As with most of the really big Iran scandals, it all starts and ends with unsourced and bogus allegations by Associated Press writer George Jahn.
Today, Jahn alleged that the AP had seen a document which would allow Iran to “investigate” the Parchin military site itself in the IAEA’s stead. The article itself makes this allegation in a single sentence, providing no evidence, and then is packed with condemnations from Republican hawks and other opponents of the Iran nuclear deal.
A testament to how quickly truth can be invented when it creates a media-friendly scandal, within hours major media around the world were treating the story as unvarnished truth, with nary an attempt to divine the truth about the inspections, or to dig any deeper into a paper-thin allegation.
Ironically, the allegation isn’t even a brand new one. Last month, the claims surrounded testimony from John Kerry and the narrative was that Iran would be using its own inspectors to collect samples at Parchin as part of an attempt to limit IAEA access.
Which was itself partially true, but misleading. The Parchin site is a massive, active military facility, and it was always an assumption that the IAEA access to the site would not be absolute. There were always assumed by everyone to be parts of the conventional military facility to which IAEA access would be limited. US officials affirmed as much in the last days of negotiations, saying they wouldn’t agree to give the IAEA unrestricted access either. Iran would be providing additional samples from such sites within the Parchin compound.
Though the exact details of how much direct access the IAEA will be given remain unclear, the allegations of Iran “inspecting itself” come from a combination of them providing some of their own samples, and having the right to limit IAEA access to parts of the site, along with the right to veto certain foreign inspectors it considers to be spying risks.
Jahn has spent so many years manufacturing false claims about Parchin that he can’t even keep the story straight, referring to it in today’s story as the “Parchin nuclear site,” even though it is a conventional military site that was only alleged to have had some past, limited explosives testing related to possible nuclear triggers.
Interestingly enough, this scandal has been built totally independently of a separate round of allegations of Iran “sanitizing” Parchin to scam the international investigators. While the two allegations clearly are self-contradictory, that hasn’t stopped many of the same hawks who are still hyping the sanitizing claims from parroting the new one right along side it. The narrative doesn’t have to make any sense, it seems, as long as it seems vaguely supportive of their position.