The proposal six world powers brought to the April 5-6 talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear program contains transparency measures, including provisions that would require Iran to give inspectors increased access to facilities and provide information to address allegations of possible activities related to making a nuclear bomb, according to a former Iranian nuclear negotiator and two Western diplomats.
In an April 17 e-mail, Seyed Hossein Mousavian said that the proposal presented by the six countries known as the P5+1 would require Iran to address International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands for transparency. The inclusion of these transparency elements in the P5+1 proposal has not previously been reported. Two officials from P5+1 countries who are familiar with the negotiations confirmed the accuracy of Mousavian’s description.
In March 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium in the future under “very strict conditions” and IAEA inspections if it responded to international concerns regarding weapons activities and “irreversibly shut down its nuclear weapons program.”
The State Department did not respond by press time to a request for comment on whether the provisions in the proposal would meet the conditions for uranium enrichment laid out by Clinton in her 2011 testimony or if further transparency measures would be required.
The proposal by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States would give the IAEA access to certain Iranian facilities so that its inspectors could obtain information to address questions about possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program.
The IAEA laid out its concerns about Iranian nuclear activities with military dimensions in a November 2011 report. Iran and the IAEA have been negotiating an agreement to allow the agency to investigate these allegations in talks separate from the P5+1 process. Iran maintains that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
Iran and the IAEA have met nine times, but have failed to make any progress negotiating a document that outlines the scope and sequence of the agency’s investigations, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said March 4. They will meet again May 15, the IAEA said April 23.
Mousavian and the two officials said the transparency measures for Iran in the P5+1 proposal also include committing to an additional protocol, which supplements the basic IAEA safeguards agreement with a country and gives agency inspectors increased access to facilities, and to the modified version of the subsidiary arrangement to Iran’s safeguards agreement known as Code 3.1, which requires notification to the IAEA of any planned nuclear facilities at the time the country makes the decision to build them. Iran agreed to a modified Code 3.1 provision in its subsidiary arrangement in 2003 and negotiated an additional protocol with the IAEA the same year, but has not completed ratification of the protocol, despite having voluntarily implemented it for a period between 2004 and 2006.
The package offered by the six countries during negotiations in 2012 was updated before talks in February in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The April 5-6 meeting was the second high-level meeting between Iran and the P5+1 to take place this year, after negotiations resumed in February following an eight-month hiatus. (See ACT, March 2013.)
Other provisions in the new proposal require Iran to stop producing 20 percent-enriched uranium, but would allow Iran to keep part of its stockpile of that material to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor. Iran may also be allowed to produce enriched uranium at its Fordow facility in the future, Mousavian and the two officials said. The previous P5+1 proposal from the 2012 talks required Iran to shut the Fordow enrichment plant permanently and ship its entire stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium out of the country. (See ACT, July/August 2012.)
Because of worries within the P5+1 that Tehran is moving toward a nuclear weapons capability, the stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent is a primary concern. Starting from material enriched to that level—rather than reactor-grade material, which typically is enriched to 3.5 percent—would make it much easier for Iran to reach weapons-grade uranium-enrichment levels if it chose to do so. Iran says it requires the 20 percent material to make fuel plates for its research reactor, which produces medical isotopes.
In return, Iran would receive some sanctions relief, according to press reports from the February Almaty talks. The P5+1 would offer to relax sanctions on trade in gold and precious metals with Iran and petrochemical sales. Additionally, the P5+1 would modernize and provide fuel for the research reactor, provide Iran with medical isotopes and with spare parts for aircraft, and cooperate with Tehran’s acquisition of a light-water reactor to produce medical isotopes.
Mousavian characterized the P5+1 proposal as “extremely unbalanced” because it did not include any “substantive sanctions relief” or recognition of Iran’s “right to enrich” uranium under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which he identified as the two key demands for Iran.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who led the talks for the P5+1, said April 6 that although the negotiations were detailed and substantive, they reflected the wide gap between the substantive positions of each side.
No date was set for the next meeting, but Ashton said she would remain in contact with her Iranian counterpart, Saeed Jalili.
In an April 11 statement, Ali Bagheri, undersecretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said the delay in setting a date to resume negotiations was due to the need of the P5+1 delegates need to consult with other officials in their respective governments. Bagheri said there were “serious disagreements” among the representatives.
U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said at an April 8 press briefing that the P5+1 was “very united.”
It is unclear if negotiations will resume before Iran’s presidential election on June 14. Mousavian said that sanctions relief and recognition of enrichment rights will remain Iran’s key concerns regardless of who is elected but that “a moderate figure with international respect and loyal to the [Supreme] Leader would be instrumental for a broader deal” with the United States on issues beyond Tehran’s nuclear program.