While rummaging through the news online, in my e-mails and the various other eye-straining sources which have taken near complete control of what is otherwise a retirement in heaven I came across, much to my surprise, and transcript from CNN reputing to be of the soon to be completed next step in the Iran nuclear program negotiations with the P5+1. What is perhaps the biggest surprise was the qualifier that this agreement is only good for the next six months beyond its signing date by which time a fully flushed out agreement is expected to be ready to present for the final agreement signing ceremony. I am not entirely sure if this makes our former prediction that there would not be another extension of the negotiations as the parties are not calling this an extension though it really feels a lot like the former six month extensions even if this presents an original agreement framework which they claim requires some additional tweaks, definitions, additions and alterations. There are plenty of mentions of which sanctions will be terminated, what funds which will be released, what items shall be placed beyond the influences or hands of the world even should the talks collapse before the final completed agreement is molded, twisted, mutilated and otherwise tortured into existence. Now for the spoiler but I am afraid this is necessary, there is one particular stipulation in this agreement which should send chills up and down any concerned individual’s spine as it sets up a situation which is completely unconscionable for any United States President or any of the President’s advisors, Cabinet Secretaries or other Administrations personnel from remaining a member of the government of any United States President who would approve and sign such a stipulation. Here is that singular stipulation.
“The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.”
With such a restriction in place there is no longer anything for the Iranians to fear henceforth into the future even should the supposed fleshed out version will never be produced as this extends complete immunity into the future without any mitigating factor or exception into perpetuity as far as we can tell. This sentence being included is such an insult to the Congress that any President agreeing to its inclusion and or Secretary of State, negotiating team member or advisors of the President or Secretary of State not demanding this be removed or they will remove themselves from their service in this shameful Administration are displaying a contemptible disrespect to the Congress and the American people. But anyone who has followed this fiasco from its inception under the watchful eye of President Obama has likely realized long ago that the main principle of the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran, especially since President Obama and his Secretary of State and State Department took command to direct the negotiations the apparent aim has been to drag the negotiations out while protecting Iran from any military option being implemented against their nuclear sites even releasing confidential communications informing the White House of intent to mount a military resolution to prevent Iran attaining breakout conditions or worse, actual nuclear weapons production, only to have their plans or preparations leaked to the media often embarrassing those allied to take such measures and destroying their plans forcing the cancellation of such previously secret preparations and alliances. This stipulation in the agreement being proffered will permanently remove the United States from any efforts to prevent Iran from reaching the breakout point to industrial production of nuclear weapons allowing their building a nuclear arsenal.
Much of the remainder of what I interpreted from my reading it once through was that where the United States and likely the rest of the western world which relies on the United States in most military matters and would be incapable for launching a preemptive strike completely on their own will now face an Iranian enrichment industry which will only be restricted from full industrial uranium enrichment will face a United States handcuffed from taking meaningful actions. In return for the United States handcuffing itself Iran has promised to restrict their nuclear program and for the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to inspect and verify that the Iranians remain committed to and restricted by their promises demanded from this framework, and remember it is actually just that, a framework. Like a framework of a house, skyscraper, bridge, or any construction, there are gaping spaces throughout the structure which allow for things to pass through, in, out and around without much resistance or impediments. The one item we all can be completely assured about is that Iran will test and utilize every last gap in the framework to get around limitations and discomforts which might impinge on their attaining sufficient amounts of unaccounted for LEU (low enriched uranium) which would provide them with the starter uranium to produce as many as a dozen nuclear devices within six to nine months as long as they are careful and plan the times for inspections and provide the right formulas and predicted yields to the IAEA thus permitting their skimming off of a relatively significant amount of LEU over the period of a year or two.
