Libmonster ID: SE-342
Author(s) of the publication: A. G. ARBATOV

Iran Keywords:nuclear problemUN sanctions


Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The situation around Iran evokes disturbing historical analogies, such as the run-up to 1914. In connection with this analogy, Iranian President Ahmadinejad is now acting as the "Gavrila of Principle". And while no one wants war, the likelihood of it increases with each passing month, as events get out of the control of the great Powers.

Of course, unlike in 1914, this war is not likely to become a world war. However, the consequences of a war in Iran will be disastrous, given that there is already a war going on in Iraq next door and on the other side in Afghanistan. It could turn out to be something that hasn't happened since 1945: a trans - regional "black hole" that will stretch from Palestine to the Hindu Kush-a continuous zone of terrorism and civil wars.

At the other extreme, there is a high probability that Tehran will sooner or later follow the North Korean path: break off relations with the IAEA, withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and create nuclear weapons (NW). This would mean the final collapse of the Treaty and the entire nuclear non-proliferation regime, with all the ensuing consequences. These include further proliferation of nuclear weapons (among the priority candidates are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa), and an increase in the likelihood of their combat or accidental use. In the end, it is inevitable that a nuclear explosive device will fall into the hands of international terrorism and be used to destroy modern civilization.

The space between these two extreme options-a peaceful political and diplomatic solution to the problem - is constantly narrowing, especially in recent weeks, due to the well-known events in Iran and in its relations with the IAEA and other countries. Urgent and decisive steps are required from the great Powers and the UN Security Council to stop the slide into crisis.


The world community is most concerned about the natural uranium enrichment complex in the Iranian city of Natanz, which was secretly built underground for 18 years and discovered almost accidentally in 2003. And in 2009, the secret construction of another such plant near the city of Qom was revealed. Iran secretly received gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment and the technology of more powerful such systems from Pakistan. The international community is also concerned about the construction of a heavy water plant in the Iranian city of Arak and a heavy-water nuclear reactor that uses natural uranium as fuel and is capable of producing an increased amount of plutonium in irradiated nuclear fuel (SNF). As is known, the enrichment of natural uranium and the separation of plutonium from spent nuclear fuel belong to dual technologies, that is, they can be used both for the peaceful nuclear industry and for the creation of weapons-grade nuclear materials (SNF).

There are a number of strong circumstantial evidence that suggests that Iran is actually referring not only to peaceful nuclear technology, but also to a military program.

Thus, Iran justifies its desire to have a full nuclear fuel cycle (NFC) with the right to such technologies under Article IV of the NPT, as well as the desire to be independent from other countries in the peaceful nuclear energy sector and invulnerable to possible external sanctions.

But, first of all, Iran's own natural uranium reserves are very limited, they will not be enough to provide fuel for even two reactors of the type built in Bushehr with the help of Russia for 10 years. Iran will still have to import raw uranium for its enrichment complex and depend on external supplies and hypothetical sanctions. At the same time, Iran's natural uranium reserves are sufficient to enrich it at the same centrifuges in Natanz to the level of weapons-grade and produce a certain amount of nuclear weapons. The capacity of the second plant in Qom will make it possible to produce weapons-grade uranium for one warhead annually.

Second, uranium enrichment is economically feasible only if 10 or more nuclear power plants (NPPs) are operational. For example, South Korea has 20 reactors, but it has no enrichment facilities. So far, Iran has only one reactor under construction in Bushehr, but certified fuel for it can be supplied exclusively by Russia. All the more absurd is the statement of the Iranian president about the plan to build 10 or more enrichment plants (even Russia has only 4 of them). Although Iran is talking about projects to build multiple power reactors, this is a matter of the distant future, and thus an enricher-

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The nuclear complex is decades ahead of the NPP program (as a consumer).

