Iran: US Has No Right to Know Details of Secret Nuclear Side Deals

Guy Benson
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Posted: Aug 04, 2015 4:25 PM
Iran: US Has No Right to Know Details of Secret Nuclear Side Deals

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees penned an op/ed demanding that the Obama administration release the full text of two secret "side deals" lurking within the controversial Iranian nuclear accord.  The lawmakers say they only discovered the existence of these private provisions on a recent trip to Vienna, and that US law -- signed by President Obama -- explicitly requires every single word of the finalized agreement to be provided to Congress for review:

For those of us who are elected officials, few votes will be more consequential than whether to approve or disapprove the nuclear agreement President Obama has reached with Iran. Yet the president expects Congress to cast this vote without the administration’s fully disclosing the contents of the deal to the American people. This is unacceptable and plainly violates the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act—a law the president signed only weeks ago. During a recent trip to Vienna to meet with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization charged with verifying Iran’s compliance, we learned that certain elements of this deal are—and will remain—secret. According to the IAEA, those involved with the negotiations, including the Obama administration, agreed to allow Iran to forge the secret side deals with the IAEA on two issues. The first governs the IAEA’s inspection of the Parchin military complex, the facility long suspected as the site of Iran’s long-range ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapons development. The second addresses what—if anything—Iran will be required to disclose about the past military dimensions of its nuclear program.

The Parchin issue is concerning because Western powers have reportedly agreed to allow Iran to submit their own soil samples for tests -- hardly a rigorous "inspection."  The so-called 'past military dimensions' issue is important because it's yet another supposedly solid red line on which Obama's negotiators crumbled.  Both snags have been "resolved" in non-public pacts struck between Iran and the IAEA, about which US officials have been squirrelly and evasive:

The response from the administration to questions about the side deals has brought little reassurance. At first the administration refrained from acknowledging their existence. Unable to sustain that position, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on July 22 during a White House press briefing that the administration “knows” the “content” of the arrangements and would brief Congress on it. Yet the same day Secretary of State John Kerry, in a closed-door briefing with members of Congress, said he had not read the side deals. And on July 29 when pressed in a Senate hearing, Mr. Kerry admitted that a member of his negotiating team “may” have read the arrangements but he was not sure. That person, Undersecretary of State and lead negotiator Wendy Sherman, on July 30 said in an interview on MSNBC, “I saw the pieces of paper but wasn’t allowed to keep them. All of the members of the P5+1 did in Vienna, and so did some of my experts who certainly understand this even better than I do.” A game of nuclear telephone and hearsay is simply not good enough, not for a decision as grave as this one. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act says Congress must have full access to all nuclear-agreement documents—not unverifiable ?accounts from Ms. Sherman or others of what may or may not be in the secret side deals.?How else can Congress, in good conscience, vote on the overall deal?

This mini-drama represents another reason why Americans are right to reject this disastrous agreement. For its part, the Iranian regime -- which never misses an opportunity to antagonize and inflame the United States -- is extending a big middle finger on these questions, of course.  The Free Beacon's Adam Kredo reports:

Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the nuclear inspection organization is barred from revealing to the United States any details of deals it has inked with Tehran to inspect its contested nuclear program going forward, according to regional reports. Recent disclosures by Iran indicate that the recently inked nuclear accord includes a series of side deals on critical inspections regimes that are neither public nor subject to review by the United States. Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador and permanent envoy to the IAEA, stated over the weekend that no country is permitted to know the details of future inspections conducted by the IAEA. In addition, no U.S. inspectors will be permitted to enter Iran’s nuclear sites.

That last bit is a new one to me, aside from one unconfirmed Twitter report I saw over the weekend. Iran is claiming that this deal bars any Americans from participating in the inspection teams -- which will have to wait up to 24 days to access suspicious sites, you'll recall.  That Twitter report, from a guy with solid sources at State, now appears to be confirmed.  Will the media follow-up on this?