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Entering the “Zone of Immunity”: The Threshold of Iran's Nuclear Leap

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interview with Mahdi Mohammadi
Expert on Strategic Issues

Borhan Political Group: Since the Beginning of this month various developments have occurred with regards to Iran's nuclear program: the release of IAEA’s quarterly report on Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear issue at the same time as the Non-Aligned Movement Summit was being held in Tehran, the increase of Zionist regime’s threats against Iran and the obvious and sudden change in their tone, new resolution issued by IAEA Board of Governors, etc. We have held an interview with “Mahdi Mohammadi”, the political expert, to examine and analyze these developments.

Borhan Political Group: On the one hand the IAEA issues resolution on the Islamic Republic, and on the other hand one can observe extending the exemption of eleven countries from the Iranian sanctions. How do you evaluate these developments?

Mohammadi: While approaching the US presidential election some particular scenarios can be observed in the United States’ policies towards Iran. The first one is that the Americans tend to keep displaying the international maneuver against the Islamic Republic and show signs and instances of a socio-political move against Iran so that Iran may come to the conclusion that the US’s capability in consensus building against Iran has remained untouched.

The passage of the IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution against Iran in the last week and the extension of exempting eleven countries from the sanctions imposed on Iran are estimable in this regard. In fact, this resolution lacks practical validity and cannot be enforced and it can merely be analyzed as a tool for communication with Tehran to send the message of global consensus against Iran.

The extension of exempting some countries from the Iranian sanctions have also, more than any other factor, been granted to them because the Unites States seeks to secure the participation of different countries in placing embargos upon Iran, and it knows that if it does not grant these exemptions, the other countries are not practically interested to pursue the American projects against Iran, particularly those considering the issue of sanctions.

The second scenario the US is preparing for Iran is developing stability in its policies towards Islamic Republic of Iran. Washington’s refusal to define red lines encountering Iran indicates their serious determination to avoid adopting measures which may force the US to perform hostile act against Iran. Therefore, preserving the international consensus against the Islamic Republic and avoiding destabilizing behavior are the major factors of the US policy towards Iran.

Borhan: What is the reaction of the US towards the heightened demands of Israel from Washington to increase pressures upon Tehran?

Mohammadi: Israelis’ major demand from the US is to prevent Obama’s probable compromise with Iranafter his re-election as the US president. What they use to ensure this prevention is to impose a series of red lines upon Obama, including the refusal to allow any level of uranium nuclear enrichment in Iran and make him give them assurance beforehand that the US will observe these red lines.

Being aware of this Israeli strategy, Obama last week practically announced that he will not be interested in this issue and thus will not allow Israel to determine his policies after November and create a situation in which the United States would be propelled into an Israeli enforced conflict with Iran. It appears that with regards to Iran's nuclear enrichment program the United States is distancing itself from Israel, a behavior which will possibly be reinforced after the November elections.

Borhan: The question is, may these circumstances be a result of holding the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran?

Mohammadi: Yes, to some extent. Of course, one should avoid overstating this issue; however, it seems that the US and especially Israel are taking revenge on Iran for holding the NAM summit in Tehran and in this regard they have enacted a series of scenarios and Canada’s severance of relations with Iran and the IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution on Iran are appreciable in this framework.

However, in general one can argue that until the presidential election in the United States, the level of tension between the US and Israel will not go beyond a minimum level, because they are not willing to create a situation which may force them to take hostile and challenging stances towards Iran.

Borhan: Up to now, you have pointed out the United States and Israel’s strategies before the US presidential election, but what will be Iran's strategy during the same period?

Mohammadi: The principles and components of Iran's plan will remain unchanged. Of, course the priorities of the plan are different and the Islamic republic of Iran actually will try to improve the country’s technical aspects in order to promote its objectives and by relying on legal dimensions display the legal gaps in the United States’ strategy and create a situation under which it would preserve a negotiation opportunity for after-November stage – a stage in which the US seems to enter a more serious round of negotiations. Therefore, Iran will cause no especial event to happen. However, the Americans have made very serious calculations about confronting Iran; an argument which can be discussed later.

Borhan: Amano’s report was released at the same time the Non-Aligned Movement summit was being held in Tehran. The Western media launched a massive propaganda campaign about the issue and represented the increase in the number of centrifuges as equivalent to the escalation of Iran’s nuclear enrichments activities and treated this issue as Iran's entering the “zone of immunity”. Now the question is, has Iran really entered the immunity zone claimed by Ehud Barak? Meanwhile, according to this report, not only the volume of Iran's enriched uranium has not increased, but also due to its consumption in order to produce fuel plates for Tehran research reactor it has decreased. All these being said, how is the report evaluated?

