The third round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 is well under way in Geneva. Both proponents of peace, and of war, are looking to the outcome of these negotiations with bated breath. Hope and fear a bound; an understanding of the demands and expectations is a good indicator of the direction these talks are likely to take. Moreover, the key to the potential of these talks is to review why Iran's nuclear program is the subject of these negotiations in the first place.
The Road to Sanctions -- and Talks
At the onset of the 1979 revolution, Iran abandoned its nuclear-power program. However, the considerable damage to Iran's infrastructure during the Iran-Iraq war, and the demand by the growing population, prompted the Iranian government to revisit and resume its quest for nuclear power. It announced these intentions in 1982. Thereon, the United States made every attempt to stop Iran -- unsuccessfully (see details HERE).
In 2002, Israel provided the means to place further obstacles in Iran's path. It provided the MEK terrorist group a report indicating Iran had undertaken clandestine activities [i]. Iran came under scrutiny for building nuclear sites (which it was entitled to as an NPT member). In 2003, as an act of g oodwill, Iran voluntarily suspended its enrichment program for two years and allowed intrusive inspections in order to alleviate concerns over its peaceful nuclear program ( The Iran-EU Agreement ).
To understand what ensued, it is imperative to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which Iran is a signatory. The main pillars of the NPT are non-proliferation (Articles I & II), disarmament (Article VI), and peaceful uses of nuclear energy (Articles III and IV). While Article IV reiterates the "inalienable right" of member states to research, develop, and use nuclear energy for non-weapons purposes, Article III demands that non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty "undertake to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency." Iran concluded such and agreement with the IAEA.
There is consensus that Iran has not proliferated. In other words, it has not weaponized or helped another state weaponize, nor has it received or delivered weapons material from or to another state. This much is indisputable. Furthermore, in 2005, the IAEA reported that all declared fissile material in Iran had been accounted for, and that none had been diverted.
Yet, contrary to its findings, and in direct conflict with the safeguard agreement it had concluded with Iran, specifically Article 19 (the Agency may refer Iran to the UN Security Council if it is "unable to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material required to be safeguarded under this agreement, to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices"), the IAEA reported that Iran "had violated Tehran's IAEA safeguards agreement."
What led to this decision was a push by the United States. This was made possible due to the fact that there is no definition of non-compliance. As the prominent Arms Control Association opines: "Surprisingly, although the IAEA Board of Governors has determined on five occasions that a state was in noncompliance with its NPT safeguards agreement--Iraq (1991), Romania (1992), North Korea (1993), Libya (2004), and Iran (2006)--there remains no established definition of noncompliance."
Noteworthy that the United States contributes about 25% of the total IAEA Technical Cooperation budget. The lack of definition allowed flexibility to enforce a political motivation. America's ability to impose its will was not limited to the IAEA. As former Assistant Secretary for Non-proliferation and International Security at the U.S. State Department, Stephen G. Rademaker, confirmed: "The best illustration of this is the two votes India cast against Iran at the IAEA. I am the first person to admit that the votes were coerced."
Iran's nuclear dossier was sent to the United Nations Security Council. Politics and America's might prevailed at the expense of international treaties -- and Iran. Sanctions -- war by other means -- were imposed on Iran. Numerous round of negotiations have only brought harsher sanctions -- and progress in Iran's civilian program.
According to Western sources, there have been three demands placed on Iran: 1) limiting the 3.5%-enriched uranium, 2) suspension of 20%-enriched uranium, 3) halting the construction of the Arak heavy-water plant. It has also been reported that Iran is required to ratify the Additional Protocol. Given that the talks hang on these issues, they must be explored.
Limitations on 3.5%-enriched uranium -- Uranium enriched below 5% is strictly used for fuel. There are several reasons why Iran has 'drawn a red line' on its right to enrich uranium:
Bulletin 26 -- Dual Use: Avoiding The Nuclear Precipice of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation (INESAP) confirms that Iran's share in the French uranium-enrichment plant -- Eurodif -- and France's refusal to supply Iran with [its own] enriched uranium for use in its power plants, which, according to them, justifies Iran's desire to exercise her inalienable right under Article IV of the NPT to enrich uranium indigenously versus importing from any other country.
As important, if not of more concern to Tehran, is the undeniable fact that prior to the Iranian revolution the United States had signed National Security Decision Memorandums (NSDM) that demanded of Iran to be a hub for enriching and distributing uranium to profit the United States (see full article HERE).
Furthermore, given the rising demand and cost of uranium, Iran is being asked not to enrich its indigenous uranium, and instead be exploited in the same manner that Africans have been exploited with regard to their resources. As explained by Halifa Sallah: "So they getting the raw materials from Africa at very cheap prices and they were processing and selling it back to us at more expensive prices." In the same vein, Iran is being asked to import its fuel needs at a higher cost to benefit the potential providers.