A short piece this morning and one that focusses mainly on there being only two weeks remaining before the US decides on future policy in relation to the future of the Iran Nuclear deal.
First though let us ‘Welcome the May’ or as the late Michael Flanders and Donald Swann put it rather more succinctly in the now infamous ‘A Song of the Weather’ written for the musical revue ‘At the Drop of a Hat’ back in 1957, ‘Farmers fear unkindly May, Frost by night and Hail by day’.
With much of Continental Europe celebrating the May Day /Labour Day holiday news flows are likely be somewhat more subdued – well at least in relation to Brexit. However, despite large scale public holidays the world does not sleep in peace and harmony and we are once again reminded of the level of global instability and hostility when we are reminded today that, following the explosions in Kabul yesterday and that according to press reports killed 36 people and wounded another 47, Afghanistan remains a powder keg of discontent. Relations between the West and Russia remain at a very low point and we cannot allow ourselves to forget that Syria too remains an unfinished civil war and one in which the West is increasingly powerless.
And so to Iran. Israel’s claims in regard of the nuclear archive files disclosed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday may or may not be relevant but there can be little doubt that despite claims by Iran that the IAEA has full knowledge of what they contain we may be sure that this will further influence the decision by Donald Trump in relation to whether the US stays in the Iran Nuclear agreement or pulls out in a couple of weeks’ time. Here at least Britain, Germany and France as the other signatories to the deal are absolutely at one that while there may well need for further discussion with the Iranian authorities pulling out and re-imposing sanctions would likely inflame an already dangerous situation.
Whether or not, as Mr. Netanyahu claims, Iran has secretly stored nuclear related files and materials such as enriched Uranium I can have no idea on but rather than strike another serious economic blow on Iran, without first securing absolute proof to the signatories of the Iran nuclear agreement and that include Russia and China as well along with the three European powers, I believe that diplomacy demand that the IAEA as official nuclear monitors to the agreement, should be asked to investigate and reassess.
Iran certainly has a lot to answer for in terms of its desire to dominate the Middle East region and not least its involvement in Syria. Again, whether or not Iran is responsible for supply chemical weapons to the Syrian administration I have no idea but there can be little doubt that Iranian policy towards many of its neighbours in the region is hostile. The US has a big role to play but that does not mean it should abandon diplomacy. Whatever Donald Trump decides in relation to the Iran nuclear deal and the possibility of re-imposing sanctions against Iran must be done on a basis of proven failure by Iran to comply. Israeli claims that Iran has broken the spirit of the agreement are not enough on their own.
Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear deal, one that was from a US aspect signed by Donald Trump’s ‘Achilles heel’ Barrack Obama, with Iran and signed also by China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain, the majority of economic sanctions that had been imposed on Iran in stages over many years as a result of Tehran’s nuclear programme were lifted.
While Iran claimed that its nuclear development programme was non-military and purely energy related fear was that Iran had probably already or would soon be in a position to create a nuclear weapon. Under what we commonly term the Iran nuclear agreement and which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran committed to slashing the number of centrifuges used to enrich Uranium that it already possessed. It also to stockpiles of enriched uranium and furthermore, to cease enriching uranium to the level required in order to produce nuclear weapons.
The number of centrifuges installed at Iran’s Natanz and Fordo sites were supposed to be cut drastically followed by disposal of most low-enriched uranium produced being shipped to Russia.
Since the deal was signed three years ago monitors from the IAEA have without restriction been able to conduct snap inspections at various nuclear related sites in Iran – these including Natanz and Fordo. Our current understanding is that the vast majority – if not all – centrifuges that Iran had previously installed have now been destroyed or removed and also that most if not all of the low-enriched Uranium stocks created by Iran has been shipped to Russia.
CHW (London – 1st May 2018)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785