Good deal would require no enrichment capability for Tehran, full access to all sites - Alireza Jafarzadeh

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Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of NCRI US Representative Office, author of the book, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis, was among experts addressing a panel session in Paris on June 12 on nuclear deal with the Iranian regime. He reiterated that a good deal was already out of the picture because a good deal would require no enrichment capability for Tehran and full access to all sites.

The event was organized by "Foundation for Middle Eastern Studies" (FEMO) and chaired by Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, former US Special Envoy and Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs. Other speakers included, Linda Chavez, former Assistant to the U.S. President for Public Liaison, Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont and Chair of the US Democratic Party, Ken Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director General of the IAEA, Bruno Tertrais, senior fellow at the French Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Clinton, Yves Thréard, Leader writer and columnist for the French daily Le Figaro, Frédéric Encel, Professor of international relations at the ESG Management School, Seminar Director at the French Institute of Geopolitics. Struan Stevenson, former president, European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iraq.

Text of Jafarzadeh's remarks follows:

"Thank you very much, Ambassador Bloomfield, thank you. I really like to thank the organizers for the opportunity, an honor to be in this very distinguished panel. And I think Dr. Heinonen addressed the more technical aspect of the nuclear weapons program of Iran and the nuclear program of Iran. And certainly I think during the Q&A there's a lot more opportunity to discuss that. What I would like to address is basically the Iranian regime's point of view, where they started things, why they came to the negotiating table, what their strategy is, and what's the way forward. In one word, the reason that Supreme Leader Khamenei agreed to come to the negotiating table was basically twofold. One was the impact of the economic sanctions, both in terms of the financial sector but also the oil. That was really devastating. But perhaps even more important than that was really the issue of survival, the political consequences of the sanctions that was really hurting the regime. And Khamenei was so concerned wha
t kind of impact it would have among the population, especially keeping in mind that back in summer of 2009 there was a huge uprising that shook the very foundation of the regime. And Khamenei was concerned that if such a thing happens again as a result of the hardship coming with the sanctions, they may not actually survive. So that was really the reason they came to the negotiating table. It wasn't a change of heart, it wasn't a decision to abandon their nuclear weapons program or any of those things.

Now, when Khamenei came to the table, in the ideal world he really wanted to accomplish perhaps three things. One, get the sanctions lifted, all the sanctions lifted. Second, to maintain the entire nuclear infrastructure of the Iranian regime as Dr. Heinonen mentioned. And third, to keep the secret part of the program, or the part that deals with the nuclear weaponization, the military aspect of the program. These are the ideal situations that if they are able to accomplish as far as Iran is concerned it's a victory for them, this is what they really would consider as a big accomplishment. Now what Tehran was ready to give up was basically two things. A, to provide some level of access to the known sites, only the known sites, Natanz, Arak, Fordow, a few other sites that is already known to the IAEA. And provide maybe even enhanced access to those sites, nothing more. And basically try to keep them away from any kind of access to the military sites. They were also ready to reduce the capacity. If th
ey can reduce the capacity in Natanz, in Fordow, in Arak, even that would have been acceptable to them.

Now what were the red lines? There were three basically big red lines that Khamenei had directed the negotiating team to follow. A, we're not going to accept the no-enrichment, the zero-enrichment. That means whether dismantlement of any of the enrichment sites, or reducing the enrichment to zero. Second, no access to the secret sites, the military sites, that's basically where the secret sites are. No access to the experts and the officials who are associated with it. And third, they're not going to address what they call the PMD, the possible military dimensions, the past activities of the Iranian regime dealing with the weaponization. There are about a dozen, maybe even more, lingering questions about this that the IAEA has been pursuing for over a decade some of them. That they're not going to basically address that.

So with that in mind, look at the strategy of Tehran. Their strategy has been if we can convince the P5+1 to get all we want, we would sign the agreement yesterday because it certainly benefits them. If not, get whatever you can and then drag it. What does dragging do? Once the regime drags the talks they can avoid the consequences of a confrontation, they can avoid the consequences of abandoning their weaponization program. They can keep some level of hope among the population because as long as the talk goes there's some kind of a (led) on the population that they're thinking okay, maybe this issue will be resolved, the whole sanctions will be lifted and things will change. And then it basically puts the foreign policy of foreign countries, especially the P5+1 and maybe others, in basically put it on a pause.

And so looking at the situation right now, this seems to be that A, to sum up, Tehran was desperate, continues to be desperate to get a deal, or at a minimum keep the negotiations alive. This notion that if we press too hard Tehran would walk away from the negotiating table is not founded, is unfounded, there's no basis to support it. And one of the tactics that Tehran has used-by the way Supreme Leader Khamenei has some top advisors that are helping him on this issue, he has what is called Strategic Council of the Supreme Leader's Headquarters and it's headed actually by Kharrazi, the former foreign minister of the Iranian regime, who was the foreign minister under Khatami but is now very pro-Khamenei. And it has four committees, one of them is the political committee headed by Saeed Jalili who was the top nuclear negotiator of Iran. And they work and discuss these things, even though sometimes there's disagreement among them, but the general consensus is that you need to maintain the talks and keep them 
alive as far as you can.

So having said that, where does that put us in terms of the agreement? I think speaking about whether it's a good deal or a bad deal, I think a good deal is already out of the picture because a good deal would require no enrichment capability for Tehran, full access to all site and all of that. But the very fact that even the JPOA pretty much legitimized the enrichment program of Iran, so as far as I'm concerned I think the good deal is out. So what you are left is a bad deal, a very bad deal, and maybe a horrible deal. So picking among the three options, taking the less bad one, let's say it that way, you certainly want to emphasize on what Tehran doesn't want you to do, which is snap inspections, no managed inspections, snap inspections anywhere, anyplace. And definitely you want the answer to the PMD, possible military dimension questions, and if those answers are not provided before the agreement is signed, before the agreement is signed, you will never get it, period. That has to be before any sign
ing of the agreement resolving all the PMD issues. And then when it comes to the issue of the sanctions, which is what Tehran badly wants, you don't want to lift the sanctions, especially definitely not the nonnuclear ones, but you don't want to lift the sanctions until Tehran is in compliance with whatever the agreement is. And it has to be based on the steps that basically they take. So that's just a sum up of what I had to share."