No Inspections of Military Sites
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently and unequivocally ruled out any inspections of its military sites. Such inspections were also ruled out by Iranian Chief of Staff Major-General Hassan Firouzabadi, who said visits by U.N. inspectors to Iranian military sites are "forbidden" and a "red line.” The Iranian parliament just proposed legislation banning inspection of any nuclear site that goes beyond “conventional” (i.e. non-military) visits.
However, a group of bipartisan experts, including Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), say without the resolution of the possible nuclear dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program – which necessarily would entail inspections – the agreement essentially allows Iran to remain a “nuclear threshold state.”
Immediate Cancellation of All Sanctions
Khamenei also recently demanded sanctions relief begin immediately upon the signing of the agreement. However, according to U.S. law, once an agreement is signed, sanctions cannot be lifted until the U.S. Congress reviews the document. Congress has 30 days to review any agreement.
Moreover, even when sanctions are lifted, a fact sheet issued by the U.S. State Department about the deal claims the sanctions will "snapback" instantly in response to Iranian violations of the deal. But tough international sanctions are not like a light-switch that can be flicked on and off.
The Iranian regime is already enticing Western companies with the prospect of lucrative contracts. Governments around the world will likely be willing to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran when the dollars start rolling in to their economies.
No Speaking to Nuclear Scientists
Iran has nixed any speaking to its nuclear scientists by Western inspectors. “They say the right to interview nuclear scientists must be given,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to his website. “This means interrogation. I will not let foreigners come and talk to scientists and dear children of the nation who have developed this science up to this level.”
Yet, these “interrogations” are essential for the West to get a clear picture of the military component of Iran’s nuclear program. Documents suggest Iran has researched and made significant progress on nuclear warheads, nuclear ignition systems and other technologies related to nuclear warfare.
Restriction on Inspections
A recently released report, Verifying a Final Nuclear Deal with Iran, written by the former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Olli Heinonen, states that for the agreement to be effective in real terms, verifiability must be a function of “unfettered,” “anywhere, anytime” access and not subject to any bureaucratic procedures which would give Iran time to alter the results of any inspections.
Yet, the Iranian parliament recently proposed legislation forbidding inspection that goes beyond “conventional” visits. Although this is clearly a way of banning inspections of military sites, the sponsor of the bill, Alaedin Boroujerdi, chairman of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said his bill was designed to insulate Iran’s negotiators from the West’s “excessive demands.”
No Freezing R&D
According to the framework agreement hammered out in Lausanne, Switzerland in April, Iran agreed to "limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development… for ten years."
Yet last week, in a live speech televised across Iran, the Ayatollah declared, “Freezing Iran's research and development (R&D) for a long time, like 10 or 12, years is not acceptable.”
Limiting research and development of Iran’s nuclear technology is mentioned four separate times in the framework agreement, with R&D on advanced centrifuges under a 15-year R&D ban.
Retention of Centrifuges
Under the deal, Iran will decrease the amount of operating centrifuges however, not a single one will be destroyed. Iran's insistence on keeping the centrifuges is strong evidence that it wants to preserve the ability to produce nuclear weapons.
The Institute for Science and International Security says Iran can build nuclear weapons in six to 12 months with only 2,000 to 4,000 centrifuges operating.
Former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz also puts these numbers into perspective. He writes: "5,000 centrifuges are far too many for other peaceful purposes such as producing medical isotopes or fuel plates for the Tehran research reactor. Moreover, it would be far more economical for Iran to purchase reactor fuel rods, fuel plates, and medical isotopes from other countries."
Continuation of Uranium Enrichment
Iran will only enrich its uranium to a level of 3.67 percent. However, in the words of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, "The country that can enrich to 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent.”
The initial enrichment to 3.5 percent is actually the hardest part of the enrichment process. It is 7/10ths of the way to becoming bomb fuel. Iran can make enrich to the 90 percent level in about 4.5 months, while others put the time frame as short as six weeks.
Retention of Uranium Stocks
Iran is refusing to ship some of its current uranium stock outside of the country. The State Dept.’s fact sheet says Iran will "reduce" its uranium stockpile of 10,000 kg to 300 kg but this isn't as positive as it sounds.
Previously, reducing this stockpile meant Iran converted this low-enriched uranium into an oxide unsuitable for nuclear weapons production. However, it can be converted back easily.
Two experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs write, “The notion that this puts the material ‘beyond use for bombs’ is simply wrong. The conversion of oxide back to uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas is not ‘time-consuming,’ is not necessarily ‘detectable,’ and is not particularly ‘technically demanding.’ ”
Retention of Nuclear Sites
Under the deal, Iran is allowed to keep every single nuclear site in place, even the underground Fordow site that was almost certainly constructed for making nuclear weapons.
There will no longer be uranium enrichment at the Fordow site, but 1,044 centrifuges will remain and only be used in the context of a nuclear physics center.
What this means it that if Iran decides to scrap the deal, it can still transport uranium to Fordow and immediately begin enriching with those centrifuges. The site can accommodate 3,000 centrifuges, so about another 2,000 could be shipped in and installed.
Breakout Time Deception
The deal is hinged on the fact that, under the agreement’s restrictions, the time that Iran needs to build a bomb will increase from the current estimate of two months to one year.
However, this claim was recently and unequivocally refuted by Professor Alan Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
In an article recently published in The New York Times, Kuperman proves that with the number of centrifuges Iran is allowed to retain under the agreement, combined with the amount of enriched uranium it takes to make a bomb, the Iranian breakout time under the agreement would only be three months.
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Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org