Many believe that the IAEA inspections are very strict and intense thus making cheating nearly impossible. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The IAEA inspectors rely on the nation they are assigned to inspect to provide then with the information about their operations in enriching uranium including the levels intended, the amounts of ore will be used to produce yellowcake (uranium hexafluoride UF6), how much additional yellowcake they will import and the expected yields from their enrichment. To give an idea of how far off the predictions can be, in 2009 Iran “miscalculated” in their reports to the IAEA which underestimated their production and actually over-producing their estimates by over thirty percent. Imagine how quickly a clandestine series of cascaded centrifuges stashed in an underground hidden location that Iran could be producing nuclear weapons while appearing for intents and purposes to be honestly keeping all of their promises and nobody would be the wiser until time had run out and Iran has their nuclear arsenal and joined the nuclear club. There have been reports that the most recent series of centrifuges Iran is producing themselves are so far productive and superior to their earlier centrifuges that they are now capable of taking even LEU at five percent can be enriched to weapons grade in a manner similar to what they used to be capable of performing only with twenty-percent enriched uranium previously. The other main item that needs to be spread is that this agreement only is enforceable for six months and should no further deal be patched together it will likely mean the end of negotiations without any deal, the end to IAEA inspections, the termination of any Iranian cooperation and Iran attaining breakout nuclear capabilities within the ensuing year to year and a half. As horrific as such a predicament might be the ensuing consequences would be unthinkable.
The immediate consequences to an Iranian nuclear bomb would be daunting enough as it would make the many allied terror groups such as Hezballah, Hamas and other such entities mostly under the indirect control of the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) and span the globe come under the nuclear umbrella from Iran and thus having free hands to spread terror attacks without worry. The long-range ramification would be the immediate nuclear arms race across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt leading the charge. There would be pressures in Israel to reinitiate their nuclear program, assuming they ever had one which they have never officially admitted. Eventually the nuclear arms race in MENA would spread to the nations of Europe and South America as well as potentially the remainder of Africa thus tearing so many holes in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Member nations would be announcing their intent to leave the treaty and many unlikely to even wait the prescribed period before launching full-speed into producing nuclear weapons. They would drop faster than the leaves of autumn caught by the winds of a hurricane drop from their trees, and with a similar speed are heading towards nuclear weapons. Imagine a world where every border dispute, every insulted leader, every old rivalry or almost any slight or offence setting off a standoff and posturing between two recently nuclear armed nations who might not reflect sufficiently on the consequences of using nuclear weapons or expecting that their first strike would sufficiently harm their adversary that they would be incapable of making a response, an underestimation of the desire for revenge more than likely. This agreement could very well be regarded by history as the jumping off point which led the whole world within the most minute of distances from entering a post-apocalyptic world as depicted in too many movies. Read the agreement and let us know where you feel it may lead and what should be done and by whom, it might prove interesting. Below is the framework, framework, I am beginning to hate that word.
Beyond the Cusp
Geneva, 24 November 2013
Joint Plan of Action
The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons. This comprehensive solution would build on these initial measures and result in a final step for a period to be agreed upon and the resolution of concerns. This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein. This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme. This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This comprehensive solution would involve a reciprocal, step-by-step process, and would produce the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme.
There would be additional steps in between the initial measures and the final step, including, among other things, addressing the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council’s consideration of this matter. The E3+3 and Iran will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures and the comprehensive solution in good faith. A Joint Commission of E3/EU+3 and Iran will be established to monitor the implementation of the near-term measures and address issues that may arise, with the IAEA responsible for verification of nuclear-related measures. The Joint Commission will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern.
Elements of a first step
The first step would be time-bound, with a duration of 6 months, and renewable by mutual consent, during which all parties will work to maintain a constructive atmosphere for negotiations in good faith.
Iran would undertake the following voluntary measures:
- • From the existing uranium enriched to 20%, retain half as working stock of 20% oxide for fabrication of fuel for the TRR. Dilute the remaining 20% UF6 to no more than 5%. No reconversion line.
• Iran announces that it will not enrich uranium over 5% for the duration of the 6 months.
• Iran announces that it will not make any further advances of its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant , Fordow or the Arak reactor designated by the IAEA as IR-40.•
• Beginning when the line for conversion of UF6 enriched up to 5% to UO2 is ready, Iran has decided to convert to oxide UF6 newly enriched up to 5% during the 6 month period, as provided in the operational schedule of the conversion plant declared to the IAEA.•
• No new locations for the enrichment.
• Iran will continue its safeguarded R&D practices, including its current enrichment R&D practices, which are not designed for accumulation of the enriched uranium.
• No reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing.
