The Best Test of Iran’s Intentions Isn’t in Geneva

Talks between Iran and the IAEA moved forward on Monday in Tehran, and may provide the ultimate test of Iran's willingness to compromise

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Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

E.U. foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif on Nov. 7, 2013 before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks in Geneva

Observers are struggling to lay blame for the failure of Iran and world powers to reach agreement at nuclear talks in Geneva over the weekend. Some say it was France’s fault; others say it was Iran’s; many are eager to blame the Israelis, who weren’t even there.

That zero-sum atmosphere is a symptom of the larger challenge facing the effort to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. and Iran must overcome not just the technical differences separating them in the talks; they also face pressure from domestic political forces and regional allies not to make concessions to their longtime enemy, raising the cost of agreeing to each other’s demands. That is why the ultimate test of the real question at the heart of the talks — is Iran ready to assure the world its nuclear program is peaceful — may lie elsewhere.

On Monday, talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) moved forward in Tehran as the two sides reached a partial agreement to comply with long-standing IAEA demands for access to Iran’s nuclear program. Details of the deal remain incomplete, and at least one contentious issue is still unresolved.

Over the course of the past decade the IAEA has issued several dozen reports calling into question whether Iran’s nuclear program was for peaceful purposes, as Iran claims, or for military ones, as the U.S., Israel and much of the international community have alleged.

The IAEA has been explicit about the steps Iran needs to take to reassure the world that its nuclear program is peaceful, but Iran has resisted. Under the partial agreement, announced on Monday by IAEA head Yukiya Amano at a news conference in Tehran, Iran commits to:

  1. Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Gchine mine in Bandar Abbas
  2. Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Heavy Water Production Plant
  3. Providing information on all new research reactors
  4. Providing information with regard to the identification of 16 sites designated for the construction of nuclear power plants
  5. Clarification of the announcement made by Iran regarding additional enrichment facilities
  6. Further clarification of the announcement made by Iran with respect to laser-enrichment technology

The deal doesn’t mention access to a base where military testing is suspected to have taken place. And it is not clear how completely Iran intends to comply with all the additional protocols and safeguard agreements.

But the confusion about who is to blame in Geneva — and the fact that one side will always be able to blame the other — shows why Iran’s compliance, or noncompliance, with the spirit of the IAEA agreement should be the standard against which the Islamic Republic’s intentions ultimately should be measured.

12 comments
EarthView
EarthView

Kerry lied outright. It is clear who was to blame in Geneva. It was Fabius, the French Foreign Minister who apparently works for Israel. Apparently, he also doesn't want tensions to be reduced in the region so France can sell billions of weapons to all the regressive Arab dictatorships in the region. 

Mr.Stark
Mr.Stark

It amazes me how anyone could consider a deal that's proposed to improve their living conditions and continue to allow them to develop nuclear weapons to be progressive. Progressive would be if they stopped developing nuclear weapons. Anything less than that is just a step backward on our part.

richardjpapp
richardjpapp

Stall, Delay,...stall, delay. Who are they kidding?

It's an insult to the intelligence of an orangutan to swallow that line of peaceful nuclear intentions.

So why should Israel be allowed to have the bomb? Because Mohammad said it is the duty of every Muslim to kill Jews, but no where in any Jewish text will you find the opposite. And this is coming from a Christian.



yesh1prabhu
yesh1prabhu

As you have written here, the deal between Iran and the IAEA might be even more significant and important than the deal that the P5+1 nations might achieve with Iran in the very near future. But it still raises the troubling, fundamental unfairness of the world's six leading powers: Why are they relentlessly hounding Iran, which has no nuclear weapons, but leaving Israel alone, undisturbed, and allow it to continue to accumulate more nuclear weapons and add to its impressive arsenal of nuclear warheads in its warehouses?


I am astonished that foreign ministers from the world's six powerful nations have flown to Geneva, burning tonnes of precious jet fuel, with just one purpose: To twist the arm of Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and hold it down firmly until he cried Uncle. Imagine this scene: Six men and the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on one side, and Zarif on the other. Granted that these eight people did not sit at one table together at any time; but because the pressure exerted by them on Zarif could be considered cumulative, the effect is the same, as if they did. And consider these facts: Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East that has nuclear weapons - there are credible reports that it possesses more than 400 nuclear war heads - and yet these six nations haven't uttered a word about Israel's nuclear weapons, and they are trying to force Iran with sanctions to stop its fuel enrichment activities at the 3.5% purity level. Also, it is pertinent to remember that Israel has attacked several of its neighbors in the last ten years: Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Egypt, to name four. Iran has not attacked any country in over three hundred years, Why are they displaying this double standard? Based on its record, Israel must be considered a war-mongering nation; and Iran must be considered a peace-loving nation, based on its record. 

I understand why these six nations are referred to as P5+1 or E3+3; but wouldn't it be more appropriate to refer to them as the (N 0+0) to reflect or highlight the fact that they have shown no signs of displaying a sense of fairness, or possessing common sense or logic? The Geneva meeting has made two things quite clear, however: That these six nations love Israel unconditionally, and they dislike Iran for no apparent reason. 

Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

delight
delight


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delight
delight

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Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

@Mr.Stark

Your amazement is due to misinformation. Intelligence agencies, even that of the Israelis, agree that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon. The fight is over whether Iran will be allowed enough of a civilian nuclear power industry that it could someday develop a nuclear weapon in a matter of months if it chose to do so.

jmac
jmac

@Mr.Stark  Liz Cheney: The purpose of diplomacy is not to be liked.      Ted Cruz:  Our foreign policy is detente, which I'm pretty sure is French for surrender.  

Been there, done that.   Our invasion of Iraq (not anywhere near to a nuclear weapon; even weaker than when Daddy took back Kuwait) only made Iran advance further to a nuke.   Diplomacy, temporary agreements and a freeze for six months beats anything else out there,   unless you want to elected a Hawk and get a war on.  Maybe Lara Logan will step to the plate.    

jmac
jmac

@richardjpapp  @richardjpapp  We invaded a country because we said they were close to a nuclear weapon.   Then our president joked about not finding WMD's.   (ha - not under a chair in the oval office).    What message did that send to countries that don't have a nuke?  Get one or we'll invade?  

India has one.  Pakistan has one.   Were they for war - or peace?   China has one.   If we didn't have one,  we'd certainly be trying to get one.    

jmac
jmac

@Adam_Smith @Mr.Stark  Saudi Arabia (Sunni) is making a point that they have an agreement with the US that they will not enrich uranium,  ergo,  they will stand firm that Iran cannot enrich uranium.   

Will Saudi Arabia stand firm and fight against Iran (Shiites)?  Will they put up an army against Iran?   Kerry:   Without diplomacy Iran is much more likely to obtain a nuclear bomb, which would set of an arms race in the Middle East and leave everyone less secure.