The deadline for the Joint Plan of Action ended it seems without a final agreement between the P5+1 and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. It’s not yet clear what happens next.
“There will be some kind of extension,” says Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Dubowitz, with parties reconvening in December to continue to negotiate. "Iran has 'hooked the fish' with Western negotiators so committed to negotiations that they will do whatever it takes to keep everyone at the table."
It’s useful then to see exactly what, for better or worse, has been resolved so far, either during the course of these talks or previously. According to Omri Ceren at the Israel Project, a pro-Israel public affairs organization that focuses on the Middle East, there are several issues on the table, many of which the Obama administration has already caved on.
—Sanctions. The White House is offering upfront sanctions relief that the administration says it can "snapback" if the Iranians fail to comply with their end of the bargain. However, as Dubowitz explainedin congressional testimony last week, the idea that it will possible to re-impose sanctions once Iran is opened for business, is politically and economically unrealistic.
—Sunset clause. The Jerusalem Post reported that the administration has offered Iran a 10-year sunset clause, meaning that after ten years, whatever so-called permanent deal is reached comes to an end, constraints go away, and Iran is a normalized nuclear power despite the fact that, for instance, the Islamic Republic is a state sponsor of terror.
“If this is true it’s shocking,” says Dubowitz. “Congress has been talking about many decades, and the administration said 20 years. Iran asked for 3 to 7, 10 would be a significant climb down. And it means that within a decade most of the constraints would disappear and Iran will be well-positioned to develop a massive industrial-size program, which will be much more difficult to monitor, and an easier clandestine breakout route to a bomb."
—Enrichment. The administration gave up on its demands that Iran enrich no uranium at all. The Joint Plan of Action acknowledged Iran’s “right” to enrich which will allow them to close their breakout time by increasing materials to enrich. “Under several presidential administrations,” says Dubowitz, “the United States denied Iran any enrichment and now we’re haggling with them over how much uranium they get to enrich.”
—Centrifuges. The White House abandoned its demands Iran must dismantle its centrifuges. Now they must only disconnect, or unplug, them, which which will allow them to close their breakout time by making sure there is equipment on hand to do the enriching.
—Plutonium. The administration gave up on the demand that Iran has to convert the heavy-water reactor at Arak into a light-water reactor, but Iran now refuses to budge, and the administration will instead allow an easily reversible cosmetic quick fix.
—Ballistic missiles. Several U.N Security Council resolutions (most recently UNSCR 1929) require Iran to cease all activity on its ballistic missile technology. However, it is now inconceivable that the administration will include ballistic missiles as part of the deal. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif literally laughed at White House negotiators when they suggested Iran should meet long-standing UNSC resolutions demanding a halt to proliferation-sensitive ballistic technology. As Reuters reported, “the U.S. delegation made clear that it wanted to discuss both Iran's ballistic missile program and possible military dimensions of its past nuclear research... Zarif merely laughed and ignored the remarks."
—Possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear program, and the verification regime. Reportsover the weekend suggested that the White House may have given up on demanding that Iran fully disclose its past activities, including possible military dimensions of the nuclear program. Without knowing exactly what Iran has done in the past, any post-agreement verification regime would be incapable of discerning whether or not Iran was keeping its word. The administration denied these reports.
The Iranian Hokey Pokey Strategy continued to unfold today, as much-ballyhooed talks about its nuclear-weapons program ended up producing nothing more than an agreement to keep talking. Today’s “agreement” isn’t even that; the negotiations to keep talking won’t start until December. In fact, they haven’t even agreed to the venue for those lower-level talks:
But hey, the Iranians are cooperating, right? They’re pausing their work and allowing full access to inspectors? Er …
And the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who was not part of the Vienna talks, said last week that Iranian authorities continue denying his agency access to a sensitive military complex suspected of being a site of nuclear activities.
Not that the talks were going anywhere even before today. As Adam Kredo noted yesterday at the Free Beacon, Iranian negotiators had been bragging about the abuse they were heaping on John Kerry and other Western negotiators:
“The gaps are big, the time is running out …” In reality, the gaps have always been big, and they will remain big as long as Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. They have played this strategy of using negotiations as stall tactics for more than a decade, after their nuclear-weapons program got exposed in 2003. The Iranians make a big show of holding talks and sometimes even reaching interim agreements, always to find some excuse or provocation to renege or pull out. They then dangle the possibility of talks in order to forestall tougher consequences for their intransigence. Barack Obama and John Kerry were foolish enough to buy this routine as sincere, throwing away the tougher sanctions that forced Iran to deal with West at all.
Time is running out, all right. The Iranians are making sure of that by running out the clock while they finalize their entry into the nuclear-armed state club. They just bought themselves seven more months of time to complete their efforts and deliver a fait accompli. The West is digging its own grave, and Iran is providing the shovels.
Update: And it looks like we’ll be giving Iran $700 million a month to stall, via Jeryl Bier on Twitter:
Iran’s nuclear talks with the six world powers will carry on till the end of June, officials taking part in negotiations have confirmed. The parties failed to reach a conclusion by the deadline of November 24.
An Iranian official confirmed Hammond's comments shortly afterwards.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that “considerable progress” had been made but there was no final agreement. Meanwhile, the Geneva agreement remains in place, he added, and he expressed expectations that the "basic principles" of a final agreement would be made within three or four months.
Hammond also commented that “significant progress” was achieved.
As of yet, the site of next month’s round of talks remains unknown. Meanwhile, Tehran will still have access to $700 million per month by way of sanctions relief.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that “during the talks in Vienna many gaps were narrowed and our positions with the other side got closer,” according to state television reports.
On Monday, prior to official announcements, a source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Iran and the world powers would be postponing talks and would continue them in mid-December, possibly in Oman.
"Some progress has been made," said a diplomat involved in the negotiations. "But we need to discuss some issues with our capitals. We will meet again before the New Year. This is an ongoing process."
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Iran and the six world powers were “still far apart on many issues” concerning negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program.
So scott....could you please educate me on what the word deadline means? Apparently I have the wrong definition
Hart - no problem...I'll give it a shot
Deadline: To give the appearance of doing something when there is no intent whatsoever to accomplish stated goals, instead, giving Iran ample time to develop a nuclear weapon while stalling...
I believe thats the working definition
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