• Enhanced monitoring:o Provision of specified information to the IAEA, including information on Iran’s plans for nuclear facilities, a description of each building on each nuclear site, a description of the scale of operations for each location engaged in specified nuclear activities, information on uranium mines and mills, and information on source material. This information would be provided within three months of the adoption of these measures.
o Submission of an updated DIQ for the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40, to the IAEA.
o Steps to agree with the IAEA on conclusion of the Safeguards Approach for the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40. Daily IAEA inspector access when inspectors are not present for the purpose of Design Information Verification, Interim Inventory Verification, Physical Inventory Verification, and unannounced inspections, for the purpose of access to offline surveillance records, at Fordow and Natanz.
o IAEA inspector managed access to:
centrifuge assembly workshops ;
centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities; and,
uranium mines and mills.
In return, the E3/EU+3 would undertake the following voluntary measures:
- Pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, enabling Iran’s current customers to purchase their current average amounts of crude oil. Enable the repatriation of an agreed amount of revenue held abroad. For such oil sales, suspend the EU and U.S. sanctions on associated insurance and transportation services.
Suspend U.S. and EU sanctions on:
o Iran’s petrochemical exports, as well as sanctions on associated services.
o Gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions on associated services.
Suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s auto industry, as well as sanctions on associated services.
License the supply and installation in Iran of spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation and associated services. License safety related inspections and repairs in Iran as well as associated services.
No new nuclear-related UN Security Council sanctions.
No new EU nuclear-related sanctions.
The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.
Establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad. Humanitarian trade would be defined as transactions involving food and agricultural products, medicine, medical devices, and medical expenses incurred abroad. This channel would involve specified foreign banks and non-designated Iranian banks to be defined when establishing the channel.
o This channel could also enable:
transactions required to pay Iran’s UN obligations; and,
direct tuition payments to universities and colleges for Iranian students studying abroad, up to an agreed amount for the six month period.
Increase the EU authorisation thresholds for transactions for non-sanctioned trade to an agreed amount.
Elements of the final step of a comprehensive solution
The final step of a comprehensive solution, which the parties aim to conclude negotiating and commence implementing no more than one year after the adoption of this document, would:
- Have a specified long-term duration to be agreed upon.
Reflect the rights and obligations of parties to the NPT and IAEA SafeguardsAgreements.
Comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy, on a schedule to be agreed upon.
Involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs, with agreed limits on scope and level of enrichment activities, capacity, where it is carried out, and stocks of enriched uranium, for a period to be agreed upon.
Fully resolve concerns related to the reactor at Arak, designated by the IAEA as the IR-40. No reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of reprocessing.
Fully implement the agreed transparency measures and enhanced monitoring. Ratify and implement the Additional Protocol, consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Majlis (Iranian parliament).
Include international civil nuclear cooperation, including among others, on acquiring modern light water power and research reactors and associated equipment, and the supply of modern nuclear fuel as well as agreed R&D practices.
Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT.
i) Namely, during the 6 months, Iran will not feed UF6 into the centrifuges installed but not enriching uranium. Not install additional centrifuges. Iran announces that during the first 6 months, it will replace existing centrifuges with centrifuges of the same type.
ii) At Fordow, no further enrichment over 5% at 4 cascades now enriching uranium, and not increase enrichment capacity. Not feed UF6 into the other 12 cascades, which would remain in a non-operative state. No interconnections between cascades. Iran announces that during the first 6 months, it will replace existing centrifuges with centrifuges of the same type.
iii) Iran announces on concerns related to the construction of the reactor at Arak that for 6 months it will not commission the reactor or transfer fuel or heavy water to the reactor site and will not test additional fuel or produce more fuel for the reactor or install remaining components.
iv) Consistent with its plans, Iran’s centrifuge production during the 6 months will be dedicated to replace damaged machines.
v) “Sanctions on associated services” means any service, such as insurance, transportation, or financial, subject to the underlying U.S. or EU sanctions applicable, insofar as each service is related to the underlying sanction and required to facilitate the desired transactions. These services could involve any non-designated Iranian entities.
vi) Sanctions relief could involve any non-designated Iranian airlines as well as Iran Air.
vii) With respect to the final step and any steps in between, the standard principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” applies.