The Pronk Pops Show 551, October 12, 2015, Story 1: President Obama Stalls Islamic State While He Runs Out The Clock On His Failed Presidency — Who is next? President Trump — Obama A Real Loser — Leading On Climate Change — Give Me A Break! — Videos
60 Minutes in 60 Seconds (Day 36)
Obama talks Russia’s escalation in Syria on “60 Minutes”
“60 Minutes” interview: President Obama
Dr David Evans on Global Warming
50 to 1 Project – David Evans Interview
Freeman Dyson on the Global Warming Hysteria April, 2015
High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq
Emma Sky: “The Unraveling”
Reflections on the Future of War with Gen. Raymond Odierno
Thomas Barnett: Rethinking America’s military strategy
Donald Trump Iran Deal FULL SPEECH, Against Iran Nuclear Agreement at Tea Party Rally Sept. 9, 2015
The Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran and the Bomb
Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case
Climategate: What They Aren’t Telling You!
Krauthammer: ‘Sputtering’ Obama Admin Has No Idea What to Do About Russia, Syria
Donald Trump Fox & Friends RIPS Obama 60 Minute Interview & Biden’s Low Poll Numbers FULL Interview
Donald trump Meet The Press FULL Interview 10/4/2015
60 Minutes Host Destroys Barack Obama On Syria
60 Minutes Host Embarrasses Barack Obama On Syria II
Background Articles and Videos
MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY DEBATE: PETER HUBER
MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY DEBATE: PHILIP STOTT
Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change Pt 1
Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change Pt 2
Global Warming, Lysenkoism & Eugenics Prof Richard Lindzen
Interview with Professor Richard Lindzen
Richard Lindzen, Ph.D. Lecture Deconstructs Global Warming Hysteria (High Quality Version)
Global Warming – Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton | States of Fear: Science or Politics?
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 1 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 2 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 3 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 4 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 5 of 6
Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 6 of 6
Global warming and the Carbon Tax Scam
The Great Global Warming Swindle Full Movie
Global Warming: How Hot Air and Bad Science Will Give YOU Staggeringly Higher Taxes and Prices
Sen. Inhofe To Investigate ClimateGate
Lou Dobbs: ‘Who The Hell Does The President Think He Is?’
The Free-Market Case for Green
ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons: A conversation with author James Delingpole
James Delingpole: Great Britain, the Green Movement, and the End of the World
George Carlin on Global Warming
Americans Skeptical of Science Behind Global Warming
“…Most Americans (52%) believe that there continues to be significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming.
While many advocates of aggressive policy responses to global warming say a consensus exists, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of adults think most scientists agree on the topic. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure. …”
Steve Kroft: The last time we talked was this time last year, and the situation in Syria and Iraq had begun to worsen vis-Ã -vis ISIS. You had just unveiled a plan to provide air support for troops in Iraq, and also some air strikes in Syria, and the training and equipping of a moderate Syrian force. You said that this would degrade and eventually destroy ISIS.
President Barack Obama: Over time.
Steve Kroft: Over time. It’s been a year, and–
President Barack Obama: I didn’t say it was going to be done in a year.
Steve Kroft: No. But you said…
President Barack Obama: There’s a question in here somewhere.
Steve Kroft: Who’s going to get rid of them?
President Barack Obama: Over time, the community of nations will all get rid of them, and we will be leading getting rid of them. But we are not going to be able to get rid of them unless there is an environment inside of Syria and in portions of Iraq in which local populations, local Sunni populations, are working in a concerted way with us to get rid of them.
On the “moderate opposition” in Syria:
Steve Kroft: You have been talking about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You got a half a billion dollars from Congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are dead or deserted. He said four or five left?
President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL? And what we’ve learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.
Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?
President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And–
Steve Kroft: And they wanted you to do it.
President Barack Obama: Well, no. That’s not what I said. I think it is important for us to make sure that we explore all the various options that are available.
Steve Kroft: I know you don’t want to talk about this.
President Barack Obama: No, I’m happy to talk about it.
Steve Kroft: I want to talk about the– this program, because it would seem to show, I mean, if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody someplace along the line did not– made– you know, some sort of a serious miscalculation.
President Barack Obama: You know, the– the– Steve, let me just say this.
Steve Kroft: It’s an embarrassment.
President Barack Obama: Look, there’s no doubt that it did not work. And, one of the challenges that I’ve had throughout this heartbreaking situation inside of Syria is, is that– you’ll have people insist that, you know, all you have to do is send in a few– you know, truckloads full of arms and people are ready to fight. And then, when you start a train-and-equip program and it doesn’t work, then people say, “Well, why didn’t it work?” Or, “If it had just started three months earlier it would’ve worked.”
Steve Kroft: But you said yourself you never believed in this.
