Iran nuclear deal

April 3, 2015

Iran has made a preliminary deal, not signed, that John Kerry and Obama claim is sufficient to contain Iran’s breakout to a nuclear power.

A favorable review of the deal is here.

Richard N. Haass had positive things to say about it on TV yesterday.  Also mentioned here.

“I was expecting either no agreement today or a much thinner one,” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “It is more substantive and more comprehensive than many us thought would be the case.”

Haass specifically praised the extent of monitoring of the nuclear supply chain and concessions on the number of centrifuges. But given the amount of work to be done before June 30, “no one should be popping champagne today,” Haass cautioned. “For all we know, there will be backtracking.”

Specifics of the deal are listed at that link and Antiwar, as well as below AP link.

  1. Iran will go from 19,000 centrifuges to 6,000. (The 13,000 go into storage and are monitored.)
  2. Fordow underground site will do non-enrichment activity.
  3. Inspections.
  4. Lift sanctions as compliance achieved.
  5. Iran’s breakout time will go from 3 months to build a nuke to 1 year according to the deal text.

Text of deal.

This has other provisions that are beneficial to the West.  The deal text does not say dismantle the 13,000 extra centrifuges, but put them into storage.

The critics of the deal will need to offer an alternative deal using the same template and covering the same points.  This presumably would be zero centrifuges in country for Iran.

Israel should ask for guarantees from US and from UN Security Council that would authorize sanctions and use of force if Iran fails on inspections.  The 1 year breakout time is only meaningful if Iran can be stopped within that 1 year from building a nuke.  That would require a quick response from US and/or UN.

Israel should try to get a guarantee of a military strike, but should try very hard to get at least the imposition of a complete embargo with a naval embargo worked out now as part of the deal.  They should get at least in writing that if the inspectors report Iran is in violation that the current sanctions are reimposed in 30 days unless Iran goes into compliance as certified by the inspectors.

Israel needs to get enforcement provisions now as part of the deal. This should be their main focus now, if they can’t prevent this deal going through.  Also if they ask for enforcement provisions and don’t get them, that strengthens their hand to try to block the current deal and continue sanctions or increase them.

If Israel can create an agenda of putting enforcement mechanisms in place now, and Obama or the UN Security Council won’t agree, then Israel has a much stronger position to try to block the deal and keep sanctions going.

In addition, a dialogue on enforcement mechanisms in place will emphasize making the breakout time longer than a year. That would mean fewer centrifuges in country in Iran. So the extra 13,000 would be stored outside the country instead of in it would be one example.

The 6,000 figure might be reduced as well.  Storage of uranium outside the country would be another.  This could delay the deal and give Israel time to prepare its own detailed proposal and get acceptance on it.

Israel should have thought out the provisions of a deal in advance including enforcement mechanisms.  It is hard to fight a deal with no deal proposal of your own.  This is a lesson in the future.  Israel should have been proposing terms of a deal with enforcement provisions automatically triggered by an inspections failure report.

They should try that now.  They might be able to use the time they have to get control of the terms of discussion on a written enforcement deal and as a consequence longer breakout time to change the terms of the deal in their favor.

See also this link discussing Iraq history and the problems there.  Enforcement depending on future action of Security Council will be unreliable to Israel is his thesis.  In particular, he thinks Putin will renege on enforcement of a deal.

Here it is said that Netanyahu was taken by surprise by the deal and in effect lacks a strategy now on what to do.

The more Israel can push the problems with future enforcement, the more they can argue for changing the terms now to make the breakout time longer. That means fewer centrifuges and uranium in country in Iran as part of a revised deal. That way, they will have a longer time to get enforcement restarted in the future if the inspectors say Iran has violated the terms.

One can think in terms of an enforcement-reductions see-saw.  The more enforcement is guaranteed in advance, the less reductions are needed now.  But given that this deal has zero enforcement, Israel needs an infinite breakout time, i.e. Iran gives up everything.   If the breakout time is less than 5 years, the need for enforcement guaranteed in advance rises rapidly as the time shortens.

A one-year breakout time requires military enforcement provisions in advance is what Israel should argue.  They should argue that without military enforcement provisions guaranteed in advance, the breakout time has to be 5 years. That means reductions of centrifuges and uranium kept in Iran reduced to a 5 year breakout time.  That also should include machines used to make centrifuges.

This is draft and preliminary. The above is hypotheses and speculation. Comments and corrections welcome. Please restate as questions. All other disclaimers apply.


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