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North Korea & Iran Nuclear Deals Compared

Differences outweigh similarities in comparing the blueprint for a nuclear deal with Iran and the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea, according to George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea (DPRK) failed to end Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. But an Iran deal, if completed, would have the backing of the world’s six major powers and “contain much stronger elements to deter cheating and more meaningful incentives to motivate compliance than the Agreed Framework did,” argues Perkovich. The following are key excerpts from his latest analysis, “Why the Iran Nuclear Deal Is Not the North Korea Deal.”
 
Nuclear Text and Context
 
Difference: Iran does not yet have sufficient fissile material for one or more nuclear weapons.
 
Before the Agreed Framework was completed in October 1994, the DPRK was estimated to have already produced more than enough plutonium for one nuclear weapon. By contrast, neither the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nor any intelligence agency has offered evidence that Iran has acquired enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.
 
Difference: The proposed deal with Iran explicitly addresses all pathways to the bomb.
 
The Agreed Framework focused specifically on the DPRK’s plutonium program. … As it turned out, the DPRK secretly imported uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan and developed a parallel route for acquiring weapons-usable fissile material.
 
The proposed agreement with Iran explicitly covers both the uranium and plutonium pathways to acquiring nuclear weapons, and includes extensive measures to verify that declared and undeclared pathways would be blocked.
 
Difference: A comprehensive agreement with Iran will be extensively detailed.
 
The Agreed Framework was only four pages long and omitted many important details. It specified three steps that the two sides would take to “move toward full normalization of political and economic relations” and was relatively vague in describing them. …
 
The parties negotiating a comprehensive agreement with Iran envision a much more focused and detailed document that does not call for full normalization. These details will address not only the parameters of activities that Iran may and may not undertake but also verification, dispute handling, and consequences of nonperformance. This should bolster all parties’ confidence that everyone knows what is required of them, that failures to fulfill terms will be detected quickly, that ambiguous behavior will be addressed through agreed procedures, and that nonfulfillment of terms will have consequences. All of this creates incentives for all parties not to renege.
 
Similarity: The proposed deal with Iran will reward bad behavior.
 
Like North Korea, Iran was caught violating its safeguards obligations under the NPT. And, as with North Korea, Iran from 2003 onward steadfastly resisted efforts by the IAEA, by Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, and, eventually, by the UN Security Council to compel it to just comply with its NPT obligations and successive IAEA and UN Security Council resolutions. Therefore, the compliance framework gradually gave way to a negotiation framework in which Iran is offered benefits in return for agreeing to take measures to build international confidence that it will not acquire nuclear weapons and will provide the information the IAEA needs to conclude that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. As a result, under the reported terms of a prospective comprehensive agreement, Iran will retain a uranium enrichment program that can be seen as a reward for bad behavior.
 
Monitoring and Verification
 
Difference: The verification that is envisioned with Iran would be extensive in its scope and intensity.
 
The Agreed Framework contained no specific verification procedures beyond saying that the DPRK would “provide full cooperation” in allowing the IAEA “to monitor” the freeze on activities related to the DPRK’s graphite-moderated reactor, and that “before delivery of key nuclear components” of the replacement light-water reactors, the DPRK would “come into full compliance with its Safeguards Agreement.”
 
The proposed arrangement with Iran would allow international monitoring of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities from cradle to grave, as it were. The IAEA would verify activities at uranium mines and mills, all facilities involved in producing and storing centrifuge rotors, and all centrifuge assembly facilities. …
 
The United States has also said that Iran would establish and allow the monitoring of a dedicated procurement channel for “the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology.” …
 
Difference: Iran would be subjected to greatly enhanced U.S. intelligence capabilities, including cyberintelligence and overhead.
 
Basic technical capabilities to detect violations of commitments like those Iran would make under a comprehensive nuclear deal have improved significantly since 1994. This augments the deterrence of cheating, including by heightening the probability that such cheating could be detected in time to allow military interdiction.
 
Similarity: Iran will resist providing the IAEA with the transparency and cooperation sufficient to answer questions about past nuclear activities.
 
The IAEA is determined to gain Iranian cooperation in providing transparency and information necessary to assess past Iranian activities with possible military dimensions. The agency needs to resolve questions about these past activities to reach a conclusion that there are no undeclared nuclear activities in Iran and that the country’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. Without this broader conclusion, the agency cannot say that Iran has returned to good standing. Moreover, an understanding of what Iran did in the past will inform efforts to monitor and verify that its future activities are declared and wholly peaceful. …
 
Deterrent Factors
 
Difference: A final agreement with Iran would presumably be codified in a UN Security Council resolution.
 
As a bilateral agreement, the Agreed Framework was not an undertaking of the UN Security Council.
 
A comprehensive agreement with Iran would be codified in a legally binding UN Security Council resolution, the violation of which would, among other things, be a threat to international peace and security. This increases the risks that Iran would face in violating the agreement. Unlike existing Security Council resolutions that Tehran says were illegally imposed on it by others, Iran would be consenting to a resolution that endorses a nuclear agreement.
 
Difference: The P5+1 are unified in wanting to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and have worked in harness to achieve this outcome diplomatically.
 
The negotiations that produced the 1994 Agreed Framework were conducted by the United States and the DPRK alone. The other permanent members of the UN Security Council were not invested in it and in its enforcement.
 
Difference: In response to a U.S. military attack, Iran could not immediately cause massive military destruction of major cities in countries that are U.S. partners.
 
The DPRK had massive artillery capabilities that could gravely damage Seoul in the event of a U.S. military attack on North Korean nuclear facilities. To be sure, Iran could sustain asymmetric warfare in many locations for a long time, which gives it some means of deterring a military attack against its nuclear facilities. But Iran lacks conventional military means to retaliate effectively and massively against Gulf Cooperation Council states and Israel, or against U.S. forces in the region. This further augments deterrence of an Iranian race to nuclear weapons, either by cheating on an agreement or after it expires.
 
Difference: Iranian leaders fear nuclear proliferation by their neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, and believe that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, it would greatly enhance the probability that Saudi Arabia would follow suit, perhaps with U.S. complicity.
 
The DPRK did not have such concerns. The U.S. nuclear guarantees that were extended to South Korea and Japan mitigated the risks that these states would seek their own nuclear weapons in response to the DPRK.
 
Incentives to Cooperate
 
Difference: Iran will not be required to roll back all of the capability it has acquired to produce and separate plutonium.
 
The Agreed Framework’s specific measures and general aim were to render the DPRK without capabilities that could be mobilized to produce nuclear weapons.
 
Seen from a technical nonproliferation angle, the key difference is that the proposed arrangement with Iran would leave it with more potential to produce nuclear weapons than the Agreed Framework was supposed to leave the DPRK.
 
Difference: Iran does not need nuclear weapons to guarantee its government’s survival or to compel economic payoffs.
 
The DPRK’s relative weakness compared with all its neighbors left its leaders feeling they had no better option than nuclear weapons to deter potential coercion and aggression against the country.
 
Iran, meanwhile, is the most populous country in its region and embodies a proud, accomplished civilization, endowed with significant natural and educated human resources. ...
 
Difference: Iran is not as autarkic as the DPRK was and is, so sanctions have a major impact on it.
 
In terms of economics, Iran’s illicit nuclear program has been a major problem rather than a solution. Iranian businesses and citizens feel that sanctions have hurt the country enormously. ...
 
Difference: Much of the Iranian population knows the West and wants more integration with it.
 
Iran’s young, urban population is modern and relatively well educated, often with direct or indirect knowledge of the Western world, unlike the population of the DPRK. ... This is a significant constituency that would be mobilized if the government acted in ways that caused any sanctions that had been lifted to be reimposed, for example by cheating on a nuclear deal.
 
Difference: Representatives of an elected government are conducting the negotiations for Iran and are part of the policy-shaping process.
 
Regime Characteristics
 
Similarity: The most important decisionmaker in Iran is an internationally isolated, ideological man who believes the United States seeks the overthrow of his government
 
Like Kim Jong-il in the DPRK in the mid-1990s, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran is the supreme leader. He has not left Iranian soil since 1989 and has little personal knowledge of the outside world. Like Kim Jong-il did, he projects a singular revolutionary ideology that narrates his government’s unique place and mission in the world. ...
 
Similarity: The government of Iran does and will continue to do condemnable things.
 
Iran, while different from the DPRK in many positive ways, also continues to act contrary at least to Western norms, threatening the interests of its own people and its neighbors as well as the broader international community. ...
 
Other Challenges to Implementation
 
Difference: Key U.S. partners in the Middle East fear a nuclear deal and eventual normalization of relations between the United States and Iran.
 
Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab states express wariness of a possible nuclear deal with Iran for several reasons. Most obviously, they note that Iran will be left with significant capabilities to enrich uranium—capabilities that could be mobilized to produce nuclear weapons in violation of the proposed agreement and the NPT. …
 
Similarity: Implementation of a comprehensive nuclear arrangement with Iran will require at least passive cooperation by the U.S. Congress.
 