President Barack Obama: Well– but Steve, what I have also said is, is that surprisingly enough it turns out that in a situation that is as volatile and with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren’t any silver bullets. And this is precisely why I’ve been very clear that America’s priorities has to be number one, keeping the American people safe. Number two, we are prepared to work both diplomatically and where we can to support moderate opposition that can help convince the Russians and Iranians to put pressure on Assad for a transition. But that what we are not going to do is to try to reinsert ourselves in a military campaign inside of Syria. Let’s take the situation in Afghanistan, which I suspect you’ll ask about. But I wanted to use this as an example.
Steve Kroft: All right. I feel like I’m being filibustered, Mr. President.
President Barack Obama: No, no, no, no, no. Steve, I think if you want to roll back the tape, you’ve been giving me long questions and statements, and now I’m responding to ’em. So let’s– so– if you ask me big, open-ended questions, expect big, open-ended answers. Let’s take the example of Afghanistan. We’ve been there 13 years now close to 13 years. And it’s still hard in Afghanistan. Today, after all the investments we have there, and we still have thousands of troops there. So the notion that after a year in Syria, a country where the existing government hasn’t invited us in, but is actively keeping us out, that somehow we would be able to solve this quickly– is–
Steve Kroft: We didn’t say quickly.
President Barack Obama: –is– is– is an illusion. And– and–
Steve Kroft: Nobody’s expecting that, Mr. President.
President Barack Obama: Well, the– no, I understand, but what I’m– the simple point I’m making, Steve, is that the solution that we’re going to have inside of Syria is ultimately going to depend not on the United States putting in a bunch of troops there, resolving the underlying crisis is going to be something that requires ultimately the key players there to recognize that there has to be a transition to new government. And, in the absence of that, it’s not going to work.
Steve Kroft: One of the key players now is Russia.
President Barack Obama: Yeah.
Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.
President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–
Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II–
President Barack Obama: So that’s–
Steve Kroft: –bombing the people– that we are supporting.
President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine–
Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership–
President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.
Steve Kroft: My point is– was not that he was leading, my point is that he was challenging your leadership. And he has very much involved himself in the situation. Can you imagine anything happening in Syria of any significance at all without the Russians now being involved in it and having a part of it?
President Barack Obama: But that was true before. Keep in mind that for the last five years, the Russians have provided arms, provided financing, as have the Iranians, as has Hezbollah.
Steve Kroft: But they haven’t been bombing and they haven’t had troops on the ground–
President Barack Obama: And the fact that they had to do this is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work.
Steve Kroft: You don’t think–
President Barack Obama: You don’t think that Mr. Putin would’ve preferred having Mr. Assad be able to solve this problem without him having to send a bunch of pilots and money that they don’t have?
Steve Kroft: Did you know he was going to do all this when you met with him in New York?
President Barack Obama: Well, we had seen– we had pretty good intelligence. We watch–
Steve Kroft: So you knew he was planning to do it.
President Barack Obama: We knew that he was planning to provide the military assistance that Assad was needing because they were nervous about a potential imminent collapse of the regime.
Steve Kroft: You say he’s doing this out of weakness. There is a perception in the Middle East among our adversaries, certainly and even among some of our allies that the United States is in retreat, that we pulled our troops out of Iraq and ISIS has moved in and taken over much of that territory. The situation in Afghanistan is very precarious and the Taliban is on the march again. And ISIS controls a large part of Syria.
President Barack Obama: I think it’s fair to say, Steve, that if–
Steve Kroft: It’s– they– let me just finish the thought. They say your–
President Barack Obama: You’re–
Steve Kroft: –they say you’re projecting a weakness, not a strength–
President Barack Obama: –you’re saying “they,” but you’re not citing too many folks. But here–
Steve Kroft: No, I’ll cite– I’ll cite if you want me, too.
President Barack Obama: –here– yes. Here–
Steve Kroft: I’d say the Saudis. I’d say the Israelis. I’d say a lot of our friends in the Middle East. I’d say everybody in the Republican party. Well, you want me to keep going?
President Barack Obama: Yeah. The– the– if you are– if you’re citing the Republican party, I think it’s fair to say that there is nothing I’ve done right over the last seven and a half years. And I think that’s right. It– and– I also think what is true is that these are the same folks who were making an argument for us to go into Iraq and who, in some cases, still have difficulty acknowledging that it was a mistake. And Steve, I guarantee you that there are factions inside of the Middle East, and I guess factions inside the Republican party who think that we should send endless numbers of troops into the Middle East, that the only measure of strength is us sending back several hundred thousand troops, that we are going to impose a peace, police the region, and– that the fact that we might have more deaths of U.S. troops, thousands of troops killed, thousands of troops injured, spend another trillion dollars, they would have no problem with that. There are people who would like to see us do that. And unless we do that, they’ll suggest we’re in retreat.
