Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Nuclear Dust Settles

Iran, North Korea Developing Rocket Booster - Bill Gertz

Iranian missile technicians secretly visited North Korea as part of joint development of a new rocket booster for long-range missiles or space launchers, at the same time nuclear talks took place in Geneva, according to U.S. officials. The booster is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be intended for a new long-range missile or space launch vehicle that could be used to carry nuclear warheads, and could be exported to Iran in the future.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have said that both North Korea and Iran are expected to have missiles capable of hitting the U.S. with a nuclear warhead in the next two years.
(Washington Free Beacon)

Agreement Must Not Become Permanent - Amos Yadlin

It is not at all clear that a final agreement can be reached with the Iranians - especially if the economic and military threats are not maintained. Israel must therefore prepare a Plan B to include a guarantee from the Americans that there will be no extension of the preliminary agreement and that it will not evolve into a permanent arrangement. 
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.
(Institute for National Security Studies)

Analysis - Michael Herzog

Israel is now fixing its sights on the end of the six months and will start a dialogue with the U.S. on the desired endgame. A very likely scenario is that there will be no deal and talks will continue beyond the six months. Facing a strung out process will put Israel in a dilemma of deciding if and when to intervene.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog served as head of the Strategic Planning Division of the IDF and worked with four ministers of defense as senior military aide and advisor, and chief of staff. 

Iran Wins on Points - Aaron David Miller

Does Iran want a deliverable nuclear weapon? Sure it does. The idea that the mullahs have abandoned permanently their quest to acquire a nuclear weapons capacity or that any agreement - interim or final - will provide ironclad assurances that they have done so is an illusion. Unless Iran crosses the President's redline of actually acquiring a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration is going to go to extreme lengths to avoid attacking Iran.

When Kerry is congratulating Javad Zarif, Iran's top negotiator, on a Geneva agreement and there's little to celebrate with Bibi, you know the Iranians have scored more than a few points. Let's hope the U.S. and the other members of the P5+1 can do better the next time around.
The writer, a vice president at the Wilson Center, is a former adviser to U.S. secretaries of state on the Middle East.
(New York Daily News)

Let the War of Interpretations Begin - Emily B. Landau
  • In negotiations for a comprehensive deal, the Iranians can be expected to challenge what was agreed and continue to haggle over the terms, while pressing the P5+1 to agree to further sanctions relief. Already there are two texts of the agreement, one released by the White House and one by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, and they are not identical.
  • Many accuse Netanyahu of being contrary, not willing to join the celebrations. But why are the international negotiators not voicing similar concerns as Netanyahu on the technical questions? Netanyahu's positions on these issues are actually in line with the long-held positions of the international community - even codified in a string of UN Security Council resolutions.


No Agreement on Starting Date for Iran Deal

Officials involved in negotiating the Geneva deal say there is still no start date. They say the IAEA must verify that Iran is keeping its end of the deal before the clock starts ticking down on the agreement's six-month time frame and the start of sanctions relief. 

IAEA head Yukiya Amano may not submit a plan on verification until January because of the upcoming holiday period.

(AP-Washington Post)

U.S. Backs Iran Claim that Some Work OK at Arak Site

The U.S. says Iran can undertake some construction work at the Arak nuclear facility as long as fuel isn't produced and advances aren't made on a planned heavy water reactor.
(AP-Washington Post)

Iran: We Have Emerged Victorious over the West

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security, told Al-Alam TV on Nov. 25: "After ten years, we have emerged victorious over the West. They wanted to prevent us from acquiring nuclear technology, but we have reached that point....Now we have emerged victorious heroes. It was in our best interest to sign this agreement."

"We have now entered a new stage. We expect good results. The nuclear dossier will be removed from the agenda of the UN Security Council, and...they have acknowledged Iran's uranium enrichment. In addition, the economic siege on the Islamic Republic will be lifted."

"They said that they did not recognize our right to enrich uranium, but at the same time, they say that Iran agreed not to enrich above 5%. This constitutes an official acknowledgement of that percentage. They officially recognized that. We consider this to be a great victory for Iran." 

How to Think about Obama's Deal with Iran - Dennis Ross

One urgent order of business for the Obama administration is to address the concerns of those who lament the deal instead of dismissing them. The Israelis fear that the sanctions will fray as countries and companies begin to position themselves for a post-sanctions future. This is not fanciful but it is also not a given. Similarly, the Israelis worry that the first step will be the last, and essentially leave Iran poised with a breakout capability.
The writer, counselor of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as special assistant to President Barack Obama from 2009-11.

Iran Deal Risks Creating Another North Korea
- Michael Rubin

Rather than preventing Iran's nuclear breakout, historians may mark the Geneva deal as the step that most legitimized Iran's path to nuclear weapons capability.
The writer, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is a former Pentagon official (2002-2004).

