The Red Herring in Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Arak

John Glaser, November 22, 2013

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The P5+1 and Iran are in Geneva negotiating the details of a first-phase deal on Tehran’s nuclear program. In the last round of talks, France scuttled the deal all other parties had reportedly agreed upon, citing Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor as a proliferation concern.

Now, as the secretive talks hammer out the details, the Arak reactor keeps popping up as a point of contention, with hardliners demanding Iran halt all construction on the unfinished facility as part of any first-phase deal. This Reuters report is headlined: “Iran’s Arak reactor is growing nuclear concern for West.”

“The fear is that, while Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, it might still separate the plutonium from the reactor’s irradiated fuel and use it to assemble bombs,” Reuters reports.

But the Arak reactor is a red herring, the one issue those opposed to U.S.-Iran rapprochement can grab onto and justify their obstructionism. Iran has made major concessions on its nuclear enrichment program in terms of the rate at which they enrich, and to what concentration, and the frequency of international inspections. Arak is the only thing left.

As the Reuters article points out, in order to extract the plutonium from Arak, “Iran would also need to build a reprocessing plant,” which “it has no declared plans to do.” So not only is Arak construction not scheduled to be completed until late 2014, but Iran would have to construct a whole new reprocessing plant if the Arak reactor were to be an actual proliferation threat, something that would take several years.

Additionally, a former senior Obama official said the deal France rejected earlier this month would have imposed “firm restrictions on Iran building fuel assemblies for the Arak fuel reactor.”

“Arak represents a long-term proliferation risk, not a near-term risk,” Daryll Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, told AFP. And time is significant here because the deal being hammered out right now is only a first-phase agreement that would halt or reduce Iran’s enrichment capacity for about 6 months, when a final grand bargain is to be agreed upon.

In other words, Arak is irrelevant to these negotiations. As former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who supports negotiations, said this morning on MSNBC, the arguments against the nuclear deal are “essentially designed to either humiliate [Iran] or to drive them into negativism so that then we are forced to act militarily.”

Put another way, the harping on irrelevant issues like Arak along with demands for Iran to completely capitulate is intended to put us back on the war path with Iran. Hopefully the negotiators have the good sense to resist that.




18 Responses to “The Red Herring in Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Arak”

  1. It was clear two weeks ago that the arguments against the deal and the additional demands made against Iran are intended to block the possibility of reaching a deal. Once Kerry backed off and adopted the additional demands, it became clear there would be no deal – because the Obama administration isn't committed to pushing it through. Obama is in deep water with the ACA fiasco. The Iran issue is not priority to him, it's mostly Kerry's project, and if opposition in Congress is too great, Obama would ditch it.
    This doesn't mean the US will go to war – as there's equally intractable opposition in the Pentagon to a war. Given all the cuts, and the focus toward Asia – a war is too much.

  2. I so wish Obama would grow a pair.

  3. Whenever anyone defending US criminality brings up Arak (and they usually don't know the name of it, they just say what they can remember from corporate news, "Iran doesn't allow inspection of all its facilities!"), we need to make the above points, and also point out that the US doesn't allow inspection of all of ITS facilities: http://empireslayer.blogspot.com/2013/11/us-has-n

    The US is in far worse violation of nuclear regulations than Iran (see above link for details).

    Everything the US is now doing, as Brzezinski points out, is simply part of the goal of achieving imperial dominance over Iran. The US is in collusion with Israel to attack Iran if domination cannot be achieved by diplomatic coercion.

    Here is one of the US and corporate (Exxon Mobil, etc.) funded think tank instruction manuals, and an analysis of it, on how to invade Iran and install a "pro-American" regime. One of the tactics considered is to "Allow or encourage an Israeli military strike": http://empireslayer.blogspot.com/2013/10/if-iran-

    The US can be trusted absolutely ZERO. It's goals are not humanitarian, they are financial, and they will use all their trickery and force to achieve them, as they always do. If US goals were humanitarian, you would have heard, among many other things, a peep during the last 20 years about SAUDI ARABIA's attempt to achieve nuclear weapons, in which they have now succeeded.

  4. why is it the ‘merkans and the french are including israel’s
    wishes and demands in this negotiation over the nukular
    nonproliferation treaty enforcement? why is it no one ever
    questions netenyahoo’s statements on iran…..to ask what
    right they have to complain, when they have done, and are
    currently doing, everything they accuse iran of?

    it all goes back to israel. follow the money….going into
    congressional campaigns, funding ‘grassroots’ negative
    campaigns, arms deals. not to mention the fundamentalist
    nutters awaiting the second coming. not to mention the
    dirt mo-nsa-ad have on them congress critters.

    just once i’d like to see these so-called interviewers ask
    when israel will sign the npt? stop their centrifuges?
    allow international inspections? stop production and
    storage of chemical and biological weapons? end their
    policy of apartheid and ethnic cleansing? meet their
    international obligations?

    i’m not holding my breath.

  5. This article is full of crap. The only thing Iran has submitted to is *partial* compliance with its existing treaty obligations for the next six months (ie. they will still be in violation, just not as badly). And for that, they are getting a lot in return. It is true that Iran doesn't have the infrastructure to separate plutonium from reactor fuel, but the Arak reactor is capable of producing enough plutonium in for a bomb every six months. And its design specifications make it very good for bomb-making, but worthless as a power reactor, and overkill for a "medical reactor" as they claim it is. I want to avoid war too, but it is foolish to blind yourself to facts.

  6. It is time for full sanctions against Israel until it allows full access to its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons facilities.

  7. If the Arak reactor is going to take a couple years to be functional and its really a non- issue, then maybe someone is listening to that ignoramus Netanyahu and believing him when he say that, "Iran can 'WHIP' up a bomb in three weeks."

  8. Wrong on all fronts,
    All data shows overwhelming opposition to any Iran attack, hence support for a deal. Obama does not need congress here, they need him. Exactly opposite the Syria fiasco, and thats what I suspect that Obama is either very lucky or a master tactician. The only thing Obama can use now to shore up his numbers is an Iran deal, nothing else will do it.

  9. Please show us all your spies and assets on the ground in Iran for us to believe your garbage. The entire US and even most Israeli intelligence communities said Iran is not working for a weapons program.
    Also prove that your assets are more capable and numerous enough to back up your claims.

  10. Just remember Netenyahu is the ONLY man ever to sell Nuclear Weapons to another country, it is something that the World must know loudly and clearly! The South African Government has confirmed it is his signature on the contract that sole them six nuclear weapons during the UN arms embargo on South Africa!

    In Nuclear weapons Proliferation Netenyahu has NO CREDIBILTY!

  11. […] The Red Herring in Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Arak […]

  12. There is still a long way to go in the process to reach a stable relationship with Iran. However in my opionion, this already quite a good improvement.

  13. The US only allows partial inspection of its nuclear facilities, and is in by far the most violation of nuclear law than any other country.

    The US also violates chemical and biological weapons law.

    The US is nearing 100 vetoes, many of them against laws that would regulate these weapons.

    The next most vetoes is Britain with about 40, then France at around 30, then Russia and China with around 4 each.

    US claims about Iran are isolated and simple propaganda.

  14. I believe there's another set of countries that have recently sold and bough nuclear weapons.

    These are of course US allies: Saudi Arabia apparently has purchased nukes from Pakistan.

    It makes perfect sense that we wouldn't hear about this from corporate media, because the US doesn't need to invade Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, as they are already clients, thus it is not currently necessary to manufacture a pretext for invading them, as it is with Iran.

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