Archive for the ‘Iran – self-inspection’ category

Kerry on Edge as Legacy Crumbles

October 17, 2017

Kerry on Edge as Legacy Crumbles, FrontPage MagazineJoseph Klein, October 17, 2017

Former Secretary of State John Kerry wasted no time condemning President Trump’s decision not to recertify, and to possibly withdraw from, the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran that Kerry negotiated on behalf of his boss Barack Obama. President Trump insisted on significant improvements to the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally known. The JCPOA’s fundamental flaws that President Trump wants fixed include Iran’s ability to block unfettered international inspections, the wiggle room that Iran is exploiting to continue developing and testing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and the sunset clause on nuclear enrichment that would provide Iran a clear path to becoming a nuclear armed state after the current restrictions are lifted. Obama and Kerry had promised that these issues would be dealt with satisfactorily before agreeing to the final terms of the JCPOA. Instead they caved to Iranian pressure in order to get the deal done.

Now that President Trump is trying to clean up the mess Obama and Kerry left him, Kerry has the gall to label President Trump’s decision a “reckless abandonment of facts in favor of ego and ideology” and to accuse the Trump administration of “lying to the American people.” It was the Obama administration that recklessly abandoned the facts in pressing ahead with the deal. The Obama administration lied to the American people, abandoning its own promises to ensure that the deal contained ironclad protections. Moreover, all that President Trump has done so far is to return the JCPOA to Congress for review. Had Obama followed the Constitution and submitted the JCPOA to the Senate as a treaty in the first place, the JCPOA in its present form almost certainly would not have been approved. Congress should now have the opportunity to revisit the JCPOA to determine whether the protections that the Obama administration promised are working as advertised. Congress should also consider whether time limits on Iran’s commitments continue to make sense in light of what we are now experiencing with Iran’s nuclear technology collaborator, North Korea. It bought time to turn into a full-fledged nuclear power under our noses.

Kerry had promised that the Iranian regime would be prohibited from testing ballistic missiles. This turned out to be a lie. After the JCPOA was finalized, with no such prohibition included, Iran continued to test such missiles. The Obama administration’s response was that the missiles had become a separate issue, to be dealt with under a new United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA.  The new resolution replaced clear prohibitions imposed on Iran’s ballistic missile program with a weak declaration in an annex that simply “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity such as development and test launches related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons for eight years.

Iran has tested several ballistic missiles during the last two years, including two Qadr H missiles with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” emblazoned on the sides. The commander of Iran’s Army, Major General Ataollah Salehi, had told reporters just a month before the launch of those missiles that Iran was “neither paying any attention to the resolutions against Iran, nor implementing them. This is not a breach of the JCPOA.”

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, spurning requests from Obama administration officials to impose sanctions against Iran under the Security Council resolution, asserted that the Iranian missile test did not violate the resolution. “A call is different from a ban so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” the Russian ambassador said. In short, the JCPOA did not cover the missile tests and the replacement UN Security Council resolution that did mention the missiles is toothless.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told CNN, during an interview aired on April 6, 2015,  that under the deal’s terms then still being negotiated, “you will have anywhere, anytime, 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.” Rhodes claimed that “if we see a site that we need to inspect on a military facility, we can get access to that site and inspect it. So if it’s a suspicious site that we believe is related to its nuclear efforts, we can get access and inspect that site through the IAEA.” This was another lie. After the JCPOA was finalized in July 2015, Rhodes shamelessly denied that anytime, anywhere inspections were ever considered as part of the negotiations. “We never sought in this negotiation the capacity for so-called anytime, anywhere,” Rhodes said on July 14, 2015.

The JCPOA’s supporters, including Kerry, have made much of the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has on several occasions verified Iran’s compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, keeping its stock of low-enriched uranium below the limit set forth in the JCPOA and not pursuing further construction of the Arak reactor. Iran was found to have slightly exceeded the limit on its stock of heavy water, but has remedied the problem to the IAEA’s satisfaction. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano reiterated in a statement he issued on October 9th that Iran has remained in compliance with its JCPOA commitments.