A Most Dangerous Deal - Yaakov Amidror

  • Just after the signing ceremony in Geneva on Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran declared that the world had recognized his country's "nuclear rights." He was right. Iran made only cosmetic concessions to preserve its primary goal, which is to continue enriching uranium.
  • With North Korea, too, there were talks and ceremonies and agreements - but then there was the bomb. This is not an outcome Israel could accept with Iran.
  • The deal will only lead Iran to be more stubborn. Anyone who has conducted business or diplomatic negotiations knows that you don't reduce the pressure on your opponent on the eve of negotiations. Yet that is essentially what happened in Geneva.
  • And while the Obama administration maintains that the military option is still on the table in case Iran does not comply with the new agreement, that threat is becoming less and less credible.
  • Supporters of the agreement emphasize that future inspections in Iran will be frequent and strict. But if the Iranians decide to deceive the inspectors, they will succeed; they have in the past.
  • The West has surrendered its most effective diplomatic tool in exchange for baseless promises of goodwill. The Geneva agreement has made the world a more dangerous place. It did not have to be this way.

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror was the head of the Israeli National Security Council from March 2011 until November 2013.
(New York Times)

Israel Made Geneva Deal Possible - Anshel Pfeffer

The Geneva deal is far from perfect, but it is very hard to see how any agreement would ever have been reached if for the last decade and a half Israel had not been engaged simultaneously in an intensive diplomatic campaign, one of the largest joint intelligence operations in history, and, for at least the last four years since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the Prime Minister's Office, a public relations offensive - all aimed at building pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.

Major Foreign Companies Eye Trade with Iran - Zvi Bar'el

Foreign conglomerates are lining up to do big business with Iran, now that the country has won limited sanctions relief in the Geneva nuclear accord signed Sunday.

U.S. Now Indicates Iran Deal Wasn't Finalized - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Iran is currently enjoying a "window" of time before the six-month deal signed in Geneva on Sunday goes into effect, during which it is not bound to take any credible steps toward disabling its ability to produce a nuclear weapon, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged Tuesday. "The next step here is a continuation of technical discussions at a working level so that we can essentially tee up the implementation of the agreement," Psaki said Tuesday. "Obviously, once those technical discussions are worked through, I guess the clock would start."
(Times of Israel)

How U.S. Diplomacy Is Empowering Iran - Avi Issacharoff

Not only has the six-month interim agreement not yet come into effect, but also Iran is free to proceed with its military program at full speed until the deal's final "technical" details have been worked out. Experts have also said the agreement leaves the Iranians the ability to manufacture crucial components for their nuclear program outside the Arak facility and install them if the site is reopened.

According to Prof. Asher Susser of the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University: "An important historical shift is now reaching its climax. The Middle East's center has shifted from the Arab countries to the Persian Gulf. And when the U.S. permits Iranian hegemony, it projects onto the situation in Syria, Iraq and other places."

According to Susser, if these processes continue, the Arab countries will have no choice but to tighten bonds with Iran. "They won't like it but they may not have any other alternative." 
(Times of Israel)

A Saudi-Israeli Alliance? - James Zumwalt

In Shiite-dominated Iran, the mullahs remain committed to developing nuclear weapons with which to threaten Sunnis and the West. This has created a once unthinkable alliance in the region of states truly committed to denying Tehran nuclear weapons.

Saudi Arabia fully understands Iran's threat is real. It understands why Iran pursues a nuclear weapon - to trigger its end-of-world belief of the 12th Imam's return. It also understands Iran's plan involves wrestling Islam's two most religious sites - Mecca and Medina - from the Saudis as "Guardians" of same - a role Iran believes destiny demands it play.

There are signs Saudi Arabia recognizes Israel has the commitment to prevent Iran from going nuclear and that an Israeli attack may well represent Riyadh's last best hope to stop Iran as Israel steps into the void left by Washington. 
A retired U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt served in the Vietnam War, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War. 

U.S. Blindspot Shows on the Iran Nuclear Deal - Jonathan Spyer

The newly announced deal on the Iranian nuclear program appears to be the outcome of a long, unseen, bilateral negotiation between the U.S. and Iran. The present U.S. administration is simply unconvinced that Iran's regional ambitions represent a dangerous destabilizing force.

This blindspot is strange. The evidence is plain to see: Iran is an active participant in the Syrian civil war. It dominates Lebanon through Hizbullah. It is closely allied with the government in Iraq. It is engaged in subversion in Bahrain, north Yemen, Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia. It actively sponsors Palestinian terror groups engaged in violence against Israel - most importantly Islamic Jihad and Hamas, but also elements within Fatah. The nuclear program is intended to render Iran invulnerable to any serious action to resist or turn back its push for regional domination.

Iran has engaged in falsehood and prevarication ever since the discovery of its nuclear program a decade ago. Its intentions are plain and its fingerprints are all over the region. Yet when confronted by ambitious and ideological forces, determined to transform the region in their own image, this administration behaves as though it is dealing with reasonable and amicable partners.   
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The Dead's Envy for the Living -David P. Goldman

Many commentators, most eloquently Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal, draw a parallel between the appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 and the appeasement of Iran at Geneva. There is another, more chilling parallel: Iran's motive for proposing to annihilate the Jewish State is the same as Hitler's, and the world's indifference to the prospect of another Holocaust is no different today than it was in 1938. It is the dead's envy for the living.

Dying civilizations are the most dangerous, and Iran is dying. Its total fertility rate probably stands at just 1.6 children per female, a catastrophic decline from 7 children per female in the early 1980s. Iran's present youth bulge will turn into an elderly dependent problem worse than Europe's in the next generation and the country will collapse. That is why war is likely, if not entirely inevitable.
[Middle East Forum]

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