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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
Daryl G. Kimball

Nuclear Disarmament and Human Survival

Daryl G. Kimball

Since the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons have motivated ordinary citizens to push their leaders to pursue arms control and disarmament measures to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons use.

For decades, it has been well understood that the direct effects of a large-scale nuclear conflict could result in several hundred million human fatalities, while the indirect effects would be far greater, leading to the loss of billions of lives.

Since the end of the Cold War, the threat of a U.S.-Russian conflict has decreased, but the risk of a nuclear war in other regions has grown. Recent studies find that a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan involving 100 detonations of 15-kiloton bombs would kill 20 million in the first week and reduce global temperatures by 1.3 degrees Celsius, thereby putting another 1 to 2 billion people at risk for famine.

Clearly, the use of nuclear weapons would result in humanitarian emergencies far beyond the immediate target zones of the warring parties and would violate the basic principles of international humanitarian law, including avoidance of attacks that could affect civilians indiscriminately.

Nevertheless, the world’s nine nuclear-armed nations still threaten to use their massive nuclear arsenals in the name of deterrence, and many continue to build up their nuclear war-fighting capabilities.

Appropriately enough, the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference final document expressed “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and the need for all States…to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.”

The NPT nuclear-weapon states committed to “diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons” and “[d]iscuss policies that could prevent the use of nuclear weapons.” In keeping with the NPT document’s action plan, Norway hosted a conference last March in Oslo on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. Mexico will host a follow-up conference in February. In April, 80 countries declared that “[i]t is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.” In October, 125 states endorsed a similar statement.

Unfortunately, the five NPT nuclear-weapon states boycotted the Oslo conference, and several have criticized the April statement as a “distraction.” The arrogant and hostile response, particularly from France and Russia, has only deepened the frustration of the non-nuclear-weapon states.

Rather than dismiss the Mexico conference, the nuclear-weapon states should participate in and support future statements warning of the consequences of nuclear weapons use. Leading non-nuclear-weapon states also must come together around proposals that more effectively challenge dangerous nuclear doctrines.

The call from some states to negotiate a convention banning the possession of nuclear weapons in the moribund Conference on Disarmament (CD) is a recipe for inaction. Even if non-nuclear-weapon states were to adopt such a convention outside the CD, it would have little value without the support and participation of the NPT nuclear-armed states, which oppose such an effort.

A more promising way to meet the NPT action plan goal of assuring non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be to develop a legally binding instrument banning the use of nuclear weapons. This is the approach taken with respect to chemical and biological weapons through the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

Discussions on a ban on the use of nuclear weapons could begin in a new, dedicated diplomatic forum. Even if the nuclear-weapon states do not initially join in the negotiation or sign the instrument, the process itself and the final product would further delegitimize nuclear weapons, strengthen the legal norm against their use, and put pressure on nuclear-armed states to revise their nuclear doctrines.

Another approach would be to press each of the nuclear-armed states to explain the effects of its nuclear war plans at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. Each should be required to explain how the use of such weapons would be consistent with the law of armed conflict and other aspects of international human rights and humanitarian law.

With action on key disarmament initiatives at a near standstill, initiatives designed to jump-start progress are in order. For example, the United States could accelerate implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and Washington and Moscow could agree to reduce their stockpiles well below treaty-mandated ceilings. At the same time, other nuclear-armed states could pledge not to increase the overall size of their nuclear stockpiles, so long as U.S. and Russian leaders continue to slash theirs.

As President Barack Obama said last September, “The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere.” That certainly holds true for nuclear weapons as well. It is vital that global leaders welcome and pursue new, creative approaches to disarmament in order to guard against nuclear catastrophe.

Since the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons have motivated ordinary citizens to push their leaders to pursue arms control and disarmament measures to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons use.

Congress Should Not Sabotage Iran Nuclear Deal with Additional Sanctions

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Volume 5, Issue 1, January 8, 2014

The "Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act" (S. 1881), introduced in the Senate on December 19 by Sens. Menendez (D-N.J.) and Kirk (R-Ill.), threatens to derail the breakthrough agreement that Iran and the P5+1 reached in Geneva on November 24 that will pause Iran's most worrisome nuclear activities in exchange for limited and reversible sanctions relief.

Contrary to the claim of the bill's authors, the proposed legislation would violate the terms of the first-phase deal that the United States and its P5+1 negotiating partners committed to in the November 24 Joint Plan of Action. In addition, the bill would place new and unrealistic restrictions on the comprehensive solution that the parties will soon begin negotiating. Efforts by the U.S. Congress to move the goalposts for the final phase negotiations beyond the parameters already established by the P5+1 would undermine prospects for a final phase agreement that limits Iran's uranium enrichment capacity and other sensitive nuclear fuel cycle projects.

The November 24, first-phase agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is an important opportunity to limit and roll back key areas of Iran's nuclear program. It provides more stringent monitoring and verification mechanisms that will help guard against the pursuit of a secret bomb program. Rather than sabotaging this deal before it is implemented and undermining the prospects for a more far-reaching final phase deal, U.S. policymakers must give Tehran a chance to demonstrate its willingness to curb its nuclear activities and follow through on the actions it is required to take.

S. 1881 Contradicts the Geneva Agreement
In the November 24 agreement, the United States committed to "refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions."

S. 1881, if approved, would directly violate this commitment. This bill would impose further sanctions on Iran in several areas - including greater restrictions on oil imports and expanding business and financial sanctions on Iran's mining and construction sectors.

Nevertheless, the authors of the bill, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Kirk (R-Ill.), argue that their proposal for additional sanctions is not a violation of the agreement because the bill gives the U.S. president authority to temporarily waive the sanctions if Tehran meets the terms of the November 24 agreement.

This reasoning is illogical and incorrect for two reasons. First, this bill would impose new sanctions and, while the measures may not be enforced, they will become law. Iran made clear that it would interpret such a move as a violation of the Joint Plan of Action. Iran's Foreign Minister and lead negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a December 7 interview with Time magazine that the "deal is dead" if the United States imposes more sanctions, even if they do not go into effect during the six month time frame of the first-phase agreement.

Additionally, the conditions that must be met for the president to waive the sanctions exceed the terms of the Joint Plan of Action - specifically the bill requires Iran to adhere to limits on ballistic missile testing and the prohibition of financing for terrorist groups acting against the United States. Neither of these areas were addressed in the November 24 agreement. Requiring Iran to adhere to further stipulations in order to avoid further sanctions is a violation of this agreement.

Sen. Menendez argues that the additional sanctions should be approved now because "If we wait until we determine whether or not a negotiation succeeds, and if it fails, and then try to move" there may not be enough time before Iran can produce enough fissile material for nuclear weapons.  

If Iran violates the November 24 agreement or talks fail to produce a comprehensive agreement, Congress can quickly pass new sanctions--within days--and the administration says it would fully support further sanctions measures under such circumstances.

However, no member of Congress, including Sen. Menendez, should be under the illusion that further sanctions can or will stop Iran from advancing its sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities if the current round of talks fail. Only a serious, verifiable diplomatic agreement that significantly limits its enrichment capacity and increases international inspection authority to verify compliance and deter possible cheating will be effective in the long-run.

S. 1881 Threatens International Unity
The sanctions imposed on Iran played a role in motivating Tehran's leadership to reach the first-phase deal agreed to in Geneva on November 24. This success, however, was due to solid international support for unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. Moving forward on this bill threatens to erode support for existing sanctions amongst Washington's five other negotiating partners that could fracture sanctions enforcement.

Enforcement of the core sanctions regime that remains in place, including U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil and banking industries will be integral in motivating Iran to reach a comprehensive agreement. If international support for enforcing these sanctions falters because the U.S. is viewed as not holding up its end of the November 24 agreement, one of the key factors pushing Iran to agree to a deal that seriously limits its nuclear potential will have been removed.

