이란 핵협상 타결 실패 – 미국의 북핵문제 해결실패로부터의 교훈 (국제정치학 뉴스과제 09)
International Herald Tribune, November 9, 2013
“Talks With Iran Fail to Produce a Nuclear Agreement” By Mark Landler
지난 목요일 이란 핵문제 해결을 위한 논의가 일단은 합의에 이르지 못하고 끝이 났다. 협상 참가국들은 10일내로 재협상을 하기로 합의하였다. 당사자들에 따르면, 큰 틀에서는 합의가 이루어졌으나 상세한 사항에 대해 합의가 이루어지지 않았다고 한다. 문제는 이란과 서방과의 의견불일치가 아니라, 서방국가 간 이 문제에 대한 견해차이다. 프랑스는 현재 서방이 제안하는 협상이 이란의 우라늄 농축이나 플루토늄을 위한 핵반응로의 개발을 막을 수 없다고 우려하고 있다. 협상기간 동안 이란은 핵 개발을 중지하고, 서방은 경제제제를 완화하기로 합의하였다. 미국은 이란의 핵개발을 반드시 저지하겠다고 이스라엘과 약속하였으나, 현재의 협상 흐름으로 보았을 때 이러한 사항이 지켜질 수 있을지는 의문이다. 그래도 서방은 대체로 이란의 이번 정부가 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 정부보다는 협상가능성이 있다고 판단하고 있으며, 계속적인 노력을 경주하리라고 예상된다.
이란의 핵문제의 해결을 위해 과거 미국의 북한 핵문제에 대한 접근을 평가하고, 이를 상황에 맞게 적용하는 것이 필요하다. 1차 핵문제에서 미국이 범했던 실책은 북한이 제네바 합의를 일종의 정치적 타협으로 생각했던 반면, 미국은 단순한 비핵화 합의로만 보았던 것이다. 게다가 경수로 지원을 둘러싸고 미국 보수세력이 비협조적으로 나와 북한의 불신을 키웠다. 2차 핵문제에서의 미국의 실책 또한 비슷한 맥락이다. 9.19합의에 다다랐음에도 불구하고 BDA계좌동결을 함으로써 북한문제에 관심을 기울이지 않았다. 미국이 보다 현명하게 대처하였다면 현재와 같은 극한의 갈등상황까지 치닫지 않았을 가능성이 높다.
이러한 교훈을 이란의 문제에 적용해볼 수 있다. 미국은 이번 협상을 단순히 비핵화에 대한 접근이라고만 생각해서는 안되고, 이란과 서방의, 그리고 이란과 이스라엘의 중동을 둘러싼 오랜 갈등문제에 대한 일괄적 해결을 위한 장으로 생각해야 한다. 이슈들을 따로 처리하는 것 보다, 모든 것을 한 번에 협상테이블에 올려놓고 합의에 다다르는 것이 바람직하다. 미국 국내적으로는 보수세력이 단독행동을 통해 협상을 저해하는 행위를 하는 것을 막아야 한다. 상원이 공화당에 의해 주도되는 상황에서, 오바마 행정부는 의회에 대한 내부적 대화에도 신경을 충분히 기울여야만 할 것이다.
이와 더불어 주변국가의 위기감을 완화하는 것 또한 중요하다. 북한문제에서도 미국이 중국이 가지는 위기감을 완화해 줬다면, 중국이 그렇게 일방적으로 북한을 감싸는 자세로 나오지 않았을 수도 있다. 현재 시진핑 주석의 북한에대한 강경한 태도에서 볼 수 있듯이 그 가능성은 충분하다. 마찬가지로 이란에 대해서도 이스라엘 및 기타 수니파 중동국가들을 안심시키는 것이 무엇보다 중요한 과제이다. 이란과의 협상이 중동에 가져올 평화로 그들을 설득하지 않으면, 미국은 중동에서의 전통적인 동맹관계를 위협받음과 동시에 이란의 핵개발조차 완전히 제거하지 못하는 진퇴양난의 상황에 빠질 가능성이 높다.
GENEVA — Marathon talks between major powers and Iran failed on Sunday to produce a deal to freeze its nuclear program, puncturing days of feverish anticipation and underscoring how hard it will be to forge a lasting solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Emerging from a last-ditch bargaining session that began Saturday and stretched past midnight, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said they had failed to overcome differences. They insisted they had made progress, however, and pledged to return to the table in 10 days to try again, albeit at a lower level.
“A lot of concrete progress has been made, but some differences remain,” Ms. Ashton said at a news conference early Sunday. She appeared alongside Mr. Zarif, who added, “I think it was natural that when we started dealing with the details, there would be differences.”
In the end, though, it was not only divisions between Iran and the major powers that prevented a deal, but fissures within the negotiating group. France objected strenuously that the proposed deal would do too little to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment or to stop the development of a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.
“The Geneva meeting allowed us to advance, but we were not able to conclude because there are still some questions to be addressed,” the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, told reporters after the talks ended.
Neither Ms. Ashton nor Mr. Zarif criticized France, saying that it had played a constructive role. But the disappointment was palpable, and the decision to hold the next meeting at the level of political director, not foreign minister, suggested that the two sides were less confident of their ability to bridge the gaps in the next round.
For all that, Mr. Zarif tried to put a brave face on the three days of talks, saying that the atmosphere had been good, even if the parties disagreed on the details of a potential agreement.
“What I was looking for was the political determination, willingness and good faith in order to end this,” he said. “I think we’re all on the same wavelength, and that’s important.”
Iranian officials had promoted the possibility of a deal for days, generating an expectant atmosphere that swelled when Secretary of State John Kerry cut short a tour of the Middle East on Friday to join the talks. He was joined by the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Russia and a vice foreign minister from China.
“There’s no question in my mind that we are closer now, as we leave Geneva, than when we came,” Mr. Kerry said. “It takes time to build confidence between countries that have really been at odds with each other for a long time now.”
The proposal under consideration in Geneva was to have been the first stage of a multipart agreement. It called for Iran to freeze its nuclear program for up to six months to allow negotiations on a long-term agreement without the worry that Iran was racing ahead to build a bomb. In exchange, the West was to have provided some easing of the international sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy.
After years of off-again, on-again talks, the deal would have been the first to brake Iran’s nuclear program.Despite the diplomats’ insistence on progress, the failure to clinch an agreement raised questions about the future of the nuclear talks, given the fierce criticism that the mere prospect of a deal whipped up in Israel and among Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.
The announcement was a deflating end to a long day of diplomatic twists and turns, after Mr. Kerry huddled for hours with Mr. Zarif and Mr. Fabius to try to close gaps on issues like curbing Iran’s enrichment program and what to do about the heavy-water reactor Iran is building near the city of Arak, which will produce plutonium.
Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the plant could be dealt with in a future phase of the talks because it would take a year for it to be completed and even longer for it to produce plutonium that could be extracted for a bomb.
But Mr. Kerry said during his recent visit to Israel that the United States was asking Iran, as part of an interim accord, to agree to a “complete freeze over where they are today,” implying that Iran’s plutonium production program would be affected in some way as well. And in a news conference at the end of the talks, Mr. Kerry made clear that limits on the Arak reactor should be part of an initial agreement.
Under a compromise favored by some American officials, Iran might agree to refrain from operating or fueling the facility during the six months the interim accord might last, while continuing construction of the installation.
Once the reactor at Arak is operational, as early as next year, it might be very hard to disable it through a military strike without risking the dispersal of nuclear material. That risk might eliminate one of the West’s options for responding to Iran and reduce its leverage in the talks.
The Arak reactor has been a contentious negotiating point because it would give Iran another pathway to a bomb, using plutonium rather than enriched uranium. Moreover, the Iranian explanations for why it is building Arak have left most Western nations and nuclear experts skeptical. The country has no need for the fuel for civilian uses now, and the reactor’s design renders it highly efficient for producing the makings of a nuclear weapon.
Iran, which has always contended its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes only, insists that the heavy-water reactor is just another path toward the same goal of energy production.
Israel has been vocal about not letting the new reactor get to the point where the fuel is inserted, after which military action against the reactor could create an environmental disaster. Israel has destroyed two reactors from the air in the past three decades, in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007. Both attacks took place before fuel had been put in the reactors.
French officials also noted a difference between the United States and Europe on the issue of sanctions relief. The most sweeping American sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking industries were passed by Congress, giving President Obama little flexibility to lift them.
That has led the Obama administration to focus on a narrower set of proposals involving Iranian cash that is frozen in overseas banks. Freeing that cash in installments, in return for specific steps by Iran, would not require the repeal of any congressional sanctions.
France and other European Union countries, however, face fewer political restrictions on ending their core sanctions, which means any decision to lift them could be more far-reaching. In addition, officials said, the measures would be harder to reinstate should the talks unravel or Iran renege on its pledges.
Those considerations left the Europeans more hesitant to consider easing sanctions than the United States was.
Still, European officials appeared to be balancing their wariness of Iran with a hopeful sense that these negotiations were fundamentally different from the fruitless sessions during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who left office in August.
“All of the ministers who are here are conscious of that fact that some momentum has built up in these negotiations,” Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, told reporters on Saturday. “There is now a real concentration on these negotiations, so we have to do everything we can to seize the moment and seize the opportunity to reach a deal.”
But that momentum has disturbed other American allies, notably Israel, which continued on Saturday to inveigh against an interim deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that Iran close the Arak nuclear reactor and give up all enrichment of uranium, not just the 20 percent enrichment that is at issue in the negotiations.
Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, alluded to Scripture to condemn the proposed deal. “In return for a mess of pottage,” he said, “Iran has achieved gains on both the sanctions and the nuclear fronts.”
Mr. Netanyahu earlier said the proposed agreement would be a “deal of the century” for Iran. On Friday, Mr. Obama called Mr. Netanyahu to brief him on the talks and to assure him that the United States was still committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
“There are very strong feelings about the consequences of our choices for our allies,” Mr. Kerry said. “We have enormous respect for those concerns.”