Addressing Swiss Statement Criticism, Great Challenges for Final Agreement

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mohammad Hassan Daryaei
University Professor and Senior Disarmament and International Security Analyst

Iran's nuclear talks with the P5+1 group of countries ended in an interim agreement between the two sides in the Swiss city of Lausanne. This development has incited different reactions in Iran from various groups. While some people were very ecstatic and took to the streets to celebrate, there were other groups that were enraged by the agreement, showed hasty angry reactions, and took Iran's negotiating team to task. A closer look at these reactions, which were erupted since the early hours after the Lausanne statement was read out, shows that most of them are purely out of emotions, without due care to the details of the statement, and mostly a result of certain political tendencies.

In reality, there is still a long way before a comprehensive agreement is achieved on Iran's nuclear program. However, through round-the-clock efforts of negotiating teams, we have witnessed a historical development. After more than 18 months of negotiations  by high-ranking officials from both Iran and the P5+1 countries, finally  the light has been seen at the end of the tunnel and there is now a clear prospect for finding mutually satisfactory solutions and a way forward for formulating a comprehensive agreement. The Swiss statement was merely a joint press statement, which is published on the basis of mutual consensus. Therefore, it has its own weaknesses and strengths. The statement has been subject to various kinds of scrutiny and criticism in the Iranian state television as well as other mass media, but the interesting point is that every group and faction has been relaying their own take on the statement. Therefore, meticulous neutral expert analysis of the details of the statement is imperative.

It should be noted that like any other country, Iran has its own complexities and domestic political rivalries and such rivalries usually reach their peak when it comes to the sensitive issue of the nuclear talks. Perhaps, one of the most important challenges facing the Iranian nuclear negotiating team is to convince domestic political factions and groups, so that, there would be necessary consensus inside the country for the continuation of the negotiations until a decisive result is reached and the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is formulated. To achieve this goal, the nuclear negotiating team should use all its influence and convincing power, starting from today, to find answers for the following ten questions, which encompass fundamental and vital concepts around which a final deal will revolve. They should also try to address existing serious concerns with regard to the following issues in the text of the final agreement:

1. What is the true nature of Swiss statement? Is it a simple press statement or a joint statement, or a binding legal instrument? How serious are political bilateral obligations and is there any possibility for them to be changed or amended?

2. Are allegations of the critics true that the Iranian negotiators have practically violated the red lines set by the Supreme Leader because they have accepted a two-stage agreement according to the Lausanne statement? Strong, documented reasons should be provided in this regard.

3. What is the final situation of Fordow nuclear site in the Lausanne statement? The negotiators should give clear answers to the critics who claim that this site has practically lost its applications and the benefits of uranium enrichment.

4. Iranian negotiators should also answer criticism about remarkable reduction in the number of centrifuges, which can amount to the loss of the country’s national achievements in the field of uranium enrichment and Iran's enrichment capacity.

5. The negotiating team should provide necessary technical and legal explanation in answer to severe criticisms raised by critics who claim that the negotiators have accepted a considerable reduction in the stockpiles of enriched material and believe that such an agreement as announced in the Lausanne statement amounts to the loss of the country’s national assets.

6. More explanation should be provided as to the method by which sanctions will be removed. Is it true that sanctions will not be lifted simultaneous with the measure that Iran is expected to take? Would this give Western countries the upper hand providing them the possibility to refrain from fulfilling their obligations once Iran has observed its obligations?

7. The claims raised by the critics about the destructive role considered for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in this statement should be also addressed. They claim that in view of the bitter experiences surrounding the IAEA's past performance in Iran, the Agency is quite possible to cause more serious problems for the Islamic Republic in future because the Agency is sided with the west.

8. The critics’ allegations about the possibility of unlimited inspections anytime anywhere and provision of access for international inspectors, which may deal a drastic blow to Iran's prestige and national pride, constitute another question that needs a proper answer.

9. The critics claim that the Iranian administration’s decision to accept the implementation of the Additional Protocol, even on a voluntary and temporary basis, has been illegal. They say the Iranian parliament has already passed a law prohibiting the administration from doing so. Such claims need to be answered through appropriate legal explanation or new legal initiative.

10. The critics say there is no accurate timetable on the basis of which the two sides are bounded to observe their obligations. They also say accepting some of long-term measures for confidence-building by Iran through the final agreement will be against the country’s national interests. These claims should be also addressed in a proper manner.

Key Words: Swiss Statement, Great Challenges, Final Agreement, P5+1, Iran, Weaknesses, Strengths, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Supreme Leader, Technical and Legal Explanation, International Atomic Energy Agency, Daryaei

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