Iran won’t come clean about its nuclear past and the administration’s OK with that
Armin Rosen of Business Insider had a bombshell report on Monday about the Obama administration’s diplomatic malpractice with Iran in the context of the nuclear deal announced earlier this summer.
Citing a recently obtained State Department document, Rosen reported that the administration has no intention of ensuring that Iran provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with all the details of its past nuclear research.
Though “extensive evidence” exists that Iran had a nuclear weapons program until at least 2003, the United States has so watered down Iran’s requirements for answering questions about its past nuclear work, that the IAEA will not have a complete picture of the extent of Iran’s military nuclear program. As IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano made clear earlier this week, Iran is still stonewalling. The problem is that the United States is okay with that.
“An Iranian admission of its past nuclear weapons program is unlikely and is not necessary for purposes of verifying JCPOA commitments going forward,” the report reads. “US confidence on this front is based in large part on what we believe we already know about Iran’s past activities”
“The United States has shared with the IAEA relevant information, and crafted specific JCPOA measures that will enable inspectors to establish confidence that previously reported Iranian PMD activities are not ongoing,” it continued. “If credible information becomes available regarding any renewed Iranian efforts, it would be shared with the IAEA as appropriate, whether involving previous people, locations, entities, or otherwise. We believe other IAEA member states will do the same.”
So the administration thinks it knows the full extent of Iran’s past nuclear work. It might be inconvenient to point it out but the administration thought the same thing about Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile too. And when it turned out in July that Syria still had chemical weapons The Wall Street Journal reported:
The CIA had been confident that Mr. Assad destroyed all of the chemical weapons it thought he possessed when the weapons-removal deal was struck. In recent weeks, the CIA concluded that the intelligence picture had changed and that there was a growing body of evidence Mr. Assad kept caches of banned chemicals, according to U.S. officials.
Believing that you know the full extent of a rogue regime’s illicit activities is foolhardy not too mention a threat to national security. (Unlike say, global warming.)
There’s no reason to doubt that the document that Rosen obtained is accurate, Secretary of State John Kerry said the same thing back in June.
The problem with the administration’s position is not just that it’s given Iran a pass on its past nuclear work, but also it’s made the deal non-verifiable. As Rosen wrote, “The IAEA needs to be able to identify key personnel, facilities, supply chains, and past activities to establish exactly how far along Iran’s weaponization activities really are and to recognize whether those activities have been restarted.”
Furthermore by watering down the IAEA’s standards now, the administration is setting a dangerous precedent for the future if there are disagreements over Iran’s behavior. Iran can be confident that the Obama administration will undercut the IAEA to ensure that the deal remains in place rather than supporting the IAEA and ensuring that Iran sticks to the limits of the deal.
Two years ago Kerry said, “it would be diplomatic malpractice of the worst order not to examine every possibility of whether or not you can achieve that before you ask people to take military action or do what you have to do in order to prevent something from happening.”
No. Diplomatic malpractice is when you cede every argument to your opponent, especially when that opponent is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism and serial nuclear cheater.
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