P5+1 ready to cave on demands

Omri Ceren, TIP

Reuters broke this about 90 minutes ago: the P5+1 “will likely stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran.”

The concession – which involves letting Iran slide on its obligation to come clean over the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its atomic program – is likely to prove enormously controversial both politically and substantively. I’ve pasted the whole article below if you want to read the whole thing. It includes flabbergasted quotes from Western officials like “I believe the PMD issue is not a deal-breaker even though it probably should be.”

Politically, the demand has been a cornerstone of Western diplomacy and a key way the Obama administration reassured skeptics of its diplomacy:

* The demand was a hard-fought part of United Nations Security Council 1929, which demands that “Iran shall cooperate fully with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA” (http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?docid=4c1f2eb32)

* The Obama administration has since the very beginning told its that it would force full Iranian disclosure. Sept 2009 President Obama declared that “Iran is on notice that… they are going to have to come clean.” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB125391458570742099). In January 2013 Kerry doubled down on the position, declaring that “the president has made it definitive” that Iran needs to answer all “questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/24/politics/kerry-nomination/)

There will be people who advocate letting Iran slide, and they’ll tell lawmakers and journalists that it would be humiliating for the Iranians to admit they played around with nuke experiments. What’s the point of embarrassing the Iranians just to embarrass the Iranians? Why force a “mea culpa”?

That very, very badly misunderstands the PMD issue. The reason PMDs matter so much politically is because they matter so much sbstantively. Full disclosure has long been recognized a critical prerequisite to any verification regime. It’s how inspectors were going to benchmark the Iranian program. They’re not (just) interested in the Iranian military’s full-blown weapons work. Instead they need to know all of the atomic work that the Iranian military has conducted. That includes uranium mining, centrifuge construction, enrichment, etc. The goal is to get a full picture of everything the Iranians are doing and have done, so that inspectors can verify they’ve stopped them. It’s not a “mea culpa” issue. It’s about benchmarking a deal.

Otherwise the entire deal might end up being just for show. The Iranians can commit to keeping only X amount of uranium in country, but that’s meaningless without knowing how much total uranium they actually have. Ditto for centrifuges they commit to putting offline. Ditto for R&D they commit to forgoing. We’ll have a situation where we can’t be sure that 100% of the Iranian program is being monitored under an agreement. It could be 75%. It could be 50%. Without full disclosure there’s no way to know.

If there’s really been a collapse, it will supercharge skepticism of the deal.



West seen easing demands on Iran atom bomb ‘mea culpa’ in deal
Sat, Nov 22 10:50 AM EST

By Fredrik Dahl and Louis Charbonneau

VIENNA (Reuters) – World powers will press Iran to cease stonewalling a U.N. atomic bomb investigation as part of a wider nuclear accord, but will likely stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran to avoid killing an historic deal.

Officially, the United States and its Western allies say it is vital that Iran fully addresses the concerns of the U.N. nuclear agency if it wants a diplomatic settlement that would end sanctions severely hurting its oil-based economy.

“Iran’s previous activities have to come to light and be explained,” a senior Western diplomat said.

Privately, however, some officials acknowledge that Iran would probably never admit to what they believe it was guilty of: covertly working in the past to develop the means and expertise needed to build a nuclear-armed missile.

Iran denies this and says its nuclear program is peaceful.

The six powers face a delicate balancing act: Israel and hawkish U.S. lawmakers – wary of any rapprochement with old foe Iran – are likely to pounce on a deal if they believe it is too soft on Tehran’s alleged nuclear arms activity.

A senior Western official said the six would try to “be creative” in coming up with a formula that would satisfy demands by those who want Iran to come clean about any atomic bomb research and those who say it is unrealistic to expect the country to openly acknowledge it.

The outcome could also affect the standing of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which for years has been trying to investigate what it calls the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.

While the global powers – the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain – seek to persuade Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment program to lengthen the timeline for any bid to assemble nuclear arms, the IAEA is investigating possible research on designing an actual bomb.

The aim is to reach a comprehensive solution to end a 12-year nuclear dispute by a Nov. 24 deadline, though diplomats say it is more likely that the negotiations will be extended.

If an eventual accord does not put strong pressure on Iran to increase cooperation with the IAEA by making it a condition for some sanctions relief, it may hurt its future credibility, according to some diplomats accredited to the agency.

“You don’t want to undermine the integrity of the IAEA,” one said.

The IAEA issued a report in 2011 with intelligence information indicating concerted activities until about a decade ago that could be relevant for developing nuclear bombs, some of which the U.N. agency said may be continuing.


Iran has made clear that it is not an issue it is ready to budge on. “PMD is out of question. It cannot be discussed,” an Iranian official said.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano this week said Iran had again failed to provide explanations needed for the inquiry, making clear it has made scant headway in recent months.

“I believe the PMD issue is not a deal-breaker even though it probably should be,” another Western official said. The official added that many inside the IAEA and Western governments shared concerns about the deadlocked investigation and felt uneasy about compromising on the issue.

Iran denies ever harboring any nuclear bomb ambitions and its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued a religious decree against atomic weaponry.

Because of this, experts say, it is virtually impossible for the Iranian leadership to make any “mea culpa” about activity geared toward developing nuclear bombs.

Another reason Tehran might be reluctant to admit to any wrongdoing is that it could later be used as a justification for Iran’s enemies to attack it out of “self-defense”.

As a result, the powers are weighing how hard to press it.

A U.S. official said it was “a fine line” that needs to be walked on PMD. The six want to make sure the Iranians address the issue to some extent, but do not want to hit them so hard with it that they feel like they will lose face.

Experts differ on whether Iran must come completely clean: some argue it is necessary to ensure that any such work has since been halted but others say this can be achieved without a “confession”.

November 22, 2014 | 1 Comment »

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  1. Well…
    What can possibly have been wrong with our el fantastico’s TV face making as our way of dealing with Iran’s plans? Now is the time for a major cardboard prop and huge red line markers show!
    Attaboy Netanyahu! Are we safe yet?