Reaffirming the Paris Accord – Not

One of the first things Condi Rice didn’t do as secretary of state was to address the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons [.pdf]. She also didn’t allow the conclusions and commitments made at the 2000 NPT RevCon [.pdf] to even be discussed, much less reaffirmed.

Instead, Condi sent Stephen Rademaker to inform the 2005 NPT conferees thusly:

“Britain, France, and Germany, with our support, are seeking to reach a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, a solution that given the history of clandestine nuclear weapons work in that country, must include permanent cessation of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment and facilities related to such activity.”

Now, Mohamed ElBaradei – director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency – responsible for verifying to NPT signatories that no source or special nuclear materials are used in furtherance of a military purpose, had just reported, after more than two years of unprecedented highly intrusive inspections, “I have seen no nuclear weapons program in Iran.”

Hence, Condi was essentially charging that the IAEA is incompetent to accomplish its NPT mission.

Hence, Condi had given up on the NPT and was supporting efforts outside the NPT to reach a "diplomatic" solution to the "Iranian nuclear problem."

If possible.

What efforts were those?

Well, on Nov. 15, 2004, Brit, French, and German ambassadors (with the support of Javier Solana, high representative of the European Union) signed an agreement with the Iranian ambassador, now known as the Paris Accord [.pdf].

The Paris Accord negotiations – nominally – were to (a) provide "objective guarantees" to the Brits-French-Germans that Iran’s nuclear program is "exclusively for peaceful purposes" and (b) provide equally "firm guarantees" to the Iranians of EU technological and economic cooperation as well as "firm commitments" on "security issues."

These negotiations involved only the Brits-French-Germans and Iranians.

The Iranians offered to voluntarily suspend for the duration of the negotiations "all enrichment related and reprocessing activities." Since those activities were already subject to an IAEA full-scope Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA was invited to "verify" the suspension.

The negotiations did not otherwise involve the IAEA Board or concern them.

However, the primary mission of the IAEA is to facilitate the widest possible transfer and subsequent peaceful use of nuclear technology.

If, therefore, the Brits-French-Germans were – with U.S. support – seeking "permanent cessation of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment and facilities related to such activity” they were not negotiating in "good faith," under the terms of the Paris Accord or the NPT or the IAEA Statute.

We now know – Rademaker knew at the time – that as a result of Condi’s arm-twisting, the Brits-French-Germans weren’t negotiating in good faith.

On March 23, 2005, Iran had offered a "confidential" package of “objective guarantees” that included a voluntary “confinement” of Iran’s nuclear programs, to include:

  • forgoing the reprocessing of spent reactor fuel;
  • forgoing the production of plutonium;
  • producing only the low-enriched uranium required for Iran’s power reactors;
  • the immediate conversion of all enriched uranium to fuel rods.

By any measure, the Iranian "confinement" offer was substantial. Nevertheless, Condi did not allow the Brits-French-Germans to even acknowledge the Iranian offer, much less accept it.

Hence, in August the Iranians notified the IAEA they had broken off the Paris Accord negotiations and intended to resume some of the Safeguarded enrichment activities they had voluntarily suspended.

Condi then strong-armed the Brits-French-Germans into improperly involving the IAEA Board in the mess they made. The IAEA Board then improperly and illegally "required" Iran to resume negotiations with the Brits-French-Germans.

The Iranians refused.

Condi then strong-armed the IAEA Board into improperly and illegally seeking to involve the UN Security Council in the Iran-Board confrontation. Contrary to what you have been told, the Security Council essentially "remanded" the "Iranian dossier" to the IAEA Board.

That is, the Security Council refused to accept jurisdiction. (Which is what the IAEA Board should have done.)

Now, Condi has strong-armed the Russians, Chinese, and the Brits-French-Germans in sending EU High Representative Solana to make a "confidential" offer to Iran to return to the negotiating table.

As the Brits-French-Germans-Russians-Chinese and Iranians must know, Condi has no intention of allowing good faith negotiations this time, either. If she had, the "confidential" offer to negotiate would essentially restate the terms of the Paris Accord.

And the starting point for the negotiations would be careful consideration by Condi and the Brits-French-Germans-Russians-Chinese of the March 23, 2005, offer by the Iranians.

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.