S. 1881, by imposing additional sanctions would risk alienating states, such as China, that have cooperated with the existing sanctions regime. Why? If passed into law, S. 1881 would require countries still importing oil from Iran, such as China, to reduce their imports by 30 percent within the first year and to near zero within two years. This places an unrealistic burden on the countries that still import oil on Iran and places the United States in the position of having to sanction banks from these countries in the future, if the oil import cuts are not met.

This legislation also sends the signal to Iran and the international community that the United States cannot deliver its end of the agreement. It stands in stark contrast with the December 16 meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers, during which they agreed to support the November 24 agreement and refrain from passing further sanctions during the course of its implementation.

Following the meeting of the foreign ministers, EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton, leader of the P5+1 negotiating team, also encouraged all parties to "refrain from actions that could delay" implementation of the November 24 agreement. Moving forward on S. 1881 will certainly delay the agreement.

S. 1881 Would Set Unrealistic Demands on A Final Agreement
The Menendez-Kirk bill also sets out unrealistic demands for the comprehensive deal that Iran will not accept and contradict the broad parameters of the agreement laid out in the November 24 deal.

According to the November 24 Joint Plan of Action, the comprehensive, final phase agreement will include a "mutually defined enrichment program" for Iran. However, S. 1881 seeks to impose a different outcome by allowing the suspension of sanctions only if Iran agrees to zero-enrichment and complete dismantlement of its "illicit nuclear infrastructure," which presumably would include Iran's uranium enrichment facilities and the heavy water reactor under construction at Arak.

Such an outcome may have been conceivable in 2005-2006 when Iran agreed to suspend enrichment work and had less than 300 centrifuges. But today, demands that Iran permanently halt uranium enrichment are unrealistic and unattainable. A deal that bars Iran from enriching uranium for peaceful purposes would be unsustainable politically inside Iran-and such an outcome is not necessary to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran if appropriate limits and monitoring mechanisms are put in place.

S. 1881 also stipulates that the President may only waive sanctions if Iran complies with all earlier and relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Some of the bill's cosponsors have erroneously interpreted the UNSC resolutions to mean that Iran must permanently "suspend" all uranium enrichment activities.

In reality, the UNSC demand for suspension of uranium enrichment by Iran is meant to restore confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear program during the course of negotiations on a permanent solution. It is not a demand to permanently cease all uranium enrichment activities. The November 24 first phase agreement effectively accomplishes the suspension goal of the UNSC by capping the total amount of 3.5% material and it goes further by requiring Iran to convert its 20% stockpiles and to cease all enrichment to 20% levels while a comprehensive agreement is negotiated.

An additional goal established by the P5+1 and Iran in the November 24 Joint Plan of Action for the final phase agreement is the lifting of all U.S. nuclear-related sanctions. S. 1881 would seek to keep the nuclear-related sanctions in place and only allow the U.S. President to waive implementation on a yearly basis if the president certifies that Iran is complying with the comprehensive agreement. This could be interpreted as a violation of the agreement, which calls for a "comprehensive lift" of the sanctions, not merely a series of temporary waivers.

S. 1881 would also try to impose a fixed time frame for the final phase negotiations. According to the legislation, the P5+1 would only have one year to reach a final deal before the sanctions laid out in the bill would be imposed. The bill limits the presidential waiver period to 180 days, plus four 30-day extensions.  Given the complexity of these negotiations, there is a good chance that the first-phase deal could be extended for and a second, or third, 6-month time period while negotiations on a comprehensive agreement continue.

S. 1881 Gives Iranian Hardliners Ammunition
From a negotiating perspective, moving forward on this bill will also give the hardliners in Iran considerable ammunition to assert that the United States is not following through on its commitments in the Joint Plan of Action and will not negotiate a comprehensive agreement in good faith. This could narrow the space that President Rouhani has to negotiate a final deal.

Already in the Iranian Parliament, a law was drafted in December that will require Iran to increase its uranium enrichment to 60 percent. As of January 4, over 200 members of parliament signed on in support of the legislation. One member said that this is in retaliation to "America's hostile act" of moving forward on further sanctions.   

Iran currently has no need for uranium enriched to this level, which is still below the 90 percent enrichment required for nuclear weapons. However, several members of parliament said that increased enrichment levels could be used to power Iranian ships in the future, which is permitted under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Uranium enriched to 60 percent would also allow Iran to move more quickly to weapons-grade enrichment levels, if Tehran chose to do so.

Bottom Line
Moving forward on further, U.S. imposed Iran sanctions at this time will sabotage the important progress made in Geneva to limit Iran's nuclear activities and improve IAEA scrutiny of its program. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a December19 press briefing that moving forward on additional sanctions at this time would "proactively undermine American diplomacy."

As European High Representative Catherine Ashton, the lead P5+1 negotiator, said on Dec. 16, "It is a very sensitive diplomatic process." She added, "it is important that we refrain from actions that could delay the process. And as you already know, the E3 +3 have made a commitment to refrain from additional sanctions for the implementation period."

Though the cosponsors of S. 1881 may have good intentions, their bill threatens the diplomatic opportunity to rein-in Iran's nuclear capabilities, it would contradict the commitments made by the United States--to both Iran and our P5+1 negotiating partners--to refrain from approving further sanctions legislation, and, most significantly, could push Iran to pull out of the deal and allow it to continue advancing its nuclear program without restrictions.

New, additional sanctions are clearly unnecessary. The existing, core sanctions regime provides more than sufficient leverage on Iran to take further concrete measures to restrain its nuclear potential and improve transparency measure necessary to guard against a secret nuclear weapons effort in the future.

The Senate need not and should not move forward with new sanctions legislation, such as S. 1881, at this time and should support--not blow up--the promising P5+1 diplomatic process to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.--KELSEY DAVENPORT and DARYL G. KIMBALL

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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today. Daryl G. Kimball is ACA's executive director.

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The "Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act" (S. 1881), introduced in the Senate on December 19 by Sens. Menendez (D-N.J.) and Kirk (R-Ill.), threatens to derail the breakthrough agreement that Iran and the P5+1 reached in Geneva on November 24 that will pause Iran's most worrisome nuclear activities in exchange for limited and reversible sanctions relief.

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Updating Nonproliferation Criteria for U.S. Nuclear Trade

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By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director Arms Control Association
Prepared Comments for Nonproliferation Policy Education Center Forum Dec. 11, 2013
Washington, D.C.

Since the beginning of the nuclear age, efforts to exploit nuclear technology for energy and for profit have complicated the task of reducing the nuclear weapons threat.

The United States and other possessors of enrichment and reprocessing technology have appropriately sought to deny the transfer of sensitive nuclear technologies—particularly enrichment and reprocessing technologies, which can be used to make nuclear bomb material—to states that do not already possess the technology through the terms of our nuclear cooperation agreements, which are based on the requirements in the 1978 Amendments to the Atomic Energy Act.

In addition, the new and important NSG rule adopted in June 2011—that bars enrichment and reprocessing technology transfers to states without comprehensive safeguards agreements, have not joined the NPT, do not have an additional protocol in force, or to states in proliferation sensitive regions—makes it highly unlikely that other nuclear suppliers can even offer to transfer enrichment or reprocessing technology or equipment to these states.

This week, the Obama administration is expected to roll out its revised policy regarding civil nuclear cooperation agreements. It expected that the policy will continue to encourage higher standards in U.S. nuclear cooperation partner countries but will not require that every U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreement is exactly the same.

Some members of Congress, including Sen. Corker (R-Tenn.), have complained that the Obama administration’s revised policy on nuclear cooperation agreements is “inconsistent” because it does not require that all states foreswear enrichment and reprocessing.

It is important that the United States use every tool it has to prevent the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology, but requiring that states foreswear enrichment and reprocessing as a condition for a U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreement is not practical in every case.

