FYRP: Iran Talks, Round 2

Well, it’s been a while, but it has returned!

Safeguards Report – IAEA Board of Governors | “No additional major components have been installed at the IR-40 Reactor; the production of UO2 for fuel assemblies for the reactor has continued at FMP; no additional fuel assemblies have yet been completed.”  That’s a win.  Although we must not forget this refers to reactor construction, not necessarily enrichment.  Nevertheless, even with France’s antics, this news has Mr. Dahl (Reuters), Mr. Richter (LA Times), Mr. Peterson (CSM), and Al Jazeera excited.  I wonder how this factors into the tree…(hint: possible follow-up in the future).

Oren Dorell – USA Today | According to an Iranian dissident group, the Islamic Republic has been constructing a secret nuclear site, although it is unclear as to what Iran is actually constructing there.  Former Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen comments:

One of the biggest questions at this point is are these only plans or have the plans already been executed.  Are these plans on paper, or plans where someone’s digging a hole somewhere or are they installing machines somewhere?  It would be important from the beginning of the negotiating process to know where the centrifuges are, to know if there is another centrifuge site other than Natanz or Fordow, is there a stockpile of centrifuges somewhere or are they enriching somewhere we don’t know.

RT | Iran still seems to be annoyed with France.  Javad Zarif stated that France gutted “over half the US draft.”  Bibi urges the French to stand strong.

P5+1 Preview – US Dept. of State | The briefing released before the latest round of talks.  According to “Senior Administrative Official,” the US was willing to offer “…limited, targeted, and reversible sanctions relief.” We will see if that holds true for the next round, and if Obama will be able to follow through on sanction relief.

Peter Foster – The Telegraph | Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is confident in an upcoming deal.  Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times holds similar sentiments.  We now know that Khamenei need not explicitly review the deal, which could expedite the process of acceptance.

Stephen L. Carter – Bloomberg | Mr. Carter disparages any hope that the West has in sealing a deal.  He states that Senior Administration Official implied that military action might not even knock out Iran’s nuclear sites.  Mar Kirk agrees with Mr. Carter, and urges the West to hold out for a better dealBloomberg’s esteemed editors fire back.

Lexington – The Economist | Lexington elaborates on the strained state of Israeli-US relations in the context of the current nuclear talks.

NPR | Apparently, Iran is enlisting the help of modern technology in their diplomatic efforts.  The new website nuclearenergy.ir uses a pretty layout to explain Iran’s perspective on its development of nuclear technology.

Michael Crowley – Time | Mr. Crowley reminds us of the importance of finessing discussions about the word “rights.”

Kenneth M Pollack – Boomberg | Mr. Pollack contends that we can learn many of Kennedy’s tactics against the USSR to the current Iranian nuclear situation.

BBC | Iranians have not forgotten the Green Movement.

J. T. Quigley – The Diplomat | Apparently, Kim Jong Un has a double!  Maybe we can use him to open up the country, like we did with Wadiya.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of FYRP.


  1. Anon2 (History)

    IAEA Report:

    “10,357 kg (+653 since … previous report) of UF6 enriched to 5%”.

    “410.4 kg (+37.9 kg since …previous report) of UF6 enriched up to 20%”.

    19,000 Installed centrifuges (Figure 1, Annex II, Page 1), essentially unchanged from the previous report.

    And we are suppose to think the fact that Rouhani did not install any more makes a difference? (As Reuters and the New York Times seem to think?)

    There is a lot of SWU capacity available in the visible facilities. Leaving 410 kg of 20% uranium (in whatever form, U02 or U308 can be cheaply chemically converted to UF6 for a sprint) makes the sprint 4 times faster. Please refer to the various time to sprint estimates published in the past 4 months.

    Leaving any >3.5% enriched uranium in Iran creates large sprint risk. Any reasonable deal must include downblending the 20% uranium back to 3.5% suitable for the light water electric power reactors. Such reasonable deal has the complete downblend in exchange for gratis (free) medical isotopes for the entire patient population of Iran.

  2. Scott Monje (History)
  3. Anon2 (History)


    1) “Many opponents of a deal—or rather, the opponents of the idea of a deal, since no actual deal has been finalized yet—consider regime change the only appropriate goal”

    Regime change is not on the table. Therefore, this has no bearing on the negotiations and should be ignored by the negotiators.

    2) “The simple fact is there is no likely way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon that does not involve Tehran’s voluntary agreement.”

    This is not true. All options are all options, including various military means of keeping the nuclear weapons program in a non-functioning state essentially forever.

    The objective of the negotiation has to be to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; and to accomplish the prevention without the last resort of a bombing campaign. I believe that Iran can get what it putatively wants, a nuclear power program, by agreeing to appropriate limits and safeguards in a negotiated settlement.

    A key issue is that stalling for time would definitely be on the side of the spinning centrifuges. As a third party observer, I am not sure what to make of the fact that no deal has been reached.

    • Scott Monje (History)


      Regime change is not on the table, but that is precisely the objection of many opponents. I think the negotiators are ignoring it as an option, as you say, and appropriately so, but there will be a political problem when it comes time to ratify a treaty. We will hear all sorts of arguments about how the regime can’t be trusted, can’t be dealt with, and so on. I suspect that a reasonable and verifiable compromise can be negotiated, but I’m not sure yet that it can get through the Senate.

      I went through a whole slew of adjectives before finally settling on “likely.” My point is that most military options won’t be effective and/or won’t be politically viable. Remember the uproar over a proposed brief missile attack against Syria. Conceivably, there are things the U.S. military could do, but I don’t believe they’ll happen. (That’s setting aside my personal views as to whether a large-scale use of force would be a good idea.)

  4. fyi (History)

    War with Iran means the US would be occupying parts of southern Iran for decades.

    During those decades, Iran will have become a nuclear-armed state.

    You have only 2 choices: in my opinion:

    Iran as a threshold-nuclear-weapons state


    a nuclear-armed Iran.

    Your call.

    • Anon2 (History)

      “War with Iran means the US would be occupying parts of southern Iran for decades”


      A long term persistent bombing campaign on the nuclear production assets could be accomplished sealing off in place the entrances and the electric power to the underground centrifuge production facilities and the UF6 conversion plants. Entrance roads can be re-cratered so that no trucks can transport materials in or out. Natanz is not buried very deep under ground and can be destroyed. Fordow is in a mountain, but without power, there would not be much there for anyone who hiked in or out with their food, water, and flashlights to do. Ishafan is similarly vulnerable, as are the primary mining sites, and the Arak reactor. So, it is an option, but not a desirable one. No boots on the ground — all air sortees.

      I don’t like that option, but it is part of all options. I prefer a diplomatic solution that allows Iran to have nuclear power generation together with engineered safeguards (comprehensive monitoring) to prevent breakout. I am at a loss for why that has not already been offered agree upon by the negotiators; either incompetence or that one or both of the negotiating parties has other plans than this peaceful diplomatic solution.

      Hopefully we will see an initial agreement this week.

  5. jeannick (History)

    From the “nouvel observateur”
    A paper close to the French government,quoting an anonymous official

    Iran would get
    some Iranian assets frozen in U.S. banks
    lifting of the import ban on Iranian gold ,precious metal
    petrochemicals and the lifting of the ban on insuring Iranian crude tankers
    this last should be good news for Loyd insurance
    the total unfrozen assets would be “less than 10 billions”
    the ban on crude trading remain while some adjustments remain possible

  6. jeannick (History)

    The press generally give the Arak reactor as a plutonium mass production
    I was under the impression that cooking some weapon grade plutonium
    is a rather long and tedious process .
    is Arak a potential problem or an actual one

    • fyi (History)

      Arak is the red herring; a zero-output graphite moderated reactor can be constructed in anywhere in Iran for the purposes of plutonium production.

      Iran has the graphite manufacturing capability.

  7. fyi (History)

    Anon2 | November 20, 2013

    You best look at the map of the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz.

    As war between Iran and US escalates, Iranians will try to mine or otherwise restrict outflows of oil and inflows of food, medicines, spare parts, clothing, consumer & durable goods into Persian Gulf.

    US will have to occupy large swats of the Southern Iran to guarantee freedom of navigation in and out of Persian Gulf.

    Since the war will not end quickly, and Iranians would not be signing a peace treaty with US any time soon, US will be reprising the role that Israel played in Lebanon for 18 years.

    US military leaders, in US Congressional Testimony, have already alluded to this (near certainty).

    As I said – you only have two choices.

    Any way, you are the guys who killed NPT – what are you complaining about now?

    • Anon2 (History)


      I do not promote military action as a solution. But the option remains on the table as part of the Obama negotiating backdrop. Not withstanding your assertion that Iran would “hold hostage” the free navigation through the Straights of Hormuz as a lever to prevent any military attack, it is a military engineering problem that can be solved to prevent Iran from executing such a strategy.

      I would suggest that upon Iran attacking any vessel or laying mines, the opposing allied Navies would destroy all Iranian Air, Anti-Air, and Sea Assets (speed boats, etc…). All options on the table includes a provision to prevent Iran from holding third party international trade hostage. This can be accomplished without boots on the ground. Finally, I would suggest that an overt attack on U.S. naval vessels in escort would invite a response of an all out military regime change (i.e. Pearl Harbor). I do not advocate regime change, but then neither should the Iranian regime. The United States is unlikely to turn the other cheek if its naval vessels are attacked while protecting shipping.

      All of this destruction is to me an unacceptable possible future outcome, but it remains part of “all options” if a negotiated settlement is not reached.

  8. jeannick (History)

    I’m not sure the U.S. can afford a war
    those things are costly
    easy to start and hard to finish.
    mayhem in the Hormuz strait is a given
    there are liquefied gas tankers from Qatar
    very sensitive to ordnance being tossed about
    occupying the Northern shore would be necessary
    at the cost of a few hundred casualties and a couple of trillions dollars.
    probably for a stalemate and the end of the NPT inspection

    • Anon2 (History)

      “I’m not sure the U.S. can afford a war
      those things are costly
      easy to start and hard to finish.”

      So is your solution to Green light an Iranian nuclear weapons manufacturing program at the rate of 4 to 12 weapons per year? (After the installation of additional centrifuges and plutonium breeder reactors under the nuclear umbrella.)

      War is bad. Nuclear weapons are worse.

      A diplomatic solution is the only acceptable solution for all sides.

  9. fyi (History)

    “War is bad. Nuclear weapons are worse.”


    Nuclear weapons have kept the peace in Europe, in the Sub-Continent, and on the Korean Peninsula.

    I expect nothing less once Iran becomes a nuclear-armed state; something that US, EU, Russia, and China seem to be encouraging by their current policy.

    As for war in the Persian Gulf; let us see how it turns out.

    May be US will be successful….