On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its eighth quarterly report on the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 nuclear agreement is formally known. Although the document does not mention any evidence of violation of the deal’s terms, write David Albright and Andrea Sticker, it is “so sparse in detail that it is impossible to conclude that Iran is fully complying.” The IAEA, they explain, has simply not been able to conduct the inspections necessary for verification:
This report and its predecessors are deficient in reporting on the verification and monitoring of the JCPOA overall, including Section T, which entails additional Iranian declarations and access to Iranian military sites associated with banned nuclear-weapons-development activities and associated, controlled dual-use equipment [i.e., equipment that can be used for either civilian or military nuclear programs]. . . .
The IAEA overall appears to [embrace] a limited interpretation of its mandate to verify the JCPOA in what must be viewed as a stunning reversal of safeguards practices applied in countries such as South Africa and Taiwan, where it has periodically revisited sites associated with past nuclear-weapons work. . . . The IAEA’s stance on this issue in Iran is likely to be to the detriment of both the verification and the future of the JCPOA. It may also be to the detriment of future arms-control agreements and monitoring efforts involving states such as North Korea. . . .
IAEA officials stated to the media that the agency has not visited military sites in Iran to verify the absence of military nuclear-related activities and to inspect sites previously associated with such activities. [Instead, the report] states that [inspectors] had access to the sites they “needed to visit.” [Thus] the IAEA appears to be accepting a limited, counterproductive interpretation of its mandate to verify the JCPOA.