National Security & Defense

Obama Withheld from Congress Another Secret Side Deal with the Iranians

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
New tally of secret side deals: three. The next president should rip up the whole thing.

Veteran Associated Press IAEA reporter George Jahn made news yesterday by revealing a secret agreement to the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA). This agreement says that in January 2027, Tehran will be allowed to replace the primitive 5,060 uranium centrifuges it is allowed to operate while the nuclear agreement is in effect with more-advanced designs, even though other restrictions on Iranian uranium enrichment remain in place for 15 years.

I believe this is a significant development because it represents another secret JCPOA side deal that the Obama administration illegally withheld from Congress.

This agreement means that in only eleven years, Iran will be permitted to substantially increase its capability to produce nuclear fuel faster and in larger amounts. Since Iran is permitted to conduct R&D on advanced centrifuges while the JCPOA is in place — and can expand this effort after eight and a half years — it probably will be able to quickly construct and install these advanced centrifuges.

Jahn reported that although this undisclosed, confidential agreement is “an integral part” of the JCPOA, Iran will not be permitted to accumulate more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium for 15 years. In light of recent reports that the Iranians are already cheating on the nuclear agreement, it is hard to believe that they will continue to abide by this restriction after they install more-advanced centrifuges .

Related: Tear Up or Renegotiate the Obamabomb Nuclear Deal with Iran?

Some media outlets responded to Jahn’s story as a major revelation. I agree but for different reasons from what many are laying out. It’s not news that Iran can begin enriching under the JCPOA with advanced centrifuges after ten years. I reported this in my new book, Obamabomb: A Dangerous and Growing National Security Threat. I’ve also explained that there is no limit on the number of uranium centrifuges Iran can operate after ten years.

What is news is that the Obama administration is a party to another secret side deal to the JCPOA that explicitly recognizes Iran’s plan to greatly expand its uranium-enrichment program. Other secret side deals include one that allows Iran to inspect itself on possible nuclear-weapons-related work and another that possibly weakened IAEA reporting on Iran’s nuclear program.

As with the previous secret agreements, withholding this deal from Congress probably violated the Corker-Cardin Act, which required the administration to provide all JCPOA documents — including side deals — to Congress before it voted on the deal last September.

According to Jahn’s report, “U.S. officials say members of Congress who expressed interest [in the document] were briefed on its substance.” Translation: The administration did not provide this side-deal document to Congress or mention it in committee briefings. Instead, the substance of this document was briefed only to members of Congress who asked about this issue.

So why haven’t we heard about this before now? Why didn’t representatives who were briefed on this secret side deal cry foul and demand that it be released before Congress voted on the nuclear deal last fall? I suspect the reason is that the administration briefed a handful of congressmen on the contents of this side deal without revealing the side deal’s existence. Also, this discovery forces us to ask: Are there more secret side deals to the CPOA that have not been made public or disclosed to Congress?

Jahn did not reveal a previously unknown flaw of the JCPOA. He revealed something more disturbing: another instance of the Obama administration’s deceiving Congress and the American people as part of its effort to ram through Obama’s deeply unpopular nuclear agreement with Iran — an agreement that is a dangerous and growing fraud.

Jahn’s report is more evidence of this and another reason the next president must tear up this agreement on his or her first day in office.

Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff.

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