Head of IAEA Insists Side Deal With Iran Is ‘Technically Sound’

By Patrick Goodenough | August 26, 2015 | 4:12 AM EDT

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano addresses the agencyÂ’s board of governors in Vienna, Austria on Tuesday, August 25, 2015. (Photo: IAEA/D. Calma)

(CNSNews.com) – The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog declared Tuesday that his agency would carry out robust verification of the Iran nuclear deal, and he defended its plan to investigate Iran’s past actions. That plan has drawn fire over reports that Iran will collect its own evidence at a key suspect site.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano did not refer to the alleged provision in a private Iran-IAEA agreement allowing the Iranians to supply the agency with photos, video and samples from Parchin, a military base where clandestine nuclear weapons work is suspected to have taken place.

But, in an address to the IAEA’s board of governors in Vienna, he stated that the confidential arrangements made by Iran and the IAEA were “technically sound and consistent with established IAEA safeguards practices” and “do not compromise our standards in any way.”

Amano said Iran on August 15 had provided documents relating to the IAEA’s investigation into the “past and present” possible military dimensions of the nuclear program. The investigation would be wrapped up by October 15, and he would give his final assessment to the board of governors by December 15.

“As with all my reports, this assessment will be factual and impartial,” he said.

According to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached in Vienna between Iran and six world powers last month, Iran will only get sanctions relief once the IAEA is satisfied that the questions about suspected military aspects of the nuclear program have been resolved.

Both the IAEA and Obama administration have disputed reports that Iran – which has a long history of concealing its nuclear activities from the international community – will be permitted to provide the IAEA with evidence from Parchin.

But neither has stated categorically that IAEA inspectors will be physically present at the site when the Iranians obtain the photos, videos and samples to hand over to the U.N. agency.

U.S. lawmakers have been calling on the administration to provide Congress with the two confidential Iran-IAEA side deals as part of its review of the JCPOA. The administration refuses, on the grounds such agreements between the IAEA and individual countries are kept confidential.

“Earlier this month, a State Department official testified that the IAEA could adequately inspect this Iranian military base, even if its inspectors weren’t physically on site,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Why are we bending over backwards for Tehran?  The burden of proof should be on the country that has lied about and hidden its nuclear program for years.”

Royce renewed his call for the administration to “release all the details of this inspection document.”

“Members of Congress have called for the release of this side arrangement,” he said. “But everyone who has signed this deal has incentive to hide it. The Obama administration and its negotiating partners don’t want to air the facts.”

Royce earlier this month introduced a joint resolution to disapprove the JCPOA. Congress has been reviewing the deal and is expected to vote on the measure by mid-September.

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow