The inspections concession of the Parchin nuclear site – outlined in a document viewed by the Associated Press – is a part of Iran's side agreement with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The United States and five other world powers, which reached a deal with Iran last month to curb Tehran's nuclear program, were not party to the concession. But the P5+1 group were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger nuclear deal reached last month, the AP reported.
The newly revealed side agreement was slammed by Republican lawmakers who have criticized the overarching international accord with Iran.
John Cornyn, of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said:
"Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the UN in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement"
California Congressman Ed Royce, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, said the side agreement reflects a capitulation to Iran.
"International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period. The standard of 'anywhere, anytime' inspections – so critical to a viable agreement – has dropped to 'when Iran wants, where Iran wants, on Iran's terms.'"
Instead of letting the IAEA access the Parchin site, Iran is to provide the agency with photos and videos of locations suspected of weapons work, "taking into account military concerns."
That wording suggests that the IAEA will not get photo of video from areas Iran says are off-limits because they have military importance, the AP reported.
Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, told the AP he could think of no similar concession with any other country.
The White House, meanwhile, has repeatedly denied claims of a secret side deal favorable to Tehran.
On Wednesday, a White House spokesman said the Obama administration was "confident in the agency's technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran's former program…. The IAEA has separately developed the most robust inspection regime ever peacefully negotiated."