The true legacy of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the so-called Iran deal, will not be peace in our time or an end to Iran’s nuclear program. Rather, the true legacy of the JCPOA will be the permanent dilution of the non-proliferation regime. The agreement lowered the standard set by South Africa in 1991 (full transparency on previous 20 years of nuclear work) and Libya in 2003 (physical dismantling of the program).
When Kerry agreed to the JCPOA, one of the biggest surprises was his collapse on Fordo (or Fordow), a secret, underground nuclear facility the Islamic Republic built covertly. “They don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful nuclear program,” President Obama said in 2013. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif convinced the notoriously credulous Kerry otherwise.
The reason for Iran’s insistence on keeping Fordo is becoming increasingly clear. According to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, citing a statement from Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation:
Russia and Iran are trying to transform Fordo’s former fuel enrichment plant into installations for heavy isotope production. This statement stated that Moscow and Tehran are advancing in reaching an agreement to transform Fordow’s former fuel enrichment plant into installations for heavy isotope production. Deputy Director General of Rossatom Nikolay Spasskiy consulted with Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei and the Deputy Head [and spokesman] of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran…about transforming Fordow into heavy isotope installations.
So, while the Obama administration cites the reconfiguring of the heavy water reactor at Arak, with Russian assistance, as a success, Iran now seems to be pursuing an alternate means to produce and work with heavy water, by which it could potentially establish a pathway to a bomb. And they are doing it dozens of meters underground. But why worry? After all, Zarif isn’t a liar. Is he?