NIGHTWATCH: White House Utterly Incompetent on Iran

05 Iran, 08 Proliferation

Iran-US: This week the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman denounced the US “fact sheet” on the Iran agreement as a misrepresentation. Today, 27 November, Foreign Minister Zarif clarified the situation, obliquely.

Zarf said the capacity at the Arak plutonium nuclear reactor construction site is not going to increase. “It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there,” Zarif told Iran’s parliament in translated comments broadcast on Iran’s Press TV.

Zarif also said that uranium enrichment at the Natanz and Fordow facilities will continue at levels around 3.5-5 percent purity, but the facilities’ capacities will not be expanded.

When asked about this, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said: “In the interim accord, the Arak reactor is specifically targeted and the end of all work at this reactor. In the agreement and the text, which has been approved by the Iranian authorities, the Arak reactor is clearly targeted.”

Comment: Basic contract law in US jurisprudence stipulates no agreement exists when there is no meeting of the minds of the contracting parties, regardless of the words of the agreement. The absence of a meeting of the minds, i.e., the existence of different interpretations of terms, is prima facie evidence that no agreement exists.

That is what appears to have taken place in Geneva – two sides used the same words in English, but meant different things. In short, there was no agreement at Geneva.

The strongest evidence of sharp legal practice is the US “fact sheet.” In almost no significant substantive respect, the fact sheet fails to correspond to the actual four-page agreement, which NightWatch used in its analysis. Whoever wrote that fact sheet should be fired because it makes assertions about Iranian undertakings that are factual misrepresentations.

For example, Iran did not agree to freeze construction at Arak. Iran agreed not to expand Arak beyond existing plans and the US agreed to that, according to the Iranians. The US fact sheet, however, says Iran agreed to freeze construction at Arak, the plutonium producing reactor. This is a pivotal issue about which there is no agreement.

Today, the US said that construction at Arak does not violate the agreement. The US statement indicates the Iranian interpretation is the accurate interpretation, not the fact sheet. It also means the Iranians gave up nothing at Arak because that nuclear site will be under construction far beyond the six month time term of the agreement.

Iran agreed to not expand its capacity to enrich, meaning it agreed to not add more centrifuges. It did not agree to not use its existing centrifuges, as the US fact sheet contends. It agreed to not expand its nuclear program, but did not agree to not continue is development under existing capacity limits. The US fact sheet indicates it agreed to halt nuclear development.

The actual agreement requires no “roll back” of the Iranian nuclear program, though the US fact sheet indicates it does.

These inconsistencies are the signs of a rushed job. If the White House fact sheet represents the US understanding of the terms of the agreement, there is no agreement because the Iranians have an entirely different understanding. They got everything they wanted and sanctions relief. That explains the Iranian declarations of a diplomatic victory and the celebrations in Tehran.