Different Messages on the Lausanne Accord

I think this AL Monitor piece by Shahir Shahidsaless is one of the best summaries of the various statements that have been released both jointly and unilaterally by the parties to the Lausanne talks over the past week.  It also very usefully discusses the differences among those statements. I think the author is correct when he says:

While enrichment, R&D and the Arak heavy-water reactor are all significant concerns, the most contentious issues that threaten the negotiations process are sanctions and inspections.

He then proceeds to explain these concerns well.
Commentary, both official and non-official, on the agreement reached in Lausanne has been a bit of a circus over the past week. Honestly, I’ve mostly tuned out from listening to the specifics of any side’s version of what was agreed, and what they think will be agreed to, and what they will accept. At this point, I think that pretty much all we are hearing from all sides is spin – the message that they want both the other parties and their own domestic constituencies to hear. To me it just reinforces the fact that there really is no agreement between the parties yet on anything approaching a full range of the important issues of contention. We really are just going to have to wait until June to know anything concrete.
What I have thought at times, and what may yet be true, is that the framework accord was purposed by the parties to be vague and yet to convey that the parties were making serious progress, and to allow all sides to basically sell their own version of the deal to their respective domestic constituencies.  The hope, I’m guessing, is that each side can indeed sell its version to its domestic constituency as “the deal” or at least the broad strokes of it, which will calculatedly build positive momentum (“It’s historic! It’s better than we thought! Maybe it’s the beginning of a general detente!”, etc.) for an accord in general on all sides. So much so, I think they hope, that when June roles around and each side has to walk back from some of the strong positions they’ve taken while selling the deal to their domestic constituencies, there will be so much positive momentum built up, and so much effort invested on all sides, that there won’t be enough opposition left to overcome the inertia, and the deal will be agreed to and implemented.
Just to reiterate, I’m all for a deal, and I’m not particularly picky about its terms. So I’m not sounding any alarm bells here. Just sort of giving my thoughts on what’s going on.

19 Comments on “Different Messages on the Lausanne Accord”

  1. yousaf says:

    There is also direct conflict between Kerry and Khamenei on PMD:

    Kerry: (minute 6:48)


    Iran: (No PMD — middle of piece)



    My take — give PMD a quick death…really not worthwhile:


    ……….and anyway, the IAEA is totally unqualified even to ask –let alone evaluate — PMD issues. Says how? says a former IAEA inspections director:


    1. Who gets to be an inspector at the IAEA?
    Normally inspectors are recruited from around the world, among people that don’t have specialized knowledge of nuclear weapons — and aren’t supposed to. They may have jobs like filling out paperwork at the airport and things like that. They know nothing about intelligence and in many cases know very little about physics.

    • Dan Joyner says:

      I certainly agree with you about PMD. I still think they’ll find a way to get the IAEA to do something that makes the PMD thing go away without too much fuss. Not sure how. But I’m sure that is a deal killer from Iran’s perspective.

      • yousaf says:

        Agree… I think some subset of the P5+1 may “direct” the IAEA to say Iran is cooperating on a some subset of PMD and “resolve” the issue.

        However, this raises another prickly issue: why do people think it is OK for some countries to direct the IAEA to say certain things?

        After all, IAEA did not come up with PMD on its own to begin with….it’s becoming a circus.

        Would be easier if we knew which things in the PMD file were real and which were fabrications. The neutron transport stuff (paragraph 52 of the 2011 PMD annex) seems to be either fabricated or incompetently done at a level inconsistent with national research scientists:


      • yousaf says:

        I think a reasonable thing to do would be to make a problem resolution process out of the PMD instead of a wild goose chase with changing goalposts.

      • Dan Joyner says:

        Absolutely. But as you well know, the IAEA doesn’t have a process for dealing with weaponization issues, because it’s nowhere in their constitutive documents. They’re not supposed to be in the area at all, and they have no markers to guide them in their analysis and assessment.

      • yousaf says:

        good point. yes an independent PMD-resolution board may work….or just toss out the outdated dossier riddled with fabrications. IAEA should never have taken on the file.

  2. Johnboy says:

    Not wanting to be too cloak ‘n’ daggery about it, but if PMD gets in the way of a deal that both Iran and the USA wants then that’s easy to fix: the CIA need only make a not-quite-a-confession that it fabricates this kind of stuff all the time

    That then gives an out for everyone: the USA hasn’t actually admitted that the laptop of death is a fake, the Iranians haven’t actually proven that it is faked, and the IAEA hasn’t actually admitted it was duped, but all decide that, hey, this is so hopelessly compromised that it’s not worth pursuing

    • yousaf says:

      I think one cannot conclude it is necessarily that intel agency. Recall which country leaked the AP graphs –i.e. the crap behind paragraph 52 in the PMD 2011 IAEA report annex.

    • Cyrus says:

      If PMD gets in the way then the US never really planned on compromising with Iran. At this point, the only purpose of the PMD issue continuation, is as a spoiler and poison pill.

      • Johnboy says:

        I think that’s a very fair statement, and is the flip side to my post I.e. if the USA and Iran BOTH want this deal then it’s a mistake to think that the onus is entirely on Iran to resolve the PMD accusations

        The CIA can also play a role in defusing it, and if that’s what is deemed to be necessary by this administration then that’s what the CIA would be ordered to do.

