Wednesday, August 19, 2015

19-Aug-15: Yes, Iran gets to inspect its own nuclear facilities in side-agreement endorsed by US. Now read that again.

Is this the point at which someone turns on the light in the darkened living room and everyone yells "Surprise"? (And unfortunately, the report we quote below is not from The Onion.)

For US Congress people still trying to keep a straight face as they parry increasingly insistent questions from irate voters and from the puzzled media about the Iran Nuclear Enablement Deal™, life just got a little harder. Here's the latest Iran bulletin from Associated Press, issued in the past hour:
AP EXCLUSIVE: UN TO LET IRAN INSPECT ALLEGED NUKE WORK SITE | Associated Press | George Jahn | August 19, 2015 - 3:56 PM EDT |
VIENNA (AP) -- Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press. The revelation on Wednesday newly riled Republican lawmakers in the U.S. who have been severely critical of a broader agreement to limit Iran's future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Those critics have complained that the wider deal is unwisely built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.
"International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period. The standard of `anywhere, anytime' inspections - so critical to a viable agreement - has dropped to `when Iran wants, where Iran wants, on Iran's terms,'" said U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce in a reaction typical of opponents of the broader deal.
The newly disclosed side agreement, for an investigation of the Parchin nuclear site by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, is linked to persistent allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear-limits deal...
Satire, you say? Check out The Onion.
John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said, "Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the U.N. in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement."
The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package...
Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country. The White House has repeatedly denied claims of a secret side deal favorable to Tehran...
Iran has refused access to Parchin for years and has denied any interest in - or work on - nuclear weapons... The IAEA has cited evidence, based on satellite images, of possible attempts to sanitize the site since the alleged work stopped more than a decade ago...
The document is labeled "separate arrangement II," indicating there is another confidential agreement between Iran and the IAEA governing the agency's probe of the nuclear weapons allegations... Iranian diplomats in Vienna were unavailable for comment, Wednesday while IAEA spokesman Serge Gas said the agency had no immediate comment...
There are some stunning implications.
The Obama administration has repeatedly claimed that the deal is based on verification, not trust. However, according to the AP report, IAEA inspectors will be barred from physically accessing Parchin, and Iran will be allowed to conduct its own environmental sampling. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has often stated that the deal “is built on the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country’s nuclear program.” However, according to the AP, the arrangement “diverges from normal inspection procedures between the IAEA and a member country by essentially ceding the agency's investigative authority to Iran. It allows Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence for activities that it has consistently denied — trying to develop nuclear weapons.” [Source: TIP]
Meanwhile, the deputy head of the Iranian parliament for International Affairs in a public statement carried on the Nidae Watan website said Tehran had not invited the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas to come visit. Reports to the contrary are, he said, "a lie". But the Iranian regime is happy to host a Hamas delegation. Past difficulties between the Iranians and the Hamas Islamists have been resolved. Ditto for relations between Iran and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And to end on a high note: "We reject any Israeli presence in this world." (Hat tip to to EoZ.). Context is of course everything, and so he may have intended to say the opposite of what's been quoted.

But in truth, there's just no mistaking the triumphant tones emanating from the Iranian regime in the wake of the JCPOA. Nor can the mullah regime be accused of changing messages according to circumstances. They stick to their theme, and must be wondering how it happens that in the West in general, and the US in particular, inappropriately mild motivations keep being attributed to their leadership even as the leaders themselves stick to some constant and ferocious themes. It's something to keep in mind as solicitation letters and certain politicians' sound-bites keep hammering away at how "this agreement is the best/the only peaceful way/ to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."

An op ed by a leading US lawyer [here] this week reminds us of one of the consistent Iranian key themes. It has to do (surprise) with Israel, and was articulated by Iran's leaders -
in 2004 when its former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, a supposed moderate, boasted that were Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, it would kill as many as five million Jews. He later elaborated that “the dropping of one atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel”. Despite Iran’s participation in negotiations, such rhetoric has continued unabated.

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