Steve Kroft: They’ll say you’re throwing in the towel–
President Barack Obama: No. Steve, we have an enormous presence in the Middle East. We have bases and we have aircraft carriers. And our pilots are flying through those skies. And we are currently supporting Iraq as it tries to continue to build up its forces. But the problem that I think a lot of these critics never answered is what’s in the interest of the United States of America and at what point do we say that, “Here are the things we can do well to protect America. But here are the things that we also have to do in order to make sure that America leads and America is strong and stays number one.” And if in fact the only measure is for us to send another 100,000 or 200,000 troops into Syria or back into Iraq, or perhaps into Libya, or perhaps into Yemen, and our goal somehow is that we are now going to be, not just the police, but the governors of this region. That would be a bad strategy Steve. And I think that if we make that mistake again, then shame on us.
Steve Kroft: Do you think the world’s a safer place?
President Barack Obama: America is a safer place. I think that there are places, obviously, like Syria that are not safer than when I came into office. But, in terms of us protecting ourselves against terrorism, in terms of us making sure that we are strengthening our alliances, in terms of our reputation around the world, absolutely we’re stronger.
On Friday, the Pentagon ended the program to train-and-equip Syrian rebels that the president told us did not work. In a moment, he talks about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton’s emails and Joe Biden’s possible run for president.
Steve Kroft: OK. Mr. President, there are a lot of serious problems with the world right now, but I want to ask you a few questions about politics.
President Barack Obama: Yeah, go ahead.
Steve Kroft: What do you think of Donald Trump?
President Barack Obama: Well, I think that he is a great publicity-seeker and at a time when the Republican party hasn’t really figured out what it’s for, as opposed to what it’s against. I think that he is tapped into something that exists in the Republican party that’s real. I think there is genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in the large portion of at least Republican primary voters. I don’t think it’s uniform. He knows how to get attention. He is, you know, the classic reality TV character and, at this early stage, it’s not surprising that he’s gotten a lot of attention.
Steve Kroft: You think he’s running out of steam? I mean, you think he’s going to disappear?
President Barack Obama: You know, I’ll leave it up to the pundits to make that determination. I don’t think he’ll end up being president of the United States.
Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server–
President Barack Obama: No.
Steve Kroft: –while she was Secretary of State?
President Barack Obama: No.
Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem?
President Barack Obama: I don’t think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and– you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it’s been ginned-up is in part because of– in part– because of politics. And I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But–
Steve Kroft: What was your reaction when you found out about it?
President Barack Obama: This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that for the last three months this is all that’s been spoken about is an indication that we’re in presidential political season.
Steve Kroft: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not– not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?
President Barack Obama: Well, I’m not going to comment on–
Steve Kroft: You think it’s not that big a deal–
President Barack Obama: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment. I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.
Steve Kroft: This administration has prosecuted people for having classified material on their private computers.
President Barack Obama: Well, I– there’s no doubt that there had been breaches, and these are all a matter of degree. We don’t get an impression that here there was purposely efforts– on– in– to hide something or to squirrel away information. But again, I’m gonna leave it to–
Steve Kroft: If she had come to you.
President Barack Obama: I’m going to leave it to Hillary when she has an interview with you to address all these questions.
Steve Kroft: Right now, there’s nobody on either side of the aisle that is exactly running on your record. Do you want Joe Biden to get in the race and do it?
President Barack Obama: You know, I am going to let Joe make that decision. And I mean what I say. I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history, and one of the more consequential. I think he has done great work. I don’t think there’s any politician at a national level that has not thought about being the president. And if you’re sitting right next to the president in every meeting and, you know wrestling with these issues, I’m sure that for him he’s saying to himself, “I could do a really good job.”
Steve Kroft: I do want to talk a little bit about Congress. Are you going to miss John Boehner?
President Barack Obama: John Boehner and I disagreed on just about everything. But the one thing I’ll say about John Boehner is he did care about the institution. He recognized that nobody gets 100 percent in our democracy. I won’t say that he and I were ideal partners, but he and I could talk and we could get some things done. And so I am a little concerned that the reason he left was because there are a group of members of Congress who think having somebody who is willing to shut down the government or default on the U.S. debt is going to allow them to get their way 100 percent of the time.
Steve Kroft: Do you think you’re going to be able to get anything through Congress?
President Barack Obama: Well, given that– this Congress hasn’t been able to get much done at all over the last year and a half, two years, for that matter for the last four, it would be surprising if we were able to make huge strides on the things that are important. But I have a more modest goal, which is to make sure that Congress doesn’t do damage to the economy.
The president says that means avoiding another budget crisis and another round of threats to shut down the government, which could happen as early as December. Even with congressional Republicans in disarray, he’s hoping to reach a deal with Congress as he did two years ago, to lift some spending caps in defense and other areas while continuing to reduce the deficit.
