Iran: The Great Debate
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, accompanied by his chief of staff, left, and Ali Akbar salehi, right, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization responsible for directing Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program.
By Shira Sorko-Ram
President Barack Obama declares the Iranian nuclear agreement is a good deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replies that it is a bad deal, “a stunning historical mistake.”
Obama says “we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.”
Netanyahu says “the nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It actually paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
Obama promises that “we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region.”
Netanyahu says the agreement will actually trigger a nuclear race in the Middle East, the most volatile region on the planet.
Obama says that without the agreement, the only alternative is war.
Netanyahu says that going ahead with the deal will lead to war.
Obama says that if Iran cheats, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will catch them “through the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”
Netanyahu responds that neither intelligence nor inspections prevented North Korea from building atomic bombs despite assurances they wouldn’t be able to do so. And while this deal allows for ongoing inspections of Iran’s declared sites, what about Iran’s secret nuclear activities?
Not only that, Netanyahu adds, “The inspectors must first share with Iran the critical intelligence that led them to suspect these sites in the first place. That’s actually astounding.”
Now, what’s a person to do? Most folks are not nuclear scientists and none of us are privy to the intel Obama and Netanyahu have.
Yet the U.S. Congress and Senate must vote on whether or not to accept the plan. One knowledgeable insider stated that 80 senators – well above the 67 needed to override a presidential veto – would vote down the accord if it were not for politics.(Jerusalem Post, 14Aug2015)
In other words, Democratic senators and congressmen voting against their president could cost them dearly in their future political careers.
On the other hand, lawmakers do have their ears to the ground, listening to what their constituents are saying, even though the Obama administration threatens to go forward with the deal, no matter what Congress says.
For our own knowledge, let us, to the best of our ability, check out the facts we do have at our disposal concerning this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement. But it must be said at the start, this 159 page document is fuzzy, imprecise and more than perplexing. Many of its oversight mechanisms have yet to materialize, let alone prepare for action. But we shall slog through the fog of confusion and obfuscation.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE (LACK OF) DETAILS
President Obama states that the JCPOA provides for Iran to enrich uranium only to five percent for at least 15 years. The Iranians have agreed to ship out 98 percent of their stockpile of enriched uranium – currently enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs.
(The agreement does not explain where it will be shipped to and which country will be the recipient.) Instead of their present 20,000 centrifuges, they will be allowed to use only 6,000 of the older type. There will be strict inspections by the UN’s IAEA. Therefore Obama assures the world that the agreement prevents Iran from constructing a nuclear weapon.
But Prime Minister Netanyahu protests that even if Iran abides by the agreement, the deal allows Iran to maintain and eventually expand a vast and increasingly sophisticated nuclear infrastructure. This infrastructure is unnecessary for civilian nuclear energy, but it’s entirely necessary for nuclear weapons. Astonishingly, the deal permits Iran to operate a nuclear program and thus grants Iran’s until-now illicit nuclear program full international legitimacy.
Israel’s General Yaakov Amidror concurs: “The Iranian nuclear program has no civilian element, and no justification other than as a military program.”
Therefore, even if Iran faithfully honors the deal, Netanyahu continues, “in a decade or so – at most 15 years – the main restrictions on this vast nuclear program will expire. They’ll just end. The deal’s limitations on the number of centrifuges Iran has and on the quantity of uranium Iran enriches, those restrictions will be lifted. And at that point Iran will be able to produce the enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and it could produce that arsenal very quickly.”
The top Democratic Jewish Senator, Chuck Schumer from New York agrees. “If Iran’s true intent is to get a nuclear weapon, under this agreement, it must simply exercise patience. After ten years, it can be very close to achieving that goal, and, unlike its current unsanctioned pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear program would be codified in an agreement signed by the United States and other nations. To me, after ten years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Hossein Fereydoun (center) the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the main Iranian negotiator of the Iran nuclear agreement.
“After fifteen years of relief from sanctions,” Schumer continued, “Iran will be stronger financially and better able to advance a robust nuclear program. Even more importantly, the agreement would allow Iran, after ten to fifteen years, to be a nuclear threshold state with the blessing of the world community. Iran would have a green light to be as close, if not closer to possessing a nuclear weapon than it is today. And the ability to thwart Iran if it is intent on becoming a nuclear power would have less moral and economic force,” he said. (www.schumer.senate. gov)
BILLIONS FOR IRAN’S PEACEFUL NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES
How much does Iran stand to immediately gain when the sanctions are lifted? $100 – $150 billion. That’s roughly how much the U.S. Treasury Department says Iran will recover once sanctions are lifted. (Other sources say more.) The money comes from Iranian oil sales and has been piling up in some international banks because of sanctions imposed by the U.S. in 2012.
