US secretly accuses Iran of secretly violating nuclear interim agreementsecretly seeking fuel for its Arak nuclear reactor.
A U.S. delegation informed a U.N. Security Council panel of experts monitoring Iranian sanctions in recent months that Iranian procurement agents have been increasing their efforts to illicitly obtain equipment for the IR-40 research reactor at the Arak nuclear complex.
The American allegations, which have never before been reported, come more than a year after the Iranian government pledged as part of an interim agreement with the United States and other big powers to scale back Iran’s most controversial nuclear-related activities, including the enrichment of high-grade uranium, in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. They stand in stark contrast to recent remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has repeatedly credited Tehran with abiding by the terms of the November 2013 pact, which bound Tehran to suspend some of its work at Arak. “Iran has held up its end of the bargain,” Kerry said last month in Vienna as he announced a seven-month extension of the timetable for big-power talks.
The allegation is also sure to add to the mounting congressional unease over the administration’s ongoing talks with Tehran. Many lawmakers from both parties believe that the White House is making too many concessions to Tehran to cement a deal that it sees as central to the president’s legacy. With the GOP slated to take over the Senate next month, Iran hawks like Arizona Republican John McCain and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk are already promising to push through a new package of economic sanctions, a move that the White House believes would scupper the delicate talks with Tehran. Both men are likely to see the new U.N. allegations as proof that Tehran simply can’t be trusted to abide by the terms of a future deal.
As part of its pact with the United States and other big powers, Iran has halted some critical construction work at the IR-40 research reactor, which is already being monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and in December provided the agency’s inspectors with “managed” access to a heavy-water production plant at Arak that had not been subject to IAEA monitoring. Iran is currently in discussions with the IAEA on establishing a protocol for future monitoring of the reactor.
The U.S. allegations were detailed in a confidential Nov. 7 report by an eight-member panel of experts that advises a U.N. Security Council committee that oversees international compliance with U.N. sanctions on Iran. The report, which cites an unnamed state as the source of the allegation, doesn’t identify the United States by name. But diplomatic sources confirmed that the United States presented the briefing.
The confidential report, portions of which were made available to Foreign Policy, notes that “one member state highlighted during consultations with the panel a number of developments regarding proliferation-sensitive procurement by Iran.” The delegation, the report continued, “informed the panel that it had observed no recent downturn in procurement” in recent months. It did cite a “relative decrease in centrifuge enrichment related-procurement” in recent months. But it added that it had detected “an increase in procurement on behalf of the IR-40 Heavy Water Research Reactor at Arak.”
The United States indicated that foreign businesses and purchasing agents interested in doing business with Iran have been taking advantage of the improved diplomatic atmosphere to broker new deals with Iran. At the same time, they say there is overwhelming evidence that Tehran continues to transfer huge amounts of weapons to its proxies and allies, including Syria and Iraq. In June, the U.N. panel of experts asserted that an Iranian shipment of rockets, mortars and other arms seized in March by the Israeli navy while en route to Sudan violated the U.N. arms embargo. Only last week, U.S. and Iranian officials confirmed that Iranian warplanes had launched airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq, making Tehran and Washington unofficial allies in the fight against the Islamist group.The President of the United States seems to believe that if you wish upon a star, your dreams will come true. There might eventually be an agreement reached between Iran and the P 5+1, but if there is, you can bet that Iran will violate it.
The Obama administration has promised over and over again that if Iran violates the interim deal, it would support sanctions. Examples are here, here and here (and there are several more). But instead of taking the lead on additional sanctions, the Obama administration is trying to hide the violations and to enact more 'sanctions relief.'
What could go wrong?