Custom Search

Sunday, November 24, 2013

IRAN's Nuke Deal With U.S. Viewed As Weak By Many (Were Sanctions Relaxed Prematurely?)


Benjamin Netanyahu







ARTICLE:  "Analysis: Iran Nuclear Deal Needs Hard Look"

The interim deal with Iran has some significant achievements that will halt the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, but it is also weak in some important respects, an analyst says.

"I'm surprised getting Iran to come clean on all its past clandestine programs wasn't a clear achievement in this deal," said Robert Satloff, executive director of Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The deal makes not mention of a potential use of force seems if Iran does not live up to its obligations, meaning a "credible use of force now seems removed from this diplomacy," Satloff said.

Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, called the deal "a ground-breaking agreement that begins to resolve longstanding concerns about Iran' nuclear ambitions."

"The interim deal ties Tehran to an ongoing diplomatic process whose primary rewards remain deferred until a far more ambitious agreement can be achieved," she said.

The agreement was described as an "initial, six-month" deal and includes "substantial limitations" that will help prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon," President Obama said in a nationally televised address late Saturday.

U.S. negotiators said the deal addresses Iran's ability to enrich uranium and its existing enriched uranium stockpiles, but no firm details were provided. It also dealt with Iran's centrifuges, which can enrich uranium for fuel for a bomb, and its ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor, according to the White House.

President Obama, both in his statement and the fact sheet issued by the White House, committed to no additional nuclear related sanctions against Iran as long as Iran abides by it.

Many in Congress have said new sanctions are necessary to make sure Iran abandons what they consider a path toward developing nuclear weapons.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said he shares President Obama's desire to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran through diplomacy but that he will continue to seek stronger sanctions against Iran to make sure diplomacy succeeds.

"I will continue working with my colleagues to craft bi-partisan legislation that will impose tough new economic sanctions if Iran undermines this interim accord or if the dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure is not underway by the end of this six-month period."

The interim deal provides "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars in exchange for cosmetic concessions that neither fully freeze nor significantly roll back its nuclear infrastructure," Kirk said.

Satloff said the deal will have a major impact on how the final resolution of Iran's nuclear standoff plays out.

"A major risk involved is what is the popular perception of this deal," said Satloff

"It is a deal that the p5+1 (world powers) sacrificed core demands over many years and a remarkable buildup of sanctions to achieve at most a cap on the Iranian nuclear program, or is this a deal that reflects Iran buckling under the weight of international sanctions and truly bowing to global pressure?"

The strength of the final deal will be buttressed if the deal includes factors such a hard deadline for a final agreement, an immediate reference to the United Nations Security Council, which passed multiple resolutions demanding that Iran suspend its production of nuclear fuel, and a threat of military force if terms are not met, Satloff said.

A different message will come across if the interim deal shows Western countries viewing this as the beginning of the end to sanctions and "chomping at the bit" to resume trade with Iran, rather than showing a united front to keep sanctions in place until the last details are in place for a final agreement that will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon as Obama has promised, he said.

In the days and hours before officials in Geneva announced a deal had been reached, Iranian officials and journalists repeated Iran's claim that any interim deal must declare production of nuclear fuel as an Iranian sovereign right.

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a former U.N. weapons inspector, say a final deal that effectively limits Iranian enrichment capacity and improves international monitoring may be good enough to make sure Iran doesn't secretly produce a nuclear weapon.

Satloff disagrees.

"If you have limited enrichment, you can build all the elements to achieve a nuclear infrastructure without actually turning it on," he says. "The permission to enrich will ensure the Iranian nuclear program remains an international issue for many years."

Sources:  Politico;  SA Today







ARTICLE:  "Deal Reached With Iran Halts Its Nuclear Program"

The foreign policy chief of the European Union and Iranian officials announced a landmark accord Sunday morning that would temporarily freeze Tehran’s nuclear program and lay the foundation for a more sweeping accord.

After marathon talks that finally ended early Sunday morning, the United States and five other world powers reached an agreement with Iran to halt much of Iran’s nuclear program. It was the first time in nearly a decade, American officials said, that steps had been taken to stop much of Iran's nuclear effort and even roll some elements back.

