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September 28, 2017 12:58 pm

American UN Envoy Nikki Haley Says Russia Shielding Iran From IAEA, Warns Nuclear Deal Without Inspections Is an ‘Empty Promise’

avatar by Ben Cohen

US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley. Photo: US Mission to UN.

American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley took sharp aim on Thursday at Russia’s insistence that the International Atomic Energy Agency had no mandate to inspect Iranian nuclear activities that could include the design and production of a detonation device.

“If the Iran nuclear deal is to have any meaning, the parties must have a common understanding of its terms,” Haley said. “Iranian officials have already said they will refuse to allow inspections at military sites, even though the IAEA‎ says there must be no distinction between military and non-military sites.”

In a reference to the Russian position, Haley added: “Now it appears that some countries are attempting to shield Iran from even more inspections. Without inspections, the Iran deal is an empty promise.”

Haley’s comments are the latest indication of the Trump administration’s impatience with the JCPOA — the nuclear deal agreed to by the Tehran regime and the US and five other world powers in July 2015. Under US law, the president is obliged to confirm every 90 days that Iran is “transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement.” While President Donald Trump has recertified the deal twice during his time in office, the gaps in the deal’s monitoring regime revealed by the current row with Russia could lead to a different outcome when he announces his assessment on October 15.

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The present doubts over the deal’s survival center on “Section T” of the JCPOA, which forbids Iran from engaging in a range of listed activities “which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” Prohibited activities include work on detonation systems and the use of computer models to simulate nuclear explosive devices.

On Tuesday, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told the Reuters news agency that the IAEA’s “tools are limited” when it comes to monitoring “Section T.”

“In other sections, for example, Iran has committed to submit declarations, place their activities under safeguards or ensure access by us,” Amano said. “But in ‘Section T’ I don’t see any (such commitment).”

Like Haley, Amano also emphasized that Russia was effectively blocking further IAEA access. “Russia has a different view,” he said. “They believe that it is not the mandate of the IAEA. Others have different views and discussions are ongoing.”

Pressure is growing on Trump from Republicans in Congress who want the president to decertify the deal. Speaking to the Weekly Standard, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) said there were “grounds” for decertification. “Iran has been, at a minimum, in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the agreement, from the first day,” Rubio stated.

Rubio also expressed concern at the potential for the deal to blunt the US response to Iran’s provocations in the wider Middle East. “The agreement should not be a free pass for them to continue to develop ballistic missile capabilities, sponsor terrorism, conduct cyber attacks, or human rights violations,” he said. “If Iran considers that to be a violation of the deal, then too bad.”

Haley expressed a similar view during a speech on Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting on terrorist threats.

“The United States is…committed to holding state sponsors of terror accountable, especially the number one state sponsor of terror, Iran,” the ambassador said.

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