VERTIC Researcher David Cliff on Voice of Russia

Monday 16 April 2012 saw VERTIC Researcher David Cliff appear on a Voice of Russia radio panel discussion to discuss the Iranian nuclear crisis in the wake of recent talks held between Iran and the ‘P5+1’ group of countries in Istanbul. Speaking on the show, ‘A way out of Iran’s nuclear deadlock?’, Mr Cliff argued that despite the recent agreement by Iran to hold talks, the country’s lack of transparency over its nuclear activities, its ongoing enrichment of uranium and the ‘suspected weaponisation [research and development] that may or may not be going on there’ all represent ongoing causes for concern. See below for the full discussion.

On uranium enrichment, Mr Cliff stated that while Istanbul was hailed as a successful meeting, the facts on the ground had not changed and Iran was continuing to enrich material up to the 20 per cent level – close to the level of enrichment suitable for use in a nuclear weapon. An outstanding question, he said, is what level of ‘latent weaponisation capability’ are the P5+1 willing to let Iran have. After all, allowing Iran to operate enrichment facilities would always leave it with the ‘latent’ possibility of using those facilities for the production of weapons-usable fissile material.
As a means of building confidence in the peaceful intentions of its nuclear activities, and possibly avert military action against its nuclear sites, Mr Cliff argued that Iran could begin implementation of both the IAEA Additional Protocol and the modified Code 3.1 clause to its safeguards subsidiary arrangements. The Additional Protocol would oblige Iran to provide IAEA inspectors with more information and permit them greater freedom of movement around nuclear sites; the modified Code 3.1 clause would oblige Iran to provide the Agency with early design information on the construction and modification of nuclear facilities.
On the likelihood of military action against Iran, Mr Cliff argued that the Istanbul talks had lessened their likelihood for now – but not removed the option from consideration entirely. He cautioned, though, that air strikes would inevitably lead to a ‘further destabilisation of the entire region’ (at a time when violence in Syria remains a serious global concern). Moreover, he argued, military action represents only ‘a short-term fix to a problem that requires a durable long-term solution,’ and would simultaneously make the likelihood of reaching that kind of solution less likely.

Last changed: Apr 30 2012 at 12:00 PM