"This deal is not based on trust. It's based on unprecedented verification," he said. Part of that verification, Obama said, was "the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.” [Public Radio International, April 8, 2015]
We don't trust Iran... But this deal doesn't rely on trust. It relies on verification [and] The commitment to Israel is sacrosanct...
historic. It offers a verifiable, diplomatic resolution to one of our most pressing national security challenges. This is a strong agreement that meets our national security needs and I believe will stand the test of time. I stand behind the U.S. negotiating team and will support this agreement in the Senate.. .Iran will be subject to unprecedented and highly intrusive inspections to verify it is living up to its commitments. The IAEA will have 24-hour access to all declared nuclear sites and this agreement provides a process for inspection of military bases. No sites are off limits to inspection... [Source, July 14, 2015]California's second Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer, spoke of the “unprecedented inspections and verification regime” in endorsing it. Along similar lines, Bill Nelson, Florida's Democratic senator, reiterated that:
this agreement can't be built on trust. We must have a good enough mechanism in place to catch them when and if they cheat; in other words, don't trust but verify. [C-SPAN, August 4, 2015]Large parts of the mainstream media joined in. For instance: "Iran nuke deal depends on most intrusive inspection system ever", McClatchey, July 14, 2015]
And there were the lobbyists:
That's why this deal is so important: by subjecting Iran to the most intrusive inspections regime in history, it leaves nothing to trust. Inspections at all nuclear sites. 24/7/365 monitoring. Tracking every ounce of uranium. It all adds up to unprecedented assurance that Iran cannot cheat their way to a weapon undetected. [From the Iran Deal Facts website, the work of a political group closely aligned with the White House]
|The head of the IAEA found time in his weekend visit |
to call on Rouhani, the Iranian president [Image Source]
[A] top Iranian official said that IAEA inspectors had not taken part in the sampling procedure at Parchin. Iranian technicians took the samples and handed them to the IAEA, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behruz Kamalvandi was quoted in Iranian state media as saying. ["IAEA inspects Iran's Parchin military site for first time", CNN, September 21, 2015]
This was the first time that the Agency had visited the location. We entered a building which the Agency had previously only been able to observe using satellite imagery. Inside the building, we saw indications of recent renovation work. There was no equipment in the building. Our experts will now analyse this information and we will have discussions with Iran in the coming weeks, as foreseen in the Road-map. ["IAEA Director General's Remarks to the Press on Visit to Iran", September 21, 2015]
|State's John Kirby [Image Source]|
QUESTION: Thank you. The two main areas of what I wanted to ask you about have already been asked at the White House and answered – well, kind of answered – but I’m going to give it a whirl anyway. Let’s start with Iran.
MR KIRBY: With what?
QUESTION: Iran --
MR KIRBY: Okay.
QUESTION: -- and the inspections of Parchin. And your colleague at the White House was asked whether the Administration is satisfied with the process that we saw unfold over the past couple of days. I just wanted to make sure that you’re on board with his answer; he said yes.
MR KIRBY: Yes, we are.
QUESTION: You are. And you don’t have any issue with fact that the inspectors were not allowed in, or that they were not there?
MR KIRBY: I would point you, Matt, to what the director general himself noted, which was that the verification activities at Parchin were conducted in the manner consistent with their standard safeguards practices. So the director general himself made it clear that he was comfortable with the verification process and that it was in keeping with the arrangement that they had made with Iran.
QUESTION: That’s great, but you – so you don’t have a problem with them not being physically present?
MR KIRBY: I’m not going to get into the details of the process itself. That resides inside this confidential arrangement between Iran and the IAEA, so I’m not going to confirm or deny whether inspectors were present here or there. What I am going to say is we’re comfortable that the process was conducted in accordance with the normal procedures and the agreement that the IAEA had already made with Iran.
QUESTION: And so it remains your position that the confidential agreement and whatever it contains is sufficient to investigate? Okay.
MR KIRBY: Absolutely. And again, I’d point you to the fact that Director General Amano made it clear before and I think certainly made the implication today that there’s no self-inspection by Iran in this process.
QUESTION: There – okay. The other thing, at the – that your colleague at the White House seemed to suggest was that the courtesy call that Director General Amano made to Parchin was somehow evidence that – or was evidence that the Iranian military facilities are open and available for IAEA access. Is that really – is that the position of the State Department?
MR KIRBY: Well, in a short answer: yes. I mean, it’s not insignificant that the IAEA and the director general himself – I mean, I don’t know that we would characterize it as a courtesy call –but the fact that he and his team had access to Parchin is not insignificant.
QUESTION: His team, meaning the one person that went with him.
MR KIRBY: Look, I don’t – I’m not going to --
QUESTION: A brief – a brief visit to an empty room at Parchin, you think counts – qualifies as an inspection? That – was that the –
MR KIRBY: It’s not insignificant that they had access to Parchin. The director general himself – and I’m not going to get into the details of his visit or what that – that’s for the IAEA to speak to. But it’s not insignificant that they got – that they were granted access to this.
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that the director general of the IAEA conducts inspections? Or would that normally be done by --
MR KIRBY: I’m not an expert on their --
QUESTION: -- lower-level people?
MR KIRBY: I’m not an expert on their protocols. I don’t think it’s our expectation that he has to personally inspect everything.
QUESTION: Do you think he got down on his hands and knees and --
MR KIRBY: I’d point you to the director general to speak to his personal involvement. I don’t know that that’s our expectation, that he has to, as you said, get down on his hands and knees. But certainly he had access to Parchin, and that’s not insignificant – the first time that that’s been done. If we had this --
QUESTION: Well, do you recall how big a site Parchin is?
MR KIRBY: I don’t. I’m not an expert on the site itself.
QUESTION: It’s rather large.
QUESTION: It’s pretty huge.
MR KIRBY: Okay.
QUESTION: So do you think that two people from the IAEA going into an empty room briefly --
MR KIRBY: Matt.
QUESTION: -- counts – I’m trying to find out whether you guys think or are trying to say that Amano’s courtesy call, his very brief visit – he even said that it was very brief – counts as some kind of an inspection. That’s all.
MR KIRBY: I would point you to what the IAEA has said about their --
QUESTION: Not even the IAEA said this was an inspection, but your colleague at the White House suggested that the fact that Director General Amano was able to briefly visit one room or one part of the site was evidence that the Iranians have opened up their military sites to IAEA access. And I just want to know if the State Department thinks that it’s – thinks the same.
MR KIRBY: We believe it’s significant that Iran granted access to this facility at Parchin for the first time in the history of this issue, both in his visit and the technical verification activities. What’s more important is we look forward to Iran’s fulling implementing its commitments under the roadmap. That’s what matters here.
QUESTION: Would you be confident in this being the standard of inspection going forward?
MR KIRBY: It’s not that that is – this is an issue between Iran and the IAEA, and as we said at the very outset, Brad, that having been briefed on the details of that confidential arrangement, the Secretary remains comfortable that it will allow for the IAEA to get the proper access it needs and the ability, through various techniques, of effectively monitoring.
QUESTION: But you don’t think there needs to be – you’re not saying that whatever the confidential arrangements are of future inspections going forward, that they will have necessarily more access than this?
MR KIRBY: That is between the IAEA and Iran to work out. What matters to us, we’re not going to micromanage the inspection activities of the IAEA. It’s an independent, international agency that can speak for itself about what it will or will not do. And as you know, many of those arrangements are confidential and they won’t speak to them. What matters to us, having been briefed on the protocols, is that we remain comfortable, should this – should Iran continue to meet its commitments in keeping with that arrangement, we believe they will get the access and will get the information they need.
But look, this is the first visit, so – at least to Parchin anyway. So we have a ways to go here. As I said, there’s a roadmap that has to be implemented, and we expect Iran to meet its commitments.QUESTION: Wait, are you saying that – are you saying this is the first visit? You’re expecting there will be more?
MR KIRBY: I don’t know. I’m saying it is a fact that it’s first visit. I’m not making prognostications about the future.
QUESTION: My last one and I’ll defer to anyone else that wants to ask. Are you – do you know if members of Congress in their confidential briefings with Administration officials, which would have included people from this building, including the Secretary, were told that IAEA inspectors would have direct access and be able to take their own samples at Parchin?
MR KIRBY: I do not know what specifics of the confidential arrangement were briefed to members of Congress.
MR KIRBY: What we’ve said all along is that – and the director general himself had said – that reports that Iran would be self-inspecting were not accurate, and that he himself was comfortable in the protocols laid out in the arrangement.
QUESTION: That’s not my question. Were they --
MR KIRBY: Well, your question is do I know what Congress were briefed.
QUESTION: Do you know – several members of Congress came out and said that they had been told by the Administration that there would be inspections by IAEA personnel. Do you know if they were told that by the Administration or is that outside --
MR KIRBY: I’m not going to comment on specific communications about a confidential arrangement with members of Congress. What I will go back to say, though, is having been briefed on this arrangement, the Secretary remains comfortable that if Iran meets its side of it, that the IAEA will get the access and the information it needs to properly verify compliance.
QUESTION: Can I change subject?
MR KIRBY: Sure.