The Iran deal in 26 seconds pic.twitter.com/sZRRgrHKTa
— Elliott Schwartz (@elliosch) July 15, 2015
Sean Davis writes:
“Obama’s deal to lift sanctions on Iran and allow it to continue the purchase and production of enriched uranium is so bad that his own staff can’t even figure out how to spin for it. It’s so bad that Obama’s opponents don’t even need to craft their own arguments against it — they can just recycle the Obama administration’s arguments against the deal…”
If it is reached in the coming days, a nuclear deal with Iran will be, at best, an unsatisfying and risky compromise. Iran’s emergence as a threshold nuclear power, with the ability to produce a weapon quickly, will not be prevented; it will be postponed, by 10 to 15 years. In exchange, Tehran will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief it can use to revive its economy and fund the wars it is waging around the Middle East.
“Rather than publicly report this departure from the accord, the Obama administration chose to quietly accept it. When a respected independent think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, began pointing out the problem, the administration’s response was to rush to Iran’s defense…”
Whether this flawed deal is sustainable will depend on a complex set of verification arrangements and provisions for restoring sanctions in the event of cheating. The schemes may or may not work; the history of the comparable nuclear accord with North Korea in the 1990s is not encouraging.
The United States and its allies will have to be aggressive in countering the inevitable Iranian attempts to test the accord and willing to insist on consequences even if it means straining relations with friendly governments or imposing costs on Western companies.
That’s why a recent controversy over Iran’s compliance with the interim accord now governing its nuclear work is troubling. The deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium, but required that amounts over a specified ceiling be converted into an oxide powder that cannot easily be further enriched. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran met the requirement for the total size of its stockpile on June 30, but it did so by converting some of its enriched uranium into a different oxide form, apparently because of problems with a plant set up to carry out the powder conversion. Read the rest of this entry »
We are dealing with a case of Mutually Assured Obfuscation
Bret Stephens writes: ‘So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?”
That was Barack Obama on Thursday, defending his Iran diplomacy while treating its opponents to the kind of glib contempt that is the mark of the progressive mind. Since I’m one of those inevitable critics, let me answer his question.
Yes, it’s worse. Much worse.
Yes, because what the president calls “this verifiable deal” fails the first test of verification—mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it.
Take sanctions. Iran insists all sanctions—economic as well as nuclear—will be “immediately revoked” and that “the P5+1 member countries are committed to restraining from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.” But the Obama administration claims Iran will only get relief “if it verifiably abides by its commitments.” The administration adds that “the architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal.”
So who is lying? Or are we dealing with a case of Mutually Assured Obfuscation?
Yes, too, because the deal fails the second test of verification: It can’t be verified.
Here again there are significant discrepancies between the U.S. and the Iranian versions of the deal. The administration claims “Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol,” a reference to an addendum to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that permits intrusive inspections. But Tehran merely promises to implement the protocol “on a voluntary and temporary basis,” pending eventual ratification by its parliament, inshallah.
We’ve seen this movie before. Iran agreed to implement the Additional Protocol in 2003, only to renounce it in early 2006, after stonewalling weapons inspectors. Read the rest of this entry »
Tehran has capacity to break out to bomb if it wishes, intelligence chief James Clapper tells Senate, but would be detected if it tried to do so
Marissa Newman reports: Iran now has all the technical infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons should it make the political decision to do, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a report to a Senate intelligence committee published Wednesday. However, he added, it could not break out to the bomb without being detected.
In the “US Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment,” delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper reported that Tehran has made significant advances recently in its nuclear program to the point where it could produce and deliver nuclear bombs should it be so inclined.
“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”
Former IAEA director warns Tehran could nix deal, arm itself quickly
If Iran breaks its deal with the West tomorrow, the country would be only two to three weeks away from producing enough highly enriched uranium to assemble a nuclear weapon, according to Olli Heinonen, former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Heinonen directed the safeguards division of the United Nations body charged with enforcing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
He was asked Sunday on Aaron Klein’s WABC Radio show about the timeframe in response to statements from Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, who boasted last week that Tehran can nix its deal with the West and resume enriching uranium to 20-percent levels within one day if it so desires.
Adam Kredo writes: The White House is currently examining ways to enable Iran to have its own “domestic” uranium enrichment program, according to a senior Obama administration official.
As the details of a six month interim nuclear deal between Iran and Western nations are hashed out, the White House is exploring the practicality of permitting Iran to continue certain enrichment activities, an issue that Iranian officials have described as a “redline.”
“Over the next six months, we will explore, in practical terms, whether and how Iran might end up with a limited, tightly constrained, and intensively monitored civilian nuclear program, including domestic enrichment,” White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman Caitlin Hayden told the Washington Free Beacon.
“Any such program,” she said, “would be subject to strict and verifiable curbs on its capacity and stockpiles of enriched uranium for a significant number of years and tied to practical energy needs that will remain minimal for years to come.”
The White House clarified its openness to a limited Iranian enrichment program just days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised to “forge ahead” with the country’s controversial nuclear program. Read the rest of this entry »
Reza Kahlili writes: Iran boasted on Tuesday that it has created a major crack in the international sanctions against its nuclear program, claiming it has achieved its goal of acceptance of its nuclear development.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment process “will never witness the stop of enrichment in Iran and that enrichment is our red line.”
Early Sunday, Iran and the 5+1 world powers, the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, reached an agreement in Geneva over its illicit nuclear program. Under the agreement, Iran, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, will keep much of its nuclear infrastructure, is limited to enriching uranium at the five percent level for six months, will convert its highly enriched uranium of 20 percent to harmless oxide and will allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear plants by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will be limited to only agreed-on facilities. (RELATED: Iranian leader: Nuclear negotiations merely a maneuver to reach Islamic goal)
Rouhani said the Geneva agreement will transform the country’s banking system.
“The most important fact is that there will be no new sanctions,” he said. “This means that the sanctions regime has been broken.”
Analysis: Why the Deal to Curtail Iran’s Nuclear Program Could Actually Turn Out Be a Step Toward WarPosted: November 24, 2013
Matt Gurney writes: This past weekend’s announcement of an interim deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program is being heralded around the world as a victory for diplomacy and a step toward peace. Israel, however, considers it very bad news indeed. And it is planning accordingly.
Last week, several days before the deal was announced, a senior Israeli government official met with the National Post at a downtown Toronto location. In a wide-ranging interview, the official returned repeatedly to his concern — fear would not be too strong a word — that the world was about to make a major mistake in Geneva. To his view, that feared mistake has now come to pass: The world, led by the United States., has made life easier for Iran’s theocratic leaders without getting much of anything in return.
It will be easier to reduce [sanctions] more than to put them back up
The deal, which is slated to last six months (to buy time for further negotiations), is essentially a pause. Iran will not enrich uranium past the level sufficient to power electrical reactors, but not enough to build a nuclear bomb. Further, Iran will convert previously highly enriched uranium to a non-military state, open its facilities to some inspections and not bring any further nuclear development technology or facilities online. In exchange for this, the U.S. will immediately provide Tehran with access to up to $7-billion that had been frozen by international sanctions.
But Iran keeps its centrifuges. It keeps its dispersed development facilities. It keeps its technical know-how. In short, it is only really sacrificing whatever enriched uranium it might convert to a non-military state, while keeping the ability to enrich more uranium at effectively a moment’s notice.
You Can Freak Out Now
Karl Vick reports: In the foreground of the nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers that got under way in Geneva this month were centrifuges, yellowcake and enriched uranium — all elements of what Iran calls a peaceful nuclear-energy program and what the West worries is a route to a nuclear weapon. But Iran has also charted a second route, one that could produce fuel for a possible bomb not from highly enriched uranium but out of plutonium, a product of the heavy-water reactor nearing completion in the hills outside the city of Arak, 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Tehran. Heavy water is water with an extra neutron, useful in moderating a nuclear reaction.
Because it is not yet up and running, the Arak heavy-water reactor has remained in the background of the nuclear controversy. But it looms larger every day. The reason: once Arak goes online, the option of destroying Iran’s nuclear program with air strikes becomes moot. The reactor is essentially invulnerable to military attack, because bombing one risks a catastrophic release of radioactivity. In the words of Israel’s last chief of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, who piloted one of the F-16A’s that cratered Iraq’s Osirak heavy-water reactor in 1981 before it was due to become operational: “Whoever considers attacking an active reactor is willing to invite another Chernobyl, and no one wants to do that.”
By Eliana JohnsonSeptember 27, 2012 9:24 P.M.
“The importance here is that people have been saying that the Israelis are demanding a red line but they aren’t explaining what it is. Well, this is a very clear explanation. It’s got two parts. Number one is, if you’re going to stop Iran, there is only one way to do it. There are three stages in nuclearization: the making of the fuse, weaponization, that’s the marrying it to a missile, and uranium enrichment. The first two stages you cannot hit, you cannot eliminate, you can do it in a laboratory anywhere in the country, cannot stop it. What you can stop because it takes large scale industrial production is uranium enrichment, the way we had at Oak Ridge in the Second World War preparing the uranium for the bomb in Los Alamos. That is number one. And the second part is this. Israelis say we have two red lines. The horizontal line is if you enrich beyond 20 percent, you’re on your way to the bomb, we can’t allow that. The second is even if you stop at 20 percent, if you do it horizontally, if you get a lot of that stuff, the Iranians are about halfway of getting enough of the 20 percent enriched uranium to make a bomb. If you go all the way to 200 or so kilos that you need, it’s already at the red line. So, it’s saying enrichment at 20 percent and contain the amount enriched at that amount. And, if you’re going to hit anything or threaten anything it’s the enrichment itself, not the others aspect of the bomb. That is a clear red line. I don’t think there is anybody who can say it’s vague.”
via The Corner