A Balanced Iran-World Powers Deal to Serve Both Sides’ Interests: Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The executive director of the Arms Control Association said both Iran and the world powers (the five permanent UN Security Council plus Germany) will benefit from a balanced nuclear agreement.
“A balanced, comprehensive nuclear agreement between the E3+3 and Iran is in the interest of both sides,” Daryl G. Kimball told the Tasnim News Agency as a fresh round of nuclear talks between Iran and the group of six world powers (also known as P5+1 or E3+3) are in progress in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Here is the full text of Tasnim’s interview with Kimball:
Q: How do you see the relations between Iran and USA after Geneva deal?
Overall, the United States and Iran continue to have significant disagreements on a variety of issues, but the interim agreement reached in Geneva to increase transparency and pause nuclear activities of concern in exchange for limited sanctions relief is a very important first step toward resolving one of the main areas of disagreement.
A balanced, comprehensive nuclear agreement between the E3+3 and Iran is in the interest of both sides and could open the way to better cooperation between the United States and Iran in other areas of common interest in the future.
Q: What is your opinion about the fresh round of talks between Iran and E3+3 in Vienna?
The negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear deal have been serious and professional. A balanced agreement that addresses international concerns that Iran will not use its nuclear program to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for the phased removal of sanctions is possible by July 20 if both sides remain serious and are willing to make necessary compromises.
The two sides have made progress toward agreement on several of the key issues -- such as modifying the design of the Arak heavy water reactor so it produces less plutonium -- but there are still significant gaps on some key issues. And nothing will be final until everything is final.
One of the most difficult issues to resolve is the overall size of Iran's uranium enrichment program, which could enable to produce weapons grade uranium quickly if it is excessively large. There are differences between the two sides about how much uranium enrichment capacity Iran really needs for nuclear energy purposes in the future.
Iran's negotiators claim that Iran might need 100,000 first generation IR-1 centrifuges by 2022, when the Russia fuel supply deal for Bushehr might expire. However, Russia could easily continue to provide Iran with fuel for that reactor and other reactors Iran might want to build.
The E3+3 will and should ask Iran to scale back its overall uranium enrichment capacity from 10,000 operating, first generation (IR-1) centrifuges at two sites to approximately half that number. Even with 5,000 or fewer first generation centrifuges at one site (with Fordow to be used for research and development), Iran would have more than sufficient capacity for its foreseeable "practical" nuclear power reactor fuel needs.
Iran currently has very limited needs for enriched uranium fuel for energy production. Today, Iran has one research reactor (the Tehran Research Reactor) that produces medical isotopes and Iran has enough material to fuel that reactor for years to come; Iran also has a light-water power reactor (Bushehr), which uses fuel supplied by Russia under a ten year arrangement that could be renewed; Iran is in talks with Russia to build up to four additional nuclear power reactor(s). The comprehensive nuclear agreement should recognize that Iran's nuclear fuel needs may increase in 15 or 20 years and allow for an appropriate increase of its uranium enrichment capacity when and if it builds new nuclear power reactors.
Q: What do you think about US visa denial to Iran's UN envoy Hamid Aboutalebi? Do you think the host country has the right to meddle with the UN member states’ appointment of envoys?
President Rouhani should have put forward someone for the UN post who was less controversial. The Aboutalebi matter should not disrupt progress on a comprehensive nuclear deal by July 20.
Q: What is your prediction about Iran's right to enrich?
The two sides will not agree on the nature of Iran's nuclear energy "rights" in the comprehensive deal. However, like they did in the interim deal in Geneva, the E3+3 will recognize that Iran already has a nuclear enrichment program and will some enrichment capacity under additional safeguards.
Daryl Kimball became the Executive Director of the Arms Control Association in September 2001. Founded in 1971, the Arms Control Association (ACA) is a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to public education and support of effective arms control measures pertaining to nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons, according to ACA website.