Archive for the ‘Possible military dimensions’ category

The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program

December 8, 2015

The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, MEMRI, A. Savyon, Y. Carmon, and U. Kafash, December 8, 2015

Introduction

On December 2, 2015, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) secretary-general Yukiya Amano released his report on the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.[1]

The report’s findings, whatever they turned out to be, were not supposed to impact the continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in any way – even if they were completely negative regarding Iran. From the outset, it was agreed that all that Iran was obligated to do was to cooperate with the IAEA investigation of its PMD, and nothing more.

The next milestone date for the continued implementation of the JCPOA is December 15, 2015, when Amano’s PMD report will be presented to the IAEA Board of Governors and the latter will resolve whether to close Iran’s PMD dossier in the IAEA. This resolution is meant to be adopted by the UN Security Council.

The implementation process is meant to be continued by Iran – that is, Iran must meet its obligations under the JCPOA. These consist primarily of the removal of nine tons of low-grade enriched uranium from the country, the dismantling of centrifuges so that only 6,000 active ones remain, the pouring of concrete into the core of the Arak nuclear reactor such that it will not be able to be used to manufacture plutonium, the adoption of the Additional Protocol, and more.

After that, the IAEA will check to verify that Iran has carried these out; when it announces that it has, the next milestone date, Implementation Day, will come into force. At that time, Europe and the U.S. will carry out their promise, made October 19, 2015, to lift and suspend their sanctions on Iran.

It was Iran itself that made Amano’s PMD report a problematic issue, and, essentially, a condition for its continued implementation of the JCPOA. Iran demanded that the IAEA Board of Governors close its PMD dossier, and, according to some Iranian spokesmen, it should do so in a way that completely exonerates Iran of accusations against it regarding development of a military nuclear program. That is, Iran will not be satisfied with a closure of the dossier that is merely formal if Amano’s report does not completely exonerate it.

To this end, in the days leading up to the release of the report, Iran pressured the IAEA and the P5+1, with the aim of ensuring that the report would completely clear Iran of suspicions regarding PMD.[2]

In addition to its direct pressure on Amano, Iran also implemented political pressure on the P5+1, warning that if the dossier remained open, Iran would not implement its obligations under the JCPOA, and that the West had to choose between the PMD, that is, accusing Iran of developing a military nuclear program, and implementing the JCPOA.[3]

The Findings Of Amano’s PMD Report

Iran’s pressure netted only partial success. Prior to the report’s release, Amano stated: “What I can now say is that this is an issue that cannot be answered by ‘yes’ and ‘no.'”[4] The report included aspects that were both positive and negative for Iran.

On the one hand, it stated: “The Agency has not found indications of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran, beyond those activities declared retrospectively by Iran. The Agency has found no indications of Iran having conducted activities which can be directly traced to the ‘uranium metal document’ or to design information for a nuclear explosive device from the clandestine nuclear supply network.”

However, it also said: “The Agency assesses that explosive bridgewire (EBW) detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device.”

With regard to the Parchin facility, Amano’s PMD report stated that “[t]he information available to the Agency… does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the building.” Furthermore, the report stated that “the Agency assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the Agency seriously undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification.” It continued:

“The Agency assesses that Iran conducted computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009. The Agency notes, however, the incomplete and fragmented nature of those calculations… The Agency assesses that, before the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. Although some activities took place after 2003, they were not part of a coordinated effort. The Agency’s overall assessment is that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.”[5]

Iran’s Future Moves Vis-à-vis The PMD Dossier In The IAEA Board Of Governors

Assuming that the IAEA Board of Governors follows the Iran-U.S. dictates and closes Iran’s PMD dossier[6] in spite of the findings mentioned above, it is not clear that a formal closure of the dossier by the Board of Governors would satisfy Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or whether he would block Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA because the Amano report’s findings do not exonerate Iran.

The Iranian reactions to the report have been mixed, in accordance with the speakers’ affiliation with either the pragmatic camp of President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, or the ideological camp. While the former is willing to settle for a formal closure of the PMD dossier without Iran’s complete exoneration,[7] the latter stresses that the reports’ findings determine that Iran conducted military nuclear development prior to 2009, and see this as a reason to stop the entire JCPOA process. 

The Appendix below presents statements by Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiator Abbas Aragchi, representing the pragmatic camp, and by Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is affiliated with Supreme Leader Khamenei, representing the ideological camp.

It cannot be known whether Khamenei and ideological camp spokesmen will accept the Board of Governors’ resolution as sufficient. Furthermore, even if Khamenei decides to accept a closure of the PMD dossier by the Board of Governors as sufficient, his nine new conditions for Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA, as set out on October 21, 2015, remain an obstacle to Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA.[8]

Appendix

Statements By Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi Immediately After The Release Of Amano’s PMD Report

On December 2, 2015, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian Channel 1: “In the matter of the [Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program], the Amano report states explicitly that all the claims about PMD [refer] strictly to scientific studies [and not to military development]. This is the most salient point in the Amano report. The general view of the IAEA vis-à-vis Past and Present Outstanding Issues in Iran’s nuclear program counters the claims made against Iran in the past decade.

“The IAEA assessment is that prior to 2003, research activity was carried out in Iran, not by it. Likewise, there is no sign that nuclear material was diverted to any initiatives that are not for peaceful purposes.

“The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time, even though previously Amano said that his report was not black or white, but in my opinion it leans more towards the white side, particularly when the conclusion of the report explicitly rejects [the claim] that there is in Iran a military program, and it is preparing the ground for the Board of Governors to close the issue of the PMD dossier.

“The report states that there is no sign of nuclear material in matters that are not for peaceful purposes, and also that there is no sign of an undeclared nuclear fuel cycle in Iran. In the matter of equipment [for] dual use, the IAEA says that in the past Iran worked on detonators, but the report declares that these detonators had uses for both peaceful and non-peaceful purposes, and that the IAEA could not make a determination in this matter…

“Likewise, Iran’s procurements [activities] are not against [the law] and there is no organization in Iran that was established to produce an atomic bomb and nuclear weapons. The IAEA pointed out that in the past there was an organizational structure for this purpose [i.e. to create a nuclear weapon] and that in Iran’s view this, this organization could have been used for conventional weapons.

“Nowhere in the IAEA report does it say that Iran conducted dual use activity, except it is written that dual use activity was carried out in Iran; nowhere in the report does it accuse the Iranian government of operating in this direction.

“An additional positive point is that nowhere in the IAEA report is the term PMD used, since we have never officially recognized this matter and have not allowed the use of it in official documents or discussions. The JCPOA and the [IAEA] Road-map likewise do not use this term. In this report, there is use of [the term] ‘[Final Assessment] on Past and Present Outstanding Issues [Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program] and there is no use at all of the term Possible Military Dimensions.

“The IAEA’s claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report.

“All in all, when all the IAEA’s previous claims are placed next to the [Amano report’s] findings, it appears that the report’s fairness leans in Iran’s favor. The Board of Governors has no excuse to leave this dossier open…

“Although the IAEA took samples from the Parchin site, it is not declaring that it found nothing to justify its claims. We expected the IAEA to act fairly and realistically and not to present these things in the report…

“Amano is not in a position to close the PMD dossier. Amano is a [strictly] technical element that must report on his assessment according to reality, facts on the ground, and research that was carried out. The Board of Governors must resolve whether to close the PMD dossier. In my opinion, with regard to the report that Amano published, this procedure should be ended, because there is no proof that Iran’s nuclear program is military, or [was so] even in the past…

“According to the JCPOA, the P5+1 must submit to the Board of Governors a draft resolution with the aim of closing the PMD dossier. It does not appear that the board will decide otherwise in the matter, because the [political] will is to close [the dossier], and the Amano report provides a reason to do so.

“Another positive point in the Amano report is its pointing out that the Road-map was carried out perfectly by Iran. According to it, Iran met all its obligations.

“Still, the absolute Iranian position is that if this dossier is not closed, and if even the smallest window remains open [that will allow] a return to this issue, the JCPOA will not be implemented. We have conveyed this message, in a serious manner, to the other side, that if the PMD dossier is not closed [as noted above], we will not carry out our main steps in the JCPOA. The P5+1 and the Board of Governors must choose one or the other: the PMD or the JCPOA.

“The IAEA report mentions a prohibition on the use of dual equipment in illegal matters, particularly nuclear weapons, but there is no prohibition on the use of dual equipment in ways that are for peaceful purposes or for conventional weapons. The IAEA has said that EBW [Exploding-Bridgewire Detonator] and MPI [Multipoint Initiation] are equipment that has a use in nuclear weapons, Iran has manufactured them and used them. The IAEA says explicitly that it cannot determine [which] use Iran has made of them. We have presented the IAEA with documents that show the use of this equipment in the oil industry and Amano mentioned that Iran has used dual equipment in matters of peaceful purposes…”[9]

Hossein Shariatmadari In Kayhan Editorial, December 5, 2015

In Kayhan’s December 5, 2015 editorial, Shariatmadari wrote: “On Wednesday, December 2, the IAEA released its final report on the PMD. In this report, without presenting any evidence or proof, the IAEA rejects the opinion of Iran, which Iran has stated many times, and writes that up until 2009 Iran engaged in a series of activities connected to the production of nuclear weapons. This is despite the fact that in the past 12 years Iran has absolutely rejected any deviation [in a military direction] in its civilian nuclear activity.

“In spite of the extensive and comprehensive visits by IAEA inspectors, there is no finding to this claim. Several minutes after it was released, the report was welcomed by the media in the U.S. and in the Zionist regime. It was said that this report confirms their previous statements against Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran was accused of lying and cheating for several years.

“It may be that the IAEA report will have dangerous ramifications, that should be stated:

“1.   It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution. About this, it must be said that:

“a.    If this is a matter of an official agreement, where is this mentioned in the JCPOA? The answer is: Nowhere.

“b.   And if this was an oral agreement, how can the oral agreements of the rival be trusted when it has violated and continues to violate its formal obligations?!

“c.    It was told [to us] that the IAEA report would be grey – that is, with black and white points, positive and negative. Contrary to the opinion of our dear brother Dr. Araghchi, not only does this report not lean more towards white, but most of its sections are black. Additionally, the white points that the members [of the negotiating team] mention have only a white exterior, and their essence is completely black; we will address this later on.

“2.   The report states that up to 2009, Iran engaged in research and development connected to [nuclear] weapons – that is, the part of the report that addresses Iran’s nuclear challenge, which has continued for 12 years, is decided in favor of the rival. This is because in the past 12 years, the U.S. and its allies, and after that the P5+1, accused Iran of deviating in its nuclear program in the direction of nuclear weapons… Ultimately, the IAEA carried out more extensive oversight activity than [that required] in the Additional Protocol, and found no document attesting that Iran’s nuclear activity was not civilian. [Our] technical and judicial expectation was that the report would reject the claims that Iran had deviated in its nuclear program or at the very least that it would be stated [in it] that it had found no sign of such a deviation. But the report confirms the groundless and evidence-free claim of the U.S. and its allies.

“3.   Our friends [on the negotiating team] say that the general view of the report shows that its conclusion contradicts all the claims and talk against Iran’s nuclear program in the past 12 years… For 12 years [the U.S. and its allies] have claimed that Iran’s nuclear program is not civilian and is advancing in the direction of nuclear weapons. The IAEA report justifies this claim. How, then, can it be said that ‘the report contradicts the claims [against Iran] in the past 12 years!?’

“4.   The U.S. and its allies accused Iran, without presenting any proof, that up until 2009 it made efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Now, the report justifies the claims and accuses Iran of lying, cheating, concealing, breaking the law, and more. Those responsible for the nuclear negotiations must be asked: Was this the intention of the ‘acquisition of international confidence for Iran’ that you talked so much about? Take a quick look at the statements by American, European, and Zionist elements, and at the commentary and analysis by the foreign media, that were published immediately after the report was released: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says proudly that everything we [the U.S.] said about Iran’s nuclear program was true.[10] He stresses that we [the U.S.] had never had any doubts that Iran had striven to attain nuclear weapons.[11] Reuters rejected Iran’s statements that we had never wanted nuclear weapons, and wrote, with a large headline: ‘Iran had ‘coordinated effort’ relevant to atom bombs – IAEA.’ USA Today accuses Iran of lying about its non-civilian nuclear activity up to 2009. The Times of Israel spoke respectfully of the opinion of Israeli experts that from the outset, they had said that Iran was making efforts to create nuclear weapons, and more.

