Mideast Analysts: Real Problem With Iran Nuclear Deal Is Lack of True Inspections
The key flaw of the nuclear agreement six world powers and Iran reached two years ago was its failure to include a meaningful inspections mechanism, a matter mostly ignored by both proponents and opponents of the deal, two Middle East analysts wrote on Tuesday.
In an article published by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Yigal Carmon — MEMRI’s president — and A. Savyon — director of MEMRI’s Iranian Media Project — pointed out that most arguments over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been regarding Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and the deal’s “sunset clause.”
“By raising these two issues,” the authors said, “they are diverting attention from the main, critical problem in the agreement which does require immediate attention: its lack of real inspection.”
This issue is directly related to the nuclear agreement itself, which largely defangs the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is tasked with inspections, and subjects it to substantial Iranian influence.
Carmon and Savyon noted:
It should be clarified that when Iran, the IAEA, and the heads of the parties to the JCPOA reiterate that there is robust, intrusive, and unprecedented inspection, they are perpetuating the false depiction of the section of the JCPOA concerning inspection. This is because the inspection procedure takes place only at sites where Iran has agreed to allow inspection, that is, sites Iran itself has declared as nuclear sites, but not at any other sites in Iran, including military sites. The Obama administration and the countries party to the JCPOA designed the JCPOA in a way that on the one hand they can claim that a robust inspection is being applied while on the other hand they allowed Iran to evade inspection in all other sites.
While Iran has agreed to inspections, it did so only in an Additional Protocol to the agreement, and “Iran’s agreement to accept the Additional Protocol was voluntary, and it can exit it at any time without this being considered a violation of the JCPOA.”
All of this, said the authors, has compromised the IAEA’s ability to effectively police Iranian compliance with the deal. They cited a series of examples — the IAEA’s authority has been undercut by the establishment of a political forum that will assess Iranian compliance; samples from the Parchin nuclear site were given to the IAEA by the Iranians, making authentication impossible; Iran’s refusal to allow questioning of its nuclear scientists was not challenged; oversight of 8.5 tons of Iran’s uranium was handed over to Iranian ally Russia; Iran’s heavy water has been stored in Oman, which is a “political satellite” of the Islamic Republic; and, when given Israeli intelligence on possible violations, the IAEA declined to investigate further.
To address these issues, the authors recommended “robust oversight” based on statements made by the Trump administration that it would “not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal.”
This, said Carmon and Savyon, was “not a demand for a change in the JCPOA, nor does it mean an exit from it, but rather it is based on acceptance of the agreement and on the insistence that it be rigorously enforced as it stands.”