Why Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal Will Live On
In his response, Albright took issue with the analysis, describing it as “particularly minimalist in nature.” He emphasized that the agency lacked access to military sites, and that “the lack of such access undermines any statement that the IAEA is able to verify the JCPOA.” Albright suggested that the United States and its allies should press the IAEA “to report more fully on the status of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, particularly on challenges facing the IAEA in its efforts, including gaining access to military sites.” He also warned the media “not to make the mistake of falsely interpreting the IAEA report as stating Iran is complying with the JCPOA, given the lack of any such statement in the report and its many omissions.”
Other experts have disagreed with ISIS. For instance, Mark Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS-Americas) explained that “IAEA reports on Iran are less detailed” now because “Iran is no longer considered by the IAEA to be in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement. To claim that the IAEA is ‘withholding’ information, however, is an exaggeration.” Fitzpatrick added that he had “consulted with experts in three capitals, without having received funding from any organization for this purpose,” an apparent reference to Albright’s association with FDD.
The U.S. intelligence community has not reacted to the IAEA’s report, but previous statements on the issue of Iran’s compliance were somewhat contradictory. On April 13, CIA director Mike Pompeo said that “we should be mindful and read that JCPOA when it talks about declared facilities and undeclared facilities and how much access the IAEA will have to each of those two very distinct groups.” Pompeo noted that his agency is monitoring both declared and undeclared sites. On May 11, 2017, in a report to Congress, Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats stated that “the JCPOA has also enhanced the transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities, mainly through improved access by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its investigative authorities under the Additional Protocol to its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.” Unlike Pompeo, Coats did not raise the issue of possible illicit work in undeclared sites. Instead, he spent time discussing the threat of Iran’s ballistic-missile project.
Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the Trump administration is required to certify to Congress every ninety days that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. The outcome of the review is not clear, but judging by the discourse so far, it appears that the administration would not seek to cancel the JCPOA or expand its monitoring provisions. Rather, the administration may focus on pressuring Iran on missiles and support of terrorism, using the integrity of the JCPOA as a bargaining tool.
Farhad Rezaei is a research fellow at the Center for Iranian Studies (IRAM) in Ankara where he researches Iran’s foreign policy. He is the author of Iran’s Nuclear Program: A Study in Proliferation and Rollback. His writings have appeared in Harvard-Iran Matters, Atlantic Council, and the National Interest among others. His new book, Iran’s Foreign Policy after the Nuclear Agreement: The Politics of Normalizers and Traditionalists, is forthcoming. He tweets at @Farhadrezaeii.
Image: Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei ahead of a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.