By the research staff of the Arms Control Association. To get this P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert delivered to your inbox, sign-up now.
This Week in Vienna
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a press conference yesterday afternoon that touched on many of the same themes that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed in his remarks: progress in some areas, the commitment to finding solutions to the remaining gaps, and the importance of reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal.
While this shift in tone from both sides may come too late to reach an agreement by July 20, it demonstrates the commitment of the parties to getting a good deal. Both sides know that reaching an agreement that respects a peaceful Iranian nuclear program and assures the international community that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons is in everyone’s best interest. Negotiators will continue to work through the next four days to reach a deal, but an extension may be necessary to find the formula that fits both of these goals.
Even though no announcement about an extension has been made, and one is unlikely before the weekend, critics in the United States are already attacking what they see as a lack of progress. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Cal.) already issued a statement yesterday calling for the administration to work with Congress on new sanctions in light of the “significant gaps” that still remain between Iran and the P5+1.
Thankfully, some members of Congress see the importance of waiting until after July 20 to assess the negotiations before moving on sanctions that would jeopardize diplomacy. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told al-Monitor yesterday that it was “premature” to consider new sanctions and members should wait and see what happens before taking action.
Meanwhile, at the Coburg Palace, talks continue today amongst the experts and political directors.
—KELSEY DAVENPORT, ACA Nonproliferation Analyst
Pivotal Issue No. 4: More Extensive Inspection Authority
Last weekend, during an interview with NBC News, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that Iran sees no value in pursuing nuclear weapons .
However, if Iran were to pursue nuclear weapons development at some point in the future, it would most likely try to do so by means of a secret program carried out at undisclosed facilities rather than its declared facilities, which are already under tight international monitoring, according to the U.S. intelligence community.
One of the areas upon which the P5+1 and Iran generally agree is the value of more timely notification of Iranian nuclear activities under Iran’s current comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)–know as “Code 3.1”– and more extensive IAEA inspection authority to guard against a secret weapons program under the terms of the additional protocol.
In the first phase of a comprehensive agreement, Iran would likely be required to implement an additional protocol, which would allow the IAEA to conduct inspections of undeclared sites without prior notification, which is a strong deterrent against any clandestine nuclear weapons work. At a later point, Iran would commit to ratify it. Once approved by the Iranian parliament, the duration of the additional protocol would be indefinite.
In addition, the P5+1 is seeking more inspection measures for an extended period of time to provide more confidence to the international community that Iran’s nuclear program is being used entirely for peaceful purposes, including ongoing monitoring of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing facilities and support infrastructure. Iran, according to our sources, is amenable to additional transparency measures beyond the additional protocol for a limited period of time.
Background: IAEA Safeguards Measures
Safeguards are activities that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) undertakes to verify that a state is living up to its international commitments not to use nuclear programs for nuclear-weapons purposes. State parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are obligated to have a safeguards agreement in place. Safeguard activities undertaken by the agency are based on a state’s declaration of its nuclear materials and nuclear-related activities. Verification measures include on-site inspections, monitoring and evaluation.
Iran’s safeguards agreement entered into force in 1974. It grants the IAEA access to nuclear sites, including Iran’s uranium enrichment sites at Natanz and Fordow, the fuel fabrication plant at Esfahan, the Arak heavy water reactor, and the Tehran Research Reactor, for monitoring and verification purposes.
Modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements to a Safeguards Agreement: Modified Code 3.1 requires countries to submit design information for new nuclear facilities to the IAEA as soon as the decision is made to construct, or authorize construction, of the facility.In 2003, Iran accepted modified Code 3.1 but reneged unilaterally in March 2007.
If Iran implements Code 3.1, the IAEA will receive information about any plans Tehran has to expand its nuclear program earlier than it would under the existing safeguards agreement. Iran would also be obligated to share any design changes to existing nuclear facilities. This would be particularly useful in the case of the Arak heavy water reactor because Iran has not responded to the IAEA’s request to provide updated design information.
Additional Protocol: The Additional Protocol is a legal document granting the IAEA inspection authority beyond what is permitted by a safeguards agreement. Additional Protocols are voluntary agreements negotiated on a state-by-state basis with the IAEA.
Under the Additional Protocol, the IAEA is granted expanded rights of access to information and sites. States must provide information about, and IAEA inspector access to, all parts of a State’s nuclear fuel cycle – including uranium mines, fuel fabrication and enrichment plants, and nuclear waste sites – as well as to any other location with nuclear material. Additional Protocols typically include provisions granting multiple entry visas to inspectors, access to research and development activities, information on the manufacture and export of sensitive nuclear related technologies and allow for environmental samples.
Iran negotiated an Additional Protocol with the IAEA and signed the agreement in 2003. Between 2003 and 2006 Iran voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol, but never ratified the document. In 2006, Iran announced that it would no longer implement the provisions of the agreement.
The Additional Protocol would substantially expand the IAEA’s ability to check for clandestine, undeclared, nuclear facilities by providing the agency with authority to visit any facility, declared or not, to investigate questions about or inconsistencies in a state’s nuclear declarations. The Additional Protocol would substantially improve the international community’s ability to promptly detect and disrupt any effort by Iran to build nuclear weapons.
The Latest Reads…
Opinion – Keep Talking to Iran: “The world has been better off since the temporary agreement was reached. Iran has compliedfully with requirements that it halt production of uranium enriched to 20 percent, and has converted 80 percent of its stock of the fuel to less threatening forms. As a result, Iran is further than it would have been from achieving a “breakout” capacity that would allow it build a bomb faster than the U.S. could mount a pre-emptive response.” The Editors, BloombergView http://bv.ms/1rqJ8zp
New Report – Voices from Iran: Strong Support for the Nuclear Negotiations: “The Campaign’s study found that these leading Iranian figures were unanimous in their support for the ongoing nuclear negotiations. Indeed, support for the negotiations was equally forthcoming not only among human rights victims and former political prisoners, but also among those who believed that the negotiations themselves would have no effect on the state of human rights in Iran.” International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran http://bit.ly/1mgXQng
ACA Statement On Developments in P5+1 Nuclear Talks With Iran: “‘Concluding an effective, comprehensive agreement will require difficult compromises from both sides. However, solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach,’ said Daryl G. Kimball.” http://bit.ly/1mh8xWS
Looking Ahead …
July 16-?? – P5+1 and Iran experts continue work.
July 20 – target date for the conclusion of the comprehensive nuclear deal.
Follow the Negotiations via Twitter at #IranTalksVienna