Third, if Iran really only had a peaceful nuclear program in mind, why did it hide the construction of the Natanz complex for 18 years in violation of IAEA safeguards, and in recent years in Qom? And why did Tehran secretly buy the centrifuges of the" father of the Pakistani atomic bomb "A. K. Khan on the" black market"? The argument that Iran was afraid of sanctions under US pressure and therefore committed violations is akin to the argument: "money can be stolen if there is doubt that it will be lent."

There is a whole range of other indirect evidence, in particular the receipt by Iran of documentation on the production technology of uranium metal hemispheres, which are applicable only in nuclear weapons. In addition, Iran is actively developing an increasingly long-range ballistic missile program. The Shehab-3 missiles that Iran has already tested have a range of more than 1,200 km; it is expected that it will have missiles with a range of 3,000, and then 6,000 km, that is, covering all of Europe and even North America. Such expensive military carriers, due to their low accuracy, do not make sense if they do not have nuclear warheads.


Iran, as a member State of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, in accordance with its article IV, has the right to peaceful nuclear energy, which does not exclude the nuclear fuel cycle - uranium enrichment and plutonium separation for peaceful purposes. Many non-nuclear Treaty member countries have such a cycle or its links-Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa. No matter what other countries think about the Iranian program and its absurdity, it has the right to determine its parameters, provided that it is carried out within the framework of the NPT and under IAEA safeguards.

Iran committed violations and concealed some of its projects, which raised serious suspicions that it had military, rather than peaceful, nuclear plans. But according to the Iranian logic, all this is a reason for more thorough verification by the IAEA, and not for the demand to stop all uranium enrichment activities included in the five UN Security Council resolutions in 2006-2008. Referring to the illegality of this requirement, Iran did not ratify the 1997 Additional Protocol signed in 2003 (which allows verification of undeclared activities) and now does not allow an IAEA investigation under the provisions of this protocol. And the resumption of uranium enrichment activities in 2005 was motivated by Iran's transfer of its case to the UN Security Council, after which it reversed its decision of 2004 to temporarily "freeze" this program in good faith in negotiations with the" Eurotroika " (Britain, France, Germany).

But from the point of view of Iran and many of its supporters in the world, all this does not necessarily serve as a reason for sanctions and, moreover, armed intervention. For example, North Korea defiantly withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and developed nuclear weapons in 2006 - and no one has launched military actions against it, but on the contrary, Pyongyang is being urged to return to the negotiating table with a vengeance. By the way, in this regard, the DPRK followed the example of the United States, which withdrew from the Anti-Missile Defense Treaty (ABM) and refused to ratify the Treaty on the Universal Prohibition of Nuclear Tests (CTBT) signed by them. Pakistan, India, and Israel, which are located in geographical proximity to Iran, have nuclear weapons and are not members of the NPT, and the United States maintains friendly relations with them, and plans extensive peaceful nuclear and technical cooperation with India.

What are Iran's goals, and does it really want to develop nuclear weapons? It is safe to say that, in any case, he wants to keep this option open for himself. It is not known whether it will eventually actually develop nuclear weapons, but Iran considers it necessary to acquire the technical capability to quickly create such weapons in the form of an industrial nuclear fuel cycle and stubbornly strives for this goal, referring to the articles of the NPT.

For its part, the United States is right that the presence of not only nuclear weapons, but also a large nuclear fuel cycle (NFC) in Iran is unacceptable. After all, even under the control of the IAEA, it is possible to create uranium enrichment and plutonium separation complexes for peaceful purposes, and then, as the DPRK did, expel the IAEA, withdraw from the NPT with three months ' notice (Article X), enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels and quickly create nuclear weapons. Moreover, if 50 thousand people are deployed in Natanz, as planned. If the number of centrifuges (plus other enrichment plants) is reduced, then the interval between switching the centrifuge cascades to high enrichment and accumulating weapons-grade materials for warheads will be reduced to several weeks.

Washington's tough stance, of course, is due not only and not so much to Iran's formal violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but most of all to the Islamic-fundamentalist nature of the regime, its claims to leadership in the Islamic world, its ties to organizations that many countries consider (while others do not) terrorist, as well as provocative anti-Israeli statements by the Iranian leadership.

However, these issues do not fall under international law or treaty articles. And the fact that the current regime of Iran (unlike the previous one, the Shah's regime, under which the Iranian nuclear program was launched with the help of the United States) does not like Washington is not a reason for war from the point of view of other powers that have good relations with Iran. At the same time, the main weakness of the US position is the stalemate in Iraq, where they invaded, despite the objections of many other countries and the UN Security Council, under the pretext of destroying Baghdad's nuclear program, which could not be found during the occupation.

Israel's position is even tougher. And this is also understandable in view of the declarations and actions of Tehran, which can be supplemented by its material nuclear missile potential. Such a threat would undermine the entire ideology of the Promised Land as a safe haven for Jews around the world. After that, neither

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There will be no more immigrants or investments in Israel.

There is a different attitude to the issue of Russia and China, with various reservations of the European countries involved in the negotiations (Great Britain, France, Germany), as well as India and Pakistan as interested observers. They do not want harsh sanctions, especially an oil embargo (which may cause them even more damage), and they are all the more opposed to a war with one of their important economic and political partners.

They certainly want to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but they see tough sanctions, and even more so war , as a cure that is worse than the disease. In addition, an oil embargo (and even more so a naval and air blockade) can directly provoke a war, since Iran will try to block the Persian Gulf in response, which will lead to military clashes in the sea and air (similar to the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964). They are also not sure that there is irrefutable evidence of the desire to Iran's access to nuclear weapons (as opposed to violations of IAEA safeguards), although recent actions and statements by Tehran have increased suspicions about it.

Russia, of course, is opposed to Iran acquiring not only nuclear weapons, but also industrial NFC, both for security and commercial reasons - there is an opportunity to sell Iran nuclear fuel from its factories. But the prospect of tough sanctions and, even more so, military action against Iran in order to deprive it of its fuel cycle is not welcomed by Russia. Given Russia's traditional ties with Iran, Iran's role in the region, and the predictable reaction of the Muslim world, including inside Russia, Moscow would like to avoid a military conflict.

Iran is seen in Moscow as a natural counterweight to the growing influence of Sunni extremism in the region, as well as the influence of Turkey and the United States. While relations with the United States are far from a true partnership, Russia's influence on Iran is one of its few strong "trump cards" in relations with the United States. This is precisely what caused Moscow's sharp reaction to the latest Iranian actions, which give the impression that in fact "the tail is turning the dog".

Among other things, Iran (along with China, India and several other countries) is an importer of a few Russian high-tech products: nuclear energy and weapons. With the world's second largest proven natural gas reserves, Iran is an attractive cooperation destination for Gazprom, which promises to control most of the world's reserves of this type of energy, which will play a much larger role in the future.

In this situation, Russia has taken the path of combining very contradictory positions. On the one hand, it opposes the full fuel cycle in Iran and demands its "freezing", which coincides with the position of the United States. On the other hand, Russia is opposed to harsh sanctions and the use of military force. Most of all, Moscow rejects tough sanctions at its expense (peaceful nuclear cooperation, arms supplies) and bypassing areas that are sensitive to the West (oil imports, exports of petroleum products). Russia prefers diplomacy and promises of material benefits to Iran for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions. At the same time, there are no deadlines for reaching an agreement, the state of stagnation of negotiations continues (despite periodic imitation of progress), and the nuclear program is steadily moving forward.

It is obvious that the demand for Iran to sacrifice enrichment technology, in which it has already invested huge economic and political capital, can only be effective if there is a credible threat of causing otherwise great damage. Therefore, the position of Moscow (and China , another power with the right of veto in the UN Security Council) actually knocks the "whip" out of the hands of the" six", despite the fact that the" carrot " was not attractive enough for Iran. The reliance on diplomacy and persuasion has so far failed to pay off, and since nothing fundamentally new is being proposed, there is little reason to hope that this tactic will work in the future.

