Ex-White House expert:

Inspection of Iranian military sites, excuse for US to withdraw from JCPOA

News ID: 4078595 -
TEHRAN, Sep. 04 (MNA) – Richard Nephew, Ex-White House expert believes inspection of Iran's military sites is an excuse for Trump administration to withdraw from nuclear deal.

While Trump administration has certified Iran's compliance with JCPOA twice under a law that requires it to notify Congress of Iran's compliance every 90 days, there are some reports that president Trump's administration is planning to decertify Iran's compliance with the international nuclear agreement (JCPOA).

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said before leaving to Vienna that the United States wants to know if the United Nations atomic watchdog plans to inspect Iranian military sites to verify Tehran's compliance with 2015 nuclear deal. She met with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials in Vienna for what she described as a fact-finding mission, which part of President Donald Trump’s review of the deal Iran is made with world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting sanctions.

While many analysts believe recent actions taken by the US administration demonstrate that President Donald Trump plans to renege on the Iran nuclear agreement, Trump administration received another blow from the IAEA. Last week, despite of the US insisit on ispection of Iran's military sites,  the agency not only confirmed Iran's compliance to JPCOA once again but also emphesized that there is no need to give up the US request to signal a political message.

In an interview, Mehr News agency disscussed the issue with Richard Nephew, Ex-White House expert.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi has recently suggested that regardless of possible US retreatment from  the JCPOA, Iran will stay committed to its nuclear obligations as long as EU has not pull back from it. In fact Iran tries to preserve the JCPOA in case of Washington's breach of promises. What are the technical barriers to this Idea? Will all European companies remain committed to their obligations under the JCPOA despite of the US withdrawal?
It is admirable that Dr. Salehi suggested that Iran would continue to implement its obligations under the JCPOA, provided Europe does, and in furtherance of regional stability and security. That said, I believe the barriers to doing so may be difficult if, even if European governments stay within the JCPOA, their companies do not. European governments cannot force their companies to do business in Iran if they do not wish to do so, and this may be a challenge for the JCPOA and the Iranian government.

 What might be the reaction of 5+1 partners in case of this very likely act by Trump to pull back from JCPOA?

 I believe the rest of the P5+1 countries would reject a U.S. decision to withdraw from the JCPOA unless this decision was based on clear indications of Iranian violations.

In a new report, IAEA reconfirmed Iran's JCPOA compliance and refused to visit the Iranian military sites despite Washington's hostile stance. However, Nikki Haley US ambassador to UN, in her recent trip to Vienna, urged IAEA to inspect all military and non- military sites. In fact, the first step of the US scenario is to put pressure on th IAEA to ask for free access to Iran’s military sites, an act Tehran shrugs off as US “dream demand”. The next step is to use Iran refusal as a pretext to accuse Tehran of breaching its terms. The fact is that Trump's administration wants to breach  the JCPOA at the expenses of Iran. As Washington has no legitimate right to ask for inspections and it falls on IAEA to make the decision, Isn’t it a political game by the US to reach some specific goals?

 To be clear, I believe the JCPOA is clear that, if there is a need to do so in order to address open questions about Iranian compliance with either its Safeguards Agreement (and Additional Protocol) or the JCPOA, Iran should grant access to the IAEA, including at military sites.  Iran is incorrect when it states that such access is not permitted.  It is in both the same agreements with the IAEA that other countries have as well as the JCPOA.

That said, I do believe that some in the United States are using this issue as a pretext to convince the rest of the world that Iran is hiding something and justify a withdrawal from the JCPOA.

The easiest thing for Iran to do to prevent such a move would be to grant access; if Iran has nothing to hide, then granting IAEA access ought not be a problem.  

What might be the future of JCPOA if Trump declares his withdrawal in the next report to US congress? What is Trump's alternative for Iran’s nuclear deal?

I do not know what Trump's alternative is and, candidly, I do not think the Trump Administration knows either.  I believe they think a "better deal" can be negotiated, but I am deeply skeptical.

What might be Iran's possible reaction to Trump's withdrawal from the JCPOA?

I suspect that Iran will remain in compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA for some time, as Dr. Salehi has suggested.  Further Iranian steps would depend, I'm sure, on how Iran sees the situation developing from Trump's decision forward.


Richard Nephew, now is a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.He coordinated sanctions policy at the State Department under Barack Obama.

Interview by Javad Heirannia

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