Will IAEA be able to verify Iran’s nuclear program?

The UN nuclear agency will face “challenges” verifying Iran’s compliance with last year’s nuclear agreement, the US government watchdog said Feb. 23 in a new report that was immediately used as ammunition by critics of the deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) faces a budget and staffing shortfall that will require an extra $10 million per year for the next 15 years to monitor the deal, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report goes on to detail the agency’s dependence on Iranian cooperation to access nuclear sites and the intrinsic difficulty in detecting undeclared activities such as weapons development and centrifuge manufacturing that do not leave a nuclear trace.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said the report raises concerns about “the entity that we are putting all our marbles in.” He commissioned the report with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a fellow critic of the deal who also voted against it last year.

“Some of the preliminary findings cause concern for me about what the IAEA is capable of,” Menendez told Secretary of State John Kerry at a hearing on the department’s FY2017 budget request. “The GAO [report] point[s] directly to future problems with monitoring, verifying and meeting requirements of the [Iran deal].”

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