Iran’s Nuclear Crisis and the Way Out: Part 3

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ambassador Hossein Mousavian
The Former Spokesman of Iran’s Nuclear File

Active Image5- A negotiable framework to resolve Iran’s nuclear dilemma

This is a scenario which is needed to resolve the existing Iran’s nuclear deadlock.
Any viable solution needs to meet the bottom lines of all sides. For Iran, this means reliable civilian nuclear energy, defense of its rights under the NPT, maintenance of its pride and technological development, and assurances against attack. For the United States and Europe, the bottom lines are no nuclear weapons in Iran; a broad and on the global nuclear future verifiable gap between the nuclear activities that would continue in Iran and a nuclear weapons capability. (18)

But a short review of the other four mentioned scenarios before getting to this

A-Possible Consequences of Military Strikes

1- Tehran may change its present peaceful nuclear policy towards a military program.

2- US dilemma in Afghanistan and Iraq would be repeated with much bigger dimensions.

3- Israeli & U.S. interests both regionally and internationally would be threatened.

4- Oil prices might hit $200-$300/pbl.

5- Iran would block the Strait of Hormuz by mining, cruise missile strikes, or small boat attacks.

6- The U.S. efforts to foster better relations with the Muslim world would suffer. 

7- Anti-Americanism in the Muslim world and even other parts of the world would revive.

8- New hopes for rapprochement between Tehran and Washington would be killed.

9- Iranians of all stripes would rally around the flag to defend their country.

10- U.S. regional Arab allies would have more problems with their public opinions. 

11- U.S. and Israel would be too preoccupied with managing the consequences of the attack against Iran, while Hamas or Hezbollah would probably retaliate against Israel. In such a situation there would be further set back in any revival of the peace process.

12- It Could produce a diplomatic split between the United States and Russia, China,
Non Alignment Movement Countries and also with European and regional allies, reminiscent of tensions over the Iraq war. 

B-The second scenario (sanctions) is possible but is a failed policy

The five reasons to pursue additional sanctions:

1-To influence Iranian policy. 

2-To promote positive change in the nature of the Iranian regime.

3-To degrade Iranian military and power projection capabilities. 

4-To set a deterrent example for other aspirant proliferators. 

5-To provide an irresistible alternative to the other two options, which are even
less desirable, the options of either doing nothing to respond to Iranian nuclear
program or going to war to prevent it.(19)

Points about the failed scenario:

1- Three decades of unilateral sanctions have not accomplished the objectives of the US.      

2-  UN Security Council Sanctions against Iran has failed to change Iran's nuclear policy.      

3- Sanctions alone have seldom improved behavior of targeted regimes. 

Sanctions did not compel:

•  Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan, 
•  Pakistan to halt its nuclear weapons program, 
•  Saddam to evacuate Kuwait,  
•  Haitian military regime to step aside, 
• Milosevic to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo. 
• Taliban to expel Osama bin Laden.

4-  Sanction as a prelude to invasion. It is clear that sanctions can degrade the economic performance. Comprehensive and universally enforced sanctions made an eventual American military intervention necessary. So the sanction policy as a prelude to invasion and occupation is another issue which definitely would not work against Iran.

5- All Iranians support Iran's efforts to master the nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful use. This is a matter of national “pride & consensus” in Iran. Therefore there would be no difference even in the case of regime change. 

6- The sanctions targeting the legitimate rights of Iran would increase support for the system rather than the reverse. 

7- This is a policy applied for 30 years against Iran but today Iran is regionally and internationally more powerful than ever. Even on WMD issue, although Iran is the member of NPT, CWC and BWC and there is no evidence of diversion in nuclear, chemical and biological activities, but Iran has been able to acquire the capability for long-range missiles, nuclear fuel cycle and advanced chemical and biological technologies.

8- Some believe that the United States should seek to impose more sanctions as a way to postpone an Israeli military strike against Iran. This can be a reality but is not a solution to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue and would complicate the situation in long term. 

9- Sanctions are not easily and rapidly reversible. On two occasions over the last eight years, the Islamic Republic has made far-reaching overtures of cooperation and accommodation with Washington.  Those offers were made in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and then a year later, its invasion of Iraq. But Washington chose to ignore both overtures. This was a great strategic mistake of the U.S. administration. When another such opportunity arises, the U.S. president should be in a position to respond rapidly. Existing US legislation does not include broad authority for the president to waive or terminate sanctions in response to changing conditions. 

