The Emerging Geneva Agreement with Iran – Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Eliminating Iran’s 20%-enriched uranium, but allowing the Iranians to continue to produce 3.5%-enriched uranium, is an unacceptable option if the goal of the West is to prevent Iran from advancing to a nuclear weapon. Allowing Iran to enrich to the 3.5% level will not address the threat emanating from Iran’s latest generation of faster centrifuges and the scenario of a fast dash by Iran to weapons-grade uranium, known as “nuclear break-out.”
President Obama’s former aide on the National Security Council, Gary Samore, warned in October that ending the production of 20%-enriched uranium is not enough because Iran can also reach weapons-grade uranium using its stock of 3.5%-enriched uranium. Thus, any agreement must eliminate all of Iran’s enriched uranium.
If the Geneva talks produce a bad agreement and allow Iran to continue its drive for nuclear weapons, there will be accelerated nuclear proliferation in the Middle East among Iran’s neighbors, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey. A multi-polar nuclearized Middle East will in no way resemble the bi-polar superpower balance during the Cold War and is likely to be unstable.
Iran’s global network of terrorism will obtain a protective nuclear umbrella, allowing its organizations to strike with complete impunity. Finally, given Iran’s increasing propensity in recent years to remove any constraints on the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapons to its terrorist proxies, the flow of nuclear technologies to these groups cannot be dismissed.
Iran has argued that it has an “inalienable right” to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while Western states have contested this. If the West now accepts Iranian enrichment of uranium to the 3.5% level, it will be acknowledging that Iran has a right to enrichment. Moreover, the UN Security Council adopted six resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that called on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment. Chapter VII resolutions are binding international law. If the West now says that the suspension is no longer necessary, what does that mean for the binding nature of Chapter VII resolutions?
Turning to the question of plutonium production, up until now, the West has been encouraging states not to erect heavy-water reactors, but instead to accept light-water nuclear reactors which have a reduced risk of being used for plutonium production. At present it appears that Western proposals to Iran do not include the dismantling of the Arak heavy-water facility.
The writer, Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.