Two accords that were to have crowned the Obama administration’s foreign policy of 2012 with success have not survived into the New Year. The least robust of the two is the accord the US led six world powers into signing with Iran in Geneva on Nov. 24, for a freeze on its nuclear program against eased sanctions.
So far no date has been negotiated for the accord to go into effect. This week, Iranian officials declared that Jan. 20, was the starting date. However, no one in Washington, Brussels or any other world capital knew what he was talking about. They stayed mum all the same just in case Tehran walks into its own trap and goes ahead with unilateral implementation of the nuclear accord.
This is highly unlikely since in the seven weeks since signing this document, Tehran has in fact broken five of its principal clauses
- The 20 percent enrichment of uranium continues unabated;
- So too does 3.5 percent enrichment, with no sign of any slowdown or reduction of amounts to the ceiling Iran accepted at Geneva;
- The production of the cutting-edge IR2 centrifuges has not been discontinued, although President Barack Obama publicly pronounced this clause as the greatest achievement of the Geneva accord. All that Tehran has done is to refrain from installing the new centrifuges at Natanz and Fordo in cascades – only in separate machines – in breach of its promise not to install them in any shape or form.
- Preparations continue for upgrading enrichment to 60 percent against background demands at home to go as high as 80 percent.
- There has been no pause in the construction of a heavy water reactor in Arak for the production of plutonium.
- Neither has there been any slowdown of work at the research and development facilities on nuclear weapon development. This branch of Iran’s nuclear program did not rate a mention in the Geneva accord, so Iran cannot be faulted for keeping going.
Nowhere to go for the US-Russian Syrian chemical deal
On Jan. 1, Iran followed up its announcement of Jan. 20 as the accord’s starting date with another statement: Two hard-line Iranian lawmakers were to be added to the supervisory council responsible for monitoring the country’s nuclear negotiating team as “legal and technical experts qualified to prevent misunderstandings with the Americans.”
The second announcement effectively nullifies the date, leaving the Obama administration’s feat of nuclear diplomacy with Iran where it was before – up in the air.
The US-Russian chemical accord for the elimination of Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal is in not much better shape. The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Warfare (OPCW), which was in charge of its execution, has admitted that they have nowhere left to go.
The first stage of destroying the production facilities of the poison gases went through without a hitch, but it was considered as nothing more than a token operation, hardly reducing the Syria army’s chemical weapons capabilities.
Land and sea fleets disappear on their way to move Syria’s chemicals
However, the next stage, getting the entire chemical arsenal out of Syria for wholesale destruction, missed its Dec. 31, 2013 deadline.
.No one in Washington, Moscow or Damascus consulted by DEBKA Weekly’s sources, knows how to proceed to the stage of the chemicals’ removal from Syria for their destruction by American teams in the central Mediterranean Sea.
Thursday, Jan. 2, the State Department and Pentagon organized for the press a tour of the Portsmouth shipyard in Virginia, to display the progress made in preparing the US Navy MV Cape Ray vessel for the task. It is to be outfitted with a high-tech system able to neutralize lethal chemical weapons like nerve gas with water and bleaching compounds. Operating in international waters, the system could treat two dozen metric tons of chemicals a day.
But there was no official word on when the ship would be ready to sail off for its assignment.
Our military sources add that ships from a number of European countries visited the Syrian port of Latakia this week to organize the transfer of the chemical weapons to the MV Camp Ray. Upon finding none of the facilities or security measures for the operation in place, they departed and are biding their time at the Cypriot port of Limassol.
And a final enigma: Russia last month air-freighted 75 armored trucks and other equipment for transporting the chemical weapons to port. Those trucks have vanished out of sight deep inside the Syrian army’s storehouses.
Western intelligence sources consulted by DEBKA Weekly admitted that they had no confirmation of the Russian claim that those trucks were indeed assigned with carrying the CW to Latakia.