Oil is one of Iran’s most valuable commodities. And, sanctions or no sanctions, Iran found buyers over the past few years. Month after month, millions of dollars of oil revenues were added to its ledgers. But Iran hasn’t been able to get its hands on that cash. It’s frozen in overseas banks. The money is sitting in countries like China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
Elizabeth Rosenberg, who worked on the Iran sanctions issue at the Treasury Department and is now with the Center for a New American Security says that while $100 billion sounds like a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the economic relief Iran can expect if and when companies begin to trade and invest with it. (www.npr.org)
Fox News stated that Iran can produce four million barrels of oil a day. At $50 a barrel, that is $200 million per day!
In a statement, B’nai B’rith International said the deal “requires an unprecedented suspension of disbelief that Iran has only peaceful intentions for its nuclear program. Given its decades of dissembling, it is infeasible to conclude that Tehran will honor its obligations under this agreement.” B’nai B’rith International has joined AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee in opposing the deal. (www.haaretz.com)
Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, right, shakes hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a reception ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran. The smile of Emir is most certainly feigned, as Kuwait and all Iran’s neighbors are extremely troubled over the Iran Nuclear Agreement, as they realize it gives Iran a certain path to a nuclear bomb.
THE U.S. CAVED
David Harris, head of the AJC Global Jewish Advocacy and one of the Jewish people’s most eloquent spokesmen, writes that he “engaged in a very intensive, open-minded and thorough process” of studying the JCPOA and listening to government leaders and advocates on both sides.
He concluded, “by abandoning the earlier negotiating posture of ‘dismantling sanctions in exchange for Iranian dismantlement of its nuclear infrastructure,’Obama replaced it with what is essentially a temporary freeze on its program. As a result, the P5+1 (U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany) has indeed validated Iran’s future status as a nuclear threshold state.”
The JCPOA “is too ominous, too precedent-setting, and too likely to trigger a response from Iran’s understandably anxious neighbors who may seek nuclear weapons capacity themselves, as well as, more immediately and still more certainly, advanced conventional arms, adding an entirely new level of menace to the most volatile and armsladen region in the world.” (Huffington Post, 5Aug2015 David Harris)
ISRAELIS AFRAID BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTAND
A recent poll found that 80% of Jewish Israelis fear the nation is in existential danger. That means that 80% are afraid of another apocalypse on the Jewish people. If the worst possible scenario occurred, and God forbid, a terrorist exploded a nuclear device in a large U.S. city, the nation would be devastated and forever changed. If it happened in Tel Aviv, because of Israel’s tiny size, the nation would cease to exist.
Literally across the board, both Israel’s ruling parties and the opposition are in agreement that the Iran nuclear agreement is a terrible mistake.
Senator Schumer made one other extremely important point. He said, “We must consider the non-nuclear elements of the agreement. This aspect of the deal gives me the most pause. For years, Iran has used military force and terrorism to expand its influence in the Middle East, actively supporting military or terrorist actions in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza. That is why the U.S. has labeled Iran as one of the only three nations in the world who are “state sponsors of terrorism.”
Netanyahu said, “Let’s suppose that Iran just takes 10% of the money for terrorism. That’s 10% of nearly half a trillion dollars that Iran is expected to receive over the next 10 to 15 years. That’s a staggering amount of money. And that would turn any terrorist group sponsored by Iran into a terrorist superpower.”
Why do some believe that this deal is better than no deal, and yet others believe that no deal is better than this deal? It really comes down to whether a person understands the Iranian goals and mindset to control the entire Middle East and then the rest of the world. Has anyone in the P5+1 countries who signed the deal ever stopped to consider why Iran is the leading terrorist state in the world?
Are they doing what they do just for kicks? Not at all. They have a plan. And woe to those nations that don’t recognize that plan for what it is. Now Iran has been given an agreement so vague it presents them with an endless array of opportunities to cheat now, or just wait until they get the world’s signature of approval on the dotted line in, at the latest, 15 years.
ARMS EMBARGO OVER IN 5 YEARS, BALLISTIC MISSILES EMBARGO IN 8 YEARS
But what about Iran’s ability to procure and deliver conventional arms? According to the Iran nuclear deal, John Kerry and company agreed that in five years Iran could start importing and exporting nonnuclear armaments, and in eight years the restrictions regarding ballistic missiles would be lifted.
The United States, together with its European allies, have agreed to put the U.S and Europe in the shadow of Iran’s soonto- be ballistic missile threat. Iran can legally begin working towards ICBM’s in eight years, and nuclear warheads in 10-15 years. Today’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles can reach anywhere from 5,500 to 16,000 kilometers and are primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery.
Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. (Israel has more capable ballistic missiles, but fewer in number and type.) Iran now has missiles that can reach 2,000 kilometers – all the way to Israel, but is still dependent on importing key ingredients, components and equipment. According to a congressional-funded federal institution, Iran should not be able to strike Western Europe before 2017 or the United States before 2020—at the earliest. (http://iranprimer.usip.org)
One more detail: the famous “snapback” sanctions for violating the conventional weapons embargo for the next five or eight years do not exist! Yes you read that right. Snap-backs apply only to nuclear violations. So, to put it in a sentence, there is no real mechanism yet in place that will penalize illegal arms and missile transactions. But John Kerry assured Americans we have “ample tools at our disposal” if Iran violates the arms embargo and missile sanctions!
