Category Archives: Iran

Why Deterrence Against Iran Is a Bad Idea

Lobe Log | Eldar Mamedov | December 16th, 2015

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In the November-December 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs, prominent American scholar Michael Mandelbaum argues that in order to deter Iran from going nuclear, the agreement reached by P5+1 should be supplemented by an explicit threat of US military action.  Mandelbaum proposes that the Obama administration or any future US government “publicly articulate and resolutely communicate” such a threat to Tehran. In addition, to make such a threat credible, the administration should increase the deployment of US forces in the Persian Gulf region and step up the scope and intensity of military exercises there with its allies.

Following such an advice would do a great disservice to the US foreign policy. It would risk destroying the nuclear agreement with Iran— the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—and undermine American interests in a number of other ways.

The argument about the need of deterrence rests on the assumption that Iran will be cheating on its commitments. But Iran´s recent track record suggests otherwise. Iran has complied with the provisions of the Geneva interim agreement, a stepping stone for the JCPOA. The recent IAEA report found no evidence of any weapons-related nuclear activity in Iran. In fact, some of the opponents of the deal are now alarmed that Iran may indeed be fulfilling its obligations, because this will lead to a lifting of sanctions and an end to Iran´s pariah status.

Mandelbaum fails to analyze, however, why Iran would cheat on an agreement that it fought so hard to attain and which promises it substantial economic benefits over the long run. This failure reflects an ideological view of Iran´s rulers as inherently irrational and devious. But improving the living conditions of the Iranian people, which involves the lifting of sanctions, is a top concern for most political factions in the country. In this context, a “credible threat” by the US will achieve exactly the opposite of what Mandelbaum purports to want to achieve.

First, it will convince the Iranians that no matter how hard they try to respect their commitments, Washington´s hostility is implacable. A threat of military strike might push Iranians to stop implementing parts of the JCPOA. They could, for example, put an end to the intrusive inspections of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This would make verifying the nature of Iranian nuclear activities much more difficult.

Second, Mandelbaum seems to forget that the JCPOA is a multilateral pact, not a bilateral American-Iranian agreement. So, any threat meant to “complement” the JCPOA would have to be made on behalf of the whole P5+1. But America´s closest allies—the EU trio of UK, France, and Germany—is not in the mood to re-initiate hostilities with Iran. The EU is busy fostering a new strategy of engagement with Iran. The Iran task force established in the European External Action Service (EEAS) is looking into expanding cooperation with Iran in a variety of areas. European business delegations are queuing up to explore opportunities in Iran. In such an environment, unilaterally threatening Iran with a military strike is more likely to isolate Washington than Tehran.

Third, it is foolish to expect that Iran will just passively watch a large-scale US military build-up in the Persian Gulf together with some of Iran´s regional antagonists, such as Saudi Arabia. Iran would counter such moves by mobilizing its proxies throughout the region. As Mandelbaum himself recalls, Tehran-sponsored Shiite militias in Iraq “helped kill hundreds of US troops,” which happened when the US placed Iran into the “axis of evil” and made regime change in Tehran a priority. These days, Iran has considerable assets in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to harm the US and allied interests in the region, should it choose to do so. It might also try to exploit disaffected Shia minorities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

Finally, an American threat would undermine Iranian pragmatists who are trying to open up the country to the EU and possibly, in the future, to the US as well. It will vindicate those who’d rather cling to the old notions of “resistance” to the West. Iran faces in February 2016 some of the most consequential elections in the history of the Islamic Republic: those of the parliament and Assembly of Experts, which is tasked with the selection of the Supreme Leader. Undermining the moderates would strengthen precisely the kind of people Mandelbaum wants to deter.

In essence, under the guise of deterrence Mandelbaum re-brands the old neoconservative idea of regime change in Iran. He concedes that much when he says that the US might change its policy “should the Islamic Republic fall or evolve.” As the case with Saddam Hussein´s Iraq shows, the policy of deterrence can easily evolve into a regime-change agenda. The JCPOA had to decisively put such notions to rest. But the fact that such a piece was published in Foreign Affairs, an establishment magazine par excellence, shows the resistance of some foreign policy elites in Washington to accepting the new, post-deal reality. Even more worrying is the fact that serious presidential hopefuls like Hillary Clinton and the new neoconservative champion Marco Rubio share, to varying degrees, such views. This only makes the task of full implementation of the JCPOA all the more urgent in order to raise the costs for any future American administration that might consider violating it.

