Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Iran already weaseling out of agreement

Iranian military parade. The banner under the missile reads: Wipe Israel off the map
Iran is pursuing two paths to a nuclear bomb: it’s refining uranium and it's building a heavy water reactor near the city of Arak so that it can create plutonium. 

Under the Geneva Accord between Iran and the great powers, Iran has, for the first time, been given the world’s blessing to refine uranium to 5% purity – by far the most difficult part of the process. After six months (barring an unlikely permanent agreement), Iran will resume quickly refining this uranium up to the 95% purity needed for a bomb. (More about this aspect of the Accord here).
Under the Geneva Accord, Iran is also supposed to stop work at the Arak nuclear reactor. Except as it turns out, it doesn’t plan to. "Capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase,” said Iran’s Foreign Minister. “It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there."
Iran is obviously testing the Americans to see how much push back they’ll get, and the answer so far is none whatsoever. 

Moreover, apart from continuing construction work at Arak itself, Iran can weasel around the Geneva Accord by making “new installations” off-site. Then when the six months of the Accord are up, they'll be able to quickly finish the Arak reactor with pre-constructed components.
Here’s the story from Reuters…
The Arak heavy-water reactor 190 km southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011.
(Reuters) - Iran will pursue construction at the Arak heavy-water reactor, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was quoted as saying on Wednesday, despite a deal with world powers to shelve a project they fear could yield plutonium for atomic bombs.
France, one of the six powers that negotiated Sunday's landmark initial accord with Iran to curb its disputed nuclear program, said in response to Zarif's statement that Tehran had to stick to what was agreed in the Geneva talks.
The uncompleted research reactor emerged as one of several big stumbling blocks in the marathon negotiations, in which Iran agreed to restrain its atomic activities for six months in return for limited sanctions relief. The agreement is intended to buy time for talks on a final settlement of the dispute.
Western powers fear Arak could be a source of plutonium - one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can be used for the core of a nuclear weapon - once it is operational.
According to the agreed text, Iran said it would not make "any further advances of its activities" on the Arak reactor, under construction near a western Iranian town with that name.
"Capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase. It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there," Zarif told parliament in translated comments broadcast on Iran's Press TV.
When asked about this, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said: "In the interim accord, the Arak reactor is specifically targeted and the end of all work at this reactor. In the agreement and the text, which has been approved by the Iranian authorities, the Arak reactor is clearly targeted."
Banners in Tehran
Israel has denounced the nuclear agreement with Iran as an "historical mistake" as it does not actually dismantle the program.
"The ink has not even dried on the agreement and already we are hearing provocative announcements from Iran, like this, whose coyness and ambiguity could well augur a breach of the deal," Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Reuters when asked about Zarif's statement.
However, nuclear expert Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank said, "It doesn't matter whether Iran is doing excavation work or civil construction work around the reactor."
"What matters for now is that there is no fuel production and testing, that there is no installation at the reactor. Freezing much more than that might be seen by hardliners as suspension of the project and therefore unacceptable."
Other experts have said that an apparent loophole in the Geneva agreement could allow Iran to build components off-site to install later in the reactor.
"The agreement is silent on the manufacturing of remaining key components of the reactor and its continued heavy-water production," former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Olli Heinonen wrote in an analysis.
"Technically, such efforts are not reasonable if the goal is either to dismantle the reactor or modify it to a more proliferation-resistant, smaller light-water reactor as one of the alternative paths of producing isotopes for medical and industrial purposes," he said.

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