The Corner

Iran Claims Side Deal in Geneva Agreement

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said in a Persian-language interview today that there are important details about the deal between Iran and the U.S. and major powers in a 30-page document that hasn’t been made public. This weekend, Iran and the P5+1 nations agreed to the final version of the deal (which commences next week) but haven’t released its actual text — and the Iranian official, Abbas Araqchi, said that they may never be released, amounting to what some are calling a “secret side deal.” The L.A. Times explains what’s at issue:

In the interview, Araqchi referred to the side agreement using the English word “nonpaper,” a diplomatic term used for an informal side agreement that doesn’t have to be disclosed publicly.

The nonpaper deals with such important details as the operation of a joint commission to oversee how the deal is implemented and Iran’s right to continue nuclear research and development during the next several months, he said.

Araqchi described the joint commission as an influential body that will have authority to decide disputes. U.S. officials have described it as a discussion forum rather than a venue for arbitrating major disputes.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the text of the implementing agreement would be released to lawmakers. He said the six parties were weighing how much of the text they could release publicly.

Hawkish American groups have called for the Obama administration to release the text of the agreement, but Araqchi’s claim about “nonpaper” text implies that Iran and the P5+1 powers have decided that certain elements of the deal to which they agreed should not be made public.

Araqchi says that text includes some of the restrictions on what kind of nuclear research Iran will be able to pursue: Western officials said on Sunday that existing projects could continue and research could go on, but that new physical projects can’t be begun. Araqchi may have suggested otherwise, saying, “No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded. All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”

The Iranian comments about the “side deal” could have been misinterpreted (literally or figuratively), but his description of the Iranian understanding of the nuclear-research portion of the deal seems to suggest that there may be a gap between what the West has claimed about the deal and what Iran says it allows. We’ll have to see whether that confusion is cleared up.

This isn’t the first dispute over what the agreement actually amounts to: When the deal was reached at the end of November, the White House only publicly released its own fact sheet, not deigning to release the unofficial text of the communique from the conference (which was obtained by the media). That allowed the Obama administration to downplay, for instance, various ways in which the agreement weakened the international sanctions regime against Iran (the “fact sheet,” for instance, claimed only repairs and inspections of Iranian airlines would be allowed, while the agreement refers to supplying spare parts, which are often diverted by the Revolutionary Guard). Iran claimed that the White House’s depiction of the agreement was “invalid,” though their most strident objection was semantic: American diplomats argued that the deal didn’t recognize an Iranian right to enrichment, while Iranian officials said it did.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Problem with Certainty

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you having this read to you while you white-knuckle the steering wheel trying to get to wherever you’re going for the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More

America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn’t quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. ... Read More