For some time now, the United Nations has also placed Iranian persons under sanctions. Along with other dangerous Iranian military and scientific personnel, General Qassem Soleimani has been under UN travel sanctions because he is responsible for the death of more that 500 Americans in Iran.
But guess what? General Soleimani, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander, just broke his travel ban. Iran state media reported that General Soleimani traveled to Moscow to discuss with President Putin, among other matters, the sale of air defense missiles.
Putin has announced that he has lifted Russia’s own sanctions and will sell Iran the S-300 defense missile systems, because, Putin said, “Iran clearly wishes to reach a compromise on this nuclear program.” The S-300 would significantly bolster the Islamic Republic’s military capability by providing a strong deterrent against any air attack. And they are being delivered eight years early.
America’s response? The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, noted that the U.S. is very concerned about the development. (Foxnews.com)
China, meanwhile, has agreed to provide Iran with 24 fighter jets in exchange for access to Iranian oil fields for the next 20 years, purported to be a billion dollar deal, according to Taiwanese media reports. Switzerland has just announced the unilateral lifting of their sanctions. British and European countries are rushing their plans to sell their goods and to buy Iran’s oil.
India is preparing to begin paying Iran the $6.5 billion for back oil imports. It is trying to figure out first, however, if the U.S. sanctions will allow them to unfreeze the funds.
ALL THIS BEFORE THE SANCTION LIFTING HAS EVEN BEGUN!
By now you will have probably guessed that there will be no effective enforcement mechanism in place during the coming years of embargoes. The Iran agreement provides for the Security Council Secretariat to monitor Iran, but nothing is in place yet. If the UN appoints political figures instead of experts to some kind of oversight committee, the enforcement will be primarily a facade. The JCPOA sanctions mechanism is collapsing even before it is officially functioning.
At any rate, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has already announced that Iran will not honor these embargoes because they are, according to him, “illegal” – just as in the past Iran didn’t honor the Security Council resolutions that have since been canceled due to the new arrangements.
The consequences of the lack of authoritative oversight for non-nuclear weapons control are already being felt. Hamas has announced that Iran is financing new attack tunnels into Israel. Hezbollah, though badly bloodied from its defense of Iran’s client, Syria’s Assad regime, is reemphasizing its anti-Israel rhetoric and capabilities before what will be a horrifically violent future war. Iran’s subversion in Yemen, the Balkans, South America and the Gulf is at new heights.
Laments Israeli journalist Alexander H. Joffee, “On every point – enrichment, centrifuges, stocks of fissile material, inspections, sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps members and businesses, “snapback,” etc. – the Obama administration caved completely.”
“Concessions on ballistic missiles and arms sales were thrown in at the last minute; the administration lied about it all, while Iran touted its victories and American capitulation. All this went on amidst a background of Iranian chants of “death to Israel” and “death to America,” which entered not at all into American calculations.” (www.meforum.org)
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, pointed out that “ironically perhaps, Israel’s nuclear weapons have not triggered an arms race. Other states in the region understood – even if they couldn’t admit it publicly – that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure.”
As a result of the JCPOA, Bolton believes Iran will create a nuclear bomb. He warns that the Israeli and international nightmare may well be under way. Israel’s reported nuclear monopoly is threatened. The risk of a dangerous nuclear race may spread outside the Middle East. There are already dozens of nations, such as Brazil, Argentina, Japan, South Korea and more, who so far have voluntarily restrained themselves from building nuclear bombs, even though they have the know-how.
The former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki Al-Faisal said recently in a TV interview, “Whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same.” The prince added that other Middle East countries would also be asking for the same. The media has reported in recent years that Saudi Arabia had funded 60 percent of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and thus has an option to obtain them from Islamabad.
THE MYSTERY OF THE SCRIPTURES
In one of the most comforting “Latter Day” Scriptures for me are found the words of Yeshua:
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. Matthew 25:22
Living in Israel and seeing the growing evil amassing on the borders of Israel and beyond, I know from this promise that the God of Israel will not allow Satan to bring an end to this planet’s civilization by an all out nuclear war.
But this verse is also a warning and a timeclock. When Iran, the world’s greatest terrorist state, breaks out with nuclear weapons, it will really change the world balance of power forever. There will no longer be a “status quo” for another hundred years.
I don’t know if the following verses in the Book of Daniel will apply to the coming days or not. But we know that many prophecies that have already been fulfilled, do have double fulfillments.
An angel appeared to Daniel, probably Gabriel, who also appeared in the chapter before (Daniel 9:21), and spoke to Daniel about the prince of Persia who fought with Gabriel for 21 days. Only when Michael, the prince of Israel (Daniel 10:21) came to help Gabriel, was he able to break through the heavenlies and bring Daniel the Word of the Lord.
I would suppose that angelic beings are able to fight to victory as the saints of God on earth pray and intercede. It is interesting to note that Israel’s angel came to Gabriel’s help while Daniel was fasting and praying. Gabriel received no other help.
