Under Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Obligations Are Voluntary


Mohammad Javad ZarifBy M. Klein and L. Berney

Virtually every treaty and agreement contains language that clearly binds the parties to definitive, explicitly agreed-to terms. However, the Iran deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — is different. In the JCPOA, supposed obligations are merely called “voluntary measures.”

It is frightening that, in addition to failing to dismantle Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons; failing to end Iran’s worldwide support for terrorist attacks on Americans, Jews and others; and giving Iran sanctions relief and economic windfalls now estimated to reach $700 billion, which will drastically intensify Iran’s worldwide terror operations, the JCPOA appears to be written in such a way as to avoid imposing any real, binding, enforceable obligations on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Right at the outset, the introduction to the Iran deal’s nuclear provisions calls the deal’s provisions “voluntary measures.” At the end of the JCPOA’s introductory Preamble and General Provisions, the JCPOA’s nuclear provisions are introduced with the following opening phrase:

“Iran and E3/EU-3 will take the following voluntary measures within the time frame as detailed in this JCPOA and its annexes.”

The phrase “voluntary measures” is also repeated elsewhere in the JCPOA.

The JCPOA’s key nuclear monitoring provisions and general provisions are called “voluntary measures” and “voluntary nuclear-related measures” — not obligations.

The JCPOA’s Nuclear Section C, titled “Transparency and Confidence Building Measures,” paragraph 15 states: “Iran will allow the IAEA to monitor the implementation of the voluntary measures for their respective duration.”

Similarly, the JCPOA’s Preamble and General Provisions paragraph x states: “The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be requested to monitor and verify the voluntary nuclear-related measures as detailed in this JCPOA.”

The JCPOA also uses the terms Iran’s “intention” and “plan” and “Iran’s own plan” and “voluntary commitments” in other key paragraphs. “Intentions” and “plans” and “voluntary commitments” do not have the force of binding agreements.

The very title of the deal, “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” merely indicates a plan — not a binding agreement.

And, for instance, key JCPOA Nuclear Section B, titled “Arak, Heavy Water, Reprocessing,” paragraph 11, merely states that “Iran intends to ship out all spent fuel for all future and present power and research nuclear reactors.”

JCPOA Section I (titled “Other Aspects of Enrichment”), paragraph 52, states: “Iran will abide by its voluntary commitments as expressed in its own long term enrichment and enrichment R&D plan to be submitted. . . .”

Similarly, critical provisions in the JCPOA’s Nuclear Section A, titled “Enrichment, Enrichment R&D, Stockpiles,” paragraph 1, refer to Iran’s “voluntary commitments, as expressed in its own long-term enrichment and enrichment R&D plan to be submitted.”

The JCPOA also limits the purpose of the JCPOA’s “measures.” The JCPOA’s Preamble and General Provisions, paragraph xi, provides: “All provisions and measures contained in this JCPOA are only for the purpose of its implementation between E3/EU+3 and Iran.”

In other words, countries other than the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, France, England and Germany) will have no right to insist that Iran must abide by any provisions of the JCPOA. And the phrase “only for the purpose of implementation” suggests that the P5+1 will be severely limited in what they can insist upon.

Given Iran’s long history of violating its binding international nonproliferation obligations and its other international obligations, there is little doubt that Iran will readily avoid the “voluntary measures” in the JCPOA.

We must also ask, does the West gain any new legal rights from Iran’s “voluntary measures” set forth in the JCPOA? Under pre-existing binding international documents, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — a treaty that Iran signed and ratified and has violated for decades — Iran is legally obligated to submit to IAEA safeguards on fissionable material and processing equipment, and cannot legally acquire or manufacture nuclear weapons. It seems that the JCPOA imposes no new binding legal obligations on Iran — while granting Iran an immense windfall.

Even worse, as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) opined at the July 22 congressional hearing on Iran, the JCPOA will in the long run make it more difficult for the West to require Iran to meet its existing NPT obligations, because the JCPOA “make[s] it much harder to demonstrate that Iran’s nuclear program [including Iran’s advanced centrifuges and enrichment program] is not in fact being used for peaceful purposes.” Thus, the JCPOA ultimately undermines Iran’s existing legal obligations.

Morton Klein is president of the Zionist Organization of America. Elizabeth Berney, Esq. is ZOA’s director of special projects. This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.