The Agreed Framework with the DPRK was an executive agreement, not a treaty. As such, and like thousands of other such agreements made by U.S. administrations since 1939, it was not presented to the U.S. Senate for ratification. …
 
The prospective nuclear agreement with Iran also will not take the form of a treaty. But it will entail commitments by the United States to suspend sanctions on Iran, which the U.S. Congress can impede. ...
 
Click here for the full text.
 
Tags: Reports

Nuke Talks: Latest from Iran, P5+1

On April 23, Iran and the world’s six major powers began three days of nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Negotiators are working to draft a final agreement by June 30, but disagreements remain about the timing of sanctions relief, Iran’s nuclear research and development, and the scope of international inspections. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met in New York on the sidelines of the 2015 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty conference on April 27. Kerry noted that the “hard work is far from over” but that negotiators are “closer than ever” to a final deal.

The following are excerpted remarks from officials on the status of the nuclear negotiations.
 
United States
 
Secretary of State John Kerry
 
“The United States and our P5+1 partners have come together with Iran around a series of parameters that, if finalized and implemented, will close off all of Iran’s possible pathways to the nuclear material required for a nuclear weapon, and give the international community the confidence that it needs to know that Iran’s nuclear program is indeed exclusively peaceful.
 
I want you to know the hard work is far from over and some key issues remain unresolved. But we are, in fact, closer than ever to the good comprehensive deal that we have been seeking. And if we can get there, the entire world will be safer.
 
Now it’s important to remember that the NPT has always been at the heart of these negotiations. From day one we have been focused on bringing Iran back into compliance with its obligations under the treaty. And if ultimately the talks are successful, it will once again prove the power of diplomacy over conflict and reinforce the rule of law.
 
Now we have said from the beginning that any deal with Iran will rely not on promises, not on words, but on proof. It will arrive – rely on verification, which is really at the center of the NPT and the entire IAEA process. Obviously verification is at the heart of the NPT, and one of the most important things that we can do to support our nonproliferation goals is to strengthen the IAEA safeguards in order to ensure that the agency has exactly what it needs in order to be able to verify safeguard agreements. That’s why the United States is working to bring the Additional Protocol into force globally and to make it the standard, the global standard for safeguards compliance.”
 
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
 
"For a considerable time period, 10 years at a minimum, we will have I would say a very comfortable ability to detect any military activity related to the nuclear program and we would have adequate time to respond. Then over time we still have very strong constraints going forward.”
 
"The idea is that in the very long term, Iran hopefully will perform, will prove that it's a peaceful program, but even then as we go to 25 years, we will have access in a completely unprecedented way to their uranium supply chain."
—April 23, 2015 according to the press
 

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman

"We understand that Israel is in a tough neighborhood. That’s why we have given Israel more security assistance than any other Administration in history. And that’s why we’re doing everything we can to ensure that that neighborhood doesn’t become even tougher with a nuclear-armed Iran. We believe that the parameters, announced two weeks ago in Lausanne, offer the best chance at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and just as importantly, that the alternatives fall far short of what we’ll have if we’re able to turn the political framework into a comprehensive agreement.
 
Without such an agreement, Iran’s breakout time to get enough nuclear material for a weapon is two or three months – what it is right now. With this agreement it will be one year, up to six times as long as it is now, for at least 10 years. Without this agreement, Iran would expand its enrichment program to 100,000 centrifuges in the next few years. With this agreement, we will have limited Iran to operating about 5,000 centrifuges for at least the next decade. Without this agreement, Iran could produce two weapons’ worth of weapons-grade plutonium every single year. With this agreement, Iran is going to have zero weapons-grade plutonium, and not just for 10 years, but for the lifetime of the reactor.
 
Without this agreement, Iran would be able to expand its stockpile of currently 10 tons of enriched uranium. With this agreement, that stockpile will be reduced by 98 percent to only three kilograms[1] of a working stockpile. And without this agreement, the international community through the International Atomic Energy Agency would only have its pre-joint plan of action – the first step – insight and inspection into Iran’s declared nuclear program and no ability to look for undeclared nuclear activities.
 
But with this agreement, we will have the most extensive system of monitoring and verification we have ever negotiated for any country anywhere in the world. We will have eyes into every part of Iran’s nuclear program from cradle to grave. And if we detect Iran is trying to break its commitments or violating the agreement, we will have every single option on the table to respond to them that we have today. So when you look at the comparison between the agreement we are negotiating and the chance that we would succeed, the better course of action is abundantly clear."
—April 27, 2015 in a speech to the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Biennial Leadership Policy Conference
 

State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf

“The comprehensive deal we are seeking to negotiate with Iran is fundamentally different than what we did in terms of our approach to North Korea. In the early 1990s, North Korea had produced weapons-grade plutonium prior to agreeing to limited IAEA inspections. After the Agreed Framework, they agreed to more intrusive inspections; but in 2002, when they finally broke its commitments, its violations were detected by the IAEA. We’ve also said very publicly that one of the reasons we have the Additional Protocol now, which is a key part of what we’re negotiating with Iran, is in fact because of the lessons we learned from the North Korea situation.
 