The problem, as any clear-eyed observer of the process recognizes, is that the IAEA relies on Iran for self-inspection of certain sites that the regime does not want the IAEA to inspect freely on its own. IAEA inspectors have avoided examining military sites it knows exists and has no reliable way of tracking undeclared sites. The IAEA’s explanation for not visiting any of Iran’s known military sites is that it had “no reason to ask” for access. Evidently, the IAEA is supposed to block out the fact that Iran had conducted tests relevant to nuclear bomb detonations at a military site before the JCPOA’s finalization in 2015. The IAEA should just pretend that such tests could not possibly happen again.

“Nobody is allowed to visit Iran’s military sites,” said Iran’s Head of Strategic Research Center at the Expediency Council and adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati. Intimidation works. The IAEA knows not to ask.

As to the JCPOA’s sunset provisions, the Obama administration lied about that too. Kerry claimed on September 2, 2015 that the JCPOA “never sunsets. There’s no sunset in this agreement.”

This month Kerry has resorted to parsing words. He claims the phrase ‘sunset provisions’ is a “misnomer,” before then defending the JCPOA’s time limits. “We were comfortable because the cap on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile remains in place until 2030,” Kerry wrote in an article published in the Washington Post late last month. In other words, let’s just kick the can down the road and hope for a more reasonable Iranian regime in 13 years that would agree to extend the time limits. In the meantime, Kerry advises us not to worry. Kerry declared, “15 or 25 years from now, we still have the same military options we have today.”

John Kerry has obviously learned nothing from the North Korean fiasco, which resulted from years of phony agreements with the rogue regime and so-called “strategic patience.” The United States clearly does not have the same military options today to deal with a nuclear armed North Korea as it did 23 years ago when former President Bill Clinton decided not to use military force to stamp out North Korea’s nuclear program at its inception. Instead, Clinton started us down the primrose path of naïve diplomacy with a duplicitous regime that now is on the verge of being able to strike the U.S. mainland with nuclear warheads delivered by intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is precisely because North Korea’s actions over the last 23 years have proven that making concessions to a rogue regime in order to obtain denuclearization commitments is so dangerous that President Trump does not want to make the same mistake with Iran.

America’s European allies are also upset with President Trump for refusing to recertify the deal and threatening to pull out if certain conditions are not met. British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement last Friday praising the JCPOA and its implementation. They said that the nuclear deal with Iran was “the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes. Therefore, we encourage the US Administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.”

Perhaps these European leaders should remember their own history. Appeasement through phony deals with a rogue dictatorship does not work, as proven by the infamous Munich Pact signed by British and French Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler seventy-nine years ago.

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards

October 13, 2017

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards, Washington Free Beacon, October 13, 2017

Rep. Peter Roskam / Getty Images

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

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Congress is set to consider new legislation that would require Iran to accept tough new conditions on the landmark nuclear deal or face a rash of harsh new economic sanctions aimed at thwarting the Islamic Republic’s continued nuclear buildup, according to a draft of new legislation exclusively viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement, top GOP lawmakers are already working on legislation that would compliment the White House’s announcement and move forward with efforts to harshly penalize Tehran if it does not accept rigid new standards on its nuclear activities within the next six months, according to a copy of draft legislation circulating in the House of Representatives.

The new legislation, spearheaded by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), would reimpose all economic sanctions lifted by the former Obama administration as part of the nuclear agreement if Iran refuses to comply with tough new standards restricting its ballistic missile program, arms buildup, and failure to permit access to a range of military sites suspected of engaging in nuclear work.

The legislation also would effectively kill provisions of the nuclear agreement known as sunset clauses. These are portions of the deal that would rollback restrictions on Iran’s advanced nuclear research and weapons buildup within the next five to six years.

Trump, as well as allies in Congress, maintains the original nuclear accord contains several key flaws that permit Iran to cheat on the deal and receive sweetheart bonuses—such as sanctions relief and other assets—despite evidence of multiple violations of the agreement.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the effort to tighten the deal said that many in Congress would be willing to reimpose all key sanctions on Iran if it does not agree to abide by the stricter enforcement regulations.

“The days of appeasing the Mullah’s every wish and sitting back and watching as the terrorist state goes nuclear are over,” said one senior congressional official intimately familiar with the new proposal. “Congress overwhelmingly opposed Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran. Now’s the time to assert our constitutional responsibility to defend our nation and use all tools of U.S. power to permanently prevent an nuclear armed Iran.”