Russia has taken a number of steps to create positive incentives. In particular, in 2005, an agreement was signed with Iran to export spent nuclear fuel from the Bushehr nuclear power plant to Russia for reprocessing and storage, which reduces the possibility of extracting plutonium from spent nuclear fuel on site. Moscow has also launched an important initiative that goes beyond the Iranian issue: It is creating a multilateral uranium enrichment center (IUEC) in Angarsk on its territory to guarantee the supply of fuel for nuclear power plants to investor countries, which removes the incentive for them to create their own nuclear power plants. However, these steps, while improving the overall background for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian issue, did not in themselves provide a positive incentive for the success of the negotiations.

Initially, the position of the European Union was very close to that of Russia. In contrast to the United States, in 2004, Eurotroika advocated a diplomatic solution to the problem, and not on the basis of the threat of force, but on the basis of positive incentives (promoting Iran's admission to the WTO, investing in gas production, transferring technologies for the liquefaction of natural gas, etc.). The EU has placed the IAEA at the center of efforts to address this issue based on the NPT and its mechanisms and norms, and not on the unilateral policies of the United States or any new "coalition of the willing". This position was fully consistent with the EU's nonproliferation policy framework laid down in the documents of the June 2003 ministerial sessions in Luxembourg and Thessaloniki.

Basically, the policy of the EU, as well as Russia, in addition to non-proliferation considerations, is determined by their objective position and interests that differ from those of the United States. In the event of war, Europe (and American bases on the continent) is geographically much closer and completely unprotected for possible retaliatory actions by Iran and the Islamic world as a whole. The Muslim population (already from 5% to 10%) can create an explosive environment in Europe and give more freedom of action to terrorists. The next generation of Iranian Shahab series ballistic missiles will reach the territory of leading European countries. In addition, Ev-

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Rosoyuz is much more dependent than the United States on oil imports from the Persian Gulf (up to 70% of consumption), which will almost certainly be cut off in the event of war. In general, Europe's trade turnover with Iran is very large and doubled between 2000 and 2004. (especially with France, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Turkey; outside Europe-Japan, China, India, South Korea, South Africa).

China, which has the right of veto in the UN Security Council, does not show much activity (at least externally) in diplomatic activities on this issue. The PRC does not face a general political choice: cooperation with the West or peace with Islam (like Russia) or alliance with the United States or peace with Islam (like the European Union). Beijing seems to have the least fear of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. The PRC itself entered into the Non-Proliferation Treaty relatively recently (in 1992) and has not yet joined all its mechanisms and norms. In addition, China receives up to 20% of its energy resources from Iran and plans to significantly and consistently increase imports of Iranian oil and gas, develop fields and build pipelines in the future.

Beijing is unlikely to single-handedly veto the UN Security Council resolution, but it seems that it will do everything possible to make the sanctions purely symbolic.


Naturally, the Iranian problem does not exist in a vacuum. The general political, international legal and military environment around the problem has been extremely unfavorable for its solution until recently.

In violation of their obligations under Article VI of the Nonproliferation Treaty, the United States, followed by Russia and other nuclear Powers, effectively abandoned their further line of nuclear disarmament. The United States withdrew from the 1972 ABM Treaty (a precedent that North Korea took advantage of by withdrawing from the NPT in 2003, and Iran may later take advantage of). The US-Russia START - 1 treaty expired on December 5, 2009, and negotiations under the auspices of Medvedev and Obama on a new agreement have not yet been successful. The United States (and China after them) did not ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which is why it did not enter into force.

In 2003. The United States carried out a military action against Iraq under the pretext of stopping its secret nuclear program, but no evidence of a nuclear program was found there. This casts a shadow over their current accusations against Iran.

At the same time, the United States actually made Iran a regional hegemon with its own hands. Its main opponents are either destroyed or weakened: the Hussein regime in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Iran believes that as long as the United States remains stuck in Iraq, it will not take military action against Iran, if only because it does not have the military resources to do so. Finally, the DPRK has opened a "second front" with its defiant act of nuclear and missile tests, further weakening the US policy of pressure on Iran.

