Set High Standards for Iranian Nuclear Talks
1:51 PM, Sep 20, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Iran “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA.” The Security Council repeated its demand in a December 2006 resolution, a March 2007 resolution, a March 2008 resolution, a September 2008 resolution, and a June 2010 resolution.
(3) Any Iranian nuclear deal should require Iran to fully comply with its international obligations through “complete and total transparency”—that is, by allowing nuclear inspection activities far beyond those required by its NPT-required IAEA safeguards agreement. The goal would be to ensure that the United States and the international community have both a correct and complete picture of Iran’s nuclear activities—especially those with weapons potential.
As Iran implements the Additional Protocol, it should be required to submit a complete set of documents on all of its activities, sites, and locations related to research, production or use of enrichment and reprocessing. The IAEA’s Board of Governors first urged Iran to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol in September 2003. The U.N. Security Council reiterated calls for Iran to ratify the Additional Protocol in December 2006.
Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran is a Means, Not an End
The question of what standards any Iranian nuclear deal should meet in order to be effective and durable is an important and timely one, especially given how President Obama—who on many occasions has laid down a red line on Iran getting nuclear weapons—recently responded to the violation of his red line on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. After publicly threatening to use military force when dictator Bashar al-Assad repeatedly used chemical weapons in Syria, Obama eventually backed off. Instead, he ended up embracing a controversial U.S.-Russian deal aiming to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons by mid-2014—a “chemical deal” that even Secretary of State John Kerry concedes will be challenging to implement, verify, and enforce.
Given what’s at stake in the debate over a nuclear deal with Iran, the United States and allied nations should learn the right lessons from Obama’s chemical deal with Assad. One key lesson is the need to set the bar high—not low—for any potential Iranian nuclear deal. If the United States and Iran resume nuclear negotiations, Iranian diplomats will surely try to lower the standards for any deal. U.S. and Western diplomats should not aid and abet their Iranian counterparts. The more an Iranian nuclear deal fails to meet high standards for effectiveness and durability, the greater the risk that Iran could circumvent the agreement and covertly, if not overtly, build a nuclear weapon—just as North Korea did under the Agreed Framework nuclear deal in the 1990s and 2000s.
Efforts to get a nuclear deal with Iran should not be a race to get to “yes,” but to meet or exceed high standards, lest the deal risk doing far more harm than good. Because the goal of the United States is to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, it is therefore critical that U.S. policymakers and lawmakers view nuclear diplomacy with Iran as one of several means to an end—and not as an end in itself.
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