United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Iran Nuke Program 2: ABCs of Sites

      The following is a rundown of Iran’s key nuclear sites. Each will be a subject at diplomatic talks between the Islamic Republic and the world's six major powers.

 

 

 

 

  

Bushehr Nuclear Facility
        The Bushehr facility contains Iran’s first nuclear power plant. Its light-water reactor was loaded with nuclear fuel in August 2010. It has an operating capacity of 1,000 megawatts. Bushehr was originally launched in 1976 under contract with a German company, but after the 1979 revolution, Washington opposed it on the grounds that weapons grade plutonium could be extracted from the reactor’s waste, allowing Iran to construct nuclear weapons. Iran says the plant is for power-generation purposes only and will be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
 
      The theocracy halted construction of the Bushehr reactor after the 1979 revolution, and it was badly damaged during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. But Tehran decided to revive the project in 1990 to provide energy. The contract was awarded to Russia’s Rosatom Corp. To address international concerns, Moscow agreed to supply the enriched uranium fuel for the power plant and take back its plutonium-bearing spent fuel. In February 2005, Tehran and Moscow signed an agreement designed to ensure Iran could not divert enriched uranium for a weapons program.  In September 2013, Russia transferred operational control of some key facilities to Iran.
 
Natanz Fuel Enrichment Facility
         This fuel enrichment facility is at the heart of Iran’s dispute with the United Nations. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exiled opposition group, revealed the existence of the facility in 2002. It is located just outside the city of Natanz, approximately 130 miles south of Tehran.
         The site consists of two facilities:
 
  • An above-ground pilot fuel enrichment plant (PFEP)
  • A larger, underground fuel enrichment plant with the capacity to hold up to 50,000 centrifuges (FEP). 
 
      Activities at Natanz were suspended in 2004 following an agreement negotiated by Britain, France and Germany. But Iran restarted its uranium enrichment at the FEP after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005. The international community is concerned that Iran may use the enrichment technology at Natanz for nuclear weapons. These activities were proscribed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1696 in 2006. Iran rejects the legality of these resolutions.
 
            Iran has not installed new centrifuges at either of the Natanz sites since the implementation of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action. And enrichment of uranium above five percent is no longer taking place at Natanz, according to a February 2014 U.N. report. About 160 kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent still remains at the site but some of the stockpile is being downblended or converted to uranium oxide, which could not easily be used to fuel a nuclear weapon. 
        
Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility
          The historic city of Isfahan is home to several nuclear-related sites, but the most significant facility is the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Plant. Isfahan also has a fuel fabrication laboratory, a uranium chemistry laboratory and a zirconium production plant. The conversion plant has been operational since 2006, and converts uranium yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) for Iran's enrichment facilities. The facility can also produce uranium metal and oxides for fuel and other purposes.
 
Tehran Nuclear Research Center
      The Tehran Nuclear Research Center is a complex of several laboratories, including the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). The TRR produces radioisotopes for medical and research purposes. The United States supplied Iran with the 5-megawatt light-water reactor in 1967; it was fueled with highly enriched uranium (around 90 percent). In 1987, Argentina concluded a deal with Iran to change the core of the reactor so it could operate on low-enriched uranium (20 percent).
 
Arak Heavy Water Plant and Reactor
           The Arak nuclear facility includes a heavy water production plant, which has been operational since 2006, and a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor still under construction. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exiled opposition group, also revealed the existence of this facility in 2002.
      Heavy water production plants are not subject to traditional safeguards of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory. Under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Additional Protocol, Tehran would be subject to declarations and complementary access for IAEA inspectors. Since Iran has signed but not yet ratified the Additional Protocol, the IAEA uses satellite imagery to monitor the facility. Iran's heavy-water-related activities are also proscribed by U.N. Resolution 1696, which Tehran rejects.
 
            In December 2013, Iran provided the IAEA with information and access to the plant. Approximately 100 tons of reactor-grade heavy water have been produced at Arak since 2006. 
 
Qom Uranium Enrichment Facility (Fordo)
      This secret uranium enrichment facility was made public in 2009 after the United States shared intelligence about it with allies, and Iran confirmed its existence. Construction of the uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom began around 2006, but Tehran maintained that it was not required to report its existence under the safeguard obligations until six months before it became operational. The plant has a few installed centrifuges, but Iran stopped all work once the site was publicized. The facility is located on a mountain on what was reportedly a former Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ missile site.
           The facility’s revelation prompted concern that Iran intended to construct a potential breakout facility where it could make weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb. Iran told the IAEA that the plant was intended to enrich uranium only to 5 percent, which is not enough for a nuclear weapon. The plant is believed to have room for 3,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
 
Parchin
            Parchin is a military complex about 19 miles southeast of Tehran. The IAEA suspects Iran may have conducted experiments related to nuclear weapons production. U.N. inspectors visited the site twice in 2005 but did not find anything suspicious. But the IAEA later received additional evidence about alleged experiments. “We didn’t have enough information [back then],” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said in 2012. “Extensive activities have taken place” at Parchin that have “seriously undermined” the IAEA’s ability to investigate possible military dimensions of Iran’s program, according to a February 2014 report.
 
            Iran apparently undertook cleanup activities, according to satellite imagery analyzed by the Institute for Science and International Security. The IAEA noted that satellite imagery revealed “possible building material and debris” at Parchin in 2014.
           
Gchine Mine and Mill
            The Gchine mine is located in southern Iran in Bandar Abbas. The associated mill is located at the same site. According to the IAEA, it began production in 2004 and has an estimated production capacity of 21 tons of uranium per year. The IAEA has questioned the mine’s ownership and relationship to Iran’s military. In January 2014, Iran provided the IAEA with managed access to the mine.
 
