10 Jun 15. The lack of a consensual final text at the recent NPT Conference weakens the prospect of multilaterally addressing the enrichment/reprocessing issue. However this does mean that the negotiation between the E3+3 and Iran acquires even greater relevance. According to the Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provide that Iran would be allowed to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme but its enrichment capacity, enrichment level and stockpile will be limited for specified durations and will take place in only one enrichment facility. The other enrichment site will be converted into a nuclear, physics and technology centre with no fissile material. The existing Iranian heavy water research reactor will not produce weapons grade plutonium. There will be no reprocessing and the spent fuel will be exported. A set of measures have been agreed upon to monitor these provisional applications. The International Atomic Energy Agency will be permitted the use of modern technologies and will have enhanced access through agreed procedures, including clarifying past and present issues. More details on the deal are contained in statements made by U.S. and Iranian spokespersons subsequent to the conclusion of negotiations in Lausanne.
All of these parameters, particularly those which are not “Iran specific” and not related to the implementation and removal of sanctions, can become a very useful basis for more general guidelines. It is indeed advisable and even necessary that there should be a link between the number and quality of centrifuges operated by a country and its effective needs in terms of fuel for power-plant and research activities. The stockpiles of nuclear fuel stored should be constantly kept at a minimal level and be utilized as soon as possible. Separation of plutonium should, as a rule, be always strongly discouraged and the spent fuel, as in the case of Iran, should be returned to the original supplier or be exported. Because these provisions are not imposed but would be consensually accepted by a major player in the Middle East such as Iran, who presently chairs the Non Aligned Movement, they could become a model to be adopted by the international community. Some countries from the Gulf region have already indicated their expectation to receive from the U.S. the same treatment granted to Iran.
In sum, a successful arrangement with Iran would not only conclude a dispute which has been going on for over a decade, it could contribute to the establishment of a general rule regarding enrichment and reprocessing as well as boost the project of a WMD free zone in the Middle East which still remains an important NPT objective.
The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security challenges of our time.