Post-Geneva: Where are we now?


Funny how the unexpected sometimes happens. And in the last year, we've had a lot of surprises. David Bowie made a decent album again. Kim Jong Un executed his uncle and made Dennis Rodman his consigliore.

And Iran signed a nuclear deal.

As 2014 gets underway, so too does the implementation of the clunkily-named Geneva Joint Plan of Action and the even clunkier Technical Understandings Related to the Implementation of the Joint Plan of Action on the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program.

There's movement on the ground in Iran already. IAEA inspectors have just visited for the first time Iran's Gachin گچین uranium mine, probably learning - as Iran did long ago - that Gachin is pretty much the world's least commercially-viable uranium mining enterprise. Commercial viability has never been that important for nuclear weapons production.

In the next IAEA report - if all goes well - we should see signs of further progress. Iran will have reconfigured cascades in the underground uranium enrichment halls to make them slightly less frightening, and started to downblend its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium.

And there's more to look forward to over the long term - if things don't go wrong. In return, Tehran gets $6-7 billion of relief. But will this be enough? Iran has a habit of pushing for more; will the International community be strong enough to enforce the sanctions that have worked for so long? And if so how will Iran respond?

Of course this leaves more prolems. How will Iran resolve the question of its nuclear weapon-related activities. The blogosphere is already thinking about ways to handle Iran's Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) file

Key to this, of course, is the future of SPND سپند. Iran can't plausibly claim that its days of mucking around with nuclear weapons are over when the organisation responsible for all that mucking around still exists.

So we should be ready in 2014 for SPND to a) be dissolved, or, b) be transformed into an Iranian DARPA, focussed solely on non-nuclear projects, with its employee list swept of all the old AMAD آماد plan alumni.

I'm hoping for the former, but betting on the latter.

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