Sunday, October 1, 2023

Annulment of Lausanne agreement, the only way forward

Kayhan daily offers explanations as to why going backward at this stage is the only way forward.

The nuclear agreement Iran and P5+1 arrived at in Lausanne, Switzerland in early April has been open to debate around the world, with opponents and proponents powerfully making their cases.

“There is no doubt about US failure to honor its commitments, but what is more important is the fact that the US does not need to go back on or overlook its obligations. After all, it has already included all it wants in the Lausanne agreement,” says Hossein Shariatmadari, the managing editor of Kayhan.

In an editorial on April 9, the influential principlist daily published a critical analysis of the Lausanne statement, calling for the annulment of what Iran has agreed to in Switzerland. The following is the translation of the editorial entitled “Beneath the inner layers of the Lausanne Agreement”:

Although the Lausanne agreement has ignited heated debate these days among those who are for and against it, there are many issues that have yet to be weighed up. And there are still several points which have been given least attention, or they have not been discussed as thoroughly as they deserve. They are as follows:

1. The Additional Protocol mentioned in the Lausanne agreement allows IAEA experts to conduct no-notice inspections of Iranian [nuclear] sites – the ones they seek to inspect – anywhere, anytime.

No doubt, signing the protocol seriously threatens the nuclear and military security of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In response to a question as to why you have accepted the Additional Protocol as an extra protocol [to the treaty, demanded by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which would allow spot checks on Iran’s nuclear facilities], the esteemed members of Iran’s nuclear team say that the singing of the Additional Protocol is voluntary.

On the other hand, critics of the Lausanne agreement stress that Iran’s signing of the protocol should get the approval of the Islamic Consultative Assembly. It looks logical at first sight, but a point which has been overlooked needs to be taken into account: the use of the term “voluntary” is meant to circumvent parliament because when the Additional Protocol is said to have been accepted on a voluntary basis, it means no agreement or treaty has been signed to be later approved by parliament as required by Article 77 of the Iranian Constitution.

Pay close attention to remarks by Mr. [Abbas] Araghchi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, on a TV news bulletin (on April 4): “The [Additional] Protocol has not passed parliament. The decision is the chamber’s [to ratify it]. During the talks we said that we – as representatives of the government – can promise to voluntarily and temporarily implement the provisions of the Protocol until parliament gets ready to adopt it.”

Mr. Araghchi underlines that acceptance of the Additional Protocol is voluntary and does not need parliamentary approval. It should be noted that the temporary, voluntary acceptance [of the Protocol] until parliament’s approval is not what he says; rather he says, “We voluntarily and temporarily implement the provisions of the Protocol”.

The good intentions of the country’s nuclear team, including Mr. Araghchi, cannot be doubted, but the other party, who knows the implementation of the Protocol needs the go-ahead of parliament, has taken advantage of the negligence of the Iranian team and – excuse my French – has imposed the term “voluntary” on the Iranian negotiators.

At first sight, the term “voluntary” might be viewed as a concession granted to Iran, but a closer look shows that the mention of such a term would put the Additional Protocol outside the parliament’s purview. In other words, the other party has bypassed Iran’s parliament and MPs. Isn’t it the case?

Besides the nuclear team, Iran’s military officials, including the defense minister, have reiterated that the other party will not be permitted to run checks on the country’s military centers; such stances make their religious and revolutionary zeal all the more praiseworthy. The point is that the other party has been given such permission by the Iranian team’s agreement to implement the Additional Protocol in a way which goes beyond its provisions.

This comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview the other day, “Iran will be the most controlled, the most inspected state if those principles agreed on in Lausanne are translated into the language of practical agreements, [and this language can only be mutual, so we have to listen to what our American colleagues have to say regarding sanctions relief”].

The only solution here is the annulment of the Lausanne agreement, something I will later discuss in this article.

2. Some individuals draw on the undeniable fact that “the US is not trustworthy” and wonder if there is any guarantee the US will live up to its commitments in the Lausanne agreement. They offer plentiful evidence for their concerns, among them American failure to keep its promises in the past and instances of its untrustworthiness.

In response, the proponents of the agreement say if and when the US backtracks [on its commitments], Iran will ignore all the things that parties to the talks have agreed to and return to the pre-Lausanne agreement stage. It sounds sensible, but parts of Iran’s commitments under the Lausanne agreement – and some in the Geneva deal – are irreversible after they are put into effect, something which should be expounded elsewhere.

On the other hand, the American untrustworthiness critics of the agreement cite is a genuinely logical concern, and a quick review of US record leaves no doubt whatsoever about it.

Another crucial point – which has been largely neglected – is that the US does not need to ignore or infringe on its obligations! By that I do not mean that the US does not backtrack on its promises, because untrustworthiness and recantation on the part of the US cannot be denied. The US does not need to break its promises in the Lausanne agreement! Why?

Because the US has included everything it wants in the Lausanne agreement and does not need to break its promise. The US is the one who should be concerned that Iran may recant on what it has agreed on in Lausanne and fail to implement it! It brings us to the conclusion that the US untrustworthiness and recantation will remain a reality for good.

The key – if not all – provisions of the Lausanne agreement are to the US benefit. Why should it refuse to enforce an agreement in which it has included all its demands?

3. The Lausanne agreement, by the admission of the country’s nuclear team, is just a press statement and is not legally binding, but because it entails preliminary frameworks (read the first stage of a two-stage agreement), legally it is referred to as “agreement”, not “statement.

In any case, the hands of Iranian officials are not tied. They can build on Articles 77 and 125 of our Constitution to refrain from accepting the Lausanne agreement.

Although the other party has driven the implementation of the Additional Protocol out of the jurisdiction of Iran’s parliament, the Lausanne agreement involves other commitments which can be accepted and implemented – as required by the Constitution – only after parliament’s approval and the Guardian Council’s confirmation.

The country’s esteemed officials can and should refuse to accept the Lausanne agreement, citing the fact that the agreement’s requirements have yet to be ratified by the Islamic Consultative Assembly and later by the Guardian Council, and announce it nullified before it gets too late.

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