Photo: Michael Mandelbaum

This article reflects the personal views of the author and not necessarily the opinions of the European Parliament.

Iran to dismantle reactor core in Arak in 2-3 weeks

TASS | December 16, 2015

Iran is working on reactor core dismantling together with China and the United States

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© AP Photo/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi

VIENNA, December 16. /TASS/. Iranian specialists will complete works on dismantling the core of the heavy water reactor in Arak in two-three weeks, Russia’s permanent representative at international organizations in Vienna Vladimir Voronkov told journalists on Wednesday.

“Iranians say this work can be completed in 2-3 weeks,” Voronkov said. “They say it is attainable in the rather short timeframe,” he added.

The diplomat noted that Iran is working on reactor core dismantling together with China and the United States. “Formal organizational and technical issues exist but from the point of view of implementation everything is proceeding in the routine mode,” Voronkov stressed. “This issue will disappear from the agenda in 2-3 weeks,” he said.

Iran to send enriched uranium to Russia in coming days

According to Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Vladimir Voronkov,  Iran will send the surplus amount of enriched uranium to Russia already in the coming days.

“The logistics have been established through the port at Bushehr and it [enriched uranium] will be loaded and sent to Russia in coming days,” the envoy said.

According to Voronkov, the success of the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program has made it possible for the world community to focus on the Syrian settlement.

“Work on Syria began only after an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was reached,” he said. “Everyone felt that it was possible to negotiate. Not to scare each other, not to pound each other but to negotiate.” According to him, the idea of applying a multilateral format to the Syrian settlement “was promoted by Frank-Walter Steinmeier (German Foreign Minister -TASS), it was supported by Sergey Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister – TASS).” “It worked,” Voronkov said.

“The prototype of such work on a complex issue was developed, to a large extent, during the work of the P5+1 group and Iran,” the diplomat said. He recalled that at the initial stage Iran, just like Syria, did not take part in the negotiation process. “The restoration of confidence was proceeding gradually, step by step. I believe that, if there is a positive movement forward within the framework of 19 countries, Syria will join the process at some point,” he noted.

Voronkov added that the solution of the issue of Iran’s nuclear program shows that “in the current environment, diplomacy is an absolutely effective and reliable mechanism, if there is political will from all sides.”.

Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program

On 14 July 2015, the P5+1 group of international mediators (five permanent members of UN Security Council – US, UK, Russia, China, France – and Germany) and Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran will not produce weapons-grade plutonium and limit its stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.67% to 300 kilograms for the next 15 years. Tehran also agreed to modernize its nuclear facilities and use them for exclusively peaceful purposes.

Sanctions will be gradually removed from Iran. The arms embargo imposed by UN Security Council will be kept in place for five years, ban for supplying ballistic missile technologies to Iran – for eight years. Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will monitor nuclear facilities in Iran for the next 25 years. If any points of the agreement are violated by Iran, sanctions against the country will be renewed.

On July 20, the corresponding resolution on Iran’s nuclear program agreement was adopted by UN Security Council.

 

Technical and Diplomatic Analysis of the IAEA PMD Report

Arms Control Law | Dan Joyner | December 11, 2015

[Note: PMD = Possible Military Dimensions, HvdK]

I wanted to follow up about the new IAEA PMD report by pointing to a couple of very good analytical pieces that have been written about it from, respectively, technical and diplomatic perspectives.  Both are at Lobelog:

Robert Kelley’s technical piece here,

and Peter Jenkins’ diplomatic/political piece here.

I highly recommend both. They are a breath of fresh air compared to most of the think tank commentary going on right now.

I really try to stay away from personally commenting on technical questions that come up in the nuclear nonproliferation area.  I try to be very careful in recognizing that I am simply not qualified to provide my own original analysis on such technical questions.  This is precisely the kind of self-awareness that I don’t see in far too many members of the arms control think tank community who, with either no or thin legal education qualifications, have zero qualms about confidently asserting their own original analysis of legal questions.

In that vein of prudential personal reserve, I will not comment at length about Jeffrey Lewis’ new piece over at Foreign Policy, in which he interprets the IAEA PMD report as having made

a straightforward assertion that Iran attempted to build a nuclear weapon prior to 2003.

