Access to IAEA Agreements With Iran Gets Controversial

6 August 2015

Legislators in the United States critical of the new international agreement with Iran about nuclear development are demanding access to two side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Administration.

The IAEA says the agreements can’t be disclosed.

Republican senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas have demanded that the Obama administration release the text of two “side deals.” (See July 21 press release, Aug. 4 press release, and Aug. 6 press release.) One agreement covers the inspection of the Parchin military complex, and the second details how the IAEA and Iran will resolve outstanding issues on possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, the legislators said.

“The failure to disclose the content of these side agreements begs the question, ‘What is the Obama administration hiding?’ ” Pompeo said July 21. Subsequently he has cited media reports that the US has evidence that Iran began destroying evidence at Parchin as evidence that the agreements are “wholly inadequate.”

Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, on Aug. 5 briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Iran nuclear agreement and said the side agreements would remain secret.

“The agreement contains a clause that stipulates that the director-general has to protect the confidential information,” Amano was quoted as saying in Politico. “Imagine if a country provides me with confidential information … and I do not honor the commitment? No country will share information with us.”

Secretary of State John Kerry testified in a congressional hearing July 28 that the Obama administration had not seen the contents of the two agreements, but subsequently US negotiator Wendy Sherman said she had seen provisional versions.

IAEA spokesperson Fredrik Dahl previously had issued a statement saying that the agreements contain “technical details” and that “the non-public nature of the separate arrangements is consistent with the IAEA’s safeguards practice.”

He said in full:

The IAEA and Iran agreed on 14 July 2015 on a Road-map to accelerate and strengthen their cooperation aimed at the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues by the end of 2015. The agreed Road-map is available on the IAEA website. As part of the Road-map, the IAEA and Iran also agreed on two separate arrangements with technical details on implementation of activities in the Road-map, including one on Parchin. These arrangements meet the requirements of the IAEA for the clarification of outstanding issues.  The non-public nature of the separate arrangements is consistent with the IAEA’s safeguards practice. The IAEA regularly agrees on specific arrangements with States to facilitate practical implementation of its safeguards-related activities. The IAEA has hundreds of arrangements related to the implementation of safeguards in States. They include subsidiary arrangements, which consist of a general part and facility attachments, and also managed access arrangements in order to prevent dissemination of sensitive information, to meet safety or physical protection requirements or to protect proprietary information. In order to implement safeguards effectively and to protect safeguards confidential information, these arrangements cannot be made public. This has been normal longstanding safeguards implementation practice and it is based on the Agency’s confidentiality regime approved by its Board of Governors. Iran is not an exception in this regard. The Agency already has arrangements in place with respect to Iranian nuclear facilities under safeguards. The Director General will regularly inform the Board of Governors on the implementation of the Road-map. By 15 December 2015, the Director General will issue a report to the Board of Governors with the final assessment of issues relating to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Separately, an Iranian lawmaker cautioned the IAEA not to disclose the information. (See article in Tasnim News.)

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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