Mark HibbsAmano’s Move on Marivan

After the powers and Iran in late 2013 concluded the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), I cautioned that, a year later, when everything else is supposed to be settled, the toughest nut to crack might be what to do about Iran’s nuclear past. Happy talkers who didn’t like that message marginalized it for months. But right now, questions raised by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano about what he calls “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program are standing tall between the negotiators and a comprehensive settlement of the crisis.

While the powers and Iran were negotiating the JPA, they and Iran set up a Framework for Cooperation on a parallel track which committed the IAEA and Iran to resolve PMD issues. That  began with confidence-building steps which were supposed to coax Iran to give the IAEA enough data for it to tell its Board of Governors and the U.N. Security Council that things with Iran were working out.

After six months, all the low-hanging fruit was picked. This May, the IAEA and Iran agreed to a third set of “practical measures” under the Framework, with an August deadline. The list included “exchanging information with the Agency with respect to the allegations related to the initiation of high explosives, including the conduct of large scale high explosives experimentation in Iran.”

The last we heard about this from the IAEA was in its 7 November report to the Board, GOV/2014/58:

Iran and the Agency held technical meetings on two separate occasions in Tehran to discuss the two outstanding practical measures agreed in May 2014 in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation. Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, nor has it proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for Cooperation.

Iran responded to that in a comment filed on 1 December to the IAEA Secretariat as GOV/INF 871:

During technical meetings in Tehran on 7 and 8 October 2014 and 2 November 2014 [and regarding high-explosion initiation allegations] Iran… provided detailed explanations on the documents shown by the Agency to Iran and provided pieces of evidence that indicate such documents are fabricated. Those forged documents have no sign to prove that they are of Iranian origin and contrary to such claim; the documents are full of mistakes and contain fake names with specific pronunciations, which only point toward a certain Member of the IAEA as their forger… Indeed, invalidity of Agency’s information or better to say invalidity of information given to the Agency and lack of substantiated evidences at the disposal of the Agency are the major problems on these issues. In continuation of our cooperation with the Agency, we intend to arrange another technical meeting on these two practical measures as soon as we receive specific questions of the Agency with substantiated documents in order to conclude them and once these issues are clarified and closed, we can start considering implementation of new practical measure.

I read Iran’s statement to mean that, unless the IAEA provides Iran “substantiated evidences” that Iran agrees are valid, the Framework for Cooperation is on ice. Iran says Amano’s information on high-explosion initiation is falsified. Finito la musica.

But in mid-November once again it was Iran, not Amano, that moved next. In the IAEA boardroom it told the IAEA Iran would permit inspectors to carry out one managed access at Marivan, one of two sites (the other being Parchin) mentioned in the IAEA November 2011 report concerning explosives allegations. The IAEA through a spokesman thereafter blurted out that it wouldn’t take up Iran’s offer.

AP Article 8

Not without consistency, Gareth Porter and Robert Kelley then went into print taking issue with the IAEA’s decision not to go to Marivan. Porter published an article speculating that the reason the IAEA passed is that it has no evidence for any weapons-related activity–befitting the thesis of his previous magnum opus which claims that the Iranian nuclear crisis was concocted by the U.S. and Israel to confront Iran. Kelley’s contribution instead cited details from the IAEA November 2011 report and lamented that the IAEA chose not to chase them down in Marivan because–as Kelley has opined–these activities would not likely have been carried out at Parchin.

These authors didn’t mention that the IAEA might consider pursuing Iran’s Marivan gambit for another reason: Promoting the implementation of Iran’s Additional Protocol.

Iran’s AP includes Article 8:

‘Nothing is this Protocol shall preclude Iran from offering the Agency access to locations in addition to those referred to in Articles 5 and 9 or from requesting the Agency to conduct verification activities at a particular location. The Agency shall, without delay, make every reasonable effort to act upon such a request.’ 

That language might imply that the IAEA should go to Marivan if Iran invited inspectors to go there.

I talked to one safeguards aficionado about this. He recalled that he was in the room when a Board working committee conceptualized the AP back in 1996. Director-General Hans Blix, he said, “asserted that, if there is a claim that a state has carried out non-compliant activities at a location, the state could voluntarily call upon the Agency to assist in clearing its name by visiting the location on the state’s invitation and reporting what it found. Blix insisted that would be the best way to resolve such claims, and [that such a provision] should be in the AP… That concept was formulated as Article 8.”