“5.   The first article of the [IAEA] report states that it is ‘based on information available to the IAEA… [The points in the original report] include information obtained by the IAEA from Iran in the Framework for Cooperation, including the Road-map and the JCPOA.’ This article says, or at least can be interpreted as saying, that even the elements in Iran (as the IAEA supposes) agreed that up to 2009 Iran engaged in non-civilian [nuclear] activity. Now, tell me: What is white in this report [as Araghchi said], and what in it arouses pride?!

“6.   The IAEA report on the PMD is a final report, and the IAEA saw no need to continue to investigate. Perhaps there will be those who will see this as a white point, and as a point in [Iran’s] favor. But in effect, the IAEA is stating absolutely that Iran made efforts to attain nuclear weapons, and that there is no need to reexamine this. That is, the ground has been prepared for future exploitation [of this claim against Iran].

“7.   The report justifies the suspicion of the U.S. and its allies regarding Iran’s nuclear activity and their perception of it non-civilian. Therefore, this justifies grave restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity, as well as unprecedented oversight on it. If we accept this report, we will destroy [with our own hands] all our achievements gained through great effort and sacrifices in blood.

“8.    The IAEA report could be more dangerous than the JCPOA, because it is an international document that proves that the opinions and proof that Iran submitted concerning its non-civilian nuclear program are unrealistic and unreliable. Therefore, the U.S. can extend the implementation of the JCPOA from 15 years to 25 years, or even for eternity, on the pretext that the IAEA report shows that you [i.e. Iran] have lied  for 12 years about your nuclear program and there is guarantee that you will not want to produce nuclear weapons under your civilian program.  

“9.    If Iran accepts the IAEA report, as unfortunately is becoming clear from statements by certain elements, the document will gain international [validity], and even if the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, this document [i.e. the report] is sufficient in order to permanently restrict our nuclear program and to leave Iran’s nuclear activity in the laboratory and as pilot [project]. That is, on the level of ‘nothing.’ Not for nothing have the rival’s media published the report enthusiastically and applauded the IAEA and its secretary-general.

“10. With regard to the U.S.’s long list of broken promises and deception in the past 12 years of [Iran’s] nuclear challenge, it can be said fervently that even if we assume that the Board of Governors closes the PMD dossier, as the friends [in the negotiating team] say it has promised, the IAEA’s final report can serve as a good basis for future extortion and excessive demands on the part of the U.S…

“11. In conclusion, the defense of [Iran’s] national and scientific interests requires that the elements connected to the nuclear [issue] in Iran show strength and might and explicitly oppose the report and [demand that it be considered] an illegal report and not a technical report [that is, that it be considered a political report] lacking all findings and proof.”[12]

 

Endnotes:

[1] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme, Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[2] Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said: “In the coming days, our experts will be in touch with IAEA experts, and if necessary, they will raise further points. It is even possible that I will meet with Amano again… According to what we were told, there are some weak points in the IAEA report, on which I have commented. I am optimistic that they will be amended. I have provided necessary comments to the Americans and Europeans.” ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015. On November 29, 2015, he said: “We expect [IAEA secretary-general] Amano to present the Board of Governors with a realistic and moderate report. It is true that it is not possible to determine absolutely what happened 10-15 years ago, and there are various possibilities. We do not expect that Amano will present an absolute report… In any event,  the resolution [about closing the PMD dossier]  lies with the Board of Governors [and not with Amano]. Our criterion is the closure of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. We are waiting for its resolution.” Mehr. Iran, November 29, 2015. Also see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[3] Aragchi said on November 29, 2015: “We are now in consultation on the content of the draft resolution that the P5+1 is meant to present to the Board of Governors. In the content [of the draft resolution], they must use terms that mean closure and conclusion of the PMD dossier in the Board of Governors. If this dossier is not closed, our position is absolutely clear – this dossier must be closed, so that we implement the JCPOA. If not, we will not implement our obligations, that according to the JCPOA Iran must implement after the closure of the PMD dossier. That is, the JCPOA will not be implemented fully. Mehr (Iran), November 29, 2015. Araghchi added, “If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA.” Press TV, Iran, November 26, 2015. Also, at a November 26, 2015 press conference, Foreign Minister Zarif said: “The Amano report, in the coming days, will help close the dossier permanently. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction envisioned for it in the past [that is, it will implement the JCPOA].”The PMD is encapsulated, though we believe undeservedly, as ‘concerns past and present’ in the text of the JCPOA; we hope Amano’s report within upcoming days will help close the case forever. If the report is realistic enough, Iran will move in the direction predicted for it before.” Mehr (Iran), November 26, 2015. Also see similar statements by Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, ISNA, Iran, November 29, 2015. Additionally, on December 1, 2015, the daily Etemaad, which is affiliated with pragmatic camp leader Hashemi Rafsanjani, stated that the negotiating team had said clearly that the West must choose between the PMD and the JCPOA.

[4] Reuters, November 26, 2015.

[5] Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme. Isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_PMD_Assessment_2Dec2015.pdf.

[6] A hint at this could be found in the December 5, 2015 editorial of the Iranian daily Kayhan, in which the paper’s editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, wrote: “It was told [to us] that in the nuclear talks it was agreed that the IAEA report would be grey, but that the Board of Governors will close [the matter of the] claim [regarding] the PMD by means of its final resolution” (see Appendix for the full editorial). Also, Araghchi’s November 26, 2015 statements to Iran’s Press TV hinted at commitments to Iran in this vein: “If Yukiya Amano or the Board of Governors present their report in such a way that it does not meet the obligations that were given, Iran too will stop [implementing] the JCPOA.”

