“Only violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, not the Iran deal itself”

A report notes the problems of the Iran deal implementation, “Iran has shipped more than 25,000 pounds of nuclear material to Russia, a major milestone that leaves the Islamic Republic without enough low-enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear weapon. But the development comes as tensions over the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Tehran emerge from a variety of quarters in the United States and Iran, raising concerns about the deal’s long-term viability”.

The article mentions continuing GOP opposition, “In Congress, Republicans and some Democrats are hammering the Obama administration for not responding more aggressively after a United Nations panel said earlier this month that Iran had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution by testing a ballistic missile in October. After the U.N. panel’s findings, Senate Republicans introduced legislation to bar the Obama administration from lifting sanctions on Iran, as agreed to in the nuclear deal, until it certifies that Iran has ended any military-related activity in connection to its nuclear program, among other things. The Obama administration opposes the legislation”.

Yet the balance is tricky. If the Obama administration does nothing Iran will think it has free reign but if it does too much that is not directly covered by the agreement then the whole agreement could collapse.

It goes on to state, “In Iran, the Foreign Ministry is furious over new U.S. visa rules it says violate the nuclear deal by impeding Iranian business. (A spokesman for the ministry said on Monday that Iran may take “its own steps in response.”) The moves demonstrate the delicate nature of the deal and its vulnerabilities to political shifts in both the United States and Iran. The two sides are looking ahead to “implementation day,” when the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Tehran has complied with all its nuclear commitments and stretched out the length of time Iran would need to develop enough nuclear material to build a bomb to one year. Despite recent tensions surrounding the deal, the White House is confident in its durability and says few would have envisioned the progress made thus far even a year ago”.

The writer argues that “critics charge that the administration’s lack of firm response to the Iranian ballistic missile tests give Tehran a green light to develop its missile program while staying in compliance with its nuclear-related commitments”.

Yet this is the whole point. Conventional weapons are not covered by the agreement and there is little America can do short of war, which is perhaps the point, that would stop Iran from developing these weapons. Besides already exists sanctions on Iran for its human rights record and other offensives.

Crucially the piece adds “Since the signing of the nuclear accord in July, experts say Iran has complied surprisingly quickly with its obligations under the deal but point to a number of obstacles that remain. Under the agreement, Iran committed to exporting all except 300 kilograms, or about 660 pounds, of its low-enriched uranium. For uranium enriched to near 20 percent, it agreed to either process it into low-enriched uranium, export it, or transform it into fuel plates for a research reactor. It also agreed to accept inspections in exchange for the lifting of a raft of economic sanctions and the release of about $100 billion in frozen Iranian assets”.

The piece goes on to mention “On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said a Russian ship, the Mikhail Dudin, transported 25,000 pounds of Iranian nuclear material, including its uranium enriched to almost 20 percent, or close to bomb grade. Besides the stockpiles, Iran has redesigned its Arak reactor, taken steps to reduce its uranium enrichment program, and put in place additional monitoring and verification controls. But experts say the shipment of uranium is by far its most significant step”.

Importantly it adds “The other major boxes Iran still needs to check are the full dismantling of its 13,000 centrifuges, the disabling of the core of the Arak reactor, and taking steps to increase international monitoring and surveillance. Those steps could occur as quickly as late January, say officials, but that doesn’t mean implementation of the deal has been a smooth ride. The anger on Capitol Hill over the Iranian ballistic missile test poses one major challenge. The Obama administration says it’s considering ways to punish Iran for its missile test, but it maintains that Tehran’s launch only violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, not the Iran deal itself. As such, the administration is opposed to the GOP proposals that would put the United States in violation of the agreement”.

Interestingly the piece notes that “Next month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to make his first trip to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis. The self-declared moderate was supposed to visit the tiny city-state in November as part of his European tour of Italy and France, but the trip was nixed following the terrorist attacks in Paris. On the financial front, the governments of Germany, France, and Italy have already sent delegations to Iran to scope out the possibilities for new commercial opportunities, and an uptick in business from China and Russia is widely expected. Still many Western firms remain wary of falling prey to many of the existing sanctions in place against Iran”.


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