Additional Protocols

Kerry also suggests Iran should “sign…the additional protocols of the international community regarding inspections.” What he either doesn’t say or doesn’t know is that Iran has already signed the IAEA’s Additional Protocol; the Majlis (Iranian Parliament), however, has never ratified it.

Nevertheless, for over two years beginning in October 2003, Iran voluntarily abided by the protocol, which allowed IAEA inspectors access to facilities usually not covered by its standard Safeguards Agreement. In November 2003, the IAEA affirmed that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme.”

And the following year, after extensive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities were conducted under the auspices of the Additional Protocol, the IAEA again concluded that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

This conclusion has since been reached by every single IAEA report—often upwards of four times per year.

After it became clear to Iran that, at the insistence of the United States, its inalienable right to domestically enrich uranium would not be recognized, it stopped voluntarily complying with the Additional Protocol, but has maintained its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement.

The Deal That Always Was

Secretary Kerry, as seen above, also stated that Iran “could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level, because there’s no need to have it at a higher level for a peaceful program.”

Ok, for one, Iran is enriching uranium far below weapons-grade levels, for the purposes of fueling nuclear power plants and to use in medical research reactors. The only reason Iran began enriching uranium to almost 20% is due to the refusal of the United States to allow Iran to purchase such nuclear material for its safeguarded Tehran Research Reactor on the international market.

More importantly, however, is the fact that Iran has for years offered specifically to restrict its enrichment program and to open it up to international cooperation, thereby making in it literally impossible for a weaponization to take place unnoticed.

In mid-2003, Hassan Rouhani, then Secretary-General of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said that, in order to resolve any questions over whether its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, Iran was “ready to accept the participation of other big industrialized countries in its [uranium] enrichment projects.”

In his first address before the UN General Assembly in 2005, then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that, as a “confidence building measure and in order to provide the greatest degree of transparency, the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to engage in serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment program in Iran. This represents the most far reaching step, outside all requirements of the NPT, being proposed by Iran as a further confidence building measure.”

Later, in an April 5, 2006 op-ed in the New York Times, Iran’s then UN Ambassador Javad Zarif laid out a number of proposals for resolving the nuclear standoff. In addition to affirming Iran’s continued commitment to the NPT and its stance against “the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons,” Zarif stated Iran’s willingness to do the following:

Limit the enrichment of nuclear materials so that they are suitable for energy production but not for weaponry;

Immediately convert all enriched uranium to fuel rods, thereby precluding the possibility of further enrichment;

Limit the enrichment program to meet the contingency fuel requirements of Iran’s power reactors and future light-water reactors;

Begin putting in place the least contentious aspects of the enrichment program, like research and development, in order to assure the world of our intentions;

Accept foreign partners, both public and private, in our uranium enrichment program.

Iran has recently suggested the establishment of regional consortiums on fuel-cycle development that would be jointly owned and operated by countries possessing the technology and placed under atomic agency safeguards.

That was seven-and-a-half years ago. The United States either ignored or rejected these proposals. Rouhani is now the President of Iran and Zarif is his Foreign Minister. Since then, we are to believe that sanctions, which harm the health, lives and livelihood of ordinary (and often the most vulnerableIranians, and the constant threats of military action have forced Iran to the negotiating table, ready to capitulate to Western demands.

But Iran has been offering the same things for a decade. All it has asked in return is acknowledgement of its national rights. This had not changed.

In March of this year, Iranian leader Ali Khamenei was clear. “In the nuclear issue, Iran only wants the world to recognize its right to enrichment, which is Iran’s natural right,” he said during a speech in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad. “If the Americans truly want to resolve the nuclear issue with Iran, the solution is easy,” he declared, “They should acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.”

Similarly, President Rouhani recently insisted, “We will never forgo our…intrinsic right to a peaceful nuclear program, including uranium enrichment,” adding that “no amount of pressure, arm-twisting, threats and sanctions will cause Iran to abandon this right.”

John Kerry, of all people, is well aware of Iran’s right to enrich uranium. In a 2009 interview with the Financial Times, Kerry himself stated that the demand—once pushed by the Bush administration and now maintained by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—that Iran have no enrichment capability is “ridiculous” and “unreasonable.”

“They have a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose,” Kerry said. To claim otherwise was “bombastic diplomacy.”

As a new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the the five permanent, nuclear-armed members of the UN Security Council and Germany looms on the horizon, and communication between Iran and the United States has been restored at the highest levels, hopefully Secretary Kerry will do a little more homework about the Iranian nuclear program.

Getting the facts straight can only increase the possibility of a real diplomatic breakthrough and potentially put an end, once and for all, to this absurd charade.

This article was originally published at and has been used here with permission.

Correction: This article originally stated that the interview with Kerry occurred last Sunday (Oct. 13). It was from September 30, and the text above has been corrected.