Monthly Archives: June 2013
Posted on June 29, 2013 at 11:31 am
RUSI Analysis, 12 Jul 2013 By Charlie Edwards, Senior Research Fellow/Director National Security and Resilience
As British troops depart Afghanistan, increasing production of opium and heroin within the country remains a cause for concern. There’s a clear need for the British government to continue funding counter-narcotics programmes, and work with regional partners, including Iran.
Afghanistan produces roughly 90 per cent of the world’s illicit opium. In step with a up to date UNODC report, thrice as much opium was produced in Helmand in 2012 than in 2006. The 2013 Opium Risk Assessment for the southern, eastern, western and central regions of Afghanistan highlights further concerns. Poppy cultivation is predicted to expand into new areas where poppy cultivation was disrupted. This is often particularly the case in less developed areas, where farmers are planting poppy seeds within the wake of the departing coalition forces. Areas which were poppy-free for years risk resuming poppy cultivation.
The former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has stated that the medication trade was among the factors in his decision to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001, because it was component of the Taliban regime that ‘we should seek to destroy’. Twelve years on, the drugs trade continues to undermine the security of the country and wider region. While figures remain difficult to verify, it is estimated that the Taliban amasses a small fortune from the trade each year – with estimates of up to $150 million per annum. This money fuels the insurgency, sustains corruption within national and local government and creates the necessary conditions across Afghanistan for terrorists and insurgents to operate. The situation is now so bad in some areas of the country that American soldiers are now advised not to step foot in poppy fields or damage them in any way. Nor can they discourage poppy farmers, from growing their illicit crop, which is hardier and commands a higher price than alternatives such as wheat. Something has clearly gone badly wrong.
The truth is that the counter-narcotics campaign was always going to be a complex challenge for coalition forces. Politicians, military commanders and media commentators in the region are rightly concerned with what the increase in opium means for the drug trade and Afghanistan’s security in the future. The role of the US and its counter-narcotics strategy will also shape the UK’s response. Since 2009 the Obama Administration has scaled back on eradication efforts focusing instead on targeting Taliban-linked traffickers and alternative livelihoods efforts. Like the UK, the US has concentrated on implementing these programmes but with limited success. Should the current governance structures deteriorate post-2014 and corruption increase further, security will remain extremely fragile.
The challenge is not limited to Afghanistan. The impact of the drugs trade on Pakistan in particular is cause for concern. For the British government, Pakistan’s stability is likely to be a greater priority than Afghanistan in the future. As such, counter-narcotics work in the country – in particular supporting law enforcement activity may become a key priority for the government going forwards.
For the British government there is another equally pressing issue as the 2014 deadline draws closer: what does this all mean for UK national security? The fear, expressed by some analysts, is that 2014 will mark the point where the UK and other coalition governments quietly cut counter narcotic programmes, reduce resources and shrink their footprint in the country.
This would be a strategic error. While only 5 per cent of the total opium market in Afghanistan reaches UK shores (the rest is consumed in the region, with Iran netting eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all the other countries in the world combined), 95 per cent of the heroin in the UK comes from opium produced in Afghanistan. This adds up to approximately 20 tonnes of heroin being imported into the UK per annum.
As the drawdown in Afghanistan builds up, so the UK’s vulnerability to the drugs trade from the country and region will likely increase, though it is not necessarily inevitable. There are numerous factors that must be accounted for – such as the decline in the number of heroin users in the UK over the past decade, which now stands at 298,752 .The drugs trade comes with serious social and economic costs to the UK – some of which are hard to quantify though some organisations suggest that drug treatment programmes have prevented an estimated five million drug-related crimes a year, such as burglary, shoplifting and robbery.
Investing in the Future
Any plan to reduce the impact of the drug trade in the UK from Afghanistan will have to consider three mutually reinforcing strands of work. Support to the government of Afghanistan even if counter-narcotics becomes less of a priority for them; a renewed focus on disrupting and dismantling the supply chain which will require working with neighbouring governments; and continuing efforts at home.
In 2012, the government of Afghanistan launched the National Drug Demand Reduction Policy for the period 2012-2016. The policy addresses drug abuse prevention and the treatment and rehabilitation of drug-affected persons. It recommends the establishment of regional drug treatment centres and an increase in drug prevention and treatment capacity by up to forty per cent over the next five years.