The message Gabriel brought relates to Persia, Israel and “Greece” thought by many scholars to represent the Gentile nations. Here is Gabriel’s message:
Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.
Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.
And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. (Portions of Daniel 10 and 11).
Whether these Scriptures have been completely fulfilled, or yet will be revelatory for our time, we will only know in the future as we watch events unfold.
Our focus must be on the fact that there is a tremendous war in the heavenlies; certainly the prince of Persia is on the rampage. Will God’s people today sleep, or will we rise up to be a mighty army of intercessors to battle the prince of Persia and every other prince of every other country that desires to destroy God’s beloved creation, the human race?
When we hear the kind of news such as we are hearing daily, we must understand the times. We must intensify our reason for being on this earth, to take up the burden of the Lord and make disciples of all nations-our number one calling.
A LITTLE STORY
By Shira Sorko-Ram
An American Jewish journalist, Larry Cohler-Esses, was surprisingly given a visa to travel to Iran this last month. He talked with all kinds of people and wrote a very interesting inside story. But the conversation he had with one of the Grand Ayatollahs, named Yousef Saanei, was fascinating.
According to Wikipedia, Saanei is one of the top 11 Grand Ayatollahs in the world. He is also considered a reformist – in fact, he is often referred to as “the spiritual father” of Iran’s Green Movement. Because of his high standing, he has more freedom to say what he wants than just about anyone else in Iran.
Cohler-Esses relates that on entering Saanei’s receiving room, “I discovered quickly that there was something he wanted to talk about…his disappointment with the nuclear agreement.
The Ayatollah complained, “Since everyone involved knew from the beginning that there had to be an agreement at the end, he asked me, why did the international negotiators not insist on including other crucial issues?”
I asked him what other issues, specifically.
He declared again: “Before anything else, human rights. Freedom of speech and writing. Freedom of thought. Encouraging people to develop their creativity, instead of this huge investment on military and other facilities.”
“These negotiations are only about nuclear issues and sanctions,” he protested to me through my translator. “They don’t relate at all to human rights! Basically, the negotiations were not about humanitarian beliefs or spiritual matters. It’s just about money.” (http://forward.com)
Which reminds me: how in this world did the American government, the strongest military nation in the world, leave a Christian pastor and three other Americans in the dungeons of Iran?
Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, one of Iran’s most revered leaders, poses with American Jewish Journalist Larry Cohler-Esses.
IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT DOESN’T MENTION TERRORISM
Why doesn’t the Iran nuclear deal say anything about Iran being the number one terrorist state in the world? Because, says John Kerry, this agreement is focused on stopping Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
Yet Iran’s terrorist-sponsoring work is responsible for most of the mayhem that currently exists in the Middle East. According to Israel’s military, Hezbollah is now stronger than any Arab army. Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 short-range rockets capable of striking northern Israel, several thousand missiles that can reach Tel Aviv and central Israel and hundreds more that can strike the entire country. These weapons were mainly made in Iran.
Hezbollah is now far ahead of any other terrorist group in the world in terms of the weapons it can deploy, the tactics it uses, and the offensive and defensive technology at its disposal. With the support of Iran, Hezbollah is not a terrorist group, but rather Tehran’s terrorist army.
Israeli military officials are now beginning to view the Hezbollah threat as strategic rather than tactical; that is, they are preparing for a confrontation with a foreign army, rather than a terrorist group. But this army is not like others, because while it has the size and capacity of an army, it still fights like a terrorist organization. Thanks to Iran. (www.csmonitor.com)
NUCLEAR INSPECTIONS FOR DUMMIES
GOAL OF THE U.S. AND ITS ALLIES: To guarantee that Iran does not break out with nuclear weapons.
GOAL OF IRAN: (1) To make sure that all sanctions are lifted from Iran, (2) to break out with nuclear weapons and buy more military arms with funds released through lifted sanctions, (3) to become a stronger economic nuclear state, and 4) to build up terrorist proxy organizations (Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.).
THE BASICS OF IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT (JCPOA): The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be in charge of inspections. At the moment it is reported the Director General Yukiya Amano of the IAEA has a team of 2 to 10 experts. Obviously, they’ll need more experts as Iran is more than twice the size of Texas with 18 known nuclear facilities and 50 military sites.
IRAN INTERPRETATION OF AGREEMENT:
Ruling Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week vowed that no such inspections would be allowed on any army base.
The original U.S. goal was to demand inspections anytime anywhere to check on suspicious activities. That has evolved now to giving Iran a 24 day advance notice, to give enough time to resolve disputes if Iran objects to an IAEA request to examine a facility.
Critics say that makes the deal’s provision especially troublesome. Even the former deputy director general for safeguards at the IAEA, Olli Heinonen, says, “Twenty-four days is a long time.” He added that inspections to search for traces of enriched uranium are no guarantee the IAEA will catch nuclear cheating. “One should not think environmental sampling will solve all our problems,” he added. (http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/07/24/iaea-monitoring-irans-nuclear-compliance-a-hopeless-task)
Any rational person’s heart would sink over the revelation that the IAEA must give 24 days notice for Iran to respond to a request. In addition to the time, the IAEA must also reveal the source of their intelligence! Really?
According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, the Iran Nuclear Agreement does not really specify a 24-day time limit for the Ayatollah’s scientists to respond. Israel’s official website explains, under the agreement, it is entirely possible that instead of 24 days, a long time will pass, possibly even months, without an Iranian reply. There may even have to be complex and lengthy negotiations between the IAEA and Iran concerning any contested site. During that time the IAEA cannot request to visit the site. (http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Iran/Pages/Deficiencies-in-the-Iran-nuclear-deal-3-Aug-2015.aspx)
It is important to note that the Israeli government believes Iran will be able to cover up any signs of prohibited activity within the 24-day period, particularly if their research and experiments do not involve uranium, but other materials such as metals with a radioactive signature that is not uranium.
A JOINT COMMISSION TO THE RESCUE
Furthermore, if Iran decides not permit a visit to the site after the 24-day countdown, no automatic enforcement is applied. Instead, we have another “Joint Commission” made up of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran and an EU representative, which will have another 65 days to make a decision.
It is also possible that the commission’s discussion will end without imposing any enforcement measures, allowing Iran to refuse entry to the inspectors without any punishment or enforcement actions.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has decided to vote against this agreement. He says, “First, inspections are not “anywhere, anytime”; the 24-day minimum delay before we can inspect is troubling.”
While inspectors would likely be able to detect radioactive isotopes at a site after 24 days, that delay would enable Iran to escape detection of any illicit building and improving of possible military dimensions (PMD) – the tools that go into building a bomb but don’t emit radioactivity.
“Even more troubling,” said Schumer, “is the fact that the U.S. cannot demand inspections unilaterally. By requiring the majority of the 8-member Joint Commission, and assuming that China, Russia, and Iran will not cooperate, inspections would require the votes of all three European members of the P5+1 as well as the EU representative.”
“It is reasonable to fear that, once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic relations with Iran, they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections,” he concluded. (http://www.schumer.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/my-position-on-the-iran-deal)
HISTORY OF FAILED NUCLEAR DETECTIONS
As far as the presumed certainty of successfully catching a cheating Iran, Netanyahu has been reminding the Americans that with all the intelligence of the U.S. and Israel, the Syrians spent several years building a nuclear reactor for plutonium production that no one in the West knew about. It appears that North Korea was directing the nuclear development in Syria. Israel did catch it in time and bombed the reactor out of existence.
Secondly, we all know that neither intelligence nor inspections prevented North Korea from producing an atomic bomb in 1984 despite assurances that they wouldn’t be able to do so – and they had only a few hundred centrifuges! (In this agreement, Iran is allowed 6,000!) And North Korea’s GDP – the total dollar value of all goods and services produced (the size of the economy) is far less than Iran’s. North Korea ranks #118 out of 188 countries! Iran ranks 29th – meaning its economy is far larger than Israel’s (37th).
Most important, Netanyahu says, “I have the greatest respect for Israel’s intelligence capabilities. I have the greatest respect for the intelligence services of the United States and Great Britain. But it has to be said honestly: For years none of us discovered the massive underground nuclear facilities Iran was building at Fordo and at Natanz.”
One of the most important issues the P5+1 originally brought to the table was their insistence to investigate the massive Parchin complex where the U.S., Israel and other countries had evidence it was a major site for many years of research and high explosive tests related to the development of nuclear weapons.
Indeed, this had been one of the chief aims for commencing the talks with Iran in the first place. It has been widely reported for more than 10 years that nuclear weapons were being developed and created there. U.S. experts had insisted that they must interview Iran’s top scientists and search the Parchin complex to get a handle on the history of Parchin’s activities.
This facility is important because what may or may not have happened there is crucial to unraveling Iran’s past nuclear activities. And unraveling what may have happened in the past is central to resolving the outstanding issues surrounding its nuclear program today.
For Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation and disarmament program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, Parchin is a key piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
Meanwhile, knowing that the IAEA was keen on inspecting the site, Iran began suspected “sanitization” activities.
America and the rest had strongly maintained that if Iran would not agree for the UN’s IAEA to investigate Parchin and interview their scientists, the P5+1 would refuse to lift the sanctions.
To the embarrassment of the Obama administration, it is now widely reported that the IAEA signed up to five secret annexes with Iran – side deals that the P5+1 have not actually seen (they say) but feel “comfortable” with. Now one of those side deals has been publicized.
The secret document, called “Separate Arrangement II” now exposed by the AP, can be summarized thus:
1 Iran will provide photos and videos of locations identified by the Agency (IAEA) which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the IAEA, taking into account military concerns.
2 Iran will provide 7 environmental samples taken from points inside [only] one building, identified by the IAEA and agreed by Iran, plus two points outside of the Parchin complex, to be agreed upon by IAEA and Iran.
3 Iran and the Agency will organize a one-day technical roundtable on issues relevant to Parchin. As a courtesy by Iran, the Director General of IAEA will make a public visit as a dignitary guest of the Government of Iran. (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/a9f4e40803924a8ab4c61cb65b2b2bb3/ap-exclusive-un-let-iran-inspect-alleged-nuke-work-site)
What can be gathered from this document, if it is genuine, is that Iran, not the IAEA, will go to the location, take photos and videos and then at a meeting somewhere with their “guest” IAEA representative, hand over the material.
In the massive Parchin complex, Iran will take pictures inside a single building, and two places outside of the complex.
Satellite images going back to 2012 show earth-moving equipment and water tanks at the facility. Meanwhile, images from 2013 show large areas of ground that have been covered by asphalt.
The Institute for Science and International Security says the paving appears to be one of the final stages of an 18-month effort to “sanitize” the site, and a move that has “impacted the ability of IAEA inspectors to collect environmental samples and other evidence that it could use to determine whether nuclear weapons-related activities once took place there.” (Doesn’t really matter now because the IAEA can’t even go there!)
Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country.
The Wall Street Journal exclaimed, “In other words, the country that lied for years about its nuclear weapons program will now be trusted to come clean about those lies. And trusted to such a degree that it can limit its self-inspections so they don’t raise ‘military concerns’ in Iran.”
“Keep in mind that the side deal already excludes a role for the U.S., and that the IAEA lacks any way to enforce its side deal since it has no way of imposing penalties for violations. Iran has also already ruled out any role for American or Canadian nationals on the inspection teams.”
One wag suggested, “Why not cut out the IAEA middle man and simply let Qasem Soleimani, (the notorious head of Iran’s Quds Force) sign a personal affidavit?” (http://www.wsj.com/articles/irans-secret-self-inspections-1440026399)
Or, it’s like an athlete accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, delivering to the authorities a specimen he himself took.
There’s much more, but you get the picture.
It is a colossal farce.
SNAP-BACK SANCTIONS FOR DUMMIES
The Iran Nuclear Agreement known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was approved by the Security Council’s Resolution 2231 on July 20, 2015, and will go into effect in 90 days – around October 18, 2015.
The following is the UN’s official announcement from its website: “The resolution provides for the eventual removal of all nuclear-related sanctions against Iran and guarantees that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will continue to verify Iran’s compliance with its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.”
It also requests the Director General of the IAEA “to undertake the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments for the full duration of those commitments under the JCPOA.”
In that regard, according to the resolution, the Council will consider the termination of sanctions after it receives an IAEA report that verifies Iran has implemented a series of nuclear-related measures.
According to the resolution, the Security Council also decided that “on the date ten years after the JCPOA Adoption Day,” as defined in the agreement, “all the provisions of this resolution shall be terminated,” and none of the previous resolutions “shall be applied.” “The Security Council will have then concluded its consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue,” reads the resolution.
In simple words, no new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed. So much for Barack Obama’s promise that according to this agreement Iran will never ever be able to build a nuclear bomb.
It’ll all be over in ten years – 2025.
LIFTING THE SANCTIONS
First of all, it will take six to nine months to lift the sanctions on Iran once the country meets the conditions in the agreement on nuclear energy made with world powers, a U.S. Treasury Department official said.
“When the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) goes into effect, there will be no immediate relief from UN, EU, or U.S. sanctions,” said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, And Urban Affairs.
“Only if Iran fulfills the necessary nuclear conditions…will the U.S. lift sanctions. We expect that to take at least six to nine months,” he explained in an official statement. (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/20256-us-treasury-removing-iran-sanctions-to-take-6-9-months)
That is the official line.
Now here is reality.
The UN Security Council has its sanctions.
The European Union has its sanctions.
The U.S. has its sanctions.
Russia and China have their sanctions.
Trying to coordinate this colossus would be a super-human enterprise. Since 60% of the agreement was about lifting sanctions (instead of making sure Iran didn’t create a nuclear bomb), each nation can and will interpret the terms as fit their needs. And in this economic climate, nations are desperate for business. Once businesses sign million and billions of dollars in deals, and manufacturing begins, the snapback sanctions are toast.
Look what is happening with the sanctions before any of the inspections have begun!
The ink on the deal was barely dry when German Vice Chancellor and the Minister of Economy Sigmar Gabriel were already headed to Tehran with a business delegation. They were trying to beat other export-seeking nations.
Not to be outdone, Laurent Fabius, the first French Foreign Minister to do so in 12 years, traveled to Tehran and announced he would be returning in September with about a hundred leaders in the automobile, farming and environmental industries.
Then Britain opened its embassy in Tehran. And Iran is opening its embassy in London.
But Switzerland was the first country to officially drop its sanctions, including the all-important banking sector. Swiss banks obviously didn’t even wait for the actual implementation of the nuclear deal, let alone check if Iran was compliant with the agreed conditions. (Although they did promise that if the implementation of the agreement failed, they had the right to reintroduce sanctions.) Sure!
