Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has written an op-ed which downplays growing disagreements between the U.S. and Iran over the framework agreement announced nearly two weeks ago.
Writing for the Washington Post, Secretary Moniz states, “It is not surprising that Iran seeks to frame the debate over certain parts of the framework, but the parameters remain the same.” As Moniz notes in the previous sentence, that’s a clear reference to “reports of differences between the fact sheets put out by the United States and Iran.”
The differences over what exactly the framework says have included a growing list of issues, as this resource page published by United Against Nuclear Iran points out. The most critical of these, and an area where the U.S. and Iran seem most directly at odds, is the nature of inspections allowed under the deal. Several Iranian leaders, including Ayatollah Khamenei, have said inspections of military sites are off limits.
The disagreement began in earnest last week, when Iran’s Defense Minister stated unequivocally, “Inspection of military facilities is a red line and no inspection of any kind from such facilities would be accepted.” His statement was backed up the next day by Supreme Leader Khamenei who, according to the NY Times, ruled out inspections of military sites. Finally last week, another senior Iranian military commander, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, went even farther, saying, “During the previous negotiations, the Iranian officials… have explicitly and unequivocally expressed the prohibition of any inspection of [Iran’s] military and defense centers and facilities.” In other words, Iran is not only claiming they never agreed to this, they are claiming they made it clear during negotiations that this was a non-starter.
These statements are at odds with Secretary Moniz’s reassurances and with the U.S. fact sheet published by the State Department. The fact sheet seems to leave no wiggle-room with regard to the U.S. position on inspections. It states that IAEA inspectors will be able to visit sites “anywhere in the country” — not just for the 10-year term of the deal but permanently. Only one thing is certain at this point: There is no way both sides can be right. Inspections of military sites will either be an option for the IAEA as the U.S. claims or will be absolutely off limits as Iran claims. That means one party or the other will need to modify its language significantly before a final agreement is reached in June.