A mad race for cryptic information took off when Western officials (i.e. Washington) refused to reveal – or even admit – that “an informal, 30-page text” was part of the nuclear implementation accord reached Saturday, Jan. 11 between Iran and the six powers.
First guesses ranged from the assumption that the meeting had ended without any agreement at all, to the theory that disparate parts of different American, Russian and Iranian drafts had been rationed out to the six teams of negotiators.
Another alternative supposition was that the formal sections of the accord were allotted to Britain, France, Germany and China, while the secret clauses were left exclusively in the hands of US, Russia and Iran.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi confirmed that a secret document existed when he gave a Persian-language Interview Tuesday, Jan. 15 to the semiofficial Iranian Student News Agency.
But he too was enigmatic about whether the “informal, 30-page text” was drawn up by Iran, came out of the bargaining with the six powers – or was added to the accord as a classified codicil.
Indeed, neither Iran nor the world powers in their official communiqués on two days of talks admitted that any “informal” addendum had been tagged on to the implementation agreement they had just concluded.
Rouhani: The Great Iranian Nation forced the West to surrender!
Pressed later for answers, a State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf denied there was any secret agreement. “Any documentation associated with implementation tracks completely what we’ve described (such as?),” she said. “These are technical plans submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency. We will make information available to Congress and the public as it becomes available,” the spokeswoman said.
Her language left open the possibility that the 30 pages would never see the light of day if it was up to her superiors.
This has left Middle Eastern Everyman, whether in Israel or Saudi Arabia – which are most concerned – in ignorance of how much President Barack Obama gave away to – or withheld from – Iran, in terms of its nuclear activities, uranium enrichment facilities, advanced centrifuge production and the heavy water-plutonium reactor in Arak – in a word, all the elements of a weapons program.
Without this information, no measuring tool exists for judging whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had it right when he crowed Tuesday, Jan. 14, to a crowd in Khuzestan: “What does the Geneva agreement mean? It means the surrender of the big powers before the great Iranian nation!”
Once discovered, the secrets of the 30-page document will soon leak out
There is plenty of evidence that he spoke the truth.
For one thing, DEBKA Weekly’s Iranian sources point out that The Revolutionary Guards leaders and other hard-liners have suddenly hushed their harsh recriminations of President Rouhani for his nuclear transactions with the West.
Perhaps perusal of the 30 pages concealed from everyone else, convinced them that Iran had indeed come out on top of the diplomatic haggling and brought the West to its knees.
Our intelligence sources report that the guessing game was quickly overtaken by a rush by every Middle East spy agency for the secret 30 pages, with Israel and Saudi Arabia in the lead. The task shouldn’t take too long or be too arduous given the wide circulation of the text or parts thereof among multiple negotiators and the number of personnel employed by the nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, for its execution.
The region’s media will then have a field day and release a cascade of leaks – most likely from Saudi and Israeli intelligence sources. The Obama administration will be goaded into showing its displeasure to Riyadh and Jerusalem more directly than before and relations will continue to deteriorate.
But by then it will be too late to lock the stable door.
Furthermore, according to quotes by Western media and Iranian news agencies, Araqchi may have given away more in interviews than Washington intended about the “informal, 30-page text.” He also strongly underlined differences in the way it is interpreted by his own government and the United States.
One document – two versions out of Washington and Tehran
In one of his interviews, Araqchi referred in English to a “nonpaper,” a diplomatic term used for an informal side agreement that doesn’t have to be disclosed publicly.
This “nonpaper” covers such important details (for the implementation of the nuclear accord) as the appointment of a joint commission to oversee implementation and “Iran’s right to continue nuclear research and development during the next several months,” he said.
According to Araqchi, the joint commission will be a high-powered body with the authority to arbitrate disputes.
But US officials, in contrast, have described the commission as a forum for discussion rather than a mechanism for arbitrating major disputes.
That was not the only inconsistency between the Iranian and US versions.
The day the Geneva accord was signed, Nov. 24, Obama announced Iran’s nuclear sites would henceforth be open to daily inspections by the nuclear watchdog to ensure its compliance with the promised six-month nuclear freeze.
Hardly: Iran’s senior negotiator now awards the joint commission the competence to determine on any given day that the West is in violation of the accord and Tehran is at liberty to refuse to fulfill its obligations, and so terminate the accord.
Tehran brusquely rejects White House use of the term “dismantling”
Araqchi’s comments this week strongly suggested that Iranian experts had closely scrutinized the missing text – or “nonpaper” – and found it widely at variance with Washington’s presentation.
He therefore hit hard at the White House statement of Jan. 12, which said: “From Jan. 20, Iran will for the first time start eliminating its stockpile of higher level enriched uranium and dismantling some of the infrastructure that makes such enrichment possible.”
The Iranian official’s rejoinder came three days later:
“Different interpretations come out of a single document and it is natural. But we had better try to have common interpretations. That is why during the talks we paused a couple of times and continued the talks with the participation of higher political ranks.”
Araqchi was less polite in referring to Obama’s use of the term “dismantled.”
“We are aware of Mr Obama’s problems among Congress, but stating ‘dismantled’ is abusing the word after the recent deal.”
More Iranian threats
Araghchi went on to say in the same statement: “US Congress seeks more war in the region and suggests more sanctions upon Iran to spoil the nuclear deal. Obama wants to veto [those sanctions], but the US Congress insists on adding to the pressure on Iran.”
He then warned that Congress can’t win because “new sanctions will upset the Geneva deal.” …should they put more pressure upon Iran, we will no longer negotiate… and the situation will go back to its previous state and we will continue the nuclear program.
He insisted that the opposite side is unable to go back and reestablish the sanctions. “… there is a big rift in the sanctions regime, especially from psychological aspect”.