The Trump Administration is now advocating that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) begin inspecting Iranian military sites when there exists no evidence of current links to Iran’s nuclear program.
As part of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), the IAEA is permitted and expected to inspect Iran’s military sites if evidence is presented from one of the signatories — or found through their own investigations — that suggest nuclear program-related activities may be taking place. But this is the decision of the IAEA alone; they are not required to act at the request of a signatory nation, but rather they must determine whether such inspections are necessary based on facts.
What US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley failed to mention is that neither the US or our allies have any such evidence – nor is it appropriate under the terms of the deal for the US to make this unilateral demand.
The IAEA is the independent organization tasked with ensuring Iran’s nuclear activities remain peaceful and in adherence with the terms of the JCPOA. The IAEA makes such requests to Iran, and only refers to the voting mechanism involving parties to the deal in the Joint Commission if they cannot make an appropriate arrangement with Iran. Thus far there are no reports of Iran refusing to accommodate IAEA requests.
Ambassador Haley’s request does nothing to improve inspections capabilities or access but it does jeopardize the historic agreement blocking all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon by undermining the carefully constructed processes laid out in the agreement and attempting to engineer a situation in which Iran would refuse an unjustified inspection.
This type of provocation is reminiscent of the path to war in Iraq, and could very well lead to pushback from our allies as well as Iran.