If Congress wants a greater degree of consistency and higher nonproliferation standards, it can strengthen the leverage of the executive branch by legislating higher standards that should be sought in nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States and if those standards are not all achieved, Congress should revise the process by which such agreements should be considered for approval or disapproval by the Congress.

In other words, it is time for Congress to revisit, update, and strengthen the Atomic Energy Act standards and procedures for peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements.

H.R. 1280, authored by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Howard Berman, Brad Sherman and others, and introduced in 2011 offers a framework useful to build on.

H.R. 1280 would not require that states adopt the so-called “Gold Standard:” the renunciation of their option to pursue enrichment or reprocessing before the United States enters into a nuclear cooperation agreement or renews an existing agreement—which some refuse to do because they claim it is their right under the NPT.

Instead the bill would add several new requirements to the nine key requirements already in Section 123 of the AEA[i] that, if met, would “fast track” that country’s nuclear cooperation agreement for approval.

Agreements with states that cannot meet the higher set of standards would be subject to a more rigorous process requiring affirmative Congressional approval.

Among the most important new requirements for “fast track” approval that would be added are:

  • the application of the IAEA Additional Protocol. Dozens of states have not yet approved an additional protocol, including Algeria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, whose ambassador to Washington recently threatened that his country would build nuclear weapons if Iran does; and
  • a pledge not to acquire enrichment or reprocessing capabilities/facilities.

I would also suggest that the bill should be strengthened by:

  • clarifying that the recipient state must allow for the application of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) under the terms of the most up-to-date IAEA revisions, which today are known as code 3.1.
  • requiring termination of U.S. nuclear cooperation in the event the recipient state conducts a nuclear test explosion, is found to be in violation of its IAEA safeguards obligations, or acquires enrichment or reprocessing equipment from sources other than the United States.

A modified version of H.R. 1280 is a very reasonable and common sense approach that would simply put into U.S. law the standards that all nuclear supplier states have already agreed are essential to preventing future proliferation.

The Case of Iran

Would adopting tougher standards for U.S. nuclear cooperation have helped prevent Iran from acquiring enrichment technology? Probably not, because we are not engaged and will not in the future become engaged in formal nuclear cooperation with Iran.

And because Iran acquired its enrichment technology on the black market via Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, tougher global standards would likely not have been able to head off the transfer of the technology to Iran.

The best way to limit Iran’s fissile material production capacity is to implement the Nov. 24 P5+1/Iran agreement to pause it nuclear program and negotiation a final-phase deal that significantly reduces its enrichment capacity and bars any reprocessing capability.

If we are to succeed in limiting the number of states capable of producing nuclear bomb material in the future, the executive branch and the Congress can and should work together to update the terms for civil nuclear agreements as outlined in the Atomic Energy Act.

ENDNOTE

[i] Section 123(a) lists nine criteria that an agreement must meet unless the President determines an exemption is necessary. These include guarantees that:

  • Safeguards on transferred nuclear material and equipment continue in perpetuity;
  • Full-scope IAEA safeguards are applied in non-nuclear weapon states;
  • Nothing transferred is used for any nuclear explosive device or for any other military purpose, except in the case of cooperation agreements with nuclear weapon states, in which the United States has the right to demand the return of transferred nuclear materials and equipment, as well as any special nuclear material produced through their use, if the cooperating state detonates a nuclear explosive device, or terminates or abrogates its IAEA safeguards agreement;
  • There is no retransfer of material or classified data without U.S. consent;
  • Physical security on nuclear material is maintained;
  • There is no enrichment or reprocessing by the recipient state of transferred nuclear material or nuclear material produced with materials or facilities transferred pursuant to the agreement without prior approval;
  • Storage for transferred plutonium and highly enriched uranium is approved in advance by the United States; and
  • Any material or facility produced or constructed through use of special nuclear technology transferred under the cooperation agreement is subject to all of the above requirements.
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Prepared remarks by Daryl G. Kimball for the Dec. 11, 2013 Nonproliferation Policy Education Center Forum that took place in Washington, D.C..

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Syria Chemical Weapons Elimination Plan and the Next Steps

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Prepared Remarks

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
CWC Conference of States Parties, Dec. 5, 2013
The Hague, Netherlands

The large-scale use of chemical weapons against rebel-controlled areas outside Damascus on Aug. 21 required a strong international response to help ensure that further such attacks are not launched ever again in Syria or elsewhere.

And in the weeks and months since, there has been a strong and clear message that the further use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

The UN chemical weapons inspection team found evidence of extensive use of the nerve agent sarin, determined the type of rockets used in the attacks, and calculated the direction from which the rockets were fired.

In the wake of these horrible attacks, which killed more than 1,000 men, women, and children, U.S. and Russian leaders, as well as a wide array of CWC states parties, have worked together to establish international control of and to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal.

And to its credit, the Syrian government has recognized that the human and security costs of these weapons far outweigh any perceived military or political value they may have once had.

Under the agreement negotiated Sept. 14 by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the UN and the OPCW have put into motion an expeditious plan for accounting, inspection, control, and elimination of Syria’s deadly arsenal under the auspices of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The agreement calls for the entire stockpile, including chemical agents, production facilities, and delivery systems, to be safely eliminated or, if necessary, removed from the country by mid-2014.

Without the CWC, establishment of the OPCW and the strong track record of the OPCW over the past 15 years, the agreement negotiated Sept. 14 by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal would not have been possible.

To its great credit, the OPCW has stepped up to the task and adjusted its operations to meet the tight deadlines for verifying the Syrian chemical weapons declaration and the elimination of its relatively small stockpile of weaponized material and larger stockpile of precursor chemicals.

On October 1, a joint team of OPCW and UN officials arrived in Syria and on October 6, 2013 the destruction of Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons and equipment began under UN and OPCW supervision.

On October 27 Syria submitted the details of its plans for "total and verified destruction" of its chemical weapons stockpile and production facilities to the OPCW.

On October 31, the OPCW confirmed that Syria destroyed, or rendered inoperable, all of its declared facilities for mixing and producing chemical weapons.

On November 15 the OPCW Executive Council approved a plan for the elimination of Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons that calls for transporting the bulk agents and precursor materials outside of Syria for destruction.

The "most critical" chemicals are to be transported out of Syria by December 31, 2013 and the remainder by February 5, 2014. The plan calls for the destruction of certain priority chemicals by March 15, 2014 and by Dec. 31, 2014, all effluents are to be destroyed.

It is very important to keep in mind that with the verified disablement of Syria’s declared mixing and filling equipment and production facilities that was completed by Oct. 31, the risk of further CW use against Syria’s people has been severely reduced as the potential for rapid weaponization has been eliminated.

Through the work of the UN and the OPCW under the Lavrov-Kerry Plan, this has been achieved in a less costly and far more effective way than a cruise missile strike ever could have accomplished.

But serious security, technical, and financial challenges that lie ahead, including the removal of the bulk agents and precursors from Syria on a tight schedule and under war-time conditions to the port of Latakia.

As announced last Friday, Nov. 29, the United States has offered to contribute a destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize Syria’s priority chemicals once they are out of the country on a U.S. naval vessel at sea using hydrolysis. The MV Cape Ray is currently undergoing modifications to support the operations and to accommodate verification activities by the OPCW.

Once the bulk chemicals are removed from Syria and as United States, the OPCW, and commercial entities use hydrolysis and incineration to eliminate the bulk and precursor chemicals and effluents, it is essential that the operation is conducted properly rather than quickly or necessarily on deadline.

Based on my knowledge of the plans—which are still being developed—the operation can be conducted safely and securely and in an environmentally responsible manner.

However, we would strongly advise that before the operation in undertaken that a much more thorough public information effort is put into play to describe the operation in order to avoid misperceptions about public health, environmental, and security risks.

