Sunday, April 12, 2015

Is This Really a Good Deal?

In their 4/8/15 op-ed, former Secretaries of State Kissinger and Shultz pointed out that "Iran's centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today." One would think this fact alone would give pause and make one question Iran's intentions.

The two former Secretaries go on: "Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints." You have to hand it to the State Department though. In rebuttal, Marie Harf, State Department spokeswoman, actually said this: "I didn't hear a lot of alternatives...I heard a lot of sort of big words and big thoughts in that piece..." You have no idea how much I wish I could say that I was kidding about what Ms. Harf said.

One issue that Obama felt should not be included in these talks was Israel's right to exist. Said one Iranian commander: "The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable." In reply, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "The survival of Israel is non-negotiable. Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons." On this issue there is no disagreement within Israel.

The liberal Zionist Union Party (formerly the Labor Party) headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni issued a joint statement regarding Iran. They argue that Israel should enter into a comprehensive deal with the US that will give Israel "the unrestricted ability to act against threats and violations both of the deal and against our regional enemies that are supported by Iran." Sounds to me like they want a green light to attack Iran if necessary. Would Obama ever agree to that?

When asked if the US would agree to a deal with Iran that requires Iran to recognize Israel's right to exist, Marie Harf tersely said: "This is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue." If that is the case, there is no meaningful deal. Not requiring any change in behavior from Iran means they will get their nuclear weapons, and continue to support terrorism and extend their reach even further throughout the Middle East.

Obama stated that requiring Iran to recognize Israel would be a "fundamental misjudgement." In an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Obama said how hard it was for him to hear criticisms that he has not done all he could to protect Israel. "This has been as hard as anything I do because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people." Yes, Mr. President, we can certainly see your affinity for the sole Jewish state in the world by the way you have treated its leader.

In their 4/8/15 editorial, the New York Times criticizes Israel's Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs for insisting that Iran end all research end development of advanced centrifuges, reduce the number of centrifuges at Natanz beyond what the "framework" allows Iran to keep, completely close its underground facility at Fordo, allow inspectors anytime and anywhere, ship its existing stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country, and disclose past nuclear related activities having potential military use. Now that sounds like the makings of a good deal.

Yet, Obama and his State Department continue to insist that no alternatives have been proposed to Obama's deal. They continue to insist that Israel says the only option to Obama's deal is war with Iran. This writer suggested years ago that Bush should have taken out Iran's existing nuclear facilities at the time. They were fewer in number and less spread out. I argued that Bush should have sought an alliance for an aerial assault with Britain, France and Germany. I further argued that, absent a willingness to do so, Bush should have given the green light to Israel. But Bush refused to allow safe passage of Israeli planes over Iraq after we had toppled Saddam Hussein.

The result of this deal will be that Iran gets nuclear weapons, setting off a Middle East arms race as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and others will want to obtain their own nuclear weapons. All the while Obama will tell us he has made the world safer. "If you like your doctor..."

Deal...Or No Deal?

Although the 3/31/15 deadline set for an interim agreement had to be extended by a couple of days, Iran and the US have announced an agreement on the framework of a deal concerning Iran's nuclear program. Or did they?

Almost immediately, it appeared as if there was no agreed upon framework. While the US announced that sanctions would only be lifted after Iran complies with terms of the deal, Iran stated that all sanctions would be lifted immediately upon signing any deal. If I had to pick who was lying, I would be tempted to go with Obama. He desperately wants a deal. We know that as a leftist, and as a student of Saul Alinsky, he believes that the ends justify the means. Truth is not a value, so lying - even to Congress - about the ending of sanctions or any other issue would not be a problem for Obama.

It would be akin to lying to get the bare 60 vote majority needed in the Senate in order to get the Affordable Care Act passed. Countless times Obama told us that if we liked our doctor and our health plan we could keep them. Neither one was true; and he knew those claims were not true when he made them. So, I am inclined to think that Obama would lie to the American people and to Congress to get his deal.

On the other hand, we know that Iran lies also. And, no surprise, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister said that "...if the deal doesn't meet the criteria the leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) has introduced for a good deal, we would extend the time." If you have not been following this story, you should know that Iran has used that excuse of needing to extend the time for the last 12 years. Twelve years of negotiations, first with the Europeans and then the P5+1. An inquisitive reporter might ask why it would take 12 years to reach a deal.

The answer, of course, is that it does not take 12 years. The truth is that Iran has no intention of ever making any deal; and if they do, Iran will not adhere to the terms. The truth is that Iran has used those 12 years to develop nuclear reactors, build centrifuges and enrich uranium. What has the West got to show for those 12 years? Nothing. Iran has violated UN resolutions and IAEA directives. In turn, Iran has suffered economic sanctions which has not deterred them from their nuclear ambitions at all. Now, Iran is maybe 2-3 months away from having a nuclear bomb.

Not surprisingly, the New York Times is enamored with the deal. In their 4/8/15 editorial, the paper says that "the alternative is no deal, and Iran simply moves forward on its nuclear program without any limits." So the Times believes that after getting this close Iran will now abandon its desire to obtain nuclear weapons. Said Iran's President Rouhani: "we will carry on enriching uranium on our own soil without being threatened anymore." Furthermore, Ayatollah Khamenei said that military sites would not be open for international inspection. Some deal.

Perhaps the best analysis was done by Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal. In an op-ed in the 4/2/15 edition, he discussed all the agreements made - and then violated - by North Korea with regards to their nuclear program. The result, of course, was that North Korea lied and got their nuclear weapons. Is Iran more trustworthy? The New York Times is convinced that they are. And, not coincidentally, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, was involved in the North Korea negotiations - and has led the US in the negotiations with Iran. I am sure she is quite adept at making deals. So what?

Said the Times: "While the deal does not grant international monitors the right to go anywhere, anytime, it does impose a tough inspection regime and establishes a commission to resolve disputes if Iran blocks access to a suspected site." Let me understand. If there is not a right to inspect anywhere and anytime then doesn't that mean we are left having to trust the Iranians? And really - a commission to resolve disputes? Would that be a UN Commission? Iran has regularly ignored UN resolutions. Exactly what enforcement power would any commission have?

Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz said that "the threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran." But I think the 4/6/15 editorial in the Investor's Business Daily said it best: "Nothing, apparently, will stop Obama from accepting the inevitability of a nuclear Iran and absurdly claiming that it makes the world safer."