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Nuclear Expert: Newly Revealed Side Deals Let Iran Violate Nuke Deal Limits Without Penalty

Newly disclosed side agreements to the nuclear deal with Iran reveal that the Islamic Republic is allowed to exceed limits on its nuclear-related stockpiles without penalty, a leading nuclear expert told The Weekly Standard on Friday.

David Albright, a former weapons inspector and current president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said that the documents recently released by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, show that Iran can declare certain amounts of low-enriched uranium (LEU) “unrecoverable.” This designation ensures that the material, which Iran has promised not to build a facility to recover, will not count against its 300 kilogram limit on LEU.

“If this whole thing rests on [Iran] promising not to build a facility that they’d probably only build in secret if they were going to actually break out, then this material probably should not be deemed non-recoverable,” Albright explained. “The State Department … deliberately distorted what was in these decisions to make this point that somehow ‘non-recoverable’ meant [the LEU] really would never be able to be recovered, regardless if they build a facility.”

Albright hailed the disclosure of the side deals as a step towards greater transparency, but raised concerns about the White House’s attempts to conceal them. “You just have to ask the question of, what else is being hidden?” Albright said. “The administration did it to try to minimize the chance that people would know what was in these decisions, and certainly keep those people from talking to people like me in the technical community that can actually interpret what’s in those decisions.”

The documents’ release comes a few weeks after a group of leading Democratic senators called for making them public, as well as widespread speculation that President-elect Donald Trump would release them after his inauguration.

Doubts about Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal increased last month after it was found to have accumulated heavy water in excess of its terms, the second time such a violation occurred since the implementation of the deal in January. Last week, the IAEA warned that Iran was likely to violate the limit on its LEU stockpile.

Olli Heninonen, former deputy director-general of the IAEA, wrote earlier this month that Iran’s second heavy water violation “shows disrespect for the nuclear terms of the agreement.” Heinonen also called on the agency to provide “detailed reporting to ensure a robust and transparent execution of the JCPOA in letter and in spirit.”

[Photo: Nuclear Threat Initiative / YouTube ]