Tehran could use the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal — to stall inspectors at key nuclear sites for months, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
“A close examination of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action released by the Obama administration reveals that its terms permit Iran to hold inspectors at bay for months, likely three or more,” said the report.
The issue pertains to provisions in the plan of action meant to settle International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors’ concerns over “undeclared nuclear material or activities.” Essentially, IAEA inspectors provide Iran with their concerns and request clarification, which Iran must address. If Iran does not adequately address the concerns, then nuclear monitors can request access.
This process does not have a set time limit, allowing Iran to drag its feet, for example questioning the source of inspectors’ intelligence that led to their concerns.
Then the 24-day period in which Iran and nuclear inspectors must resolve concerns or face action by the Joint Commission — comprising the United Kingdom, Untied States, Russia, China, France, Germany and the EU — will commence.
If this fails, then perhaps a country can bring a dispute to the Joint Commission, which will have 15 days to resolve the issue, at which point parties can request 15 days for their foreign ministers to act, or 15 days to request a nonbinding opinion from an advisory board. So this stage could take 30-45 days.
Therefore, Iran could have up to 78 days to stall on providing access to its sites, which many say is clearly more than enough time for Iran to scrub down any possible violations. This is in addition to “three potentially lengthy periods that Iran can stretch out: One of ‘explanations’ before the clock starts, one to agree on necessary means and ‘resolve concerns,’ and one for advisory-board selection near the end,” according to the WSJ report.
This is a far cry from the “anytime, anywhere” access first promised by the White House, though Secretary of State John Kerry denied that option was ever on the table.