Though the IAEA confirmed once again today that they had monitors present during the collection of samples from the Iranian military site of Parchin, Congressional hawks expressed “grave concerns” about this and claimed it proved Iran was being allowed to “inspect itself.”
The White House presented the sample collection as vindication for the nuclear deal, and said IAEA comments should end the questions surrounding the process. By contrast, the Republican opponents of the deal are simply ignoring the IAEA comments and reiterating their claims.
The questions about the sampling process came from a “document” released by the AP claiming Iran would be allowed to inspect itself, and provide whatever they wanted for samples. The document was almost immediately discredited as a forgery, but many in Congress continue to present it as unquestioned fact.
What actually happens in the sample collection is that Iranian workers collect the samples in the presence of IAEA monitors. This is not uncommon, because of the risk of cross-site contamination by international inspectors. A previous IAEA inspection in Syria, during which they collected the samples themselves, led to controversy when those samples were revealed to be tainted with radioactive material from previous sites in other countries tracked in by the international monitoring team.
While past IAEA inspections of Parchin didn’t turn up anything, Iran was clear they wanted to avoid the risk of a “false positive” this time, particularly since the samples are a central part of the international nuclear deal and a false positive could spark a major war.