George Jahn, a respected reporter who covers the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna for The Associated Press, published an important story yesterday on details of a secret side agreement to the Iran nuclear deal in which Iran will collect samples of possible nuclear-weapons-related activity for the IAEA. He wrote his story after an unnamed diplomat allowed him to read a draft of one of the side deals. The side-deal documents reportedly have only been briefed to U.S. officials and will not be shared with the U.S. Congress.
I wrote at National Review on July 22 that Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) learned about the existence of two secret side deals to the Iran agreement when they met with IAEA officials in Vienna on July 17. The congressmen were told these agreements concerned resolving the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and the issue of access to the Parchin military base, where explosive testing related to nuclear-warhead development reportedly has taken place.
This story attracted more attention on July 23, when Senator James Risch (R., Idaho) revealed during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that one of the side deals allows Iran to collect samples for the IAEA. Risch learned about this from Obama-administration officials during a classified briefing the previous day and indicated he was told that the IAEA would, by video, remotely monitor the Iranians taking samples. Risch’s remarks created quite a stir at the hearing and led Senator RobertMenendez (D., N.J.) to say that if this were true, it would amount to “the equivalent of the fox guarding the chicken coop.” Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), the committee’s chairman, likened this arrangement to NFL players’ mailing in their own urine samples for drug testing.
Jahn’s story is important because it provides previously unknown details of how Iran will collect samples for the IAEA. These details include the following:
The Jahn article provides the details of what can only be described as a preposterous and unserious plan to investigate past and ongoing Iranian nuclear-weapons-related activities. A fair and objective arms-control investigation tries to uncover evidence that a host country is trying to hide by collecting samples from unexpected locations using equipment of the investigators’ choosing. The current process appears carefully scripted so that Iran controls what is collected to ensure that no evidence is found indicating covert nuclear or other WMD activities.
Given the unprecedented nature of the side deals, it is not surprising that Iran, the IAEA, and the Obama administration want to keep them secret and prevent Congress from reading them. This story became more bizarre when the Washington Free Beacon reported on August 18 that Iran sent a letter to IAEA director general Yukiya Amanothreatening him with physical harm if he revealed information about the side deals during his meetings this month in Washington with members of the U.S. Congress.
Iranian leaders know from prior IAEA and American inspections in North Korea in the late 2000s, U.S. investigations of the Libyan nuclear program, and IAEA inspections of Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility that it is extremely difficult to hide evidence of covert WMD activities from the IAEA and the U.S., owing to the advanced techniques they use to analyze physical samples. The Jahn article describes a rigged process to shield Iran from these techniques.
The nuclear deal with Iran seems to get worse by the day. Will the secret side deals, Iran’s collecting of its own nuclear samples, a rigged collection process, and Iranian threats to silence the head of the IAEA be enough to convince Congress to reject the terrible nuclear agreement with Iran?
Originally posted at National Review