The United States and the rest of the P5+1 powers secretly agreed to allow Iran to evade some of the restrictions placed upon it by last year’s landmark nuclear deal so that the deadline for sanction lifting would be met on time, according to a new report by a Washington think tank.
The report, reviewed by Reuters and published Thursday by the Institute for Science and International Security, was co-authored by former UN weapons inspector David Albright. Albright said the report is based on information from several government officials involved in the negotiations.
“The exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran,” Albright said, reported Reuters.
The loopholes were approved by the joint commission overseeing implementation of the deal, comprised of the US and the five other world powers involved in last year’s high-stakes nuclear negotiations – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
Among the restrictions waived by the “secret” agreement were two that allowed Iran to keep more low-enriched uranium (LEU) than the deal permits.
The LEU, stored in Iran’s nuclear facilities, can be purified into highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium that could be used in nuclear bombs.
While the original deal restricts Iran to storing only 300 kilograms of 3.5 percent LEU contained in liquid, solid and sludge wastes, the secret agreements allows it to exempt “unknown quantities”, said the report.
According to experts, Reuters said, “If the total amount of excess LEU Iran possesses is unknown, it is impossible to know how much weapons-grade uranium it could yield.”
Iran will also be permitted to keep operating 19 more radiation containment chambers, or “hot cells”, than are granted by the deal.
The “hot cells” are used for handling radioactive material but, according to the report, can also be “misused” for “secret, mostly small-scale plutonium separation efforts.”
Another restriction eased by the secret exemptions is the amount of heavy water Iran can possess. The deal calls for a 130-ton limit and mandates that Iran sell its excess. When Iran was unable to find a buyer in time for the deadline, however, the joint committee allowed it to ship 50 tons of its heavy water to Oman, Jordan, where the material, which is used in nuclear reactors, will be stored under Iranian control.
The US has said in the past that P5+1 powers did not make secret arrangements with Iran.
Marking a year since the agreement was made, President Barack Obama, who pushed the deal hard despite Congressional and international resistance, bragged earlier in the month about the success of the nuclear deal, saying it had worked “exactly the way we said it was going to work.”
“You will recall that there were all these horror stories about how Iran was going to cheat, and this wasn’t going to work, and Iran was going to get $150 billion to finance terrorism and all these kinds of scenarios. And none of them have come to pass,” said Obama.