Diplomacy

Zarif to Iranian Parliament: Nuke Deal Will Block Access to Military Sites

Iran’s foreign minister and lead nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif told Iran’s Majlis, or parliament, that according the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Iran is permitted to deny international nuclear inspectors access to military sites, “raising new questions about Tehran’s commitment to the terms of the agreement,” The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

Appearing before the conservative-dominated parliament to sell the nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran’s negotiating team had held fast in the bargaining to the leadership’s pledge not to allow such inspections.

Iran had made access to military sites a “red line,” he said, and had “fully achieved” those terms in the bargaining.

He also told lawmakers that Iran had not committed to allowing inspection of military sites in the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The Times suggested that Zarif’s comments contradicted “statements made by President Obama and his top aides about the nuclear agreement” and that they could “signal that the Iranians are trying to reopen a part of the deal.”

Barring inspectors from military sites was a “red line” long mentioned by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and repeated last month in this graphic:

Iran’s defense minister, Hossein Dehghan, and Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Khamenei, both recently reiterated Iran’s position that inspectors would not be allowed into military sites. Last month, in the midst of the negotiations that yielded the JCPOA, Iran’s parliament passed legislation that would bar inspectors from military sites.

The legislation prompted Rep. John Sarbanes (D – Md.) to issue a statement saying, “I am deeply troubled by the recent vote in the Iranian parliament to prohibit any access to military sites and scientists by U.N. inspectors.” Sarbanes also cautioned, “it would be a mistake for the Administration to dismiss these developments as mere rhetoric,” observing that “[u]nfettered inspections and verification are the only means” by which Iran’s compliance with the deal can be achieved.

[Photo: AFP news agency / YouTube ]