This new legislation is similar to the policy approach advocated by senior Trump administration officials, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who told reporters late Thursday the administration is looking to create a parallel nuclear deal that gives Congress a larger role in ensuring Iranian compliance.

These would include “trigger points that are specific to the nuclear program itself, but also deals with things like their ballistic missile program,” according to Tillerson.

Roskam’s new legislation, called the JCPOA Improvement Act of 2017, seeks to do precisely this.

In addition to banning Iran from developing, testing, and operating ballistic missile technology—which was never addressed in the original nuclear agreement – the new legislation would impose even stricter regulations on the amount of nuclear enrichment Iran can legally engage in.

It also would stop Iran from installing advanced nuclear centrifuges that can enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, much faster than older versions of this equipment. Under the original nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Iran would have been granted the right to operate advanced centrifuges within the next several years.

Congress also is seeking to address Iran’s development of heavy water nuclear reactors that provide a secondary pathway to a nuclear weapon via the use of plutonium, a by-product of such equipment, according to the draft legislation and sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

The Obama administration had worked to ensure that, under the agreement, Iran retained its right to operate such reactors, despite opposition in Congress and elsewhere. Iran has already inked several deals with Russia to assist in the construction of new light and heavy water reactors, though this new legislation could complicate that matter.

Another key portion of the original agreement that has been vehemently criticized by Trump and congressional allies surrounds caveats that give Iran more than a month before consenting to inspections of its nuclear sites.

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

If Iran does not agree to the new restrictions proposed in the legislation, Congress has the ability to reimpose all sanctions that were lifted as part of the original accord. This represents a major new tool for Congress as it works to thwart Iran’s continued military endeavors across the Middle East and its pursuit of advanced new weaponry.

Under the new legislation, any future attempt to rescind these new restrictions would be subject to a vote in the United Nations Security Council, according to the bill.

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead

October 10, 2017

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead, Al Arabiya, Heshmat Alavi, October 9, 2017

Members of Iranian armed forces march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS.

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

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All eyes are on US President Donald Trump and his upcoming Iran speech later this week to clarify his decision to certify or decertify Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), designed to curb the regime’s controversial atomic drive.

This has Iran’s regime on its toes, as senior elite in Tehran understand fully how the US can lead the international community in adopting strong measures against its broad scope of malign activities. Expected to be addressed is also a wide range of concerns over Iran’s dangerous policies in relation to its ballistic missile advances, meddling in Middle East states and supporting terrorist proxy groups as explained in a new video.

‘Iran’s unacceptable behavior’

Iran’s rogue behavior, currently imposing its influence on four major regional capitals of Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa, are the result of the Obama administration’s “overly lenient foreign policy, which sought to promote America’s priorities through consensus, rather than through the frank display of power,” as put by a recent The New Yorker piece.

“Lifting the sanctions as required under the terms of the JCPOA has enabled Iran’s unacceptable behavior,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a late September meeting with his P5+1 counterparts and Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Trump administration is also deeply concerned over Iran’s proxies mining the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait waterway, aiming its indigenous missiles from Yemen towards cities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and from southern Lebanon towards Israel. This is Tehran in action with the objective of taking advantage of the destruction left behind by ISIS across the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East,” Trump told reporters before a Thursday evening meeting with senior military leaders at the White House. “That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he said. “They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”

Trump has put Iran “on notice” over charges that Tehran violated a nuclear deal with the West by test-firing a ballistic missile. (Reuters)

Joint effort

Parallel to the White House there are voices on Capitol Hill advocating the new approach weighed by the administration.

“The president should decline to certify, not primarily on grounds related to Iran’s technical compliance, but rather based on the long catalog of the regime’s crimes and perfidy against the United States, as well as the deal’s inherent weakness,” Senator Tom Cotton said last week at a speech in the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the Trump administration seeks to place necessary focus on Iran’s illicit Middle East ambitions and actions, talks are also ongoing as we speak over how to amend the JCPOA’s restrictions.

“Sunset clauses,” Iran’s ballistic missile development and testing, and an inspections regime lacking the bite to gain necessary access into the regime’s controversial military sites. Under the current framework Iran can easily conduct nuclear weapons research and development in military sites and claim such locations do not fall under the JCPOA jurisdiction.

