US Lawmakers Want Clarification on IAEA’s Iran Probe

US Lawmakers Want Clarification on IAEA’s Iran Probe US Lawmakers Want Clarification on IAEA’s Iran Probe

Two US Republican lawmakers want the head of an international agency monitoring Iran's nuclear facilities to clarify Tehran's role in its inspections.

The two lawmakers said the International Atomic Energy Agency should be upfront about Iran's role given what they called "side deals" between Tehran and the IAEA signed alongside negotiations between Iran and the US and five other world powers leading to the July 14 nuclear accord.

"We ask that you ... fully explain the role Iran plays in verifying its nuclear facilities under the secret side deals Iran and the IAEA have concluded, and affirm that this arrangement in no way is precedent setting for future inspections of any kind," Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo wrote in a recent letter to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, the Hill reported.

The letter comes amid reports that Iran took samples at the Parchin military site without the presence of IAEA inspectors. Parchin is a military site southeast of Tehran where the IAEA claims Iran may have carried out nuclear weapons-related research in the past, Iran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear work is totally for peaceful applications.  

Referring to the reports, Amano said in Vienna that the IAEA has "permitted states' representatives to carry out activities in support of the agency's verification work."

In light of his comments last week, Cotton and Pompeo also want him to clarify comments he made in August that he was "disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran."

Amano's August remarks came after the AP reported that Iran will be allowed to use its own experts to look for signs of nuclear weapons work at Parchin.

The so-called "side deals" between Iran and the IAEA have been a focus of US lawmakers opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. Under the agreement with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), Iran accepted temporary limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

  Precedent for Future Inspections

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz as well as Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed congressional leadership to delay the 60-day review period, which expired on Sept. 17, arguing that the administration violated the law by not handing over the "side deals".

The administration says while it has been briefed on the deals, it does not have the documents. President Barack Obama has also sent top administration officials to Capitol Hill to discuss the agreements with lawmakers.  Meanwhile, Cotton and Pompeo have fired off a string of letters to administration and IAEA officials pushing for additional information on the agreements.  

They added in Monday's letter that any deal that excludes IAEA inspectors "sets a dangerous precedent for future inspections, whether related to settling outstanding PMD [possible military dimensions] issues or verification issues that arise after Implementation Day of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear pact is formally known], and undermines the credibility of the IAEA."