More Wrenches into Iran-Nuke Deal

Even as the Saudi-Israeli alliance against Iran fuels Sunni jihadist gains in Syria and elsewhere, neocon operatives are pressing on another front, continuing to hurl wrenches into the final Iran-nuclear negotiations, as Gareth Porter explains at Middle East Eye.

By Gareth Porter

In the final phase of the negotiations with Iran, the U.S.-led international coalition is still seeking Iran’s agreement to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit any military facilities it deems suspicious and to interview a selected list of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Such measures are not necessary to ensure that Iran is adhering to its commitments under the agreement, but they are necessary to manage the political threat from the pro-Israel extremists in the U.S. Senate to sabotage the whole agreement.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani celebrates the completion of an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program on Nov. 24, 2013, by kissing the head of the daughter of an assassinated Iranian nuclear engineer. (Iranian government photo)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani celebrates the completion of an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program on Nov. 24, 2013, by kissing the head of the daughter of an assassinated Iranian nuclear engineer. (Iranian government photo)

To fend off that threat, the Obama administration made the spurious claim that it had succeeded in getting Iran to agree to the demand for IAEA inspection of any site it found suspicious. In fact, Iran had agreed only that IAEA would have “enhanced access through agreed procedures” as reflected in the wording of the joint statement of the P5+1 and Iran on 2 April. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and senior military officials have vehemently ruled out both IAEA inspection of military sites on demand and interviews with Iranian scientists.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano claimed on May 12 that Iran’s acceptance of the Additional Protocol as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal meant that Iran had accepted inspections of its military sites on demand.

“In many other countries from time to time we request access to military sites when we have the reason to, so why not Iran?” Amano said. “If we have a reason to request access, we will do so, and in principle Iran has to accept it.”

But that was a brazen misrepresentation of the Additional Protocol. That agreement allows unrestricted IAEA access to sites that have already been designated previously by the state as related to the nuclear fuel cycle. For all other sites, IAEA access under the Additional Protocol clearly depends on the approval of the state in question. Article 5 (c) of the agreement, provides that, if the signatory state is “unable to provide such access,” it “shall make every effort to satisfy Agency requests without delay through other means.”

Now the New York Times has further muddied the waters by reporting on May 31 that the Iranian rejection of those demands had “prompted concern that Iran might be backtracking from understandings sketched out in earlier talks.”

The Times tries to support the U.S. demand by asserting that “experts” say “wide-ranging inspections are needed to guard against cheating.” That is a reference to the argument that opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran have been making for years that Iran is likely to try a “sneakout” route to nuclear weapons, using covert supplies of enriched uranium or plutonium and a covert enrichment facility.

The main figure to make that argument is David Albright, the founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think tank on nuclear proliferation, who had testified on March 24 that Iran must be compelled to accept “anywhere, anytime inspections.” He argued that, without such inspections, Iran could “produce enough weapons grade uranium for a bomb while avoiding detection by the IAEA.” [For more on Albright, see Consortiumnews.com’s “An Iraq-WMD Replay on Iran?”]

Another source cited by the Times in the past for that argument is Gary Samore, who was Obama’s adviser on negotiations with Iran until early 2013. Last November, the Times quoted Samore as saying, “From the beginning, the administration thought a nuclear agreement with Iran would need elements to deal with the overt program and one to detect covert facilities.”

After leaving the administration, Samore became President of the organization called United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which got one-third of its funding in 2013 from Sheldon Adelson, the notorious right-wing extremist and the primary funder of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaigns.

But, although Samore has frequently reiterated the argument that the primary danger is Iranian “sneakout,” he admitted to Times correspondent David Sanger when he was still in the Obama administration that if Iran tried to deceive inspectors by using covert facilities, “We’re pretty certain we would detect it.”

An analysis by Robert Reardon of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University published in 2011 explains why the alarmist views of the problem put forward by Albright and Samore are politically motivated.

“The technical and resource barriers” to achieving a secret enrichment program, Reardon pointed out, “are likely prohibitive.” Iran would have to “find a foreign supplier willing and able to provide a substantial supply of yellowcake secretly and without detection,” he wrote. And then Iran would have to “build and operate a number of secret facilities,” which would involve a “significant risk of detection.”

