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April 2, 2015 / 13 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘p5+1’

Foreign Ministers ‘Don’t See Need to Reach Iran Deal Forthwith’

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Foreign ministers from the world powers involved in the U.S.-led talks with Iran said over the weekend they do not see the need to reach a deal “forthwith,” according to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Several of the ministers said following Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this past week that they will wait “until the right agreement is found,” the prime minister said. He added, “I hope that these words will find tangible expression.

“The right agreement is one that links between the lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and the cessation of Iran’s terrorist actions around the world and, of course, its threats to annihilate Israel. The right agreement is one that extends by years Iran’s breakout time to achieve a bomb, given the feasibility of violating the agreement,” Netanyahu said.

“As of now, the deal being formulated between Iran and the major powers will give Iran a breakout time of one year or less,” he continued. “This assessment is based on the State of Israel’s professional intelligence elements, which delivered this assessment to the major powers.

“We will continue to take all possible action to deny the largest terrorist state in the world the ability to produce the most dangerous weapon in the world, a weapon which is aimed, first and foremost, against us,” Netanyahu said.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, told American news media Sunday morning, “If we cannot verify that they are not going to achieve a nuclear weapon…then we would walk away.”

However, not only does Israel’s prime minister have his doubts about that, but forme US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton also wonders how committed the Obama administration is to that plan.

“There’s nothing in this deal on the weaponization and ballistic missile aspect of this program,” Bolton said.

“Whatever the Iranians see and agree to, Congress should insist they and the American people should see and agree to,” Bolton told Fox News.

“No secrets… They are still state sponsors of terrorism… We are giving legitimacy to the regime. We are endangering our allies, we are endangering Israel. What else could be wrong with this deal?” Bolton added.

‘Apocalyptic’ Iran Deal: Details Increasingly Reveal Bibi is Right

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Iran looks to be the big winner in the high stakes negotiation game that the world powers, led by U.S. President Barack Obama’s team, have played like amateurs.

The biggest news is that, whereas ten years ago Iran was not permitted to have even one centrifuge, the “deal” the P5+1 will be offering, according to senior Israeli and other officials, allows Iran about 6,500 centrifuges.

Those centrifuges have nothing to do with creating nuclear “power,” in the oil-rich Islamic Republic of Iran. Those centrifuges will be spinning the material to hurtle Iran towards nuclear weapons capability.

The details that are emerging support the position the Israelis have been warning against, increasingly loudly, for many months. Although the U.S. recently admitted it had kept Israel out of the loop about details of the deal, Israel has been kept abreast through other channels.

The “deal” has not yet been finalized, and talks will resume next Monday, after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met to hammer out details for several days in Geneva.

“We had serious talks with the P5+1 representatives and especially with the Americans in the past three days…. But still there is a long way to reach a final agreement,” Zarif told Iran’s Fars news.

The P5+1 refers to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France, plus Germany.

In addition to the huge number of centrifuges that Iran will be permitted under the deal, the end date of the agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is of great concern to Israel and others who recognized Iran’s apocalyptic capabilities. The agreement is expected to end in about ten years, after which there will be no restraints at all on Iran’s nuclear program.

AP reported the deal would initially freeze Iran’s nuclear program but gradually allow it to increase activities, as a “reward” for “compliance,” that could enable it to produce nuclear arms in the last years of the agreement. 

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon voiced Israel’s deep concern about the impending deal, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“The agreement with Iran as it is coming together now is a great danger to Western world peace and a threat to Israel’s security,” he said.

“Iran today is the leading factor for instability in the Middle East, and it sends terrorist proxies around the world with the goal of harming Western and Israeli interests,” he said. “Therefore, any agreement that will be signed between the West and this apocalyptic, messianic regime will severely harm Western and Israeli interests and enable Iran to become a threshold nuclear state and continue its terrorist activities.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be addressing a joint session of Congress next week. He will focus on the dangers of the deal with Iran. He openly admits his goal is to convince members of Congress to do all they can to insist any agreement be one that keeps Iran from achieving its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons capability.

The speech has become a major source of conflict between the U.S. administration and Israel, with false allegations that Netanyahu “blindsided” the administration by failing to inform it in advance of accepting the invitation.

With the details slowly emerging of a very bad deal between the world powers and Iran, and with polls showing the vast majority of Americans distrust the Iranians, it may be that Washington’s petulance will have at least one unintended consequence: a boost to Bibi.

Netanyahu Harps on Iranian Threat in Meeting with Congressmen

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hammered away at the Iranian nuclear threat at a meeting with visiting Republican Congressmen Robert Pittenger of North Carolina and Dennis A. Ross of Florida Tuesday morning.

“The American-Israeli alliance is a powerful one. It’s based on common values, common interests. It’s a bipartisan relationship, Netanyahu said.

He added, “We appreciate the support of Democrats and Republicans alike. We have a great national interest in preventing Iran from acquiring the means to develop nuclear weapons.

