If they have nothing to hide, then why object to inspections? But Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which lobbied hard in Washington for the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal, is enraged. NIAC has been established in court as a lobbying group for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Said Michael Rubin: “Jamal Abdi, NIAC’s policy director, now appears to push aside any pretense that NIAC is something other than Iran’s lobby. Speaking at the forthcoming ‘Expose AIPAC’ conference, Abdi is featured on the ‘Training: Constituent Lobbying for Iran’ panel. Oops.” Iranian freedom activist Hassan Daioleslam “documented over a two-year period that NIAC is a front group lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime.” NIAC had to pay him nearly $200,000 in legal fees after they sued him for defamation over his accusation that they were a front group for the mullahs, and lost.
“AP sources: US seeks to test Iran deal with more inspections,” by Josh Lederman and Matthew Lee, Associated Press, July 27, 2017:
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration is pushing for inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump desperately wants to cancel, senior U.S. officials said.
The inspections are one element of what is designed to be a more aggressive approach to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. While the Trump administration seeks to police the existing deal more strictly, it is also working to fix what Trump’s aides have called “serious flaws” in the landmark deal that – if not resolved quickly – will likely lead Trump to pull out.
That effort also includes discussions with European countries to negotiate a follow-up agreement to prevent Iran from resuming nuclear development after the deal’s restrictions expire in about a decade, the officials said. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the efforts publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The inspections requests, which Iran would likely resist, could play heavily into Trump’s much-anticipated decision about whether to stick with the deal he’s long derided.
If Iran refuses inspections, the argument goes, Trump finally will have a solid basis to say Iran is breaching the deal, setting up Tehran to take most of the blame if the agreement collapses. If Iran agrees to inspections, those in Trump’s administration who want to preserve the deal will be emboldened to argue it’s advancing U.S. national security effectively.
The campaign gained fresh urgency this month following a dramatic clash within the administration about whether to certify Iran’s compliance, as is required every 90 days.
Trump was eager to declare Tehran in violation, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency that monitors compliance says its infractions are minor. At the urging of top Cabinet members, Trump begrudgingly agreed at the last minute to avoid a showdown for another three months – but only with assurances the U.S. would increase pressure on Iran to test whether the deal is truly capable of addressing its nuclear ambitions and other troublesome activities.
Trump faces another certification deadline in three months, and it’s far from clear that either new inspections or any “fixes” to address whether his concerns will be in place by then. Trump told The Wall Street Journal this week he expects to say Iran isn’t complying, setting a high bar for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other aides to persuade him otherwise.
“If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago,” Trump said.
To that end, the administration is seeking to force Iran to let in IAEA inspectors to military sites where the U.S. intelligence community believes the Islamic Republic may be cheating on the deal, several officials said. Access to Iran’s military sites was one of the most contentious issues in the 2015 deal, in which Tehran agreed to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
Last week in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency is based, Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon floated the proposal to the European members of the Joint Commission that oversees the deal, one official said. Britain, France and Germany joined the U.S., Russia, China and the European Union two years ago in brokering the deal with Iran.
To force inspections of new sites in Iran, the U.S. would need to enlist the support of the IAEA and a majority of the countries in the deal. But the U.S. has run into early resistance over concerns it has yet to produce a “smoking gun” – compelling evidence of illicit activity at a military site that the IAEA could use to justify inspections, officials said….