President Barack Obama: Right now, our economy is much stronger relative to the rest of the world. China, Europe, emerging markets, they’re all having problems. And so, if we provide another shock to the system by shutting down the government, that could mean that the progress we have made starts going backwards instead of forwards. We have to make sure that we pass a transportation bill. It may not be everything that I want. We should be being much more aggressive in rebuilding America right now. Interest rates are low, construction workers need the work, and our economy would benefit from it. But if we can’t do a big multiyear plan, we have to at least do something that is robust enough– so that we are meeting the demands of a growing economy.
Steve Kroft: A few months back, at a fundraiser, you made a point of saying that the first lady was very pleased that you can’t run again.
President Barack Obama: Yeah, she is.
Steve Kroft: Do you feel the same way?
President Barack Obama: You know, it’s interesting. I– you go into your last year and I think it’s bittersweet. On the one hand, I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished and it makes me think, I’d love to do some more. But by the time I’m finished, I think it will be time for me to go. Because there’s a reason why we considered George Washington one of our greatest presidents. He set a precedent, saying that when you occupy this seat, it is an extraordinary privilege, but the way our democracy is designed, no one person is indispensable. And ultimately you are a citizen. And once you finish with your service, you go back to being a citizen. And I– and I think that– I think having a fresh set of legs in this seat, I think having a fresh perspective, new personnel and new ideas and a new conversation with the American people about issues that may be different a year from now than they were when I started eight years ago, I think that’s all good for our democracy. I think it’s healthy.
Steve Kroft: Do you think if you ran again, could run again, and did run again, you would be elected?
Story 1: Profiles in Perfidy: Obama and Kerry Lying To American People — The Traitorous Terrorist Treaty — Strategic Surrender To Terrorist Islamic Republic of Iran– No Dismantling and Destruction of Nuclear Infrastructure/Bomb Factories — No Surprise Inspections — No Economic Sanctions — No Limits on Missiles — No Sanctions On Individual Terrorists or Terrorism — The Sellout of America For Nobel Peace Prizes Will Result in Middle East Nuclear Arms Race, Proliferation and War — Iran Celebrates Victory and $150 Billion of Unfrozen Assets To Finance More Terrorism and Oppression — Congress Must Veto The Traitorous Terrorist Treaty — Terminate With Extreme Prejudice — Videos
1. Deliberatebreach of faith;calculatedviolation of trust;treachery:“thefink,whoseperfidywasequaledonly by hisgall”(GilbertMillstein).
2. Theact or an instance of treachery.
Iran nuclear deal: full text of joint comprehensive plan of action
Iran nuclear deal: how we got here and where we may go
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12 Times the Obama Administration Caved to Iran on Nuclear Deal | SUPERcuts! #211
With their own words, Barack Obama, John Kerry and their team trying to make a nuclear deal with Iran have caved time and time again.
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Obama Admits Iran Nuclear Deal Only Delays Inevitable
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Scott Walker: ‘I would terminate bad Iran deal on day one.’
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A Dangerous Deal for America
Trump: Iran deal is horrible for us, and really bad for Israel
Apocalypse Now – Terminate, with extreme prejudice
Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal
Accord sets White House on course for months of political strife with dissenters in Congress, Mideast allies
By LAURENCE NORMAN and
Updated July 14, 2015 1:14 p.m. ET
Iran reached a landmark nuclear agreement with the U.S. and five other world powers, a long-sought foreign policy goal of President Barack Obama that sets the White House on course for months of political strife with dissenters in Congress and in allied Middle Eastern nations.
The accord, which comes after a decade of diplomatic efforts that frequently appeared on the verge of collapse, aims to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.
The Obama administration and its partners hope the deal will resolve a dispute that at times threatened to spark a military conflict. In the optimistic view, it would ease tensions with Tehran over time and pave the way for fresh attempts to resolve some of the region’s many other conflicts.
In an address from the White House early Tuesday, Mr. Obama hailed the deal, threatening to veto any vote in Congress against it.
“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” he said. “Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.”
Critics in Washington, Israel and the Gulf nations that neighbor Iran say the deal will merely delay the country’s path to nuclear weapons. After 10 years of restraint on its activities mandated by the agreement, Iran will then be able to ratchet up its nuclear program and potentially unleash a nuclear arms race in the region, they fear.
Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahucalled the deal a historic mistake.
“Wide-ranging concessions were made in all of the areas which should have prevented Iran from getting the ability to arm itself with a nuclear weapon,’’ Mr. Netanyahu said. “The desire to sign an agreement was stronger than everything else.”
The deal could provoke new strains in U.S. ties with its traditional Middle Eastern allies in Israel and Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia. All have warned that lifting tight international sanctions will deliver an economic windfall that enables Iran to expand its regional influence by boosting funding for proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, far right, and U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, second from right, gesture toward Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, far left. Iran’s Ali Akbar Salehi is second from left. Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stands center.PHOTO:HERBERT NEUBAUER/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
The last two years of diplomacy were the most intense dialogue between Washington and Tehran since diplomatic relations were ruptured after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“Today, a new page has turned,” Iranian PresidentHassan Rouhani said in a nationally televised speech, adding that the deal met all his country’s goals.