While it is expected of Trump to decertify Iran, he most likely will not go the distance to completely pull America out of the nuclear agreement. Obama refused to send the JCPOA to Congress for discussion and approval. Trump, however, seems set to place the decision to impose further sanctions on Iran upon the shoulders of US lawmakers.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks about the Iran nuclear deal at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, on September 5, 2017. (Reuters)

More than ‘one piece’

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. (AFP)

Fear renders contradiction

Sensing an increasingly escalating tone from Washington, Tehran signaled its first sign of fear by expressing readiness to discuss its ballistic missile program, according to Reuters. And yet less than 24 hours later, Iranian officials said no offers were made to negotiate such restrictions.

“Iran regards defensive missile programs as its absolute right and will definitely continue them within the framework of its defensive, conventional and specified plans and strategies,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according state media.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also felt the need to make remarks to save face before the regime’s already depleting social base. “In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we reached issues and benefits that are not reversible. No one can turn that back, not Mr. Trump or anyone else,” Rouhani said at a recent Tehran University ceremony, according to state media.

Of course, we all remember how prior to the JCPOA signing in 2015 senior Iranian officials went the limits in describing any “retreat” regarding their nuclear program as a “red line.” To make a long story short, Tehran is comprehending how the times are changing at a high velocity, endangering its domestic, regional and international interests. And unlike the Obama years, its actions will not go unanswered.

Senator Cotton made this crystal clear at his speech: “Congress and the President, working together, should lay out how the deal must change and, if it doesn’t, the consequences Iran will face.”

The Iran Deal Isn’t Worth Saving

October 8, 2017

The Iran Deal Isn’t Worth Saving, Gatestone InstituteJohn R. Bolton, October 8, 2017

(The chances of renegotiating the JCPOA to make it less harmful to America appear to be close to zero. — DM)

[T]he deal’s acolytes are actively obscuring this central issue, arguing that it is too arduous and too complex to withdraw cleanly. They have seized instead on a statutory requirement that every 90 days the president must certify, among other things, that adhering to the agreement is in America’s national-security interest. They argue the president should stay in the deal but not make the next certification, due in October.

This morganatic strategy is a poorly concealed ploy to block withdrawal, limp through Mr. Trump’s presidency, and resurrect the deal later. Paradoxically, supporters are not now asserting that the deal is beneficial. Instead, they concede its innumerable faults but argue that it can be made tougher, more verifiable and more strictly enforced. Or, if you want more, it can be extended, kicked to Congress, or deferred during the North Korea crisis. Whatever.

The only sure way to resume economic pressure on Iran is for President Trump to stop waiving the sanctions, as he did a few weeks ago. The power to act is in executive hands, as it should be.

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“Cut, and cut cleanly,” Sen. Paul Laxalt advised Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, urging the Philippine president to resign and flee Manila because of widespread civil unrest. The Nevada Republican, Ronald Reagan’s best friend in Congress, knew what his president wanted, and he made the point with customary Western directness.

President Trump could profitably follow Mr. Laxalt’s advice today regarding Barack Obama’s 2015 deal with Iran. The ayatollahs are using Mr. Obama’s handiwork to legitimize their terrorist state, facilitate (and conceal) their continuing nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs, and acquire valuable resources from gullible negotiating partners.

Mr. Trump’s real decision is whether to fulfill his campaign promise to extricate America from this strategic debacle. Last month at the United Nations General Assembly, he lacerated the deal as an “embarrassment,” “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

Last month at the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump lacerated the Iran nuclear deal as an “embarrassment,” “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” (Image source: The White House)

Fearing the worst, however, the deal’s acolytes are actively obscuring this central issue, arguing that it is too arduous and too complex to withdraw cleanly. They have seized instead on a statutory requirement that every 90 days the president must certify, among other things, that adhering to the agreement is in America’s national-security interest. They argue the president should stay in the deal but not make the next certification, due in October.

This morganatic strategy is a poorly concealed ploy to block withdrawal, limp through Mr. Trump’s presidency, and resurrect the deal later. Paradoxically, supporters are not now asserting that the deal is beneficial. Instead, they concede its innumerable faults but argue that it can be made tougher, more verifiable and more strictly enforced. Or, if you want more, it can be extended, kicked to Congress, or deferred during the North Korea crisis. Whatever.

