September 13, 2022 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 410

The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Five Shams And One Truth

September 13, 2022 | By Yigal Carmon and M. Reiter*
Iran | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 410

For many years, the West has been trying to prevent – and later slow down – Iran's efforts to become a nuclear power. Everybody knows that Iran wants nuclear weapons;[1] thus, the very idea of negotiations is farcical. Within the big farce that is the JCPOA, there are four specific shams that fully expose it for what it is.

Sham 1: The Text Of The JCPOA Allows For Nuclear Weapons Development

The JCPOA was presented as an agreement that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Yet in reality, the text of the agreement explicitly allows Iran – subject to certain conditions – to acquire the technical know-how and peripheral capabilities needed to develop a nuclear bomb.

Article 82 in Section T of the JCPOA's Annex 1 reads:

"82.2. Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using multi-point explosive detonation systems suitable for a nuclear explosive device [is prohibited], unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring.

"82.3. Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosive diagnostic systems (streak cameras, framing cameras and flash x-ray cameras) suitable for the development of a nuclear explosive device [is prohibited], unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring."

Importantly, the IAEA was intentionally excluded from these clauses. Even when the IAEA asked to monitor Iran in 2017 pursuant to Section T, its director-general Yukiya Amano accepted the argument that the IAEA has no authority to enforce Section T, and that this is a "problem for the Joint Commission." However, the Joint Commission lacks any ability to monitor Iran's nuclear activities.[2]

The JCPOA required Iran's 8.5-ton inventory[3] of enriched uranium to be transferred to Russia to be kept in its custody,[4] but in reality the uranium disappeared, evading IAEA oversight, as attested at a House of Representatives hearing by the Obama State Department's Iran coordinator Stephen Mull.[5]

Sham 2: The IAEA Is Not Allowed to Carry Out Inspections At Any Time And At Any Place

Sham 3: Iran Keeps Claiming That Supreme Leader Khamenei Has Issued A Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons, But No Such Fatwa Has Ever Existed

The Iranians keep claiming that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa banning nuclear weapons. But there is no such fatwa, and it has never existed.

For years, Western officials – including former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry – have treated this nonexistent fatwa as if they have seen it with their own eyes. They never have, and never could have.[6]

In fact, Khamenei was asked in 2012 by an Iranian group to issue a fatwa on the topic of banning nuclear weapons, but he deliberately refrained from doing so, and his concluding statement said: "No answer was given."[7]

Sham 4: Western Countries Keep Negotiating With Iran, Even Though They Themselves Have Accused It Of Not Providing Credible Answers To Suspicions Regarding Its Nuclear Weapons Program

On September 10, 2022, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement saying that Iran has not been taking satisfactory steps to answer outstanding questions regarding its nuclear program and the location of nuclear materials in its territory.[8]

Yet, the West is nonetheless negotiating with Iran on the assumption that it is an honest and reliable partner.

Meanwhile, Iran has also engaged in nuclear weapons espionage,[9] targeted Americans (former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,[10] and dissident journalist Masih Alinejad[11]), and lied about these actions.

Sham 5: The West Is Negotiating For An Agreement Even Though Its Sunset Clauses Begin Taking Effect Within a Few Months

Even if Iran were a trustworthy negotiations partner, even if the fatwa existed, even if the IAEA could enforce Section T, and even if anybody knew where the 8.5 tons of enriched uranium had disappeared to – the nuclear negotiations are still meaningless, since the sunset clauses begin taking effect in 2023.

The One Truth:

The only time Iran stepped back and truly halted its nuclear program was in 2003, when U.S. forces were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; M. Reiter is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.


[3] According to some sources, the inventory consisted of up to 11.4 metric tons of enriched uranium. See:, December 28, 2015.

[4] In addition, unprecedentedly lenient international protocols were established especially for Iran, and they enabled it to easily conceal heavy water that it had produced in excess of the quota set by the JCPOA. See: MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1567, The 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Revisited, March 26, 2021.

[5] MEMRI Daily Brief No. 407, A Return To The Pitfalls Of The 2015 Nuclear Agreement?, August 30, 2022.

[6] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1567, The 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Revisited, March 26, 2021.

[7] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1022, The Official Iranian Version Regarding Khamenei's Alleged Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa Is A Lie, October 3, 2013. 

[8], September 10, 2022.

[9] Sweden's intelligence services have recently reported that Iran has been engaging in industrial espionage aimed at Swedish technology that can be used in a nuclear weapons program. See:, accessed September 8, 2022.

[10], August 11, 2022.

[11], July 14, 2021.

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