Archive for the ‘IAEI’ category

Top Iranian Official Denounces UN Nuclear Watchdog Chief Yukiya Amano, Confirms Tehran Will Not Open Military Sites to International Inspection

September 13, 2017

Top Iranian Official Denounces UN Nuclear Watchdog Chief Yukiya Amano, Confirms Tehran Will Not Open Military Sites to International Inspection, AlgemeinerBen Cohen, September 12, 2017

(How diligently has the IAEA sought evidence to justify inspections of military and other non-declared Iranian sites? The Iranian position appears to be that even with substantial such evidence inspections would not be permitted.– DM)

Amano did not back down on his statement of September 1, delivered in an interview with the Associated Press, that under the provisions of the JCPOA, the IAEA “has access to all locations without making distinctions between military and civilian locations.” In private briefings with journalists, however, IAEA officials have said they are not seeking to inspect Iranian military sites, as they have no evidence to suspect Iran of carrying out banned activities; critics of the JCPOA have depicted such statements as a face-saving device, countering that the IAEA wants to avoid a losing confrontation with Iran, which has made clear that its military sites are off-limits.

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A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader has fiercely denounced Yukiya Amano – the head of the UN’s nuclear monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – for his assertion that IAEA inspectors are entitled to access all “relevant locations,” including military sites, inside Iran.

“The claim of such a right is fabricated by Mr. Amano,” Ali Akbar Velayati – a former Iranian foreign minister who now advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on international affairs – told the regime’s official news agency, IRNAon Tuesday. “If he was independent, and his decisions were based fully on independence, he would have pressed inspecting the nuclear centers of the Zionist regime, because nuclear arms in the occupied lands set as the biggest danger to the entire Middle East region.”

Velayati’s attack on Amano is notable in that it comes two days after the IAEA chief confirmed that Iran, in the view of the agency, is abiding by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)  – the official name of the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, led by the United States, in July 2015.

“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the deal are being implemented,” Amano told the quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors in Vienna. Amano also told the meeting that Iran had agreed to a “high number” of short-notice inspections of its nuclear sites, without specifically addressing the concern voiced last month by Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, that the IAEA does not have enough access in Iran.

At the same time, Amano did not back down on his statement of September 1, delivered in an interview with the Associated Press, that under the provisions of the JCPOA, the IAEA “has access to all locations without making distinctions between military and civilian locations.” In private briefings with journalists, however, IAEA officials have said they are not seeking to inspect Iranian military sites, as they have no evidence to suspect Iran of carrying out banned activities; critics of the JCPOA have depicted such statements as a face-saving device, countering that the IAEA wants to avoid a losing confrontation with Iran, which has made clear that its military sites are off-limits.

In his statement on Tuesday, Velayati bluntly confirmed this position. “Neither Mr. Amano, his officers nor any other foreigner is entitled to visit our military centers, because the centers are fully secret security zones for any foreigner and foreign affiliates,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Velayati’s comments come amid persistent rumors that US President Donald Trump’s Administration is looking to ratchet up pressure on Tehran over its ballistic missile tests and its sponsorship of Shia Islamist organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to a Reuters news agency report on Tuesday, Trump was presented last Friday with a plan assembled by Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and other top officials. The plan “could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi‘ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups,” the report said.

Also in question is whether Trump will re-certify the JCPOA in October, as the president is legally required to do every 100 days. While Trump has made no secret of his distaste for the deal, the Iran strategy presented to him on Friday by his advisers reportedly does not advocate a withdrawal from the JCPOA, but rather increased economic sanctions and limited military moves to counter Iran’s growing influence.

Obama’s Parallel Universe

November 26, 2014

Obama’s Parallel Universe, Front Page Magazine, November 26, 2014

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[T]here is not a single aspect of Iran’s nuclear program that has stopped advancing. On the contrary, they are making progress by leaps and bounds.

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You’ve got to hand it to Obama. He is no slouch when it comes to redefining reality.

He can look at an elephant and proclaim it a donkey without a bat of the eye. Or in the case of Iran, look at spinning centrifuges and see no threat.

Over the weekend he told George Stephanapolous that the nuclear deal with Iran, which his negotiators extended for another eight months on Monday without a single concession from Iran, has “definitely stopped Iran’s nuclear program from advancing.”

Welcome to Obama’s Parallel Universe.

Iran continues to spin centrifuges and expand its stockpiles of enriched uranium. It continues to develop new generations of centrifuges that will allow Iran to race to the bomb five times faster than it can today. As we learned earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency even found that Iran was feeding uranium gas into some of these new generation centrifuges in violation of the interim nuclear deal. The U.S. declined to call out the Iranians for cheating.

