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Conflicting Expectations from the Geneva Document between the P5+1 and Iran

Conflicting Expectations from the Geneva Document between the P5+1 and Iran

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Publication: Jerusalem Issue Briefs Filed Under: Europe and Israel, International Law, Iran, Israeli Security, Nuclear Warfare, The Middle East, U.S. Policy Tags: Geneva, Iran, Iranian Nuclear Program, P5+1 - See more at: http://jcpa.org/article/conflicting-expectations-geneva-document-p51-iran/#sthash.f3JRfaah.dpuf
Publication: Jerusalem Issue Briefs Filed Under: Europe and Israel, International Law, Iran, Israeli Security, Nuclear Warfare, The Middle East, U.S. Policy Tags: Geneva, Iran, Iranian Nuclear Program, P5+1 - See more at: http://jcpa.org/article/conflicting-expectations-geneva-document-p51-iran/#sthash.f3JRfaah.dpuf

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Published by: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Jan 16, 2014
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Conflicting Expectations from the Geneva Document between the P5+1 and Iran
 
 
 
between the P5+\1 and Iran
, December 11, 2013
Vol. 13, No. 31 December 11, 2013
 
 
Many questions have arisen about whether the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Islamic Republic of Iran interpret the interim understanding reached in Geneva on  November 24, 2013, in the same way. Indeed, at times it appears that they are not talking about the same piece of paper.
 
From the remarks of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif on Iranian television, the
Geneva document does not legally obligate Iran. Under these circumstances, Tehran’s freedom of
maneuver in interpreting the language of the document will be greater.
 
From the standpoint of Western security, one clear purpose of the diplomatic efforts in Geneva was to extend the time the Iranians need to achieve a nuclear breakout. While Iran would never admit that its secret ambition is nuclear breakout to achieve an atomic bomb, it judges that it will need very little time to recover its production capabilities of 20-percent-enriched uranium, once it no longer feels compelled to limit itself in accordance with the Geneva document.
 
Both sides have very different expectations regarding the future of the sanctions on Iran. U.S. spokesmen argue that after the conclusion of the Geneva document, the core architecture of the sanctions remains firmly in place. In contrast, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared after the Geneva document was reached: The core architecture of the sanctions will be fractured following the implementation of this agreement.
 
The Geneva document leaves the window open for future uranium enrichment by Iran. The Iranians see enrichment as their right. The U.S. speaks about a limited enrichment program under international
 
restrictions and monitoring. In any case, the Geneva document unfortunately leaves open the possibility that in the future, Iran will not always be under international restrictions.
 
The U.S. still hopes that in any permanent agreement, certain nuclear facilities in Iran will be dismantled. Western leverage to accomplish this will be limited, since key components of the sanctions regime might well crumble in the months ahead. In any case, Iran has a very different view of the question.
The Nature of the Geneva Document
Many questions have arisen about whether the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Islamic Republic of Iran interpret the interim understanding reached in Geneva on November 24, 2013, in the same way. Indeed, at times it appears that they are not talking about the same piece of paper. This sort of confusion is part of the Iranian
modus operandi
 in negotiations with the West. Indeed, this was not the first time that Iran had reached an agreement with the West over the suspension of uranium enrichment. On October 21, 2003, Iran and the EU3 concluded the Tehran Agreement according to which Te
hran undertook “to suspend all uranium enrichment activities and reprocessing activities.” Iran’s head of negotiation at the time (and today Iran’s president), Hassan Rouhani, was widely quoted years later proudly
confessing that while the talks were underway between 2003 and 2005, Iran constructed its uranium conversion plant in Isfahan where the UF6 feedstock for its gas centrifuges was manufactured. In short, his admission showed how Iran exploited negotiations to advance its nuclear program. But looking back to that period, there was something else Rouhani did that is worth recalling. He preferred to avoid precise legal definitions, not characterizing the Tehran Agreement as a legal obligation. He also  preferred to keep matters vague, including the defin
ition of “suspension” in the Tehran Agreement. Was it to
 be defined narrowly, as Iran preferred, to mean only a prohibition on inserting UF6 gas into a centrifuge? Or was it to be defined broadly to include issues like uranium conversion or research and development on new centrifuges? Is Iran returning to its negotiating style from 2003? For this reason, it is important to investigate exactly how the Iranians defined the Geneva document. Amir Taheri, former editor of the Iranian daily
 Kayhan
, wrote in
 Asharq al-Awsat 
 on November 29, 2013, that the
 parties haven’t even agreed on how to call the document: an agreement or a memorandum? This becomes clear
from the remarks of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif on Iranian television. For if the Geneva document does not legally obligate Iran, then its freedom of maneuver in interpreting its language will be greater.
 BBC Monitoring Middle East
 – 
 Political, November 27, 2013
 
Iran Foreign Minister Discusses Nuclear Deal
 In an 80-
minute interview, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif answered questions about the
recent interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers, signed on 24 November. The foreign
minister assured the nation that Iran could “reverse the nuclear deal” if its terms were not adhered to. The following is the text of the interview broadcast live by Iran’s rolling news network (IRINN) on 25 November.
 
 Zarif:
 The Joint Plan of Action has this name because off its essence, as we have foreseen a six-month period for
actions to be implemented by the sides…
 If you read the text, we see the balance we were talking about.
These are
Iran’s
 voluntary measures for the first stage and there are the other
side’s
 voluntary measures for the first stage. This shows that there
 
will be no legal obligation, neither for us nor for the other party. What does it mean? It means that these measures are returnable.
The Expected Delay in the Iranian Program
From the standpoint of Western security, one clear purpose of the diplomatic efforts in Geneva was to extend the time the Iranians need to achieve a nuclear breakout to completing an atomic bomb. This was particularly true of the efforts of the P5+1 to prevent a leap to weapons-grade uranium from 20-percent-enriched uranium. Here, the U.S. and Iranian expectations are very different.
U.S. State Department 
 
Remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry, Geneva, Switzerland, November 24, 2013
 The measures that we have committed to will remain in place for six months, and they will address the most
urgent concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Since there have been many premature and even misleading
reports, I want to clearly outline what this first step entails. First,
it locks the most critical components of a nuclear program into place and impedes progress in those critical components in a way that actually rolls back the stockpile of enriched uranium and widens the length of time possible for breakout.
 That makes people safer. With daily access
 – 
 we will gain daily access to key facilities. And that will enable us to
determine more quickly and with greater certainty than ever before that Iran is complying. Here’s how we do
that: Iran has agreed to suspend all enrichment of uranium above 5 percent. Iran has agreed to dilute or convert its entire stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. So let me make clear what that means. That means that whereas Iran today has about 200 kilograms of 20  percent enriched uranium, they could readily be enriched towards a nuclear weapon. In six months, Iran will have zero
 – 
 zero

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