A United Nations nuclear watchdog has revealed that the Obama administration gave Iran secret exemptions, allowing the terror-sponsoring state to stockpile uranium in larger amounts than the limits imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency posted documents on Dec. 23 indicating that Iran was given the concessions in January, according to the Weekly Standard’s Jenna Lifhits.
“The agreements had been kept secret for almost a year, but recent reports indicated that the Trump administration intended to make them public,” Lifhits reported.
On July 14, 2015, the Obama administration negotiated and signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, a nuclear deal between Iran, the United States and the “P5+1,” which included France, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, and the European Union. The Obama administration pushed the deal through and agreed to major terms without consulting with the U.S. Senate. The White House championed the plan as “the historic deal that will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Iran made commitments with regard to its nuclear program, including reduction of low-enriched uranium stockpiles to 300 kilograms, limits on future enrichment of uranium to 3.67 percent, storage of centrifuges for 10 years, restrictions on research and development and monitoring and inspections. Iran also agreed to rebuild its Arak nuclear reactor so its core cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium and transform its Fordow facility into a research center. In exchange, Iran was promised sanctions relief and the unfreezing of up to $150 billion in assets.
The agreement allowed Iran to continue its uranium enrichment – a major sticking point for opponents who cite Iran’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism and its repeated threats against the U.S. and her ally, Israel.
But the Obama administration has kept secret many unclassified documents related to the deal. Members of the public and even some congressional staffers cannot access the files held in secure areas on Capitol Hill known as Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, or SCIF.
Even some top Democratic Party lawmakers are calling on Donald Trump to release the documents after he enters the White House in January.
“Unless there’s a damn good reason to keep them out of the public eye, turn them over,” Jon Tester, D-Mont., said earlier this month, the Weekly Standard reported. “I’m more on the side of transparency than not, that is for sure. … But that’s a first blush, not really knowing what’s in them.”
In September, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that the Obama administration allowed Iran to exceed limits imposed by the deal so as to claim Tehran was still in compliance with the terms.
The Obama administration dismissed the institute’s report.
“The administration was really nasty after we released these documents,” David Albright, founder and president of the institute, told the Weekly Standard. “It was very tough for us to get the information. … I think that is we hadn’t released, they had every intention to keep it secret. They may have given lip service to openness, but I think their intention was to keep it secret.”
Albright continued, “You have to ask the question of, what else is being hidden? The administration did it to try to minimize the chance that people would know what was in these decisions, and certainly keep these people from talking to people like me in the technical community that can actually interpret what’s in those decisions.”
An unnamed source described as someone “who works with Congress on the Iran issue and who had been briefed on some of the exemptions” told the Weekly Standard:
The Obama team was just hoping to get through the next few weeks without revealing that they’ve been allowing Iran to go beyond the nuclear deal the whole time. That way the president and Secretary of State Kerry could keep declaring that Iran has been following the deal, and their echo chamber could keep saying the nuclear deal is working.
But now it’s public. The only reason that the nuclear deal is still in place is because the Obama team has been secretly rewriting to let Iran cheat. The only question is, what’s still not being told?
The Obama administration reportedly has allowed Iran to keep low-enriched uranium disallowed under the 2015 deal, including uranium “deemed unrecoverable” for use in making nuclear weapons. In exchange, Iran promises to not try to recover the uranium. However, that language is not in the actual Iran deal.
In September, State Department spokesman John Kirby was questioned about the wording.
Associated Press reporter Bradley Klapper told Kirby, “You’re using this term that’s not in the document. I’m just trying to figure out how we can actually check that or understand what it means. If you say some things are usable but some things aren’t, but I don’t know which are which, that’s not spelled out in the document. That seems to be a new idea here.”
But Albright told the Weekly Standard it’s possible Iran could, in fact, recover its uranium and use it to develop a nuclear weapon.
“If this whole thing rests on [Iran] promising not to build a facility that they’d probably only build in secret if they were going to actually break out, then this material probably should not be deemed non-recoverable,” he said. “The State Department … deliberately distorted what was in these decisions to make this point that somehow ‘non-recoverable’ meant [the low-enriched uranium] really would never be able to be recovered, regardless if they build a facility.”