As with Iraq, Bolton and Netanyahu want the United States to meet this supposedly growing threat with a more confrontational policy. Key to that policy shift is withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, which would leave the U.S. free to reimpose sanctions, and perhaps, as Bolton has suggested, even bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.
And, as with Iraq, it’s easier for Bolton and Netanyahu to achieve that goal if they discredit the current system of international inspections. Bolton has called the inspection efforts established by the Iran nuclear deal “fatally inadequate” and declared that “the International Atomic Energy Agency” is “likely missing significant Iranian [nuclear] facilities.” In his 2015 speech to Congress attacking the Iran deal, Netanyahu insisted that “Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.”
Netanyahu and Bolton’s problem, as with Iraq, is that the inspectors don’t think they’re being cheated. ElBaradei’s successor as director general of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, has said his organization “now has the world’s most robust verification regime in place in Iran.” The IAEA has certified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal nine times. And, as in 2003, key European governments are defending the inspectors. Earlier this month, the French Foreign Ministry called the inspection effort in Iran “one of the most exhaustive and robust regimes in the history of nuclear nonproliferation.”