Calling out the IAEA

During much of Iran’s drive to build nuclear weapons, the watchdog that was supposed to be preventing that — the International Atomic Energy Agency — often appeared to be wearing blinders. On multiple occasions, the IAEA reported it could find no evidence Iran was doing anything more than developing a nuclear power capability.

Whether the IAEA, an arm of the United Nations, was being duped or was going along with Tehran willfully is immaterial. Either way, the agency was not doing its job.

Today, President Donald Trump warned that unless the IAEA does better, the United States will back away from the so-called six-nation pact involving Iran’s nuclear program. That arrangement, put together in 2015, involves the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, along with Iran. The deal was touted by former President Barack Obama as a way to forestall development of nuclear weapons by Tehran.

Numerous flaws in the agreement already have been identified.

On Monday, in a message to the U.N., Trump warned that this country “will not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal.” Clearly, he referred to the IAEA’s responsibility to ensure Iran is in compliance.

Trump is absolutely correct. As bad as the deal is on its face, it is worse than useless if Iran is allowed to break its pledges. It is the IAEA’s job to let the rest of the world know if that happens. If the U.N. agency is found to be lacking, for any reason, U.S. officials would be right to back out of the six-nation pact and do what they can to penalize Iran.