The general background of relations between the United States and Russia, as well as Russia and the EU, is very unfavorable. Most importantly, the majority of the Russian political and strategic elite in state and public institutions sees more security threats coming from the United States and NATO than from Iran, nuclear proliferation and terrorism. (Such threats in the past included missile defense, now - the situation in the CIS, NATO expansion, energy issues, Russian domestic political affairs, etc.) There are also many contradictions between the PRC and the West.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the leading powers cannot agree on their positions, and that the differences between them are sometimes greater than between them and Iran. Tehran, in the tradition of eastern bargaining, deftly takes advantage of this, constantly changing tactics, alternately tightening or softening its line, pushing its negotiating partners together and at the same time consistently moving forward in the NFC program.

Recently, in the light of Iran's defiant line and due to the improvement of relations between the Russian Federation and the United States (the abolition of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, START negotiations, cooperation on Afghanistan), the positions of Russia and the West have become somewhat closer. This was reflected in the IAEA resolution on the new Qom facility and the discussion of sanctions by the UN Security Council. However, so far this is a convergence on the lowest common denominator (new limited sanctions), and a single course of the great powers has not developed. Among other things, to impose tough sanctions (oil embargo) The United States needs to persuade not so much Russia, but its allies in Europe, Japan, China and India.

The United States and Israel are ready to start a war to prevent Iran from creating not only nuclear weapons, but also the potential for their rapid creation, but they draw the "red line" in different ways. The United States is willing to wait a few more years - at least until its situation in Iraq and Afghanistan becomes easier. Israel will probably act sooner.


There are few realistic options for a military operation against Iran. One may consist of limited duration and scale of missile and air strikes against critical nuclear infrastructure facilities (approximately 30 of them). Such a strike is likely only from Israel, but if it fails to prevent heavy damage from Iran's retaliatory actions, then the operation will most likely involve the US armed forces.

Another option is missile and air strikes on an expanded (several thousand) composition of targets for many months (similar to the war in Yugoslavia). Such military actions can only be carried out by the US armed forces unilaterally or together with Israel. A variant of the type of operation in Iraq with the introduction of troops into Iran is excluded due to the lack of necessary US resources, overloaded in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as due to the most difficult lessons of the occupation of Iraq.

Even limited strikes can take many years off the cores-

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Iran's nuclear program, but the political consequences will be quite devastating. A powerful surge of hatred towards the United States and Israel and the rise of Islamic radicalism in Iran can spread to the entire region. Iran will remove the IAEA inspectors from the country and withdraw from the NPT, and organize terrorist acts against Israel and its institutions around the world. The negotiation process between Palestine and Israel will be disrupted.

At the same time, Israel is ready for a terrorist war and rocket attacks and will consider this acceptable damage (unless the nuclear reactor in Dimona and the oil refinery in Haifa are attacked). In this scenario, a military solution to the problem in the short and medium term will be less disastrous than it currently seems - at least from the Israeli point of view.

Apparently, Israel will take a selective military action no later than the fall of 2010, if Iran continues to move along the current path. Washington will try to persuade Tel Aviv to wait until May so as not to disrupt the NPT conference, and in the summer, the sandstorm season begins in Iran, which prevents the targeting of pinpoint air strikes. But everything can happen even earlier if Iran curtails cooperation with the IAEA or, even more so, declares its withdrawal from the NPT.

If the United States intervenes, the war will have a much broader scope and consequences: the actions of militants against American embassies and institutions around the world, against American land and naval forces stationed in the region, may disrupt oil transportation through the Persian Gulf. The Turkish leadership will condemn any actions against Iran and may refuse to provide the US with its military bases, and Turkey's drift towards Islamism will be accelerated.

The operation will destabilize the situation in Afghanistan, strengthen the Taliban and disrupt the agreement of the Iranian and Afghan authorities on joint actions against terrorists. A strike on Iran can provoke violent Islamist protests in Pakistan and even a civil war, fraught with the most negative consequences. Iran will certainly try to use the Shiites in Iraq to complicate the US position and prevent the planned withdrawal of its troops.

In the event of a longer war, Islamists are likely to become more active in Central Asia, especially since hundreds of thousands of refugees will flood there. In general, a prolonged war in the region can lead to deep chaos, which will spread from Palestine through Turkey, Iraq, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, the South and North Caucasus and Afghanistan to Pakistan. The formation of a united Islamist front from Palestine to Afghanistan is possible.

In Europe, countries that have significant Islamic diasporas will be under attack: France, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Denmark, etc. A prolonged war can cause a deep crisis in NATO and weaken the unity of the European Union.

In Russia, the reaction of Muslims will be extremely negative, which completely coincides with the official position of Moscow. With massive strikes from the United States, the position of the Russian Federation will be more harsh, and the emerging warming of relations with the West will be slowed down indefinitely.

Disruption of oil supplies from Iran and the possible blocking of the Persian Gulf will lead to a rise in world prices for raw hydrocarbons and increase Russia's export revenues. However, a new wave of the global economic crisis that is likely in this case will cause much more damage to the Russian economy and interrupt its recovery from recession, while worsening relations with the West will complicate plans to modernize the country's economy and increase its dependence on China as a raw material appendage.

It is quite possible that the consequences of the war in terms of destabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan and the unprecedented rise of Islamic radicalism may trigger a group withdrawal of States from the NPT and the activation of military nuclear programs in some of them in order to acquire their deterrent potential against the United States and Israel. Then the treaty-based regime of nuclear non-proliferation will be irreversibly undermined. At the same time, if the United States and its allies make it a practice to use force against countries that develop critical nuclear technologies and materials or openly seek to acquire nuclear weapons, then further physical proliferation may be contained militarily for some time.


There is a good saying: "every complex problem has a simple, logical, lying on the surface... wrong decision." Neither connivance in the creation of an Iranian industrial NFC through endless fruitless negotiations, nor war will solve the problem in a satisfactory way. In addition, connivance will also lead to war: either a preemptive strike by Israel, or later to a war between the nuclear-armed states-Israel and Iran. And a preemptive strike on Iran can "drive underground" its nuclear program and give it a clearly military orientation (as in the DPRK before 1993 and after 2003). Then it will require a major ground operation with subsequent occupation to stop it. Another option is that a strike on Iran will "blow up" Pakistan, and the latter's nuclear weapons will still be in the hands of Iran with all the ensuing consequences.

This problem does not allow for simple solutions and requires a comprehensive approach. The general principles might look like this.

First, Iran's intentions (peaceful or military nuclear program?) it is impossible to accurately determine and even more so predict. The task is not to "guess" Iran's plans and, based on this, build a line in the negotiations, but to influence these plans by limiting its technical capabilities by formulating clear and realistic proposals for an agreement. These proposals should be supported by positive and negative incentives of a technical, economic, political and even military nature.

Secondly, measures to strengthen the NPT should not be made dependent on the nature of a particular regime; double standards divide the community of States.-

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the Treaty's member States, primarily the five great nuclear Powers. But the list of past violations of IAEA safeguards by Iran and the nature of its nuclear program do not allow us to agree to the creation of a full-scale nuclear fuel cycle there (even within the framework of the NPT and IAEA safeguards), which will allow us to acquire nuclear weapons in a short time. It is also unacceptable for membership in the NPT and cooperation with the IAEA to become a "hostage" of Iran in its course of sabotaging the decisions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA and in its persistent continuation of prohibited nuclear activities.

Third, symbolic, "soft" sanctions (visa denials, freezing of foreign accounts) are ineffective, affect the interests of leading powers in different ways, and only provoke Iran to adopt a more provocative position. Effective, "tough" sanctions (stopping the purchase of oil and supplies of petroleum products, an arms embargo, a ban on air traffic, a naval and air blockade, stopping the Bushehr project, etc.) require great sacrifices on the part of the leading powers and are permissible only as a last warning before a military action. Such measures are possible only with the actual military-political alliance of Russia, the West and the PRC. A much more effective means of putting pressure on Iran is not symbolic sanctions, but the unity of positions of the leading powers on the terms of a possible agreement, which have not yet been formulated.

