U.S., others agreed ‘secret’ exemptions for Iran after nuclear deal

Reuters

Thu Sep 1, 2016 12:56pm EDT

By Jonathan Landay | WASHINGTON

The United States and its negotiating partners agreed “in secret” to allow Iran to evade some restrictions in last year’s landmark nuclear agreement in order to meet the deadline for it to start getting relief from economic sanctions, according to a think tank report published on Thursday.

The report, which was released by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, is based on information provided by several officials of governments involved in the negotiations. The group’s president David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and co-author of the report, declined to identify the officials, and Reuters could not independently verify the report’s assertions.

“The exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran,” Albright said.

Among the exemptions were two that allowed Iran to exceed the deal’s limits on how much low-enriched uranium (LEU) it can keep in its nuclear facilities, the report said. LEU can be purified into highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium.

The exemptions, the report said, were approved by the joint commission the deal created to oversee implementation of the accord. The commission is comprised of the United States and its negotiating partners — called the P5+1 — and Iran.

One senior “knowledgeable” official was cited by the report as saying that if the joint commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the deal by Jan. 16, the deadline for the beginning of the lifting of sanctions.

The U.S. administration has said that the world powers that negotiated the accord — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — made no secret arrangements.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the joint commission and its role were “not secret.” He did not address the report’s assertions of exemptions.

Diplomats at the United Nations for the other P5+1 countries did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on the report. Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment.

The report’s assertions are likely to anger critics of the nuclear deal. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to renegotiate the agreement if he’s elected, while Democrat Hillary Clinton supports the accord.

Albright said the exceptions risked setting precedents that Iran could use to seek additional waivers.

Albright served as an inspector with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team that investigated former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program.

While Albright has neither endorsed nor denounced the overall agreement, he has expressed concern over what he considers potential flaws in the nuclear deal, including the expiration of key limitations on Iran’s nuclear work in 10-15 years.

EXEMPTIONS ON URANIUM, “HOT CELLS”

The administration of President Barack Obama informed Congress of the exemptions on Jan. 16, said the report. Albright said the exemptions, which have not been made public, were detailed in confidential documents sent to Capitol Hill that day — after the exemptions had already been granted.

The White House official said the administration had briefed Congress “frequently and comprehensively” on the joint commission’s work.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a leading critic of the Iran deal and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Reuters in an email: “I was not aware nor did I receive any briefing (on the exemptions).”

Republican Senator Bob Corker, the committee chairman and leader of the opposition in Congress to the nuclear deal, said the administration was “willing to accommodate Iran at every turn to implement a flawed agreement that granted Tehran billions in sanction relief and paved the way for the industrialization of its nuclear program.”

Corker, however, did not address the exemptions.

As part of the concessions that allowed Iran to exceed uranium limits, the joint commission agreed to exempt unknown quantities of 3.5 percent LEU contained in liquid, solid and sludge wastes stored at Iranian nuclear facilities, according to the report. The agreement restricts Iran to stockpiling only 300 kg of 3.5 percent LEU.

The commission approved a second exemption for an unknown quantity of near 20 percent LEU in “lab contaminant” that was determined to be unrecoverable, the report said. The nuclear agreement requires Iran to fabricate all such LEU into research reactor fuel.

If the total amount of excess LEU Iran possesses is unknown, it is impossible to know how much weapons-grade uranium it could yield, experts said.

The draft report said the joint commission also agreed to allow Iran to keep operating 19 radiation containment chambers larger than the accord set. These so-called “hot cells” are used for handling radioactive material but can be “misused for secret, mostly small-scale plutonium separation efforts,” said the report. Plutonium is another nuclear weapons fuel.

The deal allowed Iran to meet a 130-tonne limit on heavy water produced at its Arak facility by selling its excess stock on the open market. But with no buyer available, the joint commission helped Tehran meet the sanctions relief deadline by allowing it to send 50 tonnes of the material — which can be used in nuclear weapons production — to Oman, where it was stored under Iranian control, the report said.

The shipment to Oman of the heavy water that can be used in nuclear weapons production has already been reported. Albright’s report made the new assertion that the joint committee had approved this concession.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; editing by John Walcott and Stuart Grudgings)

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Report: US secretly agreed to waive Iran nuclear restrictions
US, allies, secretly agreed to waive restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in order to lift economic sanctions.
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David Rosenberg, 01/09/16 13:53

The Obama administration may have secretly agreed to waive restrictions placed on the Iranian regime’s nuclear program as part of the landmark 2015 deal.

According to a soon-to-be-published report by the Institute for Science and International Security, the US and fellow negotiating partners secretly agreed to permit the Islamic regime to ignore some restrictions on its nuclear program, thereby paving the way for the removal of economic sanctions against the rogue state.

The report, which was reviewed by Reuters, was co-authored by the institute’s president, David Albright, cites government officials who participated in the negotiation process prior to the signing of the deal last July.

Albright, himself a former United Nation’s weapons inspector, told Reuters the US and its allies had colluded to create “loopholes” for the Iranian regime.

“The exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran,” he said.

The decision was made by an oversight committee charged with implementation of the Iran deal. The committee, like the negotiations themselves, includes representatives from the five permanent United Nations Security Council powers – France, Russia, China, UK, and US – plus Germany (which have collectively been dubbed the “P5+1”), and Iran.

The committee, according to Albright, has secretly permitted Iran to maintain greater quantities of low-enriched uranium than allowed under the terms of the deal.

Had the US and its partners not exempted Iran, one senior official quoted in the report said, Iran would have missed the January 16th deadline to comply with the agreement and thus require the P5+1 partners to keep sanctions against Iran in place.

The report also claims that the P5+1 powers secretly permitted Iran to maintain 19 radiation containment chambers, or “hot cells”, which violated the terms of the nuclear deal. In addition, Iran was not required to sell off its excess heavy water, despite the agreement’s clause obliging the Islamic regime to reduce its stores below 130 tons.

Instead, the US and its partners allowed Iran to store the excess material abroad, even though Iran maintains ownership and control on the heavy water.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/217233

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