Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What’s wrong with the Iran deal

US president Obama has signed a nuclear agreement with Iran (July 14, 2015). He loves it. He says it will make the world safer. He says it will block every pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Others disagree. They say this deal is flawed. They say these flaws are serious.

Here’s a review of some of those flaws.

In the beginning, some 13 years ago, the ‘deal’ was supposed to be based on a straight trade-off: America (and its partners) would end nuclear-related sanctions when Iran ended its domestic nuclear program (Robert Satloff, “What's Really Wrong with the Iran Nuclear Deal”, New York Daily News, July 14, 2015). But that didn’t happen. What happened was, the US started to retreat:

One: the US conceded to Iran the right to have its own nuclear reactors--but not to enrich nuclear fuel (Satloff). Then, the US conceded to Iran the right to enrich but under strict limitations (Satloff). Then, the US conceded to Iran that the strict limitations on enrichment would expire at a certain point in the future (Satloff).

Two: the ‘inspections’ which have been set up to verify that Iran is complying with the agreement aren’t exactly ‘inspections’. For example, the agreement concedes to Iran a 24 day delay should Iran object to an inspection. While it certainly may take more than 24 days to scrub clean a massive underground enrichment facility, there is nonetheless a lot of illicit activity that Iran can hide with 24 days’ notice (Satloff).

In addition, the world’s most competent inspectors, the Americans, will be banned from Iran (Sara Malm, “US inspectors will be banned from all Iranian nuclear sites under controversial deal amid warnings 'only American experts can tell if they are cheating'”, dailymail, July 17, 2015). The US conceded to this even as some claim that only the Americans can be trusted to verify accurately that Iran is in compliance (Adam Kredo, “Iran Bans U.S. Inspectors from All Nuclear Sites”, Washington Free Beacon, July 16, 2015).

This is ironic. The US led the negotiations. But the US is the only country among the negotiators banned from inspections (Kredo). Given the reputation of the American inspectors, what might their banning suggest?

Then, there’s the public behaviour of the Obama administration regarding inspections. In April, 2015, deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes declared there would be ‘anytime, anywhere inspections’ in Iran—because that’s how we’ll know the Iranians remain honest (Shoshana Weissmann, “Ben Rhodes Misled About 'Anywhere, Anytime' Inspections of Iran's Nuclear Program”, The Weekly Standard,” July 15, 2015 ).That now turns out to be false. Yes, the administration did spread what now turns out to be a ‘rumour’ that Iran compliance would be verified by ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections; but when the agreement came out, there was no such provision (Daniel Greenfield, “Obama "We'll Have 24/7 Access to Iran's nukes", Obama Adviser, "We Never Said That", FrontPageMag, July 14, 2015). As Greenfield said about this rumour/denial: “You can trust these guys [the Obama administration] on the Iran deal-- Almost as much as you can trust Iran” (ibid).

Inspections will not be all-inclusive. Inspectors will not have access to Iran’s military sites. A top advisor to the Ayatollah Khamenei has recently reiterated that all inspectors will be banned from all military sites (“Iran vows to bar international inspectors from military sites”, Times of Israel, July 5, 2015). Since the development of a nuclear weapon will at some point be intimately linked to ‘a military site’, banning inspectors from such sites doesn’t bode well for the ‘verification’ promise the US says is built into the agreement.

Three: the agreement renders irrelevant any attempt to punish violations. You see, there appears to be only one penalty for any infraction, big or small -- taking Iran to the UN Security Council for the "snapback" of international sanctions (Satloff). That is like saying that for any crime-- misdemeanor or felony--the punishment is the death penalty (Satloff). In the real world, that means there will be no punishments for anything less than a ‘capital crime’ (Satloff).

Four: the ‘snapback’ provision has been gutted. Let's say that the UN Security Council orders the re-imposition of sanctions. It appears from the agreement that all contracts signed by Iran up until that point are grandfathered in (Satloff; emphasis mine). They’re immune from sanctions (Satloff). That means one can expect a stampede of state-to-state and private sector contracts -- some real, many hypothetical -- all designed to shield Iran from the impact of a possible re-imposition of sanctions, thereby weakening the impact of the punishment (Satloff).

Five: the agreement says that, should sanctions be re-imposed, Iran will have the right to free itself immediately from all commitments and restrictions under the deal (Satloff). In other words, a violation would have to be really, really significant for the Security Council to blow up the entire agreement in order to re-impose sanctions (Satloff). That effectively gives Iran a free pass on all manner of small to mid-level violations (Satloff). This ‘bailout’ provision makes the 24-day notice (above) important: 24 days could be enough time to scrub a major violation down to a mid-level violation, or lower.