July 14 Update: Iran released the most detailed report to date explaining its practical needs for its nuclear program. It was posted on the quasi-official website NuclearEnergy.ir.

 

Photo credits: NuclearEnergy.ir, Natanz via Iranian President's Office and The New York Times

 

 

Iran Nuke Program 3: ABCs from Khamenei

            Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has voiced his opposition to nuclear weapons on several occasions during the last decade. The following are excerpted remarks in reverse chronological order.

 

      “Even now that reason - including religious and political reason - has made it clear that the Islamic Republic is not after nuclear weapons, American officials bring up the issue of nuclear weapons whenever they address the nuclear issue. This is while they themselves know that not having nuclear weapons is the definite policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
      April 9, 2014 in a speech to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
 
      “We are against nuclear weapons not because of the U.S. or others, but because of our beliefs. And when we say no one should have nuclear weapons, we definitely do not pursue it ourselves either.”
      Sept. 17, 2013 in a meeting with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders
 
            “Nuclear weapons are neither a #security provider, nor a cause of consolidation of political power but rather a threat to both. The events of the 1990s proved that possessing such weapons would not save any regimes including the Soviet Union. Today as well, we know countries who are faced with fatal torrents of insecurity, despite having nuclear bombs.
           “The bitter irony of our time is that the U.S. government has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and is the only government that has used them, while it bears the flag of anti-nukes struggle!”
            Aug. 30, 2012
 
            “We do not possess a nuclear weapon and we will not build one, but
we will defend ourselves against any aggression, whether by the U.S. or the Zionist regime, with the same level [of force].”
            March 20, 2012 in a speech marking Nowruz, Persian New Year
 
            “Nuclear weapons are not at all beneficial to us. Moreover, from an ideological and fiqhi (juridical) perspective, we consider developing nuclear weapons as unlawful. We consider using such weapons as a big sin. We also believe that keeping such weapons is futile and dangerous, and we will never go after them.”
            Feb. 22, 2012 in a speech to nuclear scientists
 
            “Islam is opposed to nuclear weapons and that Tehran is not working to build them.”
            February 2010 at a ship-christening ceremony
 
      “The Iranian people and their officials have declared times and again that the nuclear weapon is religiously forbidden in Islam and they do not have such a weapon. But the western countries and America in particular through false propaganda claim that Iran seeks to build nuclear bombs which is totally false and a breach of the legitimate rights of the Iranian nation.”
      June 4, 2009 in a speech marking the 20th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s death
 
      “Even though the Iranian nation does not have an atomic bomb and keeps no intention to possess the deadly weapon, the world acknowledges that it is a dignified nation because the dignity of the nation has emerged from its resolve, faith, good deed and bright goals.”
      Sept. 9, 2007 in a speech to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders
 
            Iran “is not, and the westerners know it well, after a nuclear weapon, because it stands contrary to the country's political and economic interests as well as Islam's statute.”
            Jan. 18, 2006 to Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov’s visiting delegation
 
            “No sir, we are not seeking to have nuclear weapons… [to] manufacture, possess or use them, that all poses a problem. I have expressed my religious convictions about this, and everyone knows it.”
            Nov. 5, 2004 in a Friday sermon
 
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction," Khamenei said recently. "In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form.”
            October 2003, according to the San Francisco Chronicle
 
July 14 Update: Iran released the most detailed report to date explaining its practical needs for its nuclear program. It was posted on the quasi-official website NuclearEnergy.ir.
 
Photo credit: Khamenei.ir via Facebook
 

Iran Nuke Program 4: ABCs of Talks So Far

           The following is a rundown of key events in diplomacy on Iran’s nuclear program since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013.

2013
 
Sept. 26 – Foreign ministers from P5+1 countries (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) and Iran met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and agreed to hold a new round of talks in Geneva.
 
Sept. 27 – President Barack Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in what was the first direct communication between a U.S. and Iranian presidents since the 1979 revolution. “The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program,” Obama said at a White House briefing.
 
Oct. 15-16 – Diplomats from P5+1 countries and Iran met in Geneva to solve the nuclear dispute. They committed to meeting in November to continue talks that were “substantive and forward looking.”
 
Nov. 7-10 – Iran and the P5+1 made significant headway but ultimately failed to finalize an agreement. Foreign ministers rushed to Geneva as a breakthrough appeared imminent. But last-minute differences, reportedly spurred by French demands for tougher terms, blocked a deal.
 
Nov. 11 – IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited Tehran. He and Iran’s chief of the Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, signed a Framework for Cooperation Agreement committing Tehran to take practical steps towards transparency within three months.
 
Nov. 24 – Iran and the P5+1 reached an interim agreement that would significantly constrain Tehran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief. Iran pledged to neutralize its stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium, halt enrichment above five percent and stop installing centrifuges. Tehran also committed to halt construction of the Arak heavy water reactor.
 
Dec. 11 – Iran and the IAEA met in Vienna to review the status of the six actions Iran committed to in November as part of the Framework for Cooperation Agreement.  
 
 2014
Jan. 9-12 – The P5+1 and Iran met in Geneva and reach an agreement on implementation. The delegations returned to their capitals for approval. On January 12, the parties announced that the Joint Plan of Action will be implemented starting on January 20.
 