So the restrictions, inspections, and verifications measures imposed by Iran – on Iran by a comprehensive plan of action will go far beyond those placed on North Korea in the 1990s and the 2000s. Any comprehensive deal with Iran would require at a minimum, again, implementation of the Additional Protocol, which constitutes a much greater level of monitoring and a wider scope of access on short notice than was ever attempted in North Korea. So there’s just fundamental differences when it comes to things like inspections, for example.”
 
“The Additional Protocol is something the IAEA developed for use around the world, which was developed, again, in the 1990s with the support of the U.S. but by the IAEA to prevent states from cheating on their safeguards agreements based on lessons learned in places like Iraq and in North Korea. So that’s just one piece of it, though. The North Korean nuclear program was at a different stage than Iran’s is, for example. So there are just a lot of technical differences as well.”
 
“If we were to detect cheating of any kind, we have all the options we have today we would have then to respond.”
—April 23, 2015 in a press briefing
 
Iran
 
President Hassan Rouhani
 
"If the other side shows serious resolve, reaching a final agreement in the coming months will be possible.”
 
"No one in the world can continue pressures and sanctions against Iran in coming months and years."
—April 28, 2015 according to the press
 
“Iran is seeking two points in nuclear talks: First is dismissal of charges. We want to show to the world that ill-wishers told lies to world nations. Iran is after peaceful nuclear technology, not developing a destructive atomic bomb which is religiously banned according to the Supreme Leader’s edict.
 
“Second, we seek to remove the problems the ill-wishers have thrown our way.”
 
“With God’s grace and the support of the Supreme Leader and the Iranian nation, Iran will move toward constructive interaction with the world.”
—April 28, 2015 according to the press (via Iran Front Page)
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
“As we have stated since the beginning, we consider the US administration responsible for implementing the agreement and internal problems and conflicts in the US are not related to us and to the implementation of the agreement, and based on the international laws, the countries' internal problems don’t exempt them from implementing their undertakings and this is the main framework that we attach importance to.”
 
"We have said since the first day that agreement and sanctions aren’t compatible."
—April 28, 2015 according to the press
 
“Maintaining an uncertain and unstable situation is not acceptable to Iran and the Americans should take practical and confidence-building measures to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement.”
—April 28, 2015 in a meeting on the sidelines of the 2015 U.N. Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference


Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi
 
“The progress is good... We are at preliminary stages and the pace is slow but it is good.”
 
"The Europeans and Americans made good clarifications about lifting of the sanctions.”
—April 24, 2015 according to the press
 
“This time we only worked on the question of sanctions but the fact is that we had worked on other issues some months ago; I think in July last year. We have already [drafted] some parts of our text. We had already done some drafting in the past, but then it was stopped because we had no solution on major issues. Now we have solutions in almost all issues. What we have to do is to write down these solutions in form of a draft of an agreement. We have also started now from the sanctions and we will go to other issues next time.”
 
“Some remarks by officials in the US created lots of question marks, and also the act by the Congress to introduce a new bill … [which] actually added to this complicated situation. We had very good discussions especially with the US delegation asking them to clarify their position regarding sanctions, to clarify what is going on in the Congress and I think the explanations by the US delegation was very useful.”
 
“We are working on a dispute settlement mechanism the details of which are still under consideration. We do attach great importance to the possibility of violation of commitments by either side, especially from the other side, who has unfortunately not a good record on implementing its commitments. We will certainly have a dispute settlement mechanism according to which if any violation would occur, if any misunderstanding emerges, we will go to that mechanism and try to resolve that before we come to a situation to terminate the agreement.”
 
“Now we have started to work on the draft of the JCPOA. Obviously at the beginning we need to talk about the frameworks and format of such a draft. We have made some progress but very slowly.… The focus of our discussions this time was on the question of sanctions and we tried to start drafting by in fact the question of sanctions and the related issues.”
 
“It is a very difficult job to reach a realistic agreement by June but we are hopeful. We think if all parties are serious, which they are, we can conclude these discussions and talks before the end of June. This is quite possible and we think the agreement is at reach, but of course at any time … unpredictable events may cause problems in the way, but if we go in a normal pace we can finish the job.”
—April 25, 2015 according to the press, via Iran Front Page
 

Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Hossein Salami

Inspections of military sites would be a “national humiliation.”
—April 23, 2015 according to the press

 

Photo credit: Moniz by Energy.gov via Flickr Commons (public domain as U.S. Government work); Zarif by Robin Wright

 

Kerry on Iran Soil

In another first, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iran’s foreign minister at the Upper East Side residence of Iran’s U.N. ambassador. The two were in New York to attend a U.N. conference on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty. It was the first time Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif have met since the world’s six major powers and Iran agreed on a blueprint for a nuclear deal on April 2. The following is a roundup of pictures from the event.

 

 

 

U.S. to Reform Jews on Iran Deal

On April 27, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman discussed ongoing nuclear talks with Iran at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Biennial Leadership Policy Conference. “We believe that the parameters, announced two weeks ago in Lausanne, offer the best chance at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” she said. The following are excerpts from her keynote address.

 
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: We will be working nonstop between now and the end of June to see if we can resolve this most pressing national security challenge peacefully, which will make Israel, the region, the United States, and, indeed, the world safer. 
 
I know that in the Jewish community here in America, a community I’m proud to be part of, there’s been a lot of discussion during the past few weeks about our relationship with Israel, and Prime Minister Netanyahu in particular, and a lot of interest and concern about our efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Given the importance of these issues, I’m going to spend just a few minutes talking to you about them today, and then I’d be happy to take your questions.
 
Every time I hear President Obama talk about issues that matter to American Jews, and some of you have heard directly, I’m always struck about how personally he feels about those issues and how personally he feels about his connection to the Jewish people and to Israel. This deep-seated feeling is what drives his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and his desire to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state.
 
It’s also what drives this Administration’s approach to the Iran nuclear threat. We understand that Israel is in a tough neighborhood. That’s why we have given Israel more security assistance than any other Administration in history. And that’s why we’re doing everything we can to ensure that that neighborhood doesn’t become even tougher with a nuclear-armed Iran. We believe that the parameters, announced two weeks ago in Lausanne, offer the best chance at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and just as importantly, that the alternatives fall far short of what we’ll have if we’re able to turn the political framework into a comprehensive agreement.
 
Without such an agreement, Iran’s breakout time to get enough nuclear material for a weapon is two or three months – what it is right now. With this agreement it will be one year, up to six times as long as it is now, for at least 10 years. Without this agreement, Iran would expand its enrichment program to 100,000 centrifuges in the next few years. With this agreement, we will have limited Iran to operating about 5,000 centrifuges for at least the next decade. Without this agreement, Iran could produce two weapons’ worth of weapons-grade plutonium every single year. With this agreement, Iran is going to have zero weapons-grade plutonium, and not just for 10 years, but for the lifetime of the reactor.
 
Without this agreement, Iran would be able to expand its stockpile of currently 10 tons of enriched uranium. With this agreement, that stockpile will be reduced by 98 percent to only three kilograms[1] of a working stockpile. And without this agreement, the international community through the International Atomic Energy Agency would only have its pre-joint plan of action – the first step – insight and inspection into Iran’s declared nuclear program and no ability to look for undeclared nuclear activities.
 
But with this agreement, we will have the most extensive system of monitoring and verification we have ever negotiated for any country anywhere in the world. We will have eyes into every part of Iran’s nuclear program from cradle to grave. And if we detect Iran is trying to break its commitments or violating the agreement, we will have every single option on the table to respond to them that we have today. So when you look at the comparison between the agreement we are negotiating and the chance that we would succeed, the better course of action is abundantly clear.
 
I could go on, but I want to have time to take your questions, and here’s the key point: Our shared values have provided a basis for partnership on critical domestic and foreign policy priorities over the past six-plus years, and they will continue to do so for the remainder of President Obama’s second term. We intend to use every single day of the rest of this Administration to work to make our country and the world a better and safer place, even when it’s hard to do. At the State Department, that means working as hard as we possibly can to achieve a good agreement with Iran that provides us and the world with the assurances that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon.

 

QUESTION: Thank you. That was a wonderful presentation. Before the first Gulf war, President Bush the elder had sanctions in place, and they were working. And he ended the sanctions shortly after he said they’re working, and we ended up in war. I’m very concerned that we have sanctions working and that we’ll end them too soon and we won’t get the deal and we won’t get the enforcement and we’ll end up in war and in an even more dangerous situation.
 
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you. It’s a very good question. The sanctions that we have on Iran – which are U.S. sanctions, EU sanctions, UN Security Council sanctions – are quite vast and quite effective. But they are not effective at preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Sanctions have helped to bring Iran to the negotiating table, but just a few years ago Iran had only 164 centrifuges. As the sanctions came on and as they got more profound, Iran went to the state where they are today, which is to have 19,000 centrifuges, because Iran is in a resistance economy and a resistance culture, and they believed that if the world was going to put sanctions on them, they were going to keep marching forward with their program in the way that they felt they needed to. The only thing that has stopped Iran’s program – and, in fact, rolled it back – is what’s called the JPOA, the Joint Plan of Action, which was the first agreement that we reached, the first step, the interim agreement. That agreement stopped Iran’s program where it is so that we would have time to negotiate a comprehensive agreement, and it got rid of its entire 20 percent stockpile of enriched material. And that’s critical because you go from small enrichment – 3.5 percent, 5 percent – then you go to 20 percent, and then you go to 90 percent and highly enriched uranium, which is fissile material for a nuclear weapon. So the only thing – the only thing – that has stopped Iran’s nuclear program at all has been that first step negotiated agreement to provide time and space to negotiate a comprehensive agreement.
 
And secondly, it’s very important to understand that the reason we were able to keep sanctions together was because we were committed to trying to find a peaceful, diplomatic solution. So countries around the world, even good allies like Japan and South Korea, were willing to limit the amount of oil they imported from Iran because they believed we were working towards a peaceful solution. If they feel we aren’t working towards a peaceful solution, they are likely to break ranks and we won’t be able to keep the sanctions together anyway.
 
And then finally, many people say – and I understand the impulse, because you get frustrated and there’s so much going on in the region that is it not good – that people say, “Take military action against Iran.” Actually, our intelligence community has assessed and said publicly that if we took military action against Iran, it would only take away their program for maybe two years. They have mastered the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and you can’t bomb away knowledge. So even if we destroyed their facilities, they could recreate it.
 
So the really durable solution here is getting an agreement with enough transparency, monitoring, and verification to understand what is going on. 
 
QUESTION: Does the Administration have a plan in place to prevent the undermining of the agreement that you’re negotiating by the Congress? Because the Congress seems to be intent to do it. Would you perhaps consider having President Obama oppose the agreement, so that the Republicans could find a way to support it?

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: We’re working very hard with Congress. Senator Cardin, who is obviously my senator – and I’ve known Ben most of my life – worked very hard with Senator Corker to fashion a piece of legislation that gave the Congress a procedural way to look at this agreement without getting into the substance, per se. We’re very grateful, and grateful that Senator Corker and Senator Cardin were able to reach an agreement. This legislation will be on the floor of the Senate this week. There will be a lot of pretty awful amendments, quite frankly, and we’ll see where we end up.
 
The President has said that if the Corker-Cardin legislation stays where it is, he will not veto it; if it becomes something else, then he’ll have to consider his options.
 
Click here for a full transcript.
 

[1] Three hundred kilograms

 

Zarif Addresses UN Arms Conference

On April 27, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in an address to the 2015 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) conference in New York. In his role as chair of the coordinating bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, an organization of some 120 developing countries, Zarif also called for the “non-discriminatory and balanced implementation” of the NPT. Parties to the treaty meet every five years to review it. The following are Zarif’s prepared remarks as provided by Iran’s mission to the United Nations.

Madam President,
Excellencies
Distinguished Delegates,
 
I have the privilege to speak on behalf of the Group of the Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). I would like to congratulate you, Madam President, on your election as President of this Review Conference and assures you of our group’s full cooperation. We hope that under your able leadership, the Conference will have a successful outcome. 
 
Madam President,
 
AS the Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty, we emphasize the role of the Treaty as the essential foundation for the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime as well as for promoting international cooperation and assistance in support of the inalienable right of States Parties to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The NPT Review Conferences are very important events in our collective efforts to achieve the objectives of the Treaty. It is important that we all strive to strengthen the Treaty by adopting substantive outcome documents, which reflect the determination and commitment of States Parties to continue their efforts in good faith to achieve the objectives of the NPT.
 
However, to ensure the realization of the objectives of the Treaty, and thereby its long-term success and credibility, implementation of the obligations under the Treaty, and the agreements of its Review Conferences, is imperative. In this context, the Group reiterates that the full, non-discriminatory and balanced implementation of the three pillars of the NPT is crucial for maintaining its credibility, realizing its objectives, and promoting international peace and security.
 
Five years ago, the Review Conference succeeded in agreeing to an action plan on nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East. Regrettably, the status of the implementation of the 2010 action plan is far from encouraging.
 
The nuclear-weapon-States have not made progress in eliminating their nuclear weapons. The role of nuclear weapons in security policies of the nuclear-weapon-States has not diminished. Some nuclear weapons States are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and planning research on new nuclear warheads, others have announced their intention to develop new delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. The non-nuclear-weapons States Parties have not yet received unequivocal and legally binding security assurances. The transfer of nuclear technology continues to face impediments inconsistent with the Treaty, and no progress has been made to achieve universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East; to give but a few examples of the lack of implementation of the 1995, 2000 and 2010 agreements.
 
The broad support for the UN General Assembly High level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in 2013 and the Vienna Conference on Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2014 reflects increasingly widespread concern and impatience with the lack of progress towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.    
 
Madam President,
 
We in the Non-Aligned Movement consider nuclear disarmament as its highest priority and reiterates once again that the continued existence of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to humanity. We remain extremely concerned at their possible use or threat of use and are convinced that their total elimination is the only absolute guarantee against such use or threat of use.
 
The nuclear-weapon-States, in the 2010 NPT Review Conference, committed to accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament, and to fulfilling their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty and their unequivocal undertakings to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. We express deep concern at the continued lack of progress in the implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments by the nuclear-weapon-States, which could undermine the object and purpose of the Treaty and the credibility of the non-proliferation regime.
 
Full compliance of the nuclear-weapon-States with their nuclear disarmament undertakings is imperative, and will enhance confidence in the non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Each article of the Treaty is binding on all States Parties at all times and in all circumstances. 
 
We underline the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.
 
We reaffirm our proposal for the urgent commencement of negotiating and bringing to a successful conclusion, in the Conference on Disarmament, a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention, which includes a phased program and a specified time frame for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. In this context, our Group has put forward a working paper entitled “elements for a plan of action for the elimination of nuclear weapons”.   
 
The decision of some nuclear-weapon States to modernize their nuclear weapons is a source of serious concern. The modernization of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems undermines the unilateral and bilateral reductions made so far.
 
The improvement of existing nuclear weapons and the development of new types of nuclear weapons violate the commitments undertaken by the nuclear-weapon States at the time of the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Such actions are incompatible with action 1 of the Final Document of the 2010 Review Conference, in which all States Parties committed to pursue policies that are fully compatible with the Treaty and the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons.
 
We call upon the nuclear-weapon States to immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernizing and extending the life span of their nuclear weapons and related facilities.
 
We recall the commitment made by some nuclear-weapon States, under action 4 of the 2010 action plan, to further reduce their arsenals of nuclear weapons and strongly urge them to adopt all required measures in order to achieve deeper reductions in their nuclear arsenals in realization of the objective of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
 
In this regard, reductions in deployments and in operational status cannot substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons and, accordingly, calls on the nuclear-weapon States to apply the principles of transparency, irreversibility and verifiability to all such cuts.
 
We remain deeply concerned by military and security doctrines of the nuclear-weapon States as well as that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in which they justify the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and maintain unjustifiably the concept of security based on nuclear deterrence and nuclear military alliances.
 
We firmly believe that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity and a violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, in particular international humanitarian law. In this regard, we strongly call for the complete exclusion of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons from military doctrines. The nuclear-weapon States shall seriously refrain, under any circumstances, from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty.
 
Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, it is the legitimate right of all non‑nuclear-weapon States Parties to receive effective, universal, unconditional, non‑discriminatory and irrevocable legally binding security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under all circumstances. We express our dissatisfaction over the lack of required political will and efforts by the nuclear-weapon-States to fully address this legitimate interest.
 
Madam President,
 
Our Group reaffirms its principled position on nuclear non-proliferation, and underscores the necessity of the full and non-discriminatory implementation of Articles I and II of the Treaty by all States Parties. In our view, any horizontal proliferation and nuclear-weapon-sharing by States Parties constitute a violation of non-proliferation obligations under articles I and II. We call upon the nuclear-weapon-States to undertake to accept full-scope safeguards in order to assure compliance with their non-proliferation obligations.   
 
Proliferation concerns are best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and nondiscriminatory agreements. Additional measures related to the safeguards shall not affect the rights of the non-nuclear-weapon-States parties to the Treaty.
 
We recognize the IAEA as the sole competent authority for the verification of the fulfillment of safeguards obligations assumed by States parties under the NPT, express full confidence in the IAEA and strongly reject attempts to politicize the work of the IAEA. In this context, the Group underlines the importance of strict observance of the IAEA Statute and relevant comprehensive safeguards agreements, in conducting verification activities.
 
We underline the importance of universal adherence to the Treaty and call upon all non-parties to the Treaty to accede to the Treaty, as non-nuclear-weapon States, and place all their nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards. All States Parties should make every effort to achieve the universality of the Treaty and refrain from taking any actions that could negatively affect prospects for the universality of the Treaty. In this context, we welcome the accession of Palestine as the 191st State-party to the Treaty.
 
Strict observance of and adherence to IAEA comprehensive safeguards and to the Treaty are conditions for any cooperation in the nuclear area with States not parties to the Treaty. All States parties to the Treaty shall refrain from the transfer of nuclear technology and materials to States not party to the Treaty unless these conditions are met.
 
Madam President,
 
We in the Group of NAM States Parties to the NPT emphasize the significance of full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of Article IV of the Treaty on "the inalienable right of all the parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty". This constitutes one of the fundamental objectives of the Treaty and as stipulated in that Article, nothing in the Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting this inalienable right.
 
Each State party, in line with its national requirements and in accordance with the rights and obligations under the Treaty, has a sovereign right to define its national energy and fuel-cycle policies, including the inalienable right to develop, for peaceful purposes, a full national nuclear fuel-cycle. Accordingly, the choices and decisions of each State party in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be fully respected.
 
We underline the right of all States parties to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We strongly reject, and call for the immediate removal of, any restrictions or limitations posed on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including restrictions on exports to other States parties of nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.
Concerns related to nuclear proliferation shall not, in any way, restrict the inalienable right of any State party to develop all aspects of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, without discrimination, as stipulated in Article IV of the Treaty. States parties should refrain from any action that would limit certain peaceful nuclear activities on the grounds of their "sensitivity", as the Treaty does not prohibit the transfer or use of nuclear technology, equipment or material based on such grounds.
 
Madam President,
 
The Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, in their Tehran Summit Declaration of 2012, reiterated their support for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and as a priority step to this end, reaffirmed the need for the speedy establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East. They also called upon all parties concerned to take urgent and practical steps for the establishment of such a zone and, pending its establishment, demanded that Israel, the only one in the region that has neither joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, to accede to the NPT without precondition and further delay, to place promptly all its nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards and to conduct its nuclear related activities in conformity with the non-proliferation regime. They expressed great concern over the acquisition of nuclear capability by Israel which poses a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other States, and condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals. They also called for the total and complete prohibition of the transfer of all nuclear-related equipment, information, material and facilities, resources or devices and the extension of assistance in the nuclear related scientific or technological fields to Israel.
 
We are determined to continue pursuing, as a matter of high priority, the implementation of the 1995 Resolution and the 2010 action plan on the Middle East and strongly support the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The 1995 Resolution on the Middle East constitutes an integral and essential part of the package of decisions reached that enabled the indefinite extension of the Treaty without a vote in 1995. This resolution remains valid until its objectives are achieved.
 
We express our serious concern over the long delay in the implementation of the 1995 Resolution and urge the three cosponsors of the Resolution, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation, to take all necessary measures to fully implement it without any further delay.
 
We recall the consensus decision of the 2010 NPT Review Conference on convening, in 2012, of a Conference on the establishment of a zone free from nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and are profoundly disappointed by the failure of the conveners to convene the conference in 2012 as scheduled. This failure is contrary to the letter and spirit of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and contradicts and violates the collective agreement of the States Parties reached at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. We strongly reject the arguments presented by the Conveners for not convening the Conference as mandated.
 
We also strongly call for the withdrawal of any related reservations or unilateral interpretative declarations that are incompatible with the object and purpose of those treaties establishing nuclear weapon free zones and their protocols.
 
Madam President,
 
Our Group underscores the importance of renewed political will by all States parties to achieve a successful conclusion of the 2015 review process and stands ready to engage constructively with other partners towards this objective. We are of the view that the 2010 NPT action plan represents an outcome that the 2015 NPT Review Process can build upon to strengthen the implementation of the Treaty, especially in nuclear disarmament, and in achieving its universality. We are determined to continue our collective efforts in pursuing the realization of NAM priorities in the 2015 NPT review process, in particular to begin negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention as called for by the UNGA Resolution 68/32.
 
Let us work together to achieve real success by agreeing on a comprehensive, balanced and practical substantive outcome document, containing in particular clear time-bound undertakings by the nuclear weapon States to eliminate all their nuclear weapons and related delivery systems and infrastructure. Only such an outcome can bring a shred of hope that we would be able to rid the world of these inhumane weapons and to bring a safer world for our children.
 
 
Photo credit: Robin Wright

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