Because of divergent opinions about what was agreed in Geneva it is vital to ensure that no sanctions are relaxed prematurely since, as stated in the document, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed
The severe criticism of Secretary Kerry by some commentators is not only unfair, in the main it is based on mistaken premises.
Despite its shortcomings, if all parties to the deal reached in Geneva understand and accept it in the manner described by Kerry, then truly a welcome historical breakthrough has been achieved which has eluded the world for decades. His explanation as detailed in a video published by U.S. Department of State on November 26, 2013 must be welcomed by all seeking a negotiated solution.
He said the agreement does not just slow down Iran’s nuclear program it is actually halting it and even rolling it back in some key areas.
“It means that even as we continue to move forward with negotiations, Iran’s nuclear program will not move forward, and in some respects it’s going to be moving backwards..we are eliminating Iran’s stockpile of already enriched 20% uranium.. we are stopping them from using their most advanced centrifuges.. we’re putting on hold the most meaningful parts of their reactor that’s currently under construction in a place called Arak”.
In addition a fact sheet issued by the White House on November 23 states that Iran has committed to halt all enrichment above 5%, dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%, neutralize its stockpile of near 20% uranium, dilute below 5% or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment its entire stockpile of near 20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase, leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow, not commission the Arak reactor and not fuel the Arak reactor and not construct a facility capable of reprocessing.
It cannot be denied that Iran has achieved a major victory, entailing very substantial concessions for which the Iranians have conceded nothing. Iran has over the years continued its enrichment program in blatant violation of six UN Security Council (SC) resolutions adopted since 2006 which totally prohibit ALL enrichment. Now, despite Kerry’s statements to the contrary, this deceitful behavior is in effect being condoned in the provision allowing enrichment to 3.5% and this victory has been trumpeted widely by Iranian leaders. The Iranian FARS News Agency proclaimed proudly that the accord “includes recognition of Tehran’s right of uranium enrichment”
Iran is also a substantial winner in gaining real, tangible rewards in the partial lifting of painstakingly imposed sanctions that took years to achieve. Incongruously, this relaxation will enrich Teheran’s coffers by more than USD7 billion in exchange for Iran agreeing to do something that has been forbidden until now – limiting enrichment to 3.5 to 5%,.
Not only Israel but the entire Western world is threatened
Although President Rouhani’s charm offensive has lulled the P5+1 into ignoring historical facts, it is relevant to recall that the real power in Iran, supreme Iranian leader Ali Khamenei threatens all Western countries, starting with the Great Satan the USA. And for more than a decade there has been, transatlantic unanimity opposing Iranian nuclear activity. In a speech while he was Supreme National Security Council Secretary Rouhani confirmed that the SC resolutions were motivated not by Israel but by IAEA reports of Iranian deceit about its nuclear activities. He told about secret tests that the IAEA had uncovered from copies they obtained of dissertations by university students who has participated in nuclear projects. He said
“Therefore the IAEA was fully informed about most [not all] of the cases we thought were unknown to them”.
The complete text of Rouani’s speech is recommended reading for anyone interested in the Iranian nuclear debate. It contains important details that cannot be found in the mainstream media and is available at http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/files/2012/08/Rahbord.pdf
Nor were sanctions against Iran motivated by threats to Israel. Israel was not a factor in 2002 when the IAEA adopted its first resolution against Iran alerting the world to Iran’s deceitful nuclear history and its activity towards building an atomic bomb.
It is obviously in the interest of all democratic countries to objectively dig deeper into the subject, before instinctively rejecting PM Netanyahu’s serious concerns about the implications of the P5+1 agreement.
Despite media frenzy creating the impression that PM Netanyahu is the only objector to the deal, others are also adopting a studied approach. Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird said
“We will evaluate today’s deal not just on the merits of its words, but more importantly on its verifiable implementation and unfettered access of all Iranian nuclear facilities.. Effective sanctions have brought the regime to present a more moderate front and open the door to negotiations.. A nuclear Iran is not just a threat to Canada and its allies, it would also seriously damage the integrity of decades of work on nuclear non-proliferation. It would provoke other neighboring states to develop their own nuclear deterrent in an already volatile region..”.
In the Wall Street Journal former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz slam the deal. They claim that the interim agreement leaves Iran, hopefully only temporarily, in the position of a nuclear threshold power, a country that can achieve a military nuclear capability within months of its choosing to do so. A final agreement leaving this threshold capacity unimpaired would institutionalize the Iranian nuclear threat, with profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy and the stability of the Middle East.
“The heart of the problem is Iran’s construction of a massive nuclear infrastructure and stockpile of enriched uranium far out of proportion to any plausible civilian energy-production rationale. Iran amassed the majority of this capacity, including 19,000 centrifuges, more than seven tons of 3.5% – to 5%-enriched uranium, a smaller stock (about 196 kilograms) of 20%-enriched uranium, and a partly built heavy-water reactor that will be capable of producing plutonium in direct violation of IAEA and Security Council resolutions”.
Nawaf Obaid a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family has accused the US of deceiving the Saudi kingdom in striking the nuclear accord with Iran. He said that while the US was talking directly to Iran through a channel in Oman, it had not directly briefed its Saudi ally. “We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said.
The fly in the ointment
Unfortunately, the Iranians reject the US interpretation of the agreement. Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarifi declared that Iran’s enrichment activities will proceed as in the past, the 5%- enriched material will be maintained and as they need to enrich to 20% for the research reactor in Tehran, this enrichment to 20% will continue and the heavy water project at Arak will continue.
The Iranian FARS News Agency carried a bold headline: “Iranian FM Blasts White House for Trying to Misrepresent Geneva Agreement“. In unseemly diplomatic language for a man who only hours before had been negotiating an agreement with the White house representatives, Mohammad Javad Zarif lashed out at the White House for attempting to misrepresent the agreement by releasing a fact sheet alleged to be the text of the nuclear deal.
Despite the deficiencies mentioned above, a negotiated settlement is certainly preferable to a military conflict and President Obama and Secretary Kerry will have achieved a truly admirable and remarkable accomplishment if their interpretations correctly reflect the P5+1 agreement. However, in view of the contrary belligerent reactions and declared intentions by Iranian leaders it is imperative that no relaxation of sanctions be implemented until all the conditions in the US interpretation are agreed and iron-clad means of verification are established. The disagreements emphasize the importance of the statement in the Geneva document
“This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,”..