It Matters that Iran Lied
By Jonathan S. Tobin
December 2, 2015
the leak of an International Atomic Energy Agency report about Iran’s work on
military research to the Associated Press, the last obstacle to
implementation of the nuclear deal struck by the West with Tehran has been
removed. The good news for the deal’s advocates is that the IAEA says there is
no proof that Iran worked on creating a nuclear explosive device after 2009, although
it admits its work is inconclusive. There are reasons to doubt that Iran stopped
working on nukes at sites that we don’t know about. But even if we accept the
notion that they did stop at face value the UN agency’s work gives us
plenty of reasons to worry. After a decade of denying that it had ever worked on
a nuclear weapon, the IAEA’s conclusions about the pre-2009 period are
definitive. There is no longer the slightest doubt that Iran was working to
create a nuclear weapon before 2009. In other words, the Iranian government
lied. And it continued to lie throughout the negotiations with Obama
administration and Western allies. The question the president and others who
actually think the nuclear deal is a reasonable solution to the problem of the
nuclear threat must answer is if Iran lied for so long, what makes them think
the Islamist regime is willing or even capable of telling the truth and abiding
by the terms of the pact they’ve signed with it?
There are two big problems with the IAEA report.
One is that we know that the IAEA’s access to the one
Iranian site where work on “possible military dimensions” — PMD — of
their nuclear program was limited due to the terms of a side deal struck with
Iran. As we learned over the summer while the debate over the deal was going on,
the IAEA agreed to serious restrictions on its access to the Parchin military
site. Even more troubling, when the IAEA did their best under the circumstances
to find out what had happened at Parchin, they discovered that there had been
new construction had taken place at a place that apologists for the agreement
claimed had long been moribund. Just as bad was the fact that during the course
of their investigation, the
IAEA discovered that some important equipment known to have been at the
site was now missing. That makes it more than obvious that Iran was making
efforts to sanitize the site and make it difficult if not impossible for the UN
to test the site for activity. Yet it doesn’t appear that the new report will
solve either of these mysteries. It seems that the nuclear watchdogs have simply
thrown up their hands
The other troubling aspect to the impending publication of
the IAEA’s findings is that we know that Iran has been pressuring the agency
and the Western nations that signed the deal that it would never agree to the
implementation of the accord unless the PMD issue was put to rest. Though Iran
has a lot more to gain from the deal going forward, President Obama has always
acted as if the opposite was true. Though Iran will get what may be up to $100
billion in frozen assets and a further windfall once sanctions are lifted, the
president seems to think a deal that, at best, delays an Iranian bomb for a
decade, is a better deal for the West.
That means that the onus was on the IAEA not to mess up a
deal those Western governments desperately wanted. Moreover, if they returned a
negative verdict or highlighted the problems and mysteries about Parchin, they
would, in effect, put themselves out of work since that would likely end any
inspections. As with the negotiations with Iran, the IAEA may have persuaded
itself that it was better to proceed with the deal than to hold it up by
insisting on learning everything about their military research.
That sounds pragmatic and maybe even smart. But that
couldn’t be farther from the truth.
What happens now is that the deal will go forward, and Iran
will get everything it wants including the end of sanctions and vast sums of
money that can be spent on aiding its terrorist allies preparing for war against
Israel or destabilizing moderate Arab regimes. But it will never have to admit
that it lied about its nuclear program or even give the UN or the U.S.
information about how much progress it made toward weaponizing its program.
Meanwhile, its nuclear research will continue, and it can count on being able to
produce a bomb after the easily evaded deal expires.
Even if, for the moment, we leave aside the fact that by
keeping the terms of the side deal about Parchin, the administration failed to
comply with U.S. law and rendered its adoption illegal, this is deeply
At the very least, the IAEA report now proves beyond a
shadow of a doubt that the Iranian regime has been lying to the world about its
nuclear program. The talk about a fatwa from the Supreme Leader against making
nuclear weapons was, of course, a ruse. So, too, are the assurances from
Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani about its peaceful intentions.
The lack of conclusive information about PMDs also means
that Western estimates about Iranian “breakout” time to a nuclear weapon are
mere guesses, not reliable calculation. And with the Parchin precedent firmly in
place, it now appears that the IAEA hasn’t the will or the desire to upset the
apple cart by pressing for truths that might illustrate just how fraudulent any
further assurances about military research are. That makes it clear that any
Iranian cheating will be treated as a minor detail that isn’t important enough
to blow up a process that the West is already heavily invested in.
Though treated as a sidebar to the main arguments about the
nuclear question, the investigation of Parchin has turned out to be highly
instructive. We now know that the deal isn’t likely to be enforced.
Unfortunately, so do the Iranians.