“Because of this deal,” Barack Obama said this morning from the White House, “we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region.” Want to bet? With Iran unleashed economically and militarily, this deal may end up guaranteeing nuclear proliferation on a massive scale in the Middle East:
Obama insists that the deal allows for inspections at any time and anywhere:
Because of this deal we will for the first time be in a position to verify all of these commitments. That means this deal is not built on trust. It is built on verification. Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, its uranium mines and mills, its conversion facility and its centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities.
This ensures that Iran will not be able to divert materials from known facilities to covert ones. Some of these transparency measures will be in place for 25 years.
Because of this deal, inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location — put simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary. That arrangement is permanent. And the IAEA has also reached an agreement with Iran to get access that it needs to complete its investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear research.
The agreement itself seems much less firm on mandatory access for IAEA inspectors, though. This is the process for gaining access to sites considered suspicious by the IAEA:
75. In furtherance of implementation of the JCPOA, if the IAEA has concerns regarding undeclared nuclear materials or activities, or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA, at locations that have not been declared under the comprehensive safeguards agreement or Additional Protocol, the IAEA will provide Iran the basis for such concerns and request clarification.
76. If Iran’s explanations do not resolve the IAEA’s concerns, the Agency may request access to such locations for the sole reason to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at such locations. The IAEA will provide Iran the reasons for access in writing and will make available relevant
77. Iran may propose to the IAEA alternative means of resolving the IAEA’s concerns that enable the IAEA to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the location in question, which should be given due and prompt consideration.
78. If the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA cannot be verified after the implementation of the alternative arrangements agreed by Iran and the IAEA, or if the two sides are unable to reach satisfactory arrangements to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the specified locations within 14 days of the IAEA’s original request for access, Iran, in consultation with the members of the Joint Commission, would resolve the IAEA’s concerns through necessary means
agreed between Iran and the IAEA. In the absence of an agreement, the members of the Joint Commission, by consensus or by a vote of 5 or more of its 8 members, would advise on the necessary means to resolve the IAEA’s concerns. The process of consultation with, and any action by, the members of the Joint Commission would not exceed 7 days, and Iran would implement the necessary means within 3 additional days.
In other words, inspectors will have to wait weeks, and hope that the Joint Commission and Iran can come to an agreement on access. That’s hardly an anytime-anywhere situation, and offers lots of room for Iran to stall or stonewall the IAEA — a habit they’ve developed over the years already.
Don’t expect this to impress the other countries in the region. We’ll have more on that next.