National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy

Friday, July 12, 2013

Author: Hassan Rouhani

Paperback: 1209 pages
Publisher: Expediency Council, Center for Strategic Research, Iran, Tehran (3rd edition, 2012)
ISBN: 978-600-290-007-4


Iran's nuclear dossier is among the most important cases facing the country which enjoys various political, scientific and security dimensions and has influenced different fields of the Iranians’ life. Therefore, having correct understanding of and information about various dimensions of this case will be beneficial and important not only to experts and the elites, but also to the general public as well. It is noteworthy that in addition to expounding the overall course of challenges faced by the Islamic Republic of Iran over its peaceful nuclear energy program, the book also analyzes a host of other issues related to general structure of the country’s decision-making system. It also explains the way that information circulates among foreign policy and national security bodies; the process of making decisions in Iran; the methods used to collect and analyze information; as well as prejudgments and factional tendencies rife among policymakers with regard to international data, institutions and developments up to 2005.

In addition, the book is also important in that it has been written by an Iranian official who was in charge of the country’s nuclear negotiating team from October 2003 to August 2005. Therefore, the author has provided a clear and complete image of the important decisions made on the nuclear case from the very beginning to the end of his tenure. Those decisions were mostly made at various sessions attended by the leaders of the Islamic establishment in Iran and other high-ranking officials under the supervision of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

The book has been compiled in twelve chapters as follows.

The first chapter starts with explaining the beginning of Iran's nuclear technology following the Islamic Revolution. It focuses on Iran's developmental needs, including the country’s demand for nuclear energy and the necessity of producing nuclear fuel and enriching uranium. In addition, such issues as the extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by Iran in 1994, the signing by Tehran of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and their relationship with the issue of developing nuclear technology have been also analyzed here. The chapter further provides an explanatory account about the functions of the Supreme Council of Modern Technologies and decisions made by the Council to start the construction of a uranium enrichment facility near the central Iranian city of Natanz in 2000.

The second chapter is more about challenges arising from the decision-making process as well as the decisions coming out of that process following the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It takes a historical and analytical approach to analyzing the decision-making structure in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In its analysis of the above topic, this chapter delves into the important issue of the ideals of the Islamic Revolution and the best way of realizing them. The important role of the Supreme National Security Council, including its structure and functions with regard to making decisions about issues of national importance, especially with regard to the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its approach to the nuclear dossier of Iran are other subjects discussed in this chapter.

Chapter three aims to shed more light on the early stages of the nuclear tension in 2002, internationalization of Iran's nuclear issue, major domestic approaches to the nuclear energy program, and measures taken in this regard by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In addition, decisions made by the Iranian leaders for the purpose of the centralized management of the nuclear issue as a modern necessity and the selection of Mr. Hassan Rouhani (the author) as Iran's senior negotiator in the nuclear case have been explained. The chapter also provides an accurate assessment of Iran's technological assets and plans at that juncture in addition to legal, political and international situation of the country.

In the fourth chapter, the Islamic establishment’s strategy for the elimination of threats facing the country’s national security and the best way to forge domestic consensus over the nuclear case has been explained. Here, domestic political context and the reason for inviting three European ministers to travel to Iran have been expounded in parallel to accurate analysis of Tehran Declaration. Other issues discussed in this chapter include Mr. Rouhani’s negotiations in the Austrian capital, Vienna, with the former director general of IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, and in Brussels with three European ministers in order to get the country through the crisis created by IAEA's September 2003 resolution. It also includes an account on Rouhani’s effort to encourage adoption of a more suitable resolution on Iran in November 2003 which would be based on the contents of Tehran Declaration.

In the fifth chapter, the author has discussed the mechanism used by Iran to control the international crisis that emerged as a result of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran's first incomplete report to IAEA, especially Iran's failure to mention blueprints of the second generation of centrifuges (P2). It also explains how Libya’s unconditional surrender to demands of the United States and UK made the situation more difficult for Iran. The author has also explained how Iran managed to turn this crisis into a potential opportunity through the Brussels agreement. In addition, domestic and international political grounds which helped Iran go through IAEA's March and June 2004 resolutions on the basis of the Brussels agreement; increased hope in taking Iran's nuclear dossier out of Board of Governors’ emergency agenda; and major reasons why Iran's case could not be normalized have been analyzed in this chapter.

Chapter six, which covers a period from August to December 2004, is mostly about the marathon of swapping plans between Iran and the European negotiating parties. It also provides an account of the breathtaking confrontation between Iran and the United States over the normalization of Iran’ nuclear case, on the one hand, and final referral of the case to the United Nations Security Council, on the other hand. When explaining the events related to that juncture, reference has been also made to domestic differences over the course of the nuclear case and impatience for the beginning of uranium enrichment as well as the adoption of active diplomacy for the normalization of Iran's nuclear case which provided the main political and international grounds for the conclusion of the Paris Agreement.

In the seventh chapter, the domestic and international conditions which paved the way for the conclusion of the Paris Agreement between Iran and the European states have been elaborated. In addition, the IAEA's November 2004 resolution, which was based on the Paris Agreement and which meant to normalize the course of Iran's case at the Board of Governors, has been discussed in depth. Other parts of this chapter focus on the impact of Paris Agreement on Iran's political and economic conditions as well as necessary decisions which Iran had to make in case of possible crash of the negotiations.

The eighth chapter is about negotiations among three working group which had been born out of the Paris Agreement. Another focus of this chapter is about the major challenge that the Islamic Republic faced because it was expected to provide “objective guarantees” that its nuclear energy program will remain peaceful. In this part of the book, the details of negotiations with [the former French President Jacques] Chirac and [the former German Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder, which raised hope about provision of objective guarantees and the beginning of enrichment in Iran, have been offered. Domestic pressures from political circles which urged that negotiations with the European countries should stop, as well as efforts aimed at taking factional advantage of the nuclear case on the verge of the ninth presidential election in Iran have been reviewed and analyzed in this chapter.

Chapter nine provides an analysis of procrastination by the European negotiators during talks between two sides’ working groups. It also explains the Islamic Republic of Iran's initiative in offering a four-stage plan, which included industrial enrichment, in the early days of the Iranian calendar year 1384 [March 2005-March 2006]. This chapter also explains how pressures from the United States in addition to Europe’s submissiveness to the US pressures, and domestic developments in Iran on the eve of the presidential election made a collective force which increased the speed of strategic changes around Iran's nuclear case in an incremental manner. Moreover, the political reasons behind the announcement of the Islamic Republic of Iran's decision for launching Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF), details of negotiations by the Steering Committee in London (late April 2005), and declaration of the official inauguration of Isfahan UCF on April 30, 2005, have been discussed in this chapter.

Chapter ten provides an account of the international reverberations of the decision made by the Islamic Republic of Iran to launch Isfahan UCF. It covers reactions by foreign officials, including a letter by three European ministers; phone calls by [the former South Africa President Thabo] Mbeki, [former UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan, as well as the officials of Russia and China who recommended that Iran should postpone the launch of Isfahan UCF until it received the final plan of the European countries. Another consequence of Iran's reaction which has been explained here is a trip to the Swiss city of Geneva by the Iranian negotiating team and the last round of negotiations with three European ministers on May 25, 2005. In addition, the chapter explains how – after the last effort by the Steering Committee in London failed on July 20, 2005 – Iran prepared an alternative plan in consultation with the presidents of South Africa and a number of other countries to engage in negotiations with friendly countries instead of trying to reach an agreement with the European states.

In chapter eleven, the author analyzes the Islamic Republic of Iran's three-pronged strategy for the management of the nuclear crisis before explaining the domestic grounds and the consequences as well as international correspondence and contacts related to the inauguration of Isfahan UCF. It also gives an account of a farewell ceremony held for Mr. Rouhani on August 15, 2005, after having worked with the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years. In conclusion, this chapter provides a comparative assessment of legal, technical, political and international conditions of Iran's nuclear case when it was trusted to Mr. Rouhani and when it was handed over to his predecessor, Ali Larijani.

The final and twelfth chapter of the book discusses the main achievements of 678 days of round-the-clock endeavors by Mr. Rouhani as the Islamic Republic of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. The author has explained how the Islamic Republic of Iran managed to complete its nuclear energy cycle despite international challenges it faced and how the Iranian government succeeded in heading off all threats against the Islamic establishment by taking advantage of creative diplomacy, foresight, and acumen.

About the Author

Hassan Rouhani (born on 12 November 1948) is an Iranian politician, lawyer, academic and diplomat, who is currently the president-elect of Iran. He has been a member of the Assembly of Experts since 1999, member of the Expediency Council since 1991, member of the Supreme National Security Council since 1989, and head of the Center for Strategic Research since 1992.

Rouhani has been also deputy speaker of the 4th and 5th terms of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis - Iranian Parliament) and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 1989 to 2005. In the later capacity, he also headed Iran's former nuclear negotiating team and was the country's top negotiator with the EU three – UK, France, and Germany – on Iran's nuclear program.