Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araqchi bound their audience too confidentiality on the English-language PowerPoint presentation of the nuclear proposals offered delegations of the six world powers (P5+1) at the Geneva conference Tuesday October 15.
DEBKA Weekly reports exclusively for the first time that the presentation was no more than a well-thought-out, professional piece of PR that would have made any Madison Avenue ad agency proud.
Against a background of soft music, it depicted the Iranian nuclear program in general terms as dedicated wholly to civilian needs and projects for the advancement of peace and understanding among the peoples of the Middle East and the world at large.
A professional narrator led the audience around the different Iranian nuclear sites and explained their functions in contributing to the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The heavy water plant for plutonium under construction at Arak was portrayed, for example, as a reactor for producing isotopes for medical, agricultural and industrial research.
The word “plutonium” was not mentioned.
Pictures of centrifuges enriching uranium were flashed quickly from Natanz in Tehran to the underground Fordo plant. The narrator conveyed the impression that Iran was making its enriched uranium stock available to any party seeking to producer cheaper electric power.
No facts or figures
The PowerPoint presentation had three more outstanding features:
1. It did not offer a single fact or figure. The Iranians omitted to mention in the segment on centrifuges that 19,000 were in operation, or disclose how many enrichment facilities were active in the country.
In discussing the great progress Iran offered mankind with the aid of enriched uranium, the presentation did not specify the size of Iran’s stockpile. Neither did it differentiate between the slow IR-1 centrifuges and the much faster and more advanced IR-2.
The camera moved smoothly from point to point as though covering an exhibition or wandering through a technology park.
2. The only reference made to nuclear weapons came in a brief piece of text accompanying images of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It explained that the fatwa he issued (in 2006, according to Iranian reports) prohibits the Islamic Republic of Iran from developing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction.
This fatwa was presented as an ironclad guarantee that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon.
3. A segment near the end of the presentation showed how the ordinary Iranian citizen was suffering as a result of the sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN, the US and the European Union – unjustly and in total disregard of the civilian and scientific nature of its nuclear program.
What was so confidential about a piece of PR?
In the dead silence greeting his remarks during and following the presentation, Foreign Minister Zarif said grandly that his government was ready to prove the sincerity of its intentions with guarantees and permission to inspect all its nuclear sites. Iran is also ready to ratify the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty-NPT and its “additional protocol,’ which allows for snap inspections at its nuclear sites, he said, with only one proviso: Sanctions must be lifted first.
None of the other delegates were ready to break the oppressive silence until, finally, US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke up. She started by reading aloud excerpts from UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA) reports citing evidence and suspicions of the Iranian nuclear program’s military dimensions.
She then read out questions the IAEA had posed to Iran about suspect activity to which they had never received answers.
The French negotiator was even blunter. He said that so long as uranium enrichment and the Arak reactor’s construction continued unhindered, Iran was free to scrap any accords reached with the world powers at any given moment and well placed to revert to any secret weapons program they had developed without the knowledge of the world powers or the IAEA.
After requesting a number of technical clarifications, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, offered the only realistic summary of the Geneva conference to the outside world. “The result is better than in Almaty (which took place last April), but it does not guarantee further progress.”