[7] Although the members of the negotiating team also claimed that the Amano report contains statements that are unacceptable. Following the report’s release, Araghchi said in a December 2, 2015 television interview: “The claims in the IAEA report about science and research activity are unacceptable to us, and we will inform the IAEA of our opinion on this matter within the allotted time… The IAEA’s claim that in the past there was research concerning military nuclear activity could be a negative issue. I believe that if the IAEA had sought the truth, it would not have said such a thing. Additionally, the IAEA claimed that an explosives firing chamber was constructed at Parchin, that now does not exist. According to photos from 2000 that we have shown the IAEA, and on which the IAEA is basing its claims, there was never any such chamber at such a location. Further, the IAEA visited Parchin twice, in 2004 and 2005, and saw no such thing. We do not confirm this claim, and we did not want such a summary to appear in the IAEA report” (for the full statements, see Appendix). ISNA, Iran, December 2, 2015. See also statements by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Ali Akbar Salehi: “Based on the Amano report, there remains no way to leave the PMD dossier open… Based on this [report], and on my extensive experience in the IAEA, the PMD dossier will be closed for certain, because they have not succeeded in presenting any document. Therefore, this false dossier that has entangled us for many years will be closed permanently.” Nasimonline, Iran, December 3, 2015.

[8] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[9] ISNA (Iran), December 2, 2015.

[10] MEMRI did not find Kerry’s exact words in this regard.

[11] Kerry said at a December 4, 2015 press conference that “nobody has had any doubts whatsoever about Iran’s past military endeavors.” State.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/12/250362.htm.

[12] Kayhan (Iran), December 5, 2015.

Contentions| Not Just a Bad Deal — A ‘Sheer Fantasy’

August 19, 2015

Contentions| Not Just a Bad Deal — A ‘Sheer Fantasy’, Commentary Magazine, August 18, 2015

To appreciate the key paragraph in Senator Bob Corker’s Washington Post op-ed opposing the Iran deal, you need to review his extemporaneous remarks at the August 5 hearing of the Senate Banking Committee – addressed to both the witness, Under Secretary Wendy Sherman, and to his Democratic colleagues. Corker was one of the few Republican senators who did not sign Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran, and he worked across the aisle to craft the Congressional review of the deal. On August 5, he spoke first to the Democratic senators sitting there: “I want to say that I think Senator Donnelly, Senator Heitkamp, Senator Warner, Senator Tester, Senator Schumer, Senator Menendez all know that I have been very open to supporting an agreement.” Then he recounted a Saturday phone conversation he had had the previous month with Secretary of State Kerry, when “I actually thought he was listening to what I was saying.”

I was standing in my driveway, and I emphasized the importance of these last pieces [of negotiations]. And I’m talking about the inspections. I’m talking about the … possible military dimensions [PMD]. We all know they’re involved militarily. And how important that was, not just from the standpoint of what it said, but the indication to us — that we were really going to apply these things, that we were really going to be tough and make this agreement stand.

And when I got the documents – and I’ve been through all of them extensively – I have to say my temperature rose very heavily. And then when I saw that we were lifting the conventional ban in five years, the missile ban in eight years, and on the front end, lifting the missile test ban on top of what these agreements said, I was very troubled. …

I was very discouraged with the final round … But I worked with Senator Cardin, my friend – I began with Senator Menendez – over an excruciating period of time to make sure that the way this agreement, the Iran Review Act, we got the documents, and we got them in a way that was acceptable to y’all. We spent all weekend with you, the White House, and others on this Iran Review Act, and we were to get all agreements, including the side agreements. Now, the very entity that we’re counting on to do the inspection – we can’t even get a copy of the side agreement that lays out how we’re gonna deal with Parchin. And I would say to everyone here, if you haven’t been down to the Intel area you ought to see what Iran is doing today, while we’re sitting here, in Parchin. …

We can’t even see the agreement that relates to how we’re gonna deal with the PMD. By the way, all sanctions relief occurs regardless of what they do with the PMD. All the IAEA has to write is a report. But if they “D-Minus” it, meaning they don’t tell us much … sanctions relief still occurs. … [T]hese issues that we have been so concerned about, we saw they were just punted on, negotiated away, issues that we, with great sincerity, talked with the administration about, and yet they were just punted on.

At that time, Senator Corker had not yet met privately with IAEA Director General Amano, or in executive session with Under Secretary Sherman, where he was promised oral explanations – but no documents – regarding the IAEA agreements with Iran. Corker’s statement today contains a revealing conclusion about what senators learned from those sessions:

[T]he inspections process is deeply flawed. Through verbal presentations regarding possible military dimensions, many in Congress are aware of the unorthodox arrangements agreed to by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the administration and our negotiating partners to keep from upsetting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Those actual agreements remain secret, but we know that at best they are most unusual and speak to the P5+1’s low commitment to holding Iran’s feet to the fire.

At the same hearing, Senator Cotton questioned Under Secretary Sherman about why the documents are classified: “This is not a U.S. government document, it’s not a covert action, it’s not subject to sensitive collection methods of our intelligence community, Iran knows what they agreed to, you know what’s in [them] … [and] U.S. law that was in fact signed in the middle of these negotiations required Congress to receive the text of all agreements, to include agreements to which the United States was not a party.” Sherman emphasized how important it is to safeguard confidential IAEA agreements with all countries. But the real reason may have been revealed in this colloquy:

COTTON: How long are these documents?

SHERMAN: Very short.

COTTON: Like the Roadmap itself?

SHERMAN: I’d have to stop and think back, but it’s very short.

The Road-map For the Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program, with its reference to the two secret “separate arrangements,” is set forth on the IAEA website (you can also watch the smiling Iranians at the signing ceremony on YouTube). So we know exactly how long the Roadmap is: 398 words.

Perhaps what is most noteworthy about the side agreements is not the allegedly confidential nature of them, but the fact that they are scandalously short. At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on August 4 regarding the Iran deal, there was this colloquy between Ambassador Robert Joseph, who headed the negotiations with Libya in 2003 that dismantled Libya’s nuclear program, and Senator Corker:

JOSEPH: [I]n terms of what may or may not be in these secret agreements, my sense is that if these agreements did provide for a real way forward on PMD and on Parchin you’d see them.

