Iran Granted Exemptions to Nuclear Accord: Report

Washington: The US and its allies allegedly granted “secret” exemptions to Iran in last year’s landmark agreement that sought to curb the Islamic country’s nuclear program, according to a controversial new report by a Washington-based think tank.

Iran was allowed to sidestep certain conditions by the Joint Commission, the deal’s implementing body, as some of its nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by January 16, 2016 – the Implementation Day, the report claimed quoting a senior official.

“We have learned that some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) limits on Implementation Day, but in anticipation, the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits,” David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security said in the report released on Thursday.

According to the report, the exemptions involved relaxing the requirement that Iran must limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium to under 300 kgs, some of the near 20 percent LEU, the heavy water cap, and the number of large hot cells allowed to remain in the country.

The report said the US and its negotiating partners — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — approved the exemptions.

Albright alleged that the Joint Commission created a Technical Working Group to consider further exemptions to Iran’s stock of 3.5 per cent low enriched uranium.

This cap is set at 300 kg of low enriched uranium hexafluoride but Iran apparently has or could exceed the cap if no further exemptions are granted by the Joint Commission, the thinktank said.

“The decisions of the Joint Commission have not been announced publicly. The Obama administration informed Congress of key Joint Commission decisions on Implementation Day but in a confidential manner,” it said.

US officials, however, immediately dismissed the report, insisting Iran was in full compliance with nuclear agreement.

“Iran is in compliance with the agreement. That is a fact that is verified by independent international experts who, because of the agreement, now have the kind of access that is required to verify it,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“Iran’s nuclear commitments under the JCPOA have not changed. There’s been no moving of the goal post, as it were. The joint commission has always been intended to address implementation issues when they arise,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference.