Iran’s Nuclear Program, Deviations From JCPOA

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Primer: from a former Pentagon official:

The Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), all but guaranteed a nuclear Iran no later than 2030, necessitating U.S. withdrawal at some point to prevent a critical threat to American national security interests. But there was no urgency for Washington to do so.

What was pressing, following the Iran-Russia alliance with Bashar al-Assad gaining the upper hand in Syria’s civil war in 2016-17, was to roll back Tehran’s growing regional hegemony. Addressing this first would also have offered Trump more leverage with Iran in correcting the nuclear deal’s deep flaws.

Trump pledged to address both elements of the Iranian threat, but he has resisted confronting Iran regionally. Recently, he insisted upon the urgency of pulling out of Syria once Islamic State is defeated and his desire to let “other people take care of it now.” Those caretakers would be Iranians and Russians. This approach will raise the likelihood of an Iranian-Israel conflict over Syria, where the Assad regime is believed to be behind a weekend chemical weapons attack that killed dozens near Damascus and which in turn is blaming Israel for an attack on a Syrian airbase that killed several Iranian military personnel 24 hours later. Much more here to his cogent summary.

MEMRI: In advance of Iran’s National Nuclear Technology Day, on April 9, this document focuses on a number of steps taken by the Iranian regime to maintain and further develop Iran’s nuclear capabilities – steps that deviate from the framework of the JCPOA nuclear deal, and that in some cases even blatantly violate it. This paper will address the following:

1. Iran’s intention to enrich uranium above the percentage permitted in JCPOA.

2. Leaving the plutonium core of the reactor at Arak unblocked and usable.

3. Iran’s refusal to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections at its military sites.

1. Iran Announces Decision “To Construct Naval Nuclear Propulsion” – While Naval Nuclear Propulsion Requires Uranium Enriched To 60%-90%

On December 13, 2016, just six months after the JCPOA was finalized, Iranian President Hassan Rohani sent a letter to Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Ali Akbar Salehi instructing him as follows: “As part of Iran’s nuclear program for peaceful purposes, and in the framework of Iran’s international commitments, the AEOI must formulate a plan to produce nuclear fuel for naval transportation, in cooperation with [Iran’s] scientific and research centers.”[1] It should be noted that nuclear propulsion requires uranium enriched to 60%-90%.

Shortly thereafter, on December 26, 2016, AEOI deputy director and spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, who was a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, clarified to the Iranian Arabic-language Al-‘Alam TV: “The fuel is in effect for ships and submarines. At this time, Iran has a naval fleet [deployed] around the world, and with regard to submarines, Iran has long-term plans…

“There are various types of [nuclear] fuel, even fuel at 95% [enrichment, which is suitable for developing a nuclear bomb]. What is important is that Iran wants to carry this out in accordance with the JCPOA, but this does not mean that if we require 20%[-enriched] fuel that we will abandon this [the plan to enrich uranium to 60%-90%].”[2]

On March 25, 2017, Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaa Al-Din Boroujerdi explained: “Iran’s naval potential must be addressed, because Iran has a great deal of international maritime transportation, and therefore we need to use nuclear fuel capability. This is a capability that we will leverage for the oceans, and for submarine fuel. The matter of nuclear fuel [for this purpose] is an issue on which the IAEA will be informed… To date, we have not received any objections in this matter from the international institutions.”[3]

It should be emphasized that submarines are not used for civilian or commercial maritime purposes. In an August 28, 2017 interview with the Iranian news agency IRNA, Salehi explained the matter of producing nuclear fuel for naval transportation, saying: “A horizon of 10-15 years should be set so that this project will materialize… At this time, the research team is ready, and we have given it a place to directly advance this project. It should be noted that this industry has its own complications. We must place a pressurized reactor on a vessel and we must consider the risks. If the vessel is harmed or sunk, peoples’ lives will be in danger.

“We have said many times that this type of activity is Iran’s certain right. It creates capability for us. I also spoke about this to [IAEA secretary-general Yukia] Amano, and the important thing is that our activity is carried out under IAEA oversight.”[4]

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, who was  a senior member of the nuclear negotiating team, told Iranian Channel One in a January 13, 2018  interview: “We have responded to America’s moves for renewal of the ISA [Congress’s 1996 Iran Sanctions Act, extended by the Senate on December 1, 2016 for a further 10 years], and Iranian President [Rohani] has ordered the production of nuclear fuel [for maritime transportation, which requires enrichment to 60%-90%], and this is considered a strategic move [on our part].”[5]

On February 22, 2018, an IAEA report noted for the first time that Iran had, in a January 6, 2018 letter, informed the agency that it had decided “to construct naval nuclear propulsion in future.” The IAEA said in the report that it had asked Tehran to provide “further clarifications and amplifications under the Additional Protocol” by May 2018.