Jan. 20 – The Joint Plan of Action entered into force. The IAEA also issued a report stating that Iran is complying with the deal after reducing their 20% enrichment stockpile and halting work on the Arak heavy water reactor. The United States and European Union announced they have taken steps to waive certain sanctions and release a schedule for releasing Iran’s oil money frozen in other countries.
 
Feb.18-20 – The P5+1 and Iran agreed on a framework for final negotiations on February 20 after three days of discussion in Geneva.  
 
March 3 – IAEA chief Yukiya Amano announced that Iran has implemented the six measures contained in the Framework for Cooperation Agreement but also notes that “much remains to be done to resolve all outstanding issues.”
 
March 19 – The P5+1 and Iran held another round of closed-door talks on a final nuclear agreement. Ashton and Zarif described their discussions on the Arak heavy water reactor and Western sanctions as “substantive and useful.”
 
March 20 – The IAEA released a report detailing Iran’s implementation of the interim nuclear deal brokered in November 2013. The report noted that Tehran has not enriched any more uranium to 20 percent. But it had not yet completed a facility to convert low-enriched uranium gas into an oxide, which would need to be reprocessed to fuel a weapon.
 
April 7-9 – The P5+1 and Iran met in Vienna to continue negotiations on a final nuclear agreement. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reported that they had “substantive and detailed discussions” on all relevant issues.
 
April 17 – The U.S. State Department announced that Washington had taken steps to release $450 million installment of frozen Iranian funds after the IAEA verified Tehran is complying with the interim nuclear agreement.
 
May 13-16 – The P5+1 and Iran meet in Vienna to begin drafting a final agreement. The talks end without any tangible progress. But both sides commit to another round of talks in June. 

June 9-10 U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns lead a team of officials to Geneva for bilateral talks with Iran to prepare for the next round of P5+1 talks.
 
June 16-20 The P5+1 met in Geneva and produced an outline of a draft agreement but did not make much progress on the core issue of uranium enrichment. They agreed to meet on July 2 and hold continuous talks until the July 20 expiration date.
 
July 3-19 The P5+1 began marathon talks on July 3, less than three weeks form the due date for a deal. After about a week and half of discussions, some foreign ministers, including Kerry, Zarif and Hague, went to Vienna to check on progress of the talks. On June 19, the two sides announced that the will extend the talks through November 24, eactly one year since the interim agreement was brokered. Iran agreed to take further steps to decrease its 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile. In return, the P5+1 nations agreed to repatriate $2.8 billion in frozen funds back to Iran.
 
July 14 Update: Iran released the most detailed report to date explaining its practical needs for its nuclear program. It was posted on the quasi-official website NuclearEnergy.ir.
 
Sept. 18-26 – Iran and the P5+1 resumed talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Several meetings were held, including a one-on-one meeting between Kerry and Zarif, in which they also discussed the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The sides did not reach an understanding on major issues such as uranium enrichment and sanctions relief.
 

Oct. 14-16 – The P5+1 and Iran met in Vienna made a little progress. But disagreements over Tehran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and a timeline for implementing a deal remained. Officials emphasized that the sides had not given up on the November 24 due-date for a deal and that the talks focused on a “full agreement,” not just understandings of key issues.

Nov. 9-11 Kerry, Zarif, and Ashton met for two days of trilateral talks in Oman, followed by a day of meetings between Iran and the full P5+1. The removal of sanctions and levels of uranium enrichment were among the issues on the table, but officials did not report any significant progress from this round of discussions.

Nov. 19-21 The final round of talks began in Vienna. On November 19, Zarif and Ashton held a meeting, and the U.S. and Iranian teams held bilateral talks. Kerry arrived in Vienna on November 20 after meeting with Omani foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi in London and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius in Paris. Kerry, Ashton, and Zarif held another round of discussions on November 21, but Zarif noted that he had received "no remarkable proposals to take to Tehran" after the meeting.

 

Photo Credits: EU External Action Service and  U.S. State Department via Flickr

 

US: Iran Deal Difficult, But Possible

            On November 17, senior Obama administration officials said that Iran and the world’s six major powers and have not discussed extending the nuclear talks. Both sides are still focused on meeting the November 24 deadline. “We hope that this will be a week when decisions are made, and we understand they are difficult decisions all the way around,” an official said in a background briefing. The following are excerpts.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: As we all know, we’re getting close to the November 24th deadline, and we are focused on whether we can get a comprehensive understanding concluded by that date. The Secretary of State John Kerry and the entire negotiating team were in Oman last week for trilateral discussions with the European Union and Iran, and then the Secretary departed and the rest of us stayed in Muscat for another day of meetings with the P5+1 political directors and Iran as well. The conversations were, as they’ve been previously described, tough, direct, and serious. Our experts have continued to be in constant communication with our partners and with Iran to keep hammering away at the technical issues that are part of these talks. We have continued to make some progress in the course of these negotiations, but we still have gaps to close, and we do not yet know if we will be able to do so.
 
I know much has been made in the press of whether we will take more time if we can’t get this done by the 24th. I can tell you that extension is not and has not been a subject of negotiations at this point. Right now is the time for Iran to back up its words and the Supreme Leader's fatwa with credible and verifiable actions that they have not sought and have no intention to seek a nuclear weapon. Now we need a set of understandings to give the international community assurance that that is indeed the case now and for the future. We hope that this will be a week when decisions are made, and we understand they are difficult decisions all the way around.
 