Yesterday I asked Blix if that version of events was basically correct. He confirmed to me that it was.

“I remember vaguely a view I had that while any demand by the Agency for a special inspection would be perfectly legal, it would be somewhat dramatic and likely to lead to controversy, so a possibly less difficult path to inspection and facts could be if the state was given an opportunity itself to invite the inspection. I seem to remember that the special inspections we had had before the DPRK were in fact by such invitation. This might be an explanation for Article 8.”

On this basis, the IAEA might argue that, if a visit were held and it cleared up suspicion about Marivan, Iran might also benefit if it permitted the IAEA to see what it wants to see at Parchin and, along the way, have an interview with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a scientist and officer in the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps who is suspected of having guided nuclear weapons work in Iran. So far Iran has not permitted the IAEA to go back to Parchin or meet with Fakhrizadeh.

How Much IAEA Leverage?

So why didn’t the IAEA grab Iran’s bait?

First off, Iran’s AP isn’t in force. Until it is, IAEA verification work in Iran is mandated by Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, the JPA, the Framework for Cooperation, and resolutions passed by the IAEA board and by the Security Council. AP Article 8 doesn’t apply.

Far more significantly, were the IAEA to agree to Iran’s terms for a one-off visit to Marivan, and if the IAEA failed to find anything, Iran would probably shut the door. That happened at Parchin, where the IAEA in 2005 failed to detect non-compliant activity and Iran then barred the IAEA from visiting a specific location it now wants to see.

Cheryl Rofer joins Porter in suspecting that the IAEA would find nothing at Marivan–but also for the reason that Iran could hide evidence which after a decade may have also eroded, not because allegations are groundless.

There may be internal deliberations concerning the IAEA’s authority and priorities. While UNSC resolutions endorse the IAEA’s pursuit of PMD-related activities in Iran, Iran’s CSA (and for that matter the AP) expressly endorse the IAEA’s authority to inspect as deriving from a nexus to nuclear materials. To my knowledge, no allegations have come forth that Iran used nuclear materials in any undeclared activity at Marivan. The IAEA may be more interested in pursuing allegations at Parchin if it has information suggesting that nuclear materials may have been involved in undeclared activities at that site.

The Kelley and Porter articles have resonated among some pundits and trolls who appear to share as an article of faith Iran’s claim that PMD is is a conspiracy of a big power and its allies abusing a multilateral agency to beat up on a recalcitrant adversary. Their argument follows the approach which Russia pressed home during the 2014 IAEA safeguards symposium in Vienna in October. There, Russians asked the IAEA again and again: “How do you know you are not being manipulated by sources giving you third-party information?”

This Russian question, as I said in Moscow last month, is a good question. But the correct answer doesn’t have to be that the IAEA’s use of third-party information must be poisoned by manipulation and bias. Amano knows that the IAEA’s impartiality is under scrutiny; it would therefore be premature to conclude that the IAEA is foolhardy and is being rope-a-doped by a dozen states sharing data alleging that Iran carried out high-explosives work. Lest we forget: None of the people speculating about what happened or didn’t happen at Parchin and Marivan have access to the IAEA’s current inventory of safeguards confidential data on Iran.

In the short term, it looks like Iran has maneuvered Amano into a corner. If the IAEA doesn’t go to Marivan on Iran’s terms, Iran’s spin doctors will claim that the IAEA is not cooperating to resolve PMD allegations. If the IAEA instead goes to Marivan, and finds nothing, Iran will declare the case closed.

Iran’s chess-playing with the IAEA, in parallel with its negotiations with the powers, is ultmately aimed at release of sanctions. If Iran is hiding evidence of activities related to nuclear weapons development, its moves will be designed to protect that knowledge, including at any site where undeclared activities may have taken place. The IAEA might tell Iran: It is up to the IAEA to decide where its safeguards resources are best put to use. If you want us to go to Marivan, then bring Iran’s AP into force now and assure us in advance that this won’t be a one-off visit. But as long as Iran views its cooperation with the IAEA as a bargaining chip in a negotiation with the powers for future benefits, it may not agree.

The IAEA isn’t powerless in this game. It needs to recall that  under UNSC/RES/S/1929 (2010), nuclear sanctions cannot be rescinded without an IAEA statement to the UNSC that “Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and met the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors, as confirmed by the IAEA Board of Governors.”