Iran also continues work on the plutonium bomb plant at Arak, rather than dismantling it as the U.S. initially demanded. It continues to deny full scope inspections and to refuse inquiries from the IAEA to explain its past nuclear weapons-related activities, without which the United States and its allies cannot map the full scope of the Iranian program or verify it.

In fact, there is not a single aspect of Iran’s nuclear program that has stopped advancing. On the contrary, they are making progress by leaps and bounds.

When Stephanapolous played the sceptic and asked Obama whether he could get the deal through Congress, Obama said he was “confidant that if we reach a deal that is verifiable and assures that Iran does not have breakout capacity, not only can I persuade Congress but I can persuade the American people that it’s the right thing to do.”

The problem is, no one believes that is what this deal will accomplish, including the French and German foreign ministers who took part in the months-long farce in Vienna, Austria that gave birth to yet another extension of talks.

Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden told Congress last week that without an “invasive inspections regime” attached to any deal, “I am unwilling to guarantee American intelligence can sufficiently verify the agreement on its own.”

That’s a pretty damning admission. Given the track record so far – massive U.S. and Western concessions on sanctions relief and enrichment, and no meaningful concessions on Iran’s side – it’s unlikely such an inspection regime will ever exist.

Former U.S. Ambassador Eric Edelman told a Washington, DC conference last week that the Western powers have been in “serial retreat” on their negotiating demands toward Iran since the EU-3 first started unsuccessful talks in 2003.

At the start of the current process, one year ago, Secretary of State John Kerry was still talking about “dismantling” Iran’s centrifuge enrichment program.

But in the first stage of talks, the P5+1 (US., UK, France, Russia, China + Germany) swept that demand off the table, caving into Iran’s demand that the great powers recognize a supposed “right to enrich,” which I and others argue Iran forfeited in the mid-2000s when the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions condemning Iran for violating its commitments under the Nonproliferation treaty.

Why would Iran agree to make meaningful concessions when the United States continues to back off its demands and to throw away its trump card: the complex tissue of U.S. and multilateral sanctions that had crippled Iran’s economy and brought it to the negotiating table in the first place?

The Economist published a series of revealing economic charts on the impact of the Iran sanctions in its November 1st edition, drawing on sources from the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Energy Information Administration, the Statistical Centre of Iran, and the Central Bank of Iran.

Once crippling oil and financial sanctions imposed in 2010-2011 began to kick in, Iran’s economy went into a freefall. Iran’s GDP has been gradually expanding for several years. In 2012, the economy went into full recession, retracting by 6%. Consumer prices skyrocketed by 40%, as did the youth unemployment rate. Vehicle production plunged, the currency collapsed, while both imports and exports declined dramatically.

By all accounts, the halving of Iran’s oil exports – a much greater impact than most analysts had expected – resulted in bringing Iran to the table.

But now, all of that is changing.

Mark Dubowitz, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, estimates that real sanctions relief over the first year of negotiations was close to $20 billion – far more than the administration has claimed.

“The Geneva process has turned around Iran’s economy,” he told a Washington, DC conference last week. As a result, “their nuclear intransigence has increased, not decreased.”

Former IAEA nuclear safeguards chief Olli Heinonen told the same conference that the negotiations were “rewarding Iran for its past bad behavior,” and set a “bad example for future proliferators.”

The Iranians “will just lie their faces off to get a bomb,” Senator Mark Kirk (R,IL) added.

On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry declared in Vienna that a final agreement, to be negotiated in the coming months, would “close off all the pathways for Iran to get fissile material for a nuclear weapon.”

The formula was designed to meet a key criterion set down by Democrats in the House and Senate, such as Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, who agree with their Republican colleagues that Congress must set a high threshhold for what an acceptable deal must look like.

For these security-minded Democrats, an acceptable nuclear deal “must dismantle Iran’s centrifuge program to prevent Iran from becoming a threshold nuclear state, create robust verification and monitoring mechanisms to prevent undetectable breakout, force Iran to come clean on its past nuclear activities including possible military dimensions and cover a long enough duration that the regime won’t simply ‘wait it out.’”

If a deal along these lines cannot be reached, “Congress must make clear to Iran that sanctions will be ratcheted up dramatically at the end of the extension period,” he added.

