U.S. lawmakers and foreign policy insiders are calling on the international community to re-open its "flawed" investigation into Iran’s past nuclear weapons research, according to conversations with multiple sources who say the extent of Iran’s past nuclear work is likely much larger than previously believed.
The calls to reinvestigate Iran’s nuclear work come on the heels of revelations by anonymous U.S. officials who said the Obama administration held onto evidence showing the Islamic Republic performed extensive nuclear weapons research—a finding that contradicts findings by international monitors and longstanding claims by Iranian officials.
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Administration officials made no mention of the finding when International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors first discovered it in December, but now say the evidence is proof Iran worked to build nuclear weapons as recently as 2003.
The discovery has prompted lawmakers to demand that the IAEA re-open its currently closed investigation into Iran’s past nuclear weapons work.
"The Obama administration’s contradiction of both Iran and the IAEA on this uranium issue calls for a re-examination of the flawed potential military dimensions report," Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kansas), a member of the House’s intelligence committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The IAEA cannot claim to have an accurate accounting of the situation while nuclear particles are unaccounted for."
U.S. officials promised Congress during negotiations with Iran that no deal would be implemented until the issue of Iran’s past nuclear weapons work was settled.
"Even Obama administration officials disagree with the report’s conclusions, now six months later," Pompeo said. "It is common sense that when you uncover a problem, you investigate until you find a solution. Now all agree we have a new fact—and a problem. Failing to investigate what happened with Iran’s nuclear weapons program sets a dangerous precedent."
Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), another vocal critic of the administration's diplomacy with Iran, told the Free Beacon that international inspectors with the IAEA were not thorough enough in their investigations due to "political pressure" from pro-Iran forces.
"It’s deeply troubling that the world’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, appears to have lost its independence due to the Iran nuclear deal," Kirk said. "Nuclear inspectors should have intensified their investigation into Iran’s nuclear weapons program after uranium particles were found at Iran’s military base at Parchin, but instead they stood down due to political pressure."
Senior congressional officials apprised of the situation told the Free Beacon that the administration ignored these new nuclear findings at a critical point in its diplomacy with Iran.
"The IAEA’s PMD [Possible Military Dimensions] report came out in December, and Obama administration officials are only just now speaking—anonymously—on why they disagree with the report and why these nuclear materials are a huge problem," the source said. "They cannot so easily assuage their consciences and undo the damage they caused by closing the PMD case. The Obama administration’s decision to ignore Iran’s covert nuclear weapons development, and attempt to sweep it under the rug, will no doubt haunt us for decades."
Pompeo and other House lawmakers introduced a bill in January that would require the Obama administration to provide a full accounting of Iran’s past nuclear weapons work before any sanctions on the Islamic Republic were lifted.
Another source who works closely with Congress on the Iran issue told the Free Beacon that the new nuclear disclosures cast doubt on past international reports claiming that Iran has stopped all nuclear work.
"It's time to reopen the so-called PMD file, to figure out what weapons work Iran was doing," the source said. "The IAEA is supposed to make sure that Iran has stopped all of the nuclear weapons work it was doing, but here is a place where there is broad confusion over what nuclear weapons work was happening. So there's no way for the IAEA to confirm it stopped. The first step to fixing that is to have the IAEA go back into Parchin and figure out exactly what was happening."