The freeze would last six months, with the aim of giving international negotiators time to pursue the far more challenging task of drafting a comprehensive accord that would ratchet back much of Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it could be used only for peaceful purposes.

"We have reached agreement," Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s chief foreign policy official, posted on Twitter on Sunday morning.

According to the accord, Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. To make good on that pledge, Iran would dismantle the links between networks of centrifuges.

All of Iran’s stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.

No new centrifuges, neither old models nor newer more efficient ones, could be installed. Centrifuges that have been installed but which are not currently operating — Iran has more than 8,000 such centrifuges — could not be started up. No new enrichment facilities could be established.

The agreement, however, would not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level of 3.5 percent or dismantle any of its existing centrifuges.

Iran’s stockpile of such low-enriched uranium would be allowed to temporarily increase to about eight tons from seven tons currently. But Tehran would be required to shrink this stockpile by the end of the six-month agreement back to seven tons. This would be done by installing equipment to covert some of that stockpile to oxide.

To guard against cheating, international monitors would be allowed to visit the Natanz enrichment facility and the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo on a daily basis to check the film from cameras installed there.

In return for the initial agreement, the United States has agreed to provide $6 billion to $7 billion in sanctions relief, American officials said. This limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.

With lawmakers in Washington vowing to propose tougher sanctions next month if the Iranian program is not halted, and hard-liners in Tehran insisting that Iran never capitulate on its nuclear “rights,” the negotiators were effectively locked in a race against time.

Expectations were high that a deal was in the offing on Saturday morning, when Secretary of State John Kerry and top diplomats from five other world powers swept into Geneva to conclude the talks and, they hoped, sign the agreement.

Going into Saturday’s talks, a major sticking point involved the constraints that would be imposed on a project that Iran is pursuing to produce plutonium, which involves the construction of a heavy water reactor near the town of Arak.

Mr. Kerry met with his French and Russian counterparts before joining a three-way session with Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, and Ms. Ashton, the first of two such sessions on Saturday. Late on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Russian delegation said the two sides were "very close."

The wrangling behind closed doors recalled the round in Geneva two weeks earlier, which seemed to be tantalizingly close to a breakthrough only to sputter to an end as France pressed the world powers to toughen their demands, particularly regarding the Arak plant, and Iran balked at the new terms.

There were also other sticky issues, including Iran’s insistence that it had the right to enrich uranium. At the end of that round of negotiations, the world powers presented a unified proposal, and the Iranians said they needed to consult with the authorities in Tehran before proceeding.

As to what Iran considers its “right to enrich,” American officials signaled a possible workaround last week, saying they were open to a compromise in which the two sides would essentially agree to disagree, while Tehran continued to enrich.

The fact that the accord would only pause the Iranian program was seized on by critics who said it would reward Iran for institutionalizing the status quo.

The deal would also add at least several weeks, and perhaps more than a month, to the time Iran would need to produce weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear device, according to estimates by nuclear experts.

American officials argued that it would preclude Iran from shortening the time it would need to produce enough bomb-grade uranium for a nuclear device even further, and would provide additional warning if Iran sought to “break out” of its commitment to pursue only a peaceful nuclear program.

A second and even more contentious debate centered on whether an initial deal would, as the Obama administration said, serve as a “first step” toward a comprehensive solution of the nuclear issue, one that would leave Iran with a peaceful nuclear program that could not easily be used for military purposes.

Two former American national security advisers, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, recently sent a letter to key American lawmakers endorsing the administration’s approach. “The apparent commitment of the new government of Iran to reverse course on its nuclear activities needs to be tested to insure it cannot rapidly build a nuclear weapon,” they wrote.

But some experts, including a former official who has worked on the Iranian issue for the White House, said it was unlikely that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would ever close the door on the option to develop nuclear weapons.

Instead, they said, any initial six-month agreement is more likely to be followed by a series of partial agreements that constrain Iran’s nuclear activities but do not definitively solve the nuclear issues.

“At the end of six months, we may see another half step and six more months of negotiations — ad infinitum,” said Gary Samore, a senior aide on nonproliferation issues on the National Security Council in President Obama’s first term.

Mr. Samore is now president of United Against Nuclear Iran, a nonprofit group that advocates tough sanctions against Iran unless it does more to curtail its nuclear program.

Source: NY Times

No comments: