IAEA chief fails to re­as­sure US sen­a­tors on Iran deal

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY MICHAEL MATHES

Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee chair­man Bob Corker said law­mak­ers left a Wed­nes­day brief­ing by the head of the U.N. nu­clear watchdog agency “less as­sured” about the nu­clear deal with Iran.

“The ma­jor­ity of mem­bers here left with far more ques­tions than they had be­fore the meet­ing took place,” Corker told re­porters af­ter an hour-plus brief­ing by In­ter­na­tional Atomic Energy Agency di­rec­tor gen­eral Yukiya Amano.

“I can say from my per­spec­tive that it left me far less as­sured.”

Amano trav­eled to Capi­tol Hill in a bid to as­suage grow­ing con­cern in Congress, where law­mak­ers will be vot­ing in Septem­ber on whether to ap­prove the nu­clear ac­cord be­tween Iran and world pow­ers.

In par­tic­u­lar, he was to ad­dress two con­fi­den­tial side deals the IAEA signed with Tehran.

Washington has de­scribed the side deals as “tech­ni­cal agree­ments,” which are be­lieved to in­clude a deal about Iran’s doc­u­men­ta­tion of the al­leged “pre­vi­ous mil­i­tary di­men­sion (PMD)” of its nu­clear pro­gram.

Iran in July granted the IAEA tightly con­trolled “man­aged ac­cess” to its mil­i­tary bases as part of the ac­cord.

The IAEA agree­ment is aimed in part at re­solv­ing sus­pi­cions about Iran’s mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity at Parchin, where U.S. law­mak­ers, cit­ing in­tel­li­gence re­ports, say Tehran con­ducted past nu­clear work.

Law­mak­ers have aired con­cerns about Iran’s mil­i­tary ca­pac­ity, and in par­tic­u­lar what kind of ac­cess the IAEA would have to Parchin.

“We can not get him to even con­firm that we will have phys­i­cal ac­cess in­side of Parchin,” Corker said of Amano.

The IAEA chief told re­porters he rec­og­nized the frus­tra­tions, but said he “ex­plained that my le­gal obli­ga­tion is to pro­tect safe­guards con­fi­den­tial­ity.”

Should Congress ap­prove the joint com­pre­hen­sive plan of ac­tion and it goes into ef­fect, Amano stressed, “the nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties of Iran will be re­duced in size, and we’ll have the most ro­bust ver­i­fi­ca­tion regime in Iran.”

The top Demo­crat on the panel, Sen­a­tor Ben Cardin, said it was im­por­tant for mem­bers of Congress to at least be able to see key por­tions of the IAEA-Iran agree­ments.

“I thought to­day was help­ful, but it was not a sub­sti­tute for see­ing the doc­u­ment,” Cardin told re­porters.

“I think there’s pre­vi­sions in the doc­u­ment that re­late to the in­tegrity of the re­view of the PMD that would be use­ful.”

Se­nate Repub­li­can David Per­due, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee, emerged frus­trated at Amano’s lack of de­tail.

“The num­ber one ques­tion we had was, are we go­ing to get ac­cess to the two side agree­ments, and the an­swer was ‘no’,” Per­due told AFP, de­scrib­ing the nu­clear deal with Iran as “trou­bling.”

AP

An army zo­diac se­cures the en­trance of the new sec­tion of the Suez Canal in Is­mailia, Egypt, Thurs­day, Aug. 6. Egypt on Thurs­day un­veiled a ma­jor ex­ten­sion of the Suez Canal that Pres­i­dent Ab­delFat­tah el-Sissi has billed as a his­toric achieve­ment needed to boost the coun­try’s ail­ing econ­omy af­ter years of un­rest.

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