QUESTION: Okay, thanks. So listen, I wanted to ask about the reports of an eight-page proposal or recommendation given by the U.S. delegation or Secretary Kerry himself in Oman to the Iranian side, and there’ve been reports from the Iranian side that that proposal would bring the talks back to zero. And yet at the same time, we’re seeing a – some more optimism in the Iranian press then we’re seeing on the rest of the P5+1 side. So I want to ask you if you can square that for us a little bit. What was in that eight-page recommendation to the extent you can say, and why are we seeing different levels of expectation on the two sides?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I’m not going to talk about any particulars of the negotiation, which will not come as any surprise to you. And there was not a piece of paper that the Iranians walked away with. There were discussions of detailed parameters that were, in fact, parameters agreed to by the P5+1. We have stayed quite united in our efforts with the negotiations with Iran.
 
As to why we’re hearing a variety of voices, I think we hear a variety of voices in every country about this negotiation, and Iran is no different. You’d have to ask them for their assessment of why there are differences. But certainly here we have people who very much believe we should get an agreement or a deal, an understanding with Iran; others that believe there’s no way to, nor should we. So I think throughout the world, there are a wide range of views.
The view that is consistent, however, is that – from the international community and certainly the P5+1 – is – and as the President of the United States has said – we have to make sure that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon, that all the pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon are shut down, and that the international community has the assurances it needs over time that Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful.
 
QUESTION:   I understand that you said you haven’t discussed the idea of an extension, but what we’re hearing from a number of countries involved in the talks, that while everyone is sincerely working to get some kind of agreement before the 24th, there’s a sense that it’s simply not going to be possible and that a very possible scenario is some kind of outline of an agreement… So I wonder if you could give us a sense of how far along you are on those issues that have been the most difficult ones from the very beginning.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I think we will not know how far we’re going to get and whether we can get to a comprehensive agreement – a joint comprehensive plan of action until we get to the 24th of November. We have had very detailed discussions on every subject that would be part of such a plan of action, and so there are not new things that have to get put on the table, just understandings that have to be reached. 
 
As I said, there are areas where we have made progress, and I’m very glad for that, but there are still areas in which there are very serious gaps that have to be addressed. Whether they can be in this time frame remains to be seen. We have tried to be open to ideas as long as it meets the metric that the President has laid out, that all the pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon are shut down, that we get the assurances we need that Iran is not seeking or – and will not obtain a nuclear weapon. There are many ways to those metrics, and that is what we are seeking to do here.
 
I think that this is obviously an understanding or joint comprehensive plan of action where the details matter enormously, so even if we come to a general understanding of some of the largest parameters, we will not be able to announce that we have reached a joint comprehensive plan of action without also knowing the details. So we are trying to make as much progress – and in fact, it is still possible to do it all. Difficult, but possible.
 
QUESTION: We’re all trying to figure is how this correlates with both what the IAEA is doing and what I think you’ve referred to in the past as doing additional protocol plus. And some of us are trying to figure out how we explain to readers what “plus” means. 
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: In terms of the IAEA, all I want to say about that is that all of us, including, of course, Cathy Ashton, have stayed in close touch with Director General Amano. We want to make sure that whatever we do does not compromise the independence of the IAEA, is consistent with the objectives that the IAEA is seeking in its responsibilities, and that any joint comprehensive plan of action obviously we will rely on the International Atomic Energy Agency, as we have in the Joint Plan of Action. And so we have tried to have very close consultations while being very mindful of their independence.
 
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry has said really it’s up to – it’s a political decision that Iran has to make… or are there also still political decisions, put loosely, that the American side has to make? In other words, is it a matter of will or technical details?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Oh, it’s probably some of both, Margaret. There are some fundamental decisions that have to get made, and I’m sure they can only be made by the Supreme Leader and the President of Iran, just as here in the United States decisions have to be taken not only by the Secretary of State, but by the President of the United States. And we have stayed in close consultation with the United States Congress as well, because we have three branches of government and the Congress has been an important player in this entire process and helped to get Iran to consider these negotiations, and indeed were critical to achieving the Joint Plan of Action. We also have partners all over the world with whom we consult because the decisions made here not only affect the United States and the P5+1, but in quite profound and fundamental ways the security – the peace and security of the world. 
 
So we understand the tremendous responsibility that all of us who are part of this negotiation bear. The stakes are quite high, very important – take everybody’s political will, everybody’s expertise. Our national labs have been simply spectacular in helping us to work through technical details, see if there are any technical solutions to some of the very difficult and thorny problems here. We have had people all over our government, from the U.N., of course, to every – virtually every major department of this government help us see if we cannot come to an understanding that ensures that the President’s metrics are met and that we have an understanding that is also scientifically defensible and durable.
 
QUESTION: How would you characterize any adjustments or just kind of the general attitude of the Iranians over the last one or two months as we’ve gotten closer to this deadline? Have you detected a greater flexibility or not, a greater creativity or not? 
 
And on the other side too from the negotiating team on the U.S. side, what adjustments do you think have also been required in these last – in this last month or two as you get close?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think the best way to describe them is the way I’ve described them already in my opening remarks – tough, direct, serious. I think that’s true for all of us. We all understand what we’re doing here. We all understand the responsibility of what we are doing here. This is difficult. If it weren’t difficult, it would have been solved a long time ago. We have made more progress than anyone would have expected in first halting the advance of Iran’s program and creating a space and time so we can see if we can come to an agreement and understanding around a joint comprehensive plan of action that resolves all of the outstanding issues and meets the metrics that the President has set out. 
 
But these are tough discussions. They are very direct. We know each other well enough to be quite direct. They are very serious. Everyone approaches this with seriousness. And it sort of doesn’t work to say, “Well, were you flexible this week and inflexible next week?” There is an ebb and flow in any negotiation, and that is true in this one as well. 
 
QUESTION: Prime Minister Netanyahu said a few days ago that he has reports that the P5+1 are on the way for a bad deal with Iran. So first if you can comment on that. Second, did you speak in the last few days with your Israeli colleagues to update them on what’s going to happen in this last round of talks?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I will say that, of course, we have stayed in close consultation with Israel, as we have stayed in close consultation with the Gulf states, as we have stayed in close consultation with partners and allies and interested parties all around the world. There are many, many countries, I know, that Helga Schmid with the European Union just today was briefing the 28 political directors of the European Union. So we all stay in very close consultation. And I went up and briefed in a classified setting leadership and ranking of the House, and one of my colleagues will be briefing the Senate tomorrow along with some other members of our Administration, as I did with House last week. So consultation is critical, because as I said, this understanding has a profound impact or the joint comprehensive plan of action will have a profound impact on not just on the P5+1 but on peace and security in the world. 
 
In terms of the Prime Minister's comments, I will let the Prime Minister – of course, he is the leader of his country and will say whatever he thinks is appropriate. I am absolutely sure that if the President of the United States believes that we have reached a deal, reached a joint comprehensive plan of action, it will be a good one. The President will not do anything but to ensure that all the pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon are shut down, that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon, and that it is in the security interests of the United States. And as the President said, he would not do anything that he did not believe was not in the security interests of Israel and our other partners around the world. At the end of the day, the Prime Minister, of course, as the leader of his country and responsible for Israel’s security, will make his own judgment.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: And I would just add to that that the Secretary speaks to Prime Minister Netanyahu very regularly. He spoke to him today and also called him from the plane when we left Muscat to brief him out on the discussions he’d had there. So at all levels have remained in close touch.
 
 

Latest on Nuke Talks: What Iran, P5+1 Say

           Less than two weeks remain until the November 24 deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. Leaders on both sides have noted that there has been progress on key issues and remain hopeful that a deal can be reached before the deadline. Iranian officials have repeatedly emphasized sanctions relief and the right to a peaceful nuclear program. Both sides have claimed that the other will be at fault if a deal is not reached in time. The following are excerpted remarks by officials on the status of the nuclear talks.


 United States

 
President Barack Obama
 
             “Our number one priority with respect to Iran is making sure they don't get nuclear weapon. And because of the unprecedented sanctions that this administration put forward and mobilized the world to abide by, they got squeezed, their economy tanked, and they came to the table in a serious way for the first time in a very, very long time. We've now had significant negotiations. They have abided by freezing their program and, in fact, reducing their stockpile of nuclear-grade material or-- or weapons-grade nuclear material. And the question now is are we going to be able to close this final gap so that they can reenter the international community, sanctions can be slowly reduced, and we have verifiable, lock-tight assurances that they can't develop a nuclear weapon. There's still a big gap. We may-- may not be able to get there.”
              Nov. 9, 2014 in an interview with CBS News
 
             “Whether we can actually get a deal done, we’re going to have to find out over the next three to four weeks. We have presented to them a framework that would allow them to meet their peaceful energy needs. And if, in fact, what their leadership says, that they don’t want to develop a nuclear a weapon -- if that is, in fact, true, then they’ve got an avenue here to provide that assurance to the world community, and in a progressive, step-by-step, verifiable way, allow them to get out from under sanctions so that they can reenter as full-fledged members of the international community.
            “But they have their own politics, and there’s a long tradition of mistrust between the two countries. And there’s a sizeable portion of the political elite that cut its teeth on anti-Americanism and still finds it convenient to blame America for every ill that there is. And whether they can manage to say yes to what clearly would be better for Iran, better for the region, and better for the world, is an open question. We’ll find out over the next several weeks.”
            Nov. 5, 2014 in a press conference
 
Secretary of State John Kerry
 
            “Now, we have the chance – and I underscore the word chance – to complete an agreement that would meet our strategic objectives, that would guarantee that Iran’s four pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon cannot be used, and thereby to be able to give the world the needed confidence that the Iranian program is exclusively and conclusively peaceful as Iran has said it is.  And then at the same time, enable the Iranian people to be able to have the economic opportunities that they seek. 
 
             “Clearly one can envision an agreement that is fair and possible.  But it still will require difficult choices.  Now, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Iran has continued to state it has no interest in obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Ultimately, if you want to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your program is a peaceful one, that is not, from a technical perspective, very hard to do.  We and our European and P5+1 partners are working to secure an agreement that accomplishes that goal.  And in the days ahead, we’re going to try to work very, very hard to see if we can close the gaps and get to where we need to be.
 
             “I would emphasize both sides are taking this process seriously and both sides are trying to find the common ground.  That doesn’t mean that we agree on everything.  Obviously, there are gaps.  We don’t yet.  But it does mean that we have discussed in detail the full range of relevant issues that have to be part of a durable and comprehensive agreement, including infrastructure, stockpiles, research, equipment, timing, and sequencing. 
 
