Iran has not granted access to its scientists and military officials so that the UN’s atomic watchdog agency can conduct essential interviews to resolve the outstanding questions over Iran’s past work on weaponization. Previously, administration officials deemed Iran coming clean on past work as critical to any final deal. For over a decade, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has sought such access to address its concerns.
The final deal, reached on July 14 in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 global powers, requires the IAEA to provide an assessment over the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program by December 15. To do this, the IAEA needs access to “scientists, military sites, and documents” to clarify Iran’s past atomic work. However, since the final deal was reached, reports have emerged indicating that Iran will not actually provide the access needed. The Wall Street Journal revealed in late July that in a report delivered to Congress, “[T]he administration said it was unlikely Iran would admit to having pursued a covert nuclear weapons program, and that such an acknowledgment wasn’t critical to verifying Iranian commitments in the future.”
Furthermore, the Associated Press (AP) broke the story that Iran's provision of soil samples could be substituted for physical access for IAEA inspectors. The AP reported that Iran wants to take soil samples at a military facility, Parchin, largely believed to be the site of past nuclear weapons development work, instead of granting UN inspectors access, and IAEA officials said they may agree. At a hearing before Congress on Wednesday, the lead U.S. negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal, Wendy Sherman, indicated that IAEA inspectors will not have physical access to every nuclear and military site.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) declared in a separate hearing that “[c]hain of custody means nothing if, at the very beginning, what you’re given is chosen and derived by the perpetrator. If that is true, it would be the equivalent of the fox guarding the chicken coop.”
Senators from both parties left a closed-door meeting today with the UN’s nuclear agency today upset by the agency’s lack of clarity, raising more questions than they had going in,The Hill reported today.
Multiple Senate lawmakers emerged fuming from a nearly two-hour closed-door briefing with the globe’s top nuclear watchdog on Wednesday, frustrated by what they perceived as unnecessary stonewalling.
The Foreign Relations Committee briefing answered few questions about the secret “side deals” attached to the nuclear agreement with Iran, many said.
Instead, the meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano left many Republicans feeling more frustrated than before.
After the meeting, committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R – Tenn.) said that “most members left here with greater concerns” about how inspections should work. Sen. David Perdue (R – Ga. ) called the meeting “valuable,” but added that Amano’s response “was not very reassuring.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), the leading Democrat on the committee, admitted frustration, saying “[e]very time I get more information it raises other questions.”
One item of special concern, according to The Hill, was Iran’s refusal to give the IAEA access to Iranian nuclear scientists for interviews. (via TheTower.org)