Omri Ceren writes to comment on the Reuters story by Francois Murphy reporting that “IAEA chief calls for clarity on disputed section of Iran nuclear deal.” Omri’s commentary on the story — please check it out — should serve as a preview of coming attractions. He writes:
This is pretty close to game over on certification.
Condition 1 of Corker-Cardin requires the president to certify “Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement” [a]. One part of the agreement – Annex 1, Section T – prohibits Iran from conducting certain “activities which could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device” [b].
The IAEA has not been able to verify Iran is implementing Section T because the relevant activities would be occurring on military sites and Iran has barred the IAEA from inspecting those sites [c][d][e]. IAEA officials say they won’t even ask for access because they know Iran would say no and it would give the Trump administration an “excuse” on the deal [f].
The policy community has known about this failure for months: in August nuclear experts from FDD and ISIS published a report that concluded “it is likely that some of the conditions in Section T are not currently being met and may in fact be violated by Iran” [g].
Yesterday IAEA chief Amano confirmed the IAEA has indeed been unable to verify Iran is implementing Section T….Here are the Amano quotes:
“Our tools are limited,” Amano told Reuters when asked if his agency had the means to verify Section T. “In other sections, for example, Iran has committed to submit declarations, place their activities under safeguards or ensure access by us. But in Section T I don’t see any (such commitment).” Amano said he hoped the parties to the agreement would discuss the issue in the Joint Commission.
Advocates of the Iran deal respond that the IAEA hasn’t found any Iranian violations [h]. 1st, that’s not relevant for certification: condition 1 requires the president to certify Iran has implemented all parts of the agreement, not that Iran hasn’t been caught cheating on the parts they have implemented. 2nd, the IAEA hasn’t caught Iran cheating because they haven’t been able to look where Iran is cheating: last week lawmakers on Senate Intelligence suggested to the Weekly Standard they’ve seen classified reports that Iran is violating the deal [i].