However, the exact content of these writings and documents is not yet known, and it is not clear when or if it will be. This is certain to affect confidence about the effectiveness of the IAEA probe among US congressmen and other skeptics of last month’s nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1.
Alongside that agreement, Iran and the IAEA entered into their own so-called “side deals” in order to outline Iran’s responsibilities as the international community seeks to verify cooperation with the main deal and the expectations of world powers regarding the transparency of Iran’s nuclear program.
But the text of those side deals has not been released to the US Congress or even to the Obama administration. Both have been separately briefed on the content of the agreements by IAEA officials, but this proved unsatisfying to a number of the US lawmakers who will be voting to either approve or disapprove of the nuclear agreement by September 17.
The lack of access to the secret Iran-IAEA deals has become such a point of contention that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham even went so far as to threaten to withhold US funding for the IAEA if the documents are not turned over.
As long as there is skepticism about the extent or trustworthiness of IAEA methodology, there will be tremendous skepticism about the prospects for verification of Iran’s cooperation with the nuclear agreement. Many critics allege that the deal has given Iran newfound leverage and that it has built-in loopholes that may allow Iran to cheat, such as the 24-day advance notice the regime may have of inspections at formerly undesignated sites.
What’s more, some fear that Iran’s heightened leverage may extend to the IAEA itself, and this possibility was given new dimensions on Tuesday with a report by the Washington Free Beacon. The article notes that Iran appears to have had a role in the maintenance of secrecy regarding the IAEA side deals.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, recently boasted that a letter sent by Iranian officials to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano discouraged him from revealing specific information about forthcoming nuclear inspections. The Free Beacon quotes Kamalvandi as saying, “had he done so, he himself would have been harmed.” It concludes from this that Amano may have made his decisions partly out of fear of retaliation from Iran and the AEOI.
The Free Beacon goes on to note that if Iran does indeed have such leverage over the IAEA, it will be in a position to maintain that leverage for at least eight years after the implementation of the nuclear deal. This stems in part from the fact that Iran has refused to sign onto the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which would signify acceptance of snap inspections and potentially make the IAEA’s job easier and more effective.
An unnamed source close to the Iran deal told the Free Beacon that “for the next eight years the Iranians get to hold the threat over the IAEA: Don’t push your luck or we’ll refuse to accede in eight years.”
But the early signs of this leverage coming from Tehran could endanger full implementation of the nuclear deal, as unresolved questions over IAEA inspections will give fuel to an extremely vigorous lobbying effort in the US Congress which seeks to secure enough votes in the next month to override a presidential veto and preserve congressional authority to pass new sanctions, in apparent violation of the language of the agreement.