On Tuesday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) announced that he would vote to disapprove the Iran deal and, if need be, override a presidential veto. In a speech at Seton Hall University, Menendez laid out his reasoning: He said that the original purpose of the deal was “to dismantle all – or significant parts – of Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure to ensure that it would not have nuclear weapons capability at any time. Not shrink its infrastructure. Not limit it. But fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapon’s capability.” Menendez continued, “This deal does not require Iran to destroy or fully decommission a single uranium enrichment centrifuge”. The senator expressed concerns about the verification regime, the IAEA-Iran side deals, and the ability of the United States to apply snapback sanctions, which he called a “fantasy.” He said, “The Administration cannot argue sanctions policy both ways. Either they were effective in getting Iran to the negotiating table or they were not. Sanctions are either a deterrent to breakout, or a violation of the agreement, or they are not.” Menendez concluded, “[I]f Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came out against the Iran deal on Monday. Writing an op-ed in The Washington Post, he asserted, “Rather than end Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, over time this deal industrializes the program of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” Corker continued that he fears that, absent a clearly articulated policy, “this deal will become the linchpin of the United States’ Middle East policy…This abrupt rebalancing would have the effect of driving others in the region to take greater risks, leading to greater instability.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced his opposition to the nuclear agreement over the weekend, saying, “As written, this agreement gives Iran leverage it currently doesn’t have.” The Obama administration had been courting Flake and his opposition likely means that no Republicans, in the House or the Senate, will vote in favor of the deal. This contrasts with opposition to the deal: 11 House Democrats and two Senate Democrats have announced that they will vote to disapprove.
Iranian officials warned Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that he would lose their trust in the event that he discloses the content of the Tehran regimes’ secret agreements with the international nuclear watchdog, according to a report Monday in Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said that if Amano had disclosed the terms of the agreements, “he himself would have been harmed.” Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, added that the agency had secret agreements with all member states that it was obliged to protect. “The discussions revealed that the secret texts between Iran and the Agency have not even been provided to the US administration,” Najafi said. “For the very same reason, they cannot be presented to the Senate members either.”
Ali Akhbar Salehi, the head of the AEOI, said that his agreement to resolve all issues of Iran’s past nuclear work “will be implemented with full respect to Iran’s red lines.”
Iran has insisted that inspectors will not be allowed into military sites, including Parchin. Access to Parchin,where Iran is believed to have tested detonators for a nuclear device, is essential for clarifying the full extent of the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.
Last week, satellite images suggested that Iran was further sanitizing Parchin. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that the only work going on at Parchin was road construction. However, David Albright, a former weapons inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security, responded in an op-ed that was published in The Washington Post that Zarif’s reaction to the revelation showed that Iran’s “recent actions are the start of such a reinterpretation of the agreement.”
At the end of July, Iran filed a complaint with the IAEA claiming that the United States was in material breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Part of the complaint seemed to be a warning directed towards the IAEA, stating, “in implementing this procedure as well as other transparency measures, the IAEA will be requested to take every precaution to protect commercial, technological and industrial secrets as well as other confidential information coming to its knowledge.”
The Iranian understanding of the IAEA’s procedures doesn’t comport with that of former deputy director-general of the IAEA, Olli Heinonen, who said that there are procedures in place that would allow a member state of the IAEA’s board of governors to request the distribution of the same side agreements that Iran claims are absolutely confidential. (via TheTower.org)