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Iran Refuses UN Inspector Access To Scientists, Caught Trying To "Clean Up" Suspected Nuclear Site

Surprise! In what must be the most predictable geopolitical event in recent days, WSJ reports that Iran has refused to let United Nations inspectors interview key scientists and military officers to investigate allegations Tehran maintained a covert nuclear-weapons program. This comes hours after CNN reported that the intelligence community believes Iran has been attempting to clean up the suspected nuclear site at Parchin prior to the arrival of international inspectors based on new satellite imagery. While the administration attempts to 'clear up' any misunderstandings, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told reporters. "It was not a reassuring meeting...I would say most members left with greater concerns about the inspection regime than we came in with."

For now, the landmark nuclear agreement forged between world powers and Iran on July 14 in Vienna is on hold. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Iran’s stance complicates the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation into Tehran’s suspected nuclear-military program—a study that is scheduled to be finished by mid-October, as required by the treaty.

The IAEA and its director-general, Yukiya Amano, have been trying for more than five years to debrief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, an Iranian military officer the U.S., Israel and IAEA suspect oversaw weaponization work in Tehran until at least 2003.

 

Mr. Amano said Tehran still hasn’t agreed to let Mr. Fakhrizadeh or other Iranian military officers and nuclear scientists help the IAEA complete its investigation. The Japanese diplomat indicated that he believed his agency could complete its probe even without access to top-level Iranian personnel.

 

Tehran has repeatedly denied it ever had a secret nuclear weapons program.

 

But Mr. Amano said in a 25-minute interview in Washington that Iran still hasn’t agreed to provide access to Mr. Fakhrizadeh or other top Iranian military officers and nuclear scientists to assist the IAEA in completing its probe.

 

“We don’t know yet,” Mr. Amano said about the agency’s interview requests. “If someone who has a different name to Fakhrizadeh can clarify our issues, that is fine with us.

But, as CNN reports, the intelligence community believes Iran has been attempting to clean up the suspected nuclear site at Parchin prior to the arrival of international inspectors based on new satellite imagery, a senior intelligence official told CNN on Wednesday.

The commercial imagery shows that Iran has moved heavy construction equipment to the area. But the senior intelligence official, who is familiar with the imagery in question, said the U.S. is confident that such sanitization efforts cannot succeed because radioactive materials, if present, are extremely difficult to conceal.

 

"The (International Atomic Energy Agency) is familiar with sanitization efforts and the international community has confidence in the IAEA's technical expertise," the official said.

 

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, told reporters on Tuesday that he has "concerns about the vigorous efforts by Iran to sanitize Parchin."

 

A furious lobbying effort by both supporters and foes of the Iran nuclear deal continues in the Senate ahead of a mid-September vote on the agreement. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Iran debate will begin on the Senate floor on Sept. 8 after the August recess is over.

As The Journal concludes,

Mr. Amano visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday in a bid to assure skeptical U.S. lawmakers the IAEA is capable of implementing a vast inspections regime of Iran’s nuclear facilities and clarifying the weaponization issue.

Senate Republicans and skeptical Democrats, however, left the 90-minute closed-door meeting frustrated that Mr. Amano refused to share the agency’s classified agreements on access to Iranian military sites, scientists and documents.

“I would say most members left with greater concerns about the inspection regime than we came in with,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told reporters. “It was not a reassuring meeting.”

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Somewhere Benjamin Netanyahu is doing "the told you so" dance... as Kerry's deal and Obama's legacy hang by a thread.