“We believe this isn’t a partisan issue. It isn’t a Democratic issue; it’s not a Republican issue. It’s an Israeli issue. It’s an American issue. It’s a global issue and we believe that the current proposal before Iran, handed over by the P5+1 is very dangerous to Israel and dangerous to the region and the peace of the world.

“That’s why I think it’s important for me to speak before the members of Congress, all members of Congress, and explain Israel’s position.

“Now there are those who think otherwise. I’m open to hearing their case and I would hope that they would extend Israel, the country whose very existence is threatened by Iran, that same courtesy.”

Congressional Bill Introduced: Europe Must Reject Anti-Israel BDS in Free Trade Deal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If Europe wants to enjoy the benefits of what could be the largest free trade deal in history, the leaders of its member nations will have to pay a price: they must agree to reject the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say two U.S. Representatives – one from each side of the political aisle.

The Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act was formally submitted Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 10) on Capitol Hill under bipartisan sponsorship, which is expected to smooth the way for rapid passage.

But there’s a catch. The legislation will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel, said Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who co-sponsored the bill.

Additional co-sponsors are to be recruited to the measure after its introduction to the floor. The two lawmakers said they are optimistic the bill will pass through the House of Representatives.

It’s a great deal. It is estimated the measure could add as much as 0.5 percent to the European Union’s annual economic output. The flip side of it, however, involves how the bill impacts the ongoing free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU. Foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges will have to disclose links to BDS activities, and whether they have faced any pressure for avoiding participation in any boycotts.

“The bill … establishes a clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS as detrimental to global trade and regional peace and stability,” the two lawmakers wrote in their introduction to the legislation. They also noted that the measure was created in response to a growing trend among countries “primarily in Europe, to isolate and delegitimize Israel through BDS for political purposes.”

“Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe,” Roskam told reporters.

“The US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.”

Vargas likewise noted, “BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining US policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.”

The measure also unequivocally underlines the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability,” making it clear that boycotts break down the potential for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the lawmakers said.

Perhaps that bit of wisdom should be directed towards the PA headquarters at its capital in Ramallah: Its latest anti-Israel economic boycott has just been launched, punishing local merchants far more than Israeli manufacturers. Worse, the boycott reinforces for Israelis the utter futility of attempting to secure any lasting agreement with anyone who claims to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Arab governments in the Middle East come and go, and so do those who lead the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PA commitments in particular – on paper or otherwise – can be likened to a ritual courtesy one carries out in ceremonial garb. They mean everything for the moment, but are instantly put aside when “reality” steps back into the scene. In that moment, all is forgotten and anything goes, as happened with the obligations of the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.

A bill such as the Roskam-Vargas measure is invaluable, coming at a time when a European groundswell of anti-Semitism appears to be growing into a tsunami and the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be floundering in ways never seen before. The entire Middle East is in disarray, and Israel may be facing an existential threat from Iran as it gallops towards a nuclear military threshold. It is precisely now, as Iran strengthens its terrorist guerrilla proxies to the north and south of Israel’s borders, that the Jewish State most needs the support of its friends in the international community.

How fortunate that the lawmakers in Congress have chosen this moment to reaffirm — and concretely demonstrate — America’s commitment to Israel, and to underscore the strong relationship both nations share.

Kerry and Netanyahu Update Each Other on Iran

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Saturday night traded ”updates” that represent their different positions on negotiations with Iran over its nuclear development.

The officer of the Prime Minister did not spell out what Kerry said, but, not surprisingly, talks are going nowhere fast before a Monday deadline that very well could be extended, and not for the first time. Iran likes to buy time for the obvious reason that it wants to reach the point of no return in being able to get its hands on a nuclear warhead to point at Israel and American military bases.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior Western diplomat Saturday that reaching a final agreement by Monday was “impossible.”

“We have reached a point in the talks where probably we can’t have an agreement without some very significant moves from the Iranians,” the diplomat said. “No one can say this is finished … The only thing is we can’t do the job for the Iranians.”

The P5+1 countries – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China – want guarantees that Iran cannot produce enough material for a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.

Iran says it will abide by the agreement only after the sanctions are lifted.

Israel knows Iran is lying, again. The United States should now it by now, but it is so used to believing lies that it can hardly distinguish them from the truth.

Netanyahu said at the beginning of Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, “Last night US Secretary of State John Kerry updated me on the situation in the nuclear talks with Iran. We are anxiously monitoring developments in these talks. We are holding discussions with the representatives of other major powers and are presenting them with a vigorous position to the effect that Iran must not be allowed to be determined as a nuclear threshold state.”

He reiterated the “no deal is better than a deal theme,” in the vain hope that Kerry was listening.

“There is no reason why it should be left with thousands of centrifuges that could enable it to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb in a short time,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said. “Neither is there any reason why Iran should continue to develop intercontinental missiles, which could carry nuclear warheads, and thereby threaten the entire world.

“Therefore, no agreement at all would be preferable to a bad agreement that would endanger Israel, the Middle East and all of humanity.”

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/in-the-short-run-biden-might-well-keep-his-promise-that-iran-wont-get-nukes/2014/11/13/

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