CORKER: They’d be on the table.

JOSEPH: You’d see them. Why, you know, after four years of stonewalling on these issues by Iran, we for whatever reason could think that these are going to be resolved by a couple of side agreements and they’re going to be resolved by mid-December? My view is that’s just sheer fantasy.

Sheer fantasy, but under the Roadmap the fantasy will play out until the IAEA issues its report on December 15 – two months after Congress must vote on the deal.

Iran Threatened ‘Harm’ to Top Nuke Inspector to Prevent Disclosure of Secret Deal

August 18, 2015

Iran Threatened ‘Harm’ to Top Nuke Inspector to Prevent Disclosure of Secret Deal, Washington Free Beacon, Adam Kredo, August 18, 2015

"FILE</aBehrouz Kamalvandi / AP

Iran also has gained additional leverage over the IAEA by refusing to sign a document known as the Additional Protocol, which forces Iran to disclose certain details of its nuclear program to the IAEA so that it can confirm that Tehran is not operating a clandestine weapons program.

“The IAEA desperately wanted the Iranians to ratify the Additional Protocol as part of the deal to lock them into formal obligations that would actually be permanent,” the source explained. “The Obama administration failed to win the concessions, and instead Iran got to promise to ascend eight years from now.”

“So for the next eight years the Iranians get to hold the threat over the IAEA: Don’t push your luck or we’ll refuse to accede in eight years,” the source said.

********************

Iranian leaders prevented a top International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official from disclosing to U.S. officials the nature of secret side deals with the Islamic Republic by threatening harm to him, according to regional reports.

Yukiya Amano, IAEA director general, purportedly remained silent about the nature of certain side deals during briefings with top U.S. officials because he feared such disclosures would lead to retaliation by Iran, according to the spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI).

Amano was in Washington recently to brief members of Congress and others about the recently inked nuclear accord. However, he did not discuss the nature of side deals with Iran that the United States is not permitted to know about.

Iran apparently threatened Amano in a letter meant to ensure he did not reveal specific information about the nature of nuclear inspections going forward, according to Iranian AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi.

This disclosure has only boosted suspicions among some that the Iranians are willing and able to intimidate the top nuclear watchdog and potentially undermine the verification regime that Obama administration officials have dubbed a key component of the nuclear accord.

“In a letter to Yukiya Amano, we underlined that if the secrets of the agreement (roadmap between Iran and the IAEA) are revealed, we will lose our trust in the Agency; and despite the US Congress’s pressures, he didn’t give any information to them,” Kamalvandi was quoted as saying Monday during a meeting with Iranian lawmakers, according to Tehran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency.

“Had he done so, he himself would have been harmed,” the official added.

Iran revealed in recent weeks that the United States is banned from knowing the details of its nuclear inspections agreement with the IAEA, a disclosure that prompted anger in many circles on Capitol Hill.

Iran also has gained additional leverage over the IAEA by refusing to sign a document known as the Additional Protocol, which forces Iran to disclose certain details of its nuclear program to the IAEA so that it can confirm that Tehran is not operating a clandestine weapons program.

Even supporters of the deal have noted that this gives Iran greater “leverage” over the IAEA going forward.

One source close to the Iran fight on Capitol Hill explained that Iran’s refusal to sign the document gives it up to eight more years to threaten the IAEA.

“The IAEA desperately wanted the Iranians to ratify the Additional Protocol as part of the deal to lock them into formal obligations that would actually be permanent,” the source explained. “The Obama administration failed to win the concessions, and instead Iran got to promise to ascend eight years from now.”

“So for the next eight years the Iranians get to hold the threat over the IAEA: Don’t push your luck or we’ll refuse to accede in eight years,” the source said.

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), expressed concern that Iran could obstruct future inspections.

“Iranian leverage over the IAEA could impede a proper resolution of issues relating to Tehran’s past and possibly continuing weaponization activities,” Dubowitz said. “It may also prevent the agency from ever getting necessary physical access into suspicious sites including military facilities and prevent detection of Iranian clandestine nuclear activities.”

Further complicating the future inspections regime is the expiration of Amano’s term at the IAEA in 2017. The official could be replaced then.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials disclosed on Monday that any nuclear inspector entering Iran on behalf of the IAEA would first have to be screened by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.

Iran additionally will be given 24 days notice before inspectors enter any site suspected of being used to build a nuclear weapon. U.S. inspectors also will be banned from entering suspicious sites under the deal.

Recent Iranian disclosures highlight the perversity of the Iran “deal”

August 13, 2015

Recent Iranian disclosures highlight the perversity of the Iran “deal,” Dan Miller’s Blog, August 13, 2015

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

In 2011, well before the multilateral P5+1 “negotiations” with Iran began in February of 2013, Obama put Senator John Kerry in charge of  “secret bilateral negotiations on the [Iranian] nuclear dossier.” Kerry then advised Iranian officials that “we are definitely and sincerely willing, and we can resolve the issues” — including Uranium enrichment and the Possible Military Dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s nuclear weaponization and missile development programs have been substantially ignored ever since.

Ernest Moniz, who was to become Kerry’s technical adviser, was brought into the P5+1 negotiations at the specific request of the Iranian official — Moniz’ former MIT classmate — who was to be his counterpart. 

The Iran – North Korea nuclear axis, through which the rogue nations cooperate on nuke and missile development, continues to be ignored.

In earlier articles, beginning shortly after the Joint Plan of Action was published in November of 2013, I attempted to show that the focus was on pretending to curtail Iran’s Uranium enrichment programs as they expanded and then granting sanctions relief, while substantially ignoring the program’s “possible military dimensions” (PMDs). Followup articles are here, here and elsewhere. The PMDs have yet to be explored seriously and evidently will not be under the current “comprehensive” joint plan and the secret side deals between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran.

Any pretense that the IAEA will have “any time, anywhere” access to Iran’s military sites was mere rhetoric, as acknowledged by US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on July 16th

“I think this is one of those circumstances where we have all been rhetorical from time to time,” Sherman said in a conference call with Israeli diplomatic reporters. “That phrase, anytime, anywhere, is something that became popular rhetoric, but I think people understood that if the IAEA felt it had to have access, and had a justification for that access, that it would be guaranteed, and that is what happened.” [Emphasis added.]

