We can add a new item to the list of issues as to which Iran’s stated view of the nuclear “deal” differs from President Obama’s claims. The list already included such matters as when sanctions will be lifted, centrifuges, enrichment, and even plutonium — all key components. Now, says Michael Rubin, there is disagreement about whether inspectors will have access to major sites where work is conducted to further the military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program.
One of the key concerns of the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency has been “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program (see the annex to this IAEA report for a listing of these). Much of the work Iran conducted on military dimensions of a nuclear program occurred in Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities and on their bases.
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan today said that the Lausanne Framework does not commit Iran to provide international inspectors access to such military facilities.
Dehqan was very clear about this. He said:
There is no such agreement. Basically, inspection of military facilities is a red line and no inspection of any kind from such facilities would be accepted.
Unlike President Obama, when Iranian officials assert a “red line,” they should be taken at their word.
They cliche has it that “the devil is in the details.” Here, the devil is in the absence of details and the failure of the parties to agree even in general terms about what the details eventually will be.
Notice too that on nearly all of the disputed issue, Iran gets the final say in practice. Once a deal is in place, it decides what to do about its centrifuges, its enrichment, its plutonium. It decides what inspections take place. The U.S. decides the timing of sanctions, but this happens at the front end.
If the details aren’t nailed down, Iran effectively decides what the agreement requires with respect to its nuclear program. If the details are nailed down, Iran decides the extent to which it will adhere to them.
The problem is inherent in the nature of a deal like this. But it plausibly could be viewed as mainly a theoretical problem if Iran weren’t balking about key issue after key issue.
Instead, Iran is providing us with a road map of its future non-compliance (whether explicit or masquerading as a dispute about what was agreed to). By continuing to negotiate as if a meaningful framework were in place, Team Obama is providing Iran with confirmation of its indifference.