IAEA Inspectors Can No Longer Verify that Iran is in Compliance with the 2015 Nuclear Deal

Nov. 16 2017

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.

Read more at Institute for Science and International Security

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs


How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen