11 April 2015

Obama’s capitulation on Iranian nuclear deal leaves the world exposed

From The Australian, 11 April 2015, by Greg Sheridan:

...Three American presidents, Bill Clinton, George W, Bush and Obama, have declared that Iran must never possess nuclear weapons and that if it tries to acquire them the US will act, if necessary with military force, to stop them.

We now know that Obama was just kidding.

This agreement guarantees Iran will acquire nuclear weapons eventually.

Iran’s nuclear program has always been about acquiring nuclear weapons capability. It is drenched in oil and does not need nuclear energy. The nuclear power reactor it has comes with a lifetime supply of fuel from Russia, where many other nations with nuclear power stations get their nuclear fuel. So it has no need to enrich its uranium. But it has built massive enrichment facilities plus a plutonium-producing facility. Both these routes lead to nuclear weapons.

Under the agreement Iran gives up two-thirds of its enrichment centrifuges for 10 years. But it doesn’t destroy any part of its nuclear infrastructure. They just go under temporary lock and key.

And it has a prodigious ability to cheat.

It was to export the vast majority of its stockpile of enriched uranium but now insists it will keep it and use a technical process to render it harmless. But the technical process can be reversed.

It keeps its deep underground nuclear facility, which is almost impossible to strike successfully from the air. It gets to undertake massive research into much more advanced enrichment centrifuges that will eventually make it much easier to produce uranium enriched to the extent necessary to produce nuclear weapons material.

And for the first time ever, Iran’s entire nuclear establishment will be accepted as legitimate by the UN and all the international nuclear regulatory bodies. It subjects itself to an inspections regime but nobody knows how this will operate or how intrusive it will be. This is one of many areas the US and Iran interpret in contradictory ways.

As well as all this, Iran will get rapid relief from the economic sanctions that have hurt it in recent years.

... from this point it looks as though the Iranians have achieved enormous strategic gains at very little cost.

This is immensely important in itself, but it also stands as a signal of the declining influence of the US in the Middle East and the broader crisis of global security.

... Iran is now the dominant political and military force in Iraq. Its proxies have been successful in overthrowing a legitimate government in Yemen. It has established permanent control of a large slab of Lebanon through Hezbollah. It has kept its ally, Bashar al-Assad, in power in Syria. It has never had greater sway over the Arab world, or over the Arab world’s Shi’ite minority.

Its anti-Western rhetoric and purposes remain central. While the negotiations were ongoing, a Revolutionary Guards commander, Reza Naqdi, commented that “erasing Israel from the map’’ was “non-negotiable”.

Supreme leader Khamenei finished a big public gathering with the declaration: “Yes, death to America.”

It is worth googling Iran’s written constitution, with its commitment to “fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad” and its determination to forge leadership of all Muslims worldwide.

In the recent agreement, or framework, there is 

  • nothing about Iran’s international behaviour, 
  • nothing about its sponsorship of terrorism, 
  • no limitation on its missile program, 
  • nothing about threatening to wipe another nation off the map, 
as though it would be bad form to consider such language and behaviour relevant in assessing whether a nation should possess the ability to produce nuclear weapons.

...All of Iran’s recent strategic gains have come from hardline, strategic aggression and sticking with regional allies, no matter how unsavoury or how much trouble they’re in.

With the immense gift of this legitimisation of its nuclear program and freedom from sanctions, why would its leaders suddenly reverse course? ...

...The alternative to Obama’s Iran capitulation was not war but continued and intensified sanctions, and the rallying of allies towards preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons....