(CNSNews.com) – A top Iranian nuclear official thanked International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Yukiya Amano on Monday for keeping an Iran-IAEA understanding under wraps in the face of pressure to make it public.
“Mr. Amano himself has insisted about the confidentiality of the documents,” the director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s general conference in Vienna.
“So, I would like to put on record out thankfulness to him, that despite all the pressure that has been put upon him he has not disclosed anything in this regard,” he added.
Many U.S. lawmakers are incensed that two confidential agreements between Iran and the agency were not included with the material transmitted by the administration to Congress as part of its review of the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Last Thursday the House of Representatives adopted a resolution by a partisan 245-186 vote stating that President Obama had not complied with the nuclear review legislation, since he had not produced the two “side agreements.”
Some Republicans have suggested defunding the IAEA, which receives 25 percent of its operating budget from U.S. taxpayers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees contributions to the IAEA, warned Secretary of State John Kerry last month that he would push for defunding unless the side agreements are produced.
The administration, which says that safeguards understandings between the IAEA and individual countries are always kept confidential, disputes that the two agreements constitute “secret side deals” to the JCPOA at all.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, also speaking in Vienna, said there were no grounds to threaten to defund the agency.
“Frankly there is no basis for it,” he said. “There is no so-called ‘secret side agreement.’ Confidentiality is something that is of benefit in my view to all of the members of the agency, including the United States. I think the defunding discussion is not very responsible.”
Under the terms of the JCPOA, the IAEA must resolve outstanding questions about “possible military dimensions” (PMDs) of Iranian nuclear activities before sanctions relief can begin.
One of the two Iran-IAEA documents deals with how the agency will address the PMD questions; the other relates specifically to “the issue of Parchin,” a military base where covert nuclear weapons work is suspected to have taken place. It reportedly allows the Iranians to collect their own samples, photos and video, to hand over to the IAEA.
Both the Obama administration and the IAEA have disputed the notion that the Iranians will “self-inspect” or that there is anything lacking in the agreed-upon procedures for Parchin. But Iran has reiterated that no international inspectors will be allowed into the site.
‘A great supporter of global disarmament’
In his address to the IAEA general conference, Salehi touted the JCPOA reached between his government and the P5+1 group – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – and the U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed it.
“Iran has been acknowledged as a state possessing peaceful nuclear technology including [the] full fuel cycle and the right to enrichment, while preserving all its existing nuclear infrastructure,” he declared.
“The message conveyed by this agreement to the world is that neither the imposed sanctions nor military threats have had any effect on the will of the Iranian nation,” he said.
Salehi said the deal also illustrated that “the rationale of power of logic and reasoning is a wise substitute for the logic of power which has unfortunately been chronically dominant in the international arena.”
As Iran commits to its undertakings under the JCPOA, it expects the P5+1 countries to reciprocate by removing “the unjust sanctions,” he said.
Similarly, as Iran complies with its understandings with the IAEA, it expects the agency to reciprocate by concluding the PMD process objectively.
Elsewhere in his speech, Salehi described Iran as “a great supporter of global disarmament,” a stance he said was “based on its principles and religious tenets.”
He said producing, stockpiling and deploying nuclear weapons was “inhumane and uncivilized,” and called for the declared nuclear weapons states to uphold their obligation, in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to disarm.
“It is indeed sad to still witness that after the elapse of about half a century the nuclear weapon states have not yet realized their commitment on disarmament.”
The NPT recognizes as nuclear weapons states the five countries that possessed nuclear weapons at the time the treaty was opened for signature in 1968 – the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France. Countries believed to have acquired nuclear weapons subsequently were South Africa (which later dismantled its program), Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
Salehi reiterated a call for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, and called Israel “the biggest obstacle in the implementation of this plan” and “a serious threat to the region’s security.”