In February 2012, the Afghan government launched the National Alternative Livelihood Policy, which aims to tackle the root causes and drivers of dependency on illicit crops. It also published an Anti-Drug Trafficking Policy which concentrates on law enforcement resources on high-value drug traffickers and their organisations. The policy’s objectives include increasing the drug seizure rate from the current 0.5-1.5 per cent to a minimum of 12 per cent and increasing the precursors seizure rate to between 30 and 50 per cent within five years.
While the government of Afghanistan focuses on counter-narcotics in country – efforts will also have to continue to disrupt and dismantle the supply chain. Much of the heroin in the UK comes via a circuitous route through Baluchistan and the Makran Coast to South Africa (where it is then sent by numerous means to the UK and Europe). Heroin traffickers rely on organised crime groups to assist them in trafficking the drugs so work must focus at the supply chain as well. Key to these efforts is supporting local law enforcement and rule of law capacity across the region especially in Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. Any work must build on the UNODC programmes in Iran on illicit trafficking and border management and crime, justice and corruption.
While there are genuine concerns that the drawdown in Afghanistan could lead to an increase in both heroin to the UK as well as an increase in purity levels too, it is worth reflecting on the actual impact this is having in the UK. Some experts argue that more poppy production in Afghanistan is likely to have a direct effect on the heroin trade in Britain’s streets while others are not so sure such ‘a cut-and-dry, supply-and-demand explanation is valid.’ There are also indications that heroin use is in decline. Successful seizures – increasingly upstream, at source, has reduced the supply and had an effect on the wholesale prices for heroin. According to the Serious Organised Crime Agency, in 2009/10, 1kg heroin cost around £15-17,000 at wholesale, while in 2011 organised crime groups were trading high quality heroin for around £40,000. An aging user population has also had an impact as people are more likely to seek treatment than in the past. However, data from England and Wales show that drug misuse is responsible for 10 per cent of deaths from all causes for those aged 20-39 in 2011 and heroin and morphine accounted for most of the deaths.
A Future Priority?
As British troops depart Afghanistan and the related security and intelligence infrastructure is reconfigured for the future it is likely that counter-narcotics will become a lower priority for the Afghan government and the coalition community. It would be a disaster if past gains were squandered by incoherent planning for the future. Continued support to Afghan institutions including the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, Task Force 333, and other interagency centres must remain a priority.
Given the complexity of this task, clear leadership within the British government is needed. There will be many competing demands for funding programmes in Afghanistan post-2014. The case for continuing counter-narcotics work must be made loud and clear. The government may not have succeeded in destroying the drugs trade as Blair may have hoped but it should seek to control its impact on the UK. As the draw down from Afghanistan continues apace the British government’s strategy for counter-narcotics in the rustic matters greater than ever before.
1. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
2. Report of the International Narcotics Control Board, http://incb.org/incb/en/about.html
3. World Drug Report 2013, http://www.unodc.org/doc/wdr/Chp1_A.pdf
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Posted in Security Systems
Posted on June 29, 2013 at 9:38 am
RUSI Analysis, 4 Dec 2013
China’s sudden declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone covering the uninhabited Senkaku islands just isn’t intended to increase Chinese airspace as portion of a place-denial/anti-access strategy. China’s real aim is instead to reinforce their quasi-legal territory claims inside the future.
By Justin Bronk for RUSI.org
The long-running territorial dispute between China and Japan over the uninhabited Senkaku islands (referred to as Diaoyu in China) within the East China Sea recently flared up using China’s sudden declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering the islands and the disputed Chunxiao gas field.
Although this announcement has created a storm of protests from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the usa, the imposition of an ADIZ is not at all novel and in reality is a well established tool for formalising claims to national security interests in a region without trying to expand territorial borders. Japan’s own ADIZ covers the Senkaku islands, the Chunxiao gas field and over half the complete East China Sea. South Korea has an ADIZ to the North and the united states has had one in place around Guam for decades.
Therefore, although the Chinese declaration has raised the diplomatic temperature within the region, the announcement of the ADIZ need to be seen within this wider context. The ADIZ have been portrayed in Japan and masses of the Western media as an ineffective attempt at area denial which greatly increases the danger of a miscalculation which may bring about a tremendous crisis. However, Chinese actions up to now suggest that this can be a misleading view and that the ADIZ should instead be seen as an extended term option to strengthen China’s quasi-legal claims to the Senkakus, and test the Obama administration’s willingness to risk a prolonged and dear stand-off over the East China Sea.
Initial Reactions and the hazards of Accidental Escalation
Since the Chinese ADIZ was announced on 23 November 2013, USAF B-52 bombers, Japanese fighters, surveillance and AWACS aircraft, and South Korean P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft have all deliberately patrolled the zone without complying with the recent requirements to preserve radio contact, submit flight plans, and identify themselves to Chinese air controllers. Furthermore, Japanese airlines have refused to conform with the hot rules unless their destinations are in Chinese territory.
So far, despite Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke’s statement on 29 November that fighters have been scrambled to observe US and Japanese aircraft within the ADIZ, no actual aerial challenge was reported. The Chinese government has faced domestic criticism for not reacting to the incursions and has reacted by deploying early warning aircraft and jet fighters to patrol the disputed airspace.
This has ended in widespread media speculation in regards to the dangers of a miscalculation by all sides within the air leading to a much wider crisis, especially between China and Japan, which may attract the usa. Certainly, the ADIZ is having the effect of worsening relations in an already tense standoff that has seen multiple incursions by Chinese naval and airborne assets into declared Japanese waters round the Senkakus. However, it is very important consider that unlike other episodes within the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, which recently saw the Japanese government threaten to shoot down any Chinese unmanned aircraft violating its airspace and China warning that this type of move could be an act of war, the ADIZ has only been accompanied by vague warnings of ‘defensive emergency measures’ for violations. Essentially, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said it was ‘incorrect’ to indicate China would shoot down aircraft which entered the zone without first identifying themselves.
This Chinese declaration means that the dangers of military confrontation within the ADIZ will not be as high as some inside the media have suggested. Whilst the risk of miscalculation is definitely significant, it was already an element within the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute before the Chinese ADIZ was declared and is unlikely to greatly increase for this reason.
What Role Does the ADIZ Play in Chinese strategy whether it is Not Enforced?
The announcement that China is just not threatening to shoot down intruders raises the question of what role China actually assigns to its new ADIZ in national security policy. There isn’t a recognised legal justification for ADIZs however the extent to which they differ from no-fly zones could be seen in legal guidance at the subject that’s issued to the usa Military. Not like Chinese demands, the united states Navy Commander’s Handbook at the Law of Naval Operations states that:
‘The U . s . doesn’t recognize the precise of a coastal nation to use its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not meaning to enter national airspace nor does the us apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not desiring to enter U.S. airspace. Accordingly, U.S. military aircraft not aspiring to enter national airspace usually are not identify themselves or otherwise adjust to ADIZ procedures established by other nations, unless the us has specifically agreed to do so’.
It is very probable that the Chinese government views the ADIZ as largely symbolic, in preference to a device to noticeably expand the airspace under China’s direct control. Despite the united states Defense Secretary’s statement that the ADIZ was ‘a destabilizing try to alter the established order inside the region’, China’s actions don’t seem especially unreasonable if one considers that each one its neighbours inside the region have put ADIZs in place to hide territories to which they attach significant national interest.
Viewed on this light, Chinese claims that international protestations over the zone are hypocritical do have a hoop of truth to them. However, it also includes worth noting that the Japanese and US ADIZ’s within the region were announced well earlier than implementation and drawn up as a part of transparent processes. In contrast, China imposed its new ADIZ without prior warning or international consultation. This and the truth that China has demanded aircraft not destined for Chinese territory must comply are factors US criticism has specifically focussed on as Vice-President Joe Biden begins his Asia tour. The Chinese zone is likewise different from other ADIZ’s within the area because it covers territory that’s internationally recognised as being controlled by a foreign power (Japan).
The indisputable fact that up to now China has not taken any meaningful measures to truly enforce compliance with ADIZ requirements means that Japanese and American rhetoric painting it as a kind of area denial over disputed territories is off the mark. The Chinese military is well aware that it cannot expect to enforce the conditions of the ADIZ where it overlaps with the Japanese zone with no full scale military confrontation.
Given the Chinese Government’s sensitivity to national humiliation, it kind of feels odd for China to announce this kind of controversial measure without with the ability to enforce it, if that enforcement was required to complete the aims behind the policy. Needless to say, it’s possible that Beijing simply underestimated the united states and Japanese reaction to the ADIZ and are still debating find out how to respond. However, the shortcoming of enforcement efforts means that China’s aim seriously isn’t simple denial of access to the airspace above the Senkakus and Chunxiao gas field.
