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Iran’s Ballistic Missile System Should Be Dealt With On Side of Nuclear Talks - Expert

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In a Wednesday discussion with the Israel Policy Forum, former State Department assistant secretary for non-proliferation, and current non-proliferation expert at the Brookings Institute, Robert Einhorn, told RIA Novosti that he believes that the issue of Iran’s ballistic missiles should be dealt with on the side of the ongoing P5+1 nuclear negotiations.

WASHINGTON, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - In a Wednesday discussion with the Israel Policy Forum, former State Department assistant secretary for non-proliferation, and current non-proliferation expert at the Brookings Institute, Robert Einhorn, told RIA Novosti that he believes that the issue of Iran’s ballistic missiles should be dealt with on the side of the ongoing P5+1 nuclear negotiations.

“The Iranian position is that this negotiation is about the nuclear issue, not about the missile issue,” said Einhorn. “I think this could be very difficult to get the Iranians to include a provision regarding their missile capabilities in the comprehensive nuclear deal. But I do think it makes sense, perhaps as a side deal, to press the Iranians to adopt certain restraints regarding their missile program.”

Asked by RIA Novosti whether he believes the two issues should be dealt with separately, Einhorn stated bluntly, “It [the Iranian ballistic missiles] will not be part of the nuclear agreement, but perhaps they can be pursued on the side.” Einhorn worked at the State Department as assistant secretary for non-proliferation during the Clinton administration and as the Secretary of State Special Advisor for non-proliferation and arms control during the Obama administration.

Einhorn was asked to respond to the statement made on Tuesday by Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, when she told members of Congress that the Iranian ballistic missile system, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, “has to be addressed in some way” in the P5+1 Iranian nuclear negotiations. The international negotiations to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, was recently extended from its original July 20 deadline and the talks are expected to conclude in November of 2014.

The United States attempt to put Iran’s ballistic missile program on the agenda of the nuclear agreements, prompted disapproval from Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov accused the Americans of trying to “load” the talks “with new demands,” as the issues arising from the ballistic missile program were not a part of the original program agreed to in Geneva in November 2013.

According to Einhorn, the ballistic missile system is a legitimate concern that should be addressed as a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1929.

However, it is the Iranian position “that it pursues its missile program for conventional military reasons. In other words, there is no intent to arm these missiles with nuclear weapons, only conventional munitions. So therefore, this nuclear negotiation shouldn’t deal with the missile issue.”

Einhorn suggested that as a confidence building measure, to take place on the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations, Iran could commit for five years not to test missile systems that are more capable than those it has previously tested. “In other words, not to improve that capability for some period of time.”

“I think this could be very difficult to get the Iranians to include provisions regarding their missile capabilities in the comprehensive nuclear deal,” concluded Einhorn. “But I do think it makes sense, perhaps separately, perhaps as a side deal, to press the Iranians to adopt certain restrains regarding their missile program.”

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