As Richard Nixon said during Watergate: “I want you to stonewall it, let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up, or anything else if it’ll save it — save the plan.”

Mr. Trump should not be deceived. The issue is not certification. The issue is whether we will protect U.S. interests and shatter the illusion that Mr. Obama’s deal is achieving its stated goals, or instead timidly hope for the best while trading with the enemy, as the Europeans are doing. It is too cute by half to employ pettifoggery to evade this reality.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 embodies the deal and includes two annexes: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action itself, and a statement by the other negotiating parties on “transparency… creating an atmosphere conducive” to full JCPOA implementation. Resolution 2231, the JCPOA and the statement were all crafted word-for-word with Iran (with Russia and China acting as Tehran’s scriveners on the statement), as was the cash-for-hostages swap Mr. Obama sought desperately to conceal. This packaging is more than a diplomatic nicety. It means Iran’s ballistic-missile program is integral to the deal — fittingly, since Iran’s missiles would deliver its nuclear warheads.

The ayatollahs have neither the desire nor the incentive to renegotiate even a comma of the agreement. Why should they, when it is entirely to their advantage? Both Resolution 2231 and the statement, for example, “call upon” Iran to forgo activity regarding “ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” The U.N. secretary-general recently reported that Iran is violating this provision and implicitly lying about it. But the deal’s language allows Iran to claim solemnly that its missiles are not “designed” to carry nuclear warheads, an assertion whose verification would require polygraphs and psychologists, not weapons inspectors. This is one of many textual loopholes.

If the deal is vitiated, Tehran would not be freer than it is now to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Not only is the international compliance regime a far cry from Mr. Obama’s promised “anytime, anywhere” inspections, crucial language is vague and ambiguous. Mr. Obama’s negotiators crippled real international verification by pre-emptively surrendering on what were delicately termed “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program.

Moreover, simple economic logic suggests that Tehran’s scientists are probably enjoying Pyongyang’s hospitality, well beyond the International Atomic Energy Agency’s limited capability to detect. Even U.S. intelligence could be in the dark if Iran is renting a uranium enrichment facility under a North Korean mountain. It is specious to assert that the North Korean nuclear crisis should lead to deferring action on the Iran deal. The conclusion should be precisely the opposite: Failure to act decisively on Iran now worsens the global proliferation threat.

The IAEA has interpreted Mr. Obama’s possible-military-dimension concession as requiring new evidence before it attempts to visit Tehran’s military bases, where the real work on weaponization and missiles is taking place—if not under mountains in North Korea. Mr. Obama acquiesced in this emasculation of the IAEA’s will to inspect, making the agency today like the drunk looking for his car keys under a street lamp because the light is better there. This is a sorry caricature of a robust, Reaganesque “trust but verify” regime.

Perhaps the most inane argument is that Congress should decide the deal’s fate and whether to reimpose U.S. sanctions. If a president is unwilling to solve this kind of problem, he shouldn’t have applied for the job. Watching what has happened on failed legislative efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare, can anyone doubt that Senate Democrats (joined by Rand Paul) would filibuster any legislative effort to renew sanctions? The only sure way to resume economic pressure on Iran is for President Trump to stop waiving the sanctions, as he did a few weeks ago. The power to act is in executive hands, as it should be.

Mr. Trump knows his mind on Iran. And as Mr. Laxalt said to Marcos, “the time has come” to act decisively.

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.

This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

EXCLUSIVE – Former IAEA Deputy Director: Agency Has ‘Credibility’ Issue on Iran Nuclear Inspections

September 19, 2017

EXCLUSIVE – Former IAEA Deputy Director: Agency Has ‘Credibility’ Issue on Iran Nuclear Inspections, Breitbart, Aaron
Klein
, September 18, 2017

NEW YORK — A former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raised questions about the credibility of that agency’s inspection and verification system for Iran’s nuclear program as required under the U.S.-brokered international nuclear accord with Tehran.

Speaking in a radio interview with this reporter, Dr. Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards, questioned how the IAEA can credibly inspect Iran’s nuclear program without gaining access to Iranian military bases.

Heinonen made the comments last night on his talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia.

The IAEA, headquartered in Vienna, is an international body that reports to the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. It is the agency charged with ensuring Iran is complying with the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Heinonen said he was “concerned” about the lack of IAEA access to Iran’s military bases.

He continued:

Military bases should not be sanctuaries. There is a special provision in the deal which asks the IAEA to monitor certain activities, so-called dual-use activities which can also be used for nuclear weapons purposes. IAEA has assessed that it has now verified that undertaking from Iran.

So it is hard for me to understand how you can verify that undertaking without visiting a military site and this is the most puzzling thing. And it goes to the credibility of the verification system.

How can the IAEA conclude that there have been no undeclared activities highlighted in JCPOA in those locations? This needs to be clarified and explained by the IAEA.

Last month, the IAEA declared that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal. However, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki R. Haley and other administration officials have argued that the IAEA should have access to Iran’s nuclear bases.

Last week, Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, ruled out any possibility of international access to Iran’s military bases, declaring the issue an “unnecessary and closed case.”

Also last week, Haaretz cited Israeli officials revealing that a “Western entity” provided the IAEA last year with information regarding sites that Iran did not officially report as part of its nuclear program and where Tehran is suspected of carrying out activities related to nuclear capabilities, including research and development.

While one such alleged site was a civilian facility, the report stated that Iran did not allow access to other sites, claiming they were military bases.

Haaretz reported:

Iranians refused to allow inspectors to visit a series of other suspicious sites, claiming they were military bases and, therefore, not covered by the nuclear accord and that they were not required to allow access to inspectors.

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.

Iran Follows In North Korea’s Footsteps: Nuclearization, Missile Development Alongside Agreements With The Superpowers; EU3, IAEA Director-General Submitted To Obama Administration Pressure, Agreed To JCPOA With No Real Inspection, No Response To Iran’s Missile Program; French President: ‘Absolutely Necessary’ That JCPOA Be ‘Supplemented’

September 9, 2017

Iran Follows In North Korea’s Footsteps: Nuclearization, Missile Development Alongside Agreements With The Superpowers; EU3, IAEA Director-General Submitted To Obama Administration Pressure, Agreed To JCPOA With No Real Inspection, No Response To Iran’s Missile Program; French President: ‘Absolutely Necessary’ That JCPOA Be ‘Supplemented’, MEMRI, September 8, 2017

(Please see also, Powers may end up with Iranian model for NKorea. Obama would be very proud. –DM)

Introduction

Top Iranian officials have stated in the past that Tehran is learning from the experience of North Korea in attempting to actualize aspirations for regional supremacy and gaining the status of a global nuclear power.

Iran has achieved both of these under the cover of an agreement with the superpowers that protects it from both attack and inspection, and allows it to proceed, legitimately and with the help of the superpowers, to develop its nuclear capabilities. These include detonation of a nuclear device “for research purposes” as well as the continued development of its missile program, without any restrictions whatsoever under the agreement.

Iran Follows In North Korea’s Footsteps

Like North Korea, which came to several agreements with U.S. administrations, i.e. the Clinton and Obama administrations, as well as with other superpowers, yet continued with its military nuclear program without allowing real inspection of its sites, and also continued to develop long-range ballistic missiles, Tehran is utilizing the JCPOA to develop its nuclear capabilities without allowing real inspection, while continuing to develop and freely test long-range missiles.

It was President Obama who pressured the EU3 – the UK, France, and Germany – and the International Nuclear Energy Agency (IAEA) to agree to no inspection of military and other suspect sites, and to keep the issue of missiles separate from the JCPOA, thus enabling Iran to do as North Korea has done, without any significant response from the West. Iran, which monitored the West’s reaction to North Korea’s activity, concluded that it could do the same, and this lesson has been expressed in statements by top Iranian officials.

