Inspector Clouseau was unavailable (3)

The pushback against George Jahn’s AP scoop on the IAEA side deal with Iran now includes the allegation that the draft of the side deal posted by the AP is a forgery — perhaps an Israeli forgery. Fred Fleitz has reported the relevant details with links and evidence here at NR’s Corner. Fleitz’s knowledgeable assessment seems reasonable to me:

First, the errors and non-IAEA prose in the AP’s transcribed document appear to indicate a first draft written by a party other than Iran or the IAEA to resolve the Parchin issue. This is consistent with my assessment that the side deal documents were drafted by the United States and handed to the IAEA to finalize after U.S. diplomats were unable to resolve the issues of the Parchin military base and possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program during the talks. The AP says it was told by two anonymous officials that this document is a draft and “does not differ from the final, confidential agreement between the IAEA and Iran.” I believe it probably is a first draft written by a political appointee at the State Department or an NSC staffer.

Second, to believe this is a forgery one has to believe George Jahn and the Associated Press were deceived by two anonymous diplomats or U.S. officials. I doubt this could happen to a reporter as experienced as Jahn. (MSNBC believes otherwise and attacked Jahn as “not a real reporter” for his article.) The AP is standing by this story and I doubt it would put its reputation on the line if it did not believe Jahn’s article was rock solid.

Third, claims by backers of the Iran deal that this is an Israeli forgery are nonsense. If the Israelis wanted to do a forgery like this it would be perfect. An Israeli foreign ministry or intelligence officer would never use the wrong terminology for Iran.

My bottom line is that the side-deal document transcribed by the AP is not a forgery but a first draft written by a third party that is essentially the same as the final version agreed to by the IAEA and Iran. The outstanding question is who wrote this initial draft. Given Secretary Kerry’s efforts in May and June to drop the issues of the Parchin base and possible military dimensions, I think it is very likely the side-deal documents were drafted by the United States and given to the IAEA, which agreed to make them into secret agreements with Iran to finalize the main agreement.

Fleitz adds in the final paragraph of his post that “what [Jahn] reported apparently is consistent with classified briefings provided to Congress on the secret side deals[.]”

I trust that all will become clear in time. The relevant self-inspection provisions of the side deal are so absurd that they should be fraudulent. Consistent with Fleitz’s conclusion, however, I believe they will prove to be an integral part of the finalized side deal. Neither the administration nor the IAEA disputes the accuracy of Jahn’s reportage. I conclude that the terms of the side deal reported by Jahn are a joke, but not a forgery.