What’s Five Percent Of Uranium Enrichment Between Friends?
In an address broadcast live to Israel Sunday, President Obama claimed the West’s nuclear deal with Tehran takes Iran’s uranium enrichment down to zero from its current 20 percent.
Obama made the claim twice even though the text of the deal caps Iran’s uranium enrichment at five percent, a figure that could constantly leave the country two months away from the technical ability to build a nuke.
Obama was hosted for a forty-minute question-and-answer session at the annual Saban Forum at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. The session was broadcast live on Israel’s Channel 2, the country’s largest television station.
Regarding the nuclear deal, Obama stated: “We have not only made sure that in Fordor and Natanz that they have to stop adding additional centrifuges, we’ve also said that they’ve got to roll back their 20 percent advanced enrichment. So we’re…”
Host Chaim Saban interrupted and asked, “To how much?”
Saban was asking about the percentage Iran would be required to roll back its enrichment.
“Down to zero,” Obama stated. “So you remember when Prime Minister Netanyahu made his presentation before the United Nations last year?”
“The cartoon with the red line?” asked Saban.
Continued Obama: “The picture of a bomb – he was referring to 20 percent enrichment, which the concern was if you get too much of that, you now have sufficient capacity to go ahead and create a nuclear weapon. We’re taking that down to zero.”
In actuality, the six-month renewable interim deal requires Iran to cap its uranium enrichment at five percent. Iranian diplomats have repeatedly stated they will not give up the right to enrich uranium in any final deal.
Later on in his speech, Obama conceded Iran would likely retain an enrichment capability in a final deal.
He said: “We can envision an end state that gives us an assurance that even if they have some modest enrichment capability, it is so constrained and the inspections are so intrusive that they, as a practical matter, do not have breakout capacity.
Disappointed By U.S., Saudi Arabia Turns To Russia
Saudi Arabia is proposing a sweeping deal to Russia that solidifies Moscow’s position in the Middle East and Persian Gulf largely at the expense of the United States, according to informed Egyptian security officials.
The deal incorporates increased Russian involvement in Egypt, Syria and the Persian Gulf, and even involves a Saudi guarantee to aid against terror plots targeting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The Egyptian officials said the deal seeks to replace the U.S. with Russia as the major weapons dealer to Egypt.
However, the weapons sales to Cairo are only the tip of the potential re-balancing iceberg that follows a major fallout with the Saudis after President Obama’s outreach efforts to Iran.
The Saudis asked for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh would help establish a permanent central Russian role in the future of Syria, with a military presence in the country, the officials said.
The Saudis offered to help clean out Syria of Islamic extremist elements while working with other countries, including Israel, to ensure the cooperation of the Free Syrian Army and moderate Alawite tribes in a post-Assad era.
Saudi Arabia proposed future free elections and floated the concept of Former Syrian Defense Minister General Ali Habib serving as an interim president, the officials said. Habib is a prominent Alawite and senior opposition figure who defected from Assad’s regime.
The Saudis pledged to cut off all back-channel support for Islamic extremists in Chechnya and even promised to ensure against terrorist attacks at the 2014 Olympic games.