As the deadline for a deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran approaches, there is news that the U.S., its negotiating allies, and Iran are 95% there. However, the final 5% (the ‘Red Zone’ for you American football fans) is always the toughest to complete. Amongst the final bargaining points is whether Iran should completely disclose the nature and scope of its past nuclear activities.
Al- Monitor has published an article by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation’s own Edward P. Levine addressing the role that past “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” otherwise known as “PMD,” should play in ongoing negotiations. Levine, a member of the national advisory board for the Center and former senior Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, is optimistic that Iran’s “past nuclear activities need not be a showstopper.”
“While this issue is rightly a matter of concern, it should not be a litmus test of whether a comprehensive agreement can be reached,” states Levine. Contrary to some in Congress, who believe Iran cannot be trusted without full disclosure of its previous nuclear activities, Levine insists the P5 +1 can use informed, conservative estimates to assess Iran’s breakout potential in constructing a comprehensive deal.
Levine suspects admissions by Iran may be the final piece of the deal, only exposed after an agreement has been signed and some level of sanctions have been mitigated. This, however, should not limit the terms of a final agreement, as Levine explains:
“Rather than expecting a sudden and complete conversion to nuclear honesty and peaceful intentions on Iran’s part, we can emphasize verification rights in the comprehensive solution and tie any P5 +1 commitments to the IAEA’s continuing confidence that Iran is fulfilling all of its commitments in the agreement.”
Through intensive verification practices and informed, conservative estimates for Iran’s breakout potential, Levine insists Iran’s nuclear past need not restrict a deal that could provide a safeguard for the future.