The Iran Deal’s Verification System Is Not Working

Nov. 19 2015

The worth of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action depends on the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out inspections in order to verify that the Islamic Republic is not violating its terms. Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director-general of the IAEA, explains what’s wrong with the current system:

Central to a strong verification regime is the proper resolution of the issue concerning the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Tehran’s nuclear research. . . . In order to ensure that Iran cannot reconstitute a weapons program in the future, it is important to understand how far the Islamic Republic has progressed in weaponization. Without a complete understanding of the PMDs of Iran’s research, it will not be possible to design verification protocols that effectively allow for early detection.

However, the agreement leaves the resolution of PMDs to the IAEA. . . . The IAEA’s reports on the inspection of the Parchin military complex still do not mitigate concerns about the verification and sample-taking process. The IAEA-Iran agreement regarding Parchin deviates significantly from well-established safeguards [and] practices, which involve the full physical presence of inspectors on location, the integrity of the samples they take themselves, and the ability of the IAEA to draw definitive conclusions with the requisite level of assurances. . . .

It is important to remember that what led to the international community’s concern about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program was not “just” uranium enrichment. Rather, it was because Iran has consistently tried to hide its nuclear program, failed to address concerns about PMD activities, and obfuscated verification efforts. To this day, Iran remains a country where the IAEA is unable to provide assurances that all nuclear activities are accounted for and in peaceful use.

Read more at Foundation for Defense of Democracies

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount