Thursday, September 10, 2015

Of Course Military Sites Will Be Off Limits

Iran says military sites are off limits to inspectors looking for violations of the Iran nuclear deal. We say they are not off limits. I'm going with the Iranians on this.

Good question:

This issue needs to be clarified. If Iran can deny inspectors access to military sites, it will create an enormous sanctuary for clandestine nuclear weapons work. The Parchin site alone encompasses hundreds of buildings spread over a dozen square miles. If military sites in Iran are off limits to IAEA inspection, the “strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated” will include the largest loophole in arms control history.

Let's go to the deal (page 42):

Requests for access pursuant to provisions of this JCPOA will be made in good faith, with due observance of the sovereign rights of Iran, and kept to the minimum necessary to effectively implement the verification responsibilities under this JCPOA. In line with normal international safeguards practice, such requests will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities, but will be exclusively for resolving concerns regarding fulfilment of the JCPOA commitments and Iran's other non-proliferation and safeguards obligations.

Clearly, Iran will consider a visit to a military base a violation of their sovereign rights and will interfere with their military or other national security activities.

And Iran will say there are no concerns regarding the JCPOA (the deal) that require such visits.

And we will be unable to insist on our interpretation.

We've gone down this road before. In 1991, we allowed Saddam the "palace exception" for UN WMD inspectors. Not fair to search Saddam's bedroom and kitchen, right?

And before you know it, palaces proliferated during the "oil for food palaces" period:

A 1999 US State Department study estimated that Saddam had spent at least $2 billion building nearly 50 palaces since the 1991 Gulf War, despite his people beginning to starve because of international sanctions. True, old school Middle Eastern autocrats have long been fond of setting up a personal residence in every province, although in Saddam’s case, it was also linked to his other big personal vanity project: weapons of mass destruction.

Having wrestled agreements from UN weapons inspectors to restrict visits to his personal residences, he realised he could make their job even harder by building as many palaces as possible. In the end he had an area of almost 20 square miles and 1,000 buildings that was off-limits.

So we know what happens when we reward a particular activity, right?