Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Does the reaction to Netanyahu's Iran speech spell war?

On Monday evening, April 30, 2018, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a prime-time televised speech in Israel about Iran's nuclear ambitions. He repeatedly suggested that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon, and stated that Iran has not complied with the 2015 nuclear deal it had signed with Western Powers.

Surprising some, Netanyahu spoke at length in English, thereby assuring a wide audience around the world for post-speech news reports. Then he switched to Hebrew to summarize, and to repeat that he believed that US President Trump will "do the right thing" when the time comes (probably on or before May 12, 2018) to decide what the US should do about the 2015 Iran deal signed by then-US President Barack Obama.

The essence of this speech was a presentation. It was quite a presentation. He began with a shocker: Israelis had gone into Iran and had taken more than 100,000 documents from a secret underground Iranian vault (here). The documents exposed the dirty secrets of Iran's nuclear program. 

It was a stunning announcement. 

Dramatically, Netanyahu pulled a curtain on two displays beside him. The curtains' fall revealed what were probably copies of the original files--or, perhaps, the files themselves. He said these 100,000 documents prove that Iran lied about its weapons-grade nuclear ambitions. 

Netanyahu showed a power-point-like display of pictures, illustrations and copies of texts. He described what these said. He showed charts and diagrams.  He gave more explanations.

His bottom line: Iran has built its nuclear program on lies and deceptions. The West, we are left to conclude, has been duped. His unstated message: Iran has to be stopped before it threatens us all with nuclear bombs atop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The West didn't buy any of it. Indeed, it didn't take long at all for negative responses to Netanyahu to appear on news  sites. Germany came first, less than 35 minutes after the speech ended: "German diplomat: nothing new in Netanyahu presentation" arutzsheve newsbriefs, April 30, 2017.

Over the next three hours, that was the diplomat sentiment de jour. The US, UK and EU all sniffed, 'nothing new'. 

In the US, the State Department in particular issued a statement that "Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons programs that it has tired  and failed to hide from the world" (here). This appeared to support and confirm what Netanyahu had said. But then, the State Department issued a correction: it changed, Iran has a robust..." to Iran had such a program (ibid).

Britain said it had never been naive about Iran's nuclear program "Britain: we were never naive  about Iran", arutzsheva newsbrief, May 1, 2018).  Echoing what others were saying, Britain added that the Iran deal was the most extensive deal in the history of nuclear deals, and was the only way the world could assure that Iran's  nuclear program remained peaceful (ibid).

The inference was, Netanyahu's concerns were irrelevant. The 2015 deal works. The West is getting the compliance it needs. We are safe with this deal. If we tinker with it or cancel it, Iran will race to build a bomb. Then where will we be?

As if to capture the West's dismissal of Netanyahu, Israel's Haaretz described Netanyahu's presentation with a negative metaphor: Netanyahu wasn't showing the world a smoking gun, Haaretz said. He was showing the picture of a smoking gun taken years ago (here).

There was just one problem here. The West--and Haaretz--are whistling in the dark. The original Iran deal has accomplished little-to-nothing substantial for the West. Iran has been proceeding all along with its bomb program (here).

The original deal was supposed to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium for peaceful purpose only. That meant Iran could enrich uranium to no more than 3.67 percent (here).

This number was chosen because that is (approximately) the level of enrichment needed to build a peace-time nuclear program. In his April 30, 2018 presentation, Netanyahu suggested Iran was now enriching uranium to a much higher level--and that level was needed only if one was pursuing a weapons program.

It is more than curious that the West does not accept such revelations. Its steadfast refusal is especially curious because just hours before Netanyahu went on TV on April 30, 2018, Iran's Director of the Iranian Atomic Agency, Ali Akhbar Salehi, announced that the US should understand Iran could now enrich uranium to a far higher level than it could have done back in 2015 (here). Back in 2015, Salehi said, Iran could go to 20 percent. But today, its nuclear weapons program is now sophisticated enough to go much higher than that (ibid). 

Iran didn't get to this point sitting on its hands. It's been working hard--in secret, as Netanyahu said. Apparently, Iran feels it's now ready to push ever higher.

Remember, the higher the enrichment, the closer to an atomic bomb Iran gets.  

What's happening here is that Iran, by threatening to enrich uranium to a far higher level than the 2015 limit, validates Netanyahu's concerns. Netanyahu has outed Iran's dirty nuclear secret. The West ignores this secret.

Apparently, the West has complete faith in their 2015 deal. It believes the deal will work exactly as the West envisions it working.

Almost 80 years ago,  someone else in the West had this same faith. On September 30, 1938, then-British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain famously declared 'peace in our time' because Germany's Adolph Hitler has signed a piece of paper. Chamberlain's faith in Hitler led to war.

On April 30, 2018, Western nations rejected Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's warning about Iran. The West chooses instead to put its faith in another piece of paper, a 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Netanyahu has said is a sham and a lie.  

The West has a poor track record. It rests its faith and its fate with tyrants. 

Where do you think the West is headed? 

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