Alternate Chinese aims in establishing the ADIZ are inclined to include establishing a protracted-term quasi-legal basis for reinforcing their sovereignty claims to the Senkaku islands. The hope would presumably be that if the opposite regional powers may be able to continue to make use of the airspace without undue hindrance, protests against the ADIZ will slowly die down and in ten years time China can use the brand new ‘lines at the map’ to assert it has a protracted-term legal claim to the realm. The imposition of another framework for military/legal/diplomatic confrontation within the area will also serve to complicate and constrawithin the planning of future Japanese and US manoeuvres in the region.
The ADIZ can also be evidence of a deliberate policy of testing the U.S. commitment to its ‘Pacific pivot’ strategy within the face of continued problems for the Obama administration and American military exhaustion from the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. The immediate deployment of B-52s to fly in the course of the new ADIZ represents greater than a signal of refusal to recognize the zone at the portion of the united states.
In this light, it’s a signal to China that the Pentagon and the Obama administration are willing to risk a prolonged, tense and costly stand-off within the East China Sea, and completely comprehend the aptitude geo-strategic implications of China’s increasing assertiveness within the Pacific. It also suggests an apprehension in Washington that if this ADIZ isn’t met with a robust and immediate response, Beijing may repeat the strategy inside the South China Sea and elsewhere as component to its approach to force america and Japan far from the Chinese mainland.
Justin Bronk will also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted in Security Systems
Posted on June 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm
RUSI Analysis, 9 Jul 2013 By Raffaello Pantucci, Senior Research Fellow
Abu Qatada symbolised an era of British jihadism that trusted radical preachers to motivate a generation of terrorists. Alongside a general degradation of Al-Qa’ida’s capacity to launch large-scale plots, Qatada’s departure marks an end of an era that peaked in the course of the 7 July 2005 attacks on London.
The departure of Abu Qatada from British soil at the eighth anniversary of the 7 July bombings in London marks something of a marker for a period of British jihadism. From a coordinated threat directed by Al-Qa’ida that drew on a community of young British Muslims fostered by radical preachers resulting in plots just like the 7/7 attack, the menace has now evolved. Expressions inside the kind of attempted attacks or thwarted plots continue to look, but gone is both the straightforward and public coordination at home epitomised by the unconventional preacher community within the UK, and gone is ability of Al-Qaida core in Waziristan especially to govern large scale plots through this actual network to strike on British soil.
Abu Qatada was the last of 4 prominent preachers within the Uk around whom young radicals from all over the world gathered and who formed the nub of what was publicly derided as ‘Londonistan.’ A period within the 1990s when Britain became the house faraway from home for plenty of preachers and activists from around the Muslim world agitating for change, both violent and non-violent, of their home countries. A lot of these individuals presented (and continue to provide) no specific threat to the united kingdom, and are focused a great deal on events abroad.
Abu Qatada’s role within this community was a captivating one. Largely focused abroad, he nevertheless had authority over this sub-community within the UK. Particularly, he was reported to have told security services that he could ‘wield powerful, spiritual influence over the Algerian community in London.’ He also acted as a teacher figure to younger men Abu Hamza and Abdullah el-Faisal, either one of whom were characterised as his students at one time or another. He seems to have had a less direct relationship with Omar Bakri Mohammed, the fourth of the novel preachers, though it sort of feels clear the boys moved in similar circles in London. Abu Qatada’s credentials as a scholar and his links to 1 the fathers of contemporary Salafism, Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani set him aside from the opposite three who lacked such credentials. Unlike the opposite three, his impact seems to were more ideological, while the others fostered networks and communities from which a lot of terrorist plots emerged.
Al Qa’ida Orchestration
The most successful of those plots was 7/7 bombings finished by four men, a minimum of two of whom were trained by Al-Qa’ida in Waziristan. This plot, like lots of others that were disrupted before and because, involved Britons who have been radicalised partially under the tutelage of the unconventional preacher community, managed to determine connections with Al Qa’ida core and were directed to hold out attacks inside the West. Numerous other plots were disrupted from this network, including the August 2006 plot codenamed ‘Overt’ that aimed to bring down somewhere inside the region of eight flights on transatlantic routes with a possible casualty count higher than the 11 September 2001 attacks.