Toward a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East

Syria’s decision to join to the CWC and to eliminate its CW stockpile is an important step to reduce the dangers of the Syrian civil war and toward a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East.

Syria's accession to the CWC should also spur the remaining Middle East holdouts, Egypt and Israel, to join the treaty and prompt them and other states to take additional, overdue steps needed to move the region closer to becoming a zone free of all types of weapons of mass destruction.

The Arms Control Association urges all OPCW states parties and the Director-General to use their good offices to encourage action by these two key CWC hold-out states.

Thank you.

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Prepared Remarks by Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association at the CWC Conference of States Parties on Dec. 5, 2013 in The Hague, Netherlands.

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After the First-Phase Deal With Iran

Daryl G. Kimball

After years of on-and-off negotiations, the Obama administration’s negotiating team, along with its diplomatic partners, secured a breakthrough agreement with Iran that sets back that country’s nuclear potential and increases international oversight of Iran’s nuclear activities.

The six-month agreement opens the way for further talks on “a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.”

The first-phase deal announced by the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran after their marathon Nov. 20-24 round of talks will stop uranium enrichment to 20 percent, neutralize Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent material, cap the amount of fuel-grade uranium (3.5 percent enrichment), freeze the installation or operation of additional centrifuges, and halt progress on nuclear components for the unfinished Arak heavy-water reactor, which is a potential source of plutonium for weapons.

Just as importantly, the agreement provides for unprecedented transparency measures, including daily, rather than weekly, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections at the Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities; IAEA access to centrifuge production sites; and increased information on and IAEA access to the Arak site.

Together, these constraints increase the time it would take Iran to produce enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb to about three months, compared to less than a month by next year without the constraints. The new transparency measures would effectively detect and deter any such effort by Iran. The agreement is a significant milestone for nonproliferation.

In exchange, the P5+1 will extend limited, reversible relief from certain existing sanctions. Meanwhile, the core of the existing international financial and oil sanctions regime against Iran will remain in place, providing the P5+1 with substantial leverage during negotiations on a long-term agreement.

The next and more difficult challenge will be to hammer out a comprehensive, final-phase agreement. The central question will be the extent to which Iran is willing to reduce the capacity of its enrichment program. The Nov. 24 agreement does not explicitly recognize the right to enrich uranium, but it does recognize the fact that Iran has a uranium-enrichment program, and the two sides agreed to negotiate a “mutually defined enrichment programme” with “agreed limits on the scope and level of enrichment, activities, capacity…and stocks of uranium” that should be “consistent with practical needs.” Iran’s nuclear fuel supply needs currently are close to zero, but could grow in the coming years.

Given Iran’s limited needs, a reduction in Iran’s overall enrichment capacity—from 10,000 operating and 19,000 installed centrifuges at two sites to 3,000 or fewer operating first-generation (or equivalent second-generation) machines at one site—would be more than sufficient for Iran’s potential needs. The two sides might agree to effectively halt any significant enrichment at Fordow by converting it to a “research” facility.

Such limits on Iran’s enrichment capacity and the size of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium would significantly increase the time necessary to produce enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb.

Nevertheless, some critics of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are continuing to demand Iran’s total capitulation: the permanent suspension of all uranium enrichment and the dismantlement of the Natanz, Fordow, and Arak facilities.

Such an outcome might have been conceivable a decade ago when Iran agreed to suspend enrichment work and had only a handful of centrifuges. But today, such demands are unrealistic and are unnecessary to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran.

The P5+1 is expected to press Iran to abandon the unfinished Arak reactor, but Tehran will likely resist such an outcome. One compromise effectively neutralizing Arak as a threat would be to convert Arak to a more proliferation-resistant light-water reactor or to verifiably remove the spent fuel for disposition by a third country, possibly Russia, to prevent it from becoming a source of plutonium.

The final phase should lead to even more extensive IAEA inspection authority to guard against a secret weapons program under the terms of an additional protocol, which would give the IAEA access to undeclared sites and serve as a strong deterrent to any clandestine nuclear weapons work. To normalize its nuclear status, Iran must also resolve long-standing questions from the IAEA about suspected weapons-related experiments that may have been conducted in secret in the past.

To secure a final-phase agreement, the P5+1 will need to refrain from imposing additional sanctions and be prepared to phase out remaining oil and financial sanctions against Iran, which will require action by the European Union and the U.S. Congress.

Negotiating a comprehensive deal along these lines will be difficult. Implementing the steps that such an agreement would require will be even more challenging. But a practical, diplomatic solution that guards against a nuclear-armed Iran is within reach. Now is the time to seize it.

After years of on-and-off negotiations, the Obama administration’s negotiating team, along with its diplomatic partners, secured a breakthrough agreement with Iran that sets back that country’s nuclear potential and increases international oversight of Iran’s nuclear activities.

Assessing the First-Phase Deal to Guard Against a Nuclear-Armed Iran

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Volume 4, Issue 15, December 2, 2013

After years of on-and-off negotiations, the latest round of P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) talks with Iran has finally yielded an important breakthrough: a "first-phase" deal to constrain Iran's nuclear potential and to "reach a mutually agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure that Iran's nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful."

The deal will verifiably halt and, in some areas, roll-back advances in Iran's capabilities of greatest proliferation concern and reduce its potential to produce material for nuclear weapons. The agreement, spelled out in a Nov. 24 "Joint Plan of Action," also significantly bolsters the International Atomic Energy Agency's  (IAEA) monitoring capabilities, including daily IAEA inspections at the Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities, that will effectively detect and deter any such effort.

In exchange, the P5+1 states will extend limited, reversible relief from certain sanctions now in place, including the repatriation of several billion dollars in frozen Iranian oil revenue, and a pledge not to impose new nuclear-related sanctions for the duration of the agreement if Iran abides by its commitments. Meanwhile, the core of the existing international financial and oil sanctions regime against Iran will remain in place.

Implementation of the first phase agreement will begin by the beginning of 2014 and the agreement will last six months but could be extended by mutual consent of the parties.

The first-phase agreement will provide the time to negotiate a more permanent "final-phase" agreement that could significantly reduce Iran's overall enrichment capacity according to a "mutually defined enrichment programme" with "agreed limits on scope and level of enrichment, activities, capacity ... and stocks of enriched uranium." The final phase deal would likely lead to even more intrusive IAEA inspections to guard against any possible secret nuclear weapons-related activities.

Constraints on Iran's Nuclear Program

Under the terms of the first phase of the agreement, Iran has agreed to several important constraints on its uranium enrichment program, as well as its Arak heavy water reactor project, which could potentially be used to produce plutonium for weapons:

  • halt uranium enrichment to 20% levels, which is above normal power reactor fuel grade (3.5%) and closer to weapons grade (above 90%);
  • neutralize the existing 20% enriched uranium stockpile by oxidizing or diluting the stockpile to lower enrichment levels. Currently Iran has 196 kg of 20% enriched uranium. It takes 250 kg, if further enriched, to produce enough highly enriched weapons-grade uranium for one bomb. Iran must disconnect equipment that could be used to reverse the oxidization process;
  • cap the stockpile of 3.5 percent low-enriched uranium (now at 7,153 kg) by oxidizing a portion equivalent to whatever additional amount it produces;
  • freeze Iran's current enrichment capacity by halting the installation and operation of additional centrifuges at the Natanz and Fordow enrichment plants, including more advanced IR-2m centrifuges. Iran has approximately 19,000 IR-1 machines installed of which about 10,000 are operating;
  • freeze any further advances in nuclear-related activities at the uncompleted Arak heavy water reactor, including a halt to the production, testing, or transfer of fuel or heavy water for the reactor or the installation of any reactor components. The reactor, which is still a year or more away from completion, would have to operate for another year to produce spent fuel laden with plutonium. Iran also agreed not to construct a facility capable of separating plutonium from the spent fuel.

