Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nuclear Agreement ‘Very Likely’ - Rouhani

Serious Unresolved Issues - Seeking Ways to Resolve Them
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters in Shanghai today that he was “optimistic” about the nuclear talks with P5+1 and that it was “very likely” the two sides reach a comprehensive agreement before the 20 July expiration date of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA).

However, two Western diplomats told the Associated Press after Rouhani’s news conference that they were not as optimistic. AP quoted them as saying the two sides were not much closer than they were in February, at the start of the talks in Vienna.

Meanwhile, IAEA is expected to report on Friday that Iran is honoring JPOA, including an end to its 20-percent enrichment program.

A number of key issues still need to be resolved before any comprehensive agreement could be finalized; starting with the number of centrifuges Iran could operate. As is, Iran has some 10,000 machines in operation, with some 9,000 installed but not operational. The West wants to limit the number to few thousands to prevent rapid breakout capability on part of Iran. With Iran arguing that it would need 4-5 times more centrifuges that it currently operates just to provide the fuel for a single nuclear power reactor it plans to build in future.

The difference on this issue is so wide that a new way of approaching Iran’s needs for enriched uranium should be found. There must be more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak! Numbers in 50,000-100,000 range will not be acceptable to the West. But significantly fewer numbers of advanced centrifuges might satisfy Iran’s needs, which could provide a possible compromise on the issue.

The duration of the comprehensive agreement has also become a matter of dispute; with Iran arguing for an agreement that could reach its goals in a much shorter period than the P5+1 is proposing. This is not a showstopper and a compromise could more easily be found. As is the case with Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor. The two sides have almost resolved this issue through changing the design of the reactor in a way to produce a minimum amount of plutonium, hence blocking an alternative route for the country to build a nuclear weapon.

The question of ballistic missiles remains a serious issue. The UN Security Council Resolutions 1929, passed unanimously against Iran, prohibits production and deployment of ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons. On 11 May, during a visit to IRGC’s ballistic missile exhibition in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei made his strongest public comments on the issue, ridiculing the West for even suggesting a limit on the country’s ballistic missiles. The P5+1, however, wants to resolve the issue before lifting all UN sanctions as part of a final agreement. A compromise being floated is to limit the type of Iran’s missiles to medium range ballistic missiles (MRBM) that it currently deploys.

The post-agreement inspection regime of Iranian nuclear facilities by IAEA and the future of Fordo enrichment unit, are among other issues that still need to be resolved.

The collapse of the talks is an unwanted option for both sides. It will seriously hurt Rouhani politically inside Iran and could start a very serious economic downturn in the country. The failure of the talks could also lead to heightened military tensions in the neighborhood and a significant increase in Western military posture in the Persian Gulf. There are so much at stakes here that could force the two sides to compromise on all the unresolved issues, making Rouhani’s prediction today in Shanghai to be fulfilled after all. 


Anonymous said...

it would indeed be very nice if the sides can reach an agreement that assures the world that Iran won't continue to pursue its nuclear weapon development program and which results in the lifting of most or even all of the sanctions against Iran.

Anonymous said...

So the US or West are on a negative side (of history) and the Islamic Republic on a positive "+" one.


Anonymous said...

Very unlikely on all counts.It doesn't take much to figure that Rouhani is Khameini's personal tea boy (Abdarchi). What ever the master commands the Abdarchi obeys. I also have a few Abdarchi working for me. So I know what I'm talking about :o)

Mark Pyruz said...

The Iranian side is prepared to provide greater oversight into its civilian nuclear power program.

From what I've seen, publicly:

- They are not willing to give up its right to an industrial scale civilian nuclear power program.

- They are not willing to include issues into nuclear negotiations related to national defense such as ballistic missiles.

- They are unwilling to accept terms that are to remain in effect for decades.

The Iranians are willing to discuss the matter in an open ended fashion until such time -- as they see it -- their rights are ultimately accepted.

Should this period of negotiation drag on for years, the Iranians are encouraged by recent Russian and Chinese efforts to establish alternatives to the American dominated banking and monetary systems, promising down the road options that reduce the effects of current sanctions levied against Iran.

I'd be surprised to see Iran relinquish any of the rights they see themselves entitled to as am independent, sovereign state. In their view, issue of independence and sovereign rights represented cruz issues for which they staged a successful revolution back in 1979.

Anonymous said...

Head of the Center for Modern Iranian studies , Mr Radzhab Safarov, has stated that (the US strategy) "this is an attempt to put pressure on Iran, to add such items to agreement, which would then slow the Iranian activities in the field of high technology........" (and preserve supremacy of other actors).

Russia FM recently underlined, that issues of Iranian missile technologies were not rised, until now, in nuclear negotiations.....(and should not influence present search and outcome, for an agreement)....


Anonymous said...

to date, the revolution hasn't succeeded in providing a better government then the previous one. it's still an authoritarian government controlled by a small clique.

Nader Uskowi said...

Compromise is the art of diplomacy, without it you would never ever have an agreement between two parties on issues of contention. Iran and P5+1 knew that before they entered negotiations. It would be extremely cynical to think that Iran came to the negotiating table with a set of pre-determined positions, not ready to compromise on the issues. Actually that would be an insult to the country's leadership and its negotiating team.

On number of centrifuges, the compromise could be found in significantly fewer numbers of advanced centrifuges. The gap between few thousand older machines as the West wants and 100,000 that Iran says it needs is simply too wide to overcome. So other more creative solutions are needed here.

On missiles, I have said before on this blog that the best solution would be found outside the current nuclear talks, a different set of negotiations. But stating that missiles issue has no relations to nuclear talks is false. The end result of the talks should include lifting of all sanctions imposed on Iran during Ahmadinejad's era. They include UNSC Resolution 1929, which specifically prohibits certain types of missiles. That resolution should be voided. to do that, some form of compromise between the two sides is needed on this issue.

Anonymous said...

I think we'll see a deal at the end. US cant afford to sanction Russia and Iran at the saem time, that'll make them closer allies which US doesnt want. Its in their best interest to lay off the sanctions on Iran and focus on Russia now.

Brig. Gen. Basrawi (IQAF. ret) said...

Iranian team can negotiate for as long as they wish. No timetable/no end date has been laid down after which military action will be commenced. And the so called "redlines" are merely chest-thumping, put out there to intimidate, but no aggressive moves will ever take place. Iranian government is doing just the right thing, giving the opposite side the opportunity for coming to a compromise for a settlement that respects Iran's future requirement for a peaceful nuclear power programme. Afterall, it was they who approached Iran with a set of demands, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

the only concrete warning is that if Iran attempts to assemble nukes, military action to stop the attempt is an option.

Anonymous said...

AnonymousMay 23, 2014 at 8:22 PM
You mean like they did with the DPRK?,theres no appetite in the west for yet another war in the middle east

Anonymous said...

there isn't any desire for war with Iran.
except if Iran tries to assemble nuclear weapons.
that will cause bombs to be dropped on Iran.

Anonymous said...

the US CAN afford to sanction both Russia and Iran, but will give up on sanctioning Russia if it has to choose.

the sanctions on Iran are not going to go away until the Iranian government signs a deal to give up the weapons development program and allows full inspections to prove that they are keeping their word, fully and without attempting to do in secret what they publicly claim to be doing. they have not been fully honest to date and they will not be fully trusted for quite a while.