In a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, Middle East experts expressed their concerns about the regional impacts of the Iran nuclear deal. Michael Singh, the Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), wrote in his submitted testimony, “[T]he agreement will provide Iran with an influx of financial resources, some portion of which seem[s] likely to go to foreign priorities such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen.” It will also, Singh notes, lift restrictions on ballistic missile tests and arms transfers and de-list entities such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force. In addition, U.S. regional allies “may also seek in the wake of the accord to match Iran’s nuclear capabilities to ensure they could respond rapidly to any Iranian nuclear breakout.” Indeed, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said in an interview with the BBC this past March: “I’ve always said whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same.” Singh concludes that the accommodation of Iran and its “financial and diplomatic reintegration into the international community” would “stand in opposition to longstanding U.S. strategy in the Middle East.”
In his submitted testimony, Michael Eisenstadt, the Director of the Military and Security Studies Program at WINEP, wrote, “[Iran] has gone from a country fearing encirclement…to practicing encirclement (of the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Israel); from a strategically lonely power to the leader of the region’s most cohesive axis...; and potentially from an isolated nuclear rogue to a confirmed nuclear threshold state enjoying largely unfettered access to world markets.” On the other hand, our regional allies perceive the U.S. as “a fading Middle Eastern power whose competence, credibility, and judgment are in question.” Eisenstadt explained that once the conventional arms embargo lifts in five years, “Iran’s large, diverse, and increasingly sophisticated domestic arms manufacturers can provide its proxies and allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen with what they need most at this time: ammunition, small arms and light weapons, and light tactical vehicles.”
Despite statements to the contrary by Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States could access the secret agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if it wanted to, a former IAEA executive told Armin Rosen of Business Insider today.When pressed by legislators in congressional hearings, Kerry has insisted that the United States cannot access these agreements. But former IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen said that this was not the case.
“According to the IAEA rules and practices such documents could be made available to the Members of the IAEA Board,” Olli Heinonen, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the IAEA’s former Deputy Director-General for Safeguards, wrote to Business Insider in an email. …The United States is one of the 35 countries represented on the Board of Governors.
In one scenario, Iran would agree to divulge the documents: “Iran can make it available by asking to distribute it as an [Information Circular] document to all IAEA member states as they did with the 2007 Work Plan,” Heinonen explained, referring to a publicly available agreement between the IAEA and Iran on nuclear safeguards.
US diplomats could also view these side agreements if a member state of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors requests their distribution.
According to Rosen, the signing of the roadmap for Iran’s explaining its past illicit nuclear work “could conceivably have been made contingent on Iran’s willingness to distribute the entirety of the agreement.” But Iran refused to agree to this, leading even supporters of the deal to acknowledge “that the roadmap was settled on terms favorable to Tehran.” For example, the IAEA used “Iranian language” to describing how Iran would resolve issues about disclosing its nuclear research. Rosen quoted a nonproliferation expert who favored the deal acknowledging that “you’re never going to have many of these questions fully resolved.” (via TheTower.org)