The problem is, Obama has no intention of letting that happen, and has made it clear he will remove additional sanctions by the stroke of his Executive Order pen or by issuing waivers to legislative sanctions. (On pages 5-7 of his excellent testimony before Congress last week, FDD’s Dubowitz outlines “the administration’s plan to circumvent Congress” through executive branch sanctions relief).

Die-hard Obama loyalists in Congress, such as Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly, argue that a bad nuclear agreement is better than no agreement. “Beware making the perfect the enemy of the good,” he said last week. “Without an agreement, we are condemning the world to a conflict with Iran.”

That in the end is Obama’s hammer. He will accuse anyone who opposes his massive concessions to Iran as a war-mongerer – a charge that Rep. Ted Deutch has tried to tackle head on. “Those who oppose a bad deal do not support a ‘march to war,’ but refuse an agreement that allows Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Want to bet what Obama will be saying about him when he and Kerry finally reveal the terms of the bad deal they want Congress to approve? “They’ve red-teamed this. They will paint their opponents as war-mongers,” Dubowitz says.

Get ready to enter Obama’s parallel universe.

Like Hassan ibn Saba, leader of the 11th century hashish cult fictionalized by novelist Vladimir Bartol, Obama believes himself to be a master of illusion. If you can make people believe the illusion, then the illusion becomes reality. Perception is everything.

So here we go. Obama wants us to watch his hands and repeat after him: Iran is not a threat. We have stopped Iran’s nuclear weapons development. Iran is our ally against ISIS. Iran is a rational regime.

It’s up to us and to Congress to break the spell. Don’t look at his hands but at the fire burning just behind him.

Iran: Inspectors may access suspect nuclear site

November 23, 2014

Iran: Inspectors may access suspect nuclear site, Times of Israel, November 22, 2014

(Why not Parchin? Please see also, West seen easing demands on Iran atom bomb ‘mea culpa’ in deal. — DM)

Austria-Iran-Nuclear_Horo-e1401748045152Yukiya Amano of Japan, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) awaits the board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Monday, June 2, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Ronald Zak)

IAEA says ‘large-scale, high-explosive experiments’ may have been conducted at the Marivan military base.

As well as Marivan, IAEA inspectors are also interested in the Parchin military base, where they suspect tests that could be applied to a potential nuclear site have been carried out.

Iran has so far denied access to Parchin.

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TEHRAN, Iran – Tehran is ready to allow nuclear inspectors access to its Marivan military site, an Iranian official said Saturday, a facility long suspected of being used to develop explosive weapons.

The declaration comes as Iran and six world powers hold talks in Vienna to reach a lasting agreement on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program before November 24.

Such a deal, after 12 years of rising tensions, is aimed at easing fears that Tehran will develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian activities — an ambition the Islamic Republic has always fiercely denied.

The Marivan site, close to the Iraqi border, was mentioned in a 2011 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The UN agency suggested at the time that “large scale high explosive experiments” may have been carried out at the complex.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany have been locked in talks with Iran since February after an interim accord gave it some relief from economic sanctions in return for nuclear curbs.

“We are ready to allow the IAEA controlled access to the Marivan site,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency.

He said the IAEA’s view of Marivan was based on “false” information.

IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said the watchdog “will discuss the offer” with Tehran.

“The situation regarding a visit to the Marivan region is not as simple as that conveyed by Iran,” she told AFP.

As well as Marivan, IAEA inspectors are also interested in the Parchin military base, where they suspect tests that could be applied to a potential nuclear site have been carried out.

Iran has so far denied access to Parchin.

How to understand Obama’s Iran diplomacy

November 8, 2014

How to understand Obama’s Iran diplomacy, Power LineScott Johnson, November 7, 2014

I think the easiest way to understand Obama’s diplomacy is this. Assume that Obama believes Iran should have nuclear weapons and would like to facilitate the mullahs’ nuclear weapons program. This assumption is the Occam’s Razor that clarifies what might otherwise be obscure. The assumption may not be correct, but it should prove a handy guide to coming attractions.

Obama bids against himself chasing after the mullahs. You can say that he doesn’t know how to negotiate, and it’s a plausible hypothesis. As Michael Rubin explains, “Desperation is not a good negotiating position” (unless you want to give it away).

But how explain Obama’s vehement opposition in the past to the imposition of sanctions against Iran by Congress, or the threat of such sanctions in the future in the case no final deal were to be reached?

How explain his concession up front (in the P5+1 interim agreement with Iran) to Iran’s nuclear enrichment?

How explain the offer to agree to an ever increasing number of centrifuges for enrichment?

