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A Pinocchio should go to the participants in the Iran nuke deal

A Pinocchio should go to the participants in the Iran nuke deal

Point of Geneva Deal was to Undermine the Security Council

The Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler asks, “Did the United Nations demand Iran suspend uranium enrichment as part of a final deal?

At issue are statements made by Senators Robert Menendez and Bob Corker about Iran’s right to enrich on the Sunday morning talks shows.

Kessler, for example, took exception to Corker’s response here:

CBS NEWS’S JOHN DICKERSON: Senator Corker, is it a red line for you? You talked about the standards of any ultimate deal. Is enrichment of any kind by Iran, is that something everybody should stay focused on? That any deal that includes that is a non-starter for you, because, of course, the Iranians say that they expect to be able to keep enriching?

SEN. BOB CORKER (R-Tenn.): Yes, so to me that’s a baseline that the U.N. Security Council has agreed to, I think, six times, certainly this administration negotiated that in 2010. So they negotiated that in 2010. So as long as they can enrich, it seems to me that we are violating the very standards that we set in place in the first place.
– exchange on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Dec. 1, 2013

Kessler didn’t hand out any Pinnochios to the senators but still found fault with their responses:

With their comments, Menendez and Corker might have left viewers with the impression that the U.N. resolutions already require a suspension of enrichment in any final agreement. That’s not the case — though it can certainly be an ongoing demand.

The administration, for its part, appears to have set that goal aside in an effort to keep the diplomacy moving. The lawmakers are certainly within their rights to call attention to this decision, but they should be more precise in their language about what the U.N. resolutions actually require. Given that they were speaking on live television and this is a complex issue, their comments, at this point, do not yet rise to the level of a Pinocchio.

Perhaps the senators were a bit sloppy, but I think the question asked of them was misleading. The question shouldn’t have been whether Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium as part of any final agreement, but whether Iran would prove that its nuclear program was strictly civilian.

In introducing his analysis, Kessler wrote:

Even though Tehran briefly suspended enrichment in 2004-2005, an acknowledgment of this “right” has been a central goal of its negotiators.

As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran had a point. There is a right to a peaceful program that meets the nonproliferation requirements of the treaty — but developing the program in secret is a violation of the NPT.

Yes there’s “a right to a peaceful program,” but Iran over the years has acted in ways to suggest quite strongly that its nuclear program is not peaceful. That is why there are six Security Council resolutions concerned with Iran’s nuclear program.

Last year non-proliferation expert, Emily Landau summed up the problem:

The suspicions that have arisen with regard to Iran’s nuclear program are strong in all of the aforementioned categories, and because waiting until there is evidence of a bomb means waiting until it is too late, this is the kind of evidence that must be taken as indication that Iran has worked on a military program and continues on that route today. Stopping uranium enrichment should thus not be considered a confidence-building measure on Iran’s part. Rather, it is a requirement, until Iran abandons its military program. Iran is not being discriminated against – it has no inalienable right to enrich.

As Kessler acknowledged, its nuclear program was started in secret. Even now the New York Times recently reported:

True rollback would mean dismantling many of those centrifuges, shipping much of the fuel out of the country or converting it into a state that could not be easily adapted to bomb use, and allowing inspections of many underground sites where the C.I.A., Europe and Israel believe hidden enrichment facilities may exist. There is no evidence of those facilities now, but, as a former senior Obama administration official said recently, speaking anonymously to discuss intelligence, “there has never been a time in the past 15 years or so when Iran didn’t have a hidden facility in construction.”

But there are other elements too.

Iran is believed to have tested a nuclear trigger at its Parchin military complex. It has asphalted the area, making detection of any such experimentation difficult. Yet it still will not allow inspections of the site.

Iran’s Arak reactor is designed to produce weapons grade plutonium leading Jeremy Bernstein to observe, “By going ahead with a heavy water reactor, Iran seems to be saying it is determined to have the capacity to produce plutonium—and leave open a path to making a bomb.”

