According to the White House Summary,
What Iran Has Committed To Do
On January 20th, the IAEA will report on the current status of Iran’s nuclear program, and particularly on its uranium enrichment program and the Arak reactor. The IAEA will also report on several specific steps that Iran has committed to take by or on the first day of implementation, including:
- Halting production of near-20% enriched uranium and disabling the configuration of the centrifuge cascades Iran has been using to produce it.
- Starting to dilute half of the near-20% enriched uranium stockpile that is in hexafluoride form, and continuing to convert the rest to oxide form not suitable for further enrichment.
In addition, over the course of the Joint Plan of Action, the IAEA will verify that Iran is:
- Not enriching uranium in roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow, including all next generation centrifuges.
- Limiting its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines, so Iran cannot use the six-month period to stockpile centrifuges.
- Not constructing additional enrichment facilities.
- Not going beyond its current enrichment R&D practices.
- Not commissioning or fueling the Arak reactor.
- Halting the production and additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.
- Not installing any additional reactor components at Arak.
- Not transferring fuel and heavy water to the Arak reactor site.
- Not constructing a facility capable of reprocessing. Without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.
Iran has also committed to a schedule for taking certain actions during the six-month period. This includes:
- Completion of dilution of half of its stockpile of near-20% uranium hexafluoride in three months, and completion of conversion of the rest of that material to oxide in six months.
- A cap on the permitted size of Iran’s up to 5% enriched uranium stockpile at the end of the six-month period.
To ensure Iran is fulfilling its commitments, the IAEA will be solely responsible for verifying and confirming all nuclear-related measures, consistent with its ongoing inspection role in Iran. In addition, the EU, P5+1 and Iran will establish a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation of the Joint Plan of Action. The Joint Commission will also work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program.
The Joint Commission will be composed of experts of the EU, P5+1 and Iran, and it will convene at least monthly to consider the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action and any issues that may arise. Any decisions that are required on the basis of these discussions will be referred to the Political Directors of the EU, the P5+1, and Iran.
Transparency and Monitoring
Iran committed in the Joint Plan of Action to provide increased and unprecedented transparency into its nuclear program, including through more frequent and intrusive inspections as well as expanded provision of information to the IAEA.
The Iranian enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow will now be subject to daily IAEA inspector access as set out in the Joint Plan of Action (as opposed to every few weeks). The IAEA and Iran are working to update procedures, which will permit IAEA inspectors to review surveillance information on a daily basis to shorten detection time for any Iranian non-compliance. In addition, these facilities will continue to be subjected to a variety of other physical inspections, including scheduled and unannounced inspections.
The Arak reactor and associated facilities will be subject to at least monthly IAEA inspections – an increase from the current inspection schedule permitting IAEA access approximately once every three months or longer.
Iran has also agreed to provide for the first time:
- Long-sought design information on the Arak reactor;
- Figures to verify that centrifuge production will be dedicated to the replacement of damaged machines; and
- Information to enable managed access at centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities, and uranium mines and mills.
These enhanced monitoring measures will enable the IAEA to provide monthly updates to the Joint Commission on the status of Iran’s implementation of its commitments and enable the international community to more quickly detect breakout or the diversion of materials to a secret program.
The summary also deals with sanctions relief, perhaps a topic for another post.
Such Iranian military sites such as Parchin, where the IAEA had reason to think that there had been implosion testing in 2011 but was refused access to inspect;
Development and construction of rocketry capable of delivering nuclear warheads; and
Development and testing of nuclear warheads.
The current White House Summary also omits mention of them, despite reports such as these:
It was reported on November 28th that
A top Iranian military leader announced late Tuesday that Iran has developed “indigenous” ballistic missile technology, which could eventually allow it to fire a nuclear payload over great distances. [Emphasis added.]
Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the lieutenant commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), made the critical weapons announcement just days after Iran and the West signed a deal aimed at curbing the country’s nuclear activities.
Salami claimed that “Iran is among the only three world countries enjoying an indigenous ballistic missile technology,” according to the state-run Fars News Agency.
