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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘p5+1’

BREAKING: West About to Cave on Key Iranian Demand

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

The deadline for the talks between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1 is now less than two days away.

As the time nears for either the ability to announce an “historic agreement” about nuclear weapons with Iran or failure on yet another front, there are reports of an alarming shift in the wind blowing out of the west: a growing inclination to allow Iran to avoid admitting “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of its nuclear program in order to have a historic agreement.

Many news outlets are referring to the condition as merely a “mea culpa” demand, useful only as a tool to humiliate Iran. The suggestion is that the PMD requirement should be relaxed in order to allow Iran to “save face.”

Others, including former members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, have warned that allowing Iran to evade the requirement now, and easing sanctions without securing an agreement from the ayatollahs to acknowledge the PMD of its nuclear program will sabotage any chance of future verification programs.

From the beginning of his administration, U.S. President Barack Obama has soothed potential detractors with his assurance that he would force full Iranian disclosure. “Iran is on notice,” the president said in September of 2009, “they are going to have to come clean.”

Less than two years ago Secretary of State John Kerry reinforced the president’s longstanding demand, stating that “the president has made it definitive” that the Islamic Republic needs to answer all “questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.”

But it isn’t just that the U.S. president  - indeed, the entire Western diplomatic effort - has rested on the need for Iran to come clean about its past that makes the PMD absolutely essential. Rather, allowing Iran to evade full cooperation with the IAEA inquiries would neuter any ability of the west to measure what kinds of progress Iran is making with respect to its nuclear program.

This point was made forcefully in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this past spring, “Making Iran Come Clean About Its Nukes.” David Albright, a former Iraq U.N. inspector, and Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris, were unequivocal about the need for Iran to address the questions it has been evading by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear weapons development.

To be credible, a final agreement must ensure that any effort by Tehran to construct a bomb would be sufficiently time-consuming and detectable that the international community could act decisively to prevent Iran from succeeding. It is critical to know whether the Islamic Republic had a nuclear-weapons program in the past, how far the work on warheads advanced and whether it continues. Without clear answers to these questions, outsiders will be unable to determine how fast the Iranian regime could construct either a crude nuclear-test device or a deliverable weapon if it chose to renege on an agreement.

Without the essential benchmark information provided by PMD disclosure, any information going forward would be virtually meaningless.

The experts asked the world to consider why anyone should believe that if Iran is given a free pass now to evade questions about its weapons program when “biting” sanctions on its oil exports and financial transactions are in place, how could there be any hope of forcing the Islamic Republic to answer those questions later, after sanctions are lifted?

“Washington and the Europeans have arrived at a critical juncture. If the West fails to demand that Iran verifiably fess up to the military dimensions of its nuclear program, the odds are good that Ayatollah Khamenei would be able to build the bomb without fear of discovery,” Albright and Tertrais wrote.

In the Short Run, Biden Might Well Keep his Promise that Iran Won’t Get Nukes

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

{Originally posted at author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

It’s not just the promise, of course.  It’s the Bidenesque way he makes it:

Monday, Biden had to remind Israeli leaders that the U.S. is not seeking a negotiation with Iran at Israel’s expense.

“I have heard so much malarkey about our position on Iran,” Biden said. “We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, period. I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line if I were not certain when I say it. We mean it.”

Daniel Greenfield casts a doubt or two on that 42-year reputation, and that’s fair enough.  We would be fools to take seriously such assurances from Joe Biden.

But there are reasons why Iran may well delay that moment of focused provocation when the radical Islamic regime proves itself nuclear armed.  If the Iranians don’t have the means to offer that proof yet, they are very close to it – so close that it is now their choice how fast to move, and in what way.

Where we are

Iran now lacks only the public demonstration of uranium enrichment to a weapons-grade level (above 95%), and a detectable warhead detonation.  To talk of a “breakout” capacity – a bomb-in-waiting – as something we are still looking for is now misleading.  Using such terms suggests that there is something more we need to see from Iran, before we officially set the breakout watch.

But the reality is that there is nothing we have yet to see that we can reliably expect to see.  We’ve reached the point at which it is prudent to assume the breakout watch has already started – and imprudent not to.

Fifteen years ago, Iran did not have a reliable uranium enrichment process; did not have an industrial-scale infrastructure for enrichment; did not have a stockpile of enriched uranium; did not have her own uranium production capacity; did not have a detonator mechanism for a uranium warhead; did not have a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and did not have anything close to an intercontinental missile capability.

As little as six years ago, moreover, the United States had more than enough ready combat power, between our Air Force and Navy, to quickly strike a meaningful blow against an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that was still comparatively rudimentary and geographically concentrated.

Both of those conditions have changed significantly.  Iran now does have all the things she lacked in 1999: enough low-enriched uranium for at least 7-8 warheads; a proven enrichment process, including enrichment to higher purity (19.75%); an industrial-scale infrastructure, with geographic dispersion; an indigenous uranium production capacity (see here and here); a tested detonator mechanism for a nuclear warhead; at least one medium-range ballistic missile series that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and a satellite/rocket program advanced enough to support ICBM testing in as little as 1-3 years.  Iran has acquired almost all of these things since UN sanctions were implemented in 2007, and under the regime of IAEA inspections.

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

American military power, in the meantime, has declined to such an extent that mounting a quick, comprehensive strike on the Iranian infrastructure is no longer feasible.  We couldn’t do it quickly.  Not only could we not do it quickly; we couldn’t do it without first restoring the readiness of military units we no longer keep at their highest readiness level.  It would take months to prepare for a comprehensive strike campaign – and would require the prior allocation of special funding from Congress.

Where Iran once wanted to be

Iran’s vision for the future has been shaped, as everyone’s has, by the consequences of the Arab Spring.  It has also been shaped by the withdrawal of American power under Obama.

Four or five years ago, Iran took as a given the U.S. posture in the larger Middle East.  That posture included a key strategic presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan; close partnerships with almost all the Gulf Cooperation Council nations; special relationships, including military cooperation, with both Egypt and Israel; and unchallenged supremacy on the regional seas.

Iran’s basic objective was to peel America’s partners away through the pressure of proxy insurgencies (and other underhanded tactics), and thus squeeze us out of the region.  The first-order purpose of having the bomb was to immunize Iran against retaliation in that process, as the USSR had immunized itself with a nuclear “deterrent” force when it worked through proxy conflicts in the Cold War.

Iran also set her sights on chokepoints in the regional waterways, from the Strait of Hormuz through the Red Sea and all the way to Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar.  No one was close to having a navy that could challenge the U.S. Navy, but even great navies are vulnerable in chokepoints.

At a kind of eschatological-strategic level, meanwhile, just as the Arab Spring was unfolding in early 2011, Iranian TV was running a mullah-approved “documentary” that outlined a scheme of military preparation for the arrival of the “twelfth imam.”  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad figured as a great military commander from Shia prophecy in this fantastical oeuvre, which depicted a dénouement in the armed conquest of Jerusalem.  (“Rescuing” Jerusalem had already figured for years in Iranian policy rhetoric, as well as in the concept of some major military exercises.)

Where Iran now wants to be

In the years since Obama took office, much has changed.  One thing hasn’t, and that’s Iran’s interest in gaining leverage at critical chokepoints in the regional seaways.  But some of the focused urgency has been bled out of the pressure campaign against America’s regional partners, in part because of the Arab Spring, and in part because Barack Obama has been doing an excellent job of peeling them away from us himself.

The momentum of Iran’s efforts has shifted to a new, more geographically focused vector, one that as recently as 2011 appeared to be unthinkable.  Where once Iran was confined to putting general pressure on various American partners in the region, and perhaps maneuvering to leapfrog nearby territory in which we seemed established – Iraq, Jordan, Israel – Iran can now realistically contemplate making an “internal” line of communication (LOC) through that territory.  She might accomplish that by proxy first, and then, eventually, exploit the LOC directly.

In fact, with much of the territory in question now disputed between ISIS and a weak Iraqi government, Iran has all the more reason for being there, with advisors and military equipment.

The bonus?  The U.S., weakened and compromised as our power is, has signed up to do at least some of the fighting against ISIS.  If Iran plays her cards right, American forces will open her strategic LOC through the heart of the Middle East for her.

Netanyahu Warns P5+1 Iran ‘Promotes International Terrorism’

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu I sending an urgent warning letter to foreign ministers of the P5+1 countries, hell-bent to make a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

“In that letter I bring, verbatim, the words of Iran’s ruler Ayatollah Khamenei,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said Monday evening in a statement.

The leader of this country that is depicted by some as moderate, the Islamic State of Iran, has said in the last 48 hours: –one, that he calls for the annihilation of Israel – his words, not mine;

–two, he gives nine ways and reasons of how and why Israel should be annihilated – his words, not mine.

He’s publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries.

There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed; it calls for Israel’s eradication’

it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program.

This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. And I call on the P5+1 countries – don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.

Netanyahu Says Deal with Iran Left It 6 Weeks Away from the Bomb

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The interim deal between the major world powers and Iran left the Islamic Republic “six weeks from a nuclear weapon,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv Tuesday night.

He has previously said that the goal of should not just be to stop Iran from manufacturing a nuclear weapon but rather should make sure it does not have the capability to produce one.

Iran Interim Agreement to Start Two Months After Announcement

Monday, January 13th, 2014

In November the world was told that the P5+1 countries with Iran had entered into an agreement known as the Geneva Interim Agreement.

Not exactly.

On Sunday, Jan. 12, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Interim Agreement announced nearly two months ago will finally become effective on Jan. 20.

Kerry said that for the next six months Iran will be taking steps to live up to “its commitments,” including “rendering the entire stockpile of its 20% enriched uranium unusable for further enrichment.”

Kerry said that the United States and its P5+1 partners will exercise “extraordinary vigilance” in ensuring that Iran lives up to those commitments as it monitors Iran’s activities along with the members of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In exchange for Iran fulfilling its commitments, “limited and targeted relief” will be made to Iran.

“The $4.2 billion in restricted Iranian assets that Iran will gain access to as part of the agreement will be released in regular installments throughout the six months. The final installment will not be available to Iran until the very last day,” Kerry explained.

No details about the timetable for those relief installments was revealed.

Okay, now that we finally know, sort of, what the Interim Agreement is about and when it will begin, a question arises.

What did the previous announcement mean if the details and even the date of implementation had not yet been worked out?  Maybe that one was the Almost Interim Agreement and now we are finally scheduled to soon activate the Interim Agreement.

But next up for these hardy negotiators is what even the eternal optimist Kerry describes as a much harder task: “negotiating a comprehensive agreement that resolves outstanding concerns about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Yeah, that one is going to be tough. Because many people paying attention to this issue do not believe that Iran’s nuclear program has anything peaceful about it. In fact, even Iran’s usual allies, Russia and China, agreed to sanctions against Iran that were sufficiently painful they induced Iran to come to the negotiating table.

But just as the sanctions became sufficiently severe as to gain the attention of the Mullahs in Iran, the Obama administration is now adamantly opposed to even holding out the threat of reimposing sanctions.

This, despite Team Obama’s constant touting throughout the last presidential campaign its strength by having imposed “biting sanctions” against Iran.

The administration is now warning congress not even to pass an “Interim Agreement” to impose sanctions should Iran not comply with its commitments under the Interim Geneva Agreement.

Kerry warned in his public statement on Sunday:

We now have an obligation to give our diplomats and experts every chance to succeed in these difficult negotiations. I very much appreciate Congress’ critical role in imposing the sanctions that brought Iran to the table, but I feel just as strongly that now is not the time to impose additional sanctions that could threaten the entire negotiating process. Now is not the time for politics. Now is the time for statesmanship, for the good of our country, the region, and the world.

Opponents of the view that Iran does not need to have the threat of renewed and robust sanctions landing on it within nanoseconds of a verified lapse in its commitments under the Interim or any other Agreement, not surprisingly, nodded politely and did the opposite.

Within hours of Kerry’s announcement of the impending implementation of the Interim Agreement allegedly made two months ago, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)  issued a statement of his own.

In his statement, Kirk reminded Americans that the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act is the bipartisan product of a majority of the U.S. Senate. Those senators believe it is absolutely essential for there to be a metaphorical weapon drawn, but with the safety catch firmly on, aimed at Iran.

Report: Iran Balks over Centrifuges

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Iran is holding up progress for implementing the interim deal agreed to by world powers in November because of the issue of centrifuges that can be used to purify uranium to level that would make it suitable to make a nuclear weapon.

“This issue (centrifuges) was among the main factors in stopping the previous technical discussions on December 19-21,” a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

That is exactly why there is a bi-partisan effort in Congress to pass a new bill that would place harsher sanctions on Iran if it reneges on the interim  agreement.

The sponsors of the bill, Democrats as well as Republicans, don’t trust Iran to have suddenly surrendered its nuclear program. President Barack Obama, who has put his weight behind “engaging” Iran diplomatically, has vowed to veto the bill if it is passed.

Iran said it has installed new and advanced centrifuges since the interim deal was reached, an issue that is to be discussed this week in meetings with the P5+1 countries.

“As part of the (November 24) agreement, Iran is permitted to engage in R&D (research and development), but that is tempered by the fact that it is prohibited to install new centrifuges, except as required by wear and tear,” one diplomats was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The interim deal is to be implemented on January 20 if Iran and the world powers can overcome disputes on the wording and meaning of the November agreement.

Reuters quoted an Israeli official as saying, “It was clear from the outset that the Iranians would play games. They did it in the past, and now they’re up to their old tricks again.”

Israel Has ‘License’ to Act without US on Iran, Says Mike Huckabee

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Now that the U.S. and other P5+1 powers made an interim nuclear deal with Iran without involving Israel, the Jewish state is free to act as it sees fit on the Iranian issue without consulting America, former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told JNS.org.

“I think now [the Israelis] have really a license to act without having to be scolded for not having consulted the U.S. for their plans,” Huckabee said. The United States “has indicated that they are going to act independently of Israel as it relates to Iran,” Huckabee continued, calling that a “very foolish policy.”

“I think now [the Israelis] have really a license to act without having to be scolded for not having consulted the U.S. for their plans,” he said.

When asked about the possibility of making another presidential run in 2016, Huckabee, the runner-up to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the 2008 Republican primary, said, “I’m looking at it very seriously.” Huckabee—an ordained Southern Baptist minister who currently hosts the talk show “Huckabee” on Fox News—said he is having exploratory meetings to determine “whether people who I trust, and people whose views I have confidence in, believe that there is a pathway forward for me through the primary.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-has-license-to-act-without-us-on-iran-says-mike-huckabee/2013/12/09/

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