More Delays on Nuclear Deal
Based on the latest news (November 11th), it seems that the road to a “Nuclear Deal” between P5+1 and Iran is a long and winding one.
The latest talks in Geneva ended in a stalemate although it is still not clear what the deal-breaker really was. The French want tighter restrictions on Tehran’s possible Plutonium route to a bomb through its heavy water plant in Arak. The Iranians insist on recognition of its rights to enrichment. And nobody knows what to do with Tehran’s current stockpile of 20% enriched Uranium.
Talks are meant to resume on November 20th.
In the meantime, Iran left the negotiating table with more time to continue what it has done over the past few years: enrich Uranium and add to its 20% stockpile, add more centrifuges and prepare Arak to be operational by 2014.
This situation eerily echoes the time-delaying tactics that Rouhani used himself back in 2003-2005 as nuclear negotiator which allowed Iran to develop its nuclear program to the stage it is in today. Remember that Rouhani himself correctly and proudly said in his elections statement: “We were the ones to complete it (the nuclear program)! We completed the technology.”
IAEA Stretches Time
In the meantime, the IAEA and Iran issued a joint statement of cooperation to resolve “outstanding issues” and that Iran should provide “timely information about its nuclear facilities”. The statement is followed up with a list of “initial practical measures to be taken by Iran within three months” which includes providing “mutually agreed relevant information and managed access” to all nuclear-related sited including Arak as well as clarifications regarding enrichment facilities and technologies.
The IAEA wants timely information but has given Tehran three months to do so. Seeing as Iran can get closer to the bomb with every day that its program is left unchecked and unchallenged, it seems that three months might be a jackpot for Tehran if it is really intending to build a bomb.
Maybe the IAEA should take a better look at how Syria managed to come clean to come clean on its chemical weapons capabilities in a much shorter time.
Time Running Out In Tehran
As the talks continued in Geneva, it is getting clearer that the true obstacles are back in Tehran.
President Rouhani and his government are facing a tough situation at home: Iran’s fundamentalist hardliners, spearheaded by the leading IRGC officials,view any agreement as a show of weakness. Flag burning and “Death to America” chants followed Friday prayers at the Tehran university.
And although Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is still supportive of the talks, he is not optimistic that they “will bear fruit” and is under a lot of pressure from the “hardliners in the Revolutionary Guards” who want to sabotage the talks.
Will the IRGC give Rouhani the required time to strike a nuclear deal? Will Khamenei continue to back the negotiations? Or perhaps, the real question is does Iran really want to reach a deal which might cripple its ability to build a bomb?
The answers my friends, are blowing in the winds above Tehran.