The Lausanne Iran nuclear “deal”: An exercise in spin and counter-spin

Hours after Washington published a “fact sheet” in Lausanne Thursday, April 2 – which enumerated “the parameters of the agreed framework” hammered out by the US world powers and Iran – Tehran countered with its own version the next day, after the lead Iranian negotiator Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, dismissed the American accounting as “spin.”

The Iranian version departs substantially from President Barack Obama’s assurance of “a deal that meets our core objections,” and statement,: “There is no way Iran can get around it to build a bomb or produce plutonium at its Arak plan…verification mechanisms built into the agreed framework will ensure that if Iran cheats, the world will know it.”

Tehran’s version had two objects: 1) To refute Obama’s presentation of the outcome of the Lausanne talks, and 2) To show the Iranian people how successful its negotiating team had been in defending its national interest.
debkafile reports that the battle of versions, fought just hours after both sides claimed victory in the diplomatic contest played out at Lausanne, makes it obvious that the gaps between the world powers and Iran are far wider than admitedt. They could not even find a common definition of what if anything was achieved in the talks: “a framework deal” in US terms; or “a package of solutions leading up to a future Comprehensive Plan of Joint Action” – in Iranian parlance.
The gaps on such key issues as enrichment, sanctions, research and development, means of verifying compliance (described by Obama as intrusive”) could no longer be papered over after Tehran issued its version. It was a short document and here are its main points:

Iran’s version of the Lausanne deal

  • Iran’s nuclear program including enrichment will continue.
  • None of Iran’s nuclear facilities or related activities will be stopped or shut down or suspended and activities will continue at Natanz, Fordow, Isfahan and Arak.
  • There is no confirmation of Obama’s claim that the Arak plant will not be allowed to produce plutonium. The Iranians say: The Arak heavy water research reactor will remain – enhanced and updated with re-modifications as a joint international project. In addition to decreasing the amount of plutonium production, the efficiency of the Arak reactor will be increased significantly.
  • After the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan of Joint Action, all the UN Security Council resolutions will be revoked, and all the multilateral economic and financial sanctions of the EU and the unilateral ones of the US (which are detailed) immediately removed.
    After the preparatory phase and the start of Iran’s nuclear-related implementation work, all the sanctions will be automatically annulled on a single specified day. Furthermore, all P5-1 members are committed to restrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.
    There is no word in the entire Iranian document on inspections of any kind, which counters the “verification mechanisms built into the agreed framework” referred to by President Obama.
    Instead, the Iranian version says that violations “by any one party” will have “predetermined mechanisms of response.” 
    Sanctions were ruled out by the previous point.

The devil is in the equivocations

According to the US version, Iran’s preparatory work must include the de-tuning of Fordow and Arak, reducing the Natanz centrifuges down to 6,000, with 5,000 working, uranium stocks reduced from 10,000 kilos to 300 and the Additional Protocol activated.
Iran’s version:

  • Fordow will be converted into an advanced nuclear and physics center and keep more than 1,000 centrifuges – in line with the US perception except for the word “more.” But then Iran adds …and all relating infrastructure, out of which two centrifuge cascades will be in operation.
  • The Iranian version also agrees up to a point with the US assertion that 5,000 machines will continue enriching 3.67 percent grade uranium at Natanz. But this too is qualified: Additional machines will not be disabled but held ready to replace any that are damaged – contrary to the US version which places them under IAEA supervision or dismantled.
  • Iran will continue its research and development of advanced centrifuges and the initiation and completion phases of the process for IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges during the 10-year period of the Comprehensive Plan of Action.
    It is claimed by Washington that the new deal binds Iran to stop developing or holding advanced centrifuges (that would speed up uranium enrichment many times over.)
  • Iran will implement the Additional Protocol on a voluntary and temporary basis for the sake of transparency and confidence-building.

A non-binding package

  • The Islamic Republic of Iran declares formally that the package contained in the solutions necessary to attaining the Comprehensive Plan of Joint Action agreed with the P5+1 countries, China, Russia, France, the United States, England and Germany, “does not have legal binding” and will only provide a “conceptual guide for calibrating and assessing the Comprehensive Plan. On these grounds the drafting of this plan will begin in the near future.”
  • The Iranian document ends by saying: "It is far too early to tell if the compromises will survive the next final negotiating round, or review by Washington and Tehran. The timing of sanctions relief remains unresolved, for example, and already the two sides are describing it in different terms."  


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