It was reported on November 27th that
While the world’s leaders are still coming to grips with the enrichment aspect of the Obama administration’s new deal in Geneva to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program, no one has noticed that Iran’s warhead and delivery program remains untouched. [Emphasis added.]
Despite Tehran’s protestations that it has no intention of ever creating a nuclear weapon, Iran, in fact, has been developing a warhead for some 15 years. That design is now near perfect. [Emphasis added.]
Compare Iran’s nuclear weapons program to the use of gunpowder. One stuffs gunpowder into a bullet, loads it into a rifle, and then finds a marksman who can hit the target. Iran has nearly mastered all those steps – but in nuclear terms. Four technological achievements are key to completing Tehran’s nuclear weapon: 1) accretion of enough nuclear materials, highly enriched to weapons grade – that is, about 90 percent; 2) machining that material into metal to create a spheroid warhead small enough to fit into a missile nosecone, where it will be detonated; 3) developing a trigger mechanism to initiate the atomic explosion at the precise moment of missile reentry; and, of course, 4) obtaining a reliable rocket delivery system to carry such a weapon.
Start with the nuclear material. Experts estimate that a single bomb would require approximately 25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, that has been boosted to concentrations of at least 90 percent. Much of Iran’s nuclear enrichment remains at 3.5% and 20% levels. But the numbers are deceiving. Enriching uranium to 3.5% is 75% of the distance needed to reach weapons grade. Once Iran has reached 20%, it has gone 90% of the distance.
Today, Iran possesses enough nuclear material for a fast breakout that would finish the job in about six weeks, creating enough material for five or 10 bombs. The current international deal leaves large stockpiles of 3.5% material and the centrifugal ability to quickly enhance to the next level of 20%, which again, is 90% of the distance needed.
Second, that HEU must then be metalized and shaped into a dense spheroid compact enough to fit into a missile nosecone. Iran has mastered the nuclear metallurgy, testing the process by using other high-density metals, such as tungsten. Tungsten objects have been detonated in a special underground chamber to measure its analogous explosive character. [Emphasis added.]
Third, the spheroid must be detonated. Iran’s warhead design employs a R265 shock generator hemisphere drilled with 5mm boreholes filled with the volatile explosive PETN. When triggered with precision, the PETN array can cause a massive synchronized implosion. This will fire an internal exploding bridgewire that will, in turn, actuate an embedded neutron initiator to finally detonate the atomic reaction – and the mushroom cloud. This sequence of devices has already been assembled and tested by Iran. It possesses more than 500 exploding bridgewires on hand, adding more each day. [Emphasis added.]
Why does the current White House Summary fail to mention such things? Probably because they are not within the parameters of the November 24th “deal.”
If, and only if, Iran’s nuclear intentions historically — or at least in recent years — had been solely peaceful, and if the purpose of the November 24th “deal” and its progeny were to keep them that way, it might be an acceptable deal. For the same reasons, it would likely serve no useful purpose beyond perhaps giving President Obama bragging rights for his foreign policy acumen.
However, Iran’s nuclear intentions have not been peaceful. Instead, Iran’s threats to eliminate Israel have been frequent and clear. On August 20, 2012 a Gatestone Institute article observed:
Iran has in recent days unleashed a flurry of genocidal threats signaling its intention to try and destroy the state of Israel.
The messages have come at the height of a domestic Israeli debate raging over the question of a potentially imminent strike on Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program.
While Tehran routinely sends out threats of wholesale destruction against the Jewish nation-state, the past few days have been unusual due to the scope, frequency, and audacity of the threats.
The Iranian leadership, headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is guided by a hardline Shi’ite political-religious ideology which places non-acceptance of Israel’s very existence at the top of its foreign policy agenda.
Through its commitment to this ideology, Iran remains the only state in the world that not only calls for genocide, in violation of the 1948 Convention Against Genocide to which it is a signatory, but calls for the destruction of another UN member state, in violation of the UN Charter to which it is also a signatory and which, if the UN ever implemented any of its own laws, should cause the ouster of Iran from that body.
