Iran says US lying about details of nuke deal

Iran's chief negotiator for the recently completed framework deal that would supposedly curtail Iran's nuclear program has accused the Obama administration of lying about the agreement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the "fact sheet" released by the administration was "misleading" and that "There is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on.”

Washington Free Beacon:

Zarif went on to push back against claims by Kerry that the sanctions relief would be implemented in a phased fashion—and only after Iran verifies that it is not conducting any work on the nuclear weapons front.

Zarif, echoing previous comments, said the United States has promised an immediate termination of sanctions.

“Iran/5+1 Statement: ‘US will cease the application of ALL nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions.’ Is this gradual?” he wrote on Twitter.

He then suggested a correction: “Iran/P5+1 Statement: ‘The EU will TERMINATE the implementation of ALL nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions’. How about this?”

The pushback from Iran’s chief diplomat follows a pattern of similar accusations by senior Iranian political figures after the announcement of previous agreements.

Following the signing of an interim agreement with Iran aimed at scaling back its nuclear work, Iran accused the United States of lying about details of the agreement.

On Thursday evening, Zarif told reporters the latest agreement allows Iran to keep operating its nuclear program.

“None of those measures” that will move to scale back Iran’s program “include closing any of our facilities,” Zarif said. “We will continue enriching; we will continue research and development.”

“Our heavy water reactor will be modernized and we will continue the Fordow facility,” Zarif said. “We will have centrifuges installed in Fordow, but not enriching.”

The move to allow Iran to keep centrifuges at Fordow, a controversial onetime military site, has elicited concern that Tehran could ramp up its nuclear work with ease.

Zarif said that once a final agreement is made, “all U.S. nuclear related secondary sanctions will be terminated,” he said. “This, I think, would be a major step forward.”

In fact, on both sanctions and the fate of the formerly secret nuclear facility at Fordow, there is a huge discrepancy in what both sides are saying.

Zarif correctly pointed out that Secretary of State John Kerry said that sanction relief would be "phased in" over several years.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that if a final deal is reached with Iran, the removal of any sanctions against Tehran will come in phases. “And if we find out at any point that Iran is not complying with the agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place,” he said.

But the semi-offical Iranian media site Press TV says the deal accomplishes exactly the opposite:

Following the implementation of the JPCOA, all the UN Security Council sanctions as well as all economic and financial embargoes by the US and the European Union, including bans on banks, insurance, investment, and all other related services in different fields, including petrochemical, oil, gas and automobile industries will be lifted. Besides, all nuclear-related sanctions against real and legal entities, state and private organizations and institutions, including those sanctions imposed against the Central Bank of Iran, other financial and banking institutions, SWIFT system, and the country’s shipping and aviation sectors, and Iran’s tanker company will be immediately lifted all at once. Moreover, the P5+1 countries are committed to avoid imposing any new nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

(emphasis mine)

Any final deal will go before the UN Security Council - not the US Congress - for approval. Once approved, all sanctions will be lifted, says Tehran.

How does that square with Kerry's take? Actually, Kerry's notion of sanctions relief doesn't even square with the State Department:

In return for the limits on Iran’s program, the U.S. and E.U. will suspend sanctions after the IAEA has verified Iran’s compliance with the deal; those sanctions can automatically “snap back” if Iran violates the agreement at any time. 

The IAEA may be a long time verifying Iran's compliance because Tehran still refuses to come clean on its previous nuclear bomb work. Recall that as recently as a few weeks ago, US negotiators were saying there would be no framework deal unless Iran satisfied the demands of transparency by the IAEA.

And today?

Iran has refused to answer a list of IAEA questions about its suspected past research into nuclear weapons technology like explosives that can detonate highly enriched uranium. The agreement does not specify how or when that will happen, saying only that “Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns” on the military research question. Mogherini said only that the nuclear agency “will have enhanced access through agreed procedures, including to clarify past and present issues.”

And the interpretation of what kind of nuclear activity can go on at the Fordow facility is equally disturbing.

The US says:

Iran can keep open an underground nuclear facility at Fordow, a controversial site because it was built in secret and only revealed by the U.S. in 2009. Iran will not be required to close the facility but will only use it for research that does not include the enrichment of uranium.

Iran says:

According to the joint statement, Fordow nuclear facility will be turned into a research center for nuclear science and physics. More than 1,000 centrifuges will be maintained at this facility and two centrifuge cascades will keep operating. In cooperation with the P5+1 countries, about half of the Fordow facility will be dedicated to advanced nuclear research and production of stable isotopes which have important applications in industry, agriculture and medicine.

It certainly sounds like Iran thinks it can do a helluva lot more at Fordow than "research" - especially when they can keep 1000 centrifuges and two cascades operational.

To be fair, such a nebulous and vague agreement was bound to lead to misunderstandings. But on these two issues, and some others, the difference in interpretation is astonishing. No wonder they were dancing in the streets of Tehran last night.

Iran's chief negotiator for the recently completed framework deal that would supposedly curtail Iran's nuclear program has accused the Obama administration of lying about the agreement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the "fact sheet" released by the administration was "misleading" and that "There is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on.”

Washington Free Beacon:

Zarif went on to push back against claims by Kerry that the sanctions relief would be implemented in a phased fashion—and only after Iran verifies that it is not conducting any work on the nuclear weapons front.

Zarif, echoing previous comments, said the United States has promised an immediate termination of sanctions.

“Iran/5+1 Statement: ‘US will cease the application of ALL nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions.’ Is this gradual?” he wrote on Twitter.

He then suggested a correction: “Iran/P5+1 Statement: ‘The EU will TERMINATE the implementation of ALL nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions’. How about this?”

The pushback from Iran’s chief diplomat follows a pattern of similar accusations by senior Iranian political figures after the announcement of previous agreements.

Following the signing of an interim agreement with Iran aimed at scaling back its nuclear work, Iran accused the United States of lying about details of the agreement.

On Thursday evening, Zarif told reporters the latest agreement allows Iran to keep operating its nuclear program.

“None of those measures” that will move to scale back Iran’s program “include closing any of our facilities,” Zarif said. “We will continue enriching; we will continue research and development.”

“Our heavy water reactor will be modernized and we will continue the Fordow facility,” Zarif said. “We will have centrifuges installed in Fordow, but not enriching.”

The move to allow Iran to keep centrifuges at Fordow, a controversial onetime military site, has elicited concern that Tehran could ramp up its nuclear work with ease.

Zarif said that once a final agreement is made, “all U.S. nuclear related secondary sanctions will be terminated,” he said. “This, I think, would be a major step forward.”

In fact, on both sanctions and the fate of the formerly secret nuclear facility at Fordow, there is a huge discrepancy in what both sides are saying.

Zarif correctly pointed out that Secretary of State John Kerry said that sanction relief would be "phased in" over several years.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that if a final deal is reached with Iran, the removal of any sanctions against Tehran will come in phases. “And if we find out at any point that Iran is not complying with the agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place,” he said.

But the semi-offical Iranian media site Press TV says the deal accomplishes exactly the opposite:

Following the implementation of the JPCOA, all the UN Security Council sanctions as well as all economic and financial embargoes by the US and the European Union, including bans on banks, insurance, investment, and all other related services in different fields, including petrochemical, oil, gas and automobile industries will be lifted. Besides, all nuclear-related sanctions against real and legal entities, state and private organizations and institutions, including those sanctions imposed against the Central Bank of Iran, other financial and banking institutions, SWIFT system, and the country’s shipping and aviation sectors, and Iran’s tanker company will be immediately lifted all at once. Moreover, the P5+1 countries are committed to avoid imposing any new nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

(emphasis mine)

Any final deal will go before the UN Security Council - not the US Congress - for approval. Once approved, all sanctions will be lifted, says Tehran.

How does that square with Kerry's take? Actually, Kerry's notion of sanctions relief doesn't even square with the State Department:

In return for the limits on Iran’s program, the U.S. and E.U. will suspend sanctions after the IAEA has verified Iran’s compliance with the deal; those sanctions can automatically “snap back” if Iran violates the agreement at any time. 

The IAEA may be a long time verifying Iran's compliance because Tehran still refuses to come clean on its previous nuclear bomb work. Recall that as recently as a few weeks ago, US negotiators were saying there would be no framework deal unless Iran satisfied the demands of transparency by the IAEA.

And today?

Iran has refused to answer a list of IAEA questions about its suspected past research into nuclear weapons technology like explosives that can detonate highly enriched uranium. The agreement does not specify how or when that will happen, saying only that “Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns” on the military research question. Mogherini said only that the nuclear agency “will have enhanced access through agreed procedures, including to clarify past and present issues.”

And the interpretation of what kind of nuclear activity can go on at the Fordow facility is equally disturbing.

The US says:

Iran can keep open an underground nuclear facility at Fordow, a controversial site because it was built in secret and only revealed by the U.S. in 2009. Iran will not be required to close the facility but will only use it for research that does not include the enrichment of uranium.

Iran says:

According to the joint statement, Fordow nuclear facility will be turned into a research center for nuclear science and physics. More than 1,000 centrifuges will be maintained at this facility and two centrifuge cascades will keep operating. In cooperation with the P5+1 countries, about half of the Fordow facility will be dedicated to advanced nuclear research and production of stable isotopes which have important applications in industry, agriculture and medicine.

It certainly sounds like Iran thinks it can do a helluva lot more at Fordow than "research" - especially when they can keep 1000 centrifuges and two cascades operational.

To be fair, such a nebulous and vague agreement was bound to lead to misunderstandings. But on these two issues, and some others, the difference in interpretation is astonishing. No wonder they were dancing in the streets of Tehran last night.