On July 14, 2015, Iran and the six world powers known as the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) reached an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. The deal was intended to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions and put a hold on Tehran's nuclear development.
President Obama promised that the deal is not based on trust rather anchored in verification. Nevertheless, the following revelations of confidential documents as well as the following breaches of the nuclear agreement by Iran, reveal otherwise.
On paper, the nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), stipulates a series of regulations, monitoring mechanisms, and restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities. But how can the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) maintain these transparency standards and follow through on the proposed regulations? How can the IAEA be sure to detect all illicit nuclear activities in the 18th largest country in the world?
Iran has a history of deceiving the IAEA by conducting clandestine nuclear activities, as it did in Arak, Natanz, and Ferdow.
The Arak heavy water reactor, in Iran, is capable of producing plutonium. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
One of the primary concerns about the agreement is that the Iranian government could easily pursue a covert program after reaping the benefits of the deal -- the removal of four rounds of international sanctions that were imposed by the members of the UN Security Council, resumption of oil sales at any level that Iran desires, rejoining the global financial system, and obtaining billions of dollars of frozen assets and accumulated interest.
Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, revealed in its annual report that the Iranian government has pursued a "clandestine" path to obtain illicit nuclear technology and equipment from German companies "at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level."
The intelligence report also stated that "it is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives." Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Iran and emphasized the significance of these findings, in a statement to the German Parliament.
Although Germany did not state exactly what Iran was trying to buy, another detailed report by the Institute for Science and International Security appear to shed light on that topic. The report stated:
"The Institute for Science and International Security has learned that Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) recently made an attempt to purchase tons of controlled carbon fiber from a country. This attempt occurred after Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The attempt to acquire carbon fiber was denied by the supplier and its government. Nonetheless, the AEOI had enough carbon fiber to replace existing advanced centrifuge rotors and had no need for additional quantities over the next several years, let alone for tons of carbon fiber. This attempt thus raises concerns over whether Iran intends to abide by its JCPOA commitments. In particular, Iran may seek to stockpile the carbon fiber so as to be able to build advanced centrifuge rotors far beyond its current needs under the JCPOA, providing an advantage that would allow it to quickly build an advanced centrifuge enrichment plant if it chose to leave or disregard the JCPOA during the next few years. The carbon fiber procurement attempt is also another example of efforts by the P5+1 to keep secret problematic Iranian actions."
The report, which was written by Andrea Stricker and David Albright (former United Nations IAEA nuclear inspector ), explains that the Iranian government is required to request permission from a UN Security Council panel for "purchases of nuclear direct-use goods."
Another critical issue is the revelation about a secret agreement, obtained by the Associated Press, which discloses that Iran's nuclear deal would not only lift constraints on Iran's nuclear program after the nuclear deal, but it will also do so long before the deal expires.
According to the secret agreement, the deal would pave the way for Iranian leaders to advance their nuclear capabilities at a higher level and even be capable of reducing nuclear weapons breakout capability from one year to six months, long before the nuclear agreement ends.
The Obama Administration has not made this document public yet. A diplomat, who works on Iran's nuclear program and who asked for anonymity, shared the secret document with the Associated Press:
"The diplomat who shared the document with the AP described it as an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal. But while formally separate from that accord, he said that it was in effect an integral part of the deal and had been approved both by Iran and the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the six powers that negotiated the deal with Tehran."
This document suggests that Iran can install thousands of centrifuges, five times more than what it currently possesses, as well enrich uranium at much higher pace, also long before the agreement expires.
According to the Associated Press:
"Centrifuges churn out uranium to levels that can range from use as reactor fuel and for medical and research purposes to much higher levels for the core of a nuclear warhead. From year 11 to 13, says the document, Iran can install centrifuges up to five times as efficient as the 5,060 machines it is now restricted to using.
"Those new models will number less than those being used now, ranging between 2,500 and 3,500, depending on their efficiency, according to the document. But because they are more effective, they will allow Iran to enrich at more than twice the rate it is doing now."
The Associated Press adds:
"The document also allows Iran to greatly expand its work with centrifuges that are even more advanced, including large-scale testing in preparation for the deal's expiry 15 years after its implementation on Jan. 18. ... The document is the only secret text linked to last year's agreement between Iran and six foreign powers. It says that after a period between 11 to 13 years, Iran can replace its 5,060 inefficient centrifuges with up to 3,500 advanced machines. Since those are five times as efficient, the time Iran would need to make a weapon would drop from a year to six months."
More importantly, this document and the rest of the nuclear agreement still do not explain what are the rules on Iran's nuclear proliferation after the 13 years are over. The only interpretation would be that since there is no restriction indicated, Iran will be then be free to do what it desires when it comes to its nuclear program, including installing advanced centrifuges, enriching uranium, and obtaining a nuclear bomb.
Iran protested the disclosure of these documents. Last week, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, said that "the parts [of the document] published were confidential and were supposed to remain so. ... Our assumption is that it has been leaked by the (International Atomic Energy) Agency."
AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi pressed on the secrecy of these documents "We do not intend to make this plan known to the public and (IAEA)'s action is a breach of promise."
This also shows that President Obama wanted the Congress to sign a deal that was not fully disclosed.
Another problem with the nuclear agreement is the procedure that was put in place in case Iran violated the deal. On paper, the nuclear agreement indicates that sanctions would be re-imposed on Iran.
President Obama repeatedly stated that the sanctions could be quickly and easily re-imposed if Iran violated the terms of the agreement. However, it's not really that simple. Once the four rounds of sanctions have been lifted, it would require the approval of all five members of the UN Security Council each to re-impose one round of sanctions. It goes without saying that getting the approval of China and Russia would not be as easy as Mr. Obama made it sound.
What has been President Obama's reaction to these crucial intelligence reports? Silence. The administration continues to disregard and dodge questions regarding this issue. When asked about the German intelligence report and the Institute for Science and International Security report, a State Department spokesman said, "we have absolutely no indication that Iran has procured any materials in violation of the JCPOA."
The more the White House ignores Iran's violations of the nuclear accord, the more Iran will be emboldened to violate international laws and the terms of the nuclear agreement.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, political scientists and Harvard University scholar is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He can be reached at Dr.firstname.lastname@example.org.