As senior officials from Iran and the P5+1 -- China, France, Russia, Britain, and the United States, plus Germany -- prepare for another round of nuclear talks in Vienna on June 16-20, one major issue that cannot be left unresolved regards the suspected military aspects of Iran's nuclear program. The so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) are being investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as part of a Framework for Cooperation with Iran, but the issue is unlikely to be resolved before the July 20 target deadline set by the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) for negotiation of a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1.
Although the negotiations are aimed primarily at reaching a comprehensive agreement that limits the scope and level of Iran's uranium enrichment and plutonium production capabilities, the resolution of PMD issues has been left to the IAEA, which is working with Iran to implement a series of transparency measures to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. Accordingly, the JPOA states that a joint commission consisting of Iran and the European Union/P5+1 "will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern" -- an apparent reference to the PMD file. Yet President Hassan Rouhani and his nuclear negotiating team may be unable or unwilling to satisfactorily address questions about a possible parallel military nuclear program given an entrenched bureaucracy and fears of covert sabotage. READ MORE >>