Monday, November 25, 2013
Surrender in Geneva
By Matthias Küntzel · Monday, November 25, 2013
The five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany nullify the United Nations sanctions regarding Iran.
HAMBURG, November 24, 2013—During the night of November 24, 2013, it came to this: The five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany signed an interim agreement that accepts the plutonium facility at Arak and approves Iran’s continued uranium enrichment. “This deal appears to provide the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars in exchange for cosmetic concessions,” criticized Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois).
The first victim of this surrender is the United Nations.
On December 23, 2006, the UN Security Council called, in a rare act of unanimity, on the regime in Tehran to suspend all plutonium and uranium activities or otherwise to face sanctions. Since then this position has been amplified in several UN decisions.
Until today, it was only the Tehran regime that ignored this proclamation and failed to respect the UN positions. Today however the above named 5+1 powers joined in this disregard for the UN positions. The regime in Tehran has been rewarded for its provocative anti-UN policies and the authority of the UN Security Council has been diminished.
The Plutonium Reactor will be Completed
First of all, there is the matter of the heavy water reactor at Arak, which Iran does not need, except for the preparation of weapons grade plutonium. The regime is counting on having this plutonium reactor running by the end of 2014. It therefore refused to accept any interruption in the construction work.
This refusal led to the collapse of the previous round of negotiations in Geneva, after the French Foreign Minister Fabius explained that he would not support a “deal for dummies.”
This deal, which was favored by the United States and the other powers, including Germany, stipulated that Tehran would promise not to activate the reactor during the next six months. “As a quid pro quo,” continued construction of the reactor would be permitted.
But Tehran had repeatedly declared that it was not planning on activating Arak before the end of 2014. The “quid pro quo” that it would not do so during the next six months was, in fact, no concession at all. Most of the 5+1 group really wanted to treat world opinion as a bunch of “dummies.”
Now the new agreement includes the following variation of the “Arak compromise”: With some minor restrictions, the reactor can continue to be prepared for activation. What’s more is that the signatories of the Geneva document declare that they are prepared to eventually accept the activation of the plutonium reactor. Yet even the mere construction of the site that lacks any civilian utility represents a breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The “quid pro quo”: Iran promises to refrain from installing any fuel rods or heavy water or “remaining components” during the next six months and to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with current design information about the reactor—a step to which Iran would be obligated in any case according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet there is no plan to provide IAEA inspectors access to the site.
Uranium Enrichment Continues
No “freezing” of uranium enrichment is intended. According to the New York Times, the agreement “would not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a low level of 3–5 percent or dismantle any of its existing centrifuges. Iran’s stockpile of such low-enriched uranium would be allowed to temporarily increase to about eight tons from seven tons currently. But Tehran would be required to shrink this stockpile by the end of the six-month agreement back to seven tons. This would be done by installing equipment to covert some of that stockpile to oxide.” (Michael R. Gordon, “Deal Reached With Iran Halts Its Nuclear Program,” Nov. 23, 2013).
Thus, the agreement gives even approval to an—allegedly temporary—significant expansion of the amounts of enriched uranium is given.
In this context it is noteworthy that during the next six months Iran is allowed to “continue its current enrichment Research & Development practices” and to produce new centrifuges “to replace damaged machines.” No centrifuge, however, will be dismantled.
When Syria’s poison gas supplies were to be destroyed a few weeks ago, it was self-evident that the sites where the gas was being produced would be destroyed first. Only afterward did one begin to address the poison gas stockpiles themselves. This sequencing made sense in order to prevent the Syrian dictator from quickly replenishing the poison gas that was being taken away.
Iran is being handled differently: all the facilities to enrich uranium remain in tact and not a single centrifuge will be destroyed.
The surrender in Geneva allows Iran to become a nuclear threshold state and provides legitimacy and impetus for Iran’s efforts. It has made hopes for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear conflict extremely difficult. The consequences are unpredictable.
Given these conditions, Iran could easily agree to refrain from producing uranium enriched to 20% during the next six months.
Yet the existing supplies of 20% uranium will not be moved to another country, as the 5+1 group has been demanding for years. The supplies remain under Iranian control and should only be “diluted” or transformed into uranoxide—the form in which uranium is used in fuel rods. These are processes that can easily be reversed, if needed.
“To guard against cheating,” so reports the New York Times, “international monitors would be allowed to visit the Natanz enrichment facility and the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo on a daily basis to check the film from cameras installed there.”
This proviso may look good at first, but it leaves out the decisive detail: one can allow the inspectors temporary access, but also remove them when necessary. This is precisely the tactic North Korea used successfully to get its bomb.
In addition, the Geneva deal shows that the 5+1 were unsuccessful with other, key inspection issues. For more than ten years, Iran has been blocking the use of the “additional protocol” of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would provide the Vienna Inspectors from the IAEA expanded access, including to suspected secret installations. Moreover the regime has been blocking efforts by the IAEA to analyze Iran’s previous nuclear weapons research. These hide-and-seek policies will remain in place.
The Sanctions Will Run Out
Even though Iran can proceed both with uranium enrichment and the preparation for plutonium production with minor and reversible limitations, the 5+1 group essentially wants to suspend the sanctions. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States assumes a sanctions reduction of six to seven billion dollars during the next six months. Approval by the Congress, which is largely critical of Obama’s Iran policy, is not necessary.
The United States intends to transfer to Iran 4.2 Billion dollars for oil revenue, which have so far been blocked by sanctions; this will come to some 600 million dollars per month. The agreement also demands to “suspend U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports, as well as sanctions on associated services” and on Gold, precious metals, automobiles, and airplane spare parts.
The Obama administration is trying to pacify its critics with the claim that the agreement is “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible.” It is to be used so that the next six months can allow for the development of an agreement that will fully eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat. But this is hardly likely!
Was the boast not proudly repeated that only international pressure brought Tehran to the negotiating table? It is then unclear why precisely the retreat from this pressure will lead the regime to “genuine” concessions in the next six months.
When France called the earlier plan a “deal for dummies,” it was being generous, wrote Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. Krauthammer continues:
“Don’t worry, we are assured. The sanctions relief is reversible. Nonsense. It was extraordinarily difficult to cobble together the current sanctions. Once the relaxation begins, how do you reverse it? Adding back old sanctions will be denounced as a provocation that would drive Iran to a nuclear breakout—exactly as Obama is today denouncing congressional moves to increase sanctions as a deal-breaking provocation that might lead Iran to break off talks.”
That’s the way it is. The surrender in Geneva allows Iran to become a nuclear threshold state and provides legitimacy and impetus for Iran’s efforts. It has made hopes for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear conflict extremely difficult. The consequences are unpredictable.
Translated by Russell Berman
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 10:13 PM