As Trump probes move against Iran, IAEA certifies its Compliance with Nuclear Deal

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The warmongers in the Trump administration (you didn’t fall for that isolationism scam did you?) have been exploring ways to blow up the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has repeatedly castigated as “a very bad deal.”

One ploy they’ve fixed on is to demand inspections of the Parchin military base, on the pretext that nuclear-related experiments are going on there, and not being inspected by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty exempts military bases from such inspections, at American and Soviet/ Russian insistence. So Iran has no treaty obligation to allow inspections of its military bases.

Trump has also ordered that the State Department do its own assessment of Iranian compliance every 90 days. The State Department, apparently to the disappointment of administration hawks, has already come back with a finding of compliance.

The Iran deal was in fact much more favorable to the US and the Security Council than to Iran. Iran had to give up a great deal, and all it got in return was a lifting of UN economic sanctions (the US Congress has actually made US sanctions on Iran *more* severe in the wake of the agreement; the US is about 22% of the world economy).

What the deal did was to close off all the pathways to an Iranian nuclear bomb. Iran had to severely limit the number of centrifuges it runs. It had to destroy stockpiles of uranium enriched to 19.5%. It had to mothball and brick in a heavy water reactor, since heavy water reactors are easier to use to build up and harvest fissile material from the rods. It had to allow IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities to ensure that no plutonium signatures can be detected.

There is nothing going on at the Parchin military base that contravenes any of these responsibilities, and Iran has no duty under either the NPT or the 2015 deal to allow such inspections. Moreover, the IAEA thinks the demand is daft.

So the International Atomic Energy Agency certified this week that Iran is in compliance with the deal.

Its members pointed out that Parchin has already been inspected, in 2015. One evinced suspicion of Trump’s motives, observing, “We’re not going to visit a military site like Parchin just to send a political signal . . . If they want to bring down the deal, they will . . . We just don’t want to give them an excuse to.”

The IAEA said that Iran does not have more than the 661 pounds of low-enriched uranium allowed by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

End of story.

There are no banks of centrifuges at the Parchin military base and there is no stockpile of low-enriched uranium (which anyway is only useful for fueling reactors at power plants to make electricity). The US has Parchin under satellite surveillance, and there would be ways of telling if it were using a lot of water and electricity, both necessary for the kind of nefarious activities that Nikki Haley is alleging occur there.

Haley is from India, which developed a nuclear weapon, and represents the United States, which has a large stockpile of nuclear warheads, so it is a little funny to see her beating up Iran, which doesn’t have a bomb and whose religious leader says such weapons are forbidden by Islamic law.

The only reason that the Trumpies are demanding inspections of Parchin is that they know Iran will reject the demand. It is a sort of ultimatum, and the point of an ultimatum is to provoke a war.

The Iran deal was signed by Russia, China, Britain, France, the US, and Germany as an informal representative of the European Union. Only one of the signatories is making trouble now, despite continual certifications of the experts that Iran is in compliance. That country is the US, which has a history of coup-making, invasions and occupation in the Middle East.


Related video:

Press TV: “US calls for access to Iran’s military bases”

23 Responses

  1. The implications of the US deliberately blowing up the Iran nuclear deal go beyond Iran. Why would any state grant concessions in a deal if the US can simply cancel its own obligations?

    • Agreements between sovereign states has ALWAYS been based entirely on trust (or the exchange of children via marriage) as there is no additional enforcement mechanism, such as neutral courts to force both sides to conform to an agreement. The UN tries to moderate bad behavior by member states but if the USA wants to be a total jerk, the UN has no way to stop it.

      In the past, the USA had reasonably sane administrations that walked away from only a few agreements. The USA has walked away from agreements since the first day of the USA, but most were minor and later resolved, usually peacefully.

      Now the USA has an administration that does not understand that walking away from MAJOR agreements damages the ability to get any agreements in the future and damages the credibility of the USA to get other nations to go along with the USA position.

      With Iran, the USA is rapidly painting itself into a very dangerous and unsustainable corner where the USA will lose all credibility.

      Due to past USA behavior and the erosion of the good will left over from WW2, the USA no longer has the ability to just do what it wants and have the rest of the world just go along. The rest of the world now has the ability of thriving on its own and no longer needs to curry USA favor, so will no longer just “go along” with the USA.

      Unfortunately far too many people in the USA are living in the early post-WW2 era and do not understand the USA can no longer take unilateral actions.

      While the USA can walk away from its part of the Iran agreement, the rest of the world will probably NOT go along with the USA and will definitely NOT allow the USA to attack Iran.

      Note that just the USA walking away from the agreement will have no effect on Iran and the rest of the world since the USA has no legal trade with Iran (Iran does buy USA products through third parties all the time).