Given Iran’s secret development of its nuclear program; the likelihood that it still possesses secret facilities that are currently unknown to the IAEA; that it likely tested nuclear triggers; and that it is building a plant to produce weapons grade plutonium, it should be assumed that until Iran proves otherwise that it is developing a nuclear weapons capability. (Not to mention that Iran has an advanced ballistic missile program: missiles capable of carrying a nuclear payload.) Given this likelihood Iran should have to prove that it has no more secret facilities, allow an unsupervised inspection of Parchin and dismantle the Arak reactor before it is allowed to resume any enrichment.

Iran’s subterfuges about its nuclear program are why it was referred to the Security Council. The Security Council resolutions were passed because Iran violated the terms of its commitment to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Because of these violations Iran should be assumed to have a military nuclear program and thus be forbidden to enrich until it satisfied the IAEA and Security Council of its peaceful program.

The Geneva agreement promises a mutually agreed upon level of civilian enrichment as part of a final deal. It doesn’t address any Iran’s questionable nuclear activities. What Iran wants from a permanent deal is the right to enrich without having to prove its peaceful intentions, short-circuiting the Security Council resolutions. The interim Geneva deal means that they will effectively do that. That was what Senators Menendez and Corker meant. Geneva effectively means that Iran doesn’t have to comply with the Security Council demands in order to claim its right to enrich.

This isn’t just how a critic views the Geneva agreement; this is how the Iranian government views it:

The Geneva deal between Iran and P5+1 severely undermines the UN Security Council resolutions against Iran, deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs and top nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araqchi said, Mehr news agency reported on Dec. 2.

Iran wanted to undermine the Security Council resolutions focused on its nuclear program. The Geneva Accord helped them do just that.

[Photo: Jewish News One / YouTube ]


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Where I come from, if you’re going to concede something in a negotiation, you need to receive something back as QPQ. If I’m not mistaken, any time a sanctions regime are in place, the QPQ is explicit, i.e. the sanctions are the quid and the quo is the behavior that provoked the sanctions. Therefore, Iran must simply stop said behavior and sanctions will be lifted. Is the Obama Administruction convinced that the sanctions are too harsh a punishment for the behavior, or do they believe that the behavior isn’t as big a problem as the Security Council believed? What do they believe the quo is for their quid?

“Trust, but verify.” Ronald Reagan

“Cross your fringers.” Barak Obama

Calling Glenn Kessler a “fact checker” is like calling a pile of dog poop chocolate pudding. No matter how you describe it, something just won’t taste right.

BannedbytheGuardian | December 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm

The table was USA France Britain Russia China ( that IS the security council. ) + Germany.

BannedbytheGuardian | December 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm

A problem is that out there in the world is the following belief :

If isreal has nukes ( illegally / never having signed any agreements / rogue then why not Iran?

Israel comes after any nuclear ‘traitors ‘ as fiercely as the iiranians do ie dead preferably or kidnapped imprisoned & pacified.

The argument you must put forward is that Israel had a special right & Iranians no right. As for persecution the Iranians can put up some nu.mbers also , historical & modern.

Don’t think by down ticking this will disappear. I am just the messenger. If you can’t see this you need to get out more.

    Hmm. I was unaware that Israel actively supports international terrorism (like Iran), regularly threatens genocide (like Iran), and is ruled as a de facto religious dictatorship.

    Or are there other special rights Iran has?

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Yukio Ngaby. | December 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Your points could be about Pakistan ( terrorism genocide threats de facto religious dictatorship ) but we allow them to hold nukes .

        But my points are about Iran.

        Instead of addressing the point of the obvious and worldwide danger of a nuclear Iran, you bring up equivalencies, first Israel and then Pakistan– as though these countries are exactly the same as Iran and differ in name only.

        My opinion (which you do not know) regarding a nuclear Pakistan has nothing to do with the dangers of a nuclear Iran. Bringing up the subject is merely a deflection so that a word game can begin in which we all argue about analogies brought up as fast as you can think of them.

        I’m not playing that game.