             “And I would also emphasize that we all know our principles in this process, and our principles as a group are rock solid.  As we have said every single step of this process, an agreement like the one we are seeking is not built on trust, as much as anybody might like it to be.  It is built on verification.  And no member of the P5+1 is prepared to or can accept any arrangements that we cannot verify or make any promises that cannot be kept. 
             Nov.  20, 2014 to the press in Paris, France
 
             “On the issue of the Iran nuclear talks, we are gearing up and targeting November 24th. We’re not talking about or thinking about going beyond that date. That’s a critical date. And we believe it is imperative for a lot of different reasons to get this done. Most people don’t understand why, if you’re simply trying to show that a program is peaceful, it would take so long. People want to know that the transparency and accountability necessary to get this done is on the table, and we ought to be able to reach agreement. So our press is to try to get this done. And I think that it gets more complicated if you can’t. It’s not impossible if you’re not able to, but I think let’s see what happens when we bear down as we are.
            “An enormous amount of work has gone into this. For months upon months, we’ve had expert teams sitting down, working through details, looking at all of the technical information that is necessary to be able to make a judgment about what the impact of a particular decision is. Some of it’s very complicated, and we’ve tried to reduce it to as simple and understandable a format as possible. And it’s been very constructive. The Iranian team has worked hard and seriously. The conversations have been civil and expert.
            “And my hope is that now is the moment for really political decisions to be made that make a judgment that we can show the world that countries with differing views, differing systems, but with a mutual interest of trying to prove a peaceful program can in fact do that and get the job done. So we’re very hopeful about that, and I have every intent of making myself available and doing everything necessary to try to do that. And I’m confident that Foreign Minister Zarif will likewise make himself available and continue to push forward.”
            Nov. 5, 2014 in a press briefing after meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
 
SECRETARY KERRY : Well, we’re closer [to a deal] than we were a week ago or 10 weeks ago, but we’re still with big gaps…
 
AL HUNT: In these next three and a half weeks, do you have any plans to meet with high-level Iranians on this issue?
 
SECRETARY KERRY: I am meeting on the 9th of November. I will be meeting with the foreign minister directly. We’ll have two days. We will be beginning a slog of going into the last two weeks. Our expert team will be on the ground with a constant process. We’ll be in Vienna for the final days with the P5+1, all of us together trying to come to some kind of an agreement.
 
AL HUNT: Mr. Secretary, there are reports that the Iranians believe – they’ve indicated to some people that their leverage has been enhanced in these negotiations because of their role in fighting ISIS. Is that a correct reading?
 
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me use this program to deliver a very clear message to the Iranians, which is: This is not a political decision for us. This is a substantive decision based on the proof of a peaceful program. It’s not hard to prove your program is peaceful if that’s what you want to do. So outside leverage, Syria, ISIL, whatever, is not relevant to this. It’s not affecting us one way or the other. We have one set of criteria within our mind.
 
There are four pathways to a nuclear weapon. One is the secret underground facility known as Fordow, one is the Natanz enrichment facility that is known to everybody, a sort of well-identified building. The third is the Arak, as it is called, plutonium heavy water reactor. And the fourth is the covert, whatever you aren’t sure of because it’s not clear to you, and therefore you need sufficient verification and sufficient transparency to be able to determine that there isn’t that path being pursued. That’s things like, for instance, knowing you have an eye on the production of uranium and how much uranium and where it’s going and how many centrifuges and these kinds of things.
 
So those four pathways need to be closed off. We’re looking to the Iranians to be as responsible as they have said they will be and as forthcoming as they have promised, which is to be transparent and allow the proof of this peaceful program.
             Oct. 31, 2014 in an interview with Al Hunt of Bloomberg News on the Charlie Rose Show
 
            “I’m not going to give it odds [successfully brokering a nuclear deal].  As I said to the President recently, I’m not going to express optimism; I’m going to express hope and I think achieving it is critical.  But I will say this to everybody:  We’ve set a very clear standard.  There are four present pathways to a bomb for Iran – the hidden so-called secret facility in a mountain called Fordow, the open Natanz enrichment facility, the plutonium heavy-water reactor called Arak, and then, of course, covert activities.  We’ve pledged that our goal is to shut off each pathway sufficient that we know we have a breakout time of a minimum of a year that gives us the opportunity to respond if they were to try to do that.
            “We believe there are ways to achieve that.  Whether Iran can make the tough decisions that it needs to make will be determined in the next weeks, but I have said consistently that no deal is better than a bad deal.  And we’re going to be very careful, very much based on expert advice, fact, science as to the choices we make.  This must not be a common ideological or a political decision.  And if we can do what we’ve said, what the President set out in his policy – the President said they will not get a bomb.  If we could take this moment of history and change this dynamic, the world would be a lot safer and we’d avoid a huge arms race in the region where Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians, others may decide that if they’re moving towards a bomb, they got to move there too, and obviously it’s a much more dangerous world.  And that is not a part of the world where you want massive uninspected, unverified, nontransparent nuclear activities.  So that’s what we’re trying to do.” 
            Oct. 30, 2014 at the Washington Idea Forums hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic
 
Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
 
            “Our bottom line is unambiguous, crystal clear, and, quite frankly, written in stone: Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.”
            “If [a deal] does not happen, the responsibility will be seen by all to rest with Iran.”
            “Such a plan, if fully implemented, would give confidence that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and would enable the Iranian people to look forward to a much brighter future.”
            “We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text. However, like any complicated and technically complex diplomatic initiative, this is a puzzle with many interlocking pieces.”
            Oct. 23, 2014 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
 
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki

 

            “We’re still very focused on making progress and seeing if we can get a deal done before the deadline in all of our meetings. There’s still time to do so. This was an opportunity to have follow-on discussions with Secretary Kerry, EU High Representative Ashton, Foreign Minister Zarif. They had two lengthy meetings yesterday; two today as well. The discussions have been tough, direct, and serious. And as you know, the political directors will continue to stay in Oman for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. They’ll be reconvening, of course, for the already-announced round of meetings that are next week in Europe.”
            Nov. 10, 2014 in a daily press briefing
 
