The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert, June 26

Vienna Prepares for Ministers and the Media

Talks are ramping up in Vienna, with preparations for the arrival of foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). To accommodate the expected flood of journalists, a media tent was constructed outside the Coburg Palace.

In the negotiating rooms yesterday, Iran’s deputy foreign ministers and negotiators met with EU political director Helga Schmid.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna today, June 26, along with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius are reported to be arriving on Saturday. Ministers from the remaining P5+1 countries (China, Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom) may also travel to Vienna before the June 30 target date for a deal.

Sources here in Vienna confirm press reports that it is unlikely that Ali Akhbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, will make it to the talks because of health concerns. Salehi has played an important role in past rounds of the talks, particularly in technical discussions with Moniz. However, he will likely be available by phone.

—KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy, in Vienna

Quick Reference Links

The Nuclear Deal at a Glance Issue Brief: Under a Microscope
Experts Available for Interview Editorials Supporting a Deal
Archived Iran Nuclear Alerts Additional Resources

The Supreme Leader Speaks on the Iran Deal

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave a public address on June 23 that discussed the nuclear deal and set what some are calling new “redlines” for the agreement. While some of the Supreme Leader’s remarks were unhelpful, they are unlikely to derail the talks.

Several of his translated statements appear to contradict some of the commitments already made by Iran’s negotiators that were announced on April 2. He demanded that that all sanctions be lifted when Iran signs a comprehensive deal. He also objected to the schedule laid out in the April 2 parameters, whereby sanctions relief would occur after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifies that Iran has taken key steps to implement key restrictions and monitoring mechanisms.

Khamenei also spoke out against extended restrictions on research and development, though he was not clear which restrictions he was concerned about. Under the April 2 framework agreement, Iran agreed to halt testing and development of advanced centrifuge machines and not use advanced machines for uranium enrichment for at least 10 years. After that, research and development would resume on an agreed upon schedule under certain conditions.

However, it is important to remember that Khamenei’s “red lines” have shifted over time and he has made statements in the past that were not always reflected in the outcomes of the negotiations.

In the final days leading up to an agreement, it is important that both sides stick to the parameters agreed to on April 2 and not try to renegotiate core elements of the deal that have already been settled. The April 2 parameters lay the groundwork for a strong agreement—one that meets the goals of both sides.

A deal based on the April 2 parameters works for both the P5+1 and Iran. It blocks Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons and puts in place intrusive monitoring and verification. It also leaves a limited, civilian nuclear program in place in Iran and incentivizes compliance with sanctions relief. And if either side fails to comply with the deal, there will be consequences.

The deal being negotiated is a win-win agreement and policymakers from both Iran and the P5+1 need to support the cinching the deal as the clock winds down to June 30.

Verifying an Iran Nuclear Deal

Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the nonproliferation and disarmament policy programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, addresses two important elements on the verification of a nuclear deal with Iran in a June 25 essay in Survival.

Fitzpatrick notes that an acceptable deal must not impede the IAEA’s ability to visit military sites and talk to scientists under the terms of Iran’s additional protocol. Demands by Iran that limit this access must be rejected, he says.

If a deal allows verification of future nuclear activity, Iran’s failure to “fully account” for past nuclear work with possible military dimensions should not prevent finalizing a comprehensive deal, Fitzpatrick writes.

He says that completion of the IAEA’s investigation will not occur before the June 30deadline for a final agreement, but “this should not preclude a comprehensive deal being reached, as long as Iran agrees to allow access to sites such as the Parchin military base and to some of the individuals who are implicated in the PMD-related evidence.”

So long as the IAEA is unable to draw its broader conclusion that Iran’s nuclear activities are entirely peaceful, some sanctions should remain in place, Fitzpatrick argues.