But let’s do remember what the report actually concluded:

The Agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.

The Agency has found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Again, from a non-technical-specialist point of view, it seems to me that Lewis is overstating the case.  I don’t see that the PMD report findings substantiate an assertion that, prior to 2003, Iran was in fact attempting to build a nuclear weapon – as if there was a full blown Iranian Manhattan Project going on.

It seems to me that a more reasonable and responsible interpretation of the technical findings of the PMD report would be that Iran was, prior to that date, engaging in a coordinated effort to gain the technical capability necessary to build a nuclear bomb, should the political decision at some point be made to do so.  Again, the report says that the agency found “no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material” to this capacity building R&D program.  So they apparently weren’t actually experimenting with nuclear material at any point.  And the report further says that “these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies.”  Again, this doesn’t seem to support the identification of an intent to in fact manufacture, or at least attempt to manufacture, a nuclear weapon.  It seems to me that this identification is an unwarranted assumption, in a case where other intentions are just as persuasively indicated.

That’s all I’ll say. Perhaps technical specialist types can chime in in the comments section. I do think, though, that it is important to be as clear as we can be about what the PMD report actually says, and what we should understand about Iran’s past weaponization program. I’ll mostly leave it to the likes of Bob Kelley and other actually qualified people to provide that interpretation.  But Lewis’ assertion struck me as particularly excessive and unsupported by what the report actually says.

Iran’s Nuclear Aberration

Lobe Log | Peter Jenkins | December 7th, 2015

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It was inevitable that some of the headlines greeting the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) final assessment of military nuclear research in Iran would be variations on the theme of “Iran’s nuclear weapon program confirmed.”

In reality the picture that emerges from the assessment, distributed to IAEA members on December 2, is more complex—and less alarming.

The IAEA is confident that Iran’s scientists have looked into what would need to be done to detonate a nuclear warhead and fit a warhead into the nose cone of a medium-range delivery vehicle. But they have found no evidence that this knowhow has ever been applied to the construction of a prototype, or that any nuclear material has ever been used for research into making the core of a uranium- (or plutonium-) based device.

Adding the IAEA’s findings to a recent statement by a former president of Iran and to the contents of recent US national intelligence estimates can produce a description of Iran’s “nuclear weapon program” that goes something like this.

In 1984, Iran’s leaders woke up to the fact that Saddam Hussein of Iraq, with whom they were at war, had tasked his nuclear scientists with producing a uranium-based bomb, the sooner the better. This prompted the Iranians to go onto the black market to acquire a uranium enrichment capability and possibly—though this is just an inference—design information for a uranium-based device. Their motive was to keep pace with, or even steal a march on Saddam, to deter him from threatening or using nuclear weapons to strike Iranian targets.

In 1988, hostilities between Iran and Iraq ceased, and in 1991 the UN forced Saddam to declare and dismantle all aspects of his nuclear weapon program. At that point his scientists still had a long way to go.

Why Iran’s leaders decided to call a halt to their program only in 2003, and not in the early 1990s, is a puzzle. What is now clear, however, is that prior to the 2003 halt, Iran’s scientists were still engaged in basic research. There are no signs of a “crash program” in the years following the unravelling of Saddam’s nuclear weapon ambitions.

We can also say with confidence, thanks to the IAEA, that Iranian weapon-related activities never reached the point of entailing any breach of Iran’s core non-proliferation commitment to refrain from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons.

A Controversial Process

The distribution of this assessment marks the end of a controversial process. In early 2008, the IAEA elevated a two-year “concern” about the alleged study of a uranium-conversion process, warhead-detonation techniques, and missile nose-cone design work into an investigation into a “possible military dimension” (PMD). It is not clear from Agency reports why it decided on this change of tack.

Nor is it clear what led the IAEA to put to one side initial doubts about the authenticity of the documents that constitute the original “alleged studies.” The documents came from a laptop smuggled out of Iran in 2004. Supposedly the documents were initiated within the confines of Iran’s nuclear weapon program. Yet they contain “deficiencies of form and format,” to quote from an IAEA report—puzzling inaccuracies and anomalies that led Iran to allege that the documents are forgeries—and these have never been explained away.

