Recently, the CIA Director, Gina Haspel, and the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, made news by testifying before Congress regarding Iran.
During the hearing, Haspel stated that Iran, “at the moment, technically they’re in compliance” with the deal. Coats said, “We do not believe Iran is currently undertaking the key activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.”
I would love to know their evidence for these assertions.
For one thing, we already know of many Iranian violations (or likely violations) of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA). The Iranians have produced excess heavy water, illegally, at least twice, which they sold for profit. The Iranians have exceeded the limits on advanced centrifuge research and development, by assembling more than a half dozen IR-8 rotor assemblies and operating 13-15 IR-6 centrifuges in a single cascade. (Luckily, their efforts have largely been a failure.) Iran is likely violating Section T of the deal, which explicitly bans Iran from “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” such as using computer models that simulate a nuclear bomb, or designing multi-point, explosive detonation systems. German intelligence has reported that in 2015 and 2016, when the U.S. was still part of the JCPOA, Iran attempted more than one hundred times to obtain illicit nuclear technology, which may be in violation of the deal. In 2015, Tehran violated the deal by refusing to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigating the Possible Military Dimensions of the nuclear program. (In 2018, Israel exposed much of what the Iranians had been hiding from the IAEA.)
Most recently, as an Iranian official admitted, Iran did not dismantle the core of the plutonium reactor at Arak, as required by the deal. He even bragged about tricking the international inspectors and the West with photoshopped pictures from the Arak plutonium reactor’s core.
For another, the IAEA inspectors — and the West itself — are severely limited in their ability to monitor Iranian compliance with the deal. This is because Iran has barred any outside inspectors from inspecting military sites in Iran. As an Iranian official said rather dramatically, “Iran’s military sites are off limits. All information about these sites are classified. Iran will never allow such visits. Don’t pay attention to such remarks that are only a dream.” Other Iranian leaders have echoed these statements.
This Iranian refusal to allow international inspections of its’ military sites is itself a violation of the Iran deal. The relevant language of the JCPOA states (see Annex I, Q Access, pg. 23):
“Requests for access pursuant to provisions of this JCPOA will be made in good faith, with due observance of the sovereign rights of Iran, and kept to the minimum necessary to effectively implement the verification responsibilities under this JCPOA. In line with normal international safeguards practice, such requests will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities, but will be exclusively for resolving concerns regarding fulfilment of the JCPOA commitments and Iran’s other non-proliferation and safeguards obligations. The following procedures are for the purpose of JCPOA implementation between the E3/EU+3 and Iran and are without prejudice to the safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol thereto. In implementing this procedure as well as other transparency measures, the IAEA will be requested to take every precaution to protect commercial, technological and industrial secrets as well as other confidential information coming to its knowledge.”
This language does not by itself create an exemption for military sites.
Immediately after this paragraph, the process of IAEA inspections is detailed in the JCPOA. In summary, for undeclared nuclear facilities, including military sites, the IAEA is granted access, although the process may be lengthy — as long as 69 days — if the Iranians dispute the need. Once again, there is no language carving out an exception for military sites.
Unfortunately, rather than expose the Iranians, the IAEA has instead provided cover to Iran by simply refusing to ask for inspections of any military sites. However, this does not make the Iranian ban on international inspections of military sites any less of a violation of the JCPOA.
Many of these violations, including exceeding the limits on advanced centrifuges and violating section T, would also seem to be “key activities” that are “necessary to produce a nuclear device.”
So is the Iranian testing of ballistic missiles (although it is not a violation of the JCPOA or of UN Resolution 2231). Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has written:
“The ballistic-missile program is particularly problematic. Given that the Iranians are exploiting a loophole that the Obama administration permitted in the relevant UN Security Council resolution to plow ahead with developing missiles potentially capable of delivering nuclear weapons, it is wholly false for advocates of the deal to argue that the JCPOA has halted, frozen, or suspended Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Such a program has three main parts—development, weaponization, and delivery—and ballistic missiles are an integral part of that. In other words, critical aspects of the program are moving ahead, deal or no deal.”
If ballistic missile testing is an “integral part” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, then it would presumably also be a “key activity” that is “necessary to produce a nuclear weapon.”
Of course, the CIA Director and the DNI have access to classified information that the rest of us don’t. But it is hard to believe that this classified information contradicts all of the open source information mentioned above. And it is important to remember that the CIA and U.S. intelligence has been wrong before, whether it be in Iraq, in North Korea, in India, or in Iran itself.
U.S. intelligence needs to reevaluate their findings regarding Iran and its nuclear weapons program. The simple fact of the matter is that Iran is violating the JCPOA, and it is also “currently undertaking the key activities … necessary to produce a nuclear device.”
Adam Turner is the General Counsel and Legislative Affairs Director for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).
Originally Published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/gina-haspel-dan-coats-iran-jcpoa/2019/02/14/id/902775/