How to Strengthen the Interim Iran Deal – Orde F. Kittrie (Arms Control and Regional Security for the Middle East)
While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushes back hard against Senate threats to pass a new Iran sanctions bill, his negotiators are hopefully using that same Senate threat to extract a better deal from Tehran. Press reports make it clear that the interim deal will bring Iran into compliance with none of its key international legal obligations as spelled out in applicable Security Council resolutions.
It was unrealistic to think that an interim deal would bring Iran into compliance with all of its key preexisting legal obligations. But it seems surprising that Iran is to receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for compliance with none of them.
If the interim agreement is to make “absolutely certain that while we’re talking with the Iranians, they’re not busy advancing their program,” as President Obama said at a press conference, it should halt all Iranian enrichment; verifiably prohibit Iran from manufacturing additional centrifuges; require Iran to adhere to the Additional Protocol; and require Iran to immediately and verifiably implement its existing legal obligation to notify the IAEA of any enrichment or other nuclear facility it possesses or begins constructing.
Moreover, the draft interim agreement would enable Iran to, at the end of the six-month interim agreement period, possess both a larger stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5% and a larger number of manufactured centrifuges than it has today. Tehran would be significantly closer to the point at which it is able to dash to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb so quickly that the IAEA or a Western intelligence service would be unable to detect the dash until it is over.
Similarly, dangerous gaps are present in the draft interim deal’s handling of Iran’s heavy water reactor at Arak and Iran’s research into nuclear weapons design.
Unless these gaps are closed, the interim agreement will make absolutely certain that while we’re talking with the Iranians, they will be busy advancing their illicit nuclear program. Less quickly than in the absence of such an agreement, but advancing it nonetheless.
The writer is a professor of law at Arizona State University and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who participated in negotiating several U.S.-Russian nonproliferation agreements.