Mano a Amano: How SPND can help solve the PMD puzzle

Zarif Zarif and Amano

Possible Military Dimensions. The only three words that make SPND (سازمان پژوهشهای نوین دفاعی) officials sweat more than an Argentinian footballer in a press interview.

The issue is so scary that when Iran released a ‘fact sheet’ after signing the initial agreement in April they omitted to even mention it as something to resolve. In Iran, PMD is like saying Candyman three times into a mirror.

Compare this to the US fact sheet where it states that in the event of a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will be obligated to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency (آژانس بین المللی انرژی اتمی) in resolving “past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s activities at Parchin”.

It doesn’t take Redline to tell you that there are some tough conversations ahead to bring these positions together. But come together they must, because unless they do, the ‘implementation stage’ of the deal where sanctions are lifted, funds are repatriated and Kerry and Zarif bro-out at Hooters cannot be reached.

  • Iran understandably is concerned that complying with the IAEA will lead to them giving away national security secrets, being backed into a corner and eventually be used as an excuse for a military intervention.

  • The IAEA’s investigation needs to provide credible assurance that PMD has been investigated and the agency satisfied that it is no longer going on.

While these things may seem at odds they are not actually mutually exclusive. A lot depends on how Iran, and particularly the men who hold the keys to AMAD such as Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (محسن فخری زاده) or Mohsen Foroughizadeh (محسن فروغی زاده), approach this.

Resolution of PMD does not mean Iran has to go the full Lance Armstrong and tell the world everything they ever did. As much as we’d love to see Ali Shamkhani’s (علی شمخانی) tearful confession to Oprah this is not realistic and would be counterproductive for all involved.

But equally, the Sepp Blatter ‘denial in the face of clear evidence’ defence is not going to work here either. Even SPND don’t want to be the FIFA of the nuclear world. Iran has to answer some difficult questions and allow the IAEA to develop the key to all of this, assurance.

The PMD issue is not about catching Iran out; Redline has already done that on many occasions. It is about providing assurance that the whole AMAD thing is not still happening and will certainly not happen again.

To do this, it is inescapable that the IAEA is going to need to visit some military sites like Parchin and probably interview some scientists allegedly involved in AMAD.

Yes that will be uncomfortable for Iran and Redline can imagine Fakhrizadeh and the rest of the Rogues Gallery will have had some sleepless nights about it. But as far as Redline is aware, Columbo doesn’t work for the IAEA. The questions are unlikely to be too forensic and unless Fakhrizadeh leaves his mic on and goes all Robert Durst Iran won’t be giving anything new up and conversely as a nation will end up gaining a great deal.

Columbo

“Just one more thing Mr Fakhrizadeh, about the neutron source…”

Sites like Parchin have been sanitised, steamrollered and covered with foliage over and over again, the IAEA is unlikely to able to find anything new, and certainly not conclusive, so why not let them visit if they establish clear aims for the access? Not doing so only fans the flames of us conspiracy theorists who see a Nuke under every mountain.

The AEOI has compromised, the Iranian leadership has compromised, the West has compromised, and so has the IAEA. Are SPND and the rest of the AMAD alumni really going to be the only ones who don’t?

If the proposal is that for waving some IAEA inspectors through a few military sites and briefly introducing them to a bunch of scientists, in return Iran will get sanctions relief, a much needed economic boost and be able to grow as a country again, then that does not sound like a bad deal at all.

SPND has been able to put fingers in ears and ignore the IAEA for a considerable period because no agreement was deemed possible. Now it is different and Mohsen, brother, you need to step up.

Unless Fakhrizadeh, Shamkhani, Hosseinitash (فخری زاده، شمخانی، حسینی تاش) and the rest are willing to go through some mild discomfort for the sake of a big prize at the end of it, then the guys and girls negotiating hard in New York and Vienna may as well go home now.

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