By Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country’s past, covert nuclear weapons program, current and former officials said, a finding that contradicts Tehran’s longstanding denials that it was pursuing a bomb.
Traces of man-made uranium were found at the Parchin facility, southeast of Tehran, by investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, as part of an investigation tied to the landmark nuclear deal reached last July between Iran and global powers.
It also appears the administration has been hiding the ball about inconvenient evidence that Iran cheated in the past: “The Obama administration didn’t comment about the uranium in December when the IAEA released its report; the finding got only one brief mention in the 16 pages.” The report continues: “In recent interviews, current and former U.S. officials asked about the uranium finding said the working assumption now is that it is tied to nuclear weapons development that Iran is believed to have pursued more than a decade ago.”
This goes back to the administration’s bait-and-switch. After the administration repeatedly promised Congress and the American people that Iran would need to reveal possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program, the final deal did not do so. The administration claimed it was unrealistic to expect Iran to come clean, and besides, we would know everything about Iran’s program. Now we know at least at Parchin there is evidence of precisely what we suspected all along. What we do not know — because the administration let Iran off the hook — is the extent of that program, other sites that might have been used and any information that would have come had the IAEA been allowed to interview scientists.
“If this were not Iran and the IAEA discovered this, we would be demanding further inspections and interviews with the key scientists involved in weaponization, which Iran has already refused,” sanctions guru Mark Dubowitz tells Right Turn. “Since this is Iran, we won’t be asking because we won’t get any further inspections and the administration lives in fear of doing anything that could collapse the deal. So they invent fictions like we know everything anyway, which is patently untrue, and they preemptively surrender.” He urges Congress insist on physical inspections of Iranian military sites.
Congress can exercise oversight here, demanding to know what steps we are taking to determine the entire picture of Iran’s past violations. Why should Congress not demand renegotiation of inspection provisions and a further accounting of Iran’s nuclear program? The administration will be unresponsive, of course, but there is good reason for Congress to remain vigilant and engaged on this issue.
If Hillary Clinton takes office in 2017, Congress will want to hold her to the position that additional sanctions should be passed in response to Iran’s illegal missile tests, human rights violations, regional aggression and sponsorship of terrorism. In addition, Congress is certainly entitled to put into legislation additional conditions for lifting such sanctions — including a full accounting of PMDs. After all, once upon a time, the administration promised it would deliver on that point. Iran looks upon agreements as the start of endless negotiations; we should adopt the same attitude.
It should be clear to both Democrats and Republicans that the Iran deal allowed Iran to escape scrutiny of past violations and left plenty of room to maneuver and evade future inspections. It should likewise be clear that fear of losing the deal has led the administration to countenance Iran’s non-nuclear misbehavior. With a new president should come a new Iran policy, one that halts new concessions (e.g. dollar transactions), applies new economic pressure and, where possible, claws back concessions the prior administration made. If nothing else, a tougher stance against Iran will persuade our Sunni allies that we have stopped deluding ourselves about the nature of the Iranian regime.