  2. When has the US ever cared what the IAEA had to say, unless their findings fit hand-in-glove with the official American narrative? When Mohamed el Baradei found no nuclear activity in Iraq, contrary to what Bush/Cheney were saying, he was pulled out of Iraq. Worth emphasising: He was pulled out of Iraq at Bush’s insistence, not pushed out by Saddam.

    Trump appears desperate to have a war all of his own. The hand-me-down conflict in Afghanistan, which has limited prospects for success, just won’t do. A nuclear / missile armed North Korea is a dangerous hornets’ nest to kick, so why not the traditional whipping boy, Iran?

    • Except that Iran could be as bad (or worse) as attacking NK or Afghanistan.

      Iran has been expecting a USA attack for over 35 years and has built up the military infrastructure to not only make the USA regret any attack within a few days but to probably DEFEAT the USA and send it home with severe long term damages.

      Note that on its own, Iran can severely damage the USA, but if China and/or Russia decide to help, then the USA is toast.

      Attacking Iran is a BIG (repeat BIG) mistake that the USA will regret for generations.

      Unfortunately . . .

      the current USA administration is not well regarded for having any intelligence only anger and hubris, so the USA will probably blindly attack Iran and get its head handed to it on a gold platter engraved with a stylish “T.”

      • Unlike Iran, NK is basically holding SK hostage, with all that artillery zeroed in on Seoul with 25 million citizens and many of the 100,000 Americans in SK. This is as opposed to whatever few significant offensive options Iran may have (and wisely choose not to use).

        The US, as usual, acts with the predictable thoughtlessness empowered by unmanned weapons, leading to a misunderstanding how weak it makes them to rely so heavily on these tools. With its Navy safely out of the Persian Gulf (forever?), the US could easily send 10-20+ billion of cruise missiles—whatever their masters in Israel/KSA finally decide on and shortly manipulate the US into launching.

        As long as there are no downed US pilots paraded on TV, its all good. This is all showbiz as far as our Fearless Leader is concerned, like his “attack” on the Syrian airfield.

        More knowledgeable people than me can gauge when Israeli posturing for internal political reasons, or shaking down the US for more $, becomes a need to start a actual fight. And of course, the KSA has a different set of needs. But the inability of the US to resist their imperatives, and put them behind its own needs, is clear.

  3. “There is nothing going on at the Parchin military base …”

    Well, the suspect site within the Parchin military base had been sanitized years ago. The alleged illicit activities there had been in the early 2000s.

    • You are just repeating a silly piece of propaganda by the Israelis and their echo chambers. Iran was not obliged to open Parchin because Iran has been under continuous inspection and supervision from the moment that they extract uranium, to the time when it is enriched, etc. However, in order to put an end to the extensive propaganda by the Israelis and their US backers they allowed a further inspection just prior to finalizing the nuclear agreement, although the site had been inspected twice before. Ask anyone who is an expert in nuclear issues and they will tell you that if there had been any illicit activities in Parchin they would not have been able to sanitize it because traces of it would remain for decades. Yukio Amano personally inspected Parchin and his experts certified that there had not been any illicit activities. US experts, including Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is a nuclear scientist, would not have been fooled by Iranian tricks. Those lies have to be put to rest.

      Trump and the insulting US ambassador to the UN want to find an excuse and they are not interested in facts. A friend of mine Mark Fitzpatrick who was the non-proliferation official at the State Department and who is now the executive director of IISS-Americas and who took a hard line on Iran in a number of conferences that we both attended prior to the nuclear deal has said that access debates are not a cause for alarm.
      link to
      Only yesterday the IAEA has again confirmed that Iran is adhering to the nuclear deal. link to
      Those who wish to attack Iran should find another excuse, because this one is wearing thin.

      • Remember in 1974 when “Operation Smiling Buddha” resulted in the Indian military detonation of India’s first atom bomb?

        The enriched uranium fuel for the bomb was created with Canadian assistance and with heavy water supplied by the United States.

        The French government sent a congratulatory telegram and the U.S. took the position that the nuclear test did not violate any international treaty obligations.

        Pakistan expressed alarm, having concluded a war with India in 1971.

        Today, India has one of the most sophisticated nuclear arsenals in the international community with development of technologically advanced ICBM and SLBM inventories. Additionally, India has developed multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) that international regulators have diligently attempted to ban and had been the topic of intense negotiations during the SALT treaty negotiations in the 1970s.

        The “nuclear apartheid” argument that has been made as to Iran and Israel respecting U.S. nonproliferation policy applies with equal force as to India – who remains in the process of ongoing development of highly advanced nuclear weapon delivery systems placing their military on par with China, Russia, and America – with little concern being expressed by the U.S. State Department – which focuses inordinate emphasis upon Iran despite IAEA certifications of compliance.

        Do we ever hear U.N. Ambassador Haley expressing concern of India’s nuclear arsenal?

