AIPAC Bewail Decision to Put Iran Nuke Probe to Bed
Rebecca Shimoni Stoil
WASHINGTON — Israeli officials and pro-Israel lobbyists in
the US castigated the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Tuesday decision to
close the file on possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program,
saying a report into past activites showed the move was unwarranted.
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said “Serious doubts and
outstanding issues,” remained after the report, released earlier this month,
which showed that Iran halted most activity toward a nuclear weapon in 2003 and
all activity in 2009.
“The IAEA report clearly indicates once again that Iran has
conducted a coordinated effort to develop a nuclear explosive device, including
activities taking place after 2003. For over a decade, Iran has been
non-cooperative and deceptive,” the ministry said in a statement.
For years, Iran claimed that its nuclear program was entirely
civilian in its application – but for over a decade, the IAEA sought greater
access for inspectors to verify these claims.
Iran agreed to allow increased oversight as part of the deal
inked with the P5+1 powers in July – but also warned afterwards that unless
the probe into possible military dimensions was closed, it would not proceed in
the final steps required for the deal’s full implementation.
The IAEA was required to receive a full report on the possible
military dimensions as part of the preconditions for lifting sanctions on Iran,
and the IAEA’s decision brings the deal a step closer to its implementation.
The move to close the probe was welcomed by officials in Iran,
the US and elsewhere.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the report was
consistent with Washington’s intelligence and the sides could now move forward
toward implementation of the nuclear deal.
“The focus now appropriately moves toward full
implementation of the JCPOA [nuclear deal] and its enhanced verification and
transparency regime,” Kerry said in a statement.
But Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz accused the IAEA of
being politically motivated in its decision to close the probe.
“The IAEA decision does not correspond to the report by IAEA
chief Yukiya Amano, who said Tehran continued partial development of a bomb
until 2009. It seems, therefore, that the decision made today was political and
not practical, and for this reason it sends a wrong message to the Iranians,
that the international community is willing to look the other way,” he said,
according to the Ynet news website.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of
the most vehement opponents of this summer’s Iran nuclear agreement, wrote in
a statement that it “deplores the vote” by the IAEA’s board, complaining
that “the IAEA is closing this file even after discovering further suspicious
evidence and experiencing additional Iranian obstinacy.”
“By closing the PMD file and thereby acquiescing to an
incomplete accounting of Iran’s past nuclear weapons activity, the board of
the IAEA weakens the credibility of its institution and lessens the prospect
that Iran will comply with the JCPOA in the future,” AIPAC said.
A number of experts, particularly those skeptical of the deal,
have said that the full disclosure of previous military dimensions is necessary
for establishing a baseline to understand Iran’s nuclear activities. Without
such a baseline, they warn, it will be difficult to police Iran’s compliance
with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the deal reached in
July and expected to be implemented in early 2016.
AIPAC claimed Iran had “withheld critical information from
the IAEA and has lied by consistently denying nuclear weaponization work in the
face of solid evidence to the contrary.”
Instead of closing the file, AIPAC said that the IAEA could
have recommended delaying Implementation Day – which could be reached as early
as next month – until Iran fully complied with all of the IAEA’s demands
regarding previous military dimensions.
“This decision to whitewash the past represents an
inauspicious beginning to the implementation process of the Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action,” the group suggested.
The statement echoed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who
earlier this month released a statement asserting that “Israel expects the
international community to continue its investigation through the IAEA on these
issues,” adding that “without completing this investigation, the world will
not know how far Iran went in its secret program, and what its current status
AIPAC called on the United States to “demand that the IAEA
examines any new evidence of Iranian violations, and that the agency exercise
maximum vigilance for Iranian compliance with the JCPOA.”
On Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold
an oversight hearing focusing on the implications of the IAEA’s December 2
report, as well as on the US response to Iran’s recent violations of a United
Nations’ ban on ballistic missile testing, and a certification expected later
this week from the Obama administration on Tehran’s compliance with the
nuclear deal as required by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.