Iranian defense minister: This nuke deal doesn't allow you to inspect our military sites

The deal was struck on April 2nd. Via Michael Rubin, here’s the first glaring evidence that Iran doesn’t intend to comply with the west’s most important demand, comprehensive inspections of all nuclear facilities. It took six days for this thing to turn into a transparent sham.

A couple of days longer than I thought it’d take, to be fair.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan categorically rejected as a “lie” a Guardian report alleging that Tehran has granted access to its military facilities under the recent framework agreement with the world powers.

“No such agreement has been made; principally speaking, visit to military centers is among our redlines and no such visit will be accepted,” Gen. Dehqan stressed on Wednesday, rejecting “the report by foreign media outlets, such as the Guardian” as “untruthful allegations”…

In relevant remarks on Monday, Commander of Iran’s Basij (volunteer) Force Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi said the untruthfulness of Washington officials in their remarks about the Lausanne Statement issued jointly by Iran and the six world powers displayed that the US was an untrustworthy partner to any deal.

I’m not sure why Iran’s singling out the Guardian. It was the State Department’s own “fact sheet,” released the day the deal was reached, that boasted of comprehensive access inside Iran for UN nuclear inspectors. Remember?


“Suspicious sites … anywhere in the country.” If there’s an exception built into that for military sites, the deal’s obviously worth nothing. Iran will simply move its enrichment program inside the wire, out of inspectors’ reach, and that’ll be that.

I wonder how the White House will spin this. This isn’t some middle-management apparatchik inside Iran’s defense bureau saying it who can be safely ignored. This is Dehqan, the minister of defense. My guess is that they’ll claim he’s blowing smoke, blustering about “red lines” at military sites to appease Iran’s hardliners even though he fully intends to allow secret IAEA inspections there. That’ll be how it goes for the next three months, until a final deal is reached (or not) — “don’t listen to what Iran says, watch what they do.” Presumably the same logic applies to John Kerry’s pal Javad Zarif promising Iran’s parliament that they’ll test a highly advanced uranium centrifuge on the day the final deal is reached, which is sort of like celebrating a disarmament treaty by test-firing an ICBM. One of the key planks of the deal for the west is to restrict Iran’s research and development of high-end centrifuges, knowing that the more sophisticated models are capable of producing bomb-grade uranium much, much more quickly than the primitive models Iran uses now. Obama’s goal with this deal was to slow Iran down to the point that it’ll take them at least a year to enrich their current uranium supply to make it bomb-caliber; Zarif, meanwhile, is now promising his own side that he’ll roll out technology that would make a mockery of that one-year “breakout” timeline. We’re already at odds over the most basic terms of the agreement even though the deal is less than a week old.

In fact, not only aren’t the U.S. and Iran on the same page, Obama’s not on the same page as his own rhetoric about sanctions. Good point from Eli Lake:

On the one hand, the president doesn’t think they really work. Obama now concedes — as does Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif — that while Iran was facing crippling sanctions it continued to install thousands of centrifuges at its illicit facilities. In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama said there were three options for Iran’s nuclear program: aerial bombardment, his deal, and sanctions. Not surprisingly, Obama warned that sanctions “always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program.”

Here’s the catch: Two days earlier, at the announcement of the framework agreement, Obama praised the efficacy of renewing sanctions in case Iran cheats. “If Iran violates the deal,” he said. “Sanctions can be snapped back into place.”

The White House’s message to Congress right now is that they either take the deal he negotiated or prepare for war. The third option, new sanctions, is a nonstarter because sanctions. do. not. work. Period. They won’t stop Iran’s program. Meanwhile, under the terms of the deal he himself just struck, the penalty if Iran violates the deal is … sanctions. And not even new, harsher sanctions; all we’d be doing is reinstating the current sanctions that will have been lifted as the deal is implemented. (And that’s assuming that foreign powers would even agree to reinstate sanctions if Iran’s accused of cheating.) I’ve made this point before but it bears repeating: The only punishment Iran would receive for violating the deal is a return to the current status quo, which they’ve lived with for years and which, according to Obama himself, hasn’t stopped their progress towards a bomb. Why Obama would agree to a deal like that when he apparently views the terms as unequal to the task of stopping Iran makes no sense, until you realize that his primary goal isn’t stopping Iran. It’s preventing war, even if that means an Iranian nuclear weapon. The status quo will work just fine for that.

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