A senior Iranian official declared on Monday that international nuclear inspectors would only be permitted into the country once they receive approval from the Islamic Republic’s Intelligence Ministry, putting another roadblock between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran’s contested nuclear sites.
Sayyed Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and one of the top negotiators in talks that led to the recently inked nuclear deal, told the country’s state-controlled press that Iran’s intelligence apparatus must approve of any inspector who is issued a visa to enter Iran.
This requirement could complicate efforts to prove to the world that Iran is being fully transparent and that nuclear inspectors inside the country are neutral.
Iran has already stated that no American inspector would be permitted into the country under the deal. The accord also grants Iran a 24-day notice period before inspectors enter any site suspected of being used for nuclear weapons work.
"Any individual, out of IAEA's Inspection group, who is not approved by the Islamic Republic of Iran cannot enter the country as the agency's inspector," Araqchi was quoted as telling the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA), a government news outlet, according to a translation performed by the CIA’s Open Source Center (OSC).
This type of screening is fully permitted under the nuclear accord, Araqchi said.
The deal "has been set within the framework of the additional protocol and all limitations and supervisions are within the protocol and not beyond that," he said.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Obama administration's promise of strict inspections is a fallacy.
"Administration claims that this was the best possible agreement are pathetic. First Kerry abandoned anytime, anywhere inspections," Rubin said. "Then Obama claimed this was the most rigorous counter-proliferation regime ever, never mind that it failed to rise to the Libya and South Africa precedents."
"Then we learned that no Americans are allowed on the inspection teams and that Iran will do its own soil sampling," Rubin added. "Now the Iranians claim that all IAEA inspectors have to be vetted by Iranian intelligence? It really can't get any worse than this."
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also affirmed on Monday that there is no way for the United States to "infiltrate" Iran under the deal.
The "Americans seek to make an excuse to infiltrate Iran through a [nuclear] deal whose fate and whether it will be rejected or approved is not yet certain either in Iran or the U.S.," Khamenei was quoted as saying on Monday.
"With all our strong capabilities, we will not allow Americans’ economic, political or cultural infiltration or political presence in Iran," he added.
While Obama administration officials have touted the agreement as a first step toward moderating Iran’s rogue behavior, Khamenei insisted that "Tehran’s policy toward the U.S. will remain unchanged regardless of the ultimate fate of the" nuclear deal, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
Iran also will continue to back any country that seeks Israel’s destruction.
"Iran fully defends the [axis of anti-Israeli] resistance in the region, including the Palestinian resistance, and will support anyone who confronts Israel and hammers the Zionist regime," the Supreme Leader said.
Meanwhile, further details of secret talks between the Obama administration and Iran in 2012 have come to light.
The White House purportedly made overtures to Iran, guaranteeing its right to enrich uranium, in 2012, while President Barack Obama was locked in an election with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to Iranian Vice President Akbar Salehi, who was a senior member of the negotiating team.
This message from the U.S. leadership was then brought to then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to Salehi, whose remarks were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The Iranian official disclosed the U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was appointed to the U.S. team per a request by Salahi, who knew him from his time as a doctoral student at MIT.
"Salehi added that Khamenei agreed to open a direct channel of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. on the condition that the talks would yield results from the start and would not deal with any other issue, especially not with U.S.-Iran relations," according to MEMRI. "Following this, Salehi demanded, via the Omani mediator Sultan Qaboos, that the U.S. recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium, and received a letter from Qaboos expressing such American recognition, which he relayed to Ahmadinejad."
Rubin said Congress should carefully consider the new details emerging about the deal and its ability to reign in Iran’s nuclear program
"There really is only one question before Congress now: Is Obama's legacy and Kerry's single-minded desire for a Nobel Prize worth sacrificing U.S. security and enabling Iran to maintain an industrial-strength nuclear program?" he asked. "Because this agreement is not about stopping Iran's nuclear program or security; it is about ego and naiveté. "