Of course over the last decade the IAEA has acquired a lot of additional information, some from open sources, some through their own investigations, and some from member states. This additional material has likely raised their confidence in the authenticity of the laptop information, despite its deficiencies, by corroborating aspects of it.

That, though, takes one into the murky world of intelligence collection. The reliability of human intelligence (HUMINT) can be notoriously hard to assess—witness the 2002 CURVEBALL case that featured false allegations of mobile biological weapon laboratories in Iraq. Perhaps very little of the “information from member states” to which reference is made passim in the December 2 assessment took the form of HUMINT. But no such assurance has been offered.

Then there is the question of the legal basis for investigating the PMD allegations. The mandate that the UN Security Council gave to the IAEA was clear. But after a while the IAEA started to claim that additional authority came from Iran’s nuclear safeguards agreement. That was controversial because the safeguards authority relates to the completeness and correctness of nuclear material declarations. It was hard to conceive how some of the PMD allegations, e.g. the design of a missile nose cone, could have involved nuclear material.

Looking to the Future

These controversies now lie in the past. After the December 2 assessment the IAEA will likely concentrate on the broader question of whether Iran is harbouring any undeclared nuclear activities or material – the same question that arises in every Non-Nuclear Weapon State subject to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, as Iran will be shortly.

This question is a lot more important than whether Iran is in possession of knowhow relevant to the making of a nuclear device. That knowhow is much less rare in 2015 than it was in 1945. What has saved the world from rampant nuclear proliferation is not the absence of knowhow but the absence of the inclination to make use of it.

Since 1945 only eight states have acquired nuclear weapons. This is mainly, though not entirely, because most states have preferred the collective security of adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to the costs and risks of becoming nuclear-armed.

Iran’s leaders may not have been fully aware of those costs in 1984 or may have seen Saddam’s nuclear weapon program as force majeure. But they are aware now. The last 12 years of gruelling diplomacy and economic sanctions have seen to that.

So they have good reason to make a success of the July 14 Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). By implementing the confidence-building measures detailed in the Plan and complying scrupulously with its verification and transparency commitments, Iran can persuade the NPT community to view its “nuclear weapons program” as an aberration that its leaders do not intend to repeat.

And if US leaders are wise, they will encourage Iranian implementation by fulfilling their side of the July 14 bargain. That means lifting secondary sanctions and giving European and Asian banks and enterprises confidence about re-engaging with Iran. It also means adopting a less Manichaean view of the Middle East and recognizing the potential cost of exaggerating Iranian responsibility for regional instability and conflict. When nuclear non-proliferation is at stake, the ethical emotions on which politicians thrive must give way to sober judgement.

Photo of IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano courtesy IAEA Photobank via Flickr

The Proliferation-as-Terrorism Rule

Emptywheel | November 12, 2015

Last week, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee tried to get Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson to list the Iran Republican Guard as a terrorist organization.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) pressed Anne Patterson, assistant secretary of state in the bureau of near eastern affairs, during a hearing last week on Iran’s rogue activities.

Since the nuclear deal, “Iran has taken several provocative actions, including ballistic missile tests, the jailing of Americans on frivolous charges, and support for terrorist activities via the IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” McCaul said.

The corps has been linked to terrorist operations across the Middle East and beyond, including arming terror proxy groups fighting against the United States and Israel.

“I sent a letter to the president of the United States requesting that the IRGC be placed on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list because they are the terror arm of Iran,” McCaul said. “This would not lift the sanctions. It would keep the sanctions in place on the very terrorist activities that Iran wants to take the $100 billion and ship them toward these activities. What is your response to whether or not designating the IRGC as an FTO [foreign terrorist organization], whether that is a good decision?”

Patterson sidestepped the question, but said that the State Department does not think the group can legally be categorized as a terrorist organization.

“I can’t answer that question, Mr. McCaul,” Patterson said. “I’ll have to get back to you. I would not think they would meet the legal criteria, but I don’t really know.”

Now, I’m not actually interested in getting the IRGC listed as a terrorist organization, particularly not for arming militias, because I think that would be a very bad precedent for the world’s biggest arms proliferator. Moreover, I’m sure Patterson sees this effort as another attempt to squelch efforts for peace with Iran.

