Who Will Win?: What Will a Possible Deal between Iran and E3+3 Bring About?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Behzad Saberi, Ph.D., Expert in International Law and Politics

On 31 July 2006, adopting resolution 1696 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council demanded that “Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development”. The Council expressed its conviction that “such suspension, as well as full, verified Iranian compliance with the IAEA Board of Governor’s requirements, would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that guaranteed Iran’s nuclear program was for exclusively peaceful purposes”.

According to the UN Charter, the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression. And reading from the Resolution 1696 and the ones that followed later, one assumes that the Council thought of the Iranian nuclear program as at least a threat to peace; and here is why: because “the IAEA was still unable to provide assurances about Iran’s undeclared nuclear material and activities”.

But was this sufficient ground for such determination? Does the Council draw the same conclusion if the IAEA is not able to provide such assurances about other countries undeclared nuclear material and activities?

As the IAEA Annual Report of 2013 shows, safeguards are applied for 180 States with safeguards agreements in force with the Agency. Of the 117 States that had both a ‘Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement’ (CSA) and an ‘Additional Protocol’ (AP) in force, the Agency concluded that all nuclear material remained in peaceful activities in 63 States; for the remaining 54 States, the Agency was unable to draw the same conclusion. For these 54 States, and also for the 55 States with a CSA but with no Additional Protocol in force, the Agency concluded only that declared nuclear material remained in peaceful activities. Iran belongs to the latter category, i.e. States with a CSA but with no Additional Protocol.

Now the same conclusion has always applied to Iran: all declared nuclear material remained in peaceful activities. In fact, from a technical point of view, the situation of the nuclear program of Iran has not been different than 109 other States; not mentioning those who are not even NPT members at all; and have actually acquired nuclear weapons.

Then what made Iran’s case so special? The sponsors of the 1696 resolution and other resolutions that came afterwards and imposed sanctions on Iran said they did not trust Iran’s ‘intentions’. But in words of Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the then-Permanent Representative of Iran to the UN, “the problem was that their ‘intention-o-meter’ had a rather abysmal record of chronic malfunction.” Security Council was imposing sanctions on a member of the NPT that had not waged a war of aggression against any of its neighbors in at least past two centuries, had never attacked nor threatened to use force against any United Nations member, had categorically rejected development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons on ideological and strategic grounds, was prepared to provide guarantees that it would never withdraw from the NPT, had placed all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, and even had already voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol for more than two years.

Almost a decade after the first resolution that dealt with Iran’s nuclear program under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, it’s now obvious that issuing the resolutions was a mistake from many aspects. The resolutions were based on wrong assumptions, came under an irrelevant and insufficient excuse, made wrong and unnecessary demands, and applied inappropriate measures which proved to be ineffective and finally failed to do any good to anyone.

A decade ago, before chapter VII and sanctions, the number of centrifuges was far less than today, the heavy water reactor was at its early stages of construction, and there were no enrichment activities above five percent. By then, Iran and the West were at the verge of concluding a deal to provide assurances that Iran’s nuclear program would remain forever peaceful. Iran had already offered adoption of the IAEA Additional Protocol and continuous on-site inspections at key facilities, limiting the expansion of its enrichment program and a policy declaration of no reprocessing, and immediately converting all enriched uranium to fuel rods. But the West did not think of it as a ‘good deal’, and opted for ‘no deal’ instead. They chose the path of pressure and sanctions to coerce Iran to do what they expected. The number of centrifuges multiplied, the heavy water reactor construction almost completed, uranium enrichment to twenty percent to provide fuel for Teheran reactor was done and new generation of centrifuges were built in Iran.

In November 2013, accepting the Joint Program of Action in Geneva, the 'Big Five' plus Germany admitted that for a diplomatic and negotiated solution guaranteeing that Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes, there is no need for any suspension of any kind and that a final solution to this fabricated crisis may and should entail clear recognition that Iran will continue its enrichment program at industrial level.

Considering the main elements enshrined in Lausanne statement by Iran and EU/E3+3 (or 5+1), Iran has already succeeded to prove to the world that the rationale behind all the Security Council resolutions in this case was wrong. There was never a need for suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities and the sanctions were totally irrelevant measures that only brought harm to ordinary people and disrupted healthy and regular trade and economy of the region and the world.

Should the comprehensive solution be agreed upon by the parties involved based on the elements of the Lausanne statement and then receive the endorsement of the Security Council, this will be a real win-win-win scenario for Iran, for 5+1 and for the whole international community. Iran wins because it can achieve its legitimate demands, world powers win because they may rest assured that Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively for peaceful purposes, and the international community wins because this will be a good sign that the Security Council is beginning to act in a more responsible manner and to discern between real threats to international peace and security and fabricated ones. This may be the beginning of an era in which the Security Council focuses on real causes of international instability and lives up to its name.

Key Words: UN Charter, Security Council, Resolution 1696, Chapter VII of UN Charter, IAEA, Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, NPT, Additional Protocol, EU/E3+3, 5+1, Win-Win-Win Scenario, Saberi

*Photo Credit: IDSP.IR

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