The final round of negotiations stretched for more than two weeks and was punctuated by tensions and setbacks, at times devolving into shouting matches among international officials. The U.S. repeatedly warned it was willing to walk away from a bad deal while Iranians threatened to rev their nuclear program back up.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has spearheaded negotiations over the past two years, praised his Iranian counterpartJavad Zarif as a tough negotiator and a patriot, saying the two had maintained mutual respect throughout often heated talks.
However Mr. Kerry said the administration was fully aware that the nuclear deal would not resolve Washington’s concerns about Iran’s actions.
“From the very beginning of this process, we have considered not only our own security concerns but also the serious and legitimate anxieties of our friends and our allies in the region—especially Israel and the Gulf States,” he said.
“What we are announcing today is an agreement addressing the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. Period.”
At the heart of the agreement between Iran and the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, Germany and France is Tehran’s acceptance of strict limits on its nuclear activities for 10 years. These are supposed to ensure that the country remains a minimum of 12 months away from amassing enough nuclear fuel for a bomb. After the 10-year period, those constraints will ease in the subsequent five years. In exchange, the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations will lift tight international sanctions on Tehran, a move that Western diplomats say could help Iran’s economy to expand by 7% to 8% annually for years to come.
Iran, which analysts say could double oil exports quickly after sanctions are lifted, will also receive more than $100 billion in assets locked overseas under U.S. sanctions.
Mr. Obama has cast the nuclear diplomacy as an effort to avoid another costly, risky war in the Middle East. He recently said that even if the U.S. took military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it would only partially set back Tehran’s program, not eliminate it.
The nuclear agreement still faces significant hurdles before it takes full effect.
Iran must take an array of specific steps. It must disable two-thirds of its centrifuge machines used to enrich uranium, which can be used as fuel for nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. It must slash its stockpile of enriched uranium and redesign its nuclear reactor in the city of Arak so that it produces less plutonium, which can also be used in a weapon.
Oil-rich Iran has always insisted its nuclear program is for entirely peaceful purposes, such as producing electricity and medical isotopes.
After years of stalling, Iran also must disclose information on its past nuclear activities, which many Western officials suspect was aimed at gaining nuclear weapons know-how. It must provisionally implement an agreement giving United Nations inspectors much broader access to non-nuclear sites including military installations inside the country and eventually get parliamentary approval for that agreement.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency and Iran set out a short-term road map that says both sides will aim to finish their discussions of past nuclear work by the end of the year.
The nuclear deal is sure to fan intense political debate in Washington, where Congress may vote within 60 days on the agreement. As a last resort, the Obama administration may have to rely on the support of Democrats to uphold a presidential veto if the Republican-led Congress votes to overturn the agreement.
Among other steps, the U.N. Security Council is supposed to annul past resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran and replace them with a new resolution.
The U.S. will maintain sanctions on Iran linked to its rights abuses, ties to terrorist groups and to support for Syria’s regime among others.
Observers warned that given the complexity of the agreement, which contains one main text and five detailed annexes and totals about 100 pages, the risks of disputes over implementation of terms could cause delays or even derail the deal.
“The technical obstacles can be surpassed with goodwill and diligence, but political hurdles can turn into poison pills,” said Ali Vaez, senior Iran analyst at Crisis International, an international conflict resolution group.
According to senior U.S. officials, the agreement will allow a Security Council ban on conventional arms sales to or from Iran to end after five years—or earlier if the U.N. nuclear agency gives its final, full all-clear that Iran’s nuclear program is purely peaceful. That is expected to take many years.
In addition, a ban on trading ballistic missiles and parts with Iran will expire after eight years unless the IAEA gives its all-clear earlier. Iran is committed to using a special procurement channel to buy a wide range of products that could be used in a nuclear weapons program, the official said.
Mr. Kerry said that with three of the countries—Iran, Russia and China— opposed to maintaining the arms ban and able to walk away from the deal, he believed “we did very well to hold onto” these restraints. However, the agreement also includes specific oversight measures that few other countries have ever agreed to. There will be monitoring and oversight of Iran’s uranium mines, plants for manufacturing key parts of centrifuge machines and a range of activities that could be used to develop a nuclear warhead.
Iran deal reached, Obama hails step towards ‘more hopeful world’
Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.
U.S. President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a “more hopeful world” and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that “constructive engagement works”. But Israel pledged to do what it could to halt what it called an “historic surrender”.
The agreement will now be debated in the U.S. Congress, but Obama said he would veto any measure to block it.
“This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction,” Obama said. “We should seize it.”
Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear programme that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
The agreement is a political triumph for both Obama, who has long promised to reach out to historic enemies, and Rouhani, a pragmatist elected two years ago on a vow to reduce the isolation of his nation of almost 80 million people.
Both face scepticism from powerful hardliners at home in nations that referred to each other as “the Great Satan” and a member of the “Axis of Evil”.
“Today is the end to acts of tyranny against our nation and the start of cooperation with the world,” Rouhani said in a televised address. “This is a reciprocal deal. If they stick to it, we will. The Iranian nation has always observed its promises and treaties.”
For Obama, the diplomacy with Iran, begun in secret more than two years ago, ranks alongside his normalisation of ties with Cuba as landmarks in a legacy of reconciliation with foes that tormented his predecessors for decades.
“History shows that America must lead not just with our might but with our principles,” he said in a televised address. “Today’s announcement marks one more chapter in our pursuit of a safer, more helpful and more hopeful world.”
Republicans lined up to denounce the deal. Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina, called it a terrible deal that would make matters worse. Former senator Rick Santorum, another candidate, said the administration had capitulated to Iran.
The Republican-controlled Congress has 60 days to review the accord, but if it votes to reject it Obama can use his veto, which can be overridden only by two-thirds of lawmakers in both houses. That means dozens of Obama’s fellow Democrats would have to rebel against one of their president’s signature achievements to kill it, an unlikely prospect.
While the main negotiations were between the United States and Iran, the four other U.N. Security Council permanent members, Britain, China, France and Russia, are also parties to the deal, as is Germany.
Enmity between Iran and the United States has loomed over the Middle East for decades.
Iran is the predominant Shi’ite Muslim power, hostile both to Israel and to Washington’s Sunni Muslim-ruled Arab friends, particularly Saudi Arabia. Allies of Riyadh and Tehran have fought decades of sectarian proxy wars in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
But there are also strong reasons for Washington and Tehran to cooperate against common foes, above all Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim militant group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. Washington has been bombing Islamic State from the air while Tehran aids Iraqi militias fighting it on the ground.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters that the deal was about more than just the nuclear issue:
“The big prize here is that, as Iran comes out of the isolation of the last decades and is much more engaged with Western countries, Iranians hopefully begin to travel in larger numbers again, Western companies are able to invest and trade with Iran, there is an opportunity for an opening now.”
Still, Washington’s friends in the region were furious, especially Israel, whose prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has cultivated a close relationship with Obama’s Republican opponents in Congress.
“Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world,” he said. “Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons.”
His deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, denounced an “historic surrender” and said Israel would “act with all means to try and stop the agreement being ratified”, a clear threat to use its influence to try and block it in Congress.
Some diplomats in Vienna said the strong Israeli response could actually help, by making it easier for Rouhani to sell the agreement back in Iran.
While Saudi Arabia did not denounce the deal publicly as Israel did, its officials expressed doubt in private.
“We have learned as Iran’s neighbours in the last 40 years that goodwill only led us to harvest sour grapes,” a Saudi official who asked to remain anonymous told Reuters.
Nor were hardliners silent in Iran: “Celebrating too early can send a bad signal to the enemy,” conservative lawmaker Alireza Zakani said in parliament, according to Fars News agency. Iran’s National Security Council would review the accord, “and if they think it is against our national interests, we will not have a deal”.
It will probably be months before Iran receives the benefits from the lifting of sanctions because of the need to verify the deal’s fulfilment. Once implementation is confirmed, Tehran will immediately gain access to around $100 billion in frozen assets, and can step up oil exports that have been slashed by almost two-thirds.
The deal finally emerged after nearly three weeks of intense negotiation between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – unthinkable for decades, since Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Hatred of the United States is still a central tenet of Iran’s ruling system, on display only last week at an annual protest day, with crowds chanted “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!”.
But Iranians voted overwhelmingly for Rouhani in 2013 on a clear promise to revive their crippled economy by ending Iran’s isolation. Hardline Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not block the negotiations.
“Today could have been the end of hope on this issue, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope,” Zarif, who studied in the United States and developed a warm rapport with Kerry, told a news conference.
Kerry said: “This is the good deal we have sought.”
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said:
“I think this is a sign of hope for the entire world.”
Obama first reached out to Iranians with an address in 2009, only weeks into his presidency, offering a “new beginning”. But he followed this up with a sharp tightening of financial sanctions, which, combined with sanctions imposed by the EU, have imposed severe economic hardship on Iranians since 2012.
Tehran has long denied seeking a nuclear weapon and has insisted on the right to nuclear technology for peaceful means. Obama never ruled out military force if negotiations failed, and said on Tuesday that future presidents would still have that option if Iran quit the agreement.
France said the deal would ensure Iran’s “breakout time” – the time it would need to build a bomb if it decided to break off the deal – would be one year for the next decade. This has been a main goal of Western negotiators, who wanted to ensure that if a deal collapsed there would be enough time to act.
