Top Obama administration officials testified Thursday that the United States would help ensure the "physical security" of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure as part of the nuclear agreement they reached with the Islamic republic two weeks ago.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) asked the assembled officials whether a controversial provision in Annex III of the agreement obligated the United States to help protect Iran’s nuclear program from future sabotage by Iran’s opponents, notably Israel.
The charge was ducked, but not denied, by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
"I believe that refers to things like physical security and safeguards," Moniz said. "All of our options and those of our allies and friends will remain in place."
Secretary of State John Kerry clarified that the annex in question was designed to ensure that Iran’s nuclear capacity was "adequately protected" from unconventional threats such as cyber warfare.
"The purpose of that is to be able to have longer-term guarantees as we enter a world in which cyber warfare is increasingly a concern for everybody," Kerry said. "If you are going to have a nuclear capacity, you clearly want to be able to make sure that those are adequately protected."
Israel has sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program through cyber warfare in the past.
Such stalling tactics will be more difficult to carry out if the United States provides Iran with "training and workshops" to counter nuclear security threats, as the deal requires.
Israel is widely believed to be the ultimate target of an Iranian nuclear weapon. It is one of the leading opponents of the agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called the deal a "historic mistake," saying that it will only allow Iran to continue spreading "aggression and terror" throughout the Middle East.
"Far-reaching concessions were made in areas that were supposed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said in a press conference in Jerusalem. "Iran will receive hundreds of billions of dollars, with which it can fuel its terror machine, and pursue its aggression and terror in the region and the world."