Iran’s parliament, the Majlis this week went through the motions of ratifying the nuclear agreement with the world powers. But the truth is that the document ratified was not the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in Vienna in July. It was a doctored version which may be loosely defined as a license for Tehran to have its cake and eat it.
Even so, the session was raucous and the lawmakers were divided, voting 161 in favor, 59 against and 13 abstaining.
The version approved leaves Iran the option of disavowing the nuclear deal at any moment and fully reverting to its nuclear program. As the six world powers and Iran set about implementing the JCPOA, significant differences of interpretation crop up at every stage.
Tehran will continue to interpret the clauses in a way that preserves its interests while keeping its options open, convinced that intransigence works with the Obama administration, forcing it to capitulate and yield more concessions.
This is why the Iranian parliament did not actually ratify the internationally negotiated nuclear deal, but endorsed a list of conditions for its implementation.
As DEBKA Weekly has reported before, the Iranians never referred to the deal as an agreement, an accord, a treaty or even a commitment. No signing ceremony took place.
Iranian implementation on a purely “voluntary” basis
The first clause tagged on to the paper endorsed by the Majlis says that implementation of the nuclear deal will be accompanied by parallel Iranian action in all the relevant international institutions to strip Israel of any nuclear option.
In the third clause, Iran vows to renounce all its commitments and fully resume its nuclear programs in the face of any steps for restoring sanctions.
This is Iran’s rejoinder to the JCPOA clause, which provides for sanctions against Iran to be “suspended” but re-imposed if Iran is caught out in violation of its obligations.
The Majlis version underscores Iran’s refusal to sign any commitments or formal acceptance of the Additional Protocol of the Nonproliferation Treaty, which permits snap international inspections of nuclear sites, and Iran’s execution of “understandings” under the JCPOA will be entirely “voluntary.”
If Tehran judges that its partners to the nuclear deal are in breach of its terms, it will consider itself free to resume its nuclear program and has already set a new goal: the manufacture 190,000 SWU of enriched uranium per year. This fast production tempo would call for the activation of 60,000 centrifuges of the 8-IR type and enable the manufacture of several nuclear bombs in a short period of time.
Arak is unlikely to be converted from plutonium production
Under clause 5 of the Majlis version, the conversion of the heavy-water reactor in Arak to a light-water facility is contingent on the signing of international accords granting Iran certain benefits. Iran’s hardliners are counting on the JCPOA failing to survive the process of implementation so that the Arak plant will never be converted and continue is use for producing plutonium.
The sixth clause states that all inspections, not just of military sites, are subject to permission which must be requested in advance from Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security.
This provision reduces to nil the International Atomic Energy Agency’s usefulness for monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities, because the members of council are all appointees of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The seventh clause obliges Iran to substantially build up its offensive and defensive capabilities on land, sea and air, to confront threats and generate deterrence.
Along with the deal’s “ratification” by the Majlis, Revolutionary Guards chiefs and generals stressed that Iran totally rejects any limitations on its development of missiles and other weapons.
Chinese technology for Iranian missiles
Last week, Iran tested the new “Imad” ballistic missile, for which Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jaafari claimed high precision by virtue of its cruising and navigation systems.
DEBKA Weekly’s Iranian sources report that “Imad” is in fact based on Chinese technology which Tehran purchased last year for a cool $1 billion. The amount was taken out of Iranian oil revenues of about $30 billion deposited in China to escape international sanctions.
The close ties between the two countries were accentuated this week by the visit to Tehran of a high-ranking Chinese military delegation led by Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army.