But I am interested in her squirming given that for some years — we don’t know how many, but there was a new group approved in June 2007 and another approved in July 2009, so probably at least 6 years — the NSA has targeted Iran using the counterterrorism phone dragnet. So the government has convinced a FISC judge that IRGC (or Iran more generally) is a terrorist group. But now the State Department is telling us they’re not.

Up until USA F-ReDux passed this year, when Congress extended the proliferation-related definition of a foreign power under FISA to include those aiding or conspiring with those actually doing the proliferation, the government seems to have always pushed whom could be spied on well beyond the definitions in the law (there appears to have been a non-NSA certificate for it under Protect America Act, for example). That extends to the phone dragnet, and does so in such a way that probably includes a lot of American businesses.

And, Patterson’s dodges notwithstanding, the government hasn’t been above calling Iran a terrorist organization to do it.

India, Pakistan’s Nuclear Agendas Concern U.S.

ValueWalk | Brinda Banerjee | October 10, 2015

A United States government official has recently commented on India’s growing nuclear capabilities, revisiting the debate on nuclear advancement in the modern world and its impact on international security and geopolitical ties.

India, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan Pursue Nuclear Growth

A high-ranking official from within the Obama administration has recently likened India and Pakistan to North Korea and Iran in a conversation regarding the countries’ nuclear capabilities. The comment was made in a discussion about countries that are actively pursuing nuclear development and growth even as the international community remains apprehensive about weapons proliferation and the potential fallout of the same.

Addressing a seminar at Oslo, Norway, U.S. official Frank Rose recently said, “India and Pakistan are adding to their arsenals; North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs remain a concern to all; and Iran, despite the landmark nuclear deal, continues its ballistic missile programs”. Mr. Rose currently serves as the Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance of the United States Department of State.

At present, India possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads while Pakistan’s stockpile is estimated at between 100 and 120 nuclear warheads. Assessments based on Pakistan’s nuclear development goals reveal that the country is poised to own the third-largest supply of nuclear weapons within the next ten years.

At present, Russia and the United States have the biggest nuclear weapons supplies in the world, with both Moscow and Washington totaling in at approximately 1,600 each. China, France and the United Kingdom follow suit with 250, 300 and 225 nuclear warheads respectively.

Security experts interpret Pakistan’s ever-expanding nuclear arsenal as a cause for concern given the country’s history of proliferation. Talk of Pakistan and the nuclear issue is incomplete without mention of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan who was found guilty of selling nuclear weapons technology and information on the black-market to bidders in Iran, Libya and North Korea. The country’s record with nuclear technology, its experiences with internal security challenges and extremism and the historic rivalry with India have all caused the international community to worry about regional security and international fallout should nuclear growth in the region be allowed to continue unchecked.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty And Proliferation Concerns

While the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the overarching international regulation by way of which the global community aims to prevent nuclear proliferation, the agreement has not been fully effected. This is, due in part to the reluctance of some states to fully agree to the covenant.

The United States and Iran are amongst the countries that have signed the CTBT but are yet to ratify it. Other states that have signed the treaty but not ratified it include China, Egypt and Israel. India, North Korea and Pakistan are the three countries that have not signed the agreement. Signing began in the year 1996; since then, only three countries have been conclusively known to have carried out nuclear testing: India, North Korea and Pakistan. India and Pakistan both conducted two rounds of nuclear tests in 1998 while North Korea organized its tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Banning Not Enough, U.S. Official

In his discussion on the matter in Oslo, Mr. Frank Rose has expressed the concern that simply banning nuclear advancement and weapons proliferation will not be enough to tackle the threat of an extremely nuclear-capable world. The U.S. government official has pointed out that the aforementioned countries’ nuclear development agendas coupled with China and Russia’s interest in augmenting their nuclear strengths contributes significantly to geopolitical insecurity and risks against global harmony.

Mr. Rose has stated that simply introducing treaties such as the CTBT and banning the development, testing and sale of nuclear weapons is not enough to stop the spread of nuclear weapons systems. There continues to be an interest in, demand for and supply of nuclear weapons systems and so other strategies must be identified if the global community is to “effectively deter multiple adversaries with varying capabilities.”

Assessing The U.S.-India Nuclear Arrangement

The nuclear agreement between India and the United States, known as the U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement, is often described as a landmark accord. The agreement states that India can purchase nuclear fuel and nuclear technology from the United States and vice-versa. The agreement has gone through various stages and has been phased out for years owing to several legal considerations and amendments needed in laws in both countries and though it was formalized in 2008 it has still not been fully affected.

