have direct access to Parchin. The list of scientists the P5+1 wanted the IAEA to interview were rejected outright by Iran, and they are now given three months to do all of their review and analysis before they must deliver a report in December of this year. How the inspections and soil and other samples are to be collected are outlined in two secret agreements that the U.S. Congress is not privy to. The answer as to why we cannot see those documents, is because they have a confidentiality agreement between the IAEA and Iran, which they say ‘is customary,’ but this issue is anything but customary.
“If Iran can violate its obligations for more than a decade, it can’t then be allowed to avail themselves of the same provisions and protections they violated in the first place. We have to ask: Why would our negotiators decide to negotiate access to other IAEA documents, but not these documents? Maybe the reason, as some members of Congress and public reports have raised, is because it will be the Iranians and not the IAEA performing the tests and providing the samples to be analyzed, which would be the equivalent of having an athlete accused of using performance enhancing drugs submit an unsupervised urine sample to the appropriate authority. Chain of custody doesn’t matter when the evidence given to you is prepared by the perpetrator.
Maybe this is why we did not get a look at the side deal. If Iran is going to inspect itself anyway it hardly matters if we know about PMD’s or how many days inspectors must wait.
Tellingly, according to Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein, the White House put out a weak-kneed statement saying it was “confident in the agency’s technical plans” and insisted if the IAEA was happy, it was happy. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Iran threatened an IAEA official if he revealed the nature of the side deals. No wonder.
It is hard to argue that the contents of the deal amount to anything approaching the stated aim of preventing Iran from going nuclear. Obama frankly wanted a document so badly he literally did not care what was in it, or at least what was in the critical side deal. The deal is an utter farce. Democrats who have not declared their intentions to date will be hard-pressed to justify supporting it.
UPDATE: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, tells me, “This type of unorthodox agreement has never been done before by the IAEA and speaks to the great lengths our negotiators took to accommodate the Ayatollah despite repeated assurances from the administration that this deal is not based on trust.” House Speaker John Boehner put out a statement, which reads, “The Obama administration has a lot of explaining to do. Why haven’t these secret side agreements been provided to Congress and the American people for review? Why should Iran be trusted to carry out its own nuclear inspections at a military site it tried to hide from the world? How does this not set a precedent for future inspections at suspicious military sites in Iran?” He continued, “President Obama boasts his deal includes ‘unprecedented verification.’ He claims it’s not built on trust. But the administration’s briefings on these side deals have been totally insufficient – and it still isn’t clear whether anyone at the White House has seen the final documents. The American people and their representatives in Congress have serious questions about whether this nuclear agreement will keep our country safe, and it’s time for this administration to provide honest answers.”