Paris Accord, the Sequel

According to numerous reports, President Bush – while at a meeting with leaders of the European Union last week – gave the mullahs an ultimatum: last week.

"If Iran’s leaders want peace and prosperity and a more hopeful future for their people, they should (1) accept our offer, (2) abandon any ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons and (3) come into compliance with their international obligations.”

In other words, if Iran’s leaders – the mullahs – don’t meet Bush’s three demands, he intends to launch yet another preemptive war of aggression to remove the elected leaders of yet another sovereign state.

Now, the mullahs have stated over and over that they have no "ambitions" to obtain nuclear weapons to abandon. Nuclear weapons would be against their religion, the mullahs say.

And, after more than three years of intrusive, go-anywhere, see-anything, interview-anyone inspections by staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei continues to report to the IAEA Board of Governors that Iran is in compliance with its "international obligations."

So OK, that’s two conditions met. Now, what’s this "offer" Bush is talking about?

And who is "our"?

Virtually everyone reporting on Bush’s ultimatum went on to note that "the suspension of uranium enrichment is a nonnegotiable precondition set out in the proposal made to Iran by the five permanent UN Security Council members – Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States – plus Germany."

Now, you’re supposed to get the impression that the Security Council has made a proposal – "our offer" – to Iran containing a "nonnegotiable precondition."

But it hasn’t.

The proposal was transmitted to the mullahs earlier this month by Javier Solana, an EU official who has no connection whatsoever to the Security Council.

In fact, Solana is the EU high representative who was a party in "support" of the Brit-French-German-Iranian Paris Accord [.pdf] of Nov. 15, 2004.

The Paris Accord negotiations were undertaken by the Iranians in the hope they could obtain “objective guarantees” that the EU would defy the United States, would reestablish normal diplomatic and trade relations, and would, inter alia, respect both Iran’s “inalienable” rights and European obligations under the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Iran reaffirmed that "it does not and will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons."

And, in order to "build further confidence" Iran "decided – on a voluntary basis – to continue and extend its suspension to include all enrichment and reprocessing activities."

Since all these activities were already subject to IAEA Safeguards, the IAEA Board of Governors was notified of this voluntary suspension and the IAEA Secretariat asked to "verify and monitor" it.

Monitoring the Iranian voluntary suspension of IAEA Safeguarded activities is the sum total of IAEA involvement in the Paris Accord negotiations!

Whether those negotiations succeeded or failed was literally none of the IAEA Board’s beeswax.

On March 23, 2005, the Iranians made a confidential proposal to the EU to voluntarily "confine" their nuclear programs.

In particular, the Iranians offered to forgo indefinitely the chemical processing of spent fuel to recover unspent uranium and plutonium, and to limit their uranium-enrichment activities to meeting contingency refueling requirements for Iranian nuclear power plants, planned and under construction.

The Iranians also offered to submit to “continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at the conversion and enrichment facilities to provide unprecedented added guarantees.”

When the Iranians got no response to their offer, the Iranians went public, announcing [.pdf] on Aug. 1, 2005, the “phased” implementation of the “confined” – that is, contingency only – uranium-enrichment program set out in their March proposal.

Bush promptly went ballistic, strong-armed the IAEA Board into demanding that Iran return to the Paris Accord negotiating table. Or else.

When that didn’t work, Bush strong-armed the IAEA Board into "reporting" the Iranian "dossier" to the UN Security Council, hoping the Security Council would demand that Iran return to the Paris Accord negotiating table. Or else.

That didn’t work either.

So now Bush has got the Russians and Chinese to join him and the Brits-French-Germans-EU in demanding that Iran return to the "negotiating table."

The Iranians were asked to keep the terms of the "offer" Solana brought to them confidential, and apparently have, so far. But according to leaks "by ‘Western diplomats on condition of anonymity,’" this time the mullahs will be required to negotiate with the U.S.-Brits-French-Germans-Russians-Chinese the extent to which the Iranians will be allowed to exercise their inalienable rights, guaranteed under the NPT.

And this time there is a precondition. The "confidence-building" suspensions by Iran that were made voluntarily under the Paris Accord are now required.

Under the Paris Accord, there were no preconditions. In fact, under the Paris Accord, the Brits-French-Germans-EU recognize up-front "Iran’s rights under the NPT, exercised in conformity with its obligations under the Treaty, without discrimination."

On March 23, 2005, the Iranians offered to voluntarily "confine" their program while reserving all their NPT rights – and hence, reserving the rights of all NPT signatories.

It was a good offer, and Bush should have allowed the EU to accept it.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.