US President Donald Trump walks from the Diplomatic Reception Room after speaking about the Iran nuclear deal at the White House in Washington, US, October 13, 2017. . (photo credit:REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The nuclear deal brokered between Iran and international powers in 2015 does not provide the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog with access to Tehran’s military facilities, a senior Russian government official said on Thursday.
Sergey Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, told reporters in Sochi that his government sees “eye to eye” with Iran on the question of military site access for the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been a matter of concern to the Trump administration.
“The IAEA mandate does not authorize inspections under Section T,” Ryabkov said, referring to a provision of the deal that commits Iran not to work on any designs related to nuclear weapons or explosives.
Iran argues that international access to its military facilities would violate its sovereignty. Critics argue that Iran’s past nuclear weapons work largely occurred at its military sites, and that the nuclear deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – cannot fully be enforced without such access.
An English-language report from TASS, Russia’s state-owned news agency, quoted Ryabkov as stating the nuclear deal “does not provide for inspections of Iranian military facilities.”
He noted that the JCPOA set up a mechanism to resolve disputes over access, called the Joint Commission – a panel comprised of the US, UK, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran, which negotiated the deal.
Ryabkov’s statement puts Moscow at odds with Washington once again, at a moment when US President Donald Trump hopes to rework the nuclear accord to guarantee swift access to sites across Iran for UN inspectors.
“The Iranian regime has also intimidated international inspectors into not using the full inspection authorities that the agreement calls for,” Trump said in a major speech last month outlining his Iran policy. “Iranian officials and military leaders have repeatedly claimed they will not allow inspectors onto military sites, even though the international community suspects some of those sites were part of Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.”