The IAEA demand for interviews with Iranian scientists has long been contentious, because the IAEA wanted to talk with individuals based merely on the fact that their names had been found in the “laptop documents” collection. Those were the intelligence documents that the George W. Bush administration claimed had come from a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program. Both Iran and former IAEA Director Mohamed El Baradei challenged the authenticity of those documents, which bear the fingerprints of Israel’s Mossad.

The Iranian objection to such requests was validated when Israel carried out a series of assassinations of Iranian scientists from 2010 through 2012. Israel’s Mossad had chosen its targets for assassination, moreover, on the basis of open publications and positions in the nuclear program that were publicly known. Iran has every reason to believe that Israel could obtain any information gleaned from IAEA interviews with scientists on their list to plan more assassinations.

Even before Israel began killing Iranian scientists and engineers, however, it had strong objections to the request for interviews with leading scientists and engineers. For years, the IAEA explicitly demanded classified engineering data on the redesign of Iran’s Shahab-3 missile, even though a senior IAEA official acknowledged to this writer that it meant compromising Iran’s national security.

The official claimed it was necessary to prove that it had not been for the purpose of integrating a nuclear weapon into the missile. Iran’s military leadership undoubtedly drew the conclusion that IAEA demands for interviews with senior scientists and engineers were essentially an intelligence fishing expedition on behalf of U.S. and Israeli governments.

A U.S. State Department official told the Times that Iran had agreed to work on a “list of people and places for access.” That means they are simply going to recapitulate the long-running history of the IAEA-Iran negotiations over the issue.

Amano has steadfastly demanded to visit Parchin, where the IAEA says Iran installed an explosives container the IAEA says related to nuclear weapons research. Iran has made the counter-offer to let the IAEA carry out an inspection at Marivan, where, according to the IAEA, Iran had carried out “large scale high explosive experiments” on the “multipoint initiation concept” for a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA has rejected the offer without any explanation. The refusal to visit what ought to be its highest priority suggests that either the IAEA doesn’t have the coordinates of the alleged site of the experiments or it has reason to doubt that it is going to find anything there. In either case, its refusal to visit the site reveals the reality that Amano is not carrying out an objective investigation but supporting U.S. policy by keeping the political pressure on Iran for as long as the U.S. deems it necessary. [For more on Amano’s documented bias, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Slanting the Case on Iran’s Nukes.”]

Behind the U.S. political posturing of which the Times story is a part, the US delegation is almost certainly preparing to give up its demands for visits to military sites on demand and interviews with Iranian scientists. Meanwhile, however, we can expect the Kabuki theatre over those demands to continue as long as it can be useful for managing the Obama administration domestic political problems.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. [This story originally appeared at Middle East Eye.]

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5 comments for “More Wrenches into Iran-Nuke Deal

  1. Abe
    June 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    the cascade effects of the eternal Security Dilemma, innate to global affairs writ large, means this ‘new day dawning’ in American-Iranian relations could ultimately also be the cause for worsening interaction with Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, just to name a few. To recap:

    – America opens discussions as it is domestically conflicted as to whether this deal with Iran is positive or negative. Regardless, negotiations and an anticipated deal is expected.
    – Israel will never see it as anything but negative, leading to an increased sense of insecurity.
    – Saudi Arabia will agree, on this one thing at least, with Israel.
    – Turkey will hedge its bets but also look upon the agreement with concern and ‘healthy skepticism.’
    – America will try to ‘soothe’ hurt feelings by giving Israel a massive increase in defense aid, likely followed by similar possibilities for Saudi Arabia and Turkey. All three will use this ‘defense’ aid in a manner that will seem decidedly ‘offensive’ in military capacity terms.
    – Iran will see those actions as a direct act of ‘potential aggression’ against itself, subsequently causing internal domestic pressure to not honor the new agreement that set all of this behavior off in the first place.
    – Israel, Saudi Arabia, and perhaps Turkey will see this Iranian ‘reaction’ as actually ‘action,’ the EXACT action in fact they always warned about and had been waiting for from the very first moment the Americans engaged Iran.
    – America will reopen discussions domestically, perhaps even elevating to a formal legal level, to consider if this deal was not just negative or positive, but if someone somewhere somehow had done something illegal to broker it. Expect those accusations to come from whichever party is not currently holding the White House.

