July 27, 2015

Wait — Iran Can Do What?

The more we learn the more we realize how good the deal is — for Iran.

The more we learn about the recent Iran nuclear deal the more we realize how good the deal is — for Iran. Team Obama has been working overtime telling us what a really, really good deal it is and why the only alternative is war. In testimony before Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry repeated that laughable claim, insisting the alternative “isn’t a better deal, some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation.” He argued, “That’s a fantasy, plain and simple.” No, what’s a fantasy is that this administration would do what’s best for America.

Oddly enough, at about the same time on the other side of the world Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was explaining to his government why lifting sanctions was all-important. Rouhani described the sanctions’ effect as having driven Iran’s economy down “to a Stone Age level.” He even went so far as to assert that his 2013 election was all about getting sanctions removed. Under those circumstances, with Iran under crushing economic pain and increasingly isolated politically, a reasonable person might conclude that the leverage in the Iran talks should have resided with the P-5+1, not with Iran. And yet Iran walked away with virtually all the concessions, including formal approval for an industrial-scale nuclear fuel cycle that will make it a threshold nuclear state in just 10 years’ time — with the world’s approval.

Next we learn that Iran will be allowed to control any sampling at the Parchin Weapons Complex, rather than the IAEA collecting the samples. The deal’s 24-day waiting period for IAEA access to nuclear sites is bad enough, but it defies belief that Iran itself would be allowed to control sampling at Parchin, where past military-related testing had been one of the major sticking points until Obama and Kerry waved their hands and said it no longer mattered. It matters enormously, and allowing the suspect to control what evidence is presented for review is incomprehensible.

It may also be a moot point, as Iran is yet again presenting a different understanding of the deal than the P-5+1. This time it’s Ali Akbar Salehi, Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, who on Friday denied that there is any agreement that allows sampling at Parchin: “The AEOI and the IAEA do not have any separate agreement on visiting the Parchin military site.” Salehi was backed by Ali Akbar Velayati, one of the Supreme Leader’s closest advisers, who said, “The access of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or from any other body to Iran’s military centers is forbidden.”

Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains, “The IAEA’s efficiency declines in direct proportion to the deceptive hostility of the host country. Since the clerical regime has declined to confess its past weaponization research, we can be certain it will continue to treat the IAEA with deceptive animus, as it has since the mullahs’ clandestine nuclear handiwork was revealed by an Iranian opposition group in 2002.”

This is why access to military centers, especially those controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, should have been an inflexible demand during negotiations. If Iran can simply deny access to a suspect site on the grounds that it is a “military” installation, then the IAEA cannot possibly monitor Iran’s nuclear activities. Which, of course, is precisely the point for Iran.

The trouble is, as Gerecht notes, “According to the president, the IAEA can check any military facility inside the country. According to the supreme leader, we can’t. Somebody is lying.” How can we trust but verify Iran when we can’t even trust Obama?

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