- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Iran is trying to deceive U.N. inspectors in charge of implementing last summer’s nuclear deal, according to a prominent Iranian dissident group, which claims that Tehran has created a “top-secret committee” to provide false information to the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency.

According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the secret committee consists of top officials from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Defense Armed Forces Logistics, who are “working to cover up” the potential military dimensions of Iran’s secret nuclear programs.

The NCRI’s claim, revealed to journalists Wednesday, was not immediately verifiable.

The group is known for its controversial history in Washington but is seen to have deep sources inside Iran’s nuclear community. Its members have been credited with major exposes about Tehran’s activities.

Most notably, NCRI claims in the early 2000s exposed the existence of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy-water plutonium facility. The two operations later became the center of international scrutiny and distrust toward Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The NCRI report emerged on the same day that the IAEA issued its long-awaited report on Iran’s past nuclear activities, a milestone in the nuclear deal that the Obama administration and its international partners struck with Tehran this summer.

The Vienna-based IAEA concluded that Iran worked in the past on nuclear weapons but its activities didn’t go past planning such a program and testing basic components, in what it described as a final report wrapping up nearly a decade of investigation.

The report also suggested that Iranian officials did not make available all information of interest, so the conclusions were less black and white than they would have been had the IAEA received full cooperation, according to The Associated Press.

The IAEA evaluation said most “coordinated” work on developing such arms was performed before 2003, with some activities continuing up to 2009.

But the NCRI said its own findings, and the existence of the new Iranian committee formed to frustrate international inspectors, “renders the regime’s claims utterly false.”

Separately, a former top Obama administration counterterrorism official and the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee clashed over how Iran’s leaders planned to use the billions of dollars Tehran was set to receive as Western economic and financial sanctions were lifted under the nuclear deal.

“The hypothesis that Tehran will use large sums derived from sanctions relief to support terror and subversion appears flawed,” former State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin told the committee in a hearing Wednesday morning.

But committee Chairman Edward R. Royce, California Republican, said the Obama administration has “gambled” that the nuclear deal would “lead to a responsible Iran” that would stop funding terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“Instead,” said Mr. Royce, the Iranian regime “is working harder than ever to export violence and terror to Syria, Yemen and beyond.”

Iran’s support of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria has fed the rise of the Islamic State group, Mr. Royce said.

“Soon, sanctions will be lifted and the Iranian regime will hit a jackpot in the tens of billions,” he said. “This money isn’t going to ordinary Iranians; it will be used to strengthen Iran’s murderous Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

Ali Alfoneh, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the panel he saw no early signs that Iran had modified its support for Shiite allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Relative moderates such as President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “command little influence over the Islamic republic’s regional policies” compared with hard-line groups such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps, he said.

Washington wants to resolve conflicts in the Middle East; the IRGC benefits most by seeing these conflicts continue,” Mr. Alfoneh said in prepared testimony.

But Mr. Benjamin, now director of Dartmouth College’s John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, argued that Iran’s primary goal in negotiating the nuclear deal was not to finance terrorism abroad but “to improve economic conditions at home that were eroding support for the regime.”

“It would follow, therefore, that the bulk of the money [from sanctions relief] will be used to ameliorate domestic concerns,” he said.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide