Normally, one might write this off as a rumor spread by opponents of the nuclear agreement with Iran, an attempt to remind people of the folly of dealing with a gangster government. Normally, that is, except the source for this story comes from the state-run media that answers directly to the mullahs of Iran. Fars News Agency quoted an official from Iran’s nuclear agency that they had warned Yukiya Amano of being “harmed” if he let slip the details of the side deals to US policymakers:
“In a letter to Yukiya Amano, we underlined that if the secrets of the agreement (roadmap between Iran and the IAEA) are revealed, we will lose our trust in the Agency; and despite the US Congress’s pressures, he didn’t give any information to them,” Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi said in a meeting with the Iranian lawmakers in Tehran on Monday.
“Had he done so, he himself would have been harmed,” he added.
Note the emphasis on he himself. Kamalvandi apparently chose not to aim more at Amano’s credibility, or the necessary relationship with the Iranians to conduct inspections under the agreement. In its English-language form — again, presented by the Iranians themselves — that sounds like a personal threat.
Of course, this could be a poor translation of what Kamalvandi said, if he actually said anything at all. But the fact that the mullahs put this out for domestic and international consumption in this form says something about their intent and situation. They seem eager to push the notion that Iran is in control of everything on the ground, including the IAEA inspection regime, an implication that might complicate matters for Barack Obama and John Kerry in Congress. This seems more aimed at reassuring hardliners at home, though, rather than bullying people in the process.
Still, it would be dangerous to presume that the Iranians don’t mean it exactly as they framed it here, or that it didn’t actually happen this way. Adam Kredo makes that point today for the Washington Free Beacon:
Amano was in Washington recently to brief members of Congress and others about the recently inked nuclear accord. However, he did not discuss the nature of side deals with Iran that the United States is not permitted to know about.
Iran apparently threatened Amano in a letter meant to ensure he did not reveal specific information about the nature of nuclear inspections going forward, according to Iranian AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi.
This disclosure has only boosted suspicions among some that the Iranians are willing and able to intimidate the top nuclear watchdog and potentially undermine the verification regime that Obama administration officials have dubbed a key component of the nuclear accord.
That might put more pressure on Obama’s allies on Capitol Hill to explain how inspections will work while the Iranian mullahcracy — the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world — issues threats against the lives of those who will oversee them. That would be more true if other news outlets picked up the story, but thus far (as of 12:40 this afternoon), only Fox News and Power Line have commented on it at all besides the WFB. Does the US intend to allow Iran to openly bully officials and brag about the outcomes by agreeing to go along with this deal?