Iran
 
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
 
President Hassan Rouhani
 
            "Tehran has taken highly positive steps in the nuclear talks with the P5+1 and if the negotiating sides also [prove to] have the necessary political will in this regard, reaching a comprehensive agreement will be possible within the next month."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
 
            "Iran has made its utmost efforts...and made the necessary adjustments to its demands and we hope that all the P5+1 countries, particularly the US, which occasionally seeks excessive demands in the nuclear talks, will understand the circumstances."
            "If the P5+1  and certain countries pursue a goal to impede Iran's development and are looking for a pretext, this issue is impossible and our nation will never give up the path of development and its rights."
            "This issue is not legal and rational and all the P5+1 members should heed the long-term interests of countries and the region."
            Nov. 12, 2014, according to the press

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
              “If, because of excessive demands by the other side we don’t get a result, then the world will understand that the Islamic Republic sought a solution, a compromise and a constructive agreement and that it will not renounce its rights and the greatness of the nation.”
             Nov. 18, 2014 to reporters at Vienna’s airport
 
             “If the Western side can trust that our aim is peaceful and they don’t have political motives, now is a good time to set the framework of the agreement.”
            Nov. 8, 2014, according to the press
 
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always had a peaceful nuclear program and in line with the religious decree issued by the Leader banning use and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, WMD has no place in our defense doctrine.”
            “If Western countries are ensured that our nuclear program seeks peaceful ends and if they abandon political adventurism, this is a propitious time to hammer out a deal.”
            “There are some strong solutions, and what prevented an agreement were political reservations by the P5+1 negotiators; we still hope to reach a solution with all these technicalities.”
            Nov. 9, 2014 according to the press
 
            “It is important for the West to understand that sanctions have never contributed to the resolution of this issue, sanctions are not a part of a solution, sanctions are the most important part of the problem, they're illegal in nature, they must be removed, they have not produced any positive result.
            “The only thing that sanctions have produced for the West are about 19,000 centrifuges.”
            Nov. 10, 2014, according to the press
 
            “The issue of sanctions and its margins will fail to overshadow the will of the Iranian nation to preserve their rights in using peaceful nuclear energy.”
            Nov. 11, 2014, in a meeting with Omani Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmoud
 
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyed Abbas Araqchi
 
            "All nuclear capabilities of Iran will be preserved and no facility will be shut down or even suspended, and no device or equipment will be dismantled."
            “We will not retreat one iota from the country’s nuclear rights, but we are fully ready for transparency and confidence-building.”
            “All sanctions should be lifted and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept even a single instance of sanctions to remain in place under a [final] comprehensive nuclear deal.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
 
            “Neither of the negotiating parties is interested in extending [the deadline of] the talks. All sides are determined to achieve an agreement prior to the deadline. Therefore, extension is not on the agenda of any of the parties.”
            Oct. 26, 2014 according to the press
 
            “It is not clear if negotiations will reach a conclusion within the specified time frame” unless the other side gives up its “illogical excessive demands.”
            “Undoubtedly, trying to launch negotiations through media instead of [from behind] the negotiating table will not only make matters more difficult for progress in talks and reaching a comprehensive agreement, but it will also make it more difficult to continue on the current path particularly when it is accompanied by illogical excessive demands.”
            “We also believe that both sides have a real opportunity which may not be available again. We are sure that if the other side is genuine and committed to its claim to make sure Iran’s nuclear energy program is peaceful, then reaching this goal is not very difficult. ”
            “There will be no damage to the country’s research and development and, more importantly, industrial enrichment will continue with force and within the framework of the country’s needs. At the same time, all sanctions must be lifted and eliminated; and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept any sanctions within the framework of a comprehensive nuclear deal – not even one.”
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has entered negotiations based on a fundamental premise against all weapons of mass destructions including nuclear weapons. This is based on the Fatwa of the Supreme Leader and (Iran) will continue with goodwill until a final conclusion is reached.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to Iran’s Nuclear Energy page
 
            "Iran's negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) is progressing on a hard path with ups and downs and there is no bright perspective envisaged for its ending by the deadlines."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
 
“After hours of discussions, we are not still in a position to say whether we have made progress, nor are we in the position to say there has been a setback.”
            “Every subject being mooted, entails lateral issues and complications like the technical, legal and political issues.”
            “We will keep making our efforts and the positive point is that all sides are serious and the demand to reach the deal is serious for all parties.”
            Nov. 10, 2014, according to the press
 
            “Negotiations and discussions during the past two days were very useful. But we are not still in a position to say that we have made progress. It’s yet to be done in the coming days. We would be available as much as needed here in Oman or in any other places before the deadline of November 24. We are still hopeful.”
            A deal will require “lots of goodwill by all parties and of course readiness to make difficult decisions.”
            “It’s a fact that based on a possible comprehensive solution all the sanctions should be lifted. Iran would certainly continue its enrichment, but the question is the capacity of this enrichment which should be determined based on our practical needs and that would be something we are very hopeful to come to at the end of these negotiations.”
            Nov. 10, 2014 to Press TV
 
            “All parties are serious about the talks and we intend to hold as many meetings as needed by the deadline.”
            Nov. 12, 2014, according to Mehr News
 
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani
 
            “Unfortunately, the West’s double-standard approach to disarmament has not helped [efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation].”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
 
            “As regards the nuclear issue, Iran believes in continued negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of the restoration of all its rights and respect for the existing laws.”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
 
Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran’s Majlis Alaeddin Boroujerdi
 
