Posted tagged ‘Iranian military sites’

U.S. Pursuing Rigorous New Nuclear Inspection Regime in Iran

October 31, 2017

U.S. Pursuing Rigorous New Nuclear Inspection Regime in Iran, Washington Free Beacon, October 30, 2017

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and Iranian technicians at a nuclear power plant of Natanz / Getty Images

The United States is pursuing a rigorous new regime for international inspections of Iran’s nuclear program that includes access to off-limits military sites as well as increased transparency on the Islamic Republic’s often obfuscated enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, according to U.S. officials and congressional leaders spearheading the new inspection effort.

A delegation of 13 leading senators petitioned the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, led by Ambassador Nikki Haley, to implement a series of stricter inspection methods that would give Western countries a deeper look into Iran’s suspected use of military sites to continue contested nuclear work prohibited under the landmark nuclear agreement, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump administration is said to be fully on board with these tougher inspection measures, which could address lingering questions about Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, U.S. officials said. Iran has been found in breach several times since the accord was implemented.

The letter, spearheaded by Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) and a delegation of top GOP senators, urges the United States to force the United Nations into accepting a tough new nuclear inspection regime in Iran that could shed sunlight on the country’s hidden nuclear efforts.

Many of Iran’s most contested military sites and uranium enrichment plants have been off-limits to international inspectors or subject to a delayed timeline that gives Iran at least a month to prepare for inspections, a part of the nuclear agreement that has come under particular criticism from those who say it gives the Islamic Republic time to cleanup and hide possible nuclear work falling outside of the accord.

The senators highlight a series of “shortcomings in the inspection and verification regime” led by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, which has itself admitted in recent months that it does not have a full picture of Iran’s current nuclear program.

A major “deterioration in the amount and quality of the information provided by IAEA inspections [has] prevented the inspection and verification regime of the JCPOA from being as thorough and transparent as possible,” the senators write, referring to the nuclear deal by its official acronym.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. is said to fully back these tougher inspection requests and is already pushing for a change at Turtle Bay.

“The senators’ letter is completely in sync with Ambassador Haley’s concerns about Iranian nuclear inspections,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission told the Free Beacon Monday, several days after the senators first sent their letter.

Haley “will continue to press for the most aggressive implementation of the nuclear deal, while also working to move the U.N. toward stronger measures against dangerous Iranian actions that fall outside of the deal, including their missile testing, arms smuggling, and support for terrorism,” the official said.

A spokesperson for Perdue’s office described the letter as part of a larger bid to crackdown on flaws in the nuclear deal that were originally obfuscated by the Obama administration when it first sold the deal to Congress and the American public.

“It’s very clear President Obama’s dangerous Iran Nuclear Deal doesn’t have the teeth he claimed it would,” the congressional official told the Free Beacon. “President Trump was right to decertify this deal, and now we have to turn up the pressure on the IAEA to get more detailed reporting and ensure all potential nuclear sites—including military installations—are inspected thoroughly.”

“Senator Perdue is encouraged Ambassador Haley has brought these issues to the U.N. and supports her effort to get better information about Iran’s nuclear activities,” the source said.

U.S. officials and those in Congress are seeking to close a series of gaps that have allowed Tehran to receive a month’s notice before inspections and also keep secret its most contested military sites.

The letter highlights flaws in a portion of the nuclear deal known as Section T, which is supposed to provide assurances that Iran is not engaging in any activities that would contribute to the design or development of a nuclear explosive device.

The IAEA has admitted in recent weeks that it is unclear exactly how to interpret this portion of the accord and has been unable to fully verify efforts undertaken by Iran on this front.

Without this information, the United States cannot fully determine “if Iran makes any effort to leave the JCPOA abruptly or gradually,” according to the letter, which was also signed by Sens.Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), Mike Lee (R., Utah), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), and several others.

Access to Iran’s military sites remains a key outstanding issue for the Trump administration and Congress, according to these officials, who say there is no credibly way to determine Iranian compliance with the nuclear accord without such access.

“We believe that without visits to military sites, the IAEA cannot make a credible conclusion that Iran is meeting its section T obligations,” the senators wrote.

The group is also pushing greater transparency on Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts, including its mining of uranium ore and yellow cake.

Inspection regimes “should include the number of visits to mines and ore concentration plants,” according to the senators, who say that Iran should be forced to inform the West about the amount of yellow cake it produces.

Additional new measures would include disclosures of “the type and amount of uranium fed into [nuclear] cascades at” each of Iran’s facilities. Such information would provide a clearer picture of how much enriched uranium Iran has on hand.

Iran must also provide more information about the number of nuclear centrifuges it is operating in its Natanz plant, as well as other areas, according to the senators, who are pushing for greater inspection of Iran’s storage of advanced nuclear centrifuges.

This would include “an assessment on if the IAEA surveillance measures are conclusive” on this front, or if further inspections are needed.

“With these improvements to inspection and reporting practices, we can better deny Iran’s access to a nuclear weapons capability,” the senators wrote.

A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council declined to comment on the letter, saying it does not discuss “correspondence between Congress and government officials,” but the issues highlighted in the missive appear to jibe with the Trump administration’s public criticism of the accord.

One veteran foreign policy insider for works closely with Congress on the Iran portfolio told the Free Beacon that the new U.S. inspection efforts highlight important ways in which the IAEA’s current regime has failed to provide critical information about Tehran’s nuclear progress.