Fourth, negotiations with Iran should be conducted on the basis of the principle of "reasonable sufficiency", like normal negotiations on arms limitation (in this case, the potential to create nuclear weapons), using the rich experience of such negotiations in the 1970s and 1990s. It takes about a year to reach an agreement, although in the course of time the effectiveness of a possible agreement decreases. as the Iranian NFC capacity building program is progressing. It can be stopped by agreement, but it is much more difficult to reverse it.

Purely illustrative: the specific purpose of the agreement could be not to stop the operation, but to limit the Iranian enrichment complex to such a number of centrifuges that it would leave at least 1-1.5 years from the moment when the centrifuges switch to uranium enrichment to weapons-grade levels and until the accumulation of weapons-grade material sufficient to create several nuclear warheads. If this time is not enough to take joint measures, then 10 years will not be enough for them.

Since Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium (1,400 kg) and centrifuges (about 5,000) to switch to high-enriched uranium in less than 1 to 1.5 years, parallel agreements are needed. For example, Russia, together with France and other countries, would probably take the accumulated low-enriched uranium for further enrichment and for the manufacture of fuel assemblies and return it to Iran under the supervision of the IAEA. At the same time, Iran would not store a large amount of low-enriched uranium, which can be quickly enriched to weapons-grade levels. It would also be possible to agree on reducing the number of centrifuges (and preserving the Qom plant), while providing external assistance in replacing them with more modern models. Separate agreements are needed on the plutonium cycle (a natural uranium reactor and a heavy water production plant in Arak).

Depending on the type of centrifuges, specialists can determine their limit quantities. Such an agreement may have a validity period (for example, 10 years) and be monitored through the IAEA. At the same time, Iran will have to ratify the 1997 IAEA Additional Protocol. It should be understood that Iran's violation of the safeguards agreement or obstruction of the Agency's activities will be considered a violation of the entire agreement and will result in "tough" UN Security Council sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Under these restrictions, Iran will save and even strengthen its prestige and national dignity (for peaceful purposes, industrial enrichment will still not be needed for at least another 10 to 15 years), will be able to maintain a high technological and intellectual level, but will not be able to quickly create nuclear weapons in case of violation of the agreement. The main thing is for Tehran to understand that the great powers will not allow it to create an industrial nuclear fuel cycle as long as it does not have a developed peaceful nuclear power industry, as long as it does not conduct a responsible foreign policy, and as long as the IAEA's claims remain against it. Iran must realize that the alternative to the agreement is not the creation of nuclear fuel and subsequently nuclear weapons, but complete isolation and, most likely, war.

In response to Iran's concessions, there are a wide range of components as positive incentives from the major Powers: security guarantees from the great Powers (i.e., a commitment to non-aggression with the use of nuclear and conventional weapons); restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States; WTO membership; expansion of the Bushehr complex and assistance in the construction of new nuclear power plants; Iran's involvement investment in the Global Nuclear Energy Program; guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel at the lowest market prices and spent fuel removal; investments in the gas industry and transport infrastructure, etc.

In order to improve the overall background of cooperation between the great Powers and overcome differences between the NPT member States, it is necessary to step up nuclear disarmament measures (first of all, a new treaty after the START-1 deadline), as well as greater mutual understanding between Russia and the West on issues of the post-Soviet space and energy security. It also requires the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, which will ease the constraints on US resources and create the prospect of Iran's growing vulnerability on its western borders.

The most important lesson of the entire history of the Iranian nuclear issue is that the unity of positions and interaction of the leading powers, primarily Russia, the European Union, the United States and China, is an indispensable condition for preventing further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world and reversing this most dangerous process. To do this, they need to finally stop creating problems (and even the appearance of problems) for each other's safety and act together in the name of common security.


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