The Indo-U.S. nuclear deal was hailed as a modern take on ‘civil nuclear cooperation’ and presented a groundbreaking moment in Indo-U.S. relations since it targeted several concerns of both states while also promoting international standards of peace and security. The nuclear agreement was envisioned to create stronger Indo-U.S. ties while helping the U.S. curb China’s growing influence in Asia and recognizing India in its own right outside of its historical associations with Pakistan. At the same time, the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal would help both countries economically while inducing mutual growth in domestic nuclear energy productions and enabling cross-access. The nuclear agreement between India and the United States is also recognized as an important milestone in the debate on non-proliferation since it was a sign of the U.S.’ trust in India’s track record of non-proliferation, despite New Delhi’s decision to not sign the CTPT.

While the implementation of the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement has been delayed by technical considerations regarding legalities and regulations, both countries remain committed to the deal. At present, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and U.S. business enterprises along with other relevant actors are engaged in discussions on how to best realize the agreement. Speaking on the matter Nisha Desai Biswal, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, has said, “What remains is the commercial negotiations on what is the business proposition that companies can move forward on. And that is going to move forward on its own pace.”

The Indo-U.S. deal is primarily a civil/ business arrangement and while it fosters compliance with international conventions on security and nuclear non-proliferation, its full potential is yet to be realized.

U.S. Considers Nuclear Accord With Pakistan, India Objects

The United States is reportedly exploring options for a nuclear arrangement with Pakistan. The deal, if it were to be realized, would witness a definite capping of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile in return for a greater supply of nuclear material. The deal will allow the U.S. access to Pakistan’s nuclear production facilities and raw materials. For Pakistan, the tradeoff will include the U.S.’ assistance in purchasing nuclear materials and necessary capabilities from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which at present does not transact with countries that have not signed the Non Proliferation Treaty.

While Pakistan has demanded a “non-discriminatory approach on nuclear issues” in its pursuit of a nuclear agreement like the one India enjoys with the United States, Islamabad has not been as successful in realizing its ambitions.

However, The Washington Post has reported that Pakistan’s wishes may soon be realized and while the White House is yet to lend credence to these allusions, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming trip to the United States may indeed spell a new era for Pak-U.S. strategic ties.

Geopolitical analysts have

Iran Tests Long-Range Missile, Possibly Violating Nuclear Accord

The New York Times | Thomas Erdbrink | Oct. 11, 2015

TEHRAN — Iran tested a new guided long-range ballistic missile on Sunday, hours before Parliament, in a rowdy session, approved the generalities of the nuclear agreement reached in July between Iran and world powers, the state news agency IRNA reported.

The missile launch may have violated the terms of the agreement, reached in Vienna with six world powers. According to some readings of the deal, it placed restrictions on Iran’s ambitious missile program.

Experts have been debating the interpretation of a United Nations Security Council resolution, adopted a few days after the accord was agreed upon, that bars Iran from developing missiles “designed to carry nuclear warheads.”

Hard-line Iranian officials had for months been demanding new missile tests, a common practice before the negotiations over the country’s nuclear program began in 2013.

The missile — named Emad, or pillar — is a step up from Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles because it can be guided toward its target, the Iranian defense minister, Hossein Dehghan, told the semiofficial Fars news agency. In recent decades, with Iran’s air force plagued by economic sanctions and other restrictions, the country has invested heavily in its nuclear program and has produced missiles that can reach as far as Europe.

“We don’t seek permission from anyone to strengthen our defense and missile capabilities,” Mr. Dehghan said.

Also on Sunday, members of Parliament voted in favor of a bill approving the generalities of the nuclear agreement, but they had been denied information on its details. State television broadcast the session using only audio and archived images of Parliament.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, who had gone to Parliament to defend the deal, said in a speech that a member had threatened to kill him and bury his body “in the cement of the Arak heavy-water reactor.”

Under the nuclear agreement, a heavy-water plant in Arak will be redesigned and turned into a relatively less dangerous light-water reactor. The threat, which sounded like something from an American gangster film, was made in front of witnesses by a hard-line representative, Ruhollah Hosseinian, according to reports.