These plots drew their footsoldiers from the unconventional communities that the united kingdom-based preachers fostered. Recruiters for Al-Qa’ida or other extremists used this space to search out funding and followers. Going abroad, all these men were initially trying to fight and die on foreign battlefields. However, once there, some were re-directed back to conduct attacks at home as Al-Qa’ida realised their potential as a community that may penetrate deep into Western society. Key individuals like British national Rashid Rauf became the connective tissue providing a link between the senior echelons of Al-Qa’ida and the British recruits, helping them get around Waziristan after which providing managerial control over operations.
Over time, however, this connection has come under increasing scrutiny as Western intelligence services realised its magnitude and increasingly became ready to intercept its communications, penetrate its structures and take away key players from the sector. This ended in a gentle degradation of the network, though there’s evidence that the community of people wanting to travel to and fro to hunt training continues to exist.
Most recently this connection was seen in a case in Birmingham wherein multiple Britons travelled to Pakistan’s lawless provinces, trained alongside groups on the point of Al-Qa’ida before receiving loose direction to come home to hold out an incident of a few sort. It is a world aside from the Operation Overt cell from 2006 where multiple elements were in repeated contact with masterminds back in Pakistan who had provided specific training and targeting and helped them along the trajectory of the plot. By 2011, the extent of orchestration from afar was much harder to spot with Irfan Naseer – the plot leader of the Birmingham cell – giving little indication of being in regular touch with someone abroad. In a comment overheard by a safety listening device he said that his guidance was more rudimentary than that: ‘they said yeah, the information they gave us, they need that to spread to Europe.’ There has been little evidence offered in the course of the case (or any of the alternative cases associated with the core cell around IrfanNaseer) that anything was being orchestrated from afar. As was commented on the time, the approach appeared to be ‘fire and forget.’
Threat Shifting Overseas
But as groups in Pakistan particularly come under increasing pressure and lose their reach back to the united kingdom, the threat elsewhere abroad have been growing, and the prospective remains for foreign networks to apply the continued flow of British fighters to places like Syria to launch attacks back home. Currently, groups leading the fight in Syria have demonstrated no real interest in launching a terrorist attack within the UK (or anywhere else specifically for that matter – their interest seems involved in toppling Bashar al Assad’s regime), however it is an open question how it will develop at some point.
Beyond foreign battlefields, the net has helped spread radical ideas and made them more accessible. Lone actor terrorism is a singular phenomenon that has shown a capability to precise itself in a random and violent manner. And actions by extremist Islamist groups in Europe have ended in a counter-reaction by extremists at the other end of the spectrum. Now we have evolved, though not entirely passed, from a time when people sought out the community of radical preachers reminiscent of Abu Qatada, and from them were recruited by groups to head and fight abroad.
This evolution has turn up for several reasons. Primary amongst these was the removal of the unconventional preachers (Abu Hamza through jail after which deportation to the usa, Abdulla el Faisal through jail after which deportation to Jamaica, and Omar Bakri Mohammed through a self-imposed exile) and the removal of the open space within which they can operate. Abu Qatada’s departure from Britain for Jordan’s courts marks the realization of a protracted process by successive British governments that sought to expel these figures from the united kingdom. New charismatic leaders and preachers have since emerged, but current legislation signifies that they’re much more circumspect of their comments and openness in actively pushing people to head and fight abroad. Everyone is still drawing ideas from this ideological pool and a few are electing to head and fight abroad, however the direct linkages are actually much more discreet.
The other side to this coin is located in Pakistan where Al-Qa’ida’s ability to direct plots and plotters was substantially degraded. The pressure of drone strikes and a growing western intelligence footprint signifies that key figures like Rauf and diverse other Al-Qa’ida figures had been taken off the battlefield. People that are left are having to supply guidance and coaching in way more constrained environment, and once people have left the camps they’re largely being left to easily get on with trying to perform attacks. The age of enormous-scale orchestrated plots from Pakistan seems to have passed.
Additionally, the emergence of Al-Qa’ida affiliates and battlefields of competing interest has given individuals lots of different locations where they are able to seek to locate the journey and thrill of jihad or play their role in fighting to guard the ‘ummah.’ How these different battlefields will impact the threat picture within the UK is a developing story, but for the time being they don’t pose the identical variety of threat that Al-Qa’ida’s grand plans directed from Pakistan did.
Coming exactly eight years after Al-Qa’ida’s last successful attack at the west, Abu Qatada’s deportation marks the top of an era in British counter-terrorism. But as one era seems to return to an in depth, a brand new one could be being forged on foreign battlefields and the net marking an evolution of an issue many inside the UK may consider removed with Abu Qatada’s departure.
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Posted in Security Systems
Posted on June 27, 2013 at 9:43 am
RUSI Analysis, 25 Nov 2013 By Shashank Joshi, Research Fellow
The Geneva Agreement is an artistic, astute piece of diplomacy that puts Iran farther from nuclear weapons at within your budget. However the road to a last settlement is long and rocky.
(L to R) British Foreign Secretary William Hague, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry, 24 November 2013 (EU photo)
After a decade of on-off nuclear diplomacy and just over one hundred days of the presidency of Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, a deal have been done between Iran and the E3+3 (the united kingdom, France, Germany plus the usa, Russia, and China; in brief, the Six) in Geneva. Although the deal appears to have come rapidly, it’s clear that the groundwork was laid by a US-Iran backchannel going back to at the very least Rouhani’s inauguration in August, and maybe further.
The deal itself is a modest achievement that doesn’t completely freeze Iran’s nuclear programme, defers the various most challenging issues to subsequent diplomacy to occur over the following six months, and depends upon artful language to bridge differences over the most important point of contention, Iran’s claimed ‘right to enrich’ uranium by itself soil. But it surely is an astute and creative piece of diplomacy, putting Iran objectively and verifiably further clear of any nuclear weapon, imposing curbs that transcend those who were anticipated by most observers, and the entire while leaving essentially the mostsome of the most punitive sanctions entirely in place.
The Geneva Agreement
The deal (whose reported text is on the market here) has about a important aspects worth determining.
All but a freeze
First, it freezes crucial parts of Iran’s nuclear programme, while rolling back those elements which have been doing most to shorten Iran’s breakout time (the time it will take to supply fissile material for a single nuclear weapon).
Enrichment of uranium to twenty per cent, nine-tenths of ways to weapons-grade, is frozen (including by dismantling ‘technical connections’ between cascades) and stockpiles of uranium enriched to that higher level are to be converted into reactor fuel or diluted to lower levels.
Iran will continue enrichment as much as 5 per cent, but, importantly, has agreed that its stockpile of this lower enriched uranium can not grow over the six month period of the deal: it is going to convert the excess into oxide form, which makes it less readily usable for weapons use. Iran would possibly not install additional centrifuges, must leave a big proportion of installed centrifuges inactive, and can not even manufacture new centrifuges rather then to interchange damaged ones. That is something it’s to be verified through ‘IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities’ and ‘centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities’, measures that go way past Iran’s formal obligations to the Agency.
Iran’s heavy water reactor at Arak was never going to head operational in the course of the period of this interim deal anyway, however the agreement forbids Iran from transferring fuel or heavy water to the location – from testing or producing fuel, or installing ‘remaining components’ – easing the understandable concerns over how Iran may have used the deal to make progress towards activation of the reactor.
The implications of this are threefold: first, Iran’s breakout time has nearly doubled (from ‘no less than 1-1.6 months to at least 1.9-2.2 months’, consistent with ISIS’ David Albright); second, even the deal’s collapse will leave the West in a closer position than the pre-deal established order; third, the deal guards against Iran ‘buying time’ for 6 months after which, on the end of the negotiating period, installing enrichment capacity that it had built up and held in reserve. This increase in breakout time is very important, and it will be interpreted along side further provisions for ‘enhanced monitoring’ of Iran’s programme and daily access for inspectors (more than today). These upgraded monitoring rights are only a start – as portion of a last deal, Iran must ratify an extra Protocol, which supplies the IAEA wider powers – nonetheless it is a vital element, and one who, as Jeffrey Lewis explains, also modestly decreases the chance that Iran could conceal any secret nuclear facilities besides its declared, safeguarded ones.