These threats are a direct result of Iran’s dark state ideology, although some of the most recent ones have been tailored to include an attempt to deter Israel from hitting Iranian nuclear sites. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, for example, head of the Revolutionary Guard’s air force, claimed he “welcomed” an Israeli strike because it would give Iran a reason to “get rid of Israel forever.”
That speech was soon followed by a message from the head of Hezbollah, Iran’s military proxy in Lebanon, armed with some 60,000 rockets pointed at Israel.
In a lengthy televised address, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said his organization could kill tens of thousands of Israeli civilians in a future war, by striking strategic Israeli sites with his rocket arsenal.
Alluding to sites such as plants containing hazardous chemicals, Nasrallah said, “Hitting these targets with a small number of rockets will turn … the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists to real hell, and we can talk about tens of thousands of dead.”
The main factor behind the upsurge in threats is the Iranian state-sponsored celebration of its annihilation policy towards Israel, which occurs on the fourth and last Friday of Ramadan every year.
The event is called “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day,” and involves mass rallies, speeches by Iranian leaders, chants of “Death to Israel,” and placards bearing the same intent. Last week, Khamenei described Israel as a “cancerous tumor” and “the biggest problem confronting Muslim countries today,” according to Iranian media reports.
“Many of the Islamic world’s problems come from the existence of the sham Zionist regime,” Khamenei added, in comments that are reminiscent of traditional anti-Semitic comments that could be heard everywhere before the Holocaust.
Khamenei also expressed hope that the “Arab spring” would hasten an Islamic “awakening” towards Iran’s goal of obliterating Israel.
A few days before this, Khamenei called Israel a “bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth,” adding that he was sure that “the fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography.”
This video below, broadcast on Iranian television while the P5+1 talks were in progress, simulates an Iranian “counter attack on Israel.” It seems obvious
(a) that for an Iranian counter attack Iran would need appropriate weaponry and delivery mechanisms and
(b) that an initial attack would be far easier for Iran to accomplish than a counter attack following an even partially successful Israeli preemptive attack.
In these circumstances, failure even to mention Parchin and similar military facilities, advanced warhead and missile development — lacking any discernible nexus with peaceful nuclear activities — makes the “deal” a farce from the perspectives of U.S. security and interests in avoiding nuclear conflagrations in the Middle East.
Iran denounced on Friday details released a day earlier by the White House regarding the implementation of an interim nuclear deal, calling the text a “one-sided interpretation.”
“The White House statement is a unilateral and one-sided interpretation of the unofficial agreements between Iran and [the] P5+1,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said in comments carried by the Islamic Republic News Agency.
“By no means it is a criterion to evaluate or judge how the Geneva deal will be implemented,” Marzieh Afkham added.
I have yet to find any further explication of Iran’s objections and the White House Summary appears innocuous concerning Iran’s legitimate interests in peaceful development and use of nuclear energy. It would be useless to speculate what Iran’s objections might be, beyond suggesting
(a) that they are intended to give Iran a convenient exit strategy in the unlikely event that there might be attempts to find and interfere with her persistent development of nuclear warheads and delivery mechanisms, and
(b) to maintain pressure on the U.S. to continue to cease any current Congressional preparations to impose additional sanctions on Iran in the event that she abandons the ongoing “negotiations.”
Here is a video of Iran’s current President Rouhani, who led earlier nuke negotiations for Iran, bragging about how he had cleverly deceived the West.
Of course, everything is different now. With such keen observers as President Obama and Secretary Kerry dedicated to looking out for
their own our best interests, there is no reason to suspect that Iran would even consider the possibility of more attempts at trickery! Is there?
UPDATE, January 22nd
The current Iranian dispute, of course, has nothing to do with my objections noted above, viz, that the White House version of the recent “deal,” like the White House version of the P5+1 “deal,” fails to mention such problems as the Parchin military site, development of nuclear warheads and rockets with which to deliver them.