Also according to the IAEA report, Iran had added that since this matter was still in the early stages, it would provide the required information as soon as it was available.[6]


The Iranian regime’s intention to “construct naval nuclear propulsion” means only one thing: an advance announcement that it intends to enrich uranium to a higher level that it was permitted on the JCPOA (3.67%) to a level of 60%-95% required for nuclear propulsion for ships or submarines. As noted, submarines are not used for civilian or commercial maritime traffic. It should be noted that 95% enriched uranium can be used by Iran to produce a nuclear bomb.

With this announcement, Iran is taking the first practical step to eliminating its fundamental obligation in the JCPOA not to enrich uranium above 3.67%.

2. Is Iran Permitted To Maintain The Plutonium Core At Arak?

According to a series of tweets on January 21-22 by Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad, who was also a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, during the talks for the JCPOA Iran had demanded that it be allowed to keep the core of the heavy water reactor at Arak undamaged. He added that Iran had filled only the core’s holes with cement, so that it could reactivate it when necessary, as had been previously confirmed by AEOI director Salehi (see below). Baeidinejad tweeted:

“For us, preserving the essence of the reactor at Arak as a heavy water reactor, and modernizing it, are considered the most important outcomes, and the achievement of which we are the most proud, in the JCPOA. The Western psy-ops organization wants to convert this triumph into a defeat [for us], and therefore presented a false picture of the filling of the reactor core with cement, which was attended by reporters who realized that this was fake. We must beware of the enemy’s plot.”[7]

“After we forced the members of the P5+1 into allowing us to preserve the reactor at Arak as a heavy water reactor, and to modernize it, they claimed that modernizing the core, i.e., the  calandria, meant replacing it with a new one. In order to prevent the misuse, or the possible use [of the old calandria], they insisted on sending it outside Iran.”[8]

“Iran objected to this, and noted that it would not send any of its nuclear equipment out of the country. After lengthy talks, we realized that there was a need to find a technical way to prevent the immediate use of the core. They proposed welding the core, which is steel, and cutting it into pieces.[9]

“Iran opposed this proposal and noted that it wants to put the core in a museum on public display showing the creativity of Iran’s scientists. Ultimately, it was suggested that the holes of the core, not the core itself, be filled with cement so that it could not be used immediately.”[10]

Supporters of Baeidinejad’s statements tweeted the photo below and noted that the image on the right had been doctored to show the core filled with cement, and that this photo had been circulated by opponents of the JCPOA in Iran who wanted to show a false picture of Iran’s submission to the demands of the West. The image on the left, they said, was an actual photo of the Arak reactor taken by the reporters mentioned by Baeidinejad.

Photos of the Arak plutonium reactor (Source: Twitter.com/Esferayn1/status/955385176221257728, January 22, 2018.)

AEOI director Salehi also stated that the core had not been filled with cement, and that “we [actually] poured cement only into some of the reactor’s pipelines, [pipes] several centimeters in diameter and two to three meters long. [We poured it] not into the reactor itself but [only] into the external pipes… ” (see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1341, Head Of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization: Only External Pipelines Of Arak Reactor Were Filled With Cement, Its Core Was Not; Within Five Days, We Can Begin Enriching Uranium To 20%, September 1, 2017).

3. Is The IAEA Allowed Access To Iran’s Military Sites?

The discussion on the issue of IAEA access to Iran’s military sites has been ongoing since July 2015, with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that set out the elements of the JCPOA. Iranian regime spokesmen continue to claim that neither the JCPOA, the NPT nor the Additional Protocol allow IAEA inspectors to enter Iranian military sites.

On January 14, 2018,  AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said: “No one in Iran will allow the IAEA access to the military sites, and this matter is not mentioned in the [NPT] treaty, the Additional Protocol, or the JCPOA. I reject the four conditions of the American president in the matter of continuing [the implementation ] of the JCPOA. In the past, there was the matter of visits to military sites such as Parchin. [But] this file was closed, and now there is no issue that the IAEA has presented in this matter that [justifies] allowing them access to military sites. The American president is making unfounded statements in this matter, perhaps because he knows that we, like other countries, are sensitive in this matter, and he expects us to immediately say that we do not agree and in fact oppose it vehemently. Thus he is trying to leverage [our refusal] so that he can say that Iran is not willing to allow access under any conditions.