For example, Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Larijani said in a September 2005 speech: “I recommend once again that you pay attention to the conduct of North Korea. After two years of dealings with North Korea, what have you got? You have accepted North Korea ‘s nuclear technology in the field of uranium enrichment. So accept ours now.”[1]

The Kayhan daily, which is affiliated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote in an October 12, 2006 editorial titled “Lessons from North Korea”: ” “[North] Korea has built a [nuclear] bomb before the American’s eyes, despite the great pressure it was under, and [despite] years of harsh international sanctions – and no one has managed to do anything [against it]. What this means precisely is that if any country, such as North Korea, concludes, for political or security reasons, that it must have nuclear weapons, it will ultimately succeed in implementing its wish – even if the whole world doesn’t want it to. The superpowers may manage to slow down [its] path [in going] nuclear, or may apply economic and psychological pressures on it and on its citizens – but   in the end the wish that arises from among the people is what prevails and determines the policy.”[2]

An article in Sobh-e Sadeq, the weekly of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), published in June 2008, called North Korea’s decision to destroy the cooling tower of the reactor at Yongbyon that month “a strategic deception” aimed at alleviating the pressure from the superpowers that oppose its nuclear activity. It added that the destruction of this facility could be a step towards another nuclear test. Also according to the article, the destruction of the tower, the use of which had long been suspended, did not prevent North Korea from being able to revive its activity, thanks to its knowhow, and with its stock of plutonium it could conduct at least another eight nuclear tests.[3]

The Iran Diplomacy research center, which is close to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, called, in April 2009, for careful study of the U.S. reaction to North Korea’s launch that month of a long-range missile, saying that the North Korean model could be applied to the Middle East.[4]

The conservative Iranian daily Resalat stated, following the North Korean missile launch, that the U.S. was weak and could not force its position on North Korea, which, it said, benefits from Russian and Chinese support. It added that the Obama administration was facing a difficult dilemma. If it adopted the harsh position of the preceding Bush administration, Obama’s conciliatory image would be harmed. If it gave in to North Korea, it would strengthen North Korea’s position in southeast Asia.[5]

Iran acted based on North Korea’s experience, but with greater sophistication, as manifested in the following aspects:

1. Instead of rejecting inspections out of hand like North Korea, Tehran created a framework under which only declared nuclear sites could be inspected, along with a different framework in which there would be no inspections of military and other sites, and gained full Western cooperation for this, in addition to tremendous benefits for itself. The West agreed to this Iranian scheme, and the President of the United States himself even explained on July 14, 2015, the day this agreement was announced, that “[t]he IAEA will have access where necessary, when necessary.”[6]Today, the U.S. is obligated to reconfirm every quarter that Iran is meeting the terms of the agreement even though inspection is limited to certain sites only.

2. Tehran took the issue of long-range ballistic missile development out of the negotiations for the JCPOA, and in the absence of an international treaty regulating the issue of long-term missiles, the Obama administration allowed Iran to continue to develop its missile capability to the point where it threatens the Middle East and the West. It should be noted that Iran calls its long-range missiles “defensive missiles” but that by any accepted standard they are offensive missiles; it also threatens the countries of the region with them.


On missile, in Hebrew and Farsi: Israel Should Be Wiped Off the Face of the Earth.” Photo: Fars, Iran, March 9, 2016. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6349, Iran Launches Long-Range Missiles Emblazoned With Slogan: ‘Israel Should Be Wiped Off The Face Of The Earth,’ March 16, 2016.

3. The JCPOA was written in such a way that it expires after a certain time period, as do the restrictions and certain qualifications to which Tehran agreed.

4. The U.S. administration acquiesced to Tehran’s demand that its heavy water be stored in nearby Oman, its proxy, where it will be in immediate reach of Iran. The administration also acquiesced to Iran’s demand that it be allowed to continue developing advanced-generation centrifuges, such that after the JCPOA expires in 2025 it will be able to skip significant stages in its nuclearization process.<

What Inspection Did The EU3 And IAEA Agree To Under Pressure From The Obama Administration?

IAEA director-general Yukia Amano recently announced that the IAEA could enter any site in Iran to inspect it. But his statements are misleading, because the JCPOA does not allow real inspection of any nuclear site except for those declared by Iran. The following are the terms agreed to in the JCPOA by Amano and the Europeans:[7]

