Iran’s utilization of advanced IR-2m centrifuges for enriching uranium, in violation of the interim Geneva accord, was presented by the US and the five powers Wednesday, Jan. 8, as the main difficulty in its implementation. This claim allowed the follow-up meeting to take place in Geneva on Thursday, Jan. 9. debkafile’s Iranian and intelligence sources report that this was a lame excuse to account for the real situation, which is that Iran has not even started implementing any part of the Geneva accord it signed last November 24. The follow-up talks this week are not expected to break out of this impasse, any more than the first round did on Dec. 19-20.
This is because the obstacles are far from technical; they arise from Iranian domestic politics. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has fenced in President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Zarif with hard-line objectors to the tactics employed till now by the Iranian team, led by Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi. In future, negotiators will be required to refer all the conclusions reached with the powers to the policy-making levels in Tehran for approval and abide by their guidelines.
Using a “senior Western diplomatic source” to paint the centrifuge issue as the main obstacle to progress allowed the three figures running the show – US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman, EU Foreign Policy Coordinator Catherine Ashton, and her deputy Helga Schmidt – to keep the negotiations alive while disregarding the full scale and blatancy of Iran’s misconduct.
debkafile’s sources reveal that the new state of the art centrifuges are not only already in place at the enrichment plants of Fordo and Natanz, but Tehran has brazenly informed the negotiating powers that even more advanced centrifuges have been developed and will soon be installed for test-runs.
The Iranians maintain that they are covered in this action by the Geneva clause acknowledging their right to pursue “nuclear research and development.”
Tehran is therefore treating this signal advance in uranium enrichment capacity as a done deal, even though it belies President Barack Obama’s words on November 25, which hailed Iran’s consent to halting the production and installation of advanced centrifuges as a major breakthrough won at the Geneva event.
So that there would be no misunderstandings about the use of the new centrifuges, Iranian Majlis member Mohammed Nabavian took the podium on Friday January 3 to explain: “We had a few sessions on the nuclear issue at the Majlis with Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi, Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, and one session in which President Hassan Rouhani personally participated…”
After listing the five sections of the Geneva nuclear pact, Nabavian assumed the voice of Washington to declare in the name of the United States: “ 'Never before have we succeeded in ensuring Israel's security as we did today by means of the agreement… If a certain country has 270 kg of enriched uranium at a level of 20% and 10 tons [of enriched uranium] at a level of 5%, and 20,000 centrifuges, it will be in a breakout position and could manufacture a nuclear bomb on the uranium track within two weeks.' “
After this “US quote,” the Iranian lawmaker commented: “We don't aspire to obtain a nuclear bomb, but it is necessary so that we can put Israel in its place…”
The main point of Nabavian’s narrative wasn’t just confirmation that Iran possesses the capacity to produce a nuclear bomb at extremely short notice, but its continued development of ever-faster centrifuges that will dramatically change these figures within a short time and produce a complete arsenal aimed at a single target: Israel
This is not what President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry or Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to hear or bring to general knowledge. The Iranians have no such inhibitions and are making no bones about flouting at least five separate clauses of the nuclear pact they signed in Geneva – plus one:
1. There has been no suspension or slowdown of 20-percent uranium enrichment.
2. Uranium enrichment to 3.5- and 5-percent purity continues apace in disregard of the ceiling agreed in Geneva.
3. Advanced IR-2m centrifuges continue to roll off the assembly lines. Making a slight bow to the pact, they are being installed at Fordo and Natanz in individual units, not cascades. The Geneva pact bans their installation in any shape or form.
4. Iran has not stopped preparations for moving up to 60-percent enrichment and is being urged by many voices at home to go up to 80 percent. Iran’s pretext is that this level is necessary to fuel the reactors of the nuclear vessels it is building.
5. There has been no pause in the high-speed construction of the heavy water-plutonium plant at Arak.
6. Neither is there any slowdown at the research and development centers for nuclear weapons. Since the military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program was left unmentioned in the Geneva accord, Tehran is at liberty to continue this pursuit free of international inspection while denying it is taking place.