    • No, Nikki Haley is not from India; but both of her parents are from India. Nothing at all wrong with that, but Juan Cole’s point about Haley’s “beating up Iran” for a nuclear bomb it doesn’t have is still a good point, I think.

  4. Not sure why Haley’s Indian heritage matters.

    Regardless either as a Sikh or a Methodist, the latter which helps her fit in as a Republican representative, the same way it did for Bobby Jindal, also a convert, she’s not really going to care much for Iran or it’s Islamic views for her politics.

    She’s ideologically as American mainstream as most Republicans as far as hating on Iran and other US policies are concerned.

    • The point of mentioning her Indian ethnicity in the article was likely to illustrate an inclination AGAINST Iran as India has been diplomatically friendly to Israel and historically antagonistic toward Muslim-dominated regimes – such as in Pakistan.

      The Sikh minority has been historically militaristic and had a large proportionate share of its adherents serve in the Indian defense forces.

      Nikki Haley has never renounced her Sikh religion and considers herself Christian as well as Sikh.

  5. with Iran as a viable strong country in the middle east the U.S.A. is unhappy. They want to control the agenda and Iran, being a soverign nation has told them to “fly a kite”. Trump and his ilk need a war to take people’s minds of the problems within their own country and to make money. Nothing makes money like a war in some one else’s back yard. Trump and his ilk having perhaps realized they can’t get N. Korea to attack and being protected by china, they need another “victim”. they decided Iran would work given the less than happy thoughts regarding the holding of American hostages.

    I’m not a big fan of Iran, but lets get real. the country is a lot better than China, Russia, Phillipines, etc. Living conditions are better there than in a lot of African countries, and gang invested countries in central America.

    Iran has problems with their religious zealots and their attitude towards women, but then Trump and his ilk suffer the same problems. Can’t say one is worse than the other. they just do it differently. The U.S.A has a million African Americans in jails, Iran jails “political” prisoners and women who don’t follow the game rules. who is worse?

  6. Ignorance is bliss, the question of access is discussed in “JCPOA”
    link to
    Christian fundamentalist Zionism is the culprit, it makes us numb to violence and repression and explain the indifference to global warming, rapture will fix all and in fact, the more money, the closer to god.

  7. A pity for Iran. They’ve been so willing to engage constructively with the West and now Trump is out to derail that. So much for Trump being “pro-military”; wanting to send the US troops to yet another bloody, unjustified war.

  8. I disagree that any nation will learn or this has any implications for the US. The American administration has been reneging on WTO agreements, NAFTA, NATO treaty etc for years and there is no consequence whatsoever. Everyone still pretends working with the US is a good thing. I might say only China has been a wily fox t counter signing on to WTO and ignoring its obligation, but otherwise nary a nation is willing to stand up and point out US promises are not worth the paper it’s written on.
    Think back to Reagan’s promises to Soviet union not to expand NATO.

  9. Some important points in the essay need to be emphasized:

    – All the nuclear treaties prevent inspection of military sites that are not declared nuclear sites. This was put into the agreements by the USA and the USA is required to conform to this agreement. Even declared nuclear sites have very stringent protocols for inspection and it is often by external inspection (via satellites, etc.) rather than on-site physical inspection. Iran has gone far beyond the requirements that the USA has met by allowing physical on-site inspection of all their declared nuclear sites.

    – All nuclear facilities emit trace identifiers which can be detected by sensitive instruments external to the site and Parchan has NOT been found to emit any of the trace identifiers, even during the previous on-site inspections.

    Basically this is a provocation by the USA and everyone on earth sees it as a provocation by the USA. The USA will get limited support.

  10. Remember that two of the most powerful lobbies in Washington – Israel and Saudi-Arabia – have teamed up for their own reasons to try to get the US into a war with Iran with no regard for US interests.

  11. The leaders of Germany, Britain, and France must speak out about the futility of another conflagration in the MIddle East and tell America that it will not be a party to such a foolhardy action. Americans must wake up and see where this is heading and take action before it is too late.

  12. The real point is the fact that the United States of America can not be trusted. Trump is really tops in breaking agreements. Not even the citizens can be sure if health insurance or SS benefits will be honored.
    Under Trump the government is the worst. How can anyone trust his administration?

  13. Mattis, although one of the saner voices in the administration, also has an unhealthy fixation on Iran.

  14. There is no logical reason under the sun to keep poking at Iran…except that it really sounds good. Most Americans view Iran as another Mideast crackpot world of sand and rocks, inhabited by people wearing bed sheets for gowns. Few people know that Iran is bigger than any country ever invaded by America since…ever? There is a chunk of America that remembers the kidnapping of Americans from the embassy that created a big political stink when America did not know how to resolve the imbroglio.
    America—well certainly Congress—is Netanyahu’s poodle. Bibi relentlessly wants America to stay focused on Iran, so as to keep the spotlight away from the territorial dog fighting that is going on in the West Bank, accusations of corruption involving King Bibi, etc.

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