No Iran Deal, No ProblemPosted: February 9, 2014
While I’m writing about Yousaf, I wanted to recommend highly to readers Yousaf’s most recent article in The National Interest, entitled “No Iran Deal, No Problem” (that title has kind of a Bob Marley ring to it, doesn’t it?). In this new piece, Yousaf tackles and clarifies a number of common misconceptions about the Iran nuclear issue, including that the US is currently faced with a choice of either negotiated settlement or war. He also provides what I think is a very evenhanded prescription for moving diplomacy forward towards a meaningful resolution. Quoting from the piece:
To reach a comprehensive deal both sides should now own up to past mistakes and make amends. For instance, Iran should consider ratifying the Additional Protocol, which would provide more confidence that it would continue to abide by its safeguards agreement and minimize chances of future safeguards violations. Iran should also consider converting the Arak heavy-water reactor to a more—but still not perfectly—proliferation-resistant light-water reactor, or removing the spent fuel for disposition by a third country to prevent it from becoming a plutonium source. And Iran should be open to a frank discussion about whether it undertook weaponization research during the times of tension with Iraq in the 1980s and 1990s. Other countries, like Sweden and Switzerland, that had clandestine nuclear weapons programs—which continued to some extent even after their signing the NPT—are now in good standing with the world powers, so a resolution should not prove impossible.
In the spirit of reconciliation, the P5+1 states and the IAEA could admit to having used unorthodox procedures, partly motivated by political considerations, in handling Iran’s case. They should now support passage of a new Security Council resolution that annuls the past UN nuclear sanctions, and better captures the current reality of what a realistic end-state of Iran’s nuclear program would look like. Reforming the IAEA’s management structure and funding streams should also be seriously considered to improve the professionalism of the Agency. Bringing in a new IAEA chief who is seen as more apolitical than the current one could also be very helpful. Given its historical misuse, the IAEA should also revisit whether it will continue to accept intelligence from third parties, especially non-NPT member states.
I also want to highlight his prescription of the passage of a new UN Security Council resolution, which would effectively supersede and satisfy previous UNSC resolutions demanding that Iran cease uranium enrichment, and send Iran’s case back to the IAEA exclusively. As he says:
Fortunately, there is a simple way out of this byzantine and dangerous bureaucratic mess. The UN Security Council should now adopt a new resolution verifying that Iran is now technically in compliance with its safeguards agreement. Such a resolution would annul the previous UN resolutions calling for sanctions, and return Iran’s file to the IAEA. Individual countries that wanted to maintain unilateral sanctions would, of course, still be free to do so.
Another reason that the current set of UN nuclear sanctions on Iran should be annulled is because their prescription of zero enrichment will not be met. The negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran center on limits to enrichment—not on outright suspension. The 2006-era UN Security Council demand that “Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities” is outdated. As written, the old UN sanctions resolutions are essentially irremovable because their demands will not be met. A new UN resolution superseding the older ones would better capture the current reality while returning Iran’s file to the IAEA, the proper technical agency responsible for nuclear safeguards verification.
This article is really a first rate piece of analysis and writing, in my view. I agree with its analysis and prescriptions 100% and would urge readers to spread it far and wide through listserves, etc. Hopefully it will get in front of the right eyes.