In addition, Iran has committed to new transparency measures. Iran will for the first time provide:

  • daily, rather than weekly, IAEA access for inspectors at Natanz and Fordow;
  • IAEA access to centrifuge assembly and production facilities, which will guard against any effort to build a secret enrichment facility;
  • earlier notification and information regarding any new nuclear facilities;
  • updated design information on the Arak reactor and more frequent on-site inspections at Arak; and
  • IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.

With these restrictions in place, Iran would find it extremely difficult to try to make a dash to build nuclear weapons using the major facilities before the international community would detect such activities and could act to block such an outcome.

In exchange for these concrete steps, the P5+1 will, among other measures:

  • release approximately $4.2 of the estimated $50 billion in Iranian assets that are tied up in other countries from oil sales;
  • waive certain sanctions on trade with Iran's auto sector, petro-chemicals, and trade in gold and other precious metals just put into effect last July. This will provide Iran with approximately $1.5 billion in revenue, according the Obama administration.

Over the six month span of the agreement, Iran would remain under severe international sanctions and additional Iranian financial assets--perhaps as much as $15-$20 billion worth--would go into restricted overseas accounts as result of ongoing oil and financial sanctions. This provides the P5+1 with substantial leverage to persuade Iran to agree to further constraints on its nuclear program.

A Net Plus for Nonproliferation

According to the U.S. intelligence community Iran has had, at least since 2007, the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it were to choose to do so. But it would take Tehran "over a year" to build one.

The goal of U.S. and international policy must be to increase the time and the barriers required for Iran to break out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and build nuclear weapons, to increase the ability to promptly detect and effectively respond to a breakout, and to decrease Iran's incentive to pursue nuclear weapons in the future.

The first phase agreement accomplishes all of these things. It effectively caps the progress of Iran's nuclear program in all key areas and rolls-back Iran's theoretical nuclear weapons breakout capability.

By halting enrichment to 20 percent, neutralizing the existing 20% enriched uranium stockpile, and freezing the number of centrifuges available for enrichment, the first phase agreement will add at least a month to the time that it would theoretically take Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear weapon. Without the first phase agreement in place, Iran could reduce this time to as little as 2 weeks by early 2014, which could potentially allow it to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb before inspectors could detect such an effort.

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[1] Estimated times are based on calculations described in "Iranian Breakout Estimates, Updated September 2013," by Patrick Migliorini, David Albright, Houston Wood and Christina Walrond, published by the Institute for Science and International Security, October 24, 2013. Centrifuge and stockpile numbers are based on the most recent IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program from Nov. 14. It is important to note that these are theoretical estimates that do not take into account the fact that IAEA inspectors and national intelligence agencies would very likely detect any effort to start enriching uranium above 20% well under a month with current IAEA monitoring tools and within a week or less with additional first-phase transparency measures in place.

Toward A "Final Phase" Agreement

This first phase deal opens the way for negotiations on a comprehensive, final phase agreement that rolls back Iran's overall enrichment capacity even further, blocks the plutonium path to the bomb, resolves outstanding questions about the purpose of Iran's program, and comprehensively removes nuclear-related sanctions.

The extent to which Iran is willing to reduce the capacity and the scope of its uranium enrichment program is key. The agreement reached in Geneva on Nov. 24 states that the program should be "consistent with practical needs." In other words, Iran's enrichment capacity and stockpile of material should not exceed the fuel supply needs of its nuclear power reactor program, which for now are close to zero but could grow in the coming years.

Iran will insist on retaining some uranium enrichment capacity, which it believes it has a right to pursue as a member of the NPT, which refers to the "inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy...."

The United States and the other P5+1 states do not believe that states have a "right" to uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium, especially if they may have engaged in nuclear weapons-related research. But they recognize the fact that Iran already has a uranium enrichment program.

Thus, the two sides did not agree on the nature of Iran's nuclear energy rights, but they did agree to negotiate practical limits and additional safeguards on ongoing Iranian enrichment activities, in order to reduce Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities.

Given Iran's limited need for enriched uranium fuel for energy production, a reduction in Iran's overall enrichment capacity--from 10,000 operating centrifuges at two sites to 3,000 or fewer at one site--would be more than sufficient for Iran's potential needs and, with limits on Iran's enriched uranium stockpile, would increase the time necessary to produce enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb to 6 months or more.

The P5+1 states would also like Iran to abandon the unfinished Arak reactor, which represents a long-term proliferation threat, but Iran will likely resist such an outcome. One compromise that would effectively neutralize Arak as a long-term threat would be agree to convert Arak to a more proliferation-resistant light-water reactor or to verifiably remove the spent fuel for disposition by a third country--possibly Russia--to prevent it from becoming a source of plutonium for Iran.

The P5+1 also will seek to persuade Iran to allow even more extensive IAEA inspection authority to guard against a secret weapons program under the terms of the Additional Protocol to its existing safeguards agreement. These inspections allow the IAEA to access non-declared sites without prior notification, which is a strong deterrent against any clandestine nuclear weapons work.

To resolve longstanding questions about suspected weapons-related experiments that may have been conducted in secret in past years, Iran will also need to fully cooperate with the IAEA. On Nov. 11, the IAEA and Iran agreed to a new approach to the long-stalled investigation about these experiments, including possible high-explosive testing for warhead designs, and whether they have been terminated.

To secure a "final phase" agreement, the P5+1 will need to further scale-back the oil and financial sanctions that are devastating Iran's economy, which will require action by the European Union states and Congressional approval of revised sanctions legislation.

Negotiating an agreement along these lines will be difficult. Implementing these steps will be even harder.

Would More Sanctions Secure a Better Deal?

Some Members of Congress claim that further U.S.-mandated sanctions would improve the United States negotiating position in the next round of talks and are arguing for new sanctions legislation now that could be implemented in six months if a final phase agreement is not reached.

Such a strategy is illogical and counterproductive. The existing, core sanctions regime provides more than sufficient leverage on Iran to take further concrete measures to restrain its nuclear potential and improve transparency measure necessary to guard against a secret nuclear weapons effort in the future. If Iran violates the terms of the first phase deal or if a final phase agreement is not concluded in six months, the president can reverse the limited sanctions relief of the first phase agreement and Congress could consider additional sanctions, if necessary.

But additional sanctions, if pursued now, would be seen by Iran, as well as the United States' international partners, as an act of bad faith and an outright violation of the first-phase agreement, which specifically calls for no new U.S., EU, or UN-imposed nuclear-related sanctions against Iran while the deal is in effect.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told NBC News on Nov. 23 that "If there are new sanctions, then there is no deal. It's very clear. End of the deal."

This would of course also wreck the opportunity for a final phase deal that rolls back Iran's nuclear program and would give Iran the pretext to resume work to advance its nuclear program.

Nevertheless some critics of the P5+1/Iran agreement, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, may continue to argue that additional sanctions are necessary to force Iran to capitulate and agree to the permanent suspension of all uranium enrichment and the dismantlement of the Natanz, Fordow, and Arak facilities.

Such an outcome may have been conceivable in 2005-2006 when Iran agreed to suspend enrichment work and had less than 300 centrifuges. But today, demands that Iran permanently halt uranium enrichment are unrealistic and unattainable. A deal that bars Iran from enriching uranium for peaceful purposes would be unsustainable politically inside Iran-and such an outcome is not necessary to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran.

Some other critics claim the first-phase agreement does not fulfill the UN Security Council's earlier demands for Iran to "suspend" uranium enrichment. In reality, the purpose of the demand for suspension of uranium enrichment by Iran under existing U.N. Security Council resolutions is to prevent Iran from accumulating more LEU until it restores confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear program--not to permanently cease all uranium enrichment activities. The Nov. 24 agreement effectively accomplishes that goal by capping the total amount of 3.5% material and it goes further by requiring Iran to neutralize its 20% stockpiles and to cease all enrichment to 20% levels while a comprehensive agreement is negotiated.

