Thursday, December 17, 2015

The inspection joke - Dan Margalit

by Dan Margalit

Why has the IAEA let Iran off the hook? Why have they forgone the effort to get to the bottom of Iran's nuclear deception over the years?

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American nation from the Oval Office following the San Bernardino terrorist attack earlier this month. In his address, he beat around the bush, doing all he could to avoid describing the attack as the work of Islamic terrorists. He opted instead for euphemism and bland language. This turned him into the butt of a viral joke online about how he would have responded to the Pearl Harbor attack almost exactly 74 years ago. "A few bad men arrived on planes and shot people on ships," Obama would have told the nation, making no mention of "Japanese" "war" or "attack on America." This approach neatly dovetails with what happened on Tuesday, when the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution ending its probe into Iran's efforts to manufacture nuclear bombs. 

The Iran nuclear deal stipulates that the IAEA director general "will provide by 15 December 2015 the final assessment on the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues" regarding "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear program. Although current IAEA chief Yukiya Amano is highly regarded, it was clear early in the negotiations that the Iran deal was skewed in favor of Tehran. 

Almost two years ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon attended a panel in Munich. On stage were Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Amano, among others. When Zarif was asked why his government would not let Amano visit Parchin [where some of the clandestine research was carried out], Zarif lied, telling the audience that such a visit was prohibited. When Ya'alon asked Amano why he didn't interject and expose Zarif's lie, Amano said the timing, and the venue, weren't right. From that moment onward, it was clear that Amano would probably shirk his duty as chief inspector when it came to the Iranian nuclear deal, culminating with the Tuesday's decision at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting (Iran, for its part, was not convinced that the IAEA would be on its side, and staged a conflict in the upper echelons of the regime, but it calmed down once it became clear that the IAEA would pass a very nonthreatening resolution.) 

Amano knew very well what was expected of him as early as 2014, and he acted accordingly. Obama and other Western leaders wanted an agreement at any cost, and as a result they gave without taking. Rather than letting Amano visit the site on his terms, Iran handed over soil samples collected by Iran itself, with no supervision, making a mockery of the inspection process.

Why has Amano let Iran off the hook? Why has he forgone, at the very least, an effort to get to the bottom of Iran's deception over the years? Why does Amano think that it is not worth exposing the truth, even if the West wants to look the other way and ignore Iran's bomb making efforts? Only he knows.

Even the proponents of the deal should view Amano's approach as a mistake. During the 2014 conference in Germany, Ya'alon warned that the West was fooling itself if it thinks the deal would work. Tuesday's decision has two ramifications: First, Iran will consider it a concession and assume that this will define the West's conduct down the road, and second, it will embolden the ayatollahs in Iran. From now on their approach to the West will be "anything goes, because we are always successful." One day, a leader may rise in the West and try to end Iran's lucky streak, but it may be too late. 

History has proven that mistakes are bound to be repeated.

Dan Margalit


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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