July 23, 2015 | The Wall Street Journal

The Iranian Inspections Mirage

‘Around-the-clock monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities.” “Access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain.” “Access [to] any suspicious location.” “Access where necessary, when necessary.” “Unprecedented verification.”

These are among the claims President Obama is making about the inspections and enforcement contained in the Iran deal, which are supposed to reassure Americans that Tehran won’t cheat—or at least that it will be promptly caught and punished if it does. A closer look tells a different story.

Take that carefully finessed phrase, “where necessary, when necessary.” This is supposed to be the Administration’s version of “anytime, anywhere” inspections that experts have long insisted needs to be a condition of any agreement.

The Administration is also boasting that the deal establishes a dedicated “procurement channel,” through which it will be required to purchase all of its nuclear-related material. This is supposed to stop Iran from illicitly shopping for spare nuclear parts—which it has repeatedly been caught doing during the 18 months of negotiations.

Yet as sanctions on Iran are lifted and Iranian companies (or their middlemen) gain commercial access to the West, it will become all but impossible to prevent Iran from buying whatever it wants, wherever it wants. “The procurement channel could work in a world where financial institutions, commercial companies and traders were frightened by aggressive sanctions enforcement,” says Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. But he says the deal makes such enforcement impossible in practice. 


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