To guard against a nuclear-armed Iran and avoid a confrontation over its nuclear program, the two sides should promptly implement the first-phase agreement and expeditiously negotiate a long term final-phase agreement on the basis of realistic and achievable goals.--DARYL G. KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

 

Description: 

After years of on-and-off negotiations, the latest round of P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) talks with Iran has finally yielded an important breakthrough: a "first-phase" deal to constrain Iran's nuclear potential and to "reach a mutually agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure that Iran's nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful."

Country Resources:

A Realistic, Meaningful First Phase Nuclear Deal With Iran

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Volume 4, Issue 13, November 19, 2013

After three days of intense, talks in Geneva Nov. 7-9, the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) and Iran came close to a breakthrough, "first phase" deal that would verifiably halt the progress of Iran's nuclear program, and at the same time increase International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring capabilities on its nuclear projects in exchange for limited, reversible sanction relief.

The negotiations will resume Nov. 20 in Geneva and could last through Nov. 22.

The key elements of the "first phase" agreement would clearly address the most immediate issues of proliferation concern, significantly increase the time it would take Iran to produce fissile material for weapons, and provide time to negotiate a more permanent agreement that might lead to a significant reduction of Iran's overall enrichment capacity and even more intrusive IAEA inspections to guard against any possible secret nuclear weapons-related activities.

Key elements likely include:

  • halting Iranian uranium enrichment to 20% levels, which is above normal power reactor fuel grade and closer to weapons grade (90%);
  • converting existing 20% material to oxide and/or downblending the stockpile to lower enrichment levels;
  • freezing the introduction or operation of additional centrifuges (approx. 10,000 IR-1 machines are operating; 19,000 are installed), including a freeze on the installation of more advanced IR2-M machines;
  • reducing the proliferation potential of the Arak heavy water reactor, possibly including a freeze on the manufacture of fuel assemblies, or an agreement on the disposition of its spent fuel outside of Iran, or converting the reactor to a more proliferation resistant light-water reactor;
  • unspecified additional transparency measures, possibly implementation (but not ratification) of the additional protocol and/or an agreement to allow the IAEA to maintain a near-constant presence at key nuclear facilities.

Taken together, these measures would put into effect even tougher limits on Iran's nuclear activities than the P5+1 proposal for Iranian actions put forward at the February and April 2013 talks in Almaty.

In exchange for these concrete steps, the P5+1 may be considering:

  • releasing approximately several billion of the estimated $50 billion in Iranian assets tied up in other countries from oil sales;
  • waiving certain sanctions on trade with Iran in petro-chemicals, trade in gold and other precious metals just put into effect last July;
  • waiving the designation of Iran's auto industry and access to aircraft parts as areas of "proliferation concern;" and
  • providing medical isotopes or fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which uses 20% enriched uranium fuel to produce medical isotopes.

This "phase one" agreement would last approximately six-months, during which time, Iran would remain under severe international sanctions and additional Iranian financial assets--perhaps as much as $15-$20 billion worth--would become frozen. The phase one agreement could be extended by mutual consent of the parties.

Toward A "Final Phase" Agreement

Most importantly, a "first phase" deal would open the way for negotiations on a more comprehensive, more permanent agreement that rolls back Iran's overall enrichment capacity-ideally to no more than 3,000-4,000 centrifuges-and provides more extensive IAEA inspection authority to guard against a secret weapons program.

In principle, Iran's enrichment capacity and stockpile of material should not exceed the fuel supply needs of its nuclear power reactor program, which for now are close to zero.

With these restrictions in place, Iran would find it extremely difficult to try to make a dash to build nuclear weapons before the international community would detect such activities and could act to block such an outcome.

To secure a "final phase" agreement, the P5+1 will need to further scale-back the oil and financial sanctions that are devastating Iran's economy and will need to recognize Iran's right under the Article IV of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue peaceful nuclear activities under certain conditions.

As Obama said in his Sept. 24 address to the United Nations: "We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people [to access nuclear energy], while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."

Article IV of the NPT guarantees the "the inalienable right ... to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II ...."  Many countries including Iran interpret this to include uranium enrichment to produce fuel for nuclear power reactors and research reactors that produce medical isotopes.

Article II requires each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty ... not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons ...." Article III of the NPT requires that each non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the NPT accepts safeguards agreements with the IAEA to ensure that all nuclear activities are for exclusively peaceful purposes.

To move forward on this issue, it has been reported by The New York Times and others that in the "first phase" agreement, each side might affirm that Iran would be entitled to all of the rights of states parties to the NPT.  The P5+1 and Iran would then agree to disagree on how to interpret those NPT rights.

To resolve concerns about the purpose of Iran's nuclear program, President Hassan Rouhani must continue to follow through on his pledge for "greater transparency" by implementing the additional protocol and fully cooperating with the IAEA to resolve questions about suspected weapons-related experiments that may have been conducted in years past.

On Nov. 11, IAEA Director-General Amano met with top Iranian officials in Tehran and signed a new framework for cooperation for initial actions to address some of these issues over the next 3 months.

Closing the Deal

With talks resuming on November 20 in Geneva, it is vital to maintain the momentum to work toward a "first phase" agreement that addresses the most urgent proliferation concerns.

Policymakers in Washington and leaders in Israel who genuinely want to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran should be careful not to insist on unrealistic demands, such as zero enrichment or the complete dismantlement of Iran's nuclear program.

Such a deal may have been possible in 2005 when Iran had fewer than 300 uranium centrifuges enriching uranium at one site; but it is not realistic now that Iran has 19,000 installed and 10,000 operating centrifuges at two sites.

Pushing for everything and getting nothing is foolhardy and dangerous.

Since 2007, the U.S. Intelligence Community has assessed that Iran has already gained a nuclear weapons capability--that is, "Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so."

Current U.S. intelligence continues to assess that leaders in Tehran have not made such a decision and they assess that Iran is still more than a year away from being able to produce enough weapons grade uranium and possibly build nuclear weapons.

Since President Rouhani's inauguration, Iran has halted key elements of its nuclear program, according to the latest quarterly report of the IAEA.

But in the absence of a meaningful, realistic deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, Iran will likely continue to increase its capacity to enrich uranium and expand its other sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle projects. That, in turn, will increase the risk of Israeli military strikes against Iran's nuclear sites. Such an attack would only delay, not stop, Iran's nuclear pursuits, would lead to a wider Middle East war, and likely push Iran's leaders to openly seek the bomb.

In the absence of a negotiated "first phase" agreement to pause Iran's nuclear program, some U.S. legislators may seek further sanctions against Iran, but such sanctions would take many months to have an effect, they could strain international support for implementing the existing sanction regime, and such efforts would not halt or eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons potential.

Now is the time to finally secure a meaningful first phase agreement and quickly move to negotiate a longer-term final phase agreement on the basis of realistic and achievable goals.--DARYL G. KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

 

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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today. Daryl G. Kimball is ACA's executive director.

Description: 

After three days of intense, talks in Geneva Nov. 7-9, the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) and Iran came close to a breakthrough, "first phase" deal that would verifiably halt the progress of Iran's nuclear program, and at the same time increase International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring capabilities on its nuclear projects in exchange for limited, reversible sanction relief.

Country Resources:

A Nuclear Deal With Iran

Daryl G. Kimball

The United States and its “P5+1” negotiating partners are scheduled to resume talks with Iran on Nov. 7-8 in Geneva to seek a lasting resolution to the high-stakes standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. These ongoing talks represent the best chance in years to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran. A framework deal could be achieved by early next year.

Neither side can or will get everything it wants. If one or both sides miscalculate and demand more than the other side is willing to deliver, the negotiations will fail.

For instance, it is counterproductive to demand, as nuclear-armed Israel suggests, that Iran permanently halt all enrichment work and dismantle its key nuclear facilities. “Zero enrichment,” which would be ideal from a nonproliferation standpoint, might have been attainable a decade ago when Iran’s program was in its early stages. Today, however, it is not realistic, and insisting on it is a recipe for failure.

In the absence of a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will continue to increase its capacity to enrich uranium, and the risk of Israeli military strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites will increase. Further sanctions will not halt or eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons potential. Military strikes would only delay, not stop, Iran’s nuclear pursuits and would likely push Iran’s leaders to openly seek the bomb.

Negotiating a sound nuclear agreement will be difficult, but it is clearly the most effective course of action. The first priority must be to halt Iran’s production of 20 percent-enriched uranium and verifiably remove or down-blend its existing stockpile in exchange for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor or alternative sources of medical isotopes produced by the reactor.

Iran says it is prepared to limit the overall uranium-enrichment capacity of its two declared and safeguarded facilities, Natanz and Fordow. In principle, Iran’s enrichment capacity and stockpile of material should not exceed the fuel supply needs of its nuclear power reactor program, which for now are close to zero. Consequently, the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) should seek an immediate halt to the further expansion of Iran’s enrichment program, and later secure a very significant reduction of its current installed enrichment capacity, which is about 19,000 IR-1 centrifuges.

The P5+1 should also press Iran to halt work on its Arak heavy-water reactor or agree that any spent fuel from Arak shall be exported for disposal. Arak, which is nearing completion, could provide Iran with a second path for producing fissile material for nuclear weapons if Tehran could extract the plutonium from its irradiated fuel.

To further guard against a secret weapons program at undisclosed sites and to provide additional warning time, Tehran must join the vast majority of other nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) member states in providing more-timely information to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its nuclear projects under the standards of IAEA Code 3.1 and allow more-extensive inspections through adoption of an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement.

With these restrictions in place, Iran would find it extremely difficult to make a dash to build nuclear weapons before the international community would detect such activities and could act to block such an outcome.

To motivate Iran to take these confidence-building steps, President Barack Obama can and must be prepared to use his authority to temporarily waive certain U.S. sanctions on Iran, including some key financial and oil restrictions. Congress must refrain from pushing ahead with a new round of sanctions, which would severely undermine the prospects of a negotiated solution and increase the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Most international and national sanctions will remain in place until Iran takes the final steps necessary to give the international community confidence that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons. But Iran will not likely agree to limits on its nuclear program if there is no prospect for serious sanctions relief.

To secure a deal, the P5+1 must also recognize Iran’s right under the Article IV of the NPT to pursue peaceful nuclear activities under certain conditions. As Obama said in his Sept. 24 address to the United Nations, such recognition requires that Iran adequately and satisfactorily respond to the international community’s concern about the nature of its program.

To do so, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must follow through on his pledge for “greater transparency” by implementing the additional protocol and fully cooperating with the IAEA to resolve questions about suspected weapons-related experiments that may have been conducted over a decade ago.

Iran has the technical capability to build nuclear weapons if it wants to do so. In the assessment of senior U.S. intelligence officials, Iranian leaders have not made such a decision and are more than a year away from being able to produce nuclear weapons.

But in the absence of a negotiated solution, Iran’s capabilities to produce material for nuclear weapons will only improve. Now is the time to finally secure a meaningful agreement on the basis of realistic and achievable goals.

The United States and its “P5+1” negotiating partners are scheduled to resume talks with Iran on Nov. 7-8 in Geneva to seek a lasting resolution to the high-stakes standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. These ongoing talks represent the best chance in years to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran. A framework deal could be achieved by early next year.

What Kind of Deal Is Necessary and Possible to Guard Against a Nuclear-Armed Iran?

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Volume 4, Issue 11, October 10, 2013

The United States and its P5+1 partners--China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany--will resume negotiations with Iran on October 15-16 in Geneva to seek a lasting resolution to the high-stakes standoff over Iran's increasingly capable nuclear program.

The next round of talks--the first since the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president in June--represents the best chance in years to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran.

Leaders in Washington and in Tehran say they want to see prompt action toward a "win-win" diplomatic solution. In August, a group of 76 senators wrote to President Barack Obama urging him "to fully explore the diplomatic process" with a "renewed sense of urgency." President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rouhani have both said they believe there is a good basis for an agreement.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, Obama said:

"We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people [to access nuclear energy], while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."

In remarks delivered the same day, Rouhani said it is our objective and "[o]ur national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran's peaceful nuclear program."

Iran, Rouhani said, also seeks "acceptance of and respect for the implementation of the right to enrichment inside Iran and enjoyment of other related nuclear rights, provides the only path towards achieving the first objective."

These and other comments from senior officials suggest that Iran may be prepared make a serious offer that could lead to verifiable limits on its uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel cycle projects, as well as more intrusive and more timely international nuclear inspections if the P5+1 group is willing begin the process of phasing-out the damaging oil and financial sanctions now in force against the Islamic Republic.

The task now is to negotiate the basic terms of such an agreement. This requires that each side come to the October 15-16 meeting in Geneva with new, pragmatic proposals that address the core concerns of the other. Each side must be prepared to follow up quickly with further talks, including direct, bilateral diplomacy between senior U.S. and Iranian officials and technical experts.

The U.S. Congress must do its part by refraining from actions that place unrealistic demands on the negotiators or establish new conditions for the easing of nonproliferation-related sanctions in response to concrete, verifiable actions by Iran that reduce proliferation risks.

Negotiated Limits Vs. Unconstrained Enrichment, Sanctions & War

Neither side can or will get everything they might have wanted in the past. If one or both sides miscalculate and demand more than the other side can or is willing to deliver, the negotiations will fail. For instance, it would be counterproductive for Iran to continue to insist, as it was doing last spring, on sanctions relief in return for little or no change in its nuclear program.

Likewise, it is unrealistic to insist that Iran halt all nuclear activities before there is any prospect of sanctions relief or even further talks. For example, the suggestion advanced in AIPAC's October 7 briefing paper that "Tehran must suspend all enrichment ... activities" in order "to provide the necessary time and space for discussions" is a non-starter.

There is clearly sufficient time to conclude and begin to implement an agreement before Iran could produce a nuclear weapon, which President Obama said in an October 4th interview would take Iran "more than a year" to accomplish, if it were to chose to do so.

Furthermore, it is counterproductive at this stage to demand that Iran suspend all nuclear activities as a precondition for further negotiations. "Zero enrichment" in Iran would be ideal from a nonproliferation standpoint--and it may have been attainable a decade ago when Iran's program was in its early stages--but insisting on such an outcome is not realistic today and is a recipe for failure.

And if the talks fail, both sides--and Israel--stand to lose. Big time.

In the absence of a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program and put in place tougher international inspections regime to guard against a potential undeclared nuclear activity, Iran will continue to increase its capacity to enrich uranium without constraints, the United States will put in place even tighter sanctions, and risk of Israeli military strikes against Iran's nuclear sites will grow.

Skeptics of a negotiated solution must recognize the reality that the alternative course--further sanctions and possible military strikes--cannot effectively stop Iran's dangerous nuclear pursuits.

Iran's economy is suffering under increasingly painful sanctions, but sanctions alone will not halt or eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons potential. Direct military strikes against Iran's nuclear sites would delay--not stop--Iran's nuclear pursuits and would give strength to hardliners in Tehran and push Iranian leaders to openly pursue nuclear weapons.

Reaching a sound, negotiated agreement will be difficult, but it is clearly the most effective course of action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

The Core Elements of An Effective Deal

At the previous round of talks in April of 2013, Iran and the P5+1 presented proposals that highlighted key concerns of each side. While there were a number of common elements, there were significant differences regarding the sequence of actions, the scope of issues to be addressed, and the timing of sanctions relief.

