Centrifuges are not the only thing spinning in Iran. The ink was not even dry on the framework announced between Iran and the P5+1 when Iranian officials began to dispute the fact sheet released by the White House. The vast differences between the sides on this flawed and dangerous deal are already setting off alarms across the Middle East and throughout the world.
An important resource that highlights the discrepancies among three versions of the framework released by the non-partisan advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) should raise serious concerns. Take for example the issue of inspections of Iranian facilities conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The United States understood that Iran agreed to permanently adhere to the enhanced inspections regime called the “Additional Protocol of the IAEA”. In sharp contrast the Iranians said, “Iran will implement the Additional Protocol on a voluntary and temporary basis”.
If the purpose of these negotiations is to guarantee the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program, then why would Iran insist that such inspections be “voluntary and temporary”? Evidently, the Iranians must have something to hide or they have something they plan on hiding.
It is important for the world to remember the discovery of Iran’s covert enrichment facilities at Natanz in 2002 and Fordow in 2009.
On September 25, 2009 President Obama and French President Sarkozy issued this joint statement about the discovery of the uranium enrichment facility at Fordow (also referred to as Qom):
“This site deepens a growing concern that Iran is refusing to live up to those international responsibilities, including specifically revealing all nuclear-related activities. As the international community knows, this is not the first time that Iran has concealed information about its nuclear program… Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow — endangering the global non-proliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world”.
Given that Iran has broken the trust of the international community on so many occasions, confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program can only be restored by enhanced inspections on a permanent basis. And that leads to an even bigger problem: the duration of the agreement.
The American version states that restrictions on Iran’s enrichment activities will last for 15 years while the Iranian version talks strictly about 10 years. Either way, both sides agree that there is a time limit to the agreement typically referred to as a “sunset clause”.
In a moment of rare candor, President Obama said in an interview with NPR, “What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero”.
Breakout time refers to the time it would take for Iran to enrich enough weapons- grade uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
The words of President Obama are not comforting for Israelis who have been living with threats of annihilation from Iranian leaders for decades. Based on the Iranian version of a ten year deal, Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit asked, “And what’s supposed to happen 10 years from now? Don’t we want to live after 2025?”
The flaws in the framework agreement are not only a problem for Israelis. Americans and Europeans should not remain complacent. It’s important to remember that one issue not even being discussed is Iran’s ballistic missile program. Iran already has missiles that can reach America’s Arab allies and Israel and European capitals, and now it’s working on developing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) that will be able to reach the United States.
The only purpose for developing ICBM’s is to carry nuclear warheads.
The alarms set off by the problems with the framework agreement give even more reason for negotiators of the P5+1 to insist on permanent intrusive inspections for Iran’s nuclear program that would allow inspectors to go anywhere at any time.
As Presidents Obama and Sarkozy said in their joint statement six years ago, “It is time for Iran to act immediately to restore the confidence of the international community by fulfilling its international obligations”.