Iran is Falling to
a Nuclear Agreement Trap
By Akbar E. Torbat
May 05, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - As it appears, using the strategy of
coercive diplomacy, the US and EU have been successful to force the clerics in
Tehran to dismantle the vital parts of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Coercive
diplomacy possesses three elements, a demand, a threat, and time pressure.i
To apply this strategy, the US and EU have imposed a set of economic sanctions
along with threats of force while negotiating to dismantle Iran’s nuclear
facilities by an urgent deadline. The primary contender, the United States, has
taken advantage of its position of power to impose its will on a weak developing
nation ruled by a clerical regime. It wants to block the progress of a nation in
an important advanced technology by interfering in the country’s energy policy.
Since coming to the office in February 17, 2015, the US Secretary of Defense
Ashton Carter, has threatened to use bunker-busting bombs to destroy Iran’s
ii His predecessor Chuck Hagel
had advocated direct negotiations with Iran and opposed military strikes,
however under pressures by Israel Lobby, he resigned in mid-November 2014.
After Iran’s investing
$40 to $200 billion in its nuclear energy infrastructure, suffering
assassinations of 5 nuclear scientists, and undergoing a covert war which
sabotaged its nuclear facilities,iii
the clerics in Tehran have tentatively accepted to comply with the US demands.
The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had said earlier, he would tactically make a
heroic retreat (narmesh ghahramananeh) to see how the US would respond. But his
retreat happened to be fatal as he was forced to remove his redlines and agree
to effectively dismantling all important elements of Iran’s nuclear
infrastructure. Moreover, Iran will suffer further costs of de-installation,
storage, and other heavy outlays later on. Jeffery D. Sachs, a development
economist at Colombia University, called the deal “an important achievement in
He did not say why a poor country like Iran should forego its enormous
investments to please the rich West. Sachs’ advice has made the developing
countries more dependent and worse off than they were before.
The “Framework” of
The US – Iran
face-to-face negotiations started secretly in 2012, and an interim agreement was
reached in Geneva on 24 November 2013, named the Joint Plan of Action.v
Under that agreement, Iran received some minor sanctions relief. After some
further rounds of negotiations, the Islamic regime agreed to a tentative
“framework” of understanding in Lausanne, Switzerland.vi
On April 2, 2015, the US Secretary of State John Kerry announced the major
parameters of the “framework” at a press conference in Lausanne. The parameters
are as follows:
Key factors for
Effectively dismantling Iran’s Nuclear Facilities
About two –thirds
of Iran’s 19,000 centrifuges are dismantled, 97% of its 10,000 kg
enriched uranium will be destroyed, and Iran will not be able to enrich
uranium more than 3.67% for at least 15 years.
Iran no longer
will enrich uranium or conducts research and development for enrichment
at Fordow for at least 15 years, cannot have any fissile materials, and
removes all centrifuges at the site.
Iran will use only
5060 of its old generation centrifuges at Natanz for ten years and
removes its advanced centrifuges and stores them for ten years.
will have regular access to all Iran’s nuclear facilities, including
supply chains, uranium mines, and yellowcake production for 25 years.
Iran has agreed to implement the IAEA’s Additional Protocol for greater
access to its nuclear facilities.
Iran agrees to
destroy the core of its heavy water reactor in Arak and redesign and
rebuild a new one to P5+1 satisfaction. Iran will ship its spent nuclear
fuels out of the country and will not conduct any research and
development on the spent materials, and will not build any additional
heavy water reactor for 15 years.
If Iran abides by
its commitments, it will receive sanctions relief. After Iran took all
of the key nuclear related steps, the US and EU nuclear-related
sanctions will be suspended, but can be snapped back in case of Iran’s
non-compliance. After the above steps were implemented the UNSC
resolution sanctions on Iran will be lifted.
For ten years,
Iran will limit its enrichment capacity to ensure a breakout timeline
(the time It takes to acquire enough fissile materials for a nuclear
bomb) of at least one year. Important inspections will continue well
beyond 15 years.