Six: secret agreements. There are two kinds of secret agreements in this deal (Eli Lake and Josh Rogin, “Congress Alarmed by Iran Pact's Secret Understandings”, Bloomberg View, July 26, 2015)--those secrets that are known to Congress but not to the US public; and those secrets not known to Congress or the public (Lake, Rogin).

There are at least six secret agreements known to Congress that deal with the more ambiguous parts of the agreement (Lake, Rogin). They hide from prying eyes exactly how those ‘more ambiguous’ provisions actually work. These documents also explain the commitments other countries have to provide Iran with research and development assistance on its nuclear program (Lake, Rogin). These agreements include protecting Iran from attack and sabotage, a concept most interpret as a protection against the one nation most likely to attack Iran--Israel.

Why would the world want to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities from attack? Does it protect anyone else’s facilities in this way? Given the fact that this deal allows Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon (after a maximum of ten years), why protect Iran at all when Iran continues to chant, ‘Death to Israel, Death to America’? Wouldn’t a threat of an attack be a great motivation to Iran to comply in a fully transparent manner, so as to prove that its nuclear work is as truly non-military as it claims?

There are at least two additional secret agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran (Lake, Rogin) which are hidden from both Congress and the public (Lake, Rogin). These agreements are particularly important because they deal directly with the inspection of Iran’s nuclear program. They address the question of whether the IAEA would be able to inspect the Parchin military complex, and how the IAEA and Iran would resolve concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program (Lake, Rogin). While the US State Department dismisses concerns over these secret agreements with the statement that these agreements simply cover ‘standard procedures for technical aspects of inspections’, one Republican Senator said it was his understanding that one of these secret agreements allowed Iran to take its own environmental samples at Parchin (Lake, Rogin). Another Senator compared this particular arrangement to the NFL allowing athletes suspected of taking steroids to mail in their own urine samples (Lake, Rogin).

To allow the Iranians to collect their own samples is absurd (Fred Fleitz, “What Kerry and Obama Tried to Keep from Congress and the Public: Iran Will Collect Its Own Samples for the IAEA”, National Review, July 24, 2015).  It goes against years of IAEA practice and established rules about the chain of custody for collected physical samples (ibid). As Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) said, “Are we going to trust Iran to do this? This is a good deal? This is what we were told we were going to get when we were told, “Don’t worry, we’re going to be watching over their shoulder and we’re going to put in place verification[s] that are absolutely bullet proof”? We’re going to trust Iran to do their own testing? This is absolutely ludicrous” (ibid).

US Secretary of State John Kerry, when questioned about these secret agreements didn’t answer questions satisfactorily. Kerry told a hearing he hadn’t seen the secret documents. That prompted one Senator to say that Kerry had essentially told them, ‘the Ayatollah knows what’s in the deal but we don’t’ (Lake, Rogin). This suggests that the US has wilfully blinded itself to details it’d rather not know about.

That’s a serious red flag. It’s enough to cut the heart out the deal.

Seven: the deal doesn’t guarantee that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. It just delays it by a maximum of ten years (Caroline Glick, “How and Why to Kill the Iran Deal”, RealClearPolitics, July 24, 2015). In the Islamic war to conquer, ten years is nothing.

Worse yet, the original plan for this deal was that no sanctions would be lifted until Iran revealed what progress it had already made in its nuclear program. Iran steadfastly refuses to comply with this requirement. Therefore, no one knows how close Iran has gotten to a bomb, nor—as things currently stand—will anyone ever know. Given the number of centrifuges this deal will leave intact, experts believe that the exact time Iran needs to get a bomb isn’t 10 years; most estimates suggest that Iran needs something like 7 months to 3 years to get a bomb.

Eight: Iran can wait for its bomb because this agreement means that more than 100 billion dollars of frozen Iranian assets will be released to Iran. Iran is the world’s biggest supporter of terror. If Iran wants to cause havoc in the Middle East and across the world, it doesn’t need an atom bomb. It can do almost as much damage much sooner with 100 billion dollars of new money for its terror proxies.

There’s much that’s wrong with this deal. There are many other flaws. You’ve seen only some of them here.

Altogether, the flaws emasculate the deal. As someone has already said, these flaws create a hole big enough to drive a truck-bomb through.

Remember: Obama said this deal will make the world safer. If we’re supposed to be safer, what is Iran’s Supreme leader doing (after the deal was signed) expressing in a speech such hostility towards the US that members of his audience begin to chant, ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ (Arnold Ahlert, “Iran Still Chanting 'Death to America'”, frontpagemag, July 22, 2015)?

Where do you think that’s going to lead?

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