Powell: Say, this Iran deal looks pretty good to me

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed the Iran deal on Meet the Press yesterday. “I studied very carefully the outline of the deal and what’s in that deal,” Powell told host Chuck Todd, “and I’ve also carefully looked at the opposition to the deal. And my judgment, after balancing those two sets of information, is that it’s a pretty good deal,” said Powell. It puts “speed limits” on Iran’s nuclear progress rather than the unregulated “superhighway” on which Iran’s nuclear program had operated in the past. And hey, the IAEA is on the case — what could go wrong?

One former high-ranking IAEA official has some thoughts on what could go wrong. The Times of Israel reported on Friday that the agreed structure of inspections for the military facility at Parchin simply won’t work, according to the former Number 2 at the IAEA:

The nuclear deal’s mechanism for inspecting Iran’s Parchin military complex appears to be unreasonably lax, the former number two official at the United Nations nuclear watchdog said this week.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Olli Heinonen, who served as the International Atomic Energy Agency’s deputy director-general, called on the Vienna-based body to release the as-of-yet undisclosed side agreements with Iran, which are part of broader pact Tehran and six world powers struck in July. …

The key question is: will the IAEA be present during the sample-taking or not?” Heinonen wondered. “It looks to me that they might be witnessing the sample-taking through some camera view, or from a distance. If that’s really the case I have a lot of reservations about the reasonability and credibility of the arrangements.”

Heinonen — who worked for the IAEA for nearly three decades and headed the agency’s Department of Safeguards — explained that taking samples at a site suspected of having hosted illicit nuclear activity is no simple feat.

“You need to know what you sample, how you sample, and if the sample is representative of the object you sample,” he said. It’s difficult to assess changes that might have been done to the facility — such as the installation of false walls or efforts to hide or sanitize equipment — by merely looking at photo or video material. “You need to be present and see physically the place. Therefore, for the IAEA to do a credible job they need to get to that chamber and take independently their samples.”

Maybe Powell considers Parchin an HOV lane. Heinonen is only revealing the obvious here: any inspections that rely on Iranians to provide the samples is doomed to failure. It’s a dodge to give Western countries the ability to claim that inspections will keep a lid of Iran’s nuclear program, while the actual inspections give Iran the perfect opportunity to cover their tracks, both in the past and in the future. There is a reason that the Obama administration started off insisting that they would get “anywhere, anytime” inspections — because any agreement without them is all but worthless, especially with the IAEA’s secret side deals.

Todd also asked Powell how he handled e-mails as Secretary of State. Powell served from 2001-5, well before Hillary Clinton’s tenure. Powell pitched his book, which details how he tried to reform the internal communications of State, including the use of e-mail that “gave them access to the whole world.” Nonetheless, Powell had two computers on his desk — one for secure transmissions, and the other for personal and light-task work e-mails:

What I had to do is bring the State Department to the 21st century. And the way of doing that was getting new computers. That gave them access to the whole world. And then in order to make sure I changed the brainware of the department, and not just the software and hardware, I started to use email. I had two machines on my desk. I had a secure State Department machine, which I used for secure material, and I had a laptop that I could use for email. And I would email relatives, friends, but I would also email in the department. But it was mostly housekeeping stuff. “What’s the status in this paper? What’s going on here?” So I used my own classified system, but I had a classified system also on my desk.

In other words, Powell conducted sensitive business in the proper manner. It’s an easy bet that his unclassified personal e-mail didn’t route through a server in his house, either. Powell declined to comment directly on Hillary’s e-mail practices, saying that the IGs and the FBI knew more about that than he did, but this puts a stake through the Team Hillary claims that Powell did exactly what Hillary did with e-mail.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023