Secretary of State John Kerry, in a testy interview on Fox News, said neither he nor President Obama ever promised “anywhere, anytime” inspections for the Iran deal…
“Chris, don’t play a game here,” Kerry told “Fox News Sunday’s” Chris Wallace. “The fat is in arms control, there is no country anywhere on this planet that has ‘anywhere, anytime’ — there is no such standard within arms inspections.”
“We’ve never had a discussion about ‘anywhere, anytime,’ ” he repeated. “It’s called managed access under the [International Atomic Energy Agency], and everyone understands it and the intelligence community has made it clear to us they did before we signed onto this deal — that we would be able to know that they are doing in that intervening time.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron defended the Iranian nuclear agreement on Sunday as the “toughest” deal within reach and assured the public that western nations are safer now because of it.
“The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran that is now off the table, and that’s a success,” Cameron told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Of course, there will be those who complain about details of the deal,” added Cameron, whose nation took part in the negotiations with Iran. “But fundamentally, this is the toughest set of proposals put in place, and verifications put in place, and inspections put in place that I think we’ve seen in any of these negotiations.”
[I]n April the White House touted that, “Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.” Yet the new pact will allow Iran to reprocess such fuel after 15 years. The final agreement says Iran can begin production of efficient advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium in eight years. The April fact sheet strongly implied research into advanced centrifuges would be delayed for 10 years.
Senior administration officials in April said the nuclear agreement would allow inspectors “anytime, anywhere” access to suspected nuclear sites, but the new deal will give Iran 24 days’ notice of any inspections, as well as a say in whether inspectors will be able to visit certain sites at all. The U.S. also agreed in the final days of talks to lift a U.N. conventional weapons embargo on Iran in five years, and to end sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program in eight, both issues on which the framework deal is silent.
More concerns arise from the “road map” that the International Atomic Energy Agency released Tuesday, on how it will resolve longstanding questions about the history of Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. First, the description of how it plans to do so is dangerously vague. Equally important: Until May, the U.S. position was that Iran had to come clean about that history before there would be any sanctions relief. Now that issue has been shunted aside in terms of lifting sanctions.
While it’s true that the April deal was only a framework, and that some changes should have been expected, all these concessions taken together represent a retreat by the U.S. team since the spring.
The reality is that there were always alternatives, though they became less realistic as the negotiations progressed. We could have stuck to the original redlines – non-negotiable demands – from the beginning. These included on-the-spot inspections of all facilities rather than the nearly month-long notice that will allow the Iranians to hide what they are doing; shutting down all facilities specifically designed for nuclear weapons production; maintaining the embargo on missiles and other sophisticated weapons rather than allowing it to gradually be lifted; and most crucially, a written assurance that the international community will never allow Iran to develop a nuclear arsenal. The current assortment of indeterminate and varying timelines agreed to will allow Iranians to believe — and proclaim — they will soon be free of any constraints on their nuclear adventurism.
Instead, we caved early and often because the Iranians knew we desperately need a deal to implement President Obama’s world vision and to enhance his legacy.
This approach to the deal — surrendering leverage from the outset — violated the most basic principles of negotiation 101. We were playing checkers against the people who invented chess, and their ayatollah checkmated our president.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a fiery speech Saturday that Iran would always oppose the “arrogant” United States – but did not criticize its nuclear deal…
“American interests and politics in the region are 180 degrees different to ours,” he said in the televised speech, four days after the Vienna accord in which crippling sanctions against Iran would gradually be lifted in exchange for long-term nuclear curbs.
“Whether the deal is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. Even after this deal our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change,” he said…
“We have nothing to talk to America about with regard to regional and global issues,” he added. “We have no bilateral issue to discuss.”
[I]n light of Obama’s end-run around the Congress, it is clear that regardless of congressional action, the deal has already ruined the 70-year old nonproliferation system that prevented nuclear chaos and war.
After all, now that the US has capitulated to Iran, its avowed foe and the greatest state sponsor of terrorism, who will take future American calls for sanctions against nuclear proliferators seriously? Who will be deterred by American threats that “all options are on the table” when the US has agreed to protect Iran’s nuclear installations and develop advanced centrifuges for the same ayatollahs who daily chant, “Death to America”? For Israel, the destruction of the West’s nonproliferation regime means that from here on out, we will be living in a region buzzing with nuclear activity. Until Tuesday, Israel relied on the West to deter most of its neighbors from developing nuclear weapons. And when the West failed, Israel dealt with the situation by sending in the air force. Now, on the one hand Israel has no West to rely on for sanctions or deterrence, and on the other hand, it has limited or no military options of its own against many of the actors that will now seek to develop nuclear arsenals.
Consider Israel’s situation. How could Israel take action against an Egyptian or Jordanian nuclear reactor, for instance? Both neighboring states are working with Israel to defeat jihadist forces threatening them all. And that cooperation extends to other common threats. Given these close and constructive ties, it’s hard to see how Israel could contemplate attacking them…
The same considerations apply to Saudi Arabia.
Israel is engaging in a major lobbying push to try to kill the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran…
That pressure is only going to increase over the next two months, as congressional Democrats struggle with whether to provide opponents with the votes needed to kill the deal…
Netanyahu has given interviews with a number of American news outlets, repeatedly warning that the terms of the Iran deal imperil not just Israeli but also American security.
Israel’s center-left opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, has also announced that he will visit Washington in the coming days to express his concern about the agreement and press for “a series of steps to allow Israel to maintain its advantage in the region due to the new reality coming out of the deal.”
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett this weekend blasted world powers for including in the comprehensive agreement with Iran a provision that in essence suggests that they, including the U.S., might protect Iranian nuclear facilities from future external threats, including “sabotage.”…
The Center for Security Policy asserted that Annex III appears “to commit the United States and other world powers to the defense of Iran’s nuclear program.”
The right-wing website Israel National News called the same provision of the agreement “disturbing.”
“The direct reference to sabotage in the deal’s text is highly significant, given that Israel – as well as U.S. President Barack Obama – has been accused of launching several cyber sabotage attempts in the past to delay Iran’s suspected march to obtaining nuclear weapons,” observed the news outlet.
In the future, we are likely to see more Iranian walk-ins or dissident-supplied information about the nuclear program. Before the revelations in Paris in 2002, if you’d asked State Department, CIA, or National Security Council staff whether the United States should take seriously nuclear information supplied by the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, nearly all would have answered “absolutely not.” And for cause: The Mujahedeen often got such things wrong or even lied. But they could also get things right, and in 2002, they found massive concealed nuclear plants that the CIA probably had either missed or mis-analyzed.
A real inspections regime in Iran would have to include the right for IAEA inspectors to follow up any dissident information, especially dissident information that the CIA did not have and disbelieved, with unchallenged, immediate inspections. But does anyone really believe that President Obama will compromise his greatest foreign-policy achievement over information supplied by Iranian dissidents? Or how about an untested CIA agent reporting from Iran? Without IAEA inspections, the CIA will have a very hard time confirming the veracity of any report on sensitive nuclear issues that cannot be seconded by a satellite. Or consider a random intercept that we pick up from a loose-lipped mullah or Revolutionary Guard commander. Intercepts are rarely ideal. They usually consist of bits and pieces that have to be melded together to amount to much. Does anyone really believe that Obama, who made repeated concessions in these negotiations for fear the supreme leader would walk away, would compromise his legacy over suspicions raised by intercepts?…
Hassan Rouhani has told us repeatedly in his writings that the clerical regime cares much less about nuclear technologies it has mastered than those it has not. The JCPOA concentrates on what the Iranians have already accomplished. It talks in detail about the enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. It presupposes that our primary concern is an Iranian “breakout” from facilities that were frequently monitored by the IAEA even before the nuclear negotiations started. It’s doubtful, however, that the mullahs ever wanted to try a breakout under the watchful eye of the U.S. Air Force and Navy, even in the age of Obama. It’s a “sneak-out” that should concern the West.
Unhappy with President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran? Republicans running for the White House are vowing to rescind the agreement, some on their first day in office.
“The president does not have infinite ability to get other countries to go along with them,” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “One of the consequences is the United States would be increasingly isolated at a time when Iran is increasingly integrated with the rest of the world.”…
But if there’s no sign Iran is cheating, it’s unlikely the European allies, who spent nearly two years negotiating alongside the U.S., would be compelled to walk away and reinstate sanctions. And it’s nearly impossible to imagine Russia and China, which partnered with the U.S, Britain, France and Germany in the talks, following a GOP president’s lead.
“Shattering something like this with the British and the French and the Germans – that has consequences,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and former Obama State Department official. “A new president isn’t going to want to lead off like that.”
Bush, looking to position himself as an electable conservative in a sprawling primary field thrown into turmoil by the unexpected rise of Donald Trump, reiterated his opposition to the Iran agreement, which will ease economic sanctions on the country in exchange for a decade of limitations to its nuclear program.
But he stopped well short of promising he’d undo the deal and basically dismissed other Republicans who’ve done so as panderers, telling reporters that it’s unlikely he — any president, really — would take such a drastic step immediately upon taking office.
“At 12:01 on January, whatever it is, 19th , I will not probably have a confirmed secretary of state; I will not have a confirmed national security team in place; I will not have consulted with our allies. I will not have had the intelligence briefings to have made a decision,” Bush said. “If you’re running for president, I think it’s important to be mature and thoughtful about this.”
Congress won’t get to vote on the deal until September. But Obama is taking the agreement to the U.N. Security Council for approval within days . Approval there will cancel all previous U.N. resolutions outlawing and sanctioning Iran’s nuclear activities.
Meaning: Whatever Congress ultimately does, it won’t matter because the legal underpinning for the entire international sanctions regime against Iran will have been dismantled at the Security Council. Ten years of painstakingly constructed international sanctions will vanish overnight, irretrievably.
Even if Congress rejects the agreement, do you think the Europeans, the Chinese or the Russians will reinstate sanctions? The result: The United States is left isolated while the rest of the world does thriving business with Iran.
Should Congress then give up? No. Congress needs to act in order to rob this deal of, at least, its domestic legitimacy. Rejection will make little difference on the ground. But it will make it easier for a successor president to legitimately reconsider an executive agreement (Obama dare not call it a treaty — it would be instantly rejected by the Senate) that garnered such pathetically little backing in either house of Congress.
A careful examination of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reveals that it concedes an enrichment capacity that is too large; sunset clauses that are too short; a verification regime that is too leaky; and enforcement mechanisms that are too suspect. No agreement is perfect, but at times the scale of imperfection is so great that the judicious course is to reject the deal and renegotiate a more stringent one. The way for this to happen is for Congress to disapprove the JCPOA…
The JCPOA stands as one of the most technologically permissive arms-control agreements in history. All is not lost, however, and with sensible amendments the accord can be strengthened. The United States should return to the table and insist that after the expiration of the sunset clause, the P5+1 and Iran should vote on whether to extend the agreement for an additional 10 years. A majority vote every 10 years should determine the longevity of the agreement, not an arbitrary time-clock. Further, the JCPOA has usefully stressed that all of Iran’s spent fuel from its heavy-water reactor will be shipped out permanently. A similar step should be taken with Iran’s enriched uranium. The revised agreement should also limit Iran to the first-generation centrifuges and rely on “anytime, anywhere access.” These and other such measures could help forestall an Iranian bomb and stem the proliferation cascade in the Middle East that this agreement is likely to trigger.
At this late date, the only way that the agreement can be reopened and amended is for Congress to first reject it. At that time, the Obama administration or its successor can return to the table and confess that given the absence of a bipartisan foundation of support in the United States, key provisions of the agreement have to be reconsidered. At the end of such a process, the United States may yet be able to obtain a viable accord that reliably alters Iran’s nuclear trajectory.
Obama’s Iran deal is not limited to sanctions enacted by the United States Congress in connection with Iran’s nuclear program. Not by a long shot. Obama’s deal extends to Iran’s ballistic missiles programs and other weapons activities – including the lifting of international arms embargoes covering, as Kagan notes, both “any material or technology that might be useful to a ballistic-missile program,” and “battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles, or missile systems.”
That is not what Iran and the Obama administration led the American people and its elected representatives to believe they were negotiating…
This is hugely consequential. The president is recklessly compromising national security, materially supporting the world’s leading sponsor of jihadist terror, undermining the Constitution he is sworn to uphold, and grossly eroding American sovereignty by transferring to Putin, the Chinese, the Europeans, and the mullahs decisions about American defense requirements that belong to the American people…
Congress must use its power of the purse, its appointment power, its power over legislation, and, if necessary, and its power to impeach executive branch officials (the State Department might be a good place to start) to pressure Obama.
I think the nuclear issue was a mere pretext, a Hitchcockian McGuffin. Iran will be a nuclear state, and very soon. The joke inspections regime – under which Teheran can block any inspections for the best part of a month – will facilitate the nuclearization of Iran and prevent anyone who objects to it – such as Israel – from doing anything about it. That’s a given.
But that’s not what the talks were about. Obama’s vision of the post-American Middle East sees Iran as the dominant power, and that’s what the negotiations were there to finesse. As I said to Sean, Obama’s belief that American power and influence has been bad for the world extends beyond America itself to America’s allies. So on missile defense he takes the side of Russia over US allies like Poland and the Czech Republic; in the Falklands he takes the side of Argentina over the United Kingdom; and now in the Middle East he takes the side of Iran over the Sunni Arab monarchies and Israel.
This agreement will have bloody and brutal consequences.
The Iran deal, then, is good enough for the president because it delays until after the end of his term any reckoning with what he himself describes as an anti-Semitic revisionist troublemaking power. A similar deal with North Korea delayed the Stalinist regime’s first nuke test for over a decade, at which point the negotiators of the 1994 “Agreed Framework” were busy lobbying or in a governor’s mansion or advising Democratic presidential candidates. Who can doubt that 12 or 15 years from now, when Iran detonates its first nuke, Obama will appear on the evening Oculus Rift newscast, reminding us that this never would have happened had he and not Chelsea Clinton been in office?…
What we have in the Iran deal is another instance of the ruling caste distorting reality to suit its ideological preferences. It is also the most dangerous instance. So much elite discourse resembles the game let’s pretend that it’s become difficult to restate what is true and what is false. Let’s act as if Iran negotiates in good faith, as if Greece can remain in the Euro, as if the Chinese have their economic situation under control, as if immigration policy had nothing to do with the murder of Kate Steinle, as if the Islamic State can be destroyed without major American involvement, as if you can promote racial antagonism and animosity toward police without an increase in crime and disorder, as if Hillary Clinton excites the Democratic Party, as if the Confederate flag was responsible for an act of racial terrorism in Charleston, as if we shouldn’t apply moral standards to Planned Parenthood’s traffic in fetal tissue, as if Caitlyn Jenner, peace be upon her, is more courageous than Lauren Hill or Noah Galloway. And let’s do all of this without considering the trade offs and missed opportunities, the externalities and sunk costs, of maintaining a culture grounded in wish fulfillment and infantilization.
There is, after all, only so much self-delusion a society can take before it loses its mind.
We are rapidly approaching that limit.
The ABC reporter, Jon Karl, asked, “But the bottom line, the UN is going to vote on this before Congress gets to vote on this?”
“Well, they have a right to do that, honestly. It is presumptuous of some people to say that France, Russia, China, Germany, Britain ought to do what the Congress tells them to do,” said Kerry. “They have a right to have a vote. But we prevailed on them to delay the implementation of that vote out of respect of our Congress.”
“We believe with this, for years into the future, we have this incredible capacity to have access, to have inspections, to hold them accountable.
“And by the way, even though the arms and the missiles, they were thrown in as an add-on to this nuclear agreement. It was always contemplated if Iran did come and deal on the on the nuclear program, that was going to be lifted.”