C- The third scenario

This is really a baseless concern, because:

1- Iran does not possess nuclear bomb. 

2- The leader’s religious order (FATWA) against all WMD was issued in 1995, which is 8 years before Iran’s nuclear crisis.  

3- All Shi’at Grand Ayatollah have the same religious FATWA. 

4- All realistic assessment shows that in case of a change policy toward military purposes, Iran would need 8-10 years to reach a nuclear bomb. Therefore there is no imminent threat. 

But as I mentioned, the peaceful nuclear technology as a capability useful for economic-industrial developments and also as a deterrence instrument, is a different issue which Iran is fighting for it.  

D- The fourth scenario

The engagement and diplomacy is very much logical and realistic one, but in the absence of a negotiable framework; the two parties would not be able to compromise. I don’t see a comprehensive strategy or even a road map in the present US engagement policy, that’s why six years of EU3 and 5+1 negotiations and also the recent Iran-US talks in Geneva have not been successful.  Thus we need a new policy called: “Diplomacy plus a Negotiable Framework”. 

Any package should be able to remove the three key risks of uranium enrichment
in Iran, namely:

1: Breakout at declared facilities

This is the first and most important concern that Iran could use its known, monitored facilities to produce weapons material and, ultimately, nuclear weapons.

2: Use of covert facilities

The second key concern about Iranian nuclear activities is that Iran could establish covert enrichment or plutonium production facilities and use that material for weapons.

3: Global precedent

The third concern is a global one that any agreement that allowed continuing enrichment in Iran would have an effect on global nonproliferation efforts, and particularly efforts to convince other states not to pursue enrichment of their own. (20)

The following package would remove all above mentioned concerns and risks.
The Principles:

1- Iran’s adherence to all WMD Conventions and treaties with a maximum level of transparency.

2- Support of the UN and all member states for the legitimate rights of Iran for peaceful technologies in the framework of International Conventions.

The Commitments of International Community

1: The SC should recognize Iran’s right for peaceful nuclear technology including enrichment of uranium under the NPT, and lifting all sanctions and UN Security council resolutions. 

2: All UN member states should lift restrictions on nuclear exports to Iran. 

3: The SC and engaged countries should agree to assist Iran in enhancing the capabilities of the Tehran Research Reactor and, if necessary, the acquisition of a replacement reactor of the same type but of higher power.

The Commitments of Iran

Iran can reconfirm its commitment not to obtain nuclear weapons with more explicit steps. For realization of the objective guarantees to secure non diversion, Iran can accept obligations to assure the international community of adherence to this commitment through following steps:

1: Iran can restart the implementation of the Additional Protocol. 

2: Iran can restart the implementation of the subsidiary arrangements. 

3: Iran can commit to cooperate with the IAEA for the removal of all remaining ambiguities about its nuclear-related activities and construction projects. 

4: The IAEA and countries with nuclear power can work to put all enrichment activities worldwide under multinational arrangements, such as management consortia, designed to add another level of international transparency and protection against misuse of the facilities to produce materials for weapons purposes. As proposed by Iran, it could take a lead in working with other countries to develop such arrangements and would establish consortia at existing fuel-cycle within Iran.

5: Iran can limit its enrichment activities to its real fuel requirements in the future.

6: Iran can promise not reprocess spent fuel from power or research reactors for a period of confidence building.

7: Iran can commit not to enrich uranium to greater than the acceptable level recognized by the IAEA.

8: Iran can export all low enriched uranium not used for domestic fuel production out of country as a long term confidence building measure.

10: Iran can make its centrifuge production fully transparent at every site so that the IAEA will be able to verify the number of centrifuges Iran has produced in the past and will produce in the future and verify their locations.


(18) "Iran's Nuclear File: Recommendations for the Future"  By Abbas Maleki,Senior Associate, International Security Program Journal Article,  Daedalus, issue 1, volume 139,Winter 2010

(19) Hearing of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "Iran Sanctions, Options, Opportunities and Consequences," Chaired by: Representative John Tierney (D-Ma).December,15,2009

(20) “Beyond Zero Enrichment”, By Matthew Bunn, Policy Brief, November 2009, Belfer Center, Kennedy School, Harvard University.

*Iran’s Nuclear Crisis and the Way Out: Part 1

*Iran’s Nuclear Crisis and the Way Out: Part 2