Obama said Iran had accepted a “snapback” mechanism, under which sanctions would be reinstated if it violated the deal. A U.N. weapons embargo is to remain in place for five years and a ban on buying missile technology will remain for eight years.
Alongside the main deal, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced an agreement with Iran to resolve its own outstanding issues by the end of this year. The main deal depends on the IAEA being able to inspect Iranian nuclear sites and on Iran answering its questions about possible military aims of previous research.
For Iran, the end of sanctions could bring a rapid economic boom by lifting restrictions that have shrunk its economy by about 20 percent, according to U.S. estimates. The prospect of a deal has already helped push down global oil prices because of the possibility that Iranian supply could return to the market.
Oil prices tumbled more than a dollar on Tuesday after the deal was reached. [O/R]
“Even with an historic deal, oil from Iran will take time to return,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects, told Reuters. “But given how oversupplied the market is with Saudi output at record highs, the mere prospect of new oil will be bearish for sentiment.”
Monday 13 July 2015 06.15 EDT Last modified on Monday 13 July 2015 11.36 EDT
European and Chinese officials are pushing for a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme to be signed on Monday, but Washington and Tehran – the two main protagonists at the negotiations in Vienna – will not be rushed.
The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, told reporters that his team “believes that no agreement could be perfect, and conditions are already in place for us to reach a good agreement,” as he joined his counterparts for the endgame of the negotiations. “We believe that there cannot, and should not, be further delay.”
This latest round of talks got under way in the Austrian capital 17 days ago, though negotiations between the international community and Iran over the country’s atomic aspirations have been held on and off for 12 years.
European diplomats at the talks said on Sunday that the major obstacles to a deal had been cleared away and that they expected an announcement on Monday afternoon, but their American counterparts were more cautious. They distributed logistics information to US journalists covering the negotiations about the choreography of events after an announcement, but a senior state department official insisted “major issues” remain.
Meanwhile, the Iranian delegation also suggested the talks were not yet at the finish line. Its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said: “We believe there shouldn’t be extension but we can continue working by the time that it’s necessary.” Zarif’s deputy, Abbas Araqchi, said: “I cannot promise whether the remaining issues can be resolved tonight or tomorrow night. Some issues still remain unresolved and, until they are solved, we cannot say an agreement has been reached.”
Diplomats in Vienna suggested that one reason for the delay was that neither the US nor the Iranian delegations wanted to present the White House or the supreme leader a deadline for completing their review of the final text. However, going beyond midnight on Monday would require a 2013 interim deal to be rolled over for the fourth time in a fortnight, to keep a freeze on sanctions and the Iranian nuclear programme in place
Even after a deal is announced, it would take some hours for the text of the agreement, the English version of which stretches to more than 80 pages, including five annexes, to be “scrubbed” or proofread and reviewed by lawyers. Translations would then have to be completed before the final text was sent to the relevant capitals for approval by national leaders.
Under the expected settlement, Iran will accept curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for extensive sanctions relief. Tehran would also have to subject its facilities to a more rigorous inspections regime. It would represent a historic compromise after a 12-year standoff that has at times threatened to provoke a new conflict in the Middle East. In a statement issued on Sunday, a senior US State Department official said: “We have never speculated about the timing of anything during these negotiations, and we’re certainly not going to start now, especially given the fact that major issues remain to be resolved in these talks.”
The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, returned to the UK for unspecified reasons. Diplomats said he was expected back on Monday and suggested his departure meant that the main political decisions had been taken as far as the UK was concerned, leaving mostly technicalities to finalise. Over the weekend, Iranian officials had said that the UK and Germany had made forceful arguments about their own red lines, and that was confirmed in the British case by western diplomatic sources. Their concerns appeared to have been resolved by Sunday evening.
Once an agreement is announced, it will not take effect for some time. It must first survive a trial by fire from its critics in Washington and Tehran. The greatest hurdle will be the US Congress, where Republicans have a majority and are expected to vote against the deal after a review period of up to 60 days. They will seek to win over 12 Democrats in an attempt to defeat a presidential veto.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, described the expected deal as “a very hard sell”. Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Senate foreign relations committee, told NBC: “At the end of the day I think people understand that if this is a bad deal that is going to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they would own this deal if they voted for it, and so they’ll want to disapprove it. On the other hand, if we feel like we’re better off with it, people will look to approve it.”
The European and Chinese foreign ministers have come and gone over the course of the talks and even Zarif left for a day, but John Kerry remained in Vienna throughout. It is the longest time that a US secretary of state has spent abroad in a single location dealing with a single issue since the aftermath of the second world war.
Kerry has also conducted the gruelling fortnight of diplomacy, including repeated late-night meetings, on crutches after a bicycle accident in May. On Sunday morning he attended mass in Vienna’s 14th-century St Stephen’s Cathedral, where Mozart was married and Vivaldi’s funeral was held. Speaking about a late-night meeting with Zarif hours before, he said: “I think we’re getting to some real decisions. So I will say, because we have a few tough things to do, I remain hopeful.”
