Experts: Iran nuke deal will not be verifiable
Any agreement between Iran and the U.S. that would be able to verify Tehran's compliance isn't possible, say several arms control experts.
Bill Gertz, one of the best national security correspondents in Washington for a couple of decades, writes in the Washington Free Beacon:
Despite promises by President Obama that Iranian cheating on a new treaty will be detected, verifying Tehran’s compliance with a future nuclear accord will be very difficult if not impossible, arms experts say.
“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will not be effectively verifiable,” said Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation from 2002 to 2009.
Obama said Saturday that the framework nuclear deal reached in Switzerland would provide “unprecedented verification.”
International inspectors “will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world,” he said in a Saturday radio address.
“If Iran cheats, the world will know it,” Obama said. “If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.”
But arms control experts challenged the administration’s assertions that a final deal to be hammered out in detail between now and June can be verified, based on Iran’s past cheating and the failure of similar arms verification procedures.
The key to verification lies in the "Additional Protocols" to be negotiated with the IAEA. In the past, Iran has consistently balked at intrusive inspections, and the framework deal reached last week is sufficiently vague that Iran has set about interpreting the deal in its own way.
The centerpiece for verifying Iranian compliance will be a document called the Additional Protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to the White House.
However, the State Department’s most recent report on arms compliance, made public in July, states that Iran signed an IAEA Additional Protocol in 2003 but “implemented it provisionally and selectively from 2003 to 2006,” when Tehran stopped complying altogether.
“The framework claims that Iran will once again execute an Additional Protocol with IAEA,” said William R. Harris, an international lawyer who formerly took part in drafting and verifying U.S. arms control agreements. “This might yield unprecedented verification opportunities, but can the international community count on faithful implementation?”
Harris also said Iran could cheat by shipping secretly built nuclear arms to North Korea, based on published reports indicating Iran co-financed North Korea’s nuclear tests, and that Iranian ballistic missile test signals reportedly showed “earmarks” of North Korean guidance systems.
“So what would prevent storage of Iranian nuclear weapons at underground North Korean sites?” he asked. “If there is to be full-scope inspection in Iran, the incentives for extraterritorial R&D and storage increase.”
U.S. intelligence agencies, which will be called on to verify the agreement, also have a spotty record for estimating foreign arms programs. After erroneously claiming Iraq had large stocks of weapons of mass destruction, the intelligence community produced a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that falsely concluded that Iran halted work on nuclear weapons in 2003.
The IAEA, in a restricted 2011 report, contradicted the estimate by stating that Iran continued nuclear arms work past 2003, including work on computer modeling used in building nuclear warheads.
The bottom line: verification takes a certain amount of cooperation from Iran, and if past is prologue, we are not likely to get it.
It should be noted that not only were no Iranian facilities shut down, but Iran continues to refuse inspections at their military facility outside Parchin. This complex has some underground facilities that may have been used in the past to conduct weapons research. We don't know for sure, because the Iranians have refused all entreaties by the IAEA to examine it.
The Additional Protocols do not include Parchin as a site for verification.
The more we learn about this deal, the more we are able to conclude that 1) the Obama administration is lying about what's in it; and 2) the key elements that are supposed to limit Iran's nuclear work are unverifiable.
Damn the nuclear bombs, and full speed ahead.