Repub­li­cans say IAEA reaf­firms fears of deal

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY DAVE BOYER

The chief of the U.N. nu­clear agency ac­knowl­edged Mon­day that sam­ples used to de­ter­mine whether Iran tried to de­velop a nu­clear weapon were col­lected by the Ira­ni­ans in­stead of agency in­ves­ti­ga­tors, touch­ing off a fresh dis­pute be­tween con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans and the White House over weak­nesses in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s deal with Tehran.

In­ter­na­tional Atomic Energy Agency Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Yukiya Amano con­firmed that Ira­ni­ans car­ried out that part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion at Parchin, where the agency sus­pects that ex­plo­sive trig­gers for nu­clear weapons might have been tested in the past. He in­sisted that the probe stands up to strict agency stan­dards.

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers said the de­vel­op­ment il­lus­trates flaws in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s nu­clear deal with Tehran by al­low­ing the Ira­ni­ans es­sen­tially to po­lice them­selves through a se­cret side agree­ment with the IAEA.

“This re­port ap­pears to con­firm our grave con­cern that the Iran-IAEA side agree­ments per­mit Tehran to self-in­spect its own nu­clear sites,” said Rep. Mike Pom­peo of Kansas, Rep. Peter J. Roskam of Illi­nois and Rep. Lee M. Zeldin of New York. “With­out ac­cess to these doc­u­ments it’s im­pos­si­ble to ver­ify that nec­es­sary mech­a­nisms are in place to en­sure Iran will aban­don its pur­suit of nu­clear weapons.”

But the White House hailed the re­port from the United Na­tions as proof that its agree­ment with Iran is work­ing as in­tended.

“It’s in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant that these in­spec­tions live up to the stan­dards that are es­tab­lished by the in­ter­na­tional im­par­tial nu­clear ex­perts at the IAEA,” said White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest. “When it comes to the in­spec­tions that were con­ducted at the Parchin mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity over the week­end, the IAEA has said that these in­spec­tions were con­sis­tent with their stan­dards.”

IAEA in­spec­tors usu­ally con­duct the sam­pling of soil, air or dust from equip­ment, but Mr. Amano con­firmed that Ira­ni­ans car­ried out that part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion at Parchin.

Diplo­mats say Iran in­sisted on the com­pro­mise as a con­di­tion for any in­spec­tion of Parchin.

Deputy IAEA Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Tero Var­jo­ranta said coun­tries have been al­lowed to use their own na­tion­als to con­duct sam­pling in more than 40 in­stances and that the process is only a small part of a rigid reg­i­men es­tab­lished by the agency to make sure there is no vi­o­la­tion.

He said the cri­te­ria at Parchin in­cluded in­va­sive mon­i­tor­ing by video and still cam­eras while the sam­pling took place, GPS track­ing of the sam­pling process, IAEA agree­ment on where the sam­ples were to be taken, re­view by un­spec­i­fied peers of the in­spec­tion process, risk as­sess­ment and strict ob­ser­vance to make sure pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed step by step.

“We feel fully con­fi­dent that the process and the re­sult so far are fully in line with our safe­guards prac­tices,” said Mr. Var­jo­ranta, stand­ing next to Mr. Amano at a Vi­enna news con­fer­ence.

Olli Heinonen, a for­mer IAEA deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral, de­scribed Iran as a par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive case. He said he knew of no other in­stance in which a coun­try un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for sus­pected at­tempts to make nu­clear weapons was per­mit­ted to use its own per­son­nel to col­lect en­vi­ron­men­tal sam­ples.

Iran’s atomic energy agency spokesman, Behrouz Kal­mandi, said IAEA in­spec­tors were not phys­i­cally present dur­ing the sam­pling. But Mr. Amano said the pro­ce­dure met strict agency cri­te­ria to en­sure “the in­tegrity of the sam­pling process and the au­then­tic­ity of the sam­ples.”

Mr. Pom­peo, Mr. Roskam and Mr. Zeldin said the lack of in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors at the site shows why the U.S. should keep eco­nomic sanc­tions against Iran in place “un­til the pres­i­dent com­plies with the law and pro­vides the side agree­ments to Congress.”

Mr. Earnest said the Parchin in­spec­tion “cer­tainly dis­proves the claims of our crit­ics who sug­gested that Iran would be con­duct­ing self-in­spec­tions. That ob­vi­ously is not true.”

He added that “there also was some con­cern and some claims made by crit­ics of the deal that the IAEA would not have ac­cess to mil­i­tary sites. The fact is, the di­rec­tor gen­eral of the IAEA was at a prom­i­nent Ira­nian mil­i­tary site over the week­end.”

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