The Iran Nuclear Deal: Nonbinding from the Outset

When two parties obligate themselves to the terms of a contract, it is fundamentally necessary that both parties commit to an identical deal.  This is not the case with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which makes it inherently nonbinding on all parties.

On October 13, Iran effectively decided to disapprove of the JCPOA.  Instead of approving the JCPOA, Iran's Parliament devised its own "amended version" that in parts dramatically alters the original and in parts directly contradicts it.

On October 18, Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament, stated that the Parliament had never accepted the JCPOA that the other sides had adopted (translation courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI]):

The JCPOA was not immediately approved in the Majlis [aka the Iranian Parliament]; there was a process, and the Supreme National Security Council was involved in this, and eventually this agreement was reached.  Some opposed the JCPOA, and some agreed to it, but the strongest opinion was to define a framework and set conditions [for executing the JCPOA], and this opinion was eventually accepted...

We have not approved the JCPOA in the way that the other side [i.e. the U.S.] has said. We also have not said that it should be executed as is, but rather that the JCPOA should be placed in the framework of the steps taken by the Supreme National Security Council.  Ultimately, this council's approvals are sent for the approval of the Leader [Khamenei].

Iran's nine-point document authorizes Iran to violate the JCPOA in many significant areas.  According to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), the first paragraph states that no nation has the right to produce or use nuclear weapons and calls for Iran to actively pursue global nuclear disarmament.  The first paragraph tellingly singles out Israel, calling "especially" for the "nuclear disarmament of Israel."  Such a demand is foreign to the JCPOA.  ISNA reports that shouts of "death to Israel" rang out in Iran's Parliament following the almost unanimous approval of this amendment.

In direct conflict with the JCPOA, the Iranian Parliament voted overwhelmingly against the snapback of sanctions or imposition of any new sanctions.  The JCPOA calls for the sanctions to be "suspended" while Iran's nuclear document called for them to be altogether "canceled."  This difference is highly significant, since a "snapback" of sanctions is ostensibly on the table in case of any Iranian violation of the nuclear deal.  The Iranian regime will have none of that.

In fact, this Iranian conflict with the JCPOA is even more significant, as Iran has stated that it will achieve the capacity to attain 190,000 Separative Work Units (SWU) annually within two years of new sanctions or sanctions snapback.  This means that if Iran violates the JCPOA, leading to any sanctions being imposed or reimposed, it has committed to produce the equivalent of over 60 metric tons of uranium enriched to 3.67% each year.  To put this in context, the JCPOA allows Iran to stockpile a limit of 300 kg of uranium enriched to 3.67%.  That is an annual 200-fold, or a 20,000%, increase in production above the 300-kg stockpile limit stipulated in the nuclear deal!

Another troubling aspect of the Iranian conditions for adoption of the JCPOA is a ban on inspections of military sites.  On October 18, Ali Larijani said, "The inspections must be conducted according to international law, and there is an absolute ban on inspections of military centers and national security [sites] except with the approval of the Supreme National Security Council, [and this requires] the ultimate approval of the Leader [Khamenei]."  On June 23, however, in remarks to high-ranking Iranian officials, Khamenei had already laid out Iran's major red lines in nuclear negotiations, noting that all such inspections are forbidden.  He stated, "I never accept unconventional inspections or interrogation of individuals.  I have already asserted that no inspection of military sites can ever be done [emphasis added]."  Echoing this, on July 25, Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei's top advisor for international affairs, said, "Access of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or from any other body to Iran's military centers is forbidden."  This contradicts the JCPOA, which requires verification of Iran's compliance as a precondition to removal of sanctions imposed by the U.N. and U.S.  This flies in the face of President Obama's claim that "inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location … where necessary, when necessary."

In light of Iran's persistent refusal to subscribe to the JCPOA as is, and considering Iran's conditions that negate it, for the P5+1 and EU to move forward with implementation would be a fool's errand.  If the P5+1, the EU, and the U.N. take the JCPOA and world security seriously, they must not implement this accord.  In light of the impossible Iranian conditions for acceptance of the nuclear deal, Implementation Day, scheduled for early 2016, must not go into effect.  If it does, the world will have given the Iranian regime a green light to proceed unrestrained in its dangerous nuclear drive – willfully ignoring all the warning bells and endangering international security as never before.

