Iran's fulfillment of its nuclear-related commitments is "unclear"
The expert confirmed that the military option remains on the table for lack of transparency
As diplomatic pressure on Iran escalates for it to curb its militarily-target nuclear program, according to some governments, the use of force is more and more an option due to lack of transparency. Such an action would make an impact on the world geopolitics and, sure enough, on Venezuela.
"It is important to remember that the regime in Tehran was deliberately attempting to hide its activities from the IAEA, and for a while, they were successful in doing so."
The reminder comes from Jonathan Pearl, a renowned researcher in nuclear security with think tanks, such as the US Council on Foreign Relations and the Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington.
In an interview with El Universal, Pearl spelled out the Iranian nuclear issue.
Iran and Western superpowers have started a new round of talks in Turkey. Do you think there will be significant strides? In your opinion, what is the most difficult aspect in these talks?
The outcome of talks is still very uncertain. Over the long term, whether or not there are significant strides will depend in large part on finding a workable solution to the question of uranium enrichment. Some experts believe that a long-term solution will require Iran retaining some small-level capacity for uranium enrichment. In the near term, however, making progress requires that Iran take some confidence building measures of immediate importance, including suspending work at the deeply-buried Fordo enrichment site and halting any production of 20% enriched uranium. One should not forget that the genesis of the current crisis was the discovery in 2003 that Iran had been secretly engaging in risky nuclear activities, contrary to its international legal obligations to the IAEA, and that this noncompliance has resulted in the passing of several UN Security Council resolutions demanding that the Iranian regime come clean about its past activities.
In the past six months, Europe and the United States escalated their sanctions against Iran, particularly oil-related sanctions. Do you think they have been effective and will make the difference in Tehran?
Clearly, the escalating sanctions have been effective against Tehran. I think we can see their effect not only in the economic landscape in Iran and on the Iranian currency, but also in the increasing volatility of rhetoric from certain quarters in the Iranian regime as their economic concerns mount, and their willingness to come back to the negotiating table. Whether or not the sanctions will convince the Iranian regime to live up to their international legal commitments to the IAEA and UN Security Council is, however, unclear.
Do you think the possession by Iran of such nuclear weapons is actually dangerous? Is it rather a geopolitical risk or the Intention to "wipe a country off the map"?
Nuclear proliferation is, in general, a grave threat to international peace and security. It is particularly troubling, however, that the current Iranian regime may be attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. Let's not forget that this is a regime that ignores the demands of the UN Security Council, a regime that has repeatedly attempted to hide its nuclear activities in violation of its legal obligations, a regime that openly supports global terrorist activities, and a regime whose current President talks of wiping other countries off the face of the map.
How do you reckon the increasing number of slain Iranian nuclear scientists?
I read the newspaper reports of such incidents, like you do. I have nothing to add to them.
In the middle of these talks, Israel and even the United States warned about a potential attack to curb the Iranian nuclear program. What could cause such an outcome?
Both Israel and the U.S. have said that it is "unacceptable" for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, and that all options, including a military option for preventing this outcome, remain on the table. This opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons would for both countries, therefore, be the underlying cause of any hypothetical military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities. I am not able to specify the precise conditions that would lead to military strikes, however, because specific military plans are always closely guarded secrets, and rightly so.
The potential risks of such an attack on Iran are alarming (higher oil prices, Iran's counterattack, etc.) Could it be as catastrophic as perceived?
There are risks associated with any use of military force. Instability in the international oil market and the risk of Iranian counterattacks are among those associated with the hypothetical use of military force against Iranian nuclear facilities. Many people, including military officials, have spoken openly about such risks. Clearly, if the decision is taken to launch strikes against Iranian facilities, efforts will be taken to mitigate and manage these risks. But there is always uncertainty in any potential military action, particularly in complex scenarios such as the current one.
Do you think IAEA has failed to stop Iran from moving forward with its nuclear program?
There are many talented and dedicated people at the IAEA who work every day to safeguard nuclear-related sites and materials around the world. To be sure, the current system of international safeguards can be improved, and there are multilateral negotiations under way to do just that. My hope is that we'll continue to see progress in this realm moving forward. With respect to Iran, I think it is important to remember that the regime in Tehran was deliberately attempting to hide its activities from the IAEA, and for a while, they were successful in doing so. Rather than point fingers at the IAEA for Iran's malfeasance, we should keep our attention focused on the fact that Iran is where it is because it acted in contravention of its legal commitments to the IAEA.
Do you think that as the presidential election is few months away, President Obama will toughen his position? And, if elected, will Romney toughen the U.S position on Iran's nuclear program?
President Obama has taken a broad-based approach to Iran, stressing a combination of diplomacy and pressure. He has consistently offered Iran a way out of the current impasse while making clear that there are consequences for violating its international legal commitments. Indeed, President Obama has been successful in increasing the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran to unprecedented levels. I expect that the President will continue to take all the actions he feels are necessary and appropriate to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. I cannot predict the precise policy that Governor Romney would adopt towards Iran if he is elected, but I expect that he would keep up the pressure on Tehran.
Some people in USA and Israel are certain that Venezuela is supplying uranium and something else to Iran. In your experience is that possible?
Last year, I came across a report that alleged that there are some nuclear-related ties between Iran and Venezuela. I have not seen anything on this matter since, however, and I remain uncertain as to whether these claims are true. I would need to see more evidence before drawing conclusions about the existence and nature of any nuclear-related ties between Iran and Venezuela. If they exist, however, this would be very troubling, given that Iran is under UN Security Council sanctions for suspicions of seeking to develop military nuclear technology.
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."