Iran denying IAEA inspectors access to PMD materialsrefusing it access to scientists whom it needs to interview as part of its investigation into PMD's (possible military dimensions) of Iran's nuclear program.
But during an interview in Washington, Mr. Amano said Iran still hasn't agreed to provide access to Mr. Fakhrizadeh or other top Iranian military officers and nuclear scientists to assist the IAEA in completing its probe. Mr. Amano visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday in a bid to assure skeptical U.S. lawmakers the IAEA is capable of implementing a vast inspections regime of Iran's nuclear facilities and clarifying the weaponization issue.
Senate Republicans and skeptical Democrats, however, left the 90-minute closed-door meeting frustrated that Mr. Amano refused to share the agency's classified agreements on access to Iranian military sites, scientists and documents.
"I would say most members left with greater concerns about the inspection regime than we came in with," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told reporters. "It was not a reassuring meeting."
The IAEA has declined to make public the specifics of its investigation, citing confidentiality agreements it maintains with Iran and other countries participating in safeguards programs. Mr. Amano said Wednesday that it was his "legal obligation" to protect confidential information, stressing that such arrangements ensure the IAEA's independence.
"Imagine if a country provides me with confidential information and I do not honor that commitment," Mr. Amano told reporters after the meeting. "No country will share information with me," he said, noting the agency also protects U.S. information.
Many senators remained dissatisfied with his answers, saying they doubted the strength of the inspection regime. Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) said he was concerned that Iran would be responsible for collecting its own samples, rather than the international agency.
"It's like asking an NFL player to mail in their own urine sample instead of the collection being done so you can verify what you're getting is real," Mr. Barrasso said. "My impression listening to him was that the promises the president made are not verifiable."
U.S. lawmakers are specifically concerned that the IAEA won't get access to a sprawling military base south of Tehran, called Parchin, where the testing of explosive devices allegedly occurred in the early 2000s.
The agency repeatedly has been denied access to Parchin, and Mr. Amano has charged Tehran in the past with trying to sanitize the site.
On Wednesday, the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think tank, published satellite photos taken after the Vienna agreement was signed that appeared to show bulldozers moving more land at Parchin.
"These activities could be related to refurbishment or cleanup prior to any IAEA inspection or the taking of environmental samples," the Institute for Science and International Security said in a report accompanying the pictures.
Mr. Amano said Wednesday he couldn't discuss the details of any future inspections of Parchin.
But the Obama administration's lead nuclear negotiator with Iran, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, told a congressional hearing on Wednesday the IAEA could do its work at the base even if its inspectors weren't physically at the site. She said soil sampling overseen by Iran could provide the necessary assurances about the activities at Parchin.
"You know, you don't have to be physically present on every site in this technological world to get done what is necessary," Ms. Sherman said.
Mr. Fakhrizadeh is under U.N., U.S. and EU sanctions for his alleged role in Iran's nuclear weapons program. Under the terms of the Vienna agreement, the penalties on him would be lifted by 2024.Ah yes... Wendy Sherman... the dork who gave nukes to the Norks....
The Israel Project's Omri Ceren adds (by email):
Administration spokespeople spent the last several years assuring lawmakers and the public that uncertainties related to Iran's past military-related nuclear work - the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Iran's nuclear program - would have to be resolved in any deal.
The White House had no choice. It had caved on all the conditions that would have physically precluded the Iranians from cheating: dismantling centrifuges, shuttering facilities, and so on. All they had left was the claim that verification would catch the Iranians as they cheat, and resolving PMDs is a prerequisite to a robust verification regime, and so administration officials were adamant they'd secure the access the IAEA needed: Sherman in Dec 2013: "the comprehensive agreement [will] address... their possible military dimensions" [a]; Sherman in Feb 2014: "we have required that Iran come clean on its past actions as part of any comprehensive agreement" [b]; Kerry Apr 2015: "They have to do it. It will be done. If there's going to be a deal; it will be done." [c]; Kirby Jun 2015: "we have to resolve our questions about it with specificity. Access is very, very critical. It's always been critical from day one; it remains critical" [d].
"Access" in the context of Iran PMDs is divided into access to information/documents, sites, and people [f]. The WSJ revealed on July 26 that the administration had given up on forcing to provide the necessary information/documents detailing their past weaponization work [g]. The AP revealed two days later that instead of the IAEA getting access to sites like Parchin, where they conducted experiments relevant to warhead detonations, the Iranians would be allowed to take their own samples and hand them over [h], which Congressional lawmakers believe will now be established as a precedent [i].
And last night the WSJ confirmed that inspectors aren't getting access to the people they want either. IAEA director-general Amano is now hoping that maybe the Iranians will give the agency access to other people who might be able to clarify their concerns some other way.Will Congress wake up in time?
Iran so far has refused to allow United Nations inspectors to interview key scientists and military officers to investigate allegations that Tehran maintained a covert nuclear-weapons program, the head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog said in an interview Wednesday... Mr. Amano said Tehran still hasn't agreed to let Mr. Fakhrizadeh or other Iranian military officers and nuclear scientists help the IAEA complete its investigation. The Japanese diplomat indicated that he believed his agency could complete its probe even without access to top-level Iranian personnel."We don't know yet," Mr. Amano said about the agency's interview requests... Amano said Iran still hasn't agreed to provide access to Mr. Fakhrizadeh or other top Iranian military officers and nuclear scientists to assist the IAEA in completing its probe.That completes the trifecta: no access to information/documents, no access to sites, and no access to people.