President Obama called it a "good day," while Secretary of State John Kerry said it "[marked] the day of a safer world" in January after five US hostages held in Iran were released and international sanctions against the country were lifted because it had supposedly kept its end of the bargain in the 2015 nuclear deal. But an emerging report from a DC think tank now says the US and its partners in the deal worked "in secret" to get Iran around some of the pesky restrictions that may have kept it from meeting its sanctions deadline, per a Reuters exclusive. The news agency notes it hasn't yet confirmed the report set to be published Thursday by the Institute for Science and International Security, which based its findings on correspondence with unnamed officials of governments immersed in those negotiations, institute President David Albright says.
Per the report, these exemptions—or "loopholes," as Albright refers to them—were given the green light by a joint commission made up of Iran and P5+1 members (the US, China, France, Russia, the UK, and Germany). Two of those exemptions were said to revolve around letting Iran get around the cap on how much low-enriched uranium (which can be repurposed into weapons-grade uranium) it was able to keep in its nuclear facilities. Per a senior official said to be "knowledgeable" on the negotiations, if reworking the fine print of the deal hadn't been done, Iran wouldn't have been able to meet its Jan. 16 sanctions-lifting deadline. An anonymous White House official refutes the "secret" role of the joint commission to Reuters (but didn't get into the supposed exemptions), while UN reps for the other P5+1 nations didn't respond to the news agency for comment. (Read more Iran stories.)