             “We believe that in order to reach a final agreement, sanctions should be removed once and for all.”
             “From the beginning of the interim deal, we believed that all sanctions should be lifted at once and completely, because the issue is among our basic tenets for reaching a final agreement.”
             “The psychological warfare operations and the media propaganda campaign is one of the plots used by the US and the Zionist regime of Israel to create a situation in which the Iranian team would have to negotiate from a position of weakness.”
             Nov. 5, 2014 according to Tasnim News
 
            “If this [final] agreement is not signed, it is as clear as day that the excessive demands of Americans have been the factor behind the failure of the negotiations.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
 
Senior advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati
 
            “We are confident that in the end, even if Iran-P5+1 negotiations last for a long time, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be the winner.”
            “Iran's stance is that it plans to benefit from peaceful nuclear energy within the framework of international regulations and supervision.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press  
 
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
 
            “Negotiations are moving in a difficult path with many ups and downs.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to NuclearEnergy.ir
 
Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi
 
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not agree to the sanctions being removed one by one.”
            “The West must remove the sanctions against Iran all at once.”
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
 
            “If the westerners are really after settling Iran's nuclear issue, they shouldn’t seek excuses and should try to cope with Iran's realities.”
            “We are not thinking about extending the negotiations as we are trying to reach the desirable results in the specified period of time (left to the deadline).”
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
           
            "We definitely are at a critical stage. There is not very much time left before Nov. 24 and the issues remain more or less the same."
            "If we cannot come to a conclusion by Nov. 24, I am sure that those who are performing an objective analysis of the situation definitely will not blame Iran for the possible lack of progress, because Iran has shown its determination to finish the job."
            "Enrichment is one [of the main points of contention], of course, and the sanctions, but we also talk about [the] Arak [research reactor] and a number of other things about which we have to come to an agreement. In our judgment the Americans do not want to appreciate what's happening on the ground in Iran as far as the nuclear capabilities and capacities are concerned. We have about 20,000 centrifuges, almost half of which are producing nuclear material, the other half are only spinning. We can't just turn back the clock and say, "now we are in 2005" and are offering what we have offered then."
            "You have to keep the status quo! But we are ready to accept some limits to our activities for a specific period of time. And after that specific time we need to be treated like any other member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."
            Nov. 10, 2014 in an interview with
Spiegel Online
 
Member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Avaz Heidarpour
 
            "The US is looking for troubling the talks, but Iran is committed to negotiations to resolve its nuclear standoff with the West."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
 
Member of the Presiding Board of Iran’s Majlis Hossein Sobhani-Nia
 
            “The Islamic Republic has never accepted the issue of suspension, but the removal of sanctions has been the key issue for us.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
 
Russia
 
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
 
            “The foreign policy chiefs noted that talks on the settlement of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program have real chances to lead to concrete agreements, but additional efforts must be applied.”
            Oct. 24, 2014 according to The Iran Project
 
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
 
            Talks are being held in a “tense atmosphere.”
             “In the current situation it will be very difficult to get a deal unless there is a new spirit. A possibility like we have at the moment [to get a deal] is very rare. This is a crucial moment and to let it pass would be a serious mistake with grave consequences.”
            Nov. 20, 2014 according to RIA Novosti via France 24
 
            “But there is no guarantee that these decisions will be taken in those capitals where there are the biggest problems with current solutions, I mean, Washington and Tehran.
            “Talks on Iran and Syria are not a tribute to fashion or momentary interests and even less so are an intention to 'please' the United States.
            “This cooperation meets our interest and helps to normalize the global situation, and we will keep on doing it. If it had been for other reasons, we would have folded this activity long ago.
            “Responsibility for the stagnation in our relationship is entirely on the U.S. side.
            “The relations with the United States are in a bad condition and it will take a very long time to normalize and stabilize them, but effort is needed on both sides.”

            Nov. 15, 2014 according to Reuters

            “We have no evidence that the necessary decisions have been taken in the major capitals.”
            “There was progress in Oman but it wasn’t enough to say that there was a decisive breakthrough.”
            “There are certain difficulties in the negotiations with defining the sequence of such steps.”
            “This is because of a different understanding among the parties of what is reversible and irreversible.”
            “We’re not working on any alternative plans, we’re not considering the option of extending the negotiations.”
            “We don’t want now, when everything should be focused on delivering the solution, to distract ourselves.”
            Weekend of Nov. 15-16, 2014 according to Bloomberg
 
            “The organizational meeting of international mediators in Vienna on November 7 has helped us to move forward in this direction.”
            “All participants [of the meeting] voiced additional proposals. We are determined to put it all together in such a way that key compromises could be reached before the deadline [on November 24].”
            Nov. 7, 2014 after a meeting with negotiators from the P5+1 countries
 
France
 
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
 
             “I hope that we will be able to achieve an agreement but there are still key questions to resolve. I can't make any predictions at this time. I think it will only be on the day of the 24th that we'll be able to make an assessment.”
            Nov. 13, 2014 at a news conference with Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni

 

European Union


High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini

 

             Negotiations between the E3/EU+3 and Iran have now entered a decisive phase in Vienna. I hope that they will succeed in achieving a long-term and comprehensive diplomatic solution which will address international concerns as regards the Iranian nuclear issue and I thank Catherine Ashton for her dedication to this difficult negotiation.
            This is the time for Iran to take the strategic decision to open the way for a historic and final settlement of the nuclear issue which would also mark the beginning of a new chapter in relations between Iran and the international community.
             Nov. 20, 2014 in a statement
 

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