Thursday, March 26, 2015

Netanyahu right and Obama wrong: Iranian nuclear deal a very bad idea


During his address before a joint session of Congress earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completely discredited any possible reason the Obama administration has for continuing to pursue the current nuclear deal with Iran.

“I’m standing here in Washington, D.C., and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad, and states are collapsing across the Middle East.

“My friends, for over a year we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It is a very bad deal. We are better off without it.

Netanyahu noted in his speech that this deal would leave Iran’s enrichment infrastructure allow the country to build a nuclear weapon in the future.

“That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.

“So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years. Or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse. Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal.

“Iran could be soon armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember—I’ll say it one more time—the greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war,” Netanyahu said.

Those that do not understand the history are condemned to repeat it. I wouldn’t trust this agreement reached with Iran over its nuclear program.

If the Iranians are serious about this agreement let them grant free and easy access to all their nuclear sites for verification of this treaty.

For 6 years under the Obama administration, it’s been the stated policy of the United States not “to slow down” Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, but that we would not tolerate such weapons in Iranian hands. Apparently, this immense sea-change, unannounced and substantially undiscussed, is only a few months old, since Rouhani offered the gambit that Khamenei approved. “We’ll pretend to like you as we build our bomb if you let us sell our oil”.

So, Iran will still insist that their nuclear program is peaceful and always was, adding that they deserved respect from the West. How has this familiar refrain changed in any way in five years? What really was accomplished in this grand accord that serves to defend western interests and the cause of stability in the Middle East and North Africa?

Iran has given up nothing for the first easing of sanctions that likely will morph into additional easings, and with no verifiable dismantling of nuclear weapons program infrastructure. In the meantime, will have the use of billions that they did not before, to continue policies of destabilization through the region, including a Syria that has become largely a religious war for their support of Bashar al-Assad.

How is this agreement materially better than the one described by the French as a “sucker deal”?

At this stage, the only thing that can derail this “sucker deal” is Congress. They don’t need to strengthen sanctions, they merely need to require that we re-impose those that will be eased by this agreement. That would be most wise. A “break-out” by Iran calls for absolute global embargo of them.

Do not accept for one moment what we are being fed by the Obama administration about this deal with Iran. Iran is giving up not 1 iota of capability; not 1 gram of production capacity and not 1 centrifuge.

Iran has, as a result of this agreement, an imprimatur from the west to enrich uranium, which it never had before. Sure, the ‘approval’ is for non-weapons grade production, but until this agreement the rest of the world did not concede Iran’s right to enrich any uranium, which was a major negotiating point.

Now, future negotiations will get bogged down in nitpicking over the intent of enrichment rather than the enrichment itself.

Under this agreement, Iran needs only dilute existing stocks of enriched uranium, which can within a matter of a several months be reconstituted, should a long-term deal not be reached. Iran does not have to dismantle any facilities whatsoever. They have only agreed to ‘mothball’ the most controversial installations.

In return for giving up essentially nothing, economic sanctions are being lifted across the board. Billions and billions will not flow into the Iranian economy, dramatically lessening the pressure to negotiate seriously. Exactly what incentive will the Iranians have to continue talking?

The only thing the world gets out of this is the ability to tell themselves that they negotiated an “historic” agreement. That and a nickel will buy you a cup of coffee.

If you don’t think the Iranians picked the P5+1’s pocket on this deal, just tune into Iranian TV. They are bragging about how they got everything and gave up nothing; and the facts seem to support that claim. But beyond that, listen closely to the reactions from all of Iran’s neighbors. Do you hear the Turks, Saudis, Iraqis, and of the Gulf States or Egypt trumpeting this ‘historic’ deal? Cue the sound of crickets.

And the Israelis are apoplectic, as they know very well who Iran’s main target will be once they develop the bomb. That is not a matter of Israeli paranoia, but the explicitly stated intention of Iranian leadership.

Care to bet whether there will be any further deal in 6 months time?

It seems that for a small delay in Iran’s enrichment program, which they don’t really care about, on the way to a nuclear bomb they get the beginning of the dismantling of the sanctions program and the Obama administration now effectively acting as a partner with Iran.

The agreement parts that are being trumpeted by the Obama folks sound ok on paper but they leave out critical issues, such as:

1. The many UNSC resolutions demanding the removal of enrichment have been simply ignored. Iran has effectively secured the agreement and right to continue fuel enrichment, albeit at lower levels for the moment.

2. The agreement says nothing about Iran’s military fuel enrichment facility at Parchin which is notably not part of this agreement and so continues to be unmonitored.

3. The agreement will allow the continual building of centrifuges, but not their installation, for the moment.

4. Demands for Iran reversing its nuclear progress was simply ignored.

On balance this is a big victory for Iran. Now that Iran and the Obama administration are in further “secret” talks, who knows what exciting developments are in store.

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