To reach an agreement that addresses the most urgent proliferation risks posed by Iran's nuclear program, as well as Iran's desire to continue some nuclear activities and begin to remove elements of the severe sanctions regime that has been put in place, each side will need to exhibit more flexibility and creativity.

President Obama and the United States' P5+1 partners must be prepared to expand their modest diplomatic proposal from last April in a way that sets new constraints on Iran's evolving nuclear program in exchange for more significant sanctions relief.

Iranian Actions: The first priority of the P5+1 must be to seek a halt to Iran's production of 20 percent-enriched uranium on a permanent basis, which is above the fuel grade used in civilian power reactors and closer to weapons grade, and verifiably remove its existing stockpile of such material, in exchange for an arrangement to supply fuel assemblies for the Tehran Research Reactor, medical isotopes, or both.

Iran must also agree to reasonable limits on the overall uranium enrichment capacity of its two declared and safeguarded facilities: Natanz and Fordow. This can be accomplished in various ways, including:

  • verifiable limits on the overall number of operating centrifuges; and/or
  • agreed limits on Iran's enrichment capacity to a level commensurate with Iran's nuclear power reactor fuel supply needs, which are, for now, minimal.

Any agreed constraints on Iranian enrichment capacity must take into account the possible deployment of new and more efficient centrifuges.

The P5+1 also should press Iran to halt work on its Arak heavy-water reactor, which is nearing completion, in exchange for other forms of civil nuclear cooperation or energy assistance that do not represent such a high proliferation risk. Although Iran does not currently have the capability to extract the plutonium from the spent fuel this reactor would produce a year or so after it becomes fully operational, the Arak reactor could eventually provide Iran with a second path to producing fissile material for nuclear weapons.

To further guard against a secret weapons program at undisclosed sites and to provide additional warning time, Tehran should join the vast majority of other nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) member states in providing more-timely information to the IAEA about its nuclear projects under the standards of IAEA Code 3.1 and allow more-extensive inspections, shorter-notice through an Additional Protocol to its existing safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

With these restrictions in place, Iran would find it extremely difficult to try to make a dash to build nuclear weapons before the international community would detect such activities and could act to block such an outcome.

U.S. and P5+1 Actions: To get to "yes" on these important steps, the P5+1 must be prepared to phase-out hard-hitting sanctions against Iran's banking sector and oil exports, which are at the core of the wide-array of restrictions that have been imposed on Iran's trade and economic activity in recent years.

The purpose of the sanctions effort has been to alter Iran's cost-benefit calculations about agreeing to limit its nuclear program-and they have. Iran understands that the tough international and national sanctions will remain in place until it takes the steps necessary to provide confidence that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons. But Iran will not likely agree to limits on its nuclear program if there is no prospect for sanctions relief.

In the coming weeks, key members of the Senate must refrain from pushing ahead with a new round sanctions before the results of the next round of talks become clear.

Contrary to the suggestions of some, including Banking Committee chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), the imposition of tougher sanctions now--before the negotiators have reasonable amount of time to conclude an agreement--would severely undermine the prospects of an negotiated solution that is in the United States' interests and increase the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran.

The P5+1 also must be prepared to recognize Iran's right under the Article IV of the NPT to pursue peaceful nuclear activities under certain conditions. As President Obama said in his September 24 address to the UN, such recognition requires that Iran adequately and satisfactorily respond to the international community's concern about the nature of its program.

To do so, President Rouhani must follow through on his pledge for "greater transparency" by agreeing to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol to its existing safeguards arrangement and by fully cooperating with the IAEA investigation of suspected weapons-related experiments. The next meeting between the IAEA and Iran to agree on a "structured approach" for the IAEA's investigation is scheduled for October 28 in Vienna.

If the two sides can agree to allow the IAEA sufficient access to Iranian sites, personnel and information about its ongoing and past nuclear work, the Agency should be able to determine whether experiments with "potential military dimensions" are still underway, or not. Only then can the Agency report to the IAEA Board of Governors and UN Security Council on the its findings.

Now Is the Time

Over the past decade, the United States, along with its European partners, as well as Iran, have squandered opportunities to reach a resolution that would have limited Iran's nuclear capabilities.

In the absence of an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear activities and improve safeguards against diversion, Tehran has significantly expanded its enrichment program and other sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle activities.

In 2005, when the United States and its EU-3 partners turned down Iran's offer to limit its enrichment capacity, Iran had less than three hundred uranium enrichment centrifuge machines; today Iran has nearly 10,000 operating centrifuges and has installed a total of nearly 19,000. A more advanced centrifuge design may soon become operational, increasing Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities even further.

Since 2007, the U.S. Intelligence Community has assessed that Iran has already gained a nuclear weapons capability--that is, "Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so."

Senior U.S. intelligence officials continue to assess that leaders in Tehran have not made such a decision and they assess that Iran still more than a year away from being able to produce enough weapons grade uranium and possibly build nuclear weapons.

But in the absence of a negotiated solution, Iran's capabilities to produce material for nuclear weapons will only improve, even if international sanctions are tightened still further.

Now is the time to finally secure a meaningful agreement with Iran to verifiably limit its uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel cycle capabilities. If the two sides proceed on the basis of realistic and achievable goals, we can secure the transparency necessary to increase confidence that Iran is not actively developing nuclear weapons and finally establish verifiable limitations on uranium enrichment program to ensure that Iran does not develop a more rapid break-out option.

Negotiating a deal to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran will not be easy, but it is the best option on the table.--DARYL G. KIMBALL

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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today. Daryl G. Kimball is ACA's executive director.

Description: 

The United States and its P5+1 partners--China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany--will resume negotiations with Iran on October 15-16 in Geneva to seek a lasting resolution to the high-stakes standoff over Iran's increasingly capable nuclear program.

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Foreign Ministers Urge Action on CTBT

Daryl G. Kimball

More than 50 foreign ministers and senior government representatives met Sept. 27 at the United Nations to call for prompt action toward entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

One hundred eighty-three states have signed the treaty, and 161 have ratified it. But under the terms of the treaty, eight more listed in Article XIV of the treaty, including the United States and China, must ratify it to achieve entry into force.

This year’s conference on facilitating entry into force, the eighth such meeting held since 1999, adopted a final declaration reaffirming the participants’ “determination to take concrete steps towards early entry into force” and pledging “support for bilateral, regional, and multilateral outreach initiatives” to that end. The conference did not produce a work plan for such an effort.

In an effort to spur progress, the new executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Lassina Zerbo, announced the formation of 18-member Group of Eminent Persons to boost national and international efforts to bring the treaty into force. It includes several former foreign and defense ministers and senior diplomats, plus the co-chairs of the Sept. 27 conference, Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

U.S. and Chinese officials reiterated their support for the treaty, but did not make any commitments on ratification. Mirroring comments made at the 2011 conference, Rose Gottemoeller, the acting U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said that “there are no set time frames to bring the treaty to a vote, and we are going to be patient, but persistent in our outreach efforts.” Pang Sen, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Arms Control Department, pledged that his government would continue to “push forward the deliberation process” for Chinese ratification.

In August, following a visit by Zerbo to Beijing to meet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China agreed to transmit data from the CTBTO’s monitoring stations in China to the organization’s International Data Center (IDC) in Vienna. According to an Aug. 7 CTBTO press statement, “This is part of the testing and evaluation process that marks the first formal step towards certification of the monitoring stations in China.”

The International Monitoring System will consist of 337 monitoring facilities when complete. Around 85 percent have already been installed and are sending data to the IDC. To date, 10 of the 11 CTBTO monitoring stations hosted by China have been built.

More than 50 foreign ministers and senior government representatives met Sept. 27 at the United Nations to call for prompt action toward entry into force of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

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