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
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 Tehran 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 definition 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
, wrote in
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.
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