What’s important here is to remember that the first goal of Iran is to get the sanctions lifted. The mullahs understand that in this unwieldy alliance, all the nations have one main goal in mind – to put together massive commercial deals with the Iranians before other nations get there.
So most countries will rush to lift their sanctions long before the IAEA has a chance to even get started with their inspections.
SNAPBACK SANCTIONS ARE FOR IDIOTS
But what about the famous “snapback option” to reinstitute all sanctions if Iran is clearly not complying with the agreement? Obama frequently boasts that this option assures America that it can always reinstate these crippling sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. Well, it is not quite as simple as that. The enforcement mechanism includes a conflict resolution mechanism designed to only resolve conflicts that can be mutually agreed upon by consensus. In the absence of such a consensus, this mechanism would be effectively paralyzed.
Besides, the “snap-back” sanctions can only handle major violations. All other Iranian violations that fall short of “significant, non-performance” cannot be addressed through the agreement’s mechanisms. This means that the agreement is based on an all or nothing approach that is not capable of dealing with the wide range of problematic Iranian behaviors that will undoubtedly arise.
In theory, any of the P5 powers can reinstate the sanctions through the UN Security Council and no veto is permitted. However, according to the agreement and strong language coming from Iran’s leaders, if sanctions were reinstated, Iran would almost certainly pull out of the deal and probably throw out the IAEA inspectors. The threat of dissolution of the agreement creates a strong deterrent effect against activating “snap back” of the sanctions. (http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Iran/Pages/Deficiencies-in-the-Iran-nuclear-deal-3-Aug-2015.aspx)
The Iranian Islamic dictators are brilliant. They knew once this vague feel-good nuclear agreement was signed, the nations wouldn’t care about the humdrum minutiae of inspections. There will be lots of “he said/she said” or “he said/the mullah said…” Anyway, it seems that no one really believes the UN will ever be able to get to the bottom of what’s really behind those gated walls. (Well, we tried.)
Yes, there are a few voices trying to be heard. US Sen. Charles Schumer, third- highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, warned that he did not trust even the three European Union partners to punish Iran should it violate the terms of the accord.
Schumer says he is concerned that Europe’s fragile economies lack the discipline to cut trade through snap-back sanctions should Iran violate the terms of the deal.
The senator’s reasoning is that since the agreement is an international one, its implementation will be determined, not just by the U.S., but in part by the foreign policies and interests of Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.
Schumer sums up the reasons why he decided to vote against the agreement: “It is reasonable to fear that once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic relations with Iran, they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections that would bring about renewed sanctions.”
When the European Commission first imposed sanctions against Iran in 2007, it cut a booming trade of 25 billion euros (then worth some $42 billion) between Iran and EU member states to around $7 billion last year. But European economies were booming in 2007. Not any more.
Even if America alone decided to re-impose sanctions, it would not be very effective if the rest of the world were freely trading with Iran.
In short, Britain, France and Germany are in no condition, economically speaking, to agree to re-implement sanctions once they are lifted.
NON-NUCLEAR ARMS EMBARGOES FOR REAL DUMMIES
Security Council Resolution 2231 monitors imports and exports of non-nuclear military ware. Accordingly, embargoes relating to ballistic missile technologies remain for eight years; similar embargoes on conventional weapon sales to Iran remain for five years.
This resolution is supposed to monitor what products and raw materials Iran will be importing for nuclear-related activities. However, the countries exporting commodities have considerable freedom to decide what they will declare or not declare.
1 According to the agreement, Iran is under an embargo for five years to not import or export military hardware.
2 For eight years, Iran cannot acquire or sell ballistic missiles.
3 Certain nuclear scientists and military leaders are under a travel ban because of their part in nuclear research and development, and in military attacks against Americans in Iraq.
SNAPBACK SANCTIONS DON’T APPLY TO NON-NUCLEAR MILITARY ARMS
The above is all nonsense, because no snapback sanctions will be introduced for violation of the above embargoes and bans. In fact, there are no penalties in place if Iran trespasses the ruling against purchase/export of conventional weapons.
So here is what is happening.
Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian high defense official who is still the subject of a United Nations travel ban over his country’s nuclear activities, traveled to Moscow to discuss, among other matters, the sale of air defense missiles.
China, meanwhile, has agreed to provide Iran with 24 fighter jets in exchange for access to Iranian oil fields for the next 20 years, Taiwanese media reports have said.
The Israeli government pointed out “The deal replaces “anytime, anywhere” nuclear inspections with “sometimes, some places” by mandating a minimum of 24-day notice of inspections to the IAEA. The IAEA must then submit the “reasons for access in writing” to Iran prior to inspections. Iran, in return, may counter the submission with “alternative means” and vote to deny inspections.
It is very likely that Iran will exploit this gap to its own advantage. Indeed, if a third party discovers violations in this area (such as a product or service that should have been declared but was sold not through the procurement channel), there is no effective recourse that allows sufficient enforcement of the matter.
Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi made clear last month that Tehran had no intention of complying with the arms embargo and missile sanctions. It will not honor these restrictions because they are, according to Iran, “illegal” – just as in the past it didn’t honor the Security Council resolutions that are canceled due to the agreement.
THE IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT DOESN’T MENTION IRAN’S TERRORISM
Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who continues to receive weapons (including advanced missiles) from Iran, conveyed a similar message concerning Iran’s rights to arms. Meanwhile, Israel reports that Iran is at this moment trying to move its Yakhont missiles and SA-22 Air Defense Systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran is responsible for the near-failed state of Lebanon which has no president and no congress for over a year.
Also Tehran recently unveiled yet another new surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a 500-kilometer (310 miles) range, Reuters reported. The Fateh 313 missile was revealed during a ceremony marking the anniversary of Iran’s military industry, attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Senator Schumer feels that if Iranian leaders will not moderate their very real goal to simply get relief from the onerous sanctions, while still retaining their nuclear ambitions and their ability to increase belligerent activities in the Middle East and elsewhere, then one should conclude that it would be better not to approve this agreement.
AN ISRAELI GENERAL’S PREDICTION
Former national security adviser Maj.Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror offers a highly pessimistic assessment on the nuclear agreement’s ability to keep Iran from developing a nuclear bomb – whether it keeps the deal or not. Here is his analysis:
Iran will probably keep the agreement during its early stages of one to two years, as it builds up its regional power and wealth and strengthens its ruthless allies across the Middle East.
During this period Iran’s supreme interest will be the lifting of sanctions. Around 60% of the agreement deals with the lifting of sanctions and the dismantling of the mechanisms used to enforce them. The removal of sanctions will allow Iran to rebuild and significantly strengthen its economy as billions flow into Iran. The beneficiaries will be Hezbollah, Hamas, the Alawites in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen.
For all these reasons it can be expected that, initially, Iran’s efforts will be invested in removing the burden of sanctions and becoming stronger, both internally and externally.
After this initial stage, two possible and realistic scenarios emerge. In the first scenario, Iran will feel sufficiently strengthened to begin to cheat, initially on peripheral issues, and then, as they gain confidence, on more substantial issues. Simultaneously, as other problems arise elsewhere in the world, the IAEA will naturally slowly transfer its intelligence resources to other burning problems.
The result will be potentially disastrous for the agreement.
NO CHEATING WHERE THE INSPECTORS LOOK
It is clear that Iranian cheating will not take place at the declared facilities which are under IAEA inspection, but at sites unfamiliar to the international community, whose location can only be discovered through gathering high-quality intelligence.
The IAEA, for its part, will be as unwilling as in the past to make use of external intelligence (even when presented with it) out of fear of being accused of acting as an agent of Israel or the U.S. Yet it is difficult to see how the IAEA might develop its own sufficient capabilities.
Based on the experiences in almost all similar cases in the past, it must be assumed with a high degree of probability that if the Iranians make an effort to cheat and to hide the evidence, it is almost certain they will be able to develop their first nuclear device before the West can respond.
IF THEY ABIDE BY DEAL
The second possible scenario is that Iran will abide by the agreement to the letter, until the end of the 10-15 year sunset clause.
They will not cheat, but will use the time to expand their knowledge and capabilities, in theory and in practice. In such a scenario, it is reasonable to assume that at the end of the period, after more than a decade, Iran will have the expertise to produce centrifuges that are 10 or 20 times faster.
Since the embargo on conventional weapons will be lifted after five years, the Iranians will work to significantly improve their anti-aircraft defenses. They can expect help from Russia, which needs the money to be gained from these projects, which are defensive in nature and therefore “acceptable.” [Note: Russia and Iran have already ignored the five-year embargo.]
Three years later, the embargo on the Iranian missile project will also be lifted, and Iran will make every effort to progress in its development and production of precise missiles, particularly long-range ones that would allow it to threaten Europe initially (at a very early stage), and later the U.S.
IRAN’S ECONOMY WILL BE STRONG
There is little doubt that within 10 years, and certainly once the embargo is lifted, Iran will achieve these capabilities. It will be better protected from any aerial threat, and able to carry out missile strikes on many areas of the world.
In parallel, determined efforts will be made to develop the Iranian economy so that, after a decade, it will be able to withstand outside pressures. In short, all the lessons will be learned from the last sanctions regime, and Iran will be better prepared for a similar situation in the future.
Hezbollah will receive thousands of precise missiles, while enjoying Iranian backing and Hamas will receive more aid.
Answering President Barack Obama’s question of what the alternative is to the Vienna agreement, there is a clear answer. The alternative was increasing the pressure of sanctions, conducting stubborn negotiations, and making serious preparations for military action that would crystallize all options on the table. Together, these would achieve a better agreement. In the meantime, we are left to deal with its consequences, which for Israel, and in my opinion for most of the world, are extremely dangerous.
The fact that the powers signed an agreement must not be allowed to paralyze Israel. The country’s security is at stake.
(Jerusalem Post, 7Aug2015, Excerpts from Yaakov Lappin interview)