 

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer (History)

    Hi Mark –

    I don’t see how the IAEA would find anything on a visit to Marivan. The type of test described in the November 2011 report would be unlikely to leave any distinctive remains, and it’s over ten years of weathering now. I wrote it up in more detail here.

  2. Amir (History)

    Iran has sovereign rights and IAEA can only act within the frame work that Iran has agreed.Of course Iran should not and will not allow unrestricted access to arbitrary sites inside the country not now and not ever.

    • Abbott (History)

      Sorry, Amir, you missed the point. Iran can voluntarily do anything it wants to and it voluntarily offered IAEA access in the Marivan region. It can voluntarily offer IAEA access anywhere it believes would be useful to clear its name of accusations. Note that it is not voluntarily offering IAEA access at Parchin.

    • Amir (History)

      Iran has given voluntarily accesses to Prachine once and IAEA could not find anything. Parchin is a miltary site and Iran was reluctant even the first time why should it do it again? Iran has also offered IAEA to sign a contract that agree to see Parchin for one last time and CLOSE the case but IAEA refused

    • Abbott (History)

      Sorry again, Amir, but you are missing a fundamental requirement of comprehensive safeguards agreements, including Iran’s: ‘the IAEA and Iran shall co-operate to facilitate implementation of safeguards’. You have heard about a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ demand by Iran that ‘IAEA sign a contract and CLOSE the Parchin case’; if that occurred, it is not co-operation. The IAEA cannot and will not accept to ‘close’ its investigation of anything safeguards-relevant in any State; you wouldn’t either if you had their responsibilities and obligations. The world is looking to them for an ongoing conclusion that Iran’s nuclear program is fully peaceful.

    • Cyrus (History)

      Sorry Abbot but you’re the one misreading Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which specifically states that the ‘exclusive’ role of the IAEA is act as an accountant of declared nuclear material to ensure that none of the declared nuclear material has been diverted to non-peaceful uses. It does NOT authorize the IAEA to go on fishing trips esp when there is no nuclear material involved.

      Furthermore, the IAEA does not and cannot legally verify that ANY country’s nuclear program is ‘exclusively peaceful’ until and unless the Additional protocol is in force — this applies to Iran as well as Egypt and Argentina and Brazil…

      The IAEA has no legal authority to demand that iran prove that its nuclaer program is peaceful.

    • Abbott (History)

      Cyrus, Iran was an early NPT signatory. I believe you know what that means. Do you agree that if Iran decides to have a nuclear weapon program it should use Article X to get out of the NPT, stating that “extraordinary events … have jeopardized the supreme interests” of Iran and terminate its safeguards agreement with IAEA, and take the consequences? Or do you think it would be all right for a party to the NPT, like Iran, to have a clandestine nuclear weapon program? Is your opinion that its none of the world’s business whether Iran has or does not have a nuclear weapon program? IAEA is only carrying out what its Board of Governors and the UN Security Council have mandated it to do.

  3. Gareth Porter (History)

    Mark, your commentary is dead wrong not only on what I said in my article about this issue, but on what the November 2011 annex has to say about Marivan and Parchin.

    Let’s begin with the latter.

    You write, “To my knowledge, no allegations have come forth that Iran used nuclear materials in any undeclared activity at Marivan. The IAEA may be more interested in pursuing allegations at Parchin if it has information suggesting that nuclear materials may have been involved in undeclared activities at that site.”

    But if you read the November 2011 annex, you will find that it doesn’t suggest that nuclear material was necessarily used in either place, so that’s a false issue. The issue is whether there were experiments on nuclear weapons designs and, if so, where they took place. The annex clearly states that the “information” available on Marivan indicates that “at least one large scale experiment” was carried out using high explosives in conjunction with a “multipoint initiation concept” — and that the alleged experiment or experiments took place in Marivan.

    As for Parchin, the information given to the Agency was only that a cylinder was allegedly installed “which would be suitable for carrying out the type of experiments described in Paragraph 43 above.” Given how carefully language in IAEA reports is reviewed and scrubbed by legal specialists at the IAEA it is clear that if the Agency had any information suggesting that an experiment had been conducted with that cylinder, that would have been indicated in the report. The absence of such language tells us that there is no intelligence about any experiment having been carried out there.

    So your argument that the IAEA believes that it is more likely to find evidence of an experiment at Parchin than at Marivan doesn’t hold any water. In fact, the report would suggest that Marivan is the place that should be the priority to determine whether any such tests — with or without nuclear materials — were carried out.

    What I said in my article — which you misrepresent as merely repeating the larger argument in my book — is that the IAEA evidently was never given any location for the alleged experiments in Marivan. That is a fact that the Agency does not wish to acknowledge explicitly for an obvious reason: it raises a serious question about the reliability of the information.

    I also point out that the same issue applies to the purported intelligence about the Parchin site, which was not identified as the location for the information about the cylinder until March 2011, despite the fact that the allegation had been passed on to the Agency by the unidentified Member State as early 2009. The language of the IAEA revelation of that fact in its August 2012 report, moreover, clearly suggests by the absence of any reference to the original source, that the IAEA — or its friends at ISIS — came up with the location by a search of satellite images. In other words, there was never any intelligence about a location for the Parchin allegation either.

    So how about confronting the actual evidence on this issue, instead of ignoring the key IAEA text and providing a completely false description of what is being argued?

    • mark (History)

      Gareth,

      You are guessing.

      The objections you make are based on two arbitrary assumptions which, in the absense of perfect knowledge, are as likely to result in drawing erroneous conclusions as well as factual ones: 1.) that all the information the IAEA had obtained as of October 2011 about the specific allegations which are mentioned in the Annex was included in that document, and 2.) that since November 2011 the IAEA has obtained no additional information about these activities or locations. The supremely categorical logic is: If it’s not in the 2011 Annex, then the IAEA has no information. It is possible as you assume that there is no further information. But why are you so certain? The IAEA has continued to investigate allegations of Iranian weaponization activities since November 2011, it continues to receive information from member states, and it wants to go back to the Parchin site. Why should the IAEA want to go back there? Because their decision makers are incompetent and reckless? Puppets of aggressive Western powers seeking Iran’s demise? What’s the reason?

      According to the same logic, if there is no treatment or reference in the document of the question whether nuclear materials were used in these referenced experiments, you simply dismiss this a “false issue.” (“False” is a non sequitur. What is “false” about it? Whether nuclear materials were used or not may make a considerable difference in the IAEA’s approach and authority in this case. Please read the texts, they are all on the IAEA website.) In the same vein, on the basis of speculative assumptions you are making about how IAEA personnel conduct their business, you draw the conclusion that “The absence of such language tells us that there is no intelligence about any experiment having been carried out” at Parchin. Again, according to your categorical logic, without reference in a report that is now three years old there can be no further information. You write: “The report would suggest that Marivan…etc.” “Would suggest”? Perfect knowledge from a summary report from 2011. No further developments. Case closed.

      I did not misrepresent your article. I said, in reference to your speculation (and that is all it is) concerning what the IAEA knows about the Marivan site and your opining in the third-to-last paragraph (in which you in fact included a link to your book) that your report is “befitting of the thesis” of your book that “the Iranian nuclear crisis was concocted by the U.S. and Israel to confront Iran.” Befitting means: suitable, proper, becoming. It isn’t befitting?

      Your report contains some of the same kind of roaming speculative judgment as your comments to this blog post. To wit: “The use of passive voice—which allowed the Agency to avoid the question of who did finally identify the location—strongly implies that the identification of the site at Parchin was not the result of new intelligence information provided by the original or some other, but rather resulted from the IAEA’s own searching through satellite images for a site with physical characteristics considered consistent with the intelligence the Agency had obtained.” Maybe. But on what basis are you so cocksure about all of this?

  4. Cheryl Rofer (History)

    Gareth – What evidence do you propose might be found at Marivan that could indicate that such a test was done?

    • Gareth Porter (History)

      Exactly the same evidence that would be found at Parchin if there had been such experiments at Parchin. So why aren’t you asking the same question about the existing IAEA request to visit Parchin?

    • Cheryl Rofer (History)

      Well, no. There is a vessel reported to be at Parchin, none such at Marivan. There are also other experiments that may have been done in that vessel, like on neutron initiators, that would have left residue. According to the November 2011 report, there may have been only one experiment at Marivan, no nuclear material. You might want to read my post again.

      So please explain to me, rather than trying to turn the question around, what you think would constitute evidence of such an experiment at Marivan and why you think it would still be there eleven years later.

  5. Gareth Porter (History)

    If I’m “guessing” and “speculating” in analyzing the language of the report carefully and pointing the specific differentiation between Marivan and Parchin, then what are you doing? You are saying that it doesn’t mean anything at all that the annex admits that no Parchin site was identified until March 2011, that it doesn’t tell us who identified it, and that it claims only that the cylinder was “suitable” for such experiments while explicitly citing intelligence that at least one experiment took place in Marivan. Yes, my reasoning is based on fact that the IAEA is justifying its requests to Iran on the basis of what is in the November 2011 annex. I’d like to know what you are basing your dismissal of this analysis on: Are you suggesting that the IAEA has been keeping silent for three years about information indicating that such experiments took place at Parchin too from the public all these years? If so, why?

    You ask why the IAEA would want to go back to Parchin. It’s hardly a secret that Amano has been committed to supporting the U.S. position on Iran, is it? And one of the negotiating objectives in the nuclear talks is reported to be giving the IAEA the freedom to visit a military site upon demand or based on any claim of intelligence. That makes the Parchin issue highly political for both sides.

  6. Yeah, Right (History)

    This would seem to me to be a pretty simple issue.

    The IAEA said this in its 2011 report: “Further information provided to the Agency by the same Member State indicates that the large scale high explosive experiments were conducted by Iran in the region of Marivan.”

    Now, that’s an accusation that has been left hanging for the last 3 years, and Iran is offering to let the IAEA pick a place – any place it likes – anywhere “in the region of Marivan” in order to poke around that “large scale high explosive experiment”.

    The IAEA refuses to take up that offer.

    Now, so sorry, but if the IAEA refuses to take up that offer then it should at least have the decency to retract its 3rd-party scuttlebutt.

    It should – at the very least – come out and admit that it can’t take up that offer because it has not the faintest idea where “in the region of Marivan” it should be looking, precisely because the “Member State” making that accusation didn’t actually tell the IAEA where those experiments were conducted.

    What is wrong with the IAEA coming out and admitting that?

    Iran is double-dog-daring the IAEA to show everyone what it has by way of actionable evidence.

    And if the IAEA doesn’t have any actionable evidence – and Cheryl Rofer suggests that it doesn’t – then the IAEA should be man enough to withdraw the accusation.

    Because in the absence of any actionable evidence then the IAEA is simply displaying “faith” that the allegations passed to it by that “member state” is correct, and that’s no way to run an agency.

    • Cheryl Rofer (History)

      What I said was that there is unlikely to be unambiguous physical evidence at Marivan. The IAEA seems to have documentary evidence. The IAEA has not made all its evidence public, and properly so since its interactions with member states are confidential.

      You have introduced another category – “actionable evidence” – without defining it.

    • Amir (History)

      IAEA is just a political body and now I am convinced it do as its benefactor tell it to do. Marivan is a good test for real intentions of this “unbiased” agency.

    • masoud (History)

      Cheryl, is there any factual basis at all for your speculations on what kind of ‘evidence’ the IAEA does or doesn’t have?
      Assuming that the IAEA does consider it’s interactions with certain member states to be confidential, why are those member states themselves not publicizing the information they are providing the IAEA or allowing Amano to do so? What would they have to lose?

      Why haven’t we, after a decade long wait, still not seen the contents of the Alleged Studies dossier? If there is no chance of finding physical evidence at Marivan, where at least one experiment was actually carried out, as per the information provided to the IAEA, why demand a visit to Parchin, where the IAEA received information that equipment to carry out an experiment at a smaller scale than at Marivan may have been installed?

    • Cheryl Rofer (History)

      Masoud – Not speculations. Read the November 2011 annex, which says the IAEA has additional evidence. As to what it is, I haven’t speculated. Presumably it does not contradict what is in the annex, or the IAEA would not have said what it does in the annex.

      Assuming that the IAEA does consider it’s interactions with certain member states to be confidential, why are those member states themselves not publicizing the information they are providing the IAEA or allowing Amano to do so? What would they have to lose?

      Perhaps they respect the IAEA’s request for confidentiality for all member states. Since this material has to do with Iran, it’s Iran’s confidentiality that is being protected as well. And that would be the reason the Alleged Studies dossier hasn’t been made public.

      If there is no chance of finding physical evidence at Marivan, where at least one experiment was actually carried out, as per the information provided to the IAEA, why demand a visit to Parchin, where the IAEA received information that equipment to carry out an experiment at a smaller scale than at Marivan may have been installed?

      I think your question answers itself. Also see my previous comments.

  7. George William Herbert (History)

    Two points.

    One, regarding the IAEA right to do the inspections, Iran can not sign the AP, or even drop out of the Nonproliferation Treaty and IAEA. Those are their sovereign rights. The POINT however is that Iran wants the current sanctions and threats of military action over, rather than rejecting any cooperation and taking what might come.

    The negotiations are all about finding a middle ground which satisfies the nations which imposed sanctions and have threatened military action that there is no ongoing nuclear weapons program threat, so that sanctions can be lifted and there’s no ongoing impending war.

    Iran may or may not have done pre-nuclear testing at those locations; if they did and don’t want to admit it, they have to hope the cleanups were good enough. If they did and admit it, the negotiations could still be successful assuming enough detail is provided to tell it’s over now. But they are insisting so far there was none, and insisting on “coming clean” may be sufficiently insulting to Iran or certain factions in it to ever be admitted to officially. Not admitting it, allowing inspections, being found out, and still not being willing to talk is the worst case.

    Regarding what you’d find at Marivan, there are two types of test broadly. One is merely a implosion system precision test, without a simulated similar-density core. That could use no core or an inert core of (iron, etc) which would not leave traces.

    A natural or depleted Uranium core could also have been tested, with flash-X-ray or various other methods to determine the degree of compression. That might have been what was tested at Parchin, or not. If one was tested at Marivan you might find remaining U residue, even now.

    That is, pretty much, the only case in which Marivan remains *from a proliferation technical confirmation sense* a sensitive area for Iran to allow inspections at.

    A paranoid foreign party would assume that the sensitivity and refusal to allow inspections confirms the worst case scenario, that there was some series of tests, that one or more of those used a Uranium core, and that they have not been able to clean it up to the point they think we’d not be able to find anything.

    The question is whether the paranoid party is right.

    The problem with Iran isn’t that they’ve cleaned up or denied one location of interest. It’s that they’ve cleaned up or denied *all* the locations of interest.

    (side note – I would not be surprised if the chamber at Parchin isn’t there anymore. Cut up into pieces and scrapped and hauled away, while the building was stripped down to bare surfaces and rebuilt with clean materials after the whole area was cleansed…) The building probably has a credible cover contents set now.

    Eventually the question becomes whether it’s worth it to force these inspections, versus just acknowledging that the answer is probably yes and insisting on centrifuge monitoring good enough to avoid sneakout.

    The problem is *trust*. Will we be able to *trust* an apparently obvious coverup is the extent of it, and they won’t try sneaking out where we don’t look or notice. So the quality of the inspections of centrifuges and centrifuge factories and R&D matter, almost entirely…

  8. Michel Makinsky (History)

    Although not being an expert on these issues,and reading with high consideration above comments by authoritative analysts,I wish to bring a perhaps naive suggestion deriving from my professional experience ( 30 years as a lawyer in french industry).We see an endless debate between IAEA and Iran on the lack of convincing explainations with regards to alleged iranian military nuclear activities.We understand that Tehran wants getting access to original drawings which are supporting suspicion while IAEA opposes such a communication,alleging risks of jeopardizing sources.Obviously lack of progress for narrowing points of views doesn’t help any deal between 5+1 and Iran.

    One should investigate whether borrowing some “ best practices” from other sectors may provide adequate tools.As a former lawyer in french industry,I can confirm that in the business life, there are pragmatic paths for solving disputes.As a matter of example, (even without launching a formal mediation nor arbitration procedure) ,when a disagreement arises between two partners,one can appoint neutral experts chosen and agreed by all parties.They will receive original documents provided under the umbrella of a confidentiality agreement.After assessing original data, they will deliver an opinion and status on the issue.Depending on the preliminary agreement,either these experts send their conclusions only to the parties or they may communicate to other relevant bodies, eventually publish their conclusions or announcing the end of dispute.There are many variants of such agreements which may take more formal legal shape,or may keep the unformal style. The core idea is : third parties experts are not involved in the dispute and the confidentiality of the relevant data will be kept intact.

    Such a realistic path (or similar ones) could bring an end to a manufactured dispute which can be solved thanks to pragmatism.

    Michel Makinsky

    Research Associate,IPSE,general Manager,Ageromys International.

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