White House 'failing to challenge Iran's interpretations of Geneva deal'

Iran's interpretations of nuclear agreement contradicts claims put forward by the US, expert says.

December 11, 2013 19:02
3 minute read.
US President Barack Obama.

Obama White House Briefing Room 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)


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Iranian interpretations of the Geneva interim nuclear agreement, which run contrary to the White House’s presentation of the accord, are going unchecked by the Obama administration, a security expert told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Dr. Emily Landau, who heads the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies, expressed concern over the White House’s ongoing silence in the face of Iranian attempts to redefine the Geneva agreement after its signing.

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Landau cited recent examples of Iranian interpretations of the agreement that contradict claims put forward by the US, including the “immediate Iranian rejection of the White House fact sheet [on the Geneva interim accord].”

According to Iran’s publication of its own interpretation of what was achieved in Geneva and an announcement by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, within days of the agreement, Iran will continue construction work at Arak.

On Monday, Landau noted, Iran announced that it is testing its advanced new-generation centrifuges.

All the while, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is continuing to air “horrific rhetoric,” Landau said.

These developments have affirmed concerns that any partial deal will “quickly become a platform for continuing bickering between the two sides, as Iran pushed its own interpretations of what was agreed, which would not be acceptable to the P5+1,” Landau said.

“We saw a lot of this in the 2003-2005 period – continuous arguing over who agreed to what, who is upholding what. That period ended with the EU3 totally disillusioned with Iran and its lack of good faith,” she said.

“What we have seen so far, since the late November agreement, is Iran indeed demonstrating that it will continue to push the envelope with its interpretations, with statements and pronouncements that certainly do not indicate ‘good faith’ as far as its intentions to back down from military aspirations,” Landau continued.

Most disturbingly, the P5+1, and the US in particular, are “not even reacting,” she said.

In fact, the Obama administration “seems focused exclusively on Congress,” and appears to have prioritized the prevention of Congress from passing new sanctions against Iran over countering Iran’s conduct, she added.

“Why no reaction to Iran? Why is the administration steadfastly clinging to the narrative that the interim deal is a historic achievement when many proliferation experts (and even a Washington Post editorial) are voicing serious concerns?” Landau asked.

The security analyst was also highly critical of the White House’s failure to define clear criteria for a failure of the diplomatic process, saying, “Perhaps if the criteria for failure were clear – at least to Congress – it would be less nervous about the obvious loopholes in the interim deal.”

Without a criteria to define failure, the Obama administration will be able to evade declaring a failure as such, and “interpret any result as not necessarily constituting a failure, either by saying that they need more time, or, as they are saying now, ‘it’s not perfect, but that’s the best we could get,’” said Landau.

Additionally, Landau said, the agreement carries no mention of the need to inspect Iran’s Parchin site, where suspected nuclear bomb research has been carried out.

“After two years of pressing to visit the Parchin military site, and repeated Iranian intransigence on this count, there is no longer mention of Parchin.

The inspectors came to Arak and this was played up as Iranian cooperation after the interim deal, but what about Parchin and the question of Iran’s work on the military dimension of its nuclear program?” she asked.

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