This can’t be true, can it?

“PMD” is “possible military dimensions.” In other words, if nuclear inspectors get a hot tip that Iran is conducting (or conducted in the past) atomic-bomb work at a secret site, they don’t get to go to the site themselves and take samples from the soil, the walls, etc, to see if there’s uranium present. They get their samples … from Iran. That’s like drug-testing a junkie by asking him to bring a sample from home.

Is that what this deal commits us to? Skip to 9:45 of the first clip below and watch to the end. Bob Menendez — Democrat Bob Menendez, I should say — picks up on something that GOP Sen. Jim Risch mentioned earlier in the hearing about the UN getting its PMD samples from Iran. Is that true? wonders Menendez. Because if it is, the fox is guarding the henhouse. Kerry’s response: It’s classified — turns out those “secret side deals” I wrote about yesterday actually do exist, per Susan Rice — so if he wants an answer, he should maybe show up at one of those classified briefings senators are known to get now and then. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz then assures Menendez that the inspections process will have “integrity.” At which point Bob “Failure Theater” Corker buts in to tell Menendez that Kerry can answer his question in about two seconds during a classified briefings, which makes it sound like Corker already knows the answer himself and that he wants Menendez to drop the subject in this public setting ASAP.

I don’t know how to read that. On the one hand, it seems as though both Moniz and Corker are hinting to Menendez that of course it’s not true that the UN will gets its samples from Iran. In that case, though, where did Risch get the idea that it is? And why is this information classified to begin with? Obama’s spent the last month insisting that the deal isn’t based on trust, it’s based on verification, yet when Menendez asks a very basic question about verification procedures, everyone clams up. Two possibilities here. One: The inspection procedures are being kept secret because they represent a major concession by Iran, which, if exposed, will animate Iranian hardliners and blow up the deal over there. But again, if that’s true, where did Risch get the opposite impression? And how could the Iranian government possibly keep a major concessions like that secret from the IRGC, who operate Iran’s military bases and doubtless any “secret sites”? They’re one of the bulwarks of opposition to intrusive inspections. If UN inspectors show up at Parchin demanding entry per a “secret side deal” and the IRGC refuses, what happens then? Which brings us to the second possibility: Risch and Menendez are right and the details are being kept secret because they represent a major concession by the U.S., which, if exposed will blow up public opinion here. Would pro-Israel Democrats like Schumer really endorse a deal with sham inspections, though, even if they knew the public would never find out? Hard to gauge what’s happening here.

Two clips for you while you mull that over, one of Menendez’s exchange with Kerry, Moniz, and Corker and the other, via the Free Beacon, of Kerry being caught in another goalpost-moving lie about whether western sanctions were supposed to dismantle Iran’s entire nuclear program or just the bomb-making part of it. Exit quotation from Philip Klein: “The premise of every Kerry answer is — Iran was the stronger power here, they had all the leverage. We were lucky to get anything.”

Update: Bob Corker’s communications director just tweeted this at me. Looks like the worst-case scenario, that the deal really is this bad, might be true: