Hezbollah expects payday from Iran deal

April 16, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

More fallout from Team Smart Power’s “diplomacy” with Iran: enabling the terrorist group that blew up our Marines in Beirut in the 80s. #genius

Originally posted on Money Jihad:

Excerpts follow from an IPT report regarding the effect of a nuclear deal with Iran that would lift sanctions against them.  Iranian catspaw terror groups stand to benefit from the money that will flow their way.  Hat tip to El Grillo:

The framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is set to refill Iran’s coffers and enable the Islamic Republic to invest considerable treasure in its regional network of terrorist and guerilla proxies…

They include the Shi’ite Lebanese organization Hizballah – the most highly armed terrorist entity in the world, active in the Syrian civil war – the Shi’ite Houthi forces currently seizing and destabilizing Yemen, a plethora of militant Shi’ite militias in Iraq, the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza and the West Bank, and Hamas, with which Iran has recently mended relations. Iran has begun sending Hamas, which rules over Gaza, tens of millions of dollars for its…

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Why the ten-year period of the Iran “deal” is meaningless

April 9, 2015
"It's all good. No worries!"

“It’s all good. No worries!”

The President recently gave an interview to NPR in which he explained the reasoning behind the deal framework whatever-it-was reached with Iran over its nuclear program. Most analysts concentrated on Obama’s comments about the possible situation in the years just after the ten-year period (1) expires:

Under the framework announced last week, Iran would be kept at least one year away from a bomb for the first decade of the deal, Obama said as he sought to sell the deal to skeptics. Yet that constraint would stay in place only for 10 years, at which point some restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities would be eased.

“Essentially, we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year,” Obama said in an NPR News interview. “And then in years 13 and 14, it is possible that those breakout times would have been much shorter. But at that point we have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves.

Analysts have pointed out several legitimate reasons for concern: Iran has already said it will deploy improved centrifuges, meaning they can generate more enriched uranium even with the fewer devices allowed under the agreement. Iran will not permit inspection of military facilities, meaning all sorts of secret work could go on in those. (And what happens if Fordow and other sites are declared “military?”) They are not giving up their ballistic missile program. And though Obama and Kerry assure us that sanctions can be reapplied in the event Iran is caught cheating (not “if,” but “when,” in my opinion), the fact is that sanctions would take months of negotiations with our allies (and the Russians and Chinese) to reapply –if they can be reapplied– and then about another year to actually bite. Under Obama’s forecast, then Iran would then have plenty of time to build a bomb even after the ten-year wait, just by having everything else ready to go.

So, yes, there are many, many major problems with this agreement no one agrees on. ( I pointed out a few others here)

But there’s another flaw few seem to be commenting on, even though, if true, it renders the whole process not just meaningless, but a farce. From that same AP article, see if you can spot the problem:

Breakout time refers to how long it would take to build a bomb if Iran decided to pursue one full-bore — in other words, how long the rest of the world would have to stop it. U.S. intelligence officials estimate Iran’s breakout time is currently two to three months.

I made it too easy, didn’t I?

Hello? Anyone home? The arrangement reached in Lausanne is supposed to lead to a final deal in –ahem– roughly two months. Who here doesn’t think Iran will find ways to stretch that to three, four, or five or more months? It will be easy, because the Obama administration wants a deal more than a junkie wants his next fix, and Tehran knows this. And yet our intelligence services estimate they are no more than three months from a nuclear weapon, should they give the final order to build one?

Who the hell gives a damn about ten years from now when we’re talking potentially of a matter of weeks?

The Obama administration has conceded that Iran will get a bomb, and these negotiations are just a clown show to keep us distracted until it’s a fait accompli.

And there will be Hell to pay because of it.

via Jim Geraghty, who also noticed that little detail.

RELATED: Why the deal isn’t a deal, by Jonah Goldberg.

Footnote:
(1) If you don’t know why it’s significant that Islamic hardliners would agree to a ten-year deal, I suggest you read up on something called “hudna.”


Why the P5+1 deal guarantees Iran a nuclear bomb

April 3, 2015
Supreme Thug

What’s the Farsi for “winning?”

I said yesterday that the interim agreement (1) guaranteed Iran would get “the Bomb.” I also wrote that the apparent Iranian concession regarding their underground, fortified research facility at Fordow was possibly a sign that Iran had backup facilities somewhere else, such that they could afford to “sacrifice” the publicly known one.

