After the widespread and internationally welcomed meeting between the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K., and Germany) and the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif at the General Assembly of the United Nations last September, several talks have been held in Geneva between both parties to reach an agreement with the aim of curbing Iran’s nuclear programme for military purposes. Reached the current stage in the Iranian nuclear threat, a bad deal complicates an actual diplomatic solution and, what is more worrying, gets closer the possibility of a warfare.
On November 9, the latest round of talks was sharply disrupted. It is certainly nothing new, if we look at the outcome of the negotiations that mainly the West has led out with Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions throughout the past decade. In the wake of the unsuccessful summit, a next round of talks has been scheduled for November 20.
In light of the briefings, which pointed out that Iran did not accept the deal offered by the P5 +1, Zarif has blamed Kerry and France for the breakdown of the negotiations. To this regard, the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius warned of accepting a “fool´s deal”, although U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was more optimistic and said that the talks have become more intense and have narrowed the differences with Iran. However, the deal Kerry was advocating for is an open surrender to Iran and is actually leaving Israel in a untenable position.
The deal at hand called for Iran’s shutdown of the 40-megawatt heavy water plutonium production reactor at Arak and the reduction of 20% enriched uranium. However, it would allow Iran to keep on producing 3.5% enriched uranium for up to six months. This is so that talks can continue on a long-term agreement without the concern that Iran was racing ahead to obtain a nuclear bomb, in exchange of easing of international sanctions.
Regardless of who the culprit was for not reaching an agreement to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium to 3.5%, it is a bad choice and would not stop the nuclear programme. On the contrary, Iran can also reach weapons-grade uranium using its stock of 3.5% enriched uranium, according to President Obama’s former aide on the National Security Council, Gary Samore. In this option, it is better not to reach any agreement. In addition, enriching uranium is not a right recognized by the NPT – a treaty Iran ratified. According to Article II, non-nuclear-weapon states have the right to peacefully use of nuclear technology always under the safeguards of the IAEA and Iran has not taken this pathway.
On this subject, in November 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei, former Director General of the IAEA, said that for a long time and repeatedly, Iran did not meet with its safeguards obligations, especially by not declaring its uranium enrichment program. On September 24, 2005, according to the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the IAEA Board of Governors in accordance with Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute, decided that these failures constituted non-compliance with the IAEA safeguards agreement. Consequently, on July 31, 2006 the Security Council of the United Nations passed Resolution 1696, which demanded Iran to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and these requirements would be verified by the IAEA. Then, the IAEA Board of Governors in its Resolution GOV/2006/14 has insisted to re-establish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. Plus, in 2005 the Bureau of Verification and Compliance, belonging to US Department of State, concluded that Iran violated the Article III NPT safeguards obligations based on circumstantial evidence that Iran’s enrichment program had weapons purposes.
Likewise occurred on November 2011, when the IAEA reported that Iran has already conducted significant nuclear warhead design work far in advance of the availability of weapons grade fissile material for such a warhead, enabling the possibility of becoming nuclear-armed in a short term.
The Friends of Israel Initiative strongly supports diplomacy as a peaceful tool to end the Iranian nuclear threat. Nevertheless, a bad deal would practically imply the acceleration of the Iranian nuclear programme under the framework of an agreement with the P5+1. If Iran rejects to freeze enriching uranium for six months, it actually means that there is no will to stop the pursuit of a nuclear bomb. As The Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has reminded, sanctions, combined with the threat of airstrikes, are what brought the Iranians to the negotiating table. To lift sanctions has to be unreachable unless the Iranians agree to suspend their uranium-enrichment activities and stop the building of the plutonium reactor at Arak. Only through these terms Israel would not be in a hopeless situation, not as Kerry has caused by pursuing a bad deal.
Therefore, on November 20, the P5 +1 must be firm and should keep away from a policy of appeasement towards Iran. A bad deal is worse than no agreement.