“There are rules for access [to military sites]. We cannot possibly allow access casually, or allow [visits] out of [mere] curiosity. Everything [in this matter] has rules, and these rules are presented and set out in the Additional Protocol. Actually, the Protocol does not mention access to undeclared sites. Even when a particular place is declared [as nuclear, proof must be presented that] nuclear activity [actually] takes place there.

“We are conducting no nuclear activity whatsoever at any of our sites, and we are not a country that wants a [nuclear] bomb or weapons.

“It is the Americans who have stated that Iran wants [nuclear] weapons, and because they themselves are acting to [produce them?] at [their own] military sites, they have concluded that there must be access to these sites [in Iran].

“In recent years, the only instance presented in this matter was the issue of the PMD [Possible Military Dimension s] and they [the Americans] made a lot of noise about it for no reason. They raised the issue of Parchin, and after [IAEA General Director Amano] visited [there] and samples were provided [by Iran], it became clear that their noise in this matter was baseless, and this file was closed forever. Therefore the IAEA has not brought up any plan in the matter of access to military sites, and also is not talking about it [any longer]. If Trump thinks that Iran or any other country will open the doors of its sites, particular military sites, so that they [the West] will take advantage of this and want to spy, [he needs to know that] this is not going to happen in Iran, and that Iran will not allow anyone to do such a thing.

“Our obligations under the JCPOA are carried out according to the Additional Protocol. We are responding to the IAEA’s questions, and  complementary access  is in accordance with what is presented in the Additional Protocol. The IAEA has indicated this in several reports, and it is completely satisfied, and as of now no issue in the matter of access is on its table. If there are such matters, the IAEA must present them, and say so.

“It is inconceivable for America to say that it wants access to Iran’s military sites without asking the IAEA, or that it has any information at all on them [the sites] . These actions on its part are aimed solely at finding a pretext to elicit a negative response from Iran. Iran will certainly say ‘no,’ and this [access to its military sites] will not happen. Trump must not interpret this matter as Iran’s insufficient cooperation with the IAEA. We are sufficiently cooperating with the IAEA, as cooperation was clearly defined in the [NPT] treaty, in the [Additional] Protocol, and in the JCPOA. Even the IAEA has expressed satisfaction [with Iran’s cooperation]. The IAEA has no question in the matter that is on the table, and therefore it is not concerned. Trump needs to worry [only if] the IAEA is worried…”[11]

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, told Iranian Channel One in his January 13, 2018 interview: “The Americans thought that visiting military centers constitutes a weak point for us, and Iran cannot agree to [these visits] in any way. They tried to pull the IAEA in this direction, and invested months of efforts in ripping up the JCPOA at Iran’s expense, but did not succeed…

“It is the IAEA that needs to determine where and what to visit. This is a technical and professional matter whose framework is set out in the Additional Protocol and the JCPOA.

“Our nuclear facilities are under oversight. Beyond this, there are principles. America cannot tell the IAEA where it should go. We have acted with the IAEA in a way that [the agency] always stresses – and that way is that Iran is fully cooperating [with it].

“The IAEA has not asked to visit military centers, and things don’t work that way either – i.e. that it asks and that we approve [the request]. We will not allow the IAEA to interfere any more than it has to…”[12]

* A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; U. Kafash is a MEMRI Research Fellow.


Russia Blames The White Helmets For The Chemical Attacks

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Really Moscow? Exactly how much aid and assistance have Russian forces provided to the dying innocent Syrians? None. Who are the White Helmets?

Then there are those that believe Assad and Putin when they say they had nothing to do with the chemical attacks….hummm. What is the real issue here? Diplomatic relationships… Exactly how many rebel groups have barrel bombs, helicopters and full protection of laboratories to manufacture chlorine and nerve agent gasses? It is called Agent 15 or 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate.

After a Syrian photographer found parts made by German company the Krempel Group in the remains of Iranian-produced chemical rockets that gassed Syrian civilians in January and February, the firm rejected on Wednesday new US warnings about the dangers of conducting business with the Islamic Republic.

“There continue to be ongoing risks with doing business there, because the Iranians have not reformed their system,” Sigal Mandelker, the US under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said on Tuesday.

Mandelker, speaking in London, said Tehran was financing Hezbollah, Hamas and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

There is no transparency in the Iranian banking system, she said. “The onus of responsibility lies in Iran and we’re going to continue to highlight the risks of doing business there, because they haven’t taken the actions that they have promised they would take,” she said.

When asked whether it had ignored US warnings, Krempel told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday it has continued business deals with Iran, but “Krempel GmbH complies strictly with legal guidelines. In unclear situations, we seek legal advice and apply corresponding measures in order to remain in compliance.”

Krempel added that it now “delivers a different pressspan (also not a dual-use good) exclusively to a manufacturer (OEM) [Original Equipment Manufacturer] in Iran because we can know the end usage.”

