With Self Inspections, Iran Deal Relies on Trust

In a stunning development, a leaked draft side-agreement to the Iran deal confirms that Tehran will be entrusted to deploy its own inspectors at the Parchin military facility. On Aug. 19, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has accepted strict limitations on its ability to inspect Parchin. This revelation casts severe doubts on the credibility of the IAEA’s inspections regime and its ability to ever gain sufficient access to Iranian military sites. It sets a dangerous precedent for international nonproliferation efforts and discredits the stated “don’t trust, but verify” approach. Congress should not accept a deal that allows Iran to inspect its own nuclear program. Congress must insist on a better deal. 

Iran will be able to use its own inspectors at the Parchin military facility.

What the Draft Secret Side Agreement Reportedly Says
  • Iran will be granted discretion to withhold access to areas at Parchin that it declares off-limits due to military significance.
  • Iran will be granted discretion to withhold photos and videos from areas at Parchin that it declares off-limits due to military significance.
  • The role of IAEA inspectors will be limited to observing their Iranian counterparts.

Understanding Iran’s Past Nuclear Weaponization Efforts Now Relies on Trust
  • Proponents of the deal insist that it is not built on trust, but this secret side-agreement calls that into question. If the AP report is correct, Iran will decide what the IAEA inspectors can access, review and test at Parchin. The international community will only have evidence that Iran decides to make available to determine the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work.
  • For more than a decade, the world has suspected Iran of carrying out illicit nuclear weaponization activities at Parchin. And for years, Iran has repeatedly ignored U.N. demands to provide access to international inspectors. It is difficult to see how this new measure increases transparency to a point where the world can feel comfortable about past and current operations at this military facility.
  • All of this occurs in the context of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) terms denying access to Iran for inspectors from any country with which Iran does not have diplomatic relations. America will not be part of the inspections regime anywhere in Iran.

The Potential for Establishing Dangerous Precedent
  • Allowing Iran to inspect its own military facility represents a dangerous change to established arms control protocol. And as a result of this measure, one of the dangers moving forward is that a new precedent has been established that will prevent the IAEA from inspecting future suspect Iranian military facilities.
  • The JCPOA explicitly recognizes the possibility that Iran and the IAEA can reach agreement on measures short of inspection of suspect facilities. It is not hard to imagine that Iran will insist in following the Parchin precedent if it continues to insist that the IAEA will never be allowed to inspect military sites.

This Secret Side Deal Only Increases the Urgency for Congress to Reject the JCPOA
  • The fact that Iran will be the one to investigate its own suspected illicit nuclear weaponization activity is grounds enough for America to seek a better agreement.
  • Any deal with Iran must provide Congressional access to secret side agreements between the P5+1 and Iran; Congress cannot approve a deal that it cannot review.

  • This revelation is just another reason that Congress must reject this deal and urge the administration to work with our allies to maintain economic pressure on Iran. In time this will lead Iran to return to negotiations to forge a better deal that will truly close off all of its paths to a nuclear weapon.

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