Ms. Sherman was right about the rhetorical nature of administration assertions, but wrong about IAEA access, of which there will apparently be little or none pursuant to the secret deals between Iran and the IAEA.

I. Here’s some background on Kerry

Reporting for duty

Reporting for duty with Iran

During his 2004 campaign for president, Kerry said if he were the president he would

have “offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel” to Iran, to “test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes.” Mr. Kerry’s words brought comfort to Tehran’s top mullahs, who have been seeking to buy time from the international community for the past two years while they continue perfecting their nuclear weapons capabilities. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Top among the pro-regime fund-raisers who have contributed to the Kerry campaign is a recent Iranian immigrant in California named Susan Akbarpour.

. . . .

The Kerry campaign credits Miss Akbarpour and her new husband, Faraj Aalaie, with each raising $50,000 to $100,000 for the presidential campaign. Mr. Aalaie is president of Centillium Communications, a Nasdaq-listed software firm.

These contributions continue . . . even though Miss Akbarpour was not a permanent U.S. resident when she made her initial contribution to Mr. Kerry on June 17, 2002, as this reporter first revealed in March. (To be legal, campaign cash must come from U.S. citizens or permanent residents).

On August 10th of this year, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published a lengthy article quoting Iranian officials on their dealings with Senator Kerry. Obama had put Senator John Kerry in charge of “secret bilateral negotiations on the [Iranian] nuclear dossier” well before the multilateral P5+1 “negotiations” with Iran began in February of 2013.

The MEMRI article states that Kerry had representatives of The Sultanate of Oman deliver a letter he had written to Iranian officials recognizing Iran’s Uranium enrichment rights and suggesting secret negotiations. Omani officials discussed the letter with Iranian officials and, when the Iranians appeared skeptical, the Omani official suggested,

Go tell them that these are our demands. Deliver [the note] during your next visit to Oman.’ On a piece of paper I wrote down four clearly-stated points, one of which was [the demand for] official recognition of the right to enrich uranium. I thought that, if the Americans were sincere in their proposal, they had to accept these four demands of ours. Mr. Souri delivered this short letter to the mediator, stressing that this was the list of Iran’s demands, [and that], if the Americans wanted to resolve the issue, they were welcome to do so [on our terms], otherwise addressing the White House proposals to Iran would be pointless and unjustified. [Emphasis added.]

“All the demands presented in this letter were related to the nuclear challenge. [They were] issues we had always come up against, like the closing of the nuclear dossier, official recognition of [the right to] enrichment, and resolving the issue of Iran’s past activities under the PMD [possible military dimensions] heading. After receiving the letter, the Americans said, ‘We are definitely and sincerely willing, and we can resolve the issues that Iran mentioned.’” [Emphasis added.]

The texts of the November, 2013 Joint Plan of Action, as well as the July 14, 2015 “deal,” could easily have been predicted based on Kerry’s 2011 response to the Iranians.

“After Rohani’s government began working [in August 2013] – this was during Obama’s second term in office – a new [round of] negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 was launched. By this time, Kerry was no longer a senator but had been appointed secretary of state. [But even] before this, when he was still senator, he had already been appointed by Obama to handle the nuclear dossier [vis-à-vis Iran] and later [in December 2012] he was appointed secretary of state. Before this, the Omani mediator, who was in close touch with Kerry, told us that Kerry would soon be appointed secretary of state. In the period of the secret negotiations with the Americans in Oman, there was a more convenient atmosphere for obtaining concessions from the Americans.  After the advent of the Rohani government and the American administration [i.e., after the start of Obama’s second term in office], and with Kerry as secretary of state, the Americans expressed a more forceful position. They no longer displayed the same eagerness to advance the negotiations. Their position became more rigid and the threshold of their demands higher. But the situation on the Iranian side changed too, since a very professional team was placed in charge of the negotiations with the P5+1…”

Perhaps Kerry had found it more congenial, and certainly more consistent with his and Obama’s own intentions, to be eager to help Iran during secret negotiations and to appear modestly resistant during the P5+1 sessions; they were at least slightly more in public view. Even so, according to Amir Hossein Motagh, a former aide to President Rouhani,

The US negotiating team are mainly [in Lausanne] to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, for example, has long been insisting that Iran come clean on its previous military activities, something we are now told that the American delegation, led by Secretary Kerry, wants to leave out of the negotiation. Why? Because the Iranians have said they will not come clean. [Emphasis added.]

That was too much even for the normally pro-Democrat Washington Post, which wrote in a column attributed to its Editorial Board last Friday that the deal was “a reward for Iran’s noncompliance.”

According to the article linked above,

Some Iranian-Americans believe that Secretary Kerry should have recused himself from the negotiations at the very outset because of his long-standing relationship to his Iranian counter-part, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The two first met over a decade ago at a dinner party hosted by George Soros at his Manhattan penthouse, according to a 2012 book by Hooman Majd, who frequently translates for Iranian officials.

Iranian-American sources in Los Angeles tell me that Javad Zarif’s son was the best man at the 2009 wedding between Kerry’s daughter Vanessa and Behrouz Vala Nahed, an Iranian-American medical doctor.

The newlyweds went to Iran shortly after their wedding to met Nahed’s family. Kerry ultimately revealed his daughter’s marriage to an Iranian-American once he had taken over as Secretary of State. But the subject never came up in his Senate confirmation hearing, either because Kerry never disclosed it, or because his former colleagues were too polite to bring it up.

Why did Obama designate Kerry to deal with Iran in 2011? Andrew C. McCarthy, writing at The Center for Security Policy, offers this:

Clearly, there are two reasons: Obama needed someone outside the administration, and Kerry’s status and track record made him a natural.

Remember, Obama was running for reelection in 2011–12. Public opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and, therefore, to Iran’s enrichment of uranium was very strong — and, indeed, remains so. Consequently, Obama pretended on the campaign trail that he would vigorously oppose Iran’s uranium-enrichment efforts . . . even as he was covertly signaling to the jihadist regime that he was open to recognizing Iran as a nuclear power. [Emphasis added.]

