Before the July 14 announcement that negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran were completed, President Obama and his supporters tried to silence critics by urging them to wait to see what was in the deal. The more we learn now about what is in it, however, the worse it looks. Two particularly egregious points that came to light last week are: one, that the planned agreement would obligate the US to provide training and workshops to help Iran to protect its nuclear program; and two, the side deal, intended to remain secret, that will allow Iran to collect its own samples to provide to the IAEA.
On Tuesday of last week, Congressman Mike Pompeo revealed that the IAEA had told him that
Two side deals made between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will remain secret and will not be shared with other nations, with Congress, or with the public. One agreement covers the inspection of the Parchin military complex, and the second details how the IAEA and Iran will resolve outstanding issues on possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
According to the IAEA, the Iran agreement negotiators, including the Obama administration, agreed that the IAEA and Iran would forge separate arrangements to govern the inspection of the Parchin military complex – one of the most secretive military facilities in Iran – and how Iran would satisfy the IAEA’s outstanding questions regarding past weaponization work. Both arrangements will not be vetted by any organization other than Iran and the IAEA, and will not be released even to the nations that negotiated the JCPOA.
These side agreements are so secret, in fact, that Secretary Kerry has claimed that he has not even read them. John Kerry has agreed, and is now asking Congress to agree, to a deal in which even he does not know all of the terms. So much for the administration’s claims that this deal is not built on trust.
Thanks to the diligence of Representative Pompeo and others in Congress, at least one part of these secret deals has come to light: “the IAEA will rely on Iran to collect samples at its Parchin military base and other locations.”
Once again, it does not take a nuclear physicist to understand the problems with this plan (though it certainly begs the question of how Ernest Moniz could possibly find this acceptable). Fred Fleitz, who has analyzed the Iranian nuclear issue for the CIA, the State Department, and the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in the National Review that
The revelation that Iran will collect samples concerning its own nuclear-weapons-related activity makes the whole agreement look like a dangerous farce. This is not just an absurd process; it also goes against years of IAEA practice and established rules about the chain of custody for collected physical samples.
Such demands simply don’t come from a government that has nothing to hide.
As absurd as this deal point is, the provision for the US to teach Iran how to protect its nuclear facilities is far, far worse.
Provisions of the purported agreement say that the US is “prepared to cooperate with Iran on the implementation of nuclear security guidelines and best practices,” including “training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against and respond to nuclear security threats including sabotage.” As Senator Marco Rubio and others have pointed out, this language is ambiguous as to what would happen if Israel launched a military or cyber attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. But that’s not the only reason that this is extremely disturbing.
If the US trains Iran to understand the methods that we use to detect possible attacks, Iran will be better positioned to evade such tactics in the event that Iran attempts to sabotage US or Israeli nuclear facilities. This deal essentially aids Iran in launching a future attack on US nuclear facilities or Israeli nuclear facilities.
We already know that if Iran does not abide by the terms, the supposed imposition of snapback sanctions will terminate the deal entirely. In that case, not only will Iran be hundreds of billions of dollars richer, it will have American-trained experts who will know how to inflict the most possible damage on the US and its allies. There’s just no possible way to justify such a provision.