In sum: not just wouldn’t it take Iran longer to provide the fissile material for a nuclear weapon, but its likelihood of having caught has also increased. The potential for undetected or unstoppable breakout has therefore diminished greatly. Counting on how the IAEA employed its new powers, the united states and Israel would have around two months after detecting any Iranian attempt at breakout to reply, greater than sufficient time for whatever response they deemed appropriate, including an army one (obviously, for those that believe that the united states would never use force against Iran, breakout times are irrelevant). Had a deal not been done, Iran’s breakout time would have shrunk over this same period to three weeks, long before sanctions compelled it to dismantle its programme.
Second, the deal comes cheaply. Iran is being granted not up to $7 billion of sanctions relief interested by releasing frozen Iranian funds and relief on gold, petrochemical, and automobile sector sanctions. It is a small fraction of the fee being imposed monthly by the punishing oil and banking sanctions that stay firmly in place, including all EU-mandated sanctions. The deal also permits ‘Iran’s current customers to buy their current average amounts of crude oil’, which removes the specter of further export cuts and protects Iranian revenue. But Iran will still be forfeiting over thrice as much in foregone oil revenue because it will gain in relief.
There isn’t any logical explanation why these measures should subsequently weaken the remainder sanctions over the years, since the costs of noncompliance remain as high as ever. There isn’t any sanctions slippery slope. Moreover, if Iran is unwilling to comply with the further curbs and transparency measures of a last deal, new sanctions could greater than offset any gain it made within the six-month interim period.
Compromise on enrichment
Third, the agreement is phenomenally carefully balanced at the issue of whether Iran is to be granted a ‘right to enrich’, something that Iranian officials had made a deal-breaker. US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted after the deal that ‘we don’t recognise a right to enrich’, whereas his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, declared the alternative. This disagreement is a function of the language employed within the text:
This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment program with practical limits and transparency measures to make certain the peaceful nature of this system. This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
“The language on this agreement is an intelligent compromise”
Various UN Security Council resolutions have called on Iran to halt enrichment activity, and plenty of have taken the view that Iran should therefore only be granted sanctions relief upon perfect compliance – the so-called ‘zero enrichment’ position. P5+1 officials recognised that this was unrealistic, given the domestic prominence of the difficulty within Iran, but they were wary of agreeing that Iran had what it called an ‘inalienable’ right to enrichment, not least because this can set troubling precedents for civil nuclear cooperation and other cases of potential nuclear proliferation.
The language during this agreement is an intelligent compromise. America can argue that a ‘mutually defined’ programme is one who exists by consent, not by right, and that no such precedent is being sent; Iran can argue that any form of enrichment activity presupposes a right to enrichment, and that its right have been implicit recognised.
Moreover, the usa can claim that Iranian enrichment is just sanctioned under heavy curbs – without which the ‘integrated whole’ is incomplete and no enrichment programme could be ‘defined’ i.e., granted. Iran nonetheless will point to the clause specifying that ‘following successful implementation of the ultimate step of the great solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear program can be treated within the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT’, suggesting that each one limits on enrichment capacity and suchlike will disappear if and when Iran can demonstrate its alleged nuclear weapons work not continues. Here is prone to become some extent of greater contention in final status discussion.
It is understandable that every side will interpret the agreement to fit its own interests, particularly when the problem has domestic political resonance. It was crucial for Iran’s negotiating team that they had been seen to successfully defend Iran’s nuclear rights, not least since the Supreme Leader had emphasised this issue. But this matter can become a source of anxiety if each side is seen to be exploiting loopholes.
When america concluded a handle North Korea last year, it assumed that missile tests were banned. But Pyongyang then conducted a satellite launch, which amounts to an identical thing; even though it were verbally agreed that this will be forbidden, it was never formalised. The diplomacy in Geneva was protracted and painstaking precisely to tie such loopholes up, but in an agreement of such complexity, handling highly complex nuclear issues, more points of friction may emerge through the years. Critics will soon complain that Iran’s missile programme, which was bound up with its alleged pre-2003 weapons programme, has gone unaddressed.
The agreement does specify that ‘a Joint Commission of E3/EU+3 [the Six powers] and Iran may be established to observe the implementation of the near-term measures and address issues that will arise’, however the key test of this commission could be its ability to solve any disputes before they rise, as they might quickly, to the political level. It will become more important than ever that the international community holds Iran to those commitments, on pain of further sanctions, but in addition that the united states upholds its own promises, particularly those concerning its own pause inside the imposition of recent sanctions.