Iran Redux

Iran Redux

by

Howard Adelman

Senator Chuck Schumer has declared himself. He is sticking to his endorsement of the bill that insists that Congress approve of the Iran nuclear deal. “I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker [Bob Corker Rep.-Tenn and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee] bill which would allow that to occur.” Up until yesterday he had been equivocal and only seemed to endorse Congressional involvement and not outright approval.

I am all for enhanced democratic review, but what changed? Why now even before he is briefed in detail by the White House? Why before the final agreement is reached on 30 June? Why over the Iranian deal? Why is this deal different from almost all other foreign agreements? And why would a democratic senator push such a bill, and do so strongly, given the Republican adamant stance in opposing virtually anything Obama initiates?

Schumer is expected to become the Democratic leader in the Senate in 2017 now that Robert Menendez has been eclipsed because of the investigation of his affairs and allegations of corruption. Schumer’s support indicates that twelve additional Democratic senators are likely to follow. That would mean that the Senate is on the cusp of achieving a veto-proof majority. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the new ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, might add his support if he can obtain concessions ensuring that the bill could not derail the agreement ­– an unlikely prospect.

The proposed bill freezes sanctions relief for 60 days while Congress reviews the agreement, a seemingly relatively innocuous and eminently democratic requirement. But the bill as written also allows Congress to veto the agreement, an unprecedented development with respect to these types of foreign agreements. Democrats have until today to file proposed amendments to soften the legislation. Corker and his supporters argue that they are playing the role of a tag team to allow and permit Obama to remain tough in the negotiations between now and 30 June. However, that is misleading since there are many alternative ways of accomplishing the same goal that would not also possibly undermine the negotiations.

Everyone is aware – the Americans from all camps, the Iranians, the remainder of the P5+1, virtually all experts on the negotiations – that the sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and that the removal of the sanctions is Iran’s foremost foreign policy objective. Netanyahu and the Republicans believe that the Obama administration has not squeezed the Iranians sufficiently and that more can be gained in terms of foreign policy goals. The negotiators, on the other hand – not just the Americans but the Europeans as well – believe that they have squeezed Iranians as much as they could.

Like the Americans, the Iranians are also divided into two camps. President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are the doves. They are agreeable to severe limits on Iran’s nuclear program under two major provisos – sanctions are definitely lifted and Iran retains the right of any nation to use its nuclear program for peaceful purposes. The American negotiators are willing to lift the sanctions if reasonable guarantees via transparency, inspections and deconstruction of that portion of Iran’s nuclear program are sufficient to ensure that Iran cannot reconstruct its nuclear weapons program quickly.

The doves in each country face off with hawks. Most American hawks have a vested interest in retaining sanctions to use, not so much to confine Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes, but to use the sanction pressures to extract other non-nuclear concessions from Iran on its missile program, on its support for Hamas and Hezbollah as well as the rebels in Yemen, on its hegemonic ambitions in the Gulf and, most importantly to them, to minimize Iran as a threat to Israel.

Some American hawks, like John Bolton, go further. They do not believe sanctions will modify Iranian policy in any significant ways and believe the only real option is war against Iran. “The only credible option for significantly delaying the Iranian nuclear program would be a bombing campaign,” wrote Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations. Billy Kristol agreed. “It’s long since been time for the United States to speak to this regime in the language it understands—force.” It is not clear whether other hawks believe this as well but focus on the attacking the deal with Iran as both flawed and inadequate because they do not believe that a policy objective of war with Iran is salable to the American public.

Rouhani’s and Zarif’s hard line opponents also have a vested interest in retaining sanctions. They benefit economically through their controls on smuggling and their ability to earn inflated profits on scarce goods through the businesses they inherited and developed. They also benefit politically in reinforcing the image of America as a bogeyman for the Iranian people. Like the extreme hawks in the U.S., no deal that is possible would be acceptable to them but they will go along with any deal approved by the Supreme Leader.

Are there moderate Iranian hawks who simply believe Iran could get a better deal? Undoubtedly, but I believe the Iranians are desperate enough that virtually any deal that does not cross their red lines would be acceptable. They have clearly enunciated those red lines – lifting all the nuclear sanctions and conceding that Iran has the right to retain and use its nuclear infrastructure for peaceful purposes.

This red line enjoys widespread support. Even Mir-Hossein Mousavi, leader of the Green Movement, insisted that, “we will not abandon the great achievements of Iranian scientists. I too will not suspend uranium enrichment.” Even a hawk such as the Commander of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has insisted, an immediate lifting of sanctions is a red line for Iran. Thus, although the Iranian hawks oppose the deal, but have acceded to it because it is now supported by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, they hope Congress will push America into a position of refusing to lift all sanctions related to nuclear weapons when and if Iran carries out its part of the bargain. Thus do American hawks strengthen Iranian hawks.

On the other hand, the doves on each side have also become interdependent. It seems clear from both statements from the White House and from the current Iranian political leadership that both sides hope that the nuclear deal will have wider ramifications, including with respect to Iran-U.S. relations, even though those prospects are not part of the agreement. Rouhani stated that, “Some think that we must either fight the world or surrender to world powers. We say it is neither of those, there is a third way. We can have cooperation with the world…With those countries with which we have a cold relationship, we would like a better relationship. And if we have tension or hostility with any countries, we want an end to tension and hostility with those countries.” Rouhani will not be the first leader of a repressive country to initiate domestic pressures for reform by engagement with the rest of the world.

Netanyahu has correctly insisted that, “we can’t bank on the nature of the regime changing.” But the agreement is not dependent on such a change. Nor is it conditional upon the regime changing as a result of the agreement. That is a hoped-for plus. As Netanyahu has also said, if the regime changed, there would be no need for an agreement. One of those hoped for consequences is that ]ran will give up on its objective of exterminating Israel. But to make that a necessary condition of the deal is both unfeasible and will more likely ensure that intractable hostility will remain. “Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.”

Netanyahu’s assertion is totally understandable. But to make the goal regime change or even, now that the rest of the world has accepted it, that the sanctions regime  ensure that Iran’s capability of eventually making nuclear weapons is totally destroyed, is to desire perfection and, unfortunately, as has been said many times, perfection is the enemy of the possible. Making a deal conditional upon Iran recognizing Israel’s right to exist is a total non-starter. As Obama said, “The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognising Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal.”

If the American hawks undermine the deal, especially now that the rest of the world has endorsed it, if Iran keeps to the deal without American participation, the international nuclear sanctions regime will collapse on their own. America would find itself to be internationally isolated on the issue with dramatic negative effects on the rest of its foreign policy objectives. Once the deal has been agreed to and once the details are filled in by 30 June to the satisfaction of both sides, America will be not only the only loser, but a huge loser if the hawks win the day.

Further, Iran would be the real winner because it could, and might be forced to by internal pressures, to resist many of the concessions it has already made. Iran would be unwilling to craft any deal on such unfavourable terms to itself as has been the case under American leadership. The European Council on Foreign Relations warned that American hawks, “could endanger the international consensus backing sanctions against Iran” with the prospective result that Europe would unilaterally ease easing its oil embargo against Iran.

China and Russia would seize “the opportunity to further advance their own interests at the expense of the U.S.” Igor Korotchenko, head of Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade suggested that Russia sell S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. Enhanced sanctions against Iran without the cooperation of the rest of the world would make the whole sanctions regime irrelevant. America would have shot itself in the foot. On the other hand, if the agreement holds, the revival of Iran’s energy sector will undermine Russia’s ability to blackmail Europe because of its role as a major supplier of oil and gas. Further, American companies can be in the front row with other competitors in the lucrative prospective business of rehabilitating Iran’s oil sector.

Given all of these factors, why have some influential congressman seemingly joined the efforts to undermine the deal? My conviction is that it has nothing to do with foreign policy and everything to do with both domestic policy and Congressional politics. I will have to expand on this at another time.

Iranian Capitulation

Iranian Capitulation

by

Howard Adelman

Neither side will call the deal “capitulation”. That would be politically incorrect and only damage the working of the deal. But how else can one characterize the terms and conditions of the parameters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1? Afterwards, I have included the White House summary of the key terms of the deal, but let me first highlight some of them.

  1. The principle that there is no deal until everything is agreed is retained; there will be no lifting of sanctions until all the technical details are worked out by 30 June 2015.
  2. The number of installed centrifuges that Iran will be permitted to keep is indeed in the 6,000 to 6.500 range as expected – specifically 6,104 – but, surprisingly, all of them, rather than just two thirds will be the older style much slower IR-1s.
  3. Only 5,060 centrifuges will be allowed to be used to enrich uranium, lower than expected.
  4. The enrichment of uranium is restricted to 3.67% not 5%.
  5. The restrictions apply for 15 rather than just 10 years.
  6. The stockpile of 3.67% enriched uranium is restricted to only 300 kg, and that restriction is applied for 15 years.
  7. Excess centrifuges and production facilities will be mothballed under strict IAEA supervision but available as replacement parts.
  8. Iran will not be allowed to build any new enrichment facilities for 15 years.
  9. The breakout time of at least a year to resume greater enrichment is restricted to 10 years, but it is not clear why this is the case since all the other key provisions to make sure the breakout period is at least a year remain in place.
  10. Surprisingly, Fordow is to be decommissioned and re-purposed as a nuclear research centre and cannot be converted back into a uranium enrichment facility for 15 years; further, during those 15 years, Iran cannot undertake research on nuclear enrichment.
  11. In effect, Natanz will be the only nuclear enrichment facility restricted to using only IR-1 centrifuges for 10 years after which the more advanced centrifuges can be employed but only within strict guidelines for another five years, guidelines which ensure the breakout time remains at least at one year.
  12. Monitoring will not only include Natanz and Fordow, but the whole chain of production, including access to uranium mines and mills for 25 years and centrifuge production facilities for 20 years.
  13. Arak will be redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with P+1 specifications and will not be permitted to produce any weapons-grade plutonium; the core will be destroyed.
  14. Spent fuel, as expected, will be shipped abroad, though this seemed to be a last minute sticking point.
  15. Iran cannot reprocess or even conduct research on reprocessing spent fuel indefinitely.
  16. Iran can only retain sufficient heavy water for its own needs, will not be able to store excess heavy water and will not be able to develop new heavy water production facilities for 15 years.
  17. Most surprising to me, Iran did not win a single concession on sanctions relief. Relief will only come after verification of all the terms of the deal and new UN resolutions will be passed to cover areas of the deal not previously covered.
  18. As emerged near the end of the negotiations, the sanctions will have a snap back provision so that they will be automatically re-imposed if the P5+1 determine that Iran is not keeping to any and all the terms of the deal.
  19. The extensive transparency and inspection system will continue for 25 years and even after that Iran will retain such inspections under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  20. There is no specific provision preventing proliferation arrangements between Iran and countries such as North Korea, but the terms of the agreement make the prospect of such discussions moot. As expected, the deal did not provide access to Iran’s missile development program and the military dimensions of its nuclear program or do anything about Iran’s support for terrorism, its efforts to become a regional power or its aspiration to eliminate Israel from the Middle East, butS. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place. Wow!

To say this is an enormous foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration is an understatement. At the same time, when Israeli leaders insist a military attack on Iran’s facilities remain a possibility (they always theoretically will) or that the negotiations must include recognition of Israel’s right to exist, we enter the arena of cuckoo land and it is embarrassing.

The details of those parameters follow.

Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.

Enrichment

  • Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first-generation centrifuge.enrichment
  • Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
  • Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched
  • uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
  • All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.
  • Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
  • Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.

Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium

  • Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years.
  • Iran has agreed to convert its Fordow facility so that it is used for peaceful purposes only – into a nuclear, physics, technology, research center.
  • Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years.
  • Iran will not have any fissile material at Fordow for 15 years.
  • •Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring.

Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.

  • Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges.
  • Iran will remove the 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in IAEA monitored storage for ten years.
  • Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1.
  • For ten years, enrichment and enrichment research and development will be limited to ensure a breakout timeline of at least 1 year. Beyond 10 years, Iran will abide by its enrichment and enrichment R&D plan submitted to the IAEA, and pursuant to the JCPOA, under the Additional Protocol resulting in certain limitations on enrichment capacity.

Inspections and Transparency

  • The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.
  • Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
  • Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake, for 25 years.
  • Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
  • All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA.
  • A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.
  • Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
  • Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
  • Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construction of new facilities.
  • Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.

Reactors and Reprocessing

  • Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the P5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium, and which will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production.
  • The original core of the reactor, which would have enabled the production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.
  • Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.
  • Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.
  • Iran will not accumulate heavy water in excess of the needs of the modified Arak reactor, and will sell any remaining heavy water on the international market for 15 years.
  • Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.

Sanctions

  • •Iran will receive sanctions relief, if it verifiably abides by its commitments.
  • •U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
  • The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.
  • All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordow, Arak, PMD, and transparency).
  • However, core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions – those that deal with transfers of sensitive technologies and activities – will be re-established by a new UN Security Council resolution that will endorse the JCPOA and urge its full implementation. It will also create the procurement channel mentioned above, which will serve as a key transparency measure. Important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, as well as provisions that allow for related cargo inspections and asset freezes, will also be incorporated by this new resolution.
  • A dispute resolution process will be specified, which enables any JCPOA participant, to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of JCPOA commitments.
  • If an issue of significant non-performance cannot be resolved through that process, then all previous UN sanctions could be re-imposed.
  • S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.

Phasing

  • For ten years, Iran will limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development – ensuring a breakout timeline of at least one year. Beyond that, Iran will be bound by its longer-term enrichment and enrichment research and development plan it shared with the P5+1.
  • For fifteen years, Iran will limit additional elements of its program. For instance, Iran will not build new enrichment facilities or heavy water reactors and will limit its stockpile of enriched uranium and accept enhanced transparency procedures.
  • Important inspections and transparency measures will continue well beyond 15 years. Iran’s adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA is permanent, including its significant access and transparency obligations. The robust inspections of Iran’s uranium supply chain will last for 25 years.
  • Even after the period of the most stringent limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Iran’s development or acquisition of nuclear weapons and requires IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program.