Sunday, November 24, 2013

TIP Conference Call with Danielle Pletka Reveals The Pitfalls of the Nuclear Deal With Iran

Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), was on a conference call this afternoon, sponsored by The Israel Project.

She discussed the 6 month deal just agreed to with Iran in Geneva -- what the agreement contains and what it actually means.

According to the agreement
  • Iran will "suspend" enrichment above 5%
  • Enrichment above 3% will continue
  • Iran will not increase its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium
  • The 20% enriched uranium Iran has now will either have its enrichment lowered or be converted to another form -- however it has not been agreed to as to how this would be done
  • Iran will not add new centrifuges, while work at the Arak heavy water reactor will cease
Among the things Iran will get in return, Pletka noted:
  • The West will deliver food and medicine to Iran -- this is deceptive, since it gives the impression that there have been sanctions on food and medicine till now. There hasn't been. At worst, there may have been difficulties for Iran getting letters of credit, but the fact is that Iran has had no problem putting together military aid to terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah or supporting the Assad regime in Syria. Iran has simply put a lower priority on its domestic issues.

  • Iran will get access to frozen assets in the US. The assets are estimated to be worth anywhere from $6 to $7 billion to as much as $10 billion.
Why is Rouhani smiling? We all know the answer now.

In contrast to sanctions that have existed since 1979, the newer sanctions have been effective.
These newer sanctions have been spread out and multi-lateral under the leadership of France and Great Britain.

It should be noted that while Obama has claimed credit for the work of others, in fact the Obama administration has consistently opposed the escalation of sanctions every step of the way. Obama has ignored sanctions at times or tweaked them, leading Congress to be the ones to ram sanctions through.

Sanctions work best when there is a psychology in place that it is just "not worth it" for other countries to do business with Iran. But now the doors are being opened, in a repeat of what happened with North Korea when sanctions were allowed to be weakened.

While Kerry claims that sanctions are reversible, that is simple not the case. In fact, already in Asia we see countries such as China ready to make deals with Iran.

Problems with the agreement
  • The Geneva agreement flies in the face of the 6 UN Security Council sanctions under Chapter 7, which require the suspension, not temporary freeze, because Iran consistently refused to comply. In contrast to the UN-stated goal, this deal allows Iran to continue to enrich -- albeit at a slower rate. Iran already has enough to make a nuclear bomb now. Iran has stockpiled enough now that it can break out at a time of its choosing.

  • There is no guarantee that Iran's agreement to stop work on the heavy-water reactor in Arak will stop Iran from continuing elsewhere. After all, the Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities were not discovered by the US until work in them was already under way. Other such facilities are known to exist -- just not where.

  • While till now the West has resisted the Iranian claim to a "right" to enrich Uranium, the agreement that allows Iran to continue over the next 6 months clearly implies that Iran does have such a "right"
Pletka noted that the Associated press confirms reports that the US has in fact been involved in secret negotiations with Iran for months, though it has not been able to confirm who has been leading those negotiations.

In response to questions, Pletka pointed out:
  • While the agreement will be a hard sell in Congress, it is likely that Obama will be able to veto any attempt by Congress to do anything to endanger the deal

  • While Iran has agreed to "intrusive" inspections and real-time monitoring, it should be noted that in the past, Iran stripped away the soil from the area surrounding the Parchin reactor in order to prevent accurate inspections.

  • Arab countries in the Middle East, having seen that Obama does not have their back are looking into nuclear options of their own.
No wonder Rouhani is smiling.
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