In a startling admission, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Thursday that the Obama administration’s standard of “anytime, anyplace access” for the inspection regime of Iran’s nuclear facilities was never meant seriously, according to media reports.
“I think this is one of those circumstances where we have all been rhetorical from time to time,” Sherman said in a conference call with Israeli reporters. “That phrase, ‘anytime, anywhere,’ is something that became popular rhetoric, but I think people understood that if the IAEA felt it had to have access, and had a justification for that access, that it would be guaranteed, and that is what happened.”
The final provision, which allows Iran time to challenge and delay on-site inspections until a panel can review and vote on the matter, has been criticized as a critical concession to Tehran, which renders compliance unverifiable.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has pointed out that under the accord, so-called “instant” inspections can take place only 24 days after requested, giving the Iranians time to clean up the site.
Sherman argued that it’s not the loophole it appears to be. She quoted U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz as saying “it’s not so easy to clean up a nuclear site,” and that’s why there’s been such a debate over IAEA inspectors visiting the Parchin military facility, where many years later there is still concern that inspectors will find something there.
“Twenty-four days may seem like a long time, but in nuclear matters, according to scientists and technical experts, it is actually a very short time,” she said.
Contrary to Netanyahu’s assessment that it is “a very bad deal,” Sherman called it “not only a good deal, but a very, very good deal.”
In addition, she noted that there has been “extraordinarily close coordination” with Israeli experts, and that they were essential in development of certain components of the deal.
“One of your lead experts wrote an e-mail to us after the deal looking for further consultation to see where our joint experts produced a result,” she said. Israeli experts were involved in everything from the redesign of the Arak hard water reactor to examining issues of weaponization in the text.
Sherman urged the Israeli public to read the 100-page agreement and then judge for themselves.