Jeffrey LewisParis Negotiations Update 5: Iran-EU Agreement Nears; Bush May Ignore

Mohamed “ElBaradei plans to say in his November report to the IAEA that the agency has so far found no evidence of diversion” to a nuclear weapons program, a diplomat has told Reuters.

ElBaradei “will balance that by saying that Iran’s fuel cycle activities would appear to be out of proportion with the other parts of its nuclear program.”

Several diplomats told Reuters the wording “would remove a key legal ground for reporting Iran to the Security Council but would not make it impossible.”

Iran and the EU-3 are close to an agreement, using careful diplomatic language to sidestep the question of an indefinite suspension of uranium enrichment activities. “This paper fudges the uranium enrichment question by saying suspension needs to hold until the conclusion of negotiations over the long-term status of Iran’s program,” a Western diplomat told AFP. Another diplomat close to the talks described the compromise as “a very polished linguistic version, so to speak, to bypass that problem.”

The phrase “no evidence” drew fire from the United States last November. The US Ambassador to International Organizations in Vienna complained:

This misleading phrasing moved both government officials and academic experts across the political spectrum to expressions of disbelief that the institution charged with… scrutinizing nuclear proliferation risks was dismissing important facts that had been disclosed by its own investigations.

The November 25 meeting will be an early indicator of just how insane a second Bush Administration will be. The neo-cons are already warning the issue will be referred to the Security Council.