Expert: ‘Bad Iran deal’ neglects weaponization

Most nuclear experts — not only Israeli officials and hawkish US Congressmen — reject emerging agreement, Emily Landau says

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Dr. Emily Landau (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Dr. Emily Landau (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

The emerging nuclear deal with Iran is deeply flawed because it neglects to address the issue of weaponization, an Israeli expert said Monday, as reports outlined the contours of the agreement between Tehran and six world powers.

Emily Landau, a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies, said that not only Israeli officials and hawkish US Congressmen reject the deal, but also scores of nuclear experts from across America and Europe.

According an Associated Press report, the so-called P5+1 nations are considering allowing Iran to retain some 6,500 centrifuges if it agrees ship out most of the enriched uranium it produces or change it to a form that is difficult to reconvert for weapons use.

While reports on a potential deal have largely focused on the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to keep and the nature of the inspections regime, little is known about what the agreement contains that would curtail Tehran’s alleged work toward building a nuclear weapon, especially in the mysterious Parchin facility, where Iran has been reluctant to admit inspectors.

“There is some logic to that, but at the end of day, the biggest lacuna is that weaponization is not being confronted straight out and placed in the forefront of the negotiations,” Landau told The Times of Israel. “Your strongest card in the talks is to expose the fact that Iran has violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty for decades by working on nuclear weapons capabilities. This has to be at the center of the discussion — that Iran has been stonewalling for years, in clear violation of the NPT.”

Most news reports on the prospective deals have been focusing on the number of centrifuges that Iran would be allowed to keep, Landau said. While allowing Iran to operate 6,500 centrifuges was a lamentable concession — the P5+1 originally said they would insist on no more than 1,500 — the reports that a deal is nearing completion without having addressed the Islamic Republic’s weaponization efforts is even more worrisome, she said.

“The issue of weaponization hardly gets mentioned in the reports about the upcoming agreement,” said Landau, who directs the INSS’s Arms Control and Regional Security Project.

Another issue that should be addressed by any deal is Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, she added. “These ICBMs are not non-nuclear, they are delivery systems for nuclear weapons.”

Landau made plain that it’s not only Israeli officials who consider the deal as it has been reported as exceedingly worrisome. “Most nuclear experts think it’s a bad deal. The doubts, skepticism and deep, deep concern with regards to the negotiations is really much broader than Israeli officials and hawks in Congress.”

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