Exclusive- Twelve Things You Need to Know About the Iran Nuclear ‘Deal’

Exclusive- Twelve Things You Need to Know About the Iran Nuclear ‘Deal’

Friday, 11 May, 2018 - 05:00
A copy of a letter sent by the State Department to Mike Pompeo on November 19 2015, stating that the nuclear "deal" with Iran is not a legal treaty
London - Amir Taheri
Although it has been in the headlines, the so-called “Iran nuke deal” remains for almost three years a source of misinformation and mystification for many, including some political personalities who should know better.

A brief reminder of some aspects of the “deal” may be useful for those interested in an impartial and informed debate on the issue. Here are 12 things you need to know:

1- The “deal” is known as Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action (CJPOA) and represents a wish-list in which Iran and the Five Permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council plus Germany hope action will be taken with regards to the illicit aspect of Iran’s nuclear program and the sanctions imposed on Iran as a result of it.

2- The CJPOA isn’t a treaty; nor could it be regarded as a formal international agreement. In fact, it has no legal basis as it was never presented to the parliaments of any of the countries involved submitted to a process of legislation.

3- The architect of the deal was former US President Barack Obama who insisted that CJPOA not be regarded as a treaty so that he won’t be obliged to submit to Congressional scrutiny where he claimed he would be unable to secure ratification because of opposition from the Republican Party.

4- In Iran President Hassan Rouhani’s Cabinet never officially discussed let alone ratify the CJPOA. The wish-list was submitted to the Islamic Consultative Majlis (Iran’s parliament) in two different versions one of which contained 72 differences with the published English text, and then withdrawn, by the US State Department. The parliament spent 15 minutes to pass a resolution making a reference to the CJPOA without expressly approving it. The first item on that resolution calls for destroying Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

5- No one has signed the CJPOA. Thus, all talk of “honoring our signature” by people like former US President Jimmy Carter and former European Union foreign policy spokesman Javier Solana is based on a misunderstanding. In any case, even if someone wanted to sign it, there is no universally recognized text of the CJPOA.

6- Theoretically, CJPOA was negotiated by a body, known as P5+1, which has no legal status, no mission statement and no mechanism for accountability to any authority. It was a group invented by Obama as a parallel Security Council.

7- CJPOA was negotiated outside the framework of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and bypassed seven UN Security Council resolutions. Thus it could be regarded as a blow to international law, something tailor-made to suit Obama.

8- CJPOA also by-passes the rules set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in dealing with cases in which NPT signatories violate its terms. In CJPOA, IAEA is assigned the task of inspecting Iran’s nuclear activities but not according to its own rules, set and used for decades, but through separate accords with Tehran. This is why CJPOA makes it clear that its methodology concerns only Iran and no other NPT signatory which might find itself in the same position.

9- Under CJPOA, the IAEA is tasked to periodically report on Iran’s compliance with the terms of the wish-list. However, there is no mechanism for reporting on compliance by the P5+1. Thus the fact that all 6, that is to say the US, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France have not fully complied with CJPOA is not attested. Only a third of Iran’s frozen assets have been released, half of them through the United States, plus Japan and South Korea that are not involved in CJPOA. The Europeans still refuse to let Iran open bank accounts not to mention branches of its own banks. China is sitting on some $20 billion of frozen Iranian assets. Russia has suspended a credit line of $5 billion promised to Iran as sweetener for CPOA.

10- Iran’s non-compliance is camouflaged by terminology. For example, Iran has shipped only half of its enriched uranium to outside locations. But this is not reported by the IAEA as non-compliance because Iran says it is in the process of arranging for the shipment of the remainder. Iran also escapes censure by IAEA on the issue of centrifuges by reducing the number of machines but replacing half of them with new machines with much higher capacities.

11- Critics of trump’s move claim that ditching CJPOA is “wrong and dangerous” because there is no alternative. That’s disingenuous. The alternative is new round of negotiations based on the seven UN Security Council resolutions that Iran has rejected. Unlike CJPOA which lacks a fixed text and is both vague and confusing, the UNSC resolutions are precise and clear with internationally recognized methods of implementation.

12- Critics of Trump pretend that the only choice is to either surrender to the Islamic Republic or to go into an all-out war against it. That’s nonsense. A whole raft of other options remains available, provided someone has the courage to contemplate them. One current example is North Korea: it has been dragged to the negotiating table neither with surrender to its whims nor through full-scale invasion of its territory.

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