Reuters “Walks Back” Report Critical of AP Release Of Iran Side Deal (But Buries Revision)

Now that the Iran deal has been killed in Congress, Reuters is walking back a report from last week which cast doubt on the details of the side deal released by the Associated Press, saying that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be right there with the Iranians as they take samples at the Parchin military base. The new report backs up the AP exclusive, but is buried at the bottom of a different Parchin story.

Last month the Associated Press secured and released the text of one of the IAEA side deals with Iran which indicated that the rogue regime will self-inspect the nuclear operations at the Parchin military base.

The Parchin military base is where intelligence agencies believes the Iranians are developing long-range ballistic missiles and where they conducted experiments relevant to detonating nuclear warheads. In October 2014 Iran admitted to using Parchin to test exploding bridge wires that are used as nuclear detonators.

It is crucial to understand what Iran has done in the past to monitor what they will be doing in the future therefore inspections at are needed to resolve questions about whether Iran did nuclear weapons research in the past at Parchin.

On Friday, Reuters reported some nuclear security experts are urging the IAEA to release details of how the Iranian military site will be inspected as part of the P5+1 agreement with Iran, at the bottom of the article that the IAEA Reuters buried that inspectors will not be with the Iranian nuclear technicians as they take samples at Parchin.

David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington for example, expressed unease about the lack of public details on the arrangement.

“(Details) should be released because it’s undermining the IAEA’s credibility,” Albright said. “Whatever the outcome of the sampling, the secrecy makes it harder to determine whether it’s a credible sampling approach.”

Former IAEA deputy director-general Olli Heinonen, now at Harvard University, said the secrecy could not be justified.

“This is a very unusual IAEA verification approach, which has no reason to be confidential unless a very special reason – proprietary, economic or security – calls for it,” he said.

The IAEA has said it has a legal obligation to keep details of the arrangement confidential, but insists it is technically sound and will ensure the samples are not compromised.

One prominent non-proliferation expert, Jeffrey Lewis of the Monterey Institute of International Studies and founder of the blog, agreed. Releasing the details under pressure would undermine countries’ trust in the agency, he said.

“This would severely compromise the ability of the IAEA to carry out its mission around the world,” he said.

Hidden at the bottom of the article is a new version of a story about Parchin Reuters reported last week which seemed to cast doubt on the text of the side deal released by the Associated Press .

On September 11th under the headline “Exclusive: Iran to take Parchin military site samples with IAEA present – diplomats” Reuters reported:

United Nations inspectors will be present with Iranian technicians as they take samples from a key military site, two Western diplomats said, undercutting an objection by U.S. Republicans to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

(…)An August report by the Associated Press, in its original version, said the agreement on Parchin suggested that IAEA inspectors would be barred from the site and would have to rely on information and environmental samples provided by Iranian technicians.

But on September 18th the story changed now Reuters reports the inspectors will be at Parchin, but wont be present with Iranian technicians as they take the samples.

The diplomats, who have knowledge of the deal, said that while the IAEA inspectors will not be next to the Iranian technicians when they take samples, they will be at Parchin overseeing the process. Cameras will record the process.

Iran cannot receive sanctions relief promised under the nuclear deal until the IAEA is satisfied it has answered outstanding questions about the so-called “possible military dimensions” of past Iranian nuclear research. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that it did not conduct atomic weapons research.

After the AP report, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano rejected as a “misrepresentation” suggestions that Iran would inspect Parchin on the agency’s behalf.

Nowhere in the new report does Reuters mention that it differed from the initial story a week earlier. This new Reuters story backs up the Associated Press report as Iranian technicians will be taking the samples and the IAEA inspectors will be observing via camera from a different place at the Parchin base.