Iran’s nuclear program – Key implications
Nov. 25, 2013
Unprecedented international recognition of Iran’s enrichment program –
Under the Geneva agreement Iran will retain its vast enrichment capabilities during both the “first step,” in which the parties undertake specific respective measures, and the “final step” aimed at achieving a comprehensive settlement of the nuclear issue. This essentially means that for the first time since the beginning of negotiations in 2003 the international community recognizes Iran’s enrichment program and agrees that it will not be rolled back – contrary to a longstanding policy of full suspension enshrined in several UN Security Council resolutions.
International acceptance of the heavy water reactor in Arak –
The elements of the comprehensive solution mentioned in the Geneva agreement lack any commitment to the dismantling of the Arak heavy water reactor. The agreement only addresses the need for resolution of concerns regarding the reactor, thus implying that Iran will not be required to forfeit the facility which is uniquely suitable for the production of military grade plutonium.
Uninhibited R&D of advanced centrifuges –
The current agreement allows Iran to continue R&D of Advanced Centrifuges. This means Iran will be able to further develop and strengthen its enrichment capacity under the guise of this agreement, and will be in a better position technologically when it decides it is time to further expand enrichment. Therefore, the agreement actually enables Iran to get closer to breakout capability.
Current stock of uranium enriched to a level of under 5% will remain intact –
Iran is allowed to preserve its current stock of about 7 tons of uranium enriched to a level of under 5%. Although the agreement requires that during the “first step” Iran will convert any additional LEU produced at Natanz and Fordow to oxide, this conversion is conditional upon the readiness of the relevant conversion line in Iran. Given Iran’s well established record of dragging its feet to buy time it will not come as a surprise if Iran continues to accumulate material long after the beginning of the implementation of the “first step” and beyond.
Iran will be able to easily reverse the measures taken under the agreement and charge ahead once it is politically convenient –
Iran is not required to roll back or dismantle anything. Its nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, enabling it to resume full operations upon decision.
The military dimensions of Iran’s program are put in the back seat –
The Geneva agreement does not contain any clear requirement from Iran to provide answers, access and information in relation to the military dimensions of its nuclear program. The very heart of the nuclear crisis lies with those issues which imply that Iran has engaged in nuclear weapons development. Ironically, they are completely absent from an agreement that envisions restoring confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program as one of its major goals.
The agreement undermines the sanctions regime and provides Iran with crucial relief in economic pressure –
The international concessions in the area of sanctions undermine the sanctions regime and curb momentum for additional pressure on Iran. It is crucial to remember that pressure is what brought Iran to the negotiations table in the first place, and therefore reducing sanctions without any real concessions on the part of Iran is extremely counter-productive: Iran is now less likely to agree to any significant restrictions on its nuclear program.
The agreement signals that it is now legitimate to do business with Iran –
Private sector actors may interpret the agreement as a signal that Iran has embarked on a path that will bring it back from international isolation. This may result in renewed efforts to resume or develop business in Iran.
The “interim” agreement might become permanent –
In the absence of a sense of urgency under the façade of an agreement, the interim measure might become permanent and define the parameters of Iran’s nuclear program for years to come. Given the observations made above, this means that Iran will practically be escorted to a nuclear threshold position by the international community.