- Leading nuclear scientists and security experts question administration’s defense of latest concession
Following reports that the US has dropped its demand that Iran disclose its past atomic weapons work before a final deal, leading nuclear scientists and security experts have expressed alarm and called into question Secretary of State John Kerry’s defense of this concession. In an effort to downplay the importance of not requiring disclosure of past atomic weapons work, Kerry claimed that the US has “absolute knowledge” of Iran’s past atomic weapons work. David Albright, President of the leading Institute for Science and International Security, questioned this, challenging him to “publish openly a detailed history of Iran’s nuclear program.” Former Director of the CIA, Michael Hayden, stated that such perfect knowledge does not exist and Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued that Kerry’s statement assumes “a level of U.S. intelligence capability that defies historical experience.” Kerry’s statement is also contradicted by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, who has previously stated, “We don’t know what they did in the past." Iran has only partially disclosed one out of twelve of the IAEA’s outstanding concerns.
In his remarks, Kerry asserted that “It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped.” According to nuclear experts, it is impossible to design an effective verification system, measure breakout time, or ensure that atomic weapons “activities have been stopped” without knowing what was done in the past. On Wednesday, Albright warned that it would be “hard for a lot of people to support this [nuclear] deal if they give in on past military dimensions.”
Experts and lawmakers are claiming that the administration’s most recent concession reflects a recurring tendency of US negotiators to cave in to Iranian demands. Albright lamented that “whenever confronted with Iranian intransigence, they fold.” Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) similarly remarked, “At every juncture, the secretary and his aides seem way too willing to accommodate Iran.”
Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip, has rejected a move by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity government it agreed to last year, Agence France-Presse reported today. The New York Times quoted an activist with ties to the Palestinian Authority, Diana Buttu, criticizing Abbas and saying, “The biggest failure of the legacy of his 10 years is that this split has been allowed to fester for such a long, long, long period of time.” Abbas was elected to a four year term as president in 2005. The Palestinian Authority has not held elections since.Last year’s unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah, which is the dominant party in the Palestinian Authority, was supposed to heal the rift between the two factions. However, repeated refusals to compromise have resulted in a deadlock, with the parties even unable to agree on a plan to rebuild Gaza. One PA official asked in January, “How do you expect me to go work in the Gaza Strip, when the Qassam Brigades [Hamas’s elite paramilitary group] goes ahead of me in both power and weapons?”
In addition to failing in its stated goal of reconciling the two factions or serving the residents of Gaza or the West Bank, the agreement with Hamas opens the PA to war crimes charges due to Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians last year during Operation Protective Edge. Israeli peace negotiator Tzipi Livni identified the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement as one of the actions taken by the PA that torpedoed last year’s American-backed peace talks. (via TheTower.org)