        But Cyrus is correct: if the USA doesn’t budge then PMD acts as a poison pill and – more important – is intended to be a poison pill

  3. Cyrus says:

    There has been no real agreement, but this agreement to agree is itself possible significant in that it indicates the US just may have – maybe- at least abandoned the “Iran nuclear threat” pretext to pressure the Iranian govt. But there have been too many other occasions which form a pattern of potential compromises blown deliberately by moving goalposts and unrealistic demands to be too optimistic.
    Incidentally, the

    fact that even this little concession to the most basic principle of intl law (to talk to Iran rather than just attack it for no particular reason) has practically led to a constitutional crisis in the US, nevermind the continued diplomatic crisis caused in US Israeli relations, speaks volumes about the decayed and corrupted state of our foreign policy process as well as substance (as if another example was necessary after the Iraq invasion which was premised on a similar “WMDs threat” and sold through a complicit media to a credulous and frightened public.)

  4. Andreas says:


    *** Netanyahu told cabinet: Our biggest fear is that Iran will honor nuclear deal ***

    Netanyahu expressed concern that Iranian compliance with the agreement will lull the world into complacency over the bomb threat, according to officials. …..

    Netanyahu also told the ministers that in 10 to 15 years, when the main clauses of the agreement expire, most of the sanctions will be lifted and the Iranians will show that they met all their obligations. They will then receive a “kashrut certificate” from the international community, which will see Iran as a “normal” country from which there is nothing to fear.

    Netanyahu and Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, want to see changes inserted in the bill that will make it more binding, and even turn it into one that prevents an agreement with Tehran rather than delaying it.

    One change Netanyahu is seeking is a new clause that the deal with Iran be considered a treaty; an international treaty signed by the United States must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

    The Republican senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, reportedly intends to demand at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that this clause be added to the bill.

  5. Pirouz_2 says:

    I have a question for Mr. Joyner;

    What’s exactly the difference between “suspension of sanctions” and “cancellation of sanctions”?

    Also a few points regarding what the “details” of a “nuclear deal” will be:
    Since November 2013, The West has continuously put forward demands which are absolutely in violation of Iran’s sovereign rights, and Iran in abject humiliation, has conceded step by step to those demands, so much so that in the November interim agreement, Iran could not even get the West to explicitly acknowledge Iran’s right to enrichment on its soil, as if the letter of NPT was not clear enough on the matter.

    After that interim agreement Iran has given up one by one on its “red lines”. My understanding is that In Lausanne Iran has accepted that it won’t install any generation of centrifuges more advanced than IR-1 in Natanz for enrichment and in so doing Iran has accepted to effectively put a halt on its R&D on enrichment. If my understanding regarding this issue is correct, then this is one of the most humiliating terms of this agreement as it is the most outrageous violation of Iran’s sovereign rights.

    Also I understand that Iran has agreed to do no enrichment in Fordow, and that is another humiliating submission since it literally means that Iran has accepted that it would put its enrichment capability in a situation so that the West could bomb it any time it wishes to do so.

    Quite frankly some of the terms which seem to have been leaked is not so different from Iran conceding part of its national territory to foreign powers.

    I cannot tell the future, but based on the trend that I have observed so far, I would guess (and I most certainly hope Iran will develop some back bone and that I turn out to be wrong) that if the West uses its sanctions weapon and stands firmly on its demands it can get Iran to agree to almost all of their demands including its requirement on clarification of the PMD and intrusive inspection of any site in Iran based on any “suspicion” that the West may claim to have in future. That is of course unless Iran makes a U-turn until June, but then again after all the outrageous terms that they have already agreed to if they make a U-turn they will be blamed by P5+1 for back tracking from their already agreed promises.

    • Dan Joyner says:

      You ask “What’s exactly the difference between “suspension of sanctions” and “cancellation of sanctions”?”

      The answer is that these aren’t proper legal terms of art, and I suspect they are being used intentionally because of this, so that the concepts are still a bit fuzzy and noncommittal.

      With regard to US law, the only real legal categories, I think, are (1) temporary waiver of sanctions by the president pursuant to a relevant statute, and (2) repeal of the statutory basis for sanctions. The only thing that is going to happen in the near term WRT US sanctions, is the first option, temporary waiver.

  6. Andreas says:


    Aye that, I second your question to Mr Joyner. It’s overdue anyway.

    Is really nobody caring about the clear definition/meaning and proper use of words ‘n propositions?

    How can peace be built with such a mindset?


    Zhèngmíng – The Reactification of Words:


    子路曰:「衛君 待子而為政,子將奚先?」
    子曰: 「野哉,由也!君子於其所不知,蓋闕如也。名不正,則言不 順;言不順,則事不成;事不成,則禮樂不興;禮樂不興,則刑罰不中;刑罰不中,則民無所錯手足。故君子名之必可言 也,言之必可行也。君子於其言,無所苟而已矣。」

    ” Confucius: If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.
    Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately.
    What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.”

  7. Cyrus says:

    I am struck by the parallels and contradictions to the CWC — the US first pushed to get similar “anytime anywhere” access under the Chemical Weapons Convention, but just when the other signatories seemed to agree, pulled back and instead settled for more managed “Challenge Inspections” which are intended to solely resolve disputes over complinace with the convention — because of concern over protecting secrets. And yet for Iran apparently they want to traipse all over, willy-nilly

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