So, is Iran fudging on its promise to stop developing nuclear weapons?
Not according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Last week, IAEA representatives from all six U.N. cosigners to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reported that they had found no tangible evidence that Iran was circumventing the two-year-old P5+1 (composed of Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations plus Germany).
Granted, there are some Iranian military sites to which the IAEA officials do not have access in accordance with the nuclear accord.
But the IAEA does have free range over much of the country and aerial satellite photographs have not shown any signs that Tehran is trying to hide a nuclear arsenal.
Without any solid evidence to contradict Iran’s claims that it is holding up its end of the deal, the West pretty much has to accept the IAEA’s quarterly report as fact.
According to the IAEA report, Iran’s supply and enrichment level of uranium fuel were well within the allowed limits of the agreement.
Likewise, the Islamic Republic’s supply of heavy water, used in reactors that can produce plutonium, was also well within permitted limits.
Under the terms of the P5+1, which was inked in late 2015, Iran dismantled the one reactor it was building capable of producing large amounts of weapon-grade plutonium.
All IAEA indications suggest that Iran held up its end of the bargain.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly stated that he wants to scrap the JCPOA, which was spearheaded by his predecessor Barack Obama, and is trying to re-impose economic sanctions that were lifted under its passage.
But Great Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany have all said that they want to keep the accord in place and that they believe it is serving its primary purpose to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
There is certainly good reason to be leery of Tehran’s word, but if you cut a deal, no matter with whom, you are required to live up to your end of that agreement.
And so far, Iran has, at least as far as we can tell, done exactly that.
If there is any country which is trying to skirt the terms of the JCPOA, it seems to be the United States.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.