With the plethora of articles and discussions on the nuclear accord between Iran and the US and its European allies, and the often highly technical nature of many of them, it is difficult for the average observer to distinguish between centrifuges, whether six or 16,000, plutonium production or enrichment of uranium.
It is no less difficult to follow references to the various Iranian uranium enrichment facilities and installations at Fordow and Natanz, plutonium production at Arak, and the secret military facility at Parchin.
In this confusion, it is difficult to understand what the positive and negative elements of this accord are, and if it is indeed problematic, how could the US and the major powers subscribe to it? The major flaws of the agreement are inherent in the basic message that it conveys: rather than preventing any future or present possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons capability, the agreement merely shortens the threshold period that separates Iran from a nuclear arsenal.
It does not effectively prevent Iran from breaching the agreement and achieving its goal even earlier, if it decides that the conditions justify it.
As such the agreement is set to enable Iran safely, legally and without economic hardships or changes in its rogue policies to overcome the main obstacles on its way to possessing a nuclear weapons arsenal and to becoming a regional hegemonic power.
The agreement will legally provide Iran with the capability to shorten the time required to produce such an arsenal within the next 10-15 years (including the production of fissile material, weaponization, acquiring delivery systems, and improved military capabilities to protect the military nuclear program), so that it would be practically impossible to stop it.
Should Iran decide to secure for itself the enriched uranium for a nuclear weapons arsenal, it can “break out” of the agreement, dismiss inspectors and acquire its nuclear arsenal within a six-month period, and not a year, as the US falsely claims. By the same token, it can “sneak out” by surreptitiously developing a nuclear weapons capability, using secret, undeclared facilities, or enrichment facilities outside Iran and by acquiring the necessary raw materials from abroad.
Alternatively Iran can “wait out” the 10-year limitation on centrifuges, and the 15-year limitation on uranium enrichment and plutonium production and then, within weeks, produce its nuclear arsenal.
The provisions of the agreement regarding inspections and supervision of undeclared sites, with the already declared refusal by Iran to permit international inspection of military facilities, provide little possibility of ascertaining or proving prohibited activity by Iran.
Reliance on Iran’s open reaffirmation that it will not seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons is naïve, given Iran’s past record of concealing its nuclear activities, its repeated declarations of hostility vis-à-vis the US and Israel, and its regime’s messianic aspirations.
The agreement imposes no limitations on Iran’s ability to produce ground-to-ground missiles including ICBM missiles with an extended range of up to 10,000 km, capable of carrying nuclear warheads and reaching Europe and the east coast of North America, after the eighth year. It even allows Iran to rely on foreign assistance in this sphere.
The agreement requires a mere five-year limitation on the acquisition of weapons, including weapons to protect its nuclear capabilities.
During this five-year period Iran will even be able to sign contracts with foreign suppliers and train personnel to use such weapons for deployment immediately after the five-year period, thereby enhancing Iran’s deterrence and response capacities.
The agreement provides Iran with assurances of international assistance in the protection of its nuclear facilities against sabotage.
The agreement does not require Iran to refrain from supporting terrorism and insurgency, to refrain from its calls for Israel’s destruction, to end its Holocaust denial or to observe human rights norms.
The complex “snap back” mechanism for reinstating international sanctions is totally unrealistic and inoperable. Any restoration of sanctions, if at all, would only be long after Iran has acquired many billions of dollars and after commercial relations with Iran had reached such proportions as would render possible restoration of sanctions impractical and impossible to implement.
The US confidence in its ability to monitor Iranian compliance by intelligence means is misplaced.
History has proven that US intelligence’s ability to reveal foreign nuclear agendas, including those of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, India and Iraq, is far from impressive. The covert nature of such activities would clearly pose extremely difficult problems for any viable intelligence collection.
Given the agreement’s acknowledgment of Iran as a threshold nuclear state, it is highly likely that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as other states, will find themselves in a Middle East arms race to acquire their own respective military nuclear capability. This will pose a direct challenge to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to regional and world stability.
The UN Security Council’s rapid and hasty rescinding of six major, binding Security Council resolutions weakens the veracity, effectiveness and significance of the organization as a whole, of the Security Council in particular, and of any UN capability of supervising or monitoring the agreement.
More significantly, it serves to minimize and empty several no less major Security Council resolutions, including its major resolution adopted after the September 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, to prevent the flow of money that finances acts of terrorism, and its 2004 resolution calling on states to prevent terrorism.
Granting Iran total immunity, impunity and a license to continue its incitement to genocide, denial of the Holocaust, calls for the elimination of the State of Israel and continued financial and operational support for terrorist organizations and acts of terrorism throughout the world all constitute very basic and clear violations of the UN Charter.
On the positive side, the agreement requires a reduction by Iran in its production capability of enriched uranium through installed centrifuges and forbids it to produce more centrifuges for eight years. It requires Iran to significantly reduce its store of uranium enriched to a level of 3.67% (that can be further enriched to a military-grade level) to 300 kg., as opposed to the 7.5 tons previously agreed upon.
The agreement reduces the production of plutonium at the Arak installation and considerably limits Iran’s ability to obtain plutonium for the development of nuclear weapons during the 15 years of the agreement.
The agreement improves the existing monitoring mechanism of already-known and declared sites, which have been effectively monitored for a long time.
In short, it would appear that the agreement unilaterally and unconditionally grants Iran everything it has been seeking without any viable quid-pro-quo to the international community, thereby paving the route to a nuclear arsenal for a state that repeatedly declares its commitment to obliterate Israel.
The evidently uncompromising intent to advance the agreement, in spite of the very serious security problems that the agreement poses, especially to Israel, would appear to disregard Israel’s status as a bastion against the Islamic radicalization in the world advocated and practiced by Iran.
Attempts to assuage Israel’s real and genuine concerns by offering compensation for the dangers posed by the agreement cannot seriously reduce the nature of the threat that will still be posed by Iran.
This is an abbreviated version of a paper written by the Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser and Ambassador Alan Baker and published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Kuperwasser served as director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research and Analysis and Production Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
Amb. Baker served as legal adviser of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and as