IAEA pushes back on report that Iran will do own nuclear inspections

Ben Sales

A view of Iran's controversial heavy water production facility in Arak, south of the Iranian capital Tehran in 2004. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

A view of Iran’s controversial heavy water production facility in Arak, south of the Iranian capital Tehran in 2004. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The International Atomic Energy Agency, which will control inspections of Iran’s nuclear program under the recently finalized agreement, said a report that Iran will conduct its own inspections is inaccurate.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday on an agreement signed between the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, and Iran that would let experts and equipment chosen by Iran inspect the Parchin military complex on behalf of the IAEA. Iran has been suspected of nuclear weapons research at Parchin. The Iranian inspectors would then report their findings to the IAEA.

But the head of the IAEA said the report “misrepresents” the arrangement, according to Reuters, which did not provide further detail on his denial.

“I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran,” AEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said, according to Reuters. “Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work.”

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Earlier Thursday, the IAEA said it was satisfied with arrangements it had made with Iran concerning inspection of military facilities, Reuters reported.

“The separate arrangements of the roadmap are consistent with IAEA verification practice and they meet the IAEA requirements, IAEA spokesman Serge Gas said in a statement.

On Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the Obama administration supported the arrangement.

The administration is “confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program,” Price said, according to AP. “The IAEA has separately developed the most robust inspection regime ever peacefully negotiated.”

The report’s revelation has met harsh criticism from Israeli and American opponents of the agreement reached last month over Iran’s nuclear program between six world powers, including the United States, and Iran. On Wednesday, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, the government’s point man on Iran, released a bitingly sarcastic response to the report.

“One must welcome this global innovation and outside-the-box thinking,” he said. “One can only wonder if the Iranian inspectors will also have to wait 24 days before being able to visit the site and look for incriminating evidence?”

Steinitz was referring to a provision in the original agreement that allows for a 24-day waiting period before international inspections of undeclared sites with suspected nuclear activity. That deal eases sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

While the United States and the five other world powers that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal were “not party to this agreement,” they “were briefed on it by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package,” the AP reported.

Under the agreement, the IAEA allows Iran “to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence or activities that it has consistently denied — trying to develop nuclear weapons,” the article said.

While the document obtained by the AP is a draft, and not the final version of the agreement, one official familiar with its contents told the news service it “doesn’t differ substantially from the final version.”

Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal in Israel and the United States quickly responded to the report.

While the White House declined to comment on the reported document, according to the Times of Israel, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said sarcastically, “One must welcome this global innovation and outside-the-box thinking. One can only wonder if the Iranian inspectors will also have to wait 24 days before being able to visit the site and look for incriminating evidence?”

He was referring to a section in the nuclear deal that gives Iran 24-days notice prior to inspections of its undeclared nuclear sites.

“This side agreement shows that true verification is a sham, and it begs the question of what else the administration is keeping from Congress,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader, said, according to the Times of Israel.

John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said, “Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the U.N. in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement.”

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