‘No, Obama’s Former Advisors Are Not Trashing the Nuclear Deal’

On June 24, a group of several leading U.S. figures released a letter under the auspices of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

But as John Hudson reports in Foreign Policy, the statement is not an indictment of the nuclear talks. Rather the letter outlines five key criteria that the group believes must be addressed in the final nuclear agreement. A final agreement based on theApril 2 framework agreement is likely to meet these criteria.

The statement notes that: “The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability.” This is because Iran has, since 2007, had the capability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons and to make nuclear weapons if it chose to do so.

The statement notes that the agreement “… will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment infrastructure. It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.”

The letter shows that even skeptics of the negotiations are prepared to support the deal if it meets a number of important and achievable requirements.

The goal now is to ensure that the final deal meets those commitments. If it does, there should be broad, bipartisan support from the signatories of the letter and beyond.

Iran’s Economic Reintegration

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) put out a report this week by Elizabeth Rosenberg and Sara Vakhshouri titled Iran’s Economic Reintigration: Sanctions Relief, Energy, and Economic Growth Under a Nuclear Agreement with Iran.

Rosenberg, a former Treasury Department official now at CNAS and Vakhshouri, president of SVB Energy International, writes that in the event of a nuclear deal “removing sanctions will require careful international cooperation and substantial outreach to the private sector. This is critical for the credibility of a deal and for keeping the incentives for Iran’s continued adherence in place.”

The authors write that Iran’s economic reintegration “will not occur quickly or with tremendous ease.” While sanctions may be waived or lifted quickly after an agreement is reached “many international investors will remain cautious about engaging Iran, moving slowly to avoid the risk of losing investments or becoming the target of sanctions if a nuclear deal collapses and sanctions are re-imposed.”

The report summarizes how sanctions are likely to be lifted, the impact on Iran’s economy and offers recommendations on how to clarify and direct sanctions removal in order to maintain the incentive to comply with an agreement.

The report concludes by saying that the “lifting of sanctions may be the best insurance policy in nuclear diplomacy, offering Iran powerful incentives to comply with a nuclear accord and, with the threat of re-imposition of sanctions if Iran falls out of compliance with the accord, a powerful deterrent to cheating.”

J-Street Launches Major Campaign in Support of A Deal

The pro-Israel organization J Street announced this week that it is beginning a multimillion-dollar multimedia outreach initiative “to solidify congressional support for a deal that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

“Powerful forces have lined up in opposition to the deal, misrepresenting the negotiations ahead of a congressional vote,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in announcing the initiative.

J Street said its polling found that 78 percent of American Jews would support an accord that lifts Iran sanctions in return for major constraints on Iranian nuclear activities.

Looking Ahead ...

June 30: Target date for a comprehensive deal.

July 9: Atlantic Council Event with Cliff Kupchan, Eurasia Group; Ken Katzman, Congressional Research Service; Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association; and John Limbert, US Naval Academy.

Location: Atlantic Council. Time: 2:00-3:30pm.

July 13: Iran Forum Event co-hosted by US Institute for Peace, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the RAND Corporation, the Arms Control Association, the Center for a New American Security, the Stimson Center, Partnership for a Secure America, and the Ploughshares Fund. Speakers include Olli Heinonen Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University; Robin Wright Joint Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars; Ilan Goldenberg, Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security Program, Center for a New American Security, Joe Cirincione President, Ploughshares Fund.

Location: United States Institute for Peace, Washington. Time: 9:30-11:00am.

July 16: Arms Control Association event on the outcome of the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran and elements of a comprehensive nuclear deal. Speakers will include Richard Nephew, program director of Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets and former principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the U.S. State Department; Ilan Goldenberg, senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.

Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C. Time:9:30-11:30am.

July 21: Center for a New American Security forum on “Iran and the Future of the Regional and Economic Security Lanscape,” with keynote speaker Colin Kahl, National Security Advisor for the Vice-President, and other expert speakers.

Location: NYU Washington, DC, 1307 L Street NW. Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.RSVP online, or by contacting Axel Hellman at 202-695-8162.