How explain the apparent acceptance of a prospective deal without proof that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful in nature, which is in itself an absurd and unbelievable proposition?

And so on, and so on.

When Obama makes the famously false promise that he is from the government and he is here to help, he means it in the case of the mullahs.

Today’s page-one story in the Wall Street Journal reveals Obama’s fourth secret letter to the mullahs in search of a deal. He is pleading with them. He will not take no for an answer. See Michael Rubin, “White House ignores Khameni response to letters.”

Obama’s most recent letter is already yesterday’s news. Today’s news comes via the IAEA. Omri Ceren summarizes it as follows in an email message this morning:

The new IAEA report went online about two hours ago. No changes from last time: not only are the Iranians continuing to block the Agency’s work, but they’re refusing to offer new ways of moving forward. Zero progress during the reporting period, and no sign that the next one will be any better.

The report is here The key lines are:

“The Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”

“Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, nor has it proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for cooperation”

The Iranians seem to be betting that the West will eventually drop the demand that Tehran come clean about the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program. Negotiations will come down to the wire, all of the other issues will have been massaged, and Iranian negotiators will look up and say the equivalent of ‘you’re not really going to blow up this whole deal over something we did in the past, are you?’ Under that scenario the message will be echoed by a few advocates in the nonproliferation world, the P5+1 will latch on to the reasoning, and that’ll be that.

The problem is that the PMD issue has very little to do with the past and everything to do with future verification. Unless the Iranians disclose what they’ve been doing on the nuclear front – including whatever the military is doing to surreptitiously enrich and store uranium – there’s no way to verify that they’ve stopped doing those things.

Remember how we got here. The P5+1 was supposed to be working with Iran on uranium, plutonium, and ballitsic missiles. Underneath all of those issues, the IAEA was supposed to be working on getting Iran to come clean on the full scope of its program: both the civilian and the military aspects (i.e. the PMDs).

People often talk and write about the PMD issue as if it’s just about weapons work – suspected Iranian experiments with detonators, warheads, etc. Those things matter but the issue is much broader. The IAEA wants access to all the places where the Iranian military had its hand in any atomic work – uranium mining, centrifuge construction, enrichment, and so on. The goal is to get a full picture of everything the Iranians are doing, so that the IAEA can confirm that they’ve stopped.

When the Iranians jam the IAEA up on PMDs, it’s not just another fourth core issue that can be negotiated alongside uranium, plutonium, and ballistic missiles. Transparency is the prerequisite to creating any robust verification scheme on those other three issues. It’s not possible for Western negotiators to say something like: ‘ok, we’ll give you a little on PMDs, but you have to give us something back on centrifuges.’ Without disclosure, there’s no way to verify that the Iranians are actually living up to their half of the trade.

Isn’t this obviously true? That’s where my Occam’s Razor cuts through the fog to help us understand what is happening now and what will in all likelihood be happening soon.

In related news, see Adam Kredo, “Report: Iran nuclear program more advanced than previously believed” and “Pentagon: Iran giving ‘lethal aid to the Taliban’ to fight US.”

UPDATE: Omri Ceren writes to update his message with news of today’s State Department briefing:

The issue came up in today’s State Department press briefing between the AP’s Matt Lee and State spox Jen Psaki. It actually came up twice, with [AP State Department reporter] Matt [Lee] circling back to it….The [short] version is that Jen left open the possibility that the US will take a deal with Iran even if the Iranians continue to obstruct the IAEA, i.e. even if they refuse to come clean on their past nuclear activity including military atomic work. If that happens it would mark another erosion in the US position, alongside reported walkbacks in the other three core areas: uranium, plutonium, and ballistic missiles. More problematically, letting Iran slide on IAEA inspections now risks gutting any verification regime set up later.

It is “problematic,” however, only if your (our) goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

IAEA: No Progress on Iranian Nukes

November 8, 2014

IAEA: No Progress on Iranian Nukes, Daily Beast, November 7, 2014

(Don’t bother P5+1 with irrelevant details. The deal has to be based on mutual trust! — DM)

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Iran continues to refuse to disclose its nuclear activity, and experts do not anticipate the country will become more transparent in the future. That’s the assessment released Friday from the International Atomic Energy Agency. “The agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” said the report, which was also pessimistic about the chance that Iran will be forthright with its nuclear activities in the future. The report notes that Iran has not “proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for cooperation.” President Obama recently wrote a letter to Iran’s supreme leader asking for help fighting ISIS in exchange for a deal to resolve the nuclear standoff. [Emphasis added.]

Read it at IAEA Report