AIPAC, GOP Blast Iran Deal Anew Amid Report of Secret Exemptions

Opponents of the Iranian nuclear deal pounced on the Obama administration for misleading the American public after reports emerged that Iran was secretly allowed to evade certain restrictions in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) so that it could begin receiving sanctions relief.

According to the report, released by the DC-based Institute for Science and International Security on Thursday, a P5+1 joint commission formed to oversee implementation of the accord gave Iran some exemptions so that its nuclear facilities would be in compliance with the deal by Jan. 16, 2016 the deadline for the beginning of the lifting of sanctions.

As part of the concessions that allowed Iran to exceed uranium limits, Reuters reported, the joint commission agreed to exempt unknown quantities of 3.5 percent LEU contained in liquid, solid and sludge wastes stored at Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement restricts Iran to stockpiling only 300 kg of 3.5 percent LEU. The commission approved a second exemption for an unknown quantity of near 20 percent LEU in “lab contaminant” that was determined to be unrecoverable, as well as allow Iran to keep operating 19 radiation containment chambers larger than the deal set, according to the report. These so-called “hot cells” are used for handling radioactive material but can be “misused for secret, mostly small-scale plutonium separation efforts,” said the report.

Earlier reports that Iran exceeded its quota for heavy water production, and failed to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with unencumbered access during its investigation into the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.

In a statement issued on Thursday, AIPAC said it was “deeply troubled” by the report. “If the report is accurate, this unwarranted leniency sets a dangerous precedent concerning adherence to the agreement,” the pro-Israel lobby’s statement read. “Since the agreement was implemented, Iran has continued its malign behavior, to include harassing American military forces, procuring prohibited technology, testing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, and stoking regional conflicts.

AIPAC called on the administration and Congress to exercise “robust oversight” of Iran’s behavior and respond to violations of the deal or U.N. Security Council resolutions with “certain, swift and severe penalties.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition accused the Obama administration of misleading the American public and lying about the details of the deal. “This latest report further confirms that the Obama Administration has consistently misled the American people on the Iran nuclear deal,’ RJC’s Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement. “Simply put, President Obama and his fellow Democrats have never been straightforward with the American people about Iran.” 

Last week, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested that Hillary Clinton owns President Barack Obama’s Iran policy. “By helping put together a deal that ultimately sent $400M to Iran that was likely used to fund terrorism, Clinton has proven herself unfit to be president of the United States,” he said at a campaign rally.

In a statement issued by the Trump campaign on Thursday,  Lt. General Mike Flynn asserted the new report raises fresh questions about Clinton’s foreign policy judgment. ““The deeply flawed nuclear deal Hillary Clinton secretly spearheaded with Iran looks worse and worse by the day,” said Flynn. “It’s now clear President Obama gave away the store to secure a weak agreement that is full of loopholes, never ultimately blocks Iran from nuclear weapons, emboldens our enemies and funds terrorism… Hillary Clinton’s continued support of this dangerous deal, which undermines the long-term security interests of the United States and Israel, shows just how bad her judgment really is.” 

Clinton, speaking at the American Legion national conference on Wednesday, cited the Iran deal as one of the Obama administration’s achievements. “We cut off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon,” she said. “We protected our ally Israel.”

A recent Morning Consult poll showed a huge shift of public opinion in support of the Iranian nuclear deal. By a 13-point margin (49 percent to 36 percent), voters now support the agreement. A year ago, 56 percent opposed the deal, while only 27 percent supported it.

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