    Hammer and Nail: Spinning War from Peace in Iran’s Nuke Deal
    By Matthew Crosston
    http://journal-neo.org/2015/06/04/hammer-and-nail-spinning-war-from-peace-in-iran-s-nuke-deal/

    Dr. Matthew Crosston is a Professor of Political Science, is the Miller Chair for Industrial and International Security and Director of the International Security and Intelligence Studies (ISIS) program at Bellevue University. His research agenda continues to address counter-terrorism, intelligence analysis, failed democratization, and cyber war/ethics. His works have been translated into Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish, and Uzbek. In 2013 Crosston was named the Outstanding Instructor by the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE).

  2. Peter Loeb
    June 6, 2015 at 6:38 am

    CLARIFYING A MYTH

    As always Gareth Porter’s contributions clarify issues.

    There is, however, a disconnect. There will not ever be
    any “Iran deal”. This will be blamed on Iran for whatever
    reasons are at hand for public consumption. This is
    a set-up job for US and Western PR.

    It is and has always been Washington and its allies
    who have never agreed to the lifting of sanctions which
    Iran has stipulated as primary. Furthermore as debate
    in Washington has confirmed the US Congress and
    others insist on continual monitoring, ability to
    reimpose any or all sanctions, reluctance to lift
    sanctions except on conditions and time-limited,
    etc. In plain language, the US and West have completely
    failed to (to use US Secretary of State John Kerry’s
    phrase) engage in “serious” negotiations. Which is to say,
    Washington has utterly failed to negoptiate “in good faith”.

    The Supreme Leader of Iran has been clear all along
    on the absolute necessity for the lifting of sanctions as
    a condition of any and all “deals”.

    Conclusion: The very idea of any Iran “deal” is a myth,
    an “illusion”. It has served all sides with ammunition
    to blame the other. It has also provided all sides with
    bases for their internal politics and every nation always
    has its own internal political interests.

    After the failure of what never really could be a “deal”
    there are a number of options at least as far as
    Iran is concerned. Which options it chooses cannot
    be known at this point. One most certainly is continued
    gravitation to the East such as the Shanghai Cooperative
    Organization (“SCO”) of which Iran has long been
    a member. Such decisions depend on possibilities,
    and the other needs and abilities of Eastern nations.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  3. Peter Loeb
    June 6, 2015 at 7:01 am

    “…TO GUARD AGAINST CHEATING…”(NYT)

    Iranians (and probably all Muslims?) always “cheat”. Perhaps the
    NYT assumes everyone believes or should believe that that
    is a given. On the other hand it is assumed by the NYT (and MSM)
    that Washington and its allies (eg Israel and others) never
    “cheat”. Never!

    If you believe that, I am surprised that you are reading consortiumnews.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  4. Abe
    June 7, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Right-wing Zionist Jewish anti-Muslim propaganda is a wholesale adaptation of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda.

    The words Arab or Muslim are substituted for Jew in pro-Israel political and social discourse, where you will find anti-Semitic caricatures and dehumanizing stereotypes that are as vile and pornographic as anything that appeared in the Nazi tabloid, Der Stürmer.

    Despite the legacy of hatred suffered by the Jewish people, many Zionists had absolutely no qualms about embracing the genocidal racist narrative of the Nazis.

    Right-wing Israeli Jews apply these same racist stereotypes to denigrate the Palestinians, Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Iranians, and Jews of non-European ethnicity, and African asylum seekers.

    In American and European politics and press, pro-Israeli Jews have exploited these racist narratives to advance their aims.

    This is certainly not the case with all Israeli Jews, nor is it evidence of a “global Jewish conspiracy” to denigrate Muslims — it is merely a despicable fact that should be dealt with honestly.

    • Peter Loeb
      June 8, 2015 at 5:52 am

      ALMOST CORRECT….

      To Abe, your comment is almost on-target. ALMOST.

      By beginning with the words “right-wing Zionist etc.” you want so very
      badly to take the “it’s just a few bad apples” approach …only
      the “right wing Zionists”.

      Most experience over many years ( in fact the entire history of
      the Zionist project in its many phases) would dispute this.
      For only one example of many, see the description of the
      examination of schoolchildren by Israeli socio-psychologist
      George R. Tamarin described in detail in Michael Prior’s
      THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM: A MORAL CRITIQUE, pp 36-39.

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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