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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Kissinger & Shultz Have Extensive Concerns With Obama's Iran Deal

Kerry reflectis on the "extensive concerns"
of Henry Kissinger & George P. Shultz 
Today in Washington, D.C. - April 8, 2015
There is a great deal of skepticism to the framework for a deal with Iran announced last week and while much of it is coming from Congress, many others have serious concerns.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post editors criticized President Obama for undermining potential alternatives to his deal “[b]y loudly insisting there is no alternative to the terms he has agreed to.”

“At the same time,” The Post editors wrote, “the White House stance risks weakening its negotiating position in the crucial bargaining with Iran. Mr. Obama conceded that some vital ‘details’ have not yet been worked out, including how the lifting of sanctions on Iran would be tied to its implementation of steps such as reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium and its base of installed centrifuges. Worryingly, the fact sheets issued by the U.S. and Iranian governments differ sharply on this point: While the U.S. version says that “sanctions will be suspended after” the International Atomic Energy Agency “has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps,” Tehran’s account is that “at the same time as the start of Iran’s nuclear-related implementation work, all of the sanctions will be automatically annulled on a single specified day.”

“The gulf between those two scenarios is extremely important. Unless sanctions relief is conditioned on Iranian performance, the United States and its partners will lose their leverage. Similarly crucial differences may be buried in the as-yet-unspecified details of how inspectors will obtain access to new suspected nuclear sites and how they will get answers to outstanding questions about Iran’s previous work on nuclear warhead designs. By insisting that the deal is already the best available, Mr. Obama is making it more difficult for his negotiators to walk away from the follow-up talks if they are unable to obtain satisfactory terms. If Iran continues to insist on the ‘immediate’ lifting of sanctions, will the president give in rather than reverse his rhetoric?”

In a must-read op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz lay out all the seriously troubling aspects of the deal the president is touting. They note, “For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability
, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.

“Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.”

Another concern they point to is that “no official text has yet been published. The so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation. Some of its clauses have been dismissed by the principal Iranian negotiator as ‘spin.’ A joint EU-Iran statement differs in important respects, especially with regard to the lifting of sanctions and permitted research and development.” Importantly, they write, “Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites.”

Kissinger and Shultz ruminate on how exactly the inspections pointed to by the Obama administration are supposed to work in practice. “The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?

“In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance—or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue. The experience of Iran’s work on a heavy-water reactor during the ‘interim agreement’ period—when suspect activity was identified but played down in the interest of a positive negotiating atmosphere—is not encouraging.

“Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event. More likely it will occur, if it does, via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions.

“When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? What process will be followed to resolve the matter swiftly?”

They also identify a serious concern about how sanctions could be reimposed once lifted. “The agreement’s primary enforcement mechanism, the threat of renewed sanctions, emphasizes a broad-based asymmetry, which provides Iran permanent relief from sanctions in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct. Undertaking the ‘snap-back’ of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action. In countries that had reluctantly joined in previous rounds, the demands of public and commercial opinion will militate against automatic or even prompt ‘snap-back.’”

And what happens when the agreement expires? “The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken,” Kissinger and Shultz write.

The former secretaries are also worried about the spillover effects of this potential agreement on the Middle East as a whole. The explain, “The interim agreement accepted Iranian enrichment; the new agreement makes it an integral part of the architecture. For the U.S., a decade-long restriction on Iran’s nuclear capacity is a possibly hopeful interlude. For Iran’s neighbors—who perceive their imperatives in terms of millennial rivalries—it is a dangerous prelude to an even more dangerous permanent fact of life. Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.”

Further, Kissinger and Shultz write, “The final stages of the nuclear talks have coincided with Iran’s intensified efforts to expand and entrench its power in neighboring states. Iranian or Iranian client forces are now the pre-eminent military or political element in multiple Arab countries, operating beyond the control of national authorities. With the recent addition of Yemen as a battlefield, Tehran occupies positions along all of the Middle East’s strategic waterways and encircles archrival Saudi Arabia, an American ally. Unless political restraint is linked to nuclear restraint, an agreement freeing Iran from sanctions risks empowering Iran’s hegemonic efforts. . . .

“Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony. They will increasingly look to create their own nuclear balances and, if necessary, call in other powers to sustain their integrity. Does America still hope to arrest the region’s trends toward sectarian upheaval, state collapse and the disequilibrium of power tilting toward Tehran, or do we now accept this as an irremediable aspect of the regional balance?”

Tags: Henry Kissinger. George P. Shultz, extensive concerns, John Kerry, President Obama, Iran Deal To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 11:26 AM - Post Link

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