When two parties obligate themselves to the terms of a contract, it is fundamentally necessary that both parties commit to an identical deal.  This is not the case with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which makes it inherently nonbinding on all parties.

On October 13, Iran effectively decided to disapprove of the JCPOA.  Instead of approving the JCPOA, Iran's Parliament devised its own "amended version" that in parts dramatically alters the original and in parts directly contradicts it.

On October 18, Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament, stated that the Parliament had never accepted the JCPOA that the other sides had adopted (translation courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI]):

The JCPOA was not immediately approved in the Majlis [aka the Iranian Parliament]; there was a process, and the Supreme National Security Council was involved in this, and eventually this agreement was reached.  Some opposed the JCPOA, and some agreed to it, but the strongest opinion was to define a framework and set conditions [for executing the JCPOA], and this opinion was eventually accepted...

We have not approved the JCPOA in the way that the other side [i.e. the U.S.] has said. We also have not said that it should be executed as is, but rather that the JCPOA should be placed in the framework of the steps taken by the Supreme National Security Council.  Ultimately, this council's approvals are sent for the approval of the Leader [Khamenei].

Iran's nine-point document authorizes Iran to violate the JCPOA in many significant areas.  According to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), the first paragraph states that no nation has the right to produce or use nuclear weapons and calls for Iran to actively pursue global nuclear disarmament.  The first paragraph tellingly singles out Israel, calling "especially" for the "nuclear disarmament of Israel."  Such a demand is foreign to the JCPOA.  ISNA reports that shouts of "death to Israel" rang out in Iran's Parliament following the almost unanimous approval of this amendment.

In direct conflict with the JCPOA, the Iranian Parliament voted overwhelmingly against the snapback of sanctions or imposition of any new sanctions.  The JCPOA calls for the sanctions to be "suspended" while Iran's nuclear document called for them to be altogether "canceled."  This difference is highly significant, since a "snapback" of sanctions is ostensibly on the table in case of any Iranian violation of the nuclear deal.  The Iranian regime will have none of that.

In fact, this Iranian conflict with the JCPOA is even more significant, as Iran has stated that it will achieve the capacity to attain 190,000 Separative Work Units (SWU) annually within two years of new sanctions or sanctions snapback.  This means that if Iran violates the JCPOA, leading to any sanctions being imposed or reimposed, it has committed to produce the equivalent of over 60 metric tons of uranium enriched to 3.67% each year.  To put this in context, the JCPOA allows Iran to stockpile a limit of 300 kg of uranium enriched to 3.67%.  That is an annual 200-fold, or a 20,000%, increase in production above the 300-kg stockpile limit stipulated in the nuclear deal!

Another troubling aspect of the Iranian conditions for adoption of the JCPOA is a ban on inspections of military sites.  On October 18, Ali Larijani said, "The inspections must be conducted according to international law, and there is an absolute ban on inspections of military centers and national security [sites] except with the approval of the Supreme National Security Council, [and this requires] the ultimate approval of the Leader [Khamenei]."  On June 23, however, in remarks to high-ranking Iranian officials, Khamenei had already laid out Iran's major red lines in nuclear negotiations, noting that all such inspections are forbidden.  He stated, "I never accept unconventional inspections or interrogation of individuals.  I have already asserted that no inspection of military sites can ever be done [emphasis added]."  Echoing this, on July 25, Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei's top advisor for international affairs, said, "Access of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or from any other body to Iran's military centers is forbidden."  This contradicts the JCPOA, which requires verification of Iran's compliance as a precondition to removal of sanctions imposed by the U.N. and U.S.  This flies in the face of President Obama's claim that "inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location … where necessary, when necessary."

In light of Iran's persistent refusal to subscribe to the JCPOA as is, and considering Iran's conditions that negate it, for the P5+1 and EU to move forward with implementation would be a fool's errand.  If the P5+1, the EU, and the U.N. take the JCPOA and world security seriously, they must not implement this accord.  In light of the impossible Iranian conditions for acceptance of the nuclear deal, Implementation Day, scheduled for early 2016, must not go into effect.  If it does, the world will have given the Iranian regime a green light to proceed unrestrained in its dangerous nuclear drive – willfully ignoring all the warning bells and endangering international security as never before.