As my friend Fred Fleitz of the Center for Security Policy has noted, Obama asserted in the lead-up to the 2008 election that “the world must work to stop Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.” So too, in the run-up to the 2012 election, did Obama continue assuring voters that Iran “needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those U.N. resolutions prohibit Iran’s enrichment activities. Thus did the president proclaim, in seeking reelection, that the only deal he would accept would be one in which the Iranians “end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.” [Emphasis added.]

With Obama out feigning opposition to Iran’s enrichment activities, it would not do to have a conflicting message communicated to Iran by his own administration. What if Iran, to embarrass Obama, were to go public about an administration entreaty that directly addressed enrichment? It would have been hugely problematic for the president’s campaign. Obama thus needed an alternative: someone outside the administration whom Obama could trust but disavow if anything went wrong; someone the Iranian regime would regard as authoritative. [Emphasis added.]

John Kerry was the perfect choice.

I agree, but Mr. McCarthy does not address this exchange, quoted above but worth repeating here:

“All the demands presented in this letter were related to the nuclear challenge. [They were] issues we had always come up against, like the closing of the nuclear dossier, official recognition of [the right to] enrichment, and resolving the issue of Iran’s past activities under the PMD [possible military dimensions] heading. After receiving the letter, the Americans said, ‘We are definitely and sincerely willing, and we can resolve the issues that Iran mentioned.’” [Emphasis added.]

II. Ernest Moniz

Moniz, the U.S. Energy Secretary, was asked to join the P5+1 technical discussions at the request of Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

Salehi said that he was asked to join the nuclear talks when the discussions on the Natanz enrichment facility reached a dead end. Salehi said he would only join the talks if Moniz, his American counterpart, did as well. According to Salehi, this was approved by Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, which he described as “the communications link between America and Iran.” [Emphasis added.]

Salehi said he and Moniz did not know each other well when they were at MIT, but when they first met during the talks, “there was a feeling that he has known me for years.” Salehi added, “A number of my classmates are now Mr. Moniz’s experts.”  [Emphasis added.]

According to Salehi, Moniz entering the talks was important because Salehi expressed that he had been sent with “full authority” to sign off on all technical issues in the nuclear negotiations and Moniz had told him that he had the same authority. He added, “If the negotiations did not take place with the Americans, the reality is that it would not have reached a conclusion. No [other] country was ready to sit with us and negotiate for 16 days with their foreign minister and all of its experts.”

Salehi said that one of the more difficult times negotiating with Moniz was after they reached an agreement on a particular issue. Moniz would take it to the other members of P5+1, who would then make their own requests.

Moniz was likely as forthcoming with the non-US members of P5+1 as he was with members of the U.S. Congress; not at all.

North Korea and Iran, partners in crime

This is a drum I have been beating for years. Recent articles are available here and here. The Obama Administration persists in covering up what it knows on the subject and the current “deal” with Iran is silent on the matter. So, of course, was the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action.

Forbes published an article by Claudia Rosett today (August 13th) on the subject and, beyond noting that Douglas Frantz is Kerry’s Assistant Secretary in charge of the Bureau of Public Affairs, she observes that in his former capacity as a journalist for the Washington Post and New York Times, he wrote about the nature and perils of the axis.

Frantz’ duties under Kerry include

engaging “domestic and international media to communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy and national security interests as well as broadening understanding of American values.”

But it appears that as a State Department advocate of a free and well-informed press, Frantz himself is not free to answer questions from the press about his own reporting on North Korea’s help to Iran in designing a nuclear warhead. The State Department has refused my repeated requests to interview Frantz on this subject. Last year, an official at State’s Bureau of Public Affairs responded to my request with an email saying, “Unfortunately Assistant Secretary Frantz is not available to discuss issues related to Iran’s nuclear program.” This June I asked again, and received the emailed reply: “This is indeed an important topic for Doug, but he feels that speaking about his past work would no longer be appropriate, since he is no longer a journalist.”

The real issue, of course, is not the career timeline of Douglas Frantz, but the likelihood, past and future, of nuclear collaboration between Iran and North Korea. Frantz may no longer be a journalist, but it’s hard to see why that should constrain him, or his boss, Secretary Kerry, from speaking publicly about important details of Iran’s illicit nuclear endeavors — information which Frantz in his incarnation as a star journalist judged credible enough to publish in a major newspaper.

. . . .

President Obama has been telling Congress and the American public that the Iran nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — “cuts off all Iran’s pathways to the bomb.” That’s not true. One of the most dangerous aspects of this deal is that it does not sever the longtime alliance between Tehran and Pyongyang. If there has indeed been cooperation between these two regimes on nuclear weapons, it’s time not only for Iran to come clean, but for the Obama administration to stop covering up. [Emphasis added.]

Although that’s not the only dangerous aspect which the Obama Administration has covered up and lied about cutting off “all [of] Iran’s pathways to the bomb” it is an important one. Meanwhile, it has been reported that

Fresh satellite images suggest North Korea is expanding its uranium extraction capacity, possibly with a view to increasing its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

The images taken in Pyongyang show Kim Jong-un has begun to refurbish a major mill that turns uranium ore into yellowcake – a first step towards producing enriched uranium.

A recent report by U.S. researchers warned that Kim was poised to expand his nuclear programme over the next five years and, in a worst-case scenario, could possess 100 atomic weapons by 2020. 

Conclusions

“Negotiations” involving hostile foreign nations such as Iran are easier when led by friendly “negotiators” with compatible interests. At least since his failed 2004 campaign for the presidency, Kerry has been on Iran’s side and has favored it over the United States. While pretending for political purposes to be against Iran’s nuclear program, Obama was and remains in favor of it, pretenses to the contrary notwithstanding.

Obama, Kerry and Moniz got the deal they wanted. They, along with their P5+1 partners, richly deserve their resultant legacy of empowering Iran as an anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Western civilization, Islamist hegemonic nuclear power with a disgraceful human rights record comparable to that of its partner, North Korea.

