By Javad Heirannia

Presented documents by Netanyahu hadn't new information: Nephew

May 5, 2018 - 11:53

TEHRAN – Richard Nephew, who served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran, is of the opinion that “The documents presented by PM Netanyahu do not appear to provide any new information about Iran’s past nuclear weapons program.”

The fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, says, “They also do not appear to indicate any ongoing nuclear weapons related work, which would of course be a violation of the deal.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Do the documents released by Netanyahu include any new details about Iran's nuclear deal? As you know Olli Heinonen the ex-Deputy Director General of the IAEA provided these documents to the Board of Governors in a confidential session back in 2008. So, the recent information couldn’t provide anything new.

A: The documents presented by PM Netanyahu do not appear to provide any new information about Iran’s past nuclear weapons program.  They also do not appear to indicate any ongoing nuclear weapons related work, which would of course be a violation of the deal.

As Olli Heinonen noted, there are some very clear overlaps in the documents presented last night and those presented in the past.  That said, since we have not seen all of the documents that apparently are in Israel’s possession, it is premature to say there is nothing “new” in those documents overall.

Q: According to IAEA inspection team, the so-called Amad plan was stopped abruptly by Tehran in late 2003. So, why does Netanyahu revive a scenario already rejected by IAEA?

A: As an initial point, I think that even if the program was halted in the past, it is in the interest of the international community to have a clear sense of what was done so as to be sure that nothing similar has been restarted.  That is standard verification practice. I do not think the absence of that information in the past meant that the JCPOA was invalid, but it will be more effectively enforced with more information.

And, as I’ve argued in the past with Iranians, I think it would have been in Iran’s interest to be even more forthcoming about the past in 2015 so that such information coming out — as it always seems to, no matter the country — would not be seen as a crisis.

As to why PM Netanyahu is raising this now, I think it is obvious: to influence the decisions of Donald Trump with respect to the nuclear agreement and sanctions waivers.

Q: As the White House assessed the newly released documents were authentic, shall we think of Netanyahu’s claims as a prelude to trump's withdrawal from JCPOA?

A: Certainly, this is my concern.  

Q: Netanyahu claims that Iran isn't complying with nuclear deal. Now the question is which one has the right to assess Iran’s compliance or violation, Israel or IAEA?

A: Well, the IAEA has the responsibility for verifying the agreement.  The Joint Commission has the responsibility for assessing compliance on the basis of information available to it.  But, I see no particular reason why any country with information of relevance should not be in a position to provide it to the IAEA and Joint Commission.
Put a different way, let us say that another country had information that proved all of Israel’s or even the U.S.’s analysis of Iran was wrong.  I would think Iran would want that country to be permitted to present information.  

Also, I think every country has a right to offer its view of compliance.
But, in the end, it is up for the Joint Commission — aided by the IAEA as the competent nuclear verification authority — to offer its judgment.
 

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