- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2019

The United Nations watchdog agency charged with examining Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal has failed to fulfill its mission and has operated in an opaque and politicized manner, according to a new report by an influential Washington policy shop.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has “not demonstrably satisfied its mandate” and “has provided insufficient transparency and clarity about its inspections in Iran,” according to the report published Monday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

The think tank, known for its hawkish criticism of Iran’s government and for advocating tough U.S. sanctions against Tehran, asserted that IAEA’s “opacity raises questions about the diligence of the IAEA’s investigations.” The report also argued that “political considerations have interfered with [the agency’s] obligation to serve as an objective, technical body.”

The scathing criticism comes against the backdrop of a dispute between the Trump administration, which withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal last year, and Iranian officials over the efficacy of the IAEA’s operations overseeing the Obama-era nuclear accord.

Trump administration officials have accused Iran of clearly violating the accord that had eased sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limits to and U.N. inspections of the Iranian nuclear program. Iranian leaders have staunchly rejected the accusation, while the IAEA has issued a range of inconclusive inspection assessments over the past two-and-a-half years.

The FDD report published Monday argued that Israel’s public disclosure in April 2018 of an Israeli Mossad intelligence agency operation that captured files cataloguing Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon had underscored “gaps” in the IAEA’s own assessment of Iranian activities.

There was no immediate response from the Trump administration or from the IAEA to Monday’s report, which comes at a sensitive moment for the U.S. watchdog agency, less than a month after its longtime chief, Yukiya Amano, died at the age of 72.

Mr. Amano had been due to step down early next year due to an unspecified illness. It is not yet clear who will take over as head of the agency, although a new permanent chief is slated to be selected by a 35-nation board of governors by October. In the interim, the board has tapped Romanian diplomat Cornel Feruta as temporary chief.

The FDD report claimed public statements by IAEA leaders have shown a “hesitation to scrutinize key Iranian activities that potentially violate” the 2015 nuclear deal out of deference to Iran.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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