Obama administration agreed in secret to allow Iran to evade some restrictions in nuclear agreement so it could get sanctions relief
The United States and its negotiating partners agreed “in secret” to allow Iran to evade some restrictions in last year’s landmark nuclear agreement in order to meet the deadline for it to start getting relief from economic sanctions, according to a think tank report published on Thursday.
The report, which was released by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, is based on information provided by several officials of governments involved in the negotiations.
The group’s president David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and co-author of the report, declined to identify the officials, and Reuters could not independently verify the report’s assertions.
“The exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran,” Albright said.
Among the exemptions were two that allowed Iran to exceed the deal’s limits on how much low-enriched uranium (LEU) it can keep in its nuclear facilities, the report said. LEU can be purified into highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium.
The exemptions, the report said, were approved by the joint commission the deal created to oversee implementation of the accord.
The commission is comprised of the United States and its negotiating partners — called the P5+1 — and Iran.
One senior “knowledgeable” official was cited by the report as saying that if the joint commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the deal by Jan. 16, the deadline for the beginning of the lifting of sanctions.
The U.S. administration has said that the world powers that negotiated the accord — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — made no secret arrangements.
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the joint commission and its role were “not secret.” He did not address the report’s assertions of exemptions. Diplomats at the United Nations for the other P5+1 countries did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on the report.
The report’s assertions are likely to anger critics of the nuclear deal. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to renegotiate the agreement if he’s elected, while Democrat Hillary Clinton supports the accord.