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Inquiry and Analysis Series Report | 1167 | June 11, 2015

The Middle East Media Research Institute

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Nuclear Negotiations At An Impasse: Leader Khamenei Rejects Agreement Reached On Token Inspection Of Military Sites And Questioning Of Scientists; U.S. Willing To Close IAEA Dossier On Iranian PMD, To Settle For Inspecting Declared Nuclear Sites Only, And To Rely On Intelligence; EU Objects

By: A. Savyon and Y. Carmon*



This past week, members of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team revealed details about the Iran-U.S. nuclear negotiations. The negotiations were dealt a blow when Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei rejected an agreement reached by the two sides concerning a token inspection of military facilities and questioning of several nuclear scientists and “military personnel”; these were to be the response to the IAEA’s open dossier on possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program to which Iran has so far refused to respond.

Iranian reports on these developments show that in order to arrive at a comprehensive agreement, the U.S. is willing to forgo actual inspection of Iranian military facilities and to settle for inspection of declared nuclear facilities only, as set forth under the Additional Protocol, while the ongoing monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program will be left to intelligence elements.

Thus, at this stage, there is a deadlock: Iran is refusing both to respond to the IAEA dossier on its PMD, and to allow actual inspection of facilities that are not declared nuclear facilities.

Furthermore, the EU has announced its objections to a comprehensive agreement with Iran in the absence of satisfactory answers from it regarding the IAEA dossier on its PMD. It said that the IAEA investigation of the PMD “will be essential” to a nuclear deal. IAEA Director-General Yukio Amano has also linked the investigation of Iranian PMD to the attainment of such an agreement.

The Issue: Inspection Of Iranian Military Sites, Questioning Of Iranian Scientists

On May 25, 2015, in an Iranian television interview, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and head negotiator Abbas Araghchi disclosed that this issue had been agreed upon, but that when the Iranian team returned to Tehran for Khamenei’s approval, Khamenei had rejected this agreed solution out of hand (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 4928, Top Iranian Nuclear Negotiator Abbas Aragchi: We Reached Solution with P5+1 on Site Inspection, But Khamenei Rejected It, May 25, 2015 and Appendix I).

It was evident also from Aragchi’s statements that after Khamenei rejected the agreed solution, Iran even reneged on what had been agreed as part of the Additional Protocol, and is now insisting that limitations and restrictions that are part of the Protocol be implemented in a way that will make future inspections difficult. As part of Iran’s backpedaling, Araghchi repeatedly emphasized that “so far, nothing has been concluded” regarding the issue of the inspections.

U.S. Willingness To Disregard IAEA PMD Dossier

Statements by negotiating team member Hamid Baidinejad show that in return for willingness on Iran’s part to sign a comprehensive agreement, the U.S. was willing to forgo actual investigation of the IAEA’s open PMD dossier on Iran and instead to conduct a token inspection of military sites and questioning of Iranian nuclear scientists and military personnel. The U.S. asked Iran to carry out a number of specific steps, thereby paving the way to a comprehensive solution for this issue. These steps included inspections at several points in Iran, including two military facilities, and questioning several senior military officials and scientists (see Appendix II).

Iranian Negotiators’ Two Versions Of Events

An analysis of these statements by the Iranian negotiators shows that there are two different versions of what took place in the negotiations. According to Araghchi, the Iranian team agreed to the U.S.’s demand for a token inspection, but when the team returned to Tehran, Khamenei completely rejected this token inspection. Aragchi’s disclosure that the Iranian negotiators had arrived at an agreement with the Americans that was subsequently rejected by Khamenei caused an uproar in the Iranian political system, triggering harsh criticism against both the negotiators and the leaders of the pragmatic camp, and even leading to a public confrontation between Khamenei and pragmatic camp leader Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The second version of events emerged after the uproar sparked by Aragchi’s revelations. Another negotiator, Baidinejad, in an attempt to correct Araghchi’s claim, stated that the Iranian negotiators had rejected the U.S. demands, even the demand for token inspection, but that the Americans had pressed them to present the demand to Khamenei anyway; when they did so, at the Americans’ urging, Khamenei rejected it outright.

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