Turns out I was right about the first, but at least partially wrong (2) about the second. They will get the bomb, but because we’ve allowed them to keep sufficient centrifuges at Fordow to do the job. Via Power Line, blogger Omri Ceren, who’s followed the negotiations closely, explains:

But instead of spinning uranium, the centrifuges would be spinning germanium or similar non-nuclear elements. That’s the administration’s talking point: that there will not be any “enrichment” going on at Fordow. The claim is – bluntly – false. Centrifuges spin isotopes into lighter and heavier elements, thereby “enriching” the material. That’s what they do. In fact that’s all they do. The administration has gone all-in on a talking point can be defeated by a Google search for “centrifuges enrich germanium” (if you’re fastidious you can set the Google search to before the AP scoop, to make sure you’re not getting Fordow-specific articles).

This isn’t a minor point. The concession has the potential to gut the whole deal:

(1) Allows N-generation centrifuge R&D beyond the reach of the West – since the process is the exact same process, Iran will have a hardened facility where it will be able to research and develop N-generation centrifuges. Zarif bragged from the stage in Lausanne that Iranian R&D on centrifuges will continue on IR-4s, IR-5s, IR-6s, and IR-8s, and that the pace of research will be tied to Iranian scientific progress. The development of advanced centrifuges would give the Iranians a leg up if they decide to break out, and will put them instantly within a screw’s turn of a nuke when the deal expires.

(2) Leaves Iranian nuclear infrastructure running beyond the reach of the West – if the Iranians kick out inspectors and dare the world to respond, the West will have zero way to intervene. The Iranians will have a head start on enrichment, and a place to do it beyond the reach of Western weapons. The administration’s early pushback has been that the breakout time will still be a year, so they could in theory reimpose sanctions, but it takes more than a year for sanctions to take an economic toll. So: zero options to stop a breakout.

In other words, we’re allowing them to develop better and better centrifuges that would require a trivial effort to switch to uranium enrichment, all in a hard to attack facility.

But do they have enough centrifuges? The agreement allows them 6,000, far fewer than what they’re running now, roughly 20,000. But, according to former CIA deputy director Michael Morrell, that’s all they need:

“If you are going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 is pretty much the number you need,” Morell, now a CBS analyst, said on Charlie Rose. “If you have a power program, you need a lot more. By limiting them to a small number of centrifuges, we are limiting them to the number you need for a weapon.”

Morell told PunditFact he said 5,000 because that was lowest number he had heard was in play. The number of centrifuges in place today is a hair over 20,000, and a likely goal is to cut that to about 5,000.

They decided to check his claim:

The consensus among the experts we reached is that Morell is on the money. Matthew Kroenig at Georgetown University told PunditFact the Morell is “is absolutely correct.” Ditto for Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association and David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security.

Matthew Bunn at Harvard agreed with his colleagues.

“People think surely you must need a bigger enrichment system to make 90 percent enriched material for bombs than to make 4-5 percent enriched material for power reactors,” Bunn said. “But exactly the opposite is true.”

Bunn said there are two reasons. First, you need tens of tons of material to fuel a power reactor for a year, but just tens of kilograms to make a bomb. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the threshold amount for a bomb is about 25 kilograms of the most highly enriched U-235.

And while yes, it’s harder to make 90 percent enriched uranium (bomb) than 4-5 percent enriched uranium (power), it’s not that much harder, Bunn said.

So, while the administration is trying to sell the Fordow portion of the agreement as proof that they’re stopping Iran from getting a bomb because no uranium will be enriched there under the agreement, it turns out that is irrelevant; they will have all the technology they need when (not if) they decide to “break out.”

This just gets better and better.

Footnotes:
(1) Turns out this is a rough agreement on the way to a final one, the deadline for which is in June. The difference is minimal, though; today’s agreement sets the parameters for the final agreement. They can only get worse from here.
(2) It’s of course possible Iran has a parallel facility in North Korea — I would, if I were them. But they’re obviously not sacrificing Fordow.


US makes worst deal since Hitler said “trust me” to Chamberlain

April 2, 2015
x

Once again, “peace in our time.”

Heckuva busy day today, but I can’t let this one go by unremarked. It looks like the US and its negotiating partners have reached an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. Based on Bridget Johnson’s reporting at PJMedia, it looks as bad as I suspected it would be. Here are some key points:

The P5+1 agreed to the “key parameters” of a nuclear deal with Iran after marathon talks in Switzerland, including “ceasing application” of all sanctions — a must-have demand of Iran at the negotiating table.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, appearing at a press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, said parties agreed to a “comprehensive lifting of all sanctions” in the deal that is “laying the agreed basis for the final text for the Joint Plan of Action.”

So we give up our strongest card before Iran gives up anything.

The deal will be for 10 years and allow Iran to keep about 6,000 centrifuges.

So they can keep enriching.

Mogherini said the agreement leaves “no other enrichment facility than Natanz” and allows International Atomic Energy Agency inspections that are “mutually agreed” upon.

Oh, I can’t wait to see the negotiations over that schedule. Should be the best since they argued over the shape of the table at the Paris Peace Talks.

Fordow will become “a nuclear physics and technology center,” she said. “There will not be any fissile material at Fordow.”

Fordow is a fortified underground site, and inspections have to be on an agreed upon schedule. I wonder if the Iranians were giggling when they agreed to that.

Construction of the Arak heavy water reactor will continue; Mogherini said it “will not produce weapons-grade plutonium.”

“Trust us.”

They agreed on a “set of measures to monitor provisions” of the deal, including “announced access” to permit IAEA inspections.

Announced access? Is that part of the schedule they have to mutually agree on? Oh, yeah. We can rely on that.

The European Union and the United States “will cease the application of all sanctions,” Mogherini said, upon verification by IAEA of implementation.

Oh, yeah. We’ll stick to that. I predict more negotiations with a “compromise” to follow.

“None of those measures include closing our facilities; the proud people of Iran will not accept that. We will continue enriching,” Zarif declared. “…We will focus our enrichment in Natanz” and “focus on other activities” at Fordow while keeping centrifuges there.

“When we implement our measures, there will be no sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

And for that we agree to lift all sanctions. No word on if Kerry left without his pants, too.

Notice what wasn’t mentioned? Any prior declaration of the extent of Iran’s program. This “deal” covers only what we know about — who knows if the mullahs have nuclear research facilities elsewhere in Iran that they aren’t mentioning? And if we suspect a location? Oh, sure, they’ll let us inspect it.

This deal guarantees Iran will get a nuclear weapon. It also certainly means a nuclear arms race in the Middle East (You think the Saudis, the Gulf States, and the Egyptians are going to sit still over this? Think again.) and hugely increases the risk of war. It is an absolute sellout of our allies, especially Israel, the one lone liberal democracy in the region. One can only hope the opposition in Congress has the brass to wreck this deal, which would be far better than letting it stand.

What Churchill said about Chamberlain after Munich in 1938 could apply as well to Barack Obama and John Kerry:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war.”

I fear so.

PS: Remember what I wrote the other day about Iran perhaps having a backup program in North Korea? The promise to keep Fordow clear of weapons research, after Iran had insisted they be allowed to run centrifuges there, makes me wonder if I was right. Let’s see if they allow inspections at Fordow. If they do…


What if Iran already has nukes hidden in North Korea?

March 31, 2015

satire nuclear explosion 2

That’s the not so subtle implication of Gordon Chang’s article in The Daily Beast. Much of the article explores the illicit nuclear proliferation network (parts confirmed, others suspected) between Iran, China, North Korea, and (formerly?) Pakistan, dating back nearly fifteen years. But the key portions follow:

In October 2012, Iran began stationing personnel at a military base in North Korea, in a mountainous area close to the Chinese border. The Iranians, from the Ministry of Defense and associated firms, reportedly are working on both missiles and nuclear weapons. Ahmed Vahidi, Tehran’s minister of defense at the time, denied sending people to the North, but the unconfirmed dispatches make sense in light of the two states announcing a technical cooperation pact the preceding month.

(…)

The North Koreans have also sold Iran material for bomb cores, perhaps even weapons-grade uranium. The Telegraph reported that in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium cracked open and contaminated the tarmac of the new Tehran airport.

(…)

The relationship between the two regimes has been long-lasting. Hundreds of North Koreans have worked at about 10 nuclear and missile facilities in Iran. There were so many nuclear and missile scientists, specialists, and technicians that they took over their own coastal resort there, according to Henry Sokolski,  the proliferation maven, writing in 2003.

Even if Iran today were to agree to adhere to the Additional Protocol, it could still continue developing its bomb in North Korea, conducting research there or buying North Korean technology and plans. And as North Korean centrifuges spin in both known and hidden locations, the Kim regime will have a bigger stock of uranium to sell to the Iranians for their warheads. With the removal of sanctions, as the P5+1 is contemplating, Iran will have the cash to accelerate the building of its nuclear arsenal.

So while the international community inspects Iranian facilities pursuant to a framework deal, the Iranians could be busy assembling the components for a bomb elsewhere. In other words, they will be one day away from a bomb—the flight time from Pyongyang to Tehran—not one year as American and other policymakers hope.