Mohammadi: The report Amano issued lacked the elements which could reinforce the West’s project of pressuring Iran.

First, this report does not make any new serious accusation against Iran, even about the issue of Parchin it emphasizes that the operations that are underway there, are not related to the building the IAEA demands to visit it.

Second, Regarding the issue of 20 percent enriched uranium it worth mentioning that despite Tel Aviv’s claim about Iran's enriched uranium volume being stored for producing higher enriched uranium, the report underlines that Iran's claim about using the 20 percent enriched uranium as the reactor fuel is valid and in fact the Islamic Republic has used its collection of enriched uranium to produce fuel plates.

The third point in this report is that Iran's technical behavior has not been affected by the pressures and actually the number of centrifuges has doubled; a case which shows that the pressures and embargoes have not changed Tehran’s technical calculations.

The assessments indicate that IAEA’s August report is exactly in the opposite direction that the Americans were planning which is supposed to find technical justifications for Iran's scenario. As a result, the estimations indicate that the Agency is moving in a direction which will make it to dismiss some of the most important accusations against Iran. Eventually the US will lose some of its instruments in technical terms to impose sanctions upon Iran and this will have a significant effect on the nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1. Consequently, during the negotiations the Western countries will not be able to accuse Iran of pursuing non-peaceful nuclear plans based on IAEA reports.

If by immunity one means the complete transfer of 20 percent enrichment to Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, then Iran has entered the “zone of immunity” and this is confirmed by IAEA reports.

But if the question is that why this level of enrichment is called the “zone of immunity”, the answer is that the experts believe that according to Israel’s current military capability, Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant is immune to an Israeli military attack. In other words, in “zone of immunity”, Iran will be in a situation that Israel cannot terminate its nuclear program by a military attack. This being said, according to Ehud Barak’s defined borders, Iran has entered this zone long time ago.

Borhan: Recently, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has announced that Russia is going to offer a new plan according to which the international community will accept nuclear enrichment in Iran and lift the sanctions in return for the full and comprehensive monitoring of Iran's nuclear program; however, this plan is practically in contrast with Russia’s “step-by-step” plan. How do you analyse this plan?

Mohammadi: Before the presidential elections in Russia, Putin explicitly pointed in an article that the Iranian sanctions should be lifted only in response to the implementation of the safeguards in Iran and thus Ryabkov’s statement is the repetition of Putin’s argument before the presidential election in Russia; it is the opinion plainly declared by the Russian president and now it is the same view reiterated by the Russian diplomats.

By observing the behavior of the United States and the fact that in practice the Americans are not seeking to gain confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program and are simply trying to find a pretext for regime change in Iran, the Russian gradually have come to conclude that they should revise their strategic behavior and put an emphasis upon the NPT principles; however, this shift of approach is generally being evaluated positively.

Borhan: Has the P5+1 offered any clear answer to Iran's proposed plan in Baghdad negotiations after a few months?

Mohammadi: Up to date, there has been no serious and considerable answer to Iran's proposal in Baghdad nuclear negotiations and it seems that with regards to the Syrian issue, basically the P5+1 lacks a consensus to offer Iran a clear and definite answer.

Borhan: How do you evaluate the current situation? Do you think that a change of the circumstances is possible in the short terms?

Mohammadi: It is unlikely that before the presidential election in the United States and then until the next presidential election in Iran, something special would happen. The domestic policies’ considerations in the US are in a way that actually will not allow the Americans to set up initiatives in the nuclear negotiations and thus one should wait for the results of the presidential elections in the two countries. Any solution should be postponed until then.

Key Words: Zone of Immunity, Threshold of Iran's Nuclear Leap, IAEA, Non-Aligned Movement Summit, US Presidential Election, Sanctions, Israel, Russia, Mohammadi

Source: Borhan News Site
http://borhan.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

More By Mehdi Mohammadi:

*Why Iran Should Both Negotiate and Suffer from Sanctions?: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Why-Iran-Should-Both-Negotiate-and-Suffer-from-Sanctions-.htm

*Syria’s Developments and Iran's National Security Equation: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Syria-s-Developments-and-Iran-s-National-Security-Equation.htm

*Some Basic Facts about Negotiations in Moscow: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Some_Basic_Facts_about_Negotiations_in_Moscow.htm

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