JCPOA has been a success so far: Fitzpatrick

TEHRAN - Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), says the nuclear deal between Iran and great powers, officially called the JCPOA, has been a “success” so far as the sides have respected their obligations.

“I judge the JCPOA to be a success, so far,” Fitzpatrick tells the Tehran Times.

However Fitzpatrick defends the report by the UN secretary general about the Resolution 2231 which endorsed the July 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and great powers, arguing Ban “was correct to criticize Iran's missile program”.
The resolution calls upon Iran not to test missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
"Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” part of the resolution states.

Iran has been insisting that its missiles have not been designed to carry nuclear weapons.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand in March 2016, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “We stated when the nuclear deal was approved by the Security Council and during the course of nuclear discussions that we will continue with our defense capabilities and that these defense capabilities have nothing to do with nuclear weapons.” 

In a tweet posted on March 15, Zarif also said, “Neither JCPOA nor SC Res prohibit Iran from missiles not designed for nuke warheads. Read the document: It’s plain English not legalese.” 

Fitzpatrick also endorses the leak of information about the content of the nuclear deal, saying, “I believe it is useful for the public to know these details, so that independent assessments can be made about the agreement.”  

Following is the text of the interview with Fitzpatrick:

Q: Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, in his recent report claimed that the Iranian missile program is “not consistent” with the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Even the U.S. and Russia criticized Ban for the report, saying he had overstepped his mandate. 
For example, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, told the council, "The United States disagrees strongly with elements of this report, including that its content goes beyond the appropriate scope. We understand that Iran also disagrees strongly with parts of the report." Regarding these comments what is your assessment of the report?

A: Ban Ki-moon was correct to criticize Iran's missile program, which is being developed in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Annex B of the resolution calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The ballistic missiles that Iran has tested have a range and throw-weight that makes them intrinsically capable of delivering nuclear weapons. This is why the UN Secretary-General said the missile program is in contradiction of the JCPOA.  The use of the verb "calls up" introduced some ambiguity about the mandatory nature of this restriction.  Hence Ban Ki-moon said it was up to the Security Council to determine if Iran's missile launches were a violation of the resolution. 

While the U.S. and Russia both criticized Ban Ki-Moon's report on grounds that it went beyond the UN's mandate, they objected to very different portions of the report.  Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin questioned the use of the word 'restrictions’ in relation to Iran’s missiles and the UN's mandate in this regard.  US Ambassador Samantha Powers questioned the inclusion of Iran’s complaints about sanctions relief to date, and noted that this subject is included in UNSCR 2231 and thus is beyond the UN's mandate.

Q: The Associated Press recently claimed it has obtained a document that outlines Tehran’s plans to expand its uranium enrichment program after the first 10 years of the nuclear deal.  It said that “confidential document eases Iran nuke constraints”. Why did the AP publish such a report at this time?

A:  The AP report about the 'confidential document' which eases Iran's nuclear constraints adds important detail to what was already known about the JCPOA's treatment of centrifuge R&D.  I believe it is useful for the public to know these details, so that independent assessments can be made about the agreement.  I do not know why it was published at this time, but I assume the document was provided to AP by a government that is worried about Iran's ability after year 11 of the agreement to ramp up its enrichment capability, with the potential this gives for a nuclear weapons program.  Releasing the information at the one-year anniversary of the JCPOA was probably done to draw attention to the serious concerns about Iran's future intentions.

Q: What is your assessment about the implementation of the JCPOA?

A: I judge the JCPOA to be a success, so far.  The deal has succeeded in doing what it set out to do: effectively blocking all paths to a nuclear-armed Iran. The quarterly IAEA reports published since the deal was signed confirm that Iran has met all the conditions.  In addition, communications are working well.  The United States and the other powers have also met their obligations regarding sanctions relief. It is true that Iran has yet to see the full economic benefits it had expected from the deal, but this is not the fault of the U.S. government. One reason is that Iran’s non-transparent banking practices make international banks cautious about entering into risky business that in the past has resulted in massive fines for several of them. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force is keeping Iran on its high-risk blacklist. U.S. sanctions still prohibit transactions involving members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Given the size and opaque nature of the IRCG's involvement in the Iranian economy, foreign businesses find it hard to be certain that potential Iranian business partners are not connected with the IRGC.

The interview was originally published byThe Tehran Times