Right-Headedness on the PMD Issue Apparently Prevailing

I was pleased to see this NYT article by David Sanger, which seems to indicate that a pragmatic and prudent approach to the PMD issue is prevailing in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1/IAEA on Iran’s nuclear program. Quoting from the piece:

American negotiators seem to be steering away from forcing a full historical accounting from the Iranians before any accord is signed, arguing that excavating the past is less important than assuring Iran does not have the raw material to make a weapon. And the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said in an interview last week that no one should expect a complete historical accounting.

“It is not possible to find out everything,” said Mr. Amano, a former Japanese diplomat who is trying, as his predecessor did, to work methodically through a list of a dozen areas that he calls “possible military dimensions” of the Iranian program.

As I’ve written before, this is a welcome development, and the negotiators from the West should be complimented for it (never thought you’d hear me say that, did you?). The basic philosophy underlying it, with which I very much agree, is that what is most important now is to come to an agreement among the parties about the present and future, in order to reduce tensions and begin the process of normalizing relations between Iran and the West, both politically and economically. And that stressing investigation into past possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work will only make such a comprehensive agreement impossible.  A very practical position that correctly apportions emphasis, in my view.

There are many, including notably David Albright, who have insisted, and continue to insist, that a full reckoning of Iran’s possible weaponization R&D in the past must precede any comprehensive agreement.  This is entirely impractical, as well as unnecessary, and seems calculated to keep a diplomatic accord from ever happening. I’m pleased that P5+1 negotiators have not listened to such voices on this issue.

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5 Comments on “Right-Headedness on the PMD Issue Apparently Prevailing”

  1. yousaf says:

    Agree. Also the attitude of forcing Iran to excavate the past assumes one knows what happened. In some cases, less may have happened than assumed. For example, El Baradei is on record saying he had not seen a a shred of evidence of Iranian weaponization.

    In a previous post we saw how most of the publicly available evidence is less than compelling.

    The Sanger piece mentions US officials were surprised by how quickly Pakistan weaponized. Some of them may well have been, but voices within US intel that were warning of this were also actively silenced due to political reasons:

    http://www.pogo.org/our-work/resource-pages/richard-barlow-resource-page.html

    The importance given to proliferation concerns within USG is sometimes linked to the relevant politics.

  2. Nick says:

    My reading is a little different. They want to chat with Fakhraizadeh for sure but Iran is not agreeing to do that. As one Iranian official in Vienna reportedly had said recently: we know he will be killed if he shows up.

    I think Ammano has not given up, unless USG gives the go ahead, but everything is on hold for the tough negotiations on the perceived asymptotic scope of the enrichment in the final stages. Right now that is the showstopper and not Fakhraizadeh, which is one of the remaining issues for PMD.

    BTW, there has been a radio silence on Iran’s explanation of EBW’s. Salehi has already complained about this. Even Albright doesn’t have anything that he can share. He actually complained why the last IAEA report was so meager on the assessment of Iran’s shared EBW document.

  3. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Something to keep in mind is that the P5+1 negotiations and the IAEA’s investigation into PMD have always been separate, as stated by both parties. Another thing to keep in mind is that any agreement reached at this point will not be the end of discussions, at least with the IAEA, on many aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. And there is the possibility that as confidence is built, Iran will be willing to share more of its nuclear history, as South Africa gradually did.

    Any agreement signed now will not be the end of history.

  4. Don Bacon says:

    Also to keep in mind is that the P5+1 is not only the sky-is-falling US and its UK/France puppets, it also includes Russia, China and Germany, three countries the US has been alienating recently, particularly Russia which is an Iran (also Iraq and Syria) ally.

    As the US withdraws (gets pushed out) from the Middle East and Afghanistan the political stars are realigning, and Iran looks more and more the winner.


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