With a self-imposed deadline of June 30 rapidly approaching, the pressure to close a nuclear deal with Iran may result in compromises on key issues. According to reports, Iran has yet to commit to full transparency regarding its nuclear program, and serious questions asked by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may remain unanswered.
Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, told reporters his country was not yet prepared to commit to transparency measures laid out by the UN watchdog. He was quoted by Ynet saying, “These are the issues still under discussion and I believe we should wait to see the final text… and before that, we cannot prejudge anything.”
Najafi expressed confidence the P5+1 powers could still reach a deal with Iran before the deadline, despite lingering disputes on key issues such as sanction relief, UN inspections and Iran’s enrichment capacity.
The US would like Iran to submit to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol and Modified Code 3.1, both of which govern the body’s inspections. Code 3.1 requires Iran to submit any plans to build nuclear facilities to the IAEA in advance, while the Additional Protocol would allow inspectors to visit nuclear sites with as little as two hours’ notice. Iran agreed to Code 3.1 in 2003, according to the Institute for Science and Security, but has yet to comply.
Laura Kennedy, US envoy to the IAEA, told the organization’s 35-nation governing board that it “remains critical for Iran to implement the provisions of Modified Code 3.1 … without delay”.
Meanwhile, outstanding questions remain about Iran’s past nuclear development. In November 2013, the US assured the world that a nuclear deal with Iran “would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program.” Now, the Associated Press reports, a deal may be reached without those answers.
Officials told the news agency that diplomats are “more likely to get a deal than not” over the next three weeks, despite the fact that answers to all the IAEA’s questions will not be possible in that timeframe.
Most of the IAEA’s questions regard Iran’s nuclear development prior to 2003, and Tehran contends they are based on fabricated intelligence reports. According to Ynet, Najafi insisted the IAEA would make little progress in its inquiries so long as it continues to rely on such reports.
“We can discuss new practical measures provided that the inauthentic documents and information would be put aside,” Najafi said.
The IAEA for its part says it carefully reviews intelligence information it receives and takes nothing for granted.
Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported, former intelligence chief for President Barack Obama’s administration, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, criticized the solidifying deal to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.
“To begin, the nuclear deal, that will likely be concluded this summer, suffers from severe deficiencies,” he said Wednesday. “Iran has every intention to build a nuclear weapon.
“It is clear that the nuclear deal is not a permanent fix but merely a placeholder,” he continued. “The 10-year time frame only makes sense if the [US] Administration truly believes that it is possible for a wider reconciliation with Iran that is likely to occur, which will make the Iranian regime change its strategic course. That’s wishful thinking.
“Iran’s leaders made it clear the furthest they will go is to allow international inspectors only ‘managed access’ to nuclear facilities, and only with significant prior notification. This makes it nearly impossible, as a matter of full transparency, to have real ‘eyes on’ the state of Iranian nuclear development to include their missile program.”
He warned that the impending deal may back Israel into a corner.
Israel “sees its primary ally and patron becoming increasingly distant, and a hostile power is rising against it, which may lead Israeli leadership to undertake increasing rash or desperate actions in an effort to secure immediate gains,” he said.
“Iran’s stated desire to destroy Israel is very real,” he added. The Islamic Republic has “contributed to the severe insecurity and instability of the region, especially the sub-region of the Levant surrounding Israel.
“Israel lives under the threat of total annihilation from Iran and other Islamic radical elements in the region—something the United States must never allow, nor should we deal equally with those who spew this type of hatred and bigotry. We would not stand for it here in this country and we should not stand for it elsewhere in the world where our closest friends are at risk.”
The paper also reported that an Israeli delegation, headed by National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, will be visiting the US next week to discuss the Jewish State’s concerns regarding the nuclear agreement. In April, in an effort to assuage Israeli fears, Obama ordered his advisers to consult with Jerusalem over the final deal.
“I’ve directed my national security team to consult closely with the new Israeli government in the coming weeks and months about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and make clear our unshakable commitment to Israel’s defense,” Obama said at the time.