“This letter does a couple of things,” the source said. “It highlights how the IAEA has been spinning its wheels in Iran, and hasn’t visited the sites where Iran is likely to be developing nuclear weapons technology.”

“It also serves notice that Congress knows the IAEA is full of shit when its top officials say they’ve confirmed Iran is complying with the deal,” the source added.

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.

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.

PM to present Trump with ‘concrete ideas’ on Iran deal

September 18, 2017

PM to present Trump with ‘concrete ideas’ on Iran deal, Israel Hayom, Gideon Allon, September 18, 2017

(Please see also, Trump considers ending Iran deal ahead of key deadline. –DM)

As PM Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to discuss Iranian threat with U.S. President Donald Trump in New York, Israeli media reports that the IAEA failed to investigate undisclosed, suspected nuclear sites in Iran • Netanyahu meets with U.S. Jewish leaders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump during the latter’s visit to Israel | Photo: GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was busy Monday making final preparations for his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump later in the day, where he was expected to lobby against the Iran nuclear agreement.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet Trump at 1 p.m. (8 p.m. Israel time), where the Israeli premier is expected to reiterate his call on the American president to amend or scrap the agreement reached between Iran and Western powers in July 2015.

As another deadline to certify that Iran is adhering to the agreement looms – by law, Iran’s compliance must be certified every 90 days – it appears that Trump may be amenable to Netanyahu’s demands. Trump has declared in the past that he did not wish to certify Iran’s compliance next month, putting the future of the deal in question.

Netanyahu’s office said Sunday that the prime minister planned to present Trump with “concrete ideas” as to how to change or reverse the nuclear agreement.

Netanyahu was also preparing for his address to the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled for Tuesday. Efforts have reportedly been made to coordinate the key arguments of Netanyahu’s address, which will also focus on the Iranian threat, with those of the American president’s address, to avoid any obvious contradictions. This effort was a result of the gaps that emerged between the positions expressed by Netanyahu and Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama at last year’s general assembly.

Netanyahu’s address is expected to be shorter than in previous years, and include a direct appeal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Netanyahu was preparing his address when Israeli paper Haaretz reported Sunday that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors failed to investigate information regarding a number of undeclared, suspected nuclear sites in Iran. The paper quoted officials as saying that “almost all the suspected sites have not been visited by IAEA inspectors – either because of Iran’s refusal to grant entry or U.N. officials’ reluctance to confront Iran on the issue.”

Besides his strong opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran, Netanyahu was expected to relay Israel’s concern over Iran’s presence in Syria, close to Israel’s northern border.

Upon landing in New York last week, Netanyahu reiterated the message that “Israel will not tolerate an Iranian presence at our northern border. It is a military presence that poses a threat not only to us, but also to our Arab neighbors and we will be forced to act against it.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu met on Sunday with leaders of the U.S. Jewish community. Representatives of the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements voiced disappointment at not being granted meetings with Netanyahu, wanting to discuss Jerusalem’s recent decision to scrap plans for an egalitarian prayer plaza at the Western Wall – a decision that drew the ire of many Reform and Conservative Jews in the U.S.

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.

Nikki Haley: Trump Has Grounds to Declare Iran in Violation of Nuclear Deal

September 5, 2017

Nikki Haley: Trump Has Grounds to Declare Iran in Violation of Nuclear Deal, Washington Free Beacon, , September 5, 2017

Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley / Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday said President Donald Trump would be justified if he denied Iranian compliance to the nuclear accord when it comes up for a quarterly review next month, though she said she does not know what Trump will decide.

In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., Haley detailed a strong case for Trump to declare Iran in violation of the agreement, warning the United States will be “dealing with the next North Korea” if the regime is left unchecked.

“We’re allowing them to have behavior that’s in violation of the resolution right in front of us,” she said. “We’re allowing them to sit there and actually tell the [International Atomic Energy Agency] that they’re not going to let them inspect military sites where we know they have had covert nuclear operations in the past. What I want the country to understand is we need to wake up.”

Haley said if Trump chooses to declare Iran in violation, it would not automatically trigger a U.S. withdrawal from the accord. Instead, she said the decision to leave the accord would be tossed to Congress, leaving room for lawmakers to keep in place U.S. sanctions relief.

The Trump administration has been weighing since April whether to scrap the deal, despite disagreement from U.S. allies in Europe who helped implement the agreement two years ago. Haley acknowledged European objections, but added: “This is about U.S. national security. This is not about European security.”

She said the international community’s unwillingness to challenge regime behavior “for fear of damaging the nuclear agreement” typifies the threat the deal poses to American national security, describing it as “too big to fail.”

U.S. law requires the president to notify Congress every 90 days on whether Iran is adhering to the accord, which aimed to limit Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions related to the program. The Trump administration has twice recertified the agreement, though Trump warnedin July he would not continue to do so indefinitely. The next recertification deadline is in October.

Haley said she would not predict the president’s decision, but suggested repercussions if Iran continues to deny the IAEA access to its military sites to ensure Tehran’s compliance to the accord.

“If the president finds that he cannot certify Iranian compliance, it would be a message to Congress that the administration believes either that Iran is in violation of the deal, or that the lifting of sanctions against Iran is not appropriate and proportional to the regime’s behavior, or that the lifting of sanctions is not in the U.S. national security interest, or any combination of the three,” she said.

Haley traveled to Vienna last week to pressure UN atomic watchdogs to check Iran’s undeclared military sites to verify it is not concealing activities barred by the deal.