- Iran deliberately exceeded heavy water limits of 130 metric tons in November 2016, despite receiving warning from the IAEA.
- Beginning in the summer of 2016, senior Iranian officials began threatening to resume "large-scale uranium enrichment" if leaders felt the international community was not meeting its sanctions relief obligations; part of a coordinated strategy designed by the supreme leader to extract concessions by crying foul over implementation.
- The December 2015 IAEA report confirms that despite years of unwavering insistence, Tehran had an extensive nuclear weapons program until 2003 and certain activities continued until 2009.
- That same IAEA report revealed that Iran provided misleading information in certain cases and refused to answer some of the agency’s most sensitive inquiries. Dubowitz quoted former IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen as warning that without a complete understanding "of the extent and scope of Tehran’s nuclear-weapons work, effective verification will be compromised."
Dubowitz devoted a section of his memo to statements by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on JCPOA adherence. He noted that Khamenei’s demands, in October 2015, to remove renewed sanctions provisions "violate the terms of the agreement, which allows sanctions to be snapped back if Iran is found to be in significant non-compliance."
In Tel Aviv, Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) came out early last week with its own assessment of the JCPOA after its first year of implementation. Authors Emily Landau, Ephraim Asculai and Shimon Stein claim that Iran is operating advanced centrifuges "in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the JCPOA."
The Israeli authors criticized, among other points, the inability of scholars and experts to independently verify conclusions published by the IAEA with regard to Iranian compliance. Incomplete information contained in the IAEA’s public reports "undermine the transparency principle that has long existed and been hailed by" world powers that negotiated the agreement.
Moreover, INSS authors insist that overall Iranian compliance should not be judged merely according to technical steps mandated in the agreement, but by its behavior regarding procurement of missile and nuclear components, which is not checked by the IAEA.
In a Jan. 18 interview, Landau said that according to the IAEA, Iran twice exceeded the 130-metric-ton cap on heavy water stockpiles, if only by a small amount; the first time last February and most recently in November 2016.
"It’s clear from the IAEA’s own documents that they are cheating with minor violations. So if you want to be charitable, you’ll call these technicalities, as the Obama administration is calling them," Landau told Defense News. "But if you follow Iran closely, and the way they tend to behave with agreements, one should be more concerned with minor violations. This is Iran testing the waters; pressing the envelope to see what the level of determination is on the other side."
As for Iran, President Hassan Rouhani hailed the clean bill of health Iran received on the one-year anniversary of JCPOA implementation.
In a Jan. 17 news conference in Tehran, Rouhani was quoted by state-run Mehr News Agency as saying: "The IAEA has admitted that Iran’s nuclear program has not any point of suspicion; the end of the nuclear dossier means a moral high ground for our nation.
"We now have the approval of the U.N. and the IAEA for our peaceful nuclear program. This is a great victory in the international community."
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.