A new firestorm over the Iran nuclear deal was whipped up today when lawmakers noted they haven’t received any documents about agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency — something even Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the United States doesn’t have in writing.
“One of the items we don’t have is regarding the agreement between Iran and the IAEA, and my sense is, we’re never going to get that letter,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said at the top of a hearing with Kerry, noting that he and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) had asked in writing for the materials.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice had separately acknowledged the IAEA side deals with Iran, which aren’t available for the public to view.
“We’re satisfied with them and we will share the contents of those briefings in full in a classified session with the Congress,” she told reporters. “So there’s nothing in that regard that we know that they won’t know.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest later insisted that the IAEA agreement “does not represent some sort of side deal.”
“So I know there has been a suggestion by some Republicans that there are some agreement that was cut off to the side. The fact is, this is a critical part of the agreement, and in fact, this deal can not go forward until that information and that access has been provided to the nuclear experts at the IAEA,” Earnest said.
“…I don’t know that there will necessarily be a formal hearing on this, although I suppose there could, but again, it would be in a classified setting.”
He added that “the eventual IAEA report about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program will be published and made public.”
That’s expected Oct. 15 — past the 60-day review period for Congress to approve or shoot down the nuclear deal.
Earnest was asked if the administration has full confidence in the IAEA.
“The international community has turned to the IAEA, which is an independent international organization of nuclear experts, who are responsible for conducting these kinds of inspections,” he said. “They’ve done that in a variety of countries, and obviously they’ve got an important role here to play in examining a possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.”
However, it was pointed out that for some sites Iran will be providing its own samples to investigators — including the military complex at Parchin.
“I mean, it’s not as if the IAEA can enter Parchin through force, but contingent on this agreement — and this is why this is important. There was a lot of time spent in here about whether or not the international community would insist that Iran address the potential military dimensions of their nuclear program in the context of this deal,” Earnest said.
“And there was a lot of suspicion. A lot of Republicans stood up and said that this had to be part of any agreement. That’s exactly what we’ve delivered in the instance.”
Reminded about things the IAEA has missed in the past, Earnest claimed “the IAEA investigators didn’t have the kind of access to those countries’ nuclear programs that they will to Iran’s.”
“We do know what the agreement is between Iran and the IAEA. It’s not something that I can discuss in this setting, but it is something that can be discussed in classified setting between senior members of the administration and members of Congress,” he said.
But why doesn’t the Obama administration have a copy of the IAEA agreement on the chain of custody for the fissile material that will be moved out of Iran’s program?
“There’s one thing between having a copy of the document and knowing exactly what’s in it,” Earnest said.