        Is Iran not a threat to its neighbors and to rest of the world? Does Iran not arm terrorists who have routinely attacked civilian targets in an attempt to kill as many people as possible– and who routinely threaten to do more? Does Iran not routinely indulge in genocidal rhetoric? Does Iran not oppress and kill its own people in a police state manner? Do the Iranian Basij Forces not exist?

        A nuclear Iran IS dangerous to the Middle East and to the world for reasons that others and myself have stated. If you believe otherwise, then you should give us some reasons as to why Iran is not, in fact, a dangerous and threatening nation.

        Simply bringing up another country to build equivalencies does not address the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran.

      David Gerstman in reply to Yukio Ngaby. | December 6, 2013 at 2:02 am

      Yukio. Nice!

    David Gerstman in reply to BannedbytheGuardian. | December 6, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Iran signed the NPT which comes with certain benefits and certain obligations. Having failed to meet those obligations, Iran wants to be free from the consequences.

BannedbytheGuardian | December 5, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Whilst my other comments might be observations & certainly I welcome a challenge , this one is fact.

If not who are the security council if not these 5 ? Please tell me so I can be better informed.

Demosthenes Locke | December 6, 2013 at 10:40 am

The disingenuous nature of the Iranians’ so-called “peaceful” nuclear program can be addressed by redirecting their efforts into nuclear technology that cannot be used for weapons. There is plenty of data describing the use of Thorium for a different type of nuclear reactor, that not only will provide power, but can be used to process old nuclear waste as fuel and render it safer. The waste products of a thorium reactor are not as long-lived as those from a uranium or plutonium reactor, and the thorium reaction does not have a cascade threshold, as in uranium-235 or plutonium. It cannot run away in a chain reaction.

Therefore, if a compromise is to be suggested at all, I would advocate that those nations wishing to pursue nuclear power be encouraged to use thorium instead of uranium. It is more plentiful, cheaper, and cannot be used for bombs. The reactors are safer as well, the reaction quickly ceasing if a supply of neutrons is removed. It does not generate its own neutron cascade, and cannot go critical.

The terms of the “peaceful use” clause in the non-proliferation treaty could easily be resolved by requiring the use of thorium for peaceful generation of power.

Certain themes in anti-Israeli comments across the internet are recurrent. With respect to Iran: 1)Israel’s nuclear force is “illegal, and 2)Iran’s nuclear program is defensive, to protect against Israel.

Both are false. The basis for claims of “illegality” are Israel’s lack of signing the Nonproliferation Treaty. All that means is that Israel is not bound by the terms of the treaty. Iran, otoh, is a signatory, and, so, is bound by it’s terms.

As for the defensive reaction claim, Israel never considered Iran an enemy or rival before Khomeini took power and defined his Iran as an enemy of Israel. This point seems, somehow, to have slid into the black hole of modern antisemitism. Israel had no grievance with Iran, no rivalries, no overlapping claims. Iran was a distant country with a ruler who was among the least hostile of any Muslim leader in the world under Reza Pahlevi.

It was Khomeini and his successors who ended the peaceful relationship and redefined it as hostile, with the destruction of the modern Jewish state as a goal of their regime. The Iranian nuclear program, which the Shah had begun, was taken over and rededicated by Khomeini and has proceeded ever since. That is, the whole late argument about the last President of Iran, Ahmadinejad, was utter nonsense, since he was responsible for neither Iran’s hatred of Israel nor Iran’s nuclear program. These policies are fundamental to the ruling clique, and the Council of Guardians, which is the real power center in Iran. The President answers to the Council, not the other way around.

The post-Shah relationship with Israel is manichean (irony noted); the ruling religious leaders define themselves as representing good and Israel as representing evil, and consider it their divinely commanded duty to end that evil.
Thus, we have the “logic” that Israel is an aggressor for the crime of existing, while an Iranian war against Israel would be defensive, since it would be aimed at ending the evil whose existence is a crime against divine will.

Attempts to explain Iran in purely geopolitical terms, without reference to the current regime’s core, religiously grounded beliefs is perhaps the most striking example of cognitive dissonance in modern Western history.