On Dec. 15, despite a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report that said Iran failed to fully cooperate with an investigation into its past nuclear weapons related work, the United States and the other members of the IAEA Board of Governors voted to close the book on this matter.
Iran went through the motions of answering questions posed by IAEA investigators, but many of its answers provided no new information. Some answers were even false — others contradicted information the IAEA had acquired.
Incredibly, even though Iran self-inspected its Parchin military base under a controversial secret side deal agreement with the IAEA, the agency says Iran still tried to mislead it about this facility.
Iran claimed a building on the Parchin base suspected of being the site of nuclear weapon-related work was used for chemical storage. The IAEA said this explanation was not credible since it was contradicted by environmental samples and satellite imagery.
The most significant finding of the IAEA report was that Iran engaged in “coordinated” nuclear weapons activities until 2003 and that some nuclear-weapons work continued until 2009. This was a bombshell and contradicts a controversial 2007 intelligence estimate that Iran had given up nuclear-weapons work completely in 2003.
The IAEA report also says the agency has no “credible indications” of nuclear-weapons-related activities in Iran after 2009. Although some media stories have portrayed this as meaning the IAEA did not find “any” indications of Iranian nuclear weapons work after 2009, the IAEA’s choice of wording on this issue probably indicates it has unconfirmed reports that Iranian nuclear weapons activities continue today.
I believe the IAEA may have not have “credible” information about Iranian nuclear weapons work after 2009 because the Obama administration stopped sharing intelligence on this issue with the IAEA after Obama became president.
For this reason, a member of Congress has told me he has written to the IAEA to ask about any unconfirmed information it may have indicating that Iran’s nuclear weapons program continued after 2009.
The decision of the Obama administration to vote at the IAEA to close the book on Iran’s nuclear weapons research reflected a significant policy change. Obama officials have said for years that Tehran would need to explain all outstanding questions about nuclear weapons-related work before sanctions could be lifted under a nuclear agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry said this as recently as July.
The reason Iran needs to resolve unanswered questions about nuclear weapons-related work is because this information is needed as a baseline for IAEA inspectors to verify the nuclear agreement by providing important information on what types of nuclear research Iran was engaged in and where this research was taking place.
However, in October the Obama administration shifted its position when State Department officials said Iran merely had to go through the motions of cooperating with the IAEA’s investigation and that the quality of the information Iran provided in its answers did not matter.
The Obama administration also in October confirmed that it agreed with Iran that the investigation of its past nuclear weapons related work was not part of the nuclear agreement announced last July.
So how could the United States vote to close the book on Iran’s past nuclear weapons work when the IAEA’s recent report did not close the book on this issue and hinted that this work may be continuing?
The reason is that the nuclear deal is national security fraud. Iran is already violating this agreement in other ways – such as by testing ballistic missiles. U.S. diplomats made so many one-sided compromises to get the deal that there is no chance it will stop Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb.
The bottom line is that the way the U.S. responded to the IAEA inconclusive investigation of Iran’s nuclear weapons work reflects how the nuclear deal is not a serious agreement. It is a legacy agreement for Obama that his administration will defend regardless of how badly Iran violates it.
Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, followed the Iranian nuclear program for the CIA, State Department, and House Intelligence Committee. He is senior vice president for policy and programs at the Center for Security Policy. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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