WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran will not have to come clean about its past efforts to obtain nuclear weapons in order to sign a final deal with world powers on its atomic program, U.S. and Western officials said.
The Associated Press on Thursday quoted unnamed officials as saying that questions about Iran’s past activity toward achieving those capabilities will not be answered by the June 30 deadline for a final deal.
In 2013, the Obama administration said that a comprehensive solution “would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program.”
The deal would lift some sanctions on Iran in exchange for what U.S. officials have described as verifiable compliance with limitations set to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms.
The officials said that instead of coming clean before the deal is signed, the lifting of sanctions would be linked to Iranian compliance with the deal, including coming clean about its nuclear past.
The officials’ expectation that the questions about Iran’s past nuclear weapons activity would not be answered by the deadline echoed an assessment by the U.N. nuclear agency’s top official earlier this week.
Nevertheless, the officials said an accord remains possible. One senior Western official on Thursday described diplomats as “more likely to get a deal than not” over the next three weeks.
Iran has denied ever working to obtain nuclear offensive capabilities, though Israel and Western intelligence agencies dispute this.
Israel and some Arab countries are opposed to the deal with Iran, saying that it will allow Iran to reach a threshold that would make it impossible for the international community to stop Iran from going nuclear.
Obama administration officials say the deal is the best way to prevent Iran from going nuclear.
Separately, Michael Flynn, until last year the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress this week that there are “severe deficiencies” in the emerging deal with Iran.
Speaking to a joint session of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, Flynn said Iran “has every intention to build a nuclear weapon” and that its “stated desire to destroy Israel is very real.”
Among the deal’s deficiencies outlined by Flynn, in testimony posted by the Daily Mail, are limits Iran’s leaders say they will impose on nuclear inspectors; the notion that sanctions could be reimposed once Iran violates the deal; and the notion that Iran will moderate its positions during the 10-15 years some of the restrictions are in place, which Flynn called “wishful thinking.”
Flynn also faulted the administration with not consulting with allies in the region, including Israel.
Talks between the major powers and Iran are underway this week in Vienna. Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen will meet Monday with Cohen’s U.S. counterpart, Susan Rice, in Washington, Rice’s spokesman said.
“This meeting is part of robust and regular consultations between the United States and Israel at all levels,” Alistair Baskey said.