A presspan is an insulating material with a cellulose base that can be used in motors. Dual-use goods can be used for both military and civilian purposes, and what items come under this rubric is subject to dispute.

Green Party politician Volker Beck told the Post that “Germany has apparently in the past allowed the delivery of dual-use goods to Iran. That is completely unacceptable. One cannot stress the ‘special relationship’ with Israel and at the same time deliver material for Iranian rockets that threaten Israel’s existence.

“The victims of the Assad regime are paying the price for this mistake,” Beck added.

The Krempel Group, located near the southern city of Stuttgart, sold electronic press boards to Iranian companies that were used in the production of Iranian rockets. The press boards are frequently inserted in motors.

Assad regime forces fired the Iranian missiles containing Krempel material, resulting in the severe gassing of 21 adults and children.

Krempel added in its statement to the Post that the company halted business relations with the two buyers in Tehran, who were involved in delivering the Krempel material for the chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The firm said it terminated business with the two men who operate companies in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar because it cannot influence the use of its products in that market.

The two former Krempel business partners are Reza Moghaddam Panah and Mahmood Hasan Darvish Commerce. Krempel had $184,000 in annual sales to the Iranian companies.

The German firm operates a distribution center called Krempel Insulation Technologies, LP, in Deerfield, Michigan.

KREMPEL’S DECISION to continue business with Iran prompted criticism from Julie Lenarz, a senior fellow at the Israel Project.

She told the Post that “on Saturday, harrowing footage of children foaming at the mouth, dying in agony from exposure to chemical weapons, flashed across our television screens again. If our politicians want to move beyond empty mantras of condemnation, they can start by punishing the protectors of the murderous Assad regime.

“Since the nuclear accord was signed with Iran in 2015, European countries and companies have flocked to Tehran for lucrative business deals. The consequences have been grim. Material sold by Krempel was caught in Iranian chemical rockets deployed against Syrians civilians. And yet the company refuses to stop trading with Iran, hiding behind smug legal truisms,” Lenarz said.

She added that “no company with a robust ethical code, nor any country with a moral compass intact, could possibly regard Iran as a legitimate business partner. The Islamic Republic is the No. 1 state sponsor of terror. The greatest threat to stability in the Middle East. A brutal occupier abroad, and a repressive theocracy at home.”

The Krempel Group describes itself on its website as “an independent manufacturer of high quality semi-finished products and a leading global system supplier of modern materials. Our electrical insulations, composites, solar and electronic materials, as well as special laminates, enjoy an excellent reputation worldwide and we are global market leaders in many of these sectors.”

When asked about Krempel and German companies conducting dual-use business with Iran, Christiane Fuckerer, a spokeswoman for Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control – BAFA, said she could not provide such information by press time.

Beate Baron, a spokeswoman for Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, which oversees BAFA, declined to answer a Post media query.

BAFA said in February that Krempel’s Presss pan PSP 3040, the material used in Iranian chemical rockets, is not classified as dual-use merchandise.

German exports to Iran increased in 2017 by 19%, with a total value of just under €2.4 billion. The Post reported in 2017 that numerous German intelligence agencies reported that Iran sought chemical and biological weapon technology in the Federal Republic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “shocked’ about Saturday’s chemical attack in Syria and the repeated use of poison gas in the country.

*** Anyone remember the report of North Korea assisting Assad with chemical weapons?

In part: North Korea has been sending equipment to Syria that could be used in the manufacturing of chemical weapons, according to a New York Times report citing United Nations experts.

The UN spokesman also said that shelling between rebels and Government forces in Syria had not stopped, despite a UN-ordered ceasefire, and it was not safe for relief crews to get humanitarian and medical aid into Eastern Ghouta and other parts of war-ravaged Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to destroy his country’s chemical weapons in 2013.

However, United States officials reportedly believe Mr Assad has secretly kept part of the chemical weapons stockpile and might have continued evolving Syria’s arsenal.

Myanmar also receiving arms, reports say

The news of North Korea’s possible assistance with Syria’s chemical weapons program comes after reports that Myanmar had been receiving ballistic missile technology and weapons from North Korea.

Myanmar’s Government has denied having any military ties with North Korea.

But earlier this month another confidential UN report, sighted by Reuters, suggested one unnamed country reported it had evidence that Myanmar received ballistic missile systems from North Korea, along with conventional weapons, including multiple rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles.

Myanmar’s UN ambassador Hau Do Suan responded to the claims, stating the Myanmar Government “has no ongoing arms relationship, whatsoever, with North Korea” and is abiding by the UN Security Council resolutions.