Secret part of Iran nuclear deal carves out exemptions for Iranian compliance
Just how desperate was the West to complete the Iranian nuclear deal? In the last weeks before the June 30, 2015 deadline to finalize the deal, John Kerry was busy giving away the store to Iran, negating much of what was in the so-called "interim" agreement in order to get Iran on board. Iran, like any bully, pressed its advantage to the maximum, taking advantage of wimpy negiotiating partners to shape the agreement to its own liking.
Apparently, even the concessions offered by the West weren't enough to guarantee compliance with other elements in the deal. So a commission set up to oversee implementation of the agreement carved out some secret exemptions that would allow the Iranians to get their money without fully complying with what was in the deal.
The United States and its negotiating partners agreed "in secret" to allow Iran to evade some restrictions in last year's landmark nuclear agreement in order to meet the deadline for it to start getting relief from economic sanctions, according to a report reviewed by Reuters.
The report is to be published on Thursday by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said the think tank’s president David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and co-author of the report. It is based on information provided by several officials of governments involved in the negotiations, who Albright declined to identify.
Reuters could not independently verify the report's assertions.
"The exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran," Albright said.
Among the exemptions were two that allowed Iran to exceed the deal's limits on how much low-enriched uranium (LEU) it can keep in its nuclear facilities, the report said. LEU can be purified into highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium.
The exemptions, the report said, were approved by the joint commission the deal created to oversee implementation of the accord. The commission is comprised of the United States and its negotiating partners -- called the P5+1 -- and Iran.
One senior "knowledgeable" official was cited by the report as saying that if the joint commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the deal by Jan. 16, the deadline for the beginning of the lifting of sanctions.
The U.S. administration has said that the world powers that negotiated the accord -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- made no secret arrangements.
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the joint commission and its role were "not secret." He did not address the report's assertions of exemptions.
Diplomats at the United Nations for the other P5+1 countries did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment on the report.
The report's assertions are likely to anger critics of the nuclear deal. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to renegotiate the agreement if he's elected, while Democrat Hillary Clinton supports the accord.
Albright said the exceptions risked setting precedents that Iran could use to seek additional waivers.
Gee, ya think? If there's one thing the Iranians have shown regarding this deal, it is that they know they have the upper hand and are pressing their advantages to the max. Hence, the Iranians have given the lie to the notion that they are in some kind of "box" when it comes to developing its nuclear program when it was revealed last year that despite assertions to the contrary, they will be able to develop the next generation of centrifuges in the first ten years of the agreement. This would reduce their "breakout" time from more than a year to less than six months.
Of course, none of this was known to Congress when they were discussing the deal. The Senate never voted on the agreement thanks to a filibuster by Democrats. Would knowing of the existence of all these secret side deals have changed the minds of some Senate Democrats?
We'll never know. And that's just what President Obama intended.