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National Security & Defense

The Left Is Desperately Trying to Discredit the AP Story on Iran Inspecting Itself

I wrote on NRO this morning about an important story by AP reporter George Jahn giving details of how Iranians will conduct inspections for the IAEA as part of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Jahn’s article attracted widespread media attention and sparked outrage by critics of the nuclear agreement.

It seems this story’s publication struck a nerve, since supporters of the Iran deal have been subsequently engaged in a campaign to discredit the piece and its author.

IAEA director general Yukiya Amano issued a statement today in response to the AP story that said:

“I can state that the arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our safeguards standards in any way. The Road-map between Iran and the IAEA is a very robust agreement, with strict timelines, which will help us to clarify past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”

Supporters of the Iran deal are claiming Amano’s statement discredited Jahn’s story. However, Amano did not dispute its specific details on how Iranians will collect nuclear samples for the IAEA. I believe the IAEA issued this statement in response to pressure from the United States because of the backlash it sparked from U.S. opponents of the Iran deal. It’s also no surprise the IAEA chief is defending an agreement that he helped negotiate.

At today’s daily State Department press conference, spokesman John Kirby responded to questions about the Jahn story by saying Amano’s statement indicates “the IAEA is giving over nuclear inspections to Iran” and that the United States is comfortable with the IAEA’s arrangements to verify the nuclear agreement. However, Kirby also refused to dispute the details of Jahn’s article or to say the Obama administration believes any aspect of it is false.

After a version of Jahn’s piece was published late yesterday that omitted some details of the original story, several Iran-deal supporters claimed the AP retracted said details because the Amano statement proved they were false. By midday today, those who made this claim had egg on their faces — the AP had posted an abbreviated version of Jahn’s story last night for space reasons and subsequently reposted the original text.

J Street, a far-Left group funded by George Soros, sent an e-mail to congressional offices today disputing the Jahn story with the laughable claim that inspections of the Parchin site by Iranians concern Iran’s past nuclear activity and are “a completely separate issue from the unprecedented and rigorous inspections and monitoring regime that the P5+1 agreement with Iran will put in place to ensure Iran is not developing a weapon now or in the future.” J Street also stressed the Iran is not conducting its own investigation or testing of samples, points that were not made in Jahn’s article.

Max Fisher, a stalwart liberal defender of the Iran deal, made similar arguments in a rambling piece on Vox today. Fisher repeated the false claim that the AP had withdrawn parts of the Jahn story and cited liberal arms-control experts such as Jeffrey Lewis, who told him there is nothing for the IAEA to discover at Parchin “because we know what they did there.”

Like the Amano and Kirby statements, the J Street and Fisher responses did not dispute the specific details in Jahn’s piece on how Iranians will collect nuclear samples for the IAEA. Moreover, both responses coincide with efforts by the Obama administration to write off the past “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. They also ignored the likelihood that resolving questions about Iran’s past nuclear weapons work and nuclear activity at Parchin were moved to secret side deals between Iran and the IAEA because U.S. negotiators were unable to resolve these issues during the nuclear talks.

The J Street and Fisher attacks on the Jahn article also sidestepped the belief of many experts that it is crucial to conclusively resolve the possible military dimensions issue to establish a baseline for verifying the Iran nuclear agreement. Former Department of Energy official William Tobey explained this in a July 15 Wall Street Journal when he wrote “for inspections to be meaningful, Iran would have to completely and correctly declare all its relevant nuclear activities and procurement, past and present.”

Finally, some supporters of the deal took to Twitter today to attack Jahn’s competence as a journalist and to accuse him of being a tool of the Mossad and AIPAC. Such reprehensible personal attacks are a continuation of the scorched-earth tactics Iran-deal supporters have used to smear opponents of the Iran deal such as congressional Republicans and senators Schumer and Menendez. I’ve had the privilege to meet George Jahn. He’s a class act and a talented and respected journalist.  I have relied on his high-quality reporting of IAEA and nuclear issues for many years.

The attacks on the Jahn article are entirely false. It is my hope that the news media will stand by him and not fall for this desperate effort to disprove his important story about the absurd plan to allow Iran to collect its own nuclear samples for the IAEA.

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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