Source: US Department
Later in the day,
President Barack Obama repeated the parameters and said “Since Iran’s Supreme
Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, this
framework gives Iran the opportunity to verify that its program is, in fact,
Obama had also used the word fatwa, an Islamic edict in the hands of the
clerics, on March 19, 2015, in his message to Iranians celebrating the Persian
New Year, Nowruz.ix
He said”Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the
development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would
never develop a nuclear weapon. “x
Obama’s use of the word fatwa implied he is directly dealing with the top
clerics in Tehran. The country that itself has separated religion from its own
government does not hesitate to use religion as a means to promote its political
goals. Obama ignored that clerics have issued fatwa to kill many political
prisoners at home and dissidents abroad. The word fatwa was popularized when
Ayatollah Rohollah Khomeini issued fatwa on February 14, 1989, to kill Salman
Rushdie, the author of “Satanic Verses”.
The proposed agreement
is a one-sided acceptance of all major demands forced on Iran by the primary
contender, the United States. The regime has agreed to abide by all articles
listed in the agreement for 10 to 25 years. Based on this agreement, the main
parts of Iran’s nuclear facilities in Fordow and Arak are effectively
dismantled. Only very limited enrichment will be done at Natanaz nuclear site,
which is vulnerable to be bombed. Iran has to destroy the core of its Heavy
Water reactor and convert it to a Light Water reactor to the US satisfaction. It
must ship its spent nuclear fuels out of the country for the life time of the
reactor. That means, the negotiations over the past several years have been
useless, since whatever the United States had wanted was forced on Iran.
Under the Nuclear
Non-proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to develop nuclear technology for
peaceful purposes and NPT does not prohibit enriching uranium to nearly 20%,
which is required for Tehran reactor. Under proposed agreement, Iran will have a
useless nuclear program. It cannot produce higher enriched uranium for its
Tehran reactor, and neither can produce enough nuclear fuel for its planned
nuclear power plants. Also, Iran will lose its nuclear deterrent capability if
it is attacked by the countries that possess nuclear weapons. Moreover, this
agreement invites interventions and supervisions in Iran’s nuclear energy policy
for at least a quarter of century. The US determines Iran’s nuclear activities
and the size of its nuclear facilities. As Kerry said “there will be no sunset
to the deal we are working to finalize….The parameters of this agreement will be
implemented in phases. Some provisions will be in place for 10 years; others
will be in place for 15 years; others still will be in place for 25 years.”xi
The top clerics Ali
Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani have accepted all US dictated orders. This framework
most likely will be the actual agreement the clerics have accepted and prepare
to sign it with its details and attachments by June 30, 2015. This becomes a
bilateral agreement; the US tacitly protects the regime in exchange for the
clerics to abandon the wrights of Iranian people. The agreement will be a formal
treaty with the US government as the US Congress has to also review and approve
it within 30 days if it is finalized. It will be strengthened to an
international treaty imposed on Iran, when it goes to the United Nations
Security Council. The proposed agreement is under Chapter VII of the UN Charter,
which means if Iran does not abide by the UNSC resolutions, military force can
be used against it under Article 42 of the Charter. By linking the agreement to
Chapter VII, Iran is fallen to a trap of having admitted that it wanted to build
nuclear weapons and thus prepares the ground for future military attacks on a
pre-text of non-compliance.
What is agreed on
secretly has been already implemented. According to Behrooz Kamalvandi, the
speaker of Iran’s Atomic Organization, during the past two and a half years,
major elements of the Additional Protocol have been mostly implemented.xii
That means Rouhani’s government has bypassed the Majles and has implemented the
Protocol. Tehran’s Mayor, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf who had visited the nuclear
facilities in February had said all facilities in Fordow have been dismantled
and scientists do not dare to even get close to them. Ghalibaf accused Zarif of
completing the negotiations without disclosing its details. He believes Zarif’s
conduct of foreign policy is traitorous to the country.
Dissents Flared Up
After the Agreement
Rouhani had planned to
control dissents in advance by misinforming the public about the agreement. An
hour before the joint press conference by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, in Lausanne,
the Foreign Ministry had distributed a Fact Sheet in Persian in which some
important words and phrases of the agreement had been either eliminated or
changed to fool the Iranians.
made a speech broadcasted from State TV on April 3, saying “the deal benefits
everyone”. On the same day, the government promoted the deal at Friday’s prayer.