The Iran – North Korea nuclear axis has helped both rogue nations to develop and create nuclear bombs and the means to deliver them, with very little in the way of “adult supervision.” The failure to deal with even tangentially, or even to mention, the axis will likely become a significant part of Obama’s legacy. Ours as well.

Bringing Obama’s vision of stability to the Middle East, Allah willing.

This video is from August 2010. Now it may well be too late to stop Iran.

Speaking of the Iran deal (7)

July 27, 2015

Speaking of the Iran deal (7), Power LineScott Johnson, July 27, 2015

Omri Ceren writes to comment on Jay Solomon’s Wall Street Journal article “White House says Iran unlikely to address suspicions of secret weapons program” (accessible here via Google. Omri writes:

The WSJ gained access to some of the documents on the Iran deal that the administration filed with Congress to meet its obligations under the Corker legislation. Two of the documents – both of which are secret and one of which is fully classified (!) – are about the verification process. They reveal that the Obama administration has completely collapsed on the long-standing demand that Iran come clean on the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its atomic program:

On Iran’s alleged past weapons work, the Obama administration said it concluded: “An Iranian admission of its past nuclear weapons program is unlikely and is not necessary for purposes of verifying commitments going forward…. U.S. confidence on this front is based in large part on what we believe we already know about Iran’s past activities… The United States has shared with the IAEA the relevant information, and crafted specific measures that will enable inspectors to establish confidence that previously reported Iranian [weaponization] activities are not ongoing.”

There’s a history to this collapse. Secretary Kerry made this exact argument to reporters the week before Vienna, but it was a disaster and the State Department immediately retreated: spokesman John Kirby spent the next week telling reporters that they had simply misunderstood Kerry. Ad yet Kerry’s statement is almost word for word what made its way into the documents provided to Congress. Except this time there can’t be a public debate about the stance, because the filing was done in secret and the administration went so far as to classify one of the documents. They’ve made sure that this time there won’t be – there can’t be – any transparency debate over their claims.

Given how the last time went, it’s easy to understand why the administration would want to avoid a robust public discussion over the stance.

On June 11 – a Thursday – the Associated Press revealed that the Obama administration intended to provide Iran with sanctions relief without Tehran resolving the IAEA’s PMD concerns. Instead the Iranians would just have to agree to provide access to inspectors, and the threat of snapback would in theory prevent the them from backsliding [a]. Critics characterized the concession as tantamount to leaving PMD concerns permanentely unresolved, because if current sanctions were inadequate to force Iranian disclosure, how could threatening to restore some of those sanctions later be adequate?

For the next two days – Friday and Monday – the State Department tried arguing that the sequencing would work. They also tried to gaslight reporters by claiming that the administration had always sought access not resolution, leading to exchanges like “our position on this remains the same” vs. “it doesn’t remain the same… you’re lowering the bar even further from address to just agree to give access to” [b].

That wasn’t working so on Tuesday Secretary Kerry teleconferenced into the briefing and introduced a brand new argument: instead of claiming that the Iranians would keep providing PMD-related access after sanctions relief, he declared that the U.S didn’t need to resolve PMDs at all: “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in” [c].

That talking point was even worse. Caving on PMDs guts the verification regime: the IAEA needs to know what the Iranians did and have, so that inspectors can verify they’ve stopped doing those things and given up those assets, and it needs to know how close the Iranians came to a bomb, so that analysts can know how far the Iranians are now [d]. Kerry’s argument – that the West doesn’t need more knowledge because the West already has sufficient knowledge – was indefensible: IAEA chief Amano had said just 3 months before that the agency still lacked adequate insight into Iran’s undeclared activities and former CIA director Michael Hayden published on Wednesday that the same was true of U.S. intelligence community [e][f].

So the rest of the week was retreat. The Obama administration fell back to claiming that reporters had misunderstood Kerry, and that of course the Iranians would still be forced to answer outstanding U.S. and IAEA questions. But since reporters had understood Kerry just fine, the briefings were bloodbaths. On Wednesday seven reporters piled on Kirby, who nonetheless insisted that the plain interpretation of Kerry’s comments was “incorrect” and that “it’s very clear what the expectations are of Iran… we have to resolve our questions about it with specificity. Access is very, very critical” [g]. Ditto for Thursday: “I don’t want to have to rehash this all again today… we were straightforward yesterday about it… nothing has changed about our policy with respect to the possible military dimensions” [h]. Ditto for Friday: “we’ve talked about this before… before there can be a deal, it needs to be determined… that the IAEA will have the access that they need to resolve their concerns” [i].

The converage from Friday to Monday explained why the State Department had retreated. Rep. Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Bloomberg View: “My only thought here is that the secretary misspoke or did not understand the question… We clearly don’t have the picture that we need of Iran’s capabilities.” [j]. Veteran diplomat James Jeffrey wrote that “by essentially telling the international community that “the past is past,” Washington and the P5+1 would undercut the arms-control regime that the IAEA is tasked with maintaining globally… there is a term for this that folks all over the region understand, and which Iran greatly values: ‘winning.’ [k]. Politico quoted former IAEA verification chief Olli Heinonen explaining “you need to know how far they got” to calculate breakout [l].

And yet the administration went ahead and put the original Kerry argument, which was crushed when they rolled it out publicly, into the Iran deal.

_________________

[a] http://bigstory.ap.org/article/add1fc3326d74ab08de652e58a5f3060/officials-nuke-deal-wont-answer-iran-weapons-qs-day-1
[b] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/06/243728.htm
[c] http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/06/243892.htm
[d] http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304081804579559630836775474
[e] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/iaea-monitoring-irans-nuclear-program/
[f] http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/17/michael-hayden-john-kerrys-unreliable-words-underm/?page=all
[g] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/06/243942.htm
[h] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/06/243983.htm
[i] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/06/244038.htm
[j] http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-06-19/no-u-s-doesn-t-have-absolute-knowledge-on-iran-s-nukes
[k] http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/behind-the-non-flub-on-irans-weaponization-program
[l] http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/iran-nuclear-deal-ayatollah-fatwa-complication-119244.html