Date: 21/09/2019
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The “Framework Deal”

Fresh off the press, Reuters provides some detail on the framework deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme:

Iran agreed to significantly reduce the number of installed uranium enrichment centrifuges it has to 6,104 from 19,000 and will only operate 5,060 under the future agreement with the six powers, according to a U.S. fact sheet. […]

Iran's breakout timeline – the time that it would take for it acquire enough fissile material for one weapon - would be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework. It is currently assessed to be two to three months, the U.S. fact sheet said.

Iran will gradually receive relief from U.S. and European Union nuclear sanctions as it demonstrates compliance with the future comprehensive agreement, which Iran and the powers aim to conclude by June 30 […]

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif cautioned however: "We're still some time away from reaching where we want to be."

Obama touts the deal as a major breakthrough. However, maintaining a one-year breakout for a limited period of ten years will hardly placate the Sunni Arab world, particularly with Iran’s ongoing Shia influenced belligerency. The deal is unlikely to limit the great danger that a near-nuclear Iran poses: a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which will not only pose an existential threat to Israel but much of the West, as this technology percolates to unstable nations vulnerable to the take-over of extremists.

Associated Press, via Fox News, refers to the issues surrounding the framework agreement:

The announcement follows days of talks that went into overtime after missing a March 31 deadline, raising doubts on whether the negotiators could reach any agreement at all. Even with the framework, negotiators have weeks of talks ahead of them. And critics were likely to oppose the "plan of action" because of concessions allowing Iran to maintain significant elements of a program that could, someday, be used to produce either energy or nuclear arms. Most immediately, Obama will face pressure from congressional skeptics concerned about the direction of talks and seeking a vote on Capitol Hill. […]

The talks have been on shaky ground in recent days, with U.S. lawmakers worried Iran was making unreasonable demands and some even urging the U.S. delegation to "walk away" from the negotiating table.

Thus the question is why Iran made such an about-turn in recent days. Did the Islamist State intend to compromise or is this just another chapter in a covert campaign to push for nuclear weaponry, by buying time by any necessary means? While “dozens” of parameters” have been agreed upon, the agreement’s partiality may suggest that the framework deal is in part an endeavour to keep talking, for both sides to buy time, albeit for differing reasons. It appears that the fact-sheet the US issued on the framework deal has been dismissed as “spin” Iran’s chief negotiator:

“The solutions are good for all, as they stand. There is no need to spin using "fact sheets" so early on. — Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 2, 2015”

 


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