The cleric Mohammad Emami Kashani who gave the sermon praised the deal and
congratulated the negotiators. Other top officials, including Hassan Firouzabadi,
the head of Arms forces and Mohammad Al i Jafari, head of the Revolutionary
Gourds, Ali Larijani, the head of the parliament, and his brother Sadegh
Larijani, the head of judiciary, all endorsed the deal. That meant the regime
top leaders had all accepted the deal.
flared up instantly in the Iranian media outlets after the faked Fact Sheet was
released by the Foreign Ministry. On April 7, when Zarif presented the framework
to the parliament, some Majles members criticized the concessions he had made.
An argument occurred between Zarif and Javad Karimi-Ghodousi, a member of the
National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Majles. He scolded Zarif
for conceding on future enrichment at Fordow and Natanz. The argument heated up
to the point that security guards had to force out the reporters from the Majles
On that day, some students from Tehran University demonstrated in front of the
parliament questioning the foreign minister why he had ignored the red lines.
Also protests erupted in Shiraz when Rouhani visited the city few days later.
Mock Fights over
While the clerics have
agreed on the deal with the US, there are mock fights between the US and Iranian
officials over the economic sanctions. The agreement says the US, EU, and UN
sanctions will be suspended after signing the agreement, which means they could
be reinstated at a later time. In reality, the sanctions on Iran have reached to
a point of diminishing returns, which means their continuation will cost the US
and EU more than the damages they inflicts on Iran’s economy. For that reason,
the European countries are anxious to lift the sanctions because their economies
are in recession. In July 2012 under the US pressures they had unwillingly
joined the sanctions.
xivAlso the US economy has been
in stagnation since the recession in 2007-2009 and lifting the sanctions will
generate substantial business for the US companies. More oil from Iran will
lower oil prices benefiting major oil importing countries, mainly the US and
European countries. Therefore lifting the sanctions is not the real issue, it is
a mock fight. Another mock fight is between the White House and the United Sates
Congress over details of the deal. If the deal becomes a formal agreement,
Iran’s main nuclear facilities are effectively dismantled, thus the details of
the deal are not real issues.
Reminiscence of a
Colonial Era Agreement
While the regime
leaders pretended that they had made a good agreement, Lausanne deal is a
shameful agreement in Iran’s contemporary history. The agreement can be compared
with the 1919 agreement under the Qajar king Ahamd Shah. The then British
Foreign Secretary; Earl (George) Curzon wanted to formally incorporate Iran into
the British Empire domain. On August 9, 1919, Curzon proposed an agreement known
as the Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919, under which Britain would provide Iran
with a loan, and appoint advisers to the army and other vital organs of the
Iranian government at Iran’s expense.xv
The then prime minister Hassan Vosogh-eldoleh and two of his cabinet members
received bribes from the British to sign the agreement. The Agreement was widely
viewed as establishing a British military and economic protectorate over Iran.
The agreement aroused considerable oppositions from the US and France; the
underlying reason was not to let Britain gain political monopoly over Iran and
its oil resourcesxvi
The agreement was not recognized by the League of Nations. The agreement was
never approved by the Iranian parliament as it was required by the constitution.
Since the military
interventions have not been successful to dominate the oil-rich Iraq and Libya,
the Western powers have backed Rouhani‘s government to repress oppositions in
Iran and prepare the ground for the West to expand domination over Iran. If the
deal becomes a formal agreement or treaty, the Western powers will succeed to
bring Iran under their full domination to plunder its oil resources and benefit
from its educated labor force.
Akbar E. Torbat
teaches economics at California State University, Los Angeles. He received his
PhD in political economy from the University of Texas at Dallas. Email: email@example.com
Alexander L. George, Forceful persuasion: coercive diplomacy as an
alternative to war.
Nowruz is non-religious celebrations in the entire greater Iran which
encompass all nations have inherited the legacy of Iranian culture.
Nasrollah Saifpour Fatemi, Diplomatic History Of Persia, text of the
agreement pp. 11-12.
Rouhollah Ramazani, the Foreign Policy of Iran, p. 165.