(Emphasis added)

Think about it. Pretend for a minute you’re one of the Muslim fanatics who rule Iran. Maybe you’re part of the faction that sees it as its duty to bring about the Islamic “end times.” You definitely want to crush the Jews and destroy Israel. You hate America as the Great Satan and see Iran’s Islamic Revolution as the one hope for truly making Allah’s religion supreme. To protect the revolution and fulfill Allah’s goals, you’ve decided Iran needs nuclear weapons.

But the Great and Little Satans (America and Israel) stand in your way. They don’t want you to have these weapons. They are infidels and enemies of Allah. So, to buy yourself the time to make them, you enter into negotiations — not to give anything away, but merely to delay. And, so far, it’s worked. The infidels are weak and anxious for an agreement, so they keep playing along, no matter how outrageous your demands.

And yet there are risks. What if the Zionist Entity (Israel) loses patience and attacks? That might set back your program. What if a new president takes charge in America, one who isn’t afraid to use his nation’s awesome resources to weaken your regime by supporting the opposition, as Reagan did with Poland, or through the direct use of armed force, as they did to Saddam? That could wreck your nuclear dreams, if not overthrow you altogether. How do you guard against that?

Well, like any well-run operation, you have a disaster back up plan. In this case, an offsite nuclear program, parallel to the one in Iran. One so offsite that  it is in another country, an allied nation with a nuclear program of its own and that hates America, too, and is obsessed with security.

A place like North Korea.

This is all speculative, of course, but it is also plausible. It’s what any reasonable person would consider doing in a similar situation. And, while the mullahs are aggressive antisemitic religious fascists, they are not stupid.

Keep your eye out: Iran has been playing hardball in the negotiations, demanding so much that even Obama and Kerry must have been tempted at times to walk out. The deadline for an agreement is coming up: If Iran suddenly and to everyone’s relief makes major concessions, I think the North Korean backup scenario goes from “likely” to “almost certain.”

Sleep well.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Iranian defector: US acting as Tehran’s advocates in nuclear negotiations

March 28, 2015
x

Such a deal…

I’ll admit to confirmation bias: I’ve suspected this all along —

In his television interview, Mr Mottaghi also gave succour to western critics of the proposed nuclear deal, which has seen the White House pursue a more conciliatory line with Tehran than some of America’s European allies in the negotiating team, comprising the five permanent members of the UN security council and Germany.

“The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” he said.

Amir Hossein Mottaghi was a close aide to Iranian President Rouhani and ran his campaign’s public relations. He defected when he decided it was impossible to work as a real journalist anymore, rather than as a parrot for the regime. (1) So, he defected in Switzerland when he went their ostensibly to cover the negotiations. (2)

Defector reports are always to be taken with several grains of salt, since they have reason to say things their hosts want to hear, but this is credible to me, given the insane concessions we seem to be making.

It’s a strange thing when I find myself rooting for the failure of an American president’s diplomacy and his consequent embarrassment, but that’s the blunt truth. If Mottaghi is right, we’ve gone from appeasement to collusion against our own interests and those of our allies. This is shaping up to be a horrifically bad deal with potentially catastrophic consequences; the humiliation of Barack Obama to thwart it would be a small price to pay.

via Daniel Halper

Footnote:
(1) It took him this long to realize this?
(2) Good thing he didn’t defect at our embassy. Obama might have been tempted to return him to show our “good faith.” And I’m only half-joking.


Respectfully disagreeing: the Republican letter on Iran was proper and needed

March 10, 2015

Turn almost anywhere in D.C. and you’ll find someone screaming in outrage about something: taxes, health care, regulations of one sort or another, the secret Lizard People conspiracy to control our government, whatever. The latest chorus of outrage has arisen because of an open letter to the Iranian government written by Senator Cotton (R-AR) and 46 others among his Republican colleagues. The senators wanted to remind Iran that the US Senate has a constitutional role to play regarding any treaty with Tehran and that no agreement would be lasting without the Senate’s consent. You can read the letter here, but below is a key excerpt:

First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

In other words, “there’s no real deal unless it contains provisions we approve of.”

This started a firestorm of criticism from the Left, with perhaps the most shrill, hysteria-laden attack coming on the cover of the New York Daily News:

Hyperbole much?

Hyperbole much?

Graphic via Hot Air

(Aside: “treason” is a word thrown around far too easily in recent years. By the Left and the Right.)

And the reaction from the White House and their allies in Congress wasn’t much farther behind:

Congressional Democrats joined the White House in denouncing the letter, with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) calling it “a cynical effort by Republican Senators to undermine sensitive international negotiations — it weakens America’s hand and highlights our political divisions to the rest of the world.”

(…)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused Republicans of trying to “sabotage” the nuclear talks.

“This bizarre, inappropriate letter is a desperate ploy to scuttle a comprehensive agreement and the chance for a peaceful resolution, which is in the best interests of the United States, Israel and the world,” Boxer said in a statement.

Well, if anyone understands “bizarre,” it’s Barbara Boxer.

I’ll leave it to Noah Rothman to deal with the rank hypocrisy of the Democrats’ statements (here’s one huge example from The Federalist), but there were criticisms, or at least sad regret, from some on the Right, too. First, while Byron York at the Washington Examiner acknowledges that Obama started this mess, he still sees little good in the issuance of the Cotton letter:

It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits, on the flimsy pretense that he is entitled to act unilaterally if Congress does not pass bills he wants. Could anyone fail to anticipate that in response Congress would stretch its own authority, too?

(…)

Of course, it is still a bad thing. It is not good to invite a foreign leader to address Congress in a campaign against the U.S. president. It is not good to undermine the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy. But it’s not a good thing to undermine Congress’ authority to make laws, either. And to threaten even more undermining in the future, as Obama has done.

Meanwhile, at Hot Air, my friend Jazz Shaw thinks the letter is too much, too soon:

The whole point is that the system seems to be breaking down, and this letter is yet another example of the United States airing its dirty laundry for the rest of the world to see. Under ideal conditions, this would all be hammered out in private between Obama and the Congress and he could then send Kerry to negotiate something they could all live with. That didn’t happen either, so this is clearly not a case of all the fault being on one side of the aisle. In fact, when the President turned around and said this wasn’t really a treaty so he could do what he liked, that was possibly an even worse sin than what Tom Cotton and his cosigners have done. Trying to change the nature of a major deal between nations by calling it an agreement rather than a treaty is just a dodge, and not a particularly artful one at that.

Still, I find myself disagreeing with Tom Cotton (who I admire very much, and have since I interviewed him during the election) and wishing that this letter hadn’t been written. If there had to be an official response, a resolution of disapproval of the negotiations (or later, of the deal itself) could have been passed on the Senate floor. That would have at least kept the communications in house, rather than having the Legislative branch dive directly into the mix with Iran. The system of how things need to work to keep Washington functional continues to break down, and this letter did nothing to help with that challenge.

Both writers express an understandable wish for comity between the parties and branches when facing a dangerous foe. And many of us are old enough to remember when such a period existed when politics (mostly) “stopped at the water’s edge” — that era from World War II to the fall of the USSR when  there was a general consensus on foreign affairs between the parties in the face of threats from first the Nazis and then the Communists.

But that period slowly came to an end with two developments: first the rise of the anti-war socialist and communist-sympathizing Left and their liberal dupes to domination of the Democratic Party after 1968. They simply did not and do not share the foreign policy assumptions of the older, New Deal liberals who formed half of the consensus.

The other event was the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  With the deadly enemy gone, the pressure to unite against the outsider was lifted. Hence it became easier to take politics beyond the water’s edge.

And, while I opened this by saying I respectfully disagree, York and Shaw (and others) have a valid point: It *is* regrettable that there is no consensus anymore on our foreign affairs (1), and it is a shame that oru squabbles have to be carried out in public. Ours is a largely informal system in which policy makers would (should) come to a consensus based on agreement on broad principles.

But, for now at least, that agreement is gone, and one side pushes so far beyond the bounds of what has been acceptable that the other feels forced to retaliate.

Yet I still disagree that Senator Cotton and his colleagues should not have done this. As York himself notes, the administration and congressional  Democrats have shown little but contempt for constitutional norms and bounds since Obama was inaugurated. And in the face of the many slights against the American settlement perpetrated by the Obama White House and colluded in by the congressional Democrats, congressional Republicans have been nearly supine. The latest, the failure to stop Obama’s illegal, unconstitutional amnesty plan via the DHS budget, was a humiliating disgrace that could well encourage other adventures in petty tyranny on the president’s part. And it was just one moment, albeit egregious, in the long march of Congress surrendering more and more of its authority to the Executive since progressivism took hold.

Congress needed to push back to start reclaiming its role in our system, and this letter represents a good start. And it was better to do it now, while the agreement is still being worked out, than wait until it could be presented as “take it or leave it, and the consequences of rejection be on your shoulders.” Far from interfering in foreign affairs, this represents the Senate majority asserting its proper constitutional role and demanding it be honored. If Senator Cotton is representative of the newer generation of senators, then I have hope some balance will be restored.

While it’s regrettable that the fight has taken public, it’s much more heartening to see the legislature assert itself as Madison intended, jealously guarding its interest.

Footnote:
(1) Kind of hard to have one when one side still believes in a muscular, exceptional America as a force for good in the world, and the other sees American power as the problem and chooses national decline.

 


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