Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Reflections on Iran Deal

At least someone is happy: Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Iran Debate Misses the Point - Daniel Pipes, PhD

While hugely important in terms of Iranian relations with the outside world, U.S.-Israel relations, and Barack Obama's relations with Congress, the labored, contradictory, and unspecific Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has little bearing on whether the mullahs do or do not get nuclear weapons. Let me explain:

If one assumes, as one should, that the Iranian leadership is determined to build a nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver it, then the economic issues (sanctions, boycotts, embargoes) that drive the P5+1 negotiations are tangential. They affect the speed, cost, and difficulty of building an arsenal, but do not impede its ultimate realization.

The only way to stop Iran's program is by using force, presumably by attacking its nuclear infrastructure from the air. Yet this prospect, now marginalized as the "war option" in contrast with two years ago, is no longer discussed.

With Binyamin Netanyahu just reelected prime minister, Israel has a leader seemingly prepared to take fateful steps. Distracted by negotiations, however, we hardly think about this – even though the Israel Defense Forces has twice before attacked nuclear installations (Iraq's in 1981, Syria's in 2007), and both times to universal surprise.

Will the Israelis bomb Iran or not? I am unable to answer; but I can tell you that this, and not the minutiae of the Lausanne Agreement, is the issue.
[National Review Online]

Tehran Will Use Faster Centrifuges When Deal Takes Effect    

Iran will begin using its latest generation IR-8 centrifuges as soon as its nuclear deal with the world powers goes into effect, Iran's foreign minister told members of parliament, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported.
The report makes a mockery of the world powers' much-hailed framework agreement with Iran, since such a move would dramatically accelerate Iran's progress to the bomb.

Iran said its IR-8 centrifuges enrich uranium 20 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges it currently uses.   
(Times of Israel)

Agreement Without Dismantlement Will Fail - Emily B. Landau

The deal would enable Iran to keep its breakout capability intact, and in a manner that would enable a quick move to nuclear weapons when it decides.

This is Iran's goal in the negotiations - to get sanctions relief while holding on to its ability to break to nuclear weapons in a manner that will leave the international community powerless to stop it.    

What if Iran simply decides to exit the deal, after accusing the West of not upholding its end of the bargain? This is precisely what happened in 2004 - Iran reneged on the deal it had concluded with the EU-3 while accusing the EU-3 of bad behavior.

Enabling Iran to maintain its nuclear breakout capability - with the illusion of being able to stop it in time - is a recipe for failure.
The writer is head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. 
(Times of Israel)
The Delicate Path Ahead on Iran - David Ignatius

There are many details left to clarify, and U.S. officials aren't yet sure they actually have clinched the deal that they appeared to have won. There are big holes in the framework.

Its unfinished nature is a sign that the administration wants the final pact so much that it will offer compromises that allow the Iranians to save face, even at modest cost to U.S. interests.
(Washington Post)

Deal Not Historic Transformation - Aaron David Miller

On Sept. 13, 1993, I watched Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shake hands at the White House. I believed that act would transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was perhaps the worst analytical judgment I'd make in an extended State Department career. 

My faith in fixing things was rooted in the nature of diplomacy itself - the talking cure, a profession often driven by a legitimate desire to avoid war and conflict if possible, as well as by the belief in the capacity of nations to solve their mutual problems by meeting somewhere in the more enlightened middle. And in its uniquely American manifestation, diplomacy is also driven by the conviction that if only Washington would lead, most challenges in the world could be overcome.

Enter the recently rolled out "historic understanding with Iran." What I've learned - the hard way - is that really good deals are few and far between, that real transformations are rarer still, and that most diplomacy rarely offers up comprehensive solutions
The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 
(Foreign Policy)

The Iran Deal and Its Consequences - Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz

For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests - and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. 

The one-year window concept for a presumed Iranian breakout, emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, replaced the previous baseline - that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. The new approach complicates verification because of the vagueness of the criteria.

Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will insist on at least an equivalent capability. A "proliferated" Middle East could become host to a plethora of nuclear-threshold states, several in mortal rivalry with each other.

Among the original nuclear powers, geographic distances and the relatively large size of programs combined with moral revulsion to make surprise attack all but inconceivable. How will these doctrines translate into a region where sponsorship of nonstate proxies is common and death on behalf of jihad is a kind of fulfillment?

Having both served in government during a period of American-Iranian strategic alignment, we would greatly welcome such an outcome. But there exists no current evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding. Iran's representatives (including its Supreme Leader) continue to profess a revolutionary anti-Western concept of international order; domestically, some senior Iranians describe nuclear negotiations as a form of jihad by other means.

The final stages of the nuclear talks have coincided with Iran's intensified efforts to expand and entrench its power in neighboring states. Tehran occupies positions along all of the Middle East's strategic waterways and encircles archrival Saudi Arabia, an American ally. Unless political restraint is linked to nuclear restraint, an agreement freeing Iran from sanctions risks empowering Iran's hegemonic efforts.
The writers are former U.S. secretaries of state.

(Wall Street Journal)

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