“Iran meets with their P5+1 counterparts November 7-8 in Geneva for another round of talks aimed at breaking the decade-long stalemate over its nuclear program. Digging through our files in attempt to add perspective amid the repetition, we stumbled across these 2005 documents. The first is the letter [EU ROUHANI LET] to Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s current president who was then leading his country’s negotiations with the European Union while his country voluntarily enforced a nuclear suspension. The tension inside the message, created at Rouhani’s request for IAEA removal of seals at the Isfahan uranium-processing facility, is palpable and portends the breakdown that would follow.
The second document [EU 2005 IRAN PROP] is the 32-page EU offer to Iran, made to swap concessions in international relations for a cessation of atomic work. The proposal, with the ungainly title, “Framework For a Long-Term Agreement Between The Islamic Republic of Iran and France, Germany and the United Kingdom, with the Support of the High Representative of the European Union,” is notable for a few reasons. First, from the mere standpoint of historical curiosity, it has a fantastic Alice-in-Wonderland element of style, in which rabbit holes are referred to in terms of trade, pipelines and politics. The proposals are so vast and sweeping, it is possible to imagine the accord would still be under negotiation, even if had it been accepted eight years ago. The paper appears less to solve problems than to swap them for issues potentially even more vexing.
Second, it is interesting to note how the EU proposal refers to future light-water reactors in the future-perfect tense. On page 16, under the sub-head “Fuel Assurances,” for example, the document refers to a fleet of LWRs that would form the backbone of Iran’s nuclear industry. The problem is that there’s no explanation about how those reactors would be obtained and what role Iranian scientists and engineers would play in establishing their presence.
There are other gems inside the document: on page 5, France and the U.K. would reiterate their promise not to drop nuclear weapons on Iran (as long as it stayed in the NPT!); on page 8, the Euros ensure maximum gridlock by referencing the Conference on Disarmament just before pledging support for a Middle East WMDFZ; of course, no EU proposal would be complete without the establishment of a new committee — in this case one dedicated to regular meetings on security and defense on page 12.
So far this year, diplomats have kept details about plans presented during the current phase of negotiations secret. That is widely interpreted as lending credence to the seriousness of these talks. Let us hope that the 2005 European proposal remains under seal in the tomb it must share with “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”