  1. The JCPOA created a unique inspection framework for Iran that bypasses the Additional Protocol, which allows inspection of military sites, which Iran accepted as a voluntary and unilateral step, and from which it can drop out without violating the JCPOA.
  2. The JCPOA transferred the authority to make clear professional decisions from the IAEA to a political supreme forum whose authority supersedes that of the IAEA – with the agreement of IAEA director-general Yukia Amano, who relinquished his status under pressure from Obama.
  3. The JCPOA set out a series of restrictions for conducting inspections; for example, any claim by the IAEA must not be motivated by an intent to damage Iranian military or security activity. This wording hands Iran the tools to prevent any inspection of any security or other site, by arguing that such an inspection is motivated by an intent to damage its military activity. The procedure demands that the information that casts suspicion on any of these sites and that prompts a request for inspection be revealed to Iran, Russia, and China – and this demand, which cannot be met, is aimed at stopping the inspection process in its tracks.
  4. The JCPOA created a political precedent for a non-credible inspection process, through closing Iran’s PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) file by a predetermined political decision and while negotiating with Iran about writing the IAEA report on the PMD – i.e. the file was not closed independently by the IAEA. That is, IAEA inspectors did not visit the sites, and the samples from these sites were taken by the Iranians themselves and handed over to the IAEA inspectors without any way of ascertaining that the sample taken is what was handed over. IAEA director-general Yukia Amano submitted to the Obama administration’s pressure to agree to this unprofessional and non-credible procedure, violating the trust placed in him and in the IAEA as an independent, professional, and authoritative body. This is because the Iranians made their acceptance of the JCPOA conditional upon the closure of their PMD file in this exact way, so that there could be no entrance to suspect military sites. Additionally, he submitted to Iran’s refusal to allow the IAEAto question Iranian nuclear scientists, and agreed not to mention the term “PMD” in the report focusing on this issue, because Iran opposed this. Furthermore, the IAEA report on the PMD issue stated that there was indeed suspect activity in Iran, but refrained from stating that the Iranian regime was responsible for it.

These were also clarified by Iran’s representative in the IAEA, Reza Najafi, in a September 21, 2015  interview with the ISNA news agency. He said: “I deny the Reuters report that the samples from Parchin were taken in the presence of IAEA inspectors. We ourselves took the samples. This is the red line for us, and no inspector is authorized to enter a military site and conduct an inspection. The visit of Amano and his deputy was strictly a general protocol visit; they had no equipment, not even a cellphone, their visit did not last more than a few minutes, [and it was] only  in order for them to see that there is nothing suspicious and that the claims about [Parchin] were completely wrong.”[8]

See also the following MEMRI reports:

French President Macron: It Is “Absolutely Necessary” That The JCPOA “Be Supplemented… As Far As The Use Of Ballistic Missiles Is Concerned”

French President Emmanuel Macron, in an August 29, 2017 Paris speech to a conference of French ambassadors, spoke of the need to fortify the JCPOA as part of the nonproliferation regime, and proposed “absolutely necessary” supplementation of it “as far as the use of ballistic missiles is concerned” after 2025 when the JCPOA expires. He said: “[T]his agreement [JCPOA] was improved thanks to the intervention of France. There is no alternative to the nonproliferation regime and we will be extremely strict as to its implementation. The framework of this agreement is good. It can be supplemented by some work [on it] after 2025 – an absolutely necessary work as far as the use of ballistic missiles is concerned.”[9]

* A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Studies Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

Appendix: Additional MEMRI Reports On The Subject

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 994, Iranian Nuclear Chief Ali Larijani: The West Should Learn the Lesson of North Korea, September 26, 2005.

[2] Kayhan (Iran), October 12, 2006. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1321, Iranian Daily Close to Supreme Leader Khamenei: ‘If Any Country Such as North Korea, Concludes, for Political or Security Reasons, That It Must Have Nuclear Weapons, It Will Ultimately Succeed… Even if the Whole World Is Opposed…’ October 13, 2006.

[3] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), June 30, 2008.

[4] Iran Diplomacy (Iran), April 6, 2009.

[5] Resalat (Iran), April 6, 2009.

[6] Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office, July 14, 2015.

[7] See Section Q of Annex of the JCPOA, pp 42-43, Apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/world/full-text-of-the-iran-nuclear-deal/1651. See also MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1325 – Discussion Of Iranian Violations Of JCPOA Is Futile; The Inspection Procedure Designed By The Obama Administration Precludes Actual Inspection And Proof Of Violations, August 18, 2017.

[8] ISNA (Iran), September 21, 2015.

[9] Elysee.fr, August 29, 2017.