Wall Street Journal
August 19, 2015
Three more Senators have declared against President Obama’s
Iran nuclear deal in recent days, and don’t be surprised if more follow after
Wednesday’s bombshell from the Associated Press. The news service reports that
Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors at the secret Parchin nuclear
site under its secret side agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency
This is a new one in the history of arms control. Parchin
is the military complex long suspected as the home of Iran’s nuclear-weapons
and ballistic-missile development. The IAEA has sought access to Parchin for
more than a decade, and U.S. officials have said the deal requires Iran to come
clean about Parchin by agreeing on an inspections protocol with the IAEA by the
end of this year.
But that spin started to unravel three weeks ago with the
discovery that the Parchin inspections were part of a secret side agreement
between the IAEA and Iran—not between Iran and the six negotiating countries.
Secretary of State John
Kerry has said he hasn’t read the side deal, though his negotiating
deputy Wendy Sherman told MSNBC that she “saw the pieces of paper”
but couldn’t keep them. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has told
Members of the U.S. Congress that he’s bound by secrecy and can’t show them
the side deals.
That secrecy should be unacceptable to Congress—all the
more so after the AP dispatch. The news service says it has seen a document
labelled “separate arrangement II.” The document says Iran will provide the
IAEA with photos and locations that the IAEA says are linked to Iran’s weapons
work, “taking into account military concerns.”
In other words, the country that lied for years about its
nuclear weapons program will now be trusted to come clean about those lies. And
trusted to such a degree that it can limit its self-inspections so they don’t
raise “military concerns” in Iran.
Keep in mind that the side deal already excludes a role for
the U.S., and that the IAEA lacks any way to enforce its side deal since it has
no way of imposing penalties for violations. Iran has also already ruled out any
role for American or Canadian nationals on the inspection teams.
Why not cut out the IAEA middle man and simply let Qasem
Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, sign a personal affadavit?
The AP report hadn’t been contradicted by our deadline on
Wednesday, and a White House spokesman told AP merely that the U.S. is
“confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible
military dimensions of Iran’s former program.” That sounds like a
The news raises further doubts about a nuclear pact that is
already leaking credibility. Unfettered access to Parchin is crucial to
understanding Iran’s past nuclear work, which is essential to understanding
how close Iran has come to getting the bomb. Without that knowledge it’s
impossible to know if Iran really is a year or more away from having the bomb,
which is the time period that Mr. Kerry says is built into the accord and makes
it so worth doing.
Earlier this year President Obama signed the Iran Nuclear
Agreement Review Act, which says Congress must receive all documents related to
the deal, including any “entered into or made between Iran and any other
parties.” That has to mean the IAEA.
By the way, the reference in the IAEA document to
“separate arrangement II” suggests there may be more than one side deal.
Congress should insist on seeing every such side deal or else pass a resolution
of disapproval on the principle that it can’t possibly approve a deal whose
complete terms it hasn’t even been allowed to inspect.
Meanwhile, bipartisan opposition continues to build in
Congress. New Jersey DemocratRobert
Menendez on Tuesday became the second Senate Democrat to oppose the
deal, following announcements from Republicans Jeff Flake (Arizona)
and Foreign Relations Chairman Bob
Corker. Mr. Flake in particular was inclined to support the pact and
was lobbied hard by the President.
“For me, the Administration’s willingness to forgo a
critical element of Iran’s weaponization—past and present—is
inexplicable,” said Mr. Menendez in explaining his opposition. “Our
willingness to accept this process on Parchin is only exacerbated by the
inability to obtain anytime, anywhere inspections, which the Administration
always held out as one of those essential elements we would insist on and could
rely on in any deal.”
Public opposition is also growing. And it will increase as
Americans learn that the deal’s inspections include taking Iran’s word about
its previous weaponization work at its most crucial nuclear-weapons site.