Online Conference of the Luxembourg Forum “A New Iranian Crisis: Stopping Escalation”

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On July 14, 2020, the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe held an online conference, A New Iranian Crisis: Stopping Escalation, which focused on the status of the Iranian nuclear program and threats posed by its further development.

The conference participants consider the potential total collapse of the Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – a serious threat, given the US withdrawal, and declarations made by the Iranian leadership regarding their disengagement from certain commitments under JCPOA, resuming uranium enrichment, and building relevant infrastructure.

“The crisis of the Iran nuclear deal poses the threat of an avalanche-like nuclearization in the Middle East and globally. The unraveling of the JCPOA returns us to an acute crisis around Iran’s nuclear program, one in which it is capable of creating a nuclear weapon in the near future (within a year). Right now, Iran is violating restrictions and bans adopted under the JCPOA one after another, openly derailing the IAEA’s legitimate actions,” Viatcheslav Kantor said.

The Luxembourg Forum President also stated that Iran continues testing long-range missiles and already possesses several missile systems capable of striking both Israel and the entirety of Europe. The escalation of political tensions and violence in the Middle East is one of the most dangerous regional crises developing amid a confrontation between the world’s superpowers and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference participants underscored that further escalation of the crisis and the nuclear conflict in the Middle East between Iran and Israel, and a larger-scale war, which would most likely involve other powers, is unacceptable. The heads of leading world powers and international organizations must take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon.

As an outcome of the conference, the Luxembourg Forum experts will issue a final document containing key conclusions and recommendations, to be circulated to heads of state, officials and leaders of the UN Security Council, the IAEA and other international organizations.

The conference was attended by Professor at Stanford University, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense William Perry; President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sérgio Duarte; President of the Luxembourg Forum Dr. Viatcheslav Kantor; Director of James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey William Potter; Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Luxembourg Forum, Principal Researcher at the Center for International Security of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), former Director of the 4th Central Scientific Research Institute, Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation Vladimir Dvorkin; Head of the RAS IMEMO Center for International Security, RAS Academician Alexey Arbatov; Senior Researcher of the RAS Department of Middle East Studies Vladimir Sazhin; Head of the Center for the Middle East Studies Irina Zvyagelskaya; Professor Emeritus at the Department of Political Science, Columbia University, Ph.D. Robert Legvold; Non-resident Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Defense Policy, Head of the Bureau of International Security and Arms Control, Ministry of Defense of Israel Ariel Levite; Consulting Advisor for Policy and Outreach at the Office of Executive Secretary, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), former Head of the IAEA Verification and Security Policy Coordination Office Tariq Rauf; Director and Senior Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the US National Intelligence Council Eugene Rumer; Non-resident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, former Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center Robert Nurick; Senior Researcher of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Professor Anatoly Diakov; Lead Researcher at the RAS IMEMO Stanislav Ivanov; Deputy Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the International Luxembourg Forum, Head of the Military and Political Analysis Section of the RAS IMEMO Sergey Oznobishchev; Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, George Perkovich, Ph.D.; Director of Carnegie Moscow Center Dmitry Trenin; Head of the Europe-Middle East Center, Chief Researcher of the RAS Institute of Europe Ph.D. Alexander Shumilin; Senior Research Fellow of the RAS IMEMO Konstantin Bogdanov; Senior Researcher of the RAS IMEMO Viktor Nadein-Raevsky.

The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, commonly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached on July 14, 2015, between six nations (Russia, the United States, China, the UK, France, and Germany) and Iran. The plan provides for gradual lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program (abandoning nuclear weapons development and highly enriched uranium, research and development in this area, and the construction of infrastructure and heavy-water reactors, and introducing IAEA monitoring). On May 8, 2018, President Trump declared that the US would pull out of JCPOA, and a year later, on May 8, 2019, in response to the US withdrawal, Iran declared that it would disengage from some of its commitments under JCPOA, and later renounced its other commitments on multiple occasions. On July 1, 2020, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said that the United States would use military force against Iran if that was what it would take to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

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The International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe was established pursuant to a resolution of the International Conference on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe held in Luxembourg on May 24 and 25, 2007. It is one of the major non-governmental organizations bringing together leading international experts on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, arms reduction and limitation.

The Forum’s priorities are:

  • To facilitate the process of arms limitation and reduction and to counteract growing threats to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and erosion of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including the escalating danger of nuclear terrorism and attempts by certain states to gain access to nuclear materials and technologies.
  • To promote international peace and security through new approaches and to provide decision-makers with practical solutions to critical issues of non-proliferation and arms control.

In 2017, the Luxembourg Forum celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over 10 years, the Luxembourg Forum has held nearly thirty conferences, seminars and workshops in Moscow, Washington D.C., Luxembourg, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, Paris, Prague, Geneva, Brussels, Warsaw, Stockholm, and other cities.

Based on the results of each event, the experts prepare declarations listing specific proposals and recommendations on ways to resolve critical situations. These declarations are distributed to the heads of leading states, the UN, the IAEA and other international organizations that show their interest in the Forum’s findings and provide regular feedback. The members of the Forum’s Supervisory Board provide annual assessments of its performance and set urgent goals for further analysis.