In my view, the Iranian nuclear “framework” would be inadequate even if it contained air-tight verification procedures. The deal doesn’t shut down key facilities; it permits Iran to keep enriching uranium; and it comes with an expiration date.
Be that as it may, no one disputes the need for strong verification procedures. Even President Obama has insisted that he’s relying on verification, not mere promises by the Iranian regime. As he put it, “this deal was not based on trust it’s based on unprecedented verification.”
In truth, however, the “framework” doesn’t fully mandate the basic verification contemplated by the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. So says Thomas Moore, a longtime nonproliferation expert for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Moore explained to Business Insider that the “Additional Protocol” is a set of regulations intended to enable monitors to ensure that a nuclear-capable country will not cheat its way to an illicit weapons capability. Iran signed onto the Additional Protocol in 2003 but has been in flagrant violation, for example with the concealed Fordow nuclear facility located inside a mountain (which, by the way, will remain operational under Obama’s deal).
Any serious nuclear deal with Iran would include a commitment fully to adhere to the Additional Protocol. And according to the White House’s “fact sheet,” Iran has “agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA.” However, the fact sheet doesn’t include a time frame for implementation; nor does it say that Iran will be required to legally ratify the Protocol.
Moreover, it appears that, contrary to what the White House wants us to believe, Iran is hedging on the Additional Framework. Business Insider points to an EU-Iran declaration that states:
A set of measures have been agreed to monitor the provisions of the [final agreement] including implementation of the modified Code 3.1 and provisional application of the Additional Protocol.
The word “provisional,” which the White House excluded from its “fact sheet,” suggests that Iran hasn’t agreed fully to apply the Additional Protocol. If it had, the word “provisional” wouldn’t be used. Thus, Moore concludes that “this whole question of whether we can verify [that] what Iran is saying is complete and correct isn’t getting any better under this agreement. . .because of them only provisionally applying the Additional Protocol.
The Additional Protocol represents the international community’s standard for verification. It’s the closest thing to an answer to the vital question of how to find sites that a would-be nuclear power wants to conceal.
Thus, there is no justification for allowing Iran to equivocate about fully accepting the Additional Protocol. Iran wouldn’t be equivocating if it didn’t intend to cheat. It’s as simple as that.
Obama, then, is right in a sense when he says the verification process in his deal is “unprecedented.” To the extent there’s a “precedent” it is full, unequivocal acceptance of what the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty mandates. Obama’s deal falls short of this.