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January 17th, 2017

Reality Check

Revealed Secret Construction Makes Iran Deal Supporters Look Even More Foolish

Jonathan Tobin

By Jonathan Tobin

Published August 31, 2015

 Revealed Secret Construction Makes Iran Deal Supporters Look Even More Foolish

First, the debate over the Iran nuclear deal was roiled by the news that a side deal between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Tehran allowed the Islamist regime to self-inspect the Parchin military site.

Parchin is the place where Iran conducted much of the military research connected with its nuclear project including work on triggers for bombs. Administration apologists first scoffed at the AP report with the shocking details about the inspections and, once the text of the agreement was published, incredibly claimed it was a fake.

But as embarrassing as that performance was, these Parchin truthers look even dumber after Reuters reported that the IAEA has discovered that Iran has been doing construction at the Parchin site since May.

If, as the IAEA claims in a Reuters report, Iran has actually built an extension of the Parchin facility, then the administration and its truther allies who were claiming that the site was an abandoned after thought that could tell us nothing about the nuclear program have been once again exposed as clueless propagandists or, even worse, liars.

The arguments against treating the Parchin agreement as an egregious betrayal of principle went something along these lines. Supporters of the deal said the published reports about the IAEA-Iran protocol on Parchin were "misleading" and that it didn't mean that the UN watchdog agency was actually letting Iran inspect its own facilities.

But when it was clear that the text of his side deal showed that this exactly what had been agreed to, they were forced to either claim that it was fake (the truther scenario) or that it didn't matter even if it was true. The argument from deal backers like Max Fisher at Vox was that Parchin was a relic that had been abandoned by Iran in 2003. He claimed there wasn't anything to be found there that could possibly help the regime cheat on the nuclear deal or even to give the West the information it needs about past military research that provides a baseline for estimates about the "breakout" time to a bomb.

If Iran is doing construction at the site or even adding on to it, it's clear that Parchin is more than a big hole in the ground that has already been swept clean as the deal's supporters claim. I don't know what is going on there. But the point is neither does President Obama, let alone his cheerleaders in the chattering class.

That's why it ought to be absolutely essential that Parchin be visited by IAEA inspectors rather than outsourcing their work to the Iranians. This latest twist in the Parchin story removes even the fig leaf of credibility that might have attached to previous stands that rested on the notion that nothing was happening there.

The fact that the IAEA was forced to accept this humiliation is troubling because it reflects the administration's lack of seriousness in finding answers about Iran's past work on possible military dimensions of its nuclear program. Though Secretary of State John Kerry assured Congress that the deal wouldn't go forward without such knowledge, it appears now that this issue is being finessed in such a way as to pay lip service to it but not to actually find out the answers. And without those answers the calculations about how long it will take Iran to build a bomb, either during the course of the agreement by cheating, or immediately after it expires, are pure speculation.

But this is about more than Parchin.

This process sets the tone for the implementation of the deal that is already far from the rigorous inspection process we were promised. The 24-day warning period was not only not the "anytime, anywhere" inspections that was expected to be part of the deal. It also sets down a template that gives Iran a veto power over personal inspections at its military sites. Anyone who thinks that Iran won't do their best to obstruct inspections knows nothing about the regime. And anyone who thinks President Obama or a Democratic successor would be prepared to pull the plug on the deal know nothing about them or their lust for détente with a rabidly anti-Semitic, terror-supporting regime.

It is not clear at this point whether any of the remaining undecided votes in the House or Senate can be influenced by the facts about the deal. Political pressure from the White House and left wing groups appears to count more for wavering Democrats than their obligations toward U.S. security.

Few of them actually believe the deal is any good. All know that it failed to meet the administration's own objectives. But the Parchin construction adds on to the concerns that the text of the side deal raised. Iran is being allowed to get away with murder in an inspections process that is a joke.

If lawmakers don't take this into consideration when they vote on the deal, the same will be able to be said of their approach to a life and death issue.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine, in whose blog "Contentions" this first appeared.

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