But Politico also repeated familiar reports about White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tempering the administration’s statements on the Emad test by insisting that such violations are completely separate from the nuclear agreement between Iran, the US, and five other world powers. The administration claims to be quite confident that Iran is in compliance with its obligations under that agreement and will remain in compliance as the agreement moves toward formal adoption on Sunday and then toward implementation in the coming months.
An editorial in the Patriot Post also called renewed attention to Earnest’s commentary and accused the Obama White House of brushing aside and downplaying serious violations while overstating Iran’s trustworthiness on the basis of recent interactions. The article alleges, as many critics of the nuclear negotiations have alleged in the past, that Iran has already broken its agreements, as by testing more advanced nuclear enrichment centrifuges at a time when this work was already supposed to be frozen.
The Patriot Post suggests that by downplaying these past violations and the more recent missile tests, the Obama administration is consistently demonstrating that it will not take assertive action to confront Iranian misbehavior, in contrast to its public promises. Critics naturally worry that this will embolden further attempts by Tehran to push the limits of its agreements.
Many of the same critics feel that this pattern of violations and permissiveness applies not only to Iran’s dealings with the US but also to its dealings with the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Republicans and some Democrats in the US Congress raised serious protest over the fact that agreements between Iran and the IAEA were not made public regarding the mechanisms for completing a probe into the past military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program. Leaked details of the so-called side deals to the nuclear negotiations gave many analysts the impression that Iran would be allowed to self-inspect the Parchin military base, which is believed to have been central to Iran’s work on detonators and components of a potential nuclear weapon.
It was partly on the basis of that supposed self-inspection that the IAEA now claims to have received sufficient response from Iran on the probe’s points of inquiry, just in time for the Thursday deadline. Reuters points out that the IAEA now has until December 15 to prepare its report on past military dimensions, and there is a good deal of uncertainty as to whether its findings and methodology will prove satisfactory to those who expect Iran to push the limits of its agreements and continue pursuing illicit nuclear work as it is able.
Suspicions on this point will only be exacerbated by ongoing discussions of Iran’s behavior during the probe and during the run-up to implementation of the nuclear agreement. Notwithstanding the IAEA’s claim that Iran met its deadline, The Guardian reported on Thursday that officials appeared to be dragging their heels and providing minimal cooperation even up until the very brink of that deadline.
Indeed, at least one Western diplomat told the media that this minimal level of cooperation is exactly what persons close to the issue expected, and exactly what they got. Such commentary could still spell trouble for Iran’s broader obligations under the nuclear agreement, even after the Iranian parliament and Guardian Council approved implementation of the deal.
The Jewish Press pointed out this week that that approval was only for a modified version of the deal, which reflected key Iranian preferences. Even so, Al Monitor reports that hardline opposition to it was considerable, with some members of parliament threatening resignation over the notion that the bill was forced through without allowing adequate time for amendments. Legislators reportedly had over 200 recommendations for how the bill might have been changed, most of which surely reflect political opposition to fully abiding by the terms outlined in the July 14 agreement.