November 25, 2013
The world powers – U.S., France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia – reached an agreement with Iranian leaders early Sunday (24th Nov. 2013) in Geneva to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a gradual easing of economic sanctions. President Obama said the tentative pact will “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb…While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” Mr. Obama said. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.
Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment, and neutralizing part of its stockpile. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges—which are used for enriching uranium.” Mr. Obama said the U.S. and its partners will not proceed with new sanctions that would scuttle the deal. (Source e.g. The Washington Times ) In return for Iran agreeing to increased international inspections of its facilities, the U.S. and its partners will suspend sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran about $1.5 billion in revenue.
The subsequent economic crisis in Iran discredited the policies of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, changed the thinking of the supreme leader and ultimately led to the electoral victory of President Hassan Rouhani. Previous international negotiators entered talks with Iran at a disadvantage because Iran had no need for negotiations. This has changed because Iran needs a negotiated deal as well, and it cannot get sanctions relief without international cooperation. This transformation in the negotiations dynamic made the deal now possible.
Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5%:
- Halt all enrichment above 5% and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.
Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium:
- Dilute below 5% or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase.
Iran has committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity:
- Not install additional centrifuges of any type.
- Not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.
- Leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow, so they cannot be used to enrich uranium.
- Limit its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines, so Iran cannot use the six months to stockpile centrifuges.
- Not construct additional enrichment facilities.
Iran has committed to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5% stockpile:
- Not increase its stockpile of 3.5% low enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of the six months than it is at the beginning, and any newly enriched 3.5% enriched uranium is converted into oxide.
Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track. Iran has committed to:
- Not commission the Arak reactor.
- Not fuel the Arak reactor.
- Halt the production of fuel for the Arak reactor.
- No additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.
- Not install any additional reactor components at Arak.
- Not transfer fuel and heavy water to the reactor site.
- Not construct a facility capable of reprocessing. Without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.
Unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program
Iran has committed to:
- Provide daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordow. This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring. This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and shorten detection time for any non-compliance.
- Provide IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities.
- Provide IAEA access to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities.
- Provide IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.
- Provide long-sought design information for the Arak reactor. This will provide critical insight into the reactor that has not previously been available.
- Provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor.
- Provide certain key data and information called for in the Additional Protocol to Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Modified Code 3.1.
Limited, Temporary, Reversible Relief
In return for these steps, the P5+1 is to provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture. If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the relief. Specifically the P5+1 has committed to:
- Not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments under this deal, to the extent permissible within their political systems.
- Suspend certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue.
- License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.
- Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels — levels that are 60% less than two years ago. $4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments.
- Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.
Putting Limited Relief in Perspective
In total, the approximately $7 billion in relief is a fraction of the costs that Iran will continue to incur during this first phase under the sanctions that will remain in place. The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are inaccessible or restricted by sanctions.
In the next six months, Iran’s crude oil sales cannot increase. Oil sanctions alone will result in approximately $30 billion in lost revenues to Iran
The western powers have cut Iran’s oil sales from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2012 to 1 million bpd today, denying Iran the ability to sell almost 1.5 million bpd.
IAEA reports Iran nuclear activity slowed not reduced
The latest quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear activities was issued on 14th Nov. 2013 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It noted a slowdown, but no reduction in Tehran’s nuclear activity.
The report was the IAEA’s first meaningful assessment since Iran’s President Rouhani took office. It comes as representatives from the P5+1 powers (US, UK, China, Russia, France and Germany) and Iranian officials prepare to meet again next week to further consider an interim agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme.
The IAEA report found that during the past three months, four advanced centrifuges had been added at the central Natanz plant, in comparison to 1,861 during the previous three-month period. The report concludes activity has been “more or less frozen” at the Arak heavy water plant, where it is feared plutonium is being developed which could speed up nuclear activity. However, Iran’s stockpile of 20 per-cent enriched uranium, considered just a short step away from weapons-grade material, has increased by five per cent to 196kg since August. Despite the slight increase, this is still below the 240kg mark specified last year by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as his “red line” which may precipitate action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. ( Source Bicom )
Despite this irate response from the Prime Minister’s Office to the agreement signed in Geneva between Iran and six world powers, the deal might not be really a bad one even from an Israeli perspective. Geneva deal places serious restrictions on Iran and provides the West with valuable information on its nuclear program. Israeli President Shimon Peres gave a more measured response, saying time would tell whether the agreement was effective. Leftist Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On delivered the only positive Israeli response so far to the nuclear deal, saying her colleagues’ attack on the deal missed the fact that the agreement was intended to slow down Iran’s fast track to a nuclear bomb. After Iran nuke deal in Israel the Likud leadership anticipates a diplomatic and political crisis next spring. If Netanyahu wants to run again he will have to become even more extreme and speed toward Obama on a collision course. It might be that Geneva ended Netanyahu’s era. In a new reality, Israel might need new leadership.
The Iran nuke deal is only – sure core one – part of story. The deal but especially the secret U.S.-Iran talks before the deal may have also big geopolitical affect. When the nuclear issue is out from agenda and the sanctions removed, then matters such as controlling Sunni extremists, investment in Iran and maintaining the regional balance of power would all be on the table.
On the other side Gulf States fear not only Iran’s nuclear programme, but Iran being allowed to continue with its hegemonic ambitions, even being emboldened by the deal, and that they will be left alone to deal with it. Already regional states are reaching out to other international actors aside from the United States: Egypt talking with Russia about a major arms deal; Turkey considering China for a major air defence system; Saudi Arabia developing ties with France and Pakistan about their own nuclear weapon, Israel with France and Russia about cooperation in energy sector. This is a strong expression of deep disappointment with the US and its regional approach.
- Arak plutonium reactor: Arak need to be followed closely. Before the French intervention during the last round of talks, the Arak clause was problematic, proposing that Iran could not commission the facility but could continue construction in the next six months. One idea is that it will be converted into a light water reactor from a heavy water plant, this is something else.
- The Iranian narrative, that they have the ‘right’ to enrichment, has become an issue of their national pride. As a result, any deal will probably allow a degree of enrichment, but round the clock inspections by the IAEA will be essential to manage this.
- One key challenge is that the P5+1 powers should agree among themselves on a clearly defined endgame to the talks after an interim accord of six months.
The bottom line
Israel, the US and the major EU powers share the assessment that Iran’s programme is intended to give it the capacity to build nuclear weapons at its time of choosing. Now the Iran nuke deal concludes an interim accord as a prelude to a more comprehensive agreement. It would require Iran to freeze aspects of its nuclear programme for six months, in return for limited concessions on sanctions. Despite hard words one should remember that Iranian foreign policy has been extremely measured. Its one major war, which it fought against Iraq in the 1980s, was not initiated by Iran. Already some months ago Russia and U.S. managed to deal with Syria’s WMDs restoring trust to the great Middle East. Based on this history and the new deal with Iran I think that the détente has took a remarkable step forwards.
Some of my previous articles related to nuclear Iran:
- Instead Iran The Saudis Can Be The Next Nuclear Power
- US Giving a “Yellow Light” to an Israeli Strike
- Saudi-Israeli cooperation for attacking Iran
- Cyber war has become a tool between political and military options
- End Game Approaches on Nuclear Iran
- Iran’s nuclear program at the crossroads
- Iranians And Israeli Instead Of Israel Vs. Iran