In his statement on Sunday January 17, 2016, President Obama glowingly asserted that sanctions were being lifted on Iran because “Iran’s actions have been verified.” However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s December 15, 2016 report (entitled “Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme”) describes serious possible military dimensions (“PMD”s) of Iran’s nuclear activities – and reveals that Iran covered up and prevented the IAEA from effectively verifying Iran’s activities at Parchin, and that Iran still failed to provide information and answers to significant long outstanding questions regarding its PMDs. At least ten countries (including the U.S.) had previously provided extensive evidence to the IAEA of Iran’s secret technological nuclear weapons activities. This is an extremely serious issue: Iran’s PMDs, and its continuing failure to fully disclose its nuclear-bomb-making knowledge and programs will impede the IAEA’s ability to monitor Iran’s ongoing and future activities. It is dangerous and offensive to remove sanctions when the IAEA reported Iranian PMDs, and Iran has still not “come clean” about possible military dimensions of its nuclear activities.
The IAEA’s December 15, 2015 report assessed, for instance, that “EBW [exploding bridgewire] detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device.” (paras. 40, 79) Likewise, the IAEA assessed that MPI technology [multi-point initiation explosives technology] developed by Iran has characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device.” (para. 46, 79) The IAEA also assessed that “Iran conducted computer modeling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009” and that Iran refused to discuss this work with the IAEA during technical expert meetings, citing strong conventional military dimensions associated with the work. (para. 61-62, 81)
The IAEA report also explained that Iran’s extensive “refurbishment” activities at Parchin prevented the IAEA from verifying Iran’s high explosive testing activities there. IAEA directors visited the main building of interest at Iran’s Parchin military complex in September 2015, and “observe[d], inter alia, recent signs of internal refurbishment,” “a floor with an unusual cross-section” and that Iran had apparently removed a large cylinder that matched the parameters of an explosives firing chamber (for conducting experiments with high explosives) – which the building had been built around. Further, the IAEA’s investigation found that Iran’s statements to the IAEA about the purpose of the building were false – and that Iran’s extensive cover up activities at the Parchin site prevented the IAEA from effectively verifying Iran’s activities there. The report explained:
“The information available to the [IAEA], including the results of the sampling analysis and the satellite imagery, does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the [Parchin] building. . . . The [IAEA] assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the [IAEA] seriously undermined the [IAEA]’s ability to conduct effective verification.” (para. 57, 81)
The IAEA also noted that it had not received information regarding other concerning issues since 2011. (e.g., para. 68). Of particular concern, the IAEA had not received additional information since November 2011 (other than verification of two workshops) regarding Iran’s detailed project work to put a “new spherical payload” (a nuclear warhead) onto Iran’s shahab 3 missiles. (para. 69-72, 82) In other words, Iran is apparently still failing to provide information and answer questions about its critical nuclear weaponization work.
The IAEA report further noted that “an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” and that such activities were “conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003.” (para. 84-85)
The IAEA assessment was no doubt also hampered by the “Road-map for the Clarification of Past & Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme” that Iran and the IAEA signed on July 14, 2016, in accordance with the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (part C, para. 14) and related secret side deals. (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or “JCPOA,” is commonly known as the Iran deal.) The “road map” called for Iran to provide written explanations and documents of its activities, an IAEA review of Iran’s submissions, the IAEA’s submission to Iran of additional questions, technical discussions in Iran agreed to “in a separate arrangement” and “another separate arrangement” regarding Parchin. In other words, the IAEA was not given the opportunity to engage in an unencumbered independent investigation in Iran to examine Iran’s PMDs.
On January 7, 2016, Iran responded to the IAEA’s December 15, 2016 report. Iran stated that it “totally disagrees with some parts” of the IAEA’s report – but failed to provide additional documents, information or access to its activities. Iran also gave improbable excuses for its PMD activities, including asserting that its studies of “dual use technologies” were for peaceful civilian or conventional military uses. Iran also claimed that foreign countries had a project called “Operation Merlin” to forge documents against Iran.
On January 16, 2016, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano announced that he had released a report confirming that “Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” However, the accompanying IAEA report, dated January 16, 2016, entitled “Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015),” only concerned certain actions taken by Iran “specified in paragraphs 15.1-15.11 of Annex V of the JCPOA,” such as Iran’s removal and storage of some of its centrifuges. The January 16, 2016 report never mentioned and did not deal with Iran’s PMDs.
In other words, the “last word” on Iran’s PMDs is the IAEA’s December 15, 2015 report – which described specific possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s cover-up activities that made it impossible for the IAEA to effectively verify Iran’s Parchin nuclear weapons activities. Under these circumstances, sanctions should not have been lifted. This is a very dangerous disgrace which will lead to disaster. Obama is not only not protecting the safety and security of the American people, he is helping our enemies increase their ability to harm us and the West. And, this Deal provides $150 Billion to Iran to fund Islamic terrorism around the world. It’s the most nightmarish mistake since the Chamberlain-Hitler Deal of 1938.
(Also see ZOA’s press release, “Obama Ending Iranian Sanctions Biggest Nightmare Since Chamberlain,” for additional reasons why sanctions should not have been lifted.)