The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, told reporters as he rejoined the talks on Sunday afternoon: “I hope we’re arriving finally at the last phase of these marathon negotiations. I believe so.”
The road ahead
Although the deal could be agreed and published as early as Monday, it will be months before it starts to come into effect. A number of steps have to be taken first:
The US Congress will have two months to review the agreement, and then an extra 22 days are set aside for voting, a possible presidential veto, and then another vote to see if opponents can muster 67 Senate votes to override the veto. At the same time, Iran’s parliament, the Majlis, will study the deal and issue its own verdict, but has no firm timetable.
Assuming it survives legislative scrutiny, the agreement will be codified and incorporated in a UN security council resolution, which will also lift UN sanctions on Iran, conditional on Tehran taking its agreed steps to reduce its nuclear infrastructure. Some Iranian sources say the resolution will come earlier in the process, while the deal is still under legislative review.
Iran will then begin to disconnect centrifuges, remove the core from its heavy-water plant and reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency will monitor and verify the steps taken. Iran will also work with the IAEA to resolve unanswered questions about alleged past nuclear weapon design work.
At the same time, Barack Obama will grant waivers on economic and financial sanctions, and the EU will vote to lift European sanctions. Both sets of sanctions relief will be made contingent on IAEA confirmation that Iran has upheld its side of the bargain.
In a final step, possibly around the end of the year, economic and financial sanctions will be lifted, and an enhanced IAEA inspections regime will be implemented, routinely monitoring Iran’s fuel cycle from uranium mines to enrichment and fuel manufacture, and visiting undeclared sites.
Obama Can’t Force His Iran Deal on the Country without Congress’s Consent
Having the U.N. Security Council bless a deal wouldn’t make it binding under our Constitution. So, as we warned earlier this week, the international-law game it is. It is no secret that Barack Obama does not have much use for the United States Constitution. It is a governing plan for a free, self-determining people. Hence, it is littered with roadblocks against schemes to rule the people against their will. When it comes to our imperious president’s scheme to enable our enemy, Iran, to become a nuclear-weapons power — a scheme that falls somewhere between delusional and despicable, depending on your sense of Obama’s good faith — the salient barrier is that only Congress can make real law.
Most lawmakers think it would be a catastrophe to forge a clear path to the world’s most destructive weapons for the world’s worst regime — a regime that brays “Death to America” as its motto; that has killed thousands of Americans since 1979; that remains the world’s leading state sponsor of jihadist terrorism; that pledges to wipe our ally Israel off the map; and that just three weeks ago, in the midst of negotiations with Obama, conducted a drill in which its armed forces fired ballistic missiles at a replica U.S. aircraft carrier.
This week, 47 perspicuous Republican senators suspected that the subject of congressional power just might have gotten short shrift in Team Obama’s negotiations with the mullahs. So they penned a letter on the subject to the regime in Tehran. The effort was led by Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), who, after Harvard Law School, passed up community organizing for the life of a Bronze Star–awarded combat commander. As one might imagine, Cotton and Obama don’t see this Iran thing quite the same way.
There followed, as night does day, risible howls from top Democrats and their media that these 47 patriots were “traitors” for undermining the president’s empowerment of our enemies. Evidently, writing the letter was not as noble as, say, Ted Kennedy’s canoodling with the Soviets, Nancy Pelosi’s dalliance with Assad, the Democratic party’s Bush-deranged jihad against the war in Iraq, or Senator Barack Obama’s own back-channel outreach to Iran during the 2008 campaign. Gone, like a deleted e-mail, were the good old days when dissent was patriotic.
Yet, as John Yoo observes, the Cotton letter was more akin to mailing Ayatollah Khamenei a copy of the Constitution. The senators explained that our Constitution requires congressional assent for international agreements to be legally binding. Thus, any “executive agreement” on nukes that they manage to strike with the appeaser-in-chief is unenforceable and likely to be revoked when he leaves office in 22 months.
For Obama and other global-governance grandees, this is quaint thinking, elevating outmoded notions like national interest over “sustainable” international “stability” — like the way Hitler stabilized the Sudetenland. These “international community” devotees see the Tea Party as the rogue and the mullahs as rational actors.
o, you see, lasting peace — like they have, for example, in Ukraine — is achieved when the world’s sole superpower exhibits endless restraint and forfeits some sovereignty to the United Nations Security Council, where the enlightened altruists from Moscow, Beijing, and Brussels will figure out what’s best for Senator Cotton’s constituents in Arkansas. This will set a luminous example of refinement that Iran will find irresistible when it grows up ten years from now — the time when Obama, who came to office promising the mullahs would not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons, would have Iran stamped with the international community seal of approval as a nuclear-weapons state.
Down here on Planet Earth, though, most Americans think this is a bad idea. That, along with an injection of grit from the Arkