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Limited Analysis (Desirability of the Iranian Negotiated Nuclear Agreement)

by merlin on May 2nd, 2015
  • Sumo

Because there is considerable disagreement between the USA and Iran on the “objective” implementation of the international agreement between the two countries but I only have access to the formal White House version of the deal and the International Atomic Energy Agency (henceforth, “IAEA”) rendition of the arrangement, of which only the latter is considered “universally trustworthy” (given the Republican (strange) stance, also adopted now by the Iranian Ayatollah, and subsequently by President Rouhani), I will make every effort to list where a particular factual statement comes from, and to rely primarily on the IAEA report.  The basic thrust of my argument is that the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran are addressed by the continued availability of alternative fuel sources in the form of nuclear energy and by the alleviation of economic, etcetera, sanctions; the interests of the United States (and its partners, but primarily the US, since that is the country that I live in and deal with) are addressed by the actions taken by Iran to reduce its existing enriched uranium stockpiles and eliminate its future acquisition of excessively enriched uranium, and thereby not obtain a nuclear bomb.  The Iranian side may be reassured as to US actions by the checks that are in place in a truly diligently-enforced (as it has been at an increasing rate) Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, to prevent abuse by domestic companies seeking to profit in Iranian markets, and the American parties to the agreement may be reassured as to Iran’s actions by the independent checks performed (on what is apparently a consistent and frequent basis) by the IAEA on Iranian nuclear stockpiles and Iranian nuclear facilities.

I ignore the glaring hypocrisy of the American stance (as Iran, unlike both the United States and the country that seems to be pushing its hand, Israel to act irrationally and aggressively, is a signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty that eliminates and minimizes the nuclear capabilities of the country, while it is being harshly dictated to by a coalition of countries that continue to act in a relatively unstable manner and, at least as concerns the United States, eager to act aggressively).  Iran can and should embrace the United States’ economic actions in their favor, and take their claims at face value, because of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (henceforth referred to as “FCPA”), enacted into law in the United States Code at 15 USC 78dd et seq., and because of the binding force of treaties that are properly entered-into domestically on the United States’ international actions.  I actually attended a multi-day continuing education session on the FCPA and its implementation in Washington, D.C, and learned that it allows the government to criminally and civilly pursue companies that manipulate foreign markets and currency and bribe officials to do business or to aid their business ventures.  I am surprised has not been used as an aggressive tool more often but which may have been compromised by the payment of ridiculous fines.  However, its use has increased in frequency and intensity as a tool available to the federal government, and it can serve as a very useful tool for responding aggressively to abuse of the international rapprochement that Iran would enter into with the West and the Russian Federation.

The specific IAEA report that I describe as my primary objective source is dated February 19, 2015, and is entitled “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, a report by the Director General.  It has certain key provisions that it begins with, that are the basic ideas of the Agreement and that are, to my knowledge, the objective provisions that govern the arrangement between Iran and the counties that are acting in concert to embargo and to restrict Iran.  From this document, the basic provisions that are an essential feature of the agreement between the two counties include the following highly relevant foundational statements of fact:

  • The Director General held talks with the foreign minister of Iran, HE Mohammed Javad Zarif on February 7, 2015, so the conclusions upon which this paper are based (as of February 19, 2015), were agreed-upon by the governments of the counties involved as recently as 2/7/15.
  • Since the JPA (the Joint Plan of Action – the agreed plan for Iran to comply with IAEA requirements and thereby obtain reduction in sanctions, etc., by the other involved nations) took effect (November 11, 2013) Iran has not enriched UFabove 5% U-235 (the percentage for use as nuclear fuel for alternative fuel purposes; it takes 20% to be weapons-grade) at any of its declared facilities (which are, apparently, all of their known facilities).
  • Since the JPA took effect, Iran has reduced its UFstock that was enriched up to 20% or more through downblending of conversion into uranium oxide.  I still have to look up downblending as a method, and uranium oxide toxicity, use for weapons/fuel/etc.
  • Iran apparently had an agreed rate of consistent production of UFthat was 5% enriched that the IAEA found acceptable as fuel, and this has supposedly remained consistent.  Apparently, this amount if 7,952.9 kg.

As concerns the specific operative legal principles governing in the United States that would give a positive outcome to the treaty negotiations for Iran, the source which I have chosen, since the Executive Branch seems to have agreed to the Legislative Branch’s insistence on involvement in the actual treaty negotiation process itself (which makes little Constitutional sense, I believe, but which is an analysis for a different occasion), is the document entitled “International Law and Agreements: Their Effect upon U.S. Law”, written by Michael John Garcia, Legislative Attorney, and published on February 18, 2015, in the Congressional Research Service, found at  This document contains the information that the Legislature would consider itself bound by, since it distrusts any interpretation of Constitutional authority available from the Executive Branch.  The specific difficulty that Congress has inserted into the negotiations with Iran are in the form of a delay by which the bodies of Congress would be able to evaluate the deal and the lifting of sanctions that accompanies any such deal.  Specifically, the following summary of that action is from the Washington Post article, “Iran Leader: We are in talks with ‘the major powers,’ not the U.S. Congress”:

“Throughout the debate over the legislation, the administration insisted that Congress had no power to approve or disapprove any deal Obama made with Iran and could vote only on lifting the sanctions it had passed. Those sanctions, which include waiver provisions that Obama has now given up for at least 30 days, are just part of the long-standing restrictions against Iran, which include other sanctions imposed over the years by executive order that the president retains the right to waive. Still more sanctions have been imposed by the United Nations and the European Union.”

As drawn from the document described above by Michael John Garcia, the power that Congress has in this case on the treaty arrangement with Iran solely comes from the perception of Congressional action being necessary to achieve a positive outcome in and from the United States; specifically, in order for the treaty to be fully executed, sanctions need to be lifted.  As noted above, Iran is fulfilling its own obligations under the treaty, and its progress is being monitored by the IAEA.  However, the reduction of sanctions has only been agreed-to by Congress if they approve the deal in its final form, 30 days after the final form of the agreement is decided by the parties.  The Congressional Research Service article, which is where Congress is getting its arguably inaccurate information, says of such treaties (that require some action to be taken domestically to become operative, such as the sanctions in this situation) that they and also “executive agreements that are not self-executing generally have been understood by the Courts to have limited status domestically; rather, the legislation or regulations implementing these agreements are controlling.”  The letter recently sent by certain Congressmen to the government of Iran in which they called into question the ability of the Administration to negotiate on behalf of the United States and the willingness of the United States to honor the obligations it has undertaken was plainly meant to add weight to the assertion that this treaty or executive agreement was not independently self-executing, kind of like the rhetorical tool of repeating a baseless assertion so often that it becomes an accepted assertion, even though it is untrue.

 Of course, this completely ignores the fact that the treaty negotiated by the Administration is a self-executing treaty or executive agreement, and the reduction of sanctions would be required under customary international law, since it is an obligation entered into by our country in good faith with other countries; interference by lesser parties would be tantamount to treason.  The Congressional Research Service article has this to say regarding self-executing treaties: “[they] have a status equal to federal statute; superior to U.S. state law, and inferior to the Constitution.”

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