It all started off so well for Secretary of State John Kerry. At the beginning of his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the deal he crafted with Iran, Kerry got a hero’s welcome from a group of observers to the hearing. Granted, it was from the deep thinkers of Code Pink, but you gotta take what you can get, amirite?
Kerry told the committee that he could guarantee this deal would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon during the term of the agreement, which prompted chair Bob Corker (R-TN) to reply, “You’ve been fleeced“:
The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tells Kerry point-blank that “you’ve been fleeced” by the Iranians in the recently completed nuclear agreement.
Kerry was greeted with applause from anti-war demonstrators as a handful of members from CodePink rose in the hearing room. But the mood turned critical immediately as Sen. Bob Corker, who heads the panel, gaveled the hearing to order.
Corker wasn’t alone with that sentiment:
Sen. Risch: "With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled and the American people are going to pay."
— Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) July 23, 2015
Watch the video carefully at the beginning to see Kerry’s reaction to Corker’s remarks. Corker takes a shot at Kerry by noting how the Secretary of State has repeatedly shared the “tremendous warmth” that he has developed for his Iranian negotiating partners. Perhaps that’s part of why Corker pronounces himself depressed by this deal:
Corker tells Kerry he’s “fairly depressed” after listening to the secretary answer lawmakers’ questions Wednesday about the agreement in a classified briefing.
Corker’s blues come from a more substantive problem (although probably not from Corker’s role in providing the Obama administration some political cover with the reversed disapproval process). Experts on nuclear monitoring are not impressed with the verification claims coming from Kerry and Barack Obama. The 24-day gap for suspicious undeclared facilities is inadequate, assuming Iran cooperates with it in the first place, the New York Times reported today:
Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the agency, said in an interview that while “it is clear that a facility of sizable scale cannot simply be erased in three weeks’ time without leaving traces,” the more likely risk is that the Iranians would pursue smaller-scale but still important nuclear work, such as manufacturing uranium components for a nuclear weapon.
“A 24-day adjudicated timeline reduces detection probabilities exactly where the system is weakest: detecting undeclared facilities and materials,” he said. …
“Certain parts of the installation were renovated, leaving no trace of enrichment activities that had taken place,” Mr. Heinonen said. “However, nonrenovated parts had uranium in the 2003 contamination, which raised concerns.”
As impressive as the Iranians’ efforts at concealment were then, Mr. Heinonen said they would be better prepared to remove the evidence of illicit work if they decided to cheat on the accord.
“There will likely be plans to be executed promptly to avoid getting caught,” he said.
The issue of the side deals will likely not make Congress any more favorable to the deal, either. After the news of side deals emerged, the White House has pushed back against the notion that they’re secret, but …. they won’t share the text with Congress either. That’s because the deals involve negotiations between the IAEA and Iran to which the US was not privy, although Susan Rice says the Obama administration has been “fully briefed on the contents.” Given that the deal involves access to military-site inspections, Congress may want to see those details for themselves rather than rely on assurances from a “fleeced” Obama administration: