Iran Rejects UN Inspections of Military Sites

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Iran has rejected a U.S. demand that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors be allowed to check out Iranian military sites.

“Iran’s military facilities are secret (sites), and not everybody can have access to them,” Iranian government spokesman Mahammad Baqer Nobakht told reporters at a weekly press conference in Tehran on Tuesday, according to the government-run Tasnim news agency.

“All information about these sites are classified,” Nobakht said. “Iran would never allow such visits. Don’t pay attention to such remarks that are only a dream.”

The comments were in response to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s comments last week following her trip to Vienna to meet with officials from the IAEA, where she declared Iran’s refusal to allow inspections of military sites by the agency “a problem.”

“As good as the IAEA is, it is only as good as what they are permitted to see,” Haley told reporters at a press stakeout at the U.N. on Friday.

“I have good confidence in the IAEA, but they are dealing with a country that has a clear history of lying and pursuing covert nuclear programs, so we are encouraging the IAEA to use all the authorities they have and to pursue every angle possible with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and we will continue to support the IAEA in that process.”

The comments from Iran come amidst a highly sensitive period in which the IAEA is expected to issue its latest inspection report shortly. According to the New York Times, the IAEA is likely to declare that Iran is largely complying with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The nuclear deal has been a source of much controversy within the Trump administration. The State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the deal, according to U.S. law. The next deadline is in October, where Trump has already indicated he expects to declare that Iran is non-compliant with the deal.

“We’ve been extremely nice to them in saying they were compliant, OK? We’ve given them the benefit of every doubt. But we’re doing very detailed studies. And personally, I have great respect for my people. If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal in July.

As a Presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly called the Iran deal “the worst deal ever.”

The Guardian reported on Monday U.S. intelligence officials were being pressured by the administration to declare that Iran is not complying with the deal. According to Cipher Brief expert and former Deputy Director of the CIA David Cohen, these actions “corrupt the intelligence process.”

“The intelligence process is designed to take in all sources of intelligence. The intelligence process is designed to take in all sources of intelligence, assess and analyze that intelligence, and present the best factual assessment of the situation to policymakers for their use in making their judgments. If you bake into that process the answer the policymaker is looking for, it stands that process on its head and undermines the integrity of the intelligence,” Cohen told the Cipher Brief.

Earlier this month, Trump signed into law a broad package of sanctions against Iran, targeting the assets of individuals tied to Iran’s ballistic missile program or the sales of arms to Iran. The sanctions were in response to Iran’s continued development of its missile capabilities and not to the nuclear program.

According to Aaron David Miller, former Senior Advisor for Arab-Israeli negotiations for the U.S. State Department, the Trump administration and Congress are “playing a reckless game in the handling of the nuclear agreement.”

“Trump’s emerging retrograde Iran policy closely resembles the hardline policies that Washington has taken toward Iran for the past three and half decades, a policy that has been short on achievement, and one that has only served to empower the hardline clergy and IRGC officials in Tehran,” Miller wrote for The Cipher Brief.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has indicated the country could quit the agreement if the U.S. were to impose any further sanctions.

“If America wants to go back to the experience of (imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time—not a week or month but within hours—to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” Rouhani told a parliamentary session in July.

Verdi Tzou is a national security web editor at The Cipher Brief.