TEHRAN – A senior Iranian official said on Saturday that Tehran will allow no inspection of its military sites, an issue set to open the latest chapter in Donald Trump’s antagonistic approach toward Tehran.
“Under no circumstances are the Americans allowed to inspect Iran’s military sites,” media outlets quoted Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying.
“Neither would they be allowed to do so, nor do they dare to violate Iran’s security,” Velayati, Iran’s former foreign minister for 16 years, added.
“The sites are part of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s security.”
Washington’s inspection bid, Velayati ridiculed, is similar to Don Quixote, a reference to the famous is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, whose protagonist was pursuing quixotic plans.
Last week, the AP reported that Trump administration intends to drum up “foolproof intelligence” inspections of what is claimed to be suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump desperately wants to cancel.
During his campaign trail, Trump pledged to “tear up” the deal which he said was “the worst deal ever negotiated”.
The nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was forged between Tehran, the European Union, and six world countries of the U.S., Russia, China, England, Germany and France.
Under the accord, Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for removal of nuclear-related sanctions.
Since taking office, Trump has taken a much harder line on the deal, calling for renegotiation, what Tehran has categorically ruled out for the multilateral accord.
The inspections, U.S. official told Fox News, are in line with what is planned to be a harsh approach to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, what Tehran denies has never been seeking. While the Trump administration seeks to police the existing deal more strictly, it is also working to fix what Trump’s aides have called “serious flaws” in the landmark deal that, if not resolved quickly, will likely lead Trump to pull out.
That effort also includes discussions with European countries to negotiate a follow-up agreement to prevent Iran from resuming nuclear development after the deal’s restrictions expire in about a decade.
The campaign gained fresh urgency this month following a dramatic clash within the administration about whether to recertify Iran’s compliance, as is required every 90 days.
People close to the Oval Office said Trump had begrudgingly certified the accord, and is likely to pull out of the deal.
To force its inspections plan, Washington needs to enlist the support of the 34 other countries who sit on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors.
Under the nuclear accord, the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, is responsible for verifying Iran’s adherence to the deal.
The UN watchdog has so far confirmed Iran’s compliance with the deal six times.
Access to Iran’s military sites was a key sticking point during two years of negotiation which led to the accord, under which requests for access to military sites should “be made in good faith” and “kept to the minimum necessary to effectively implement the verification responsibilities”.
Also, such requests will not be aimed at interfering with Iran’s military or other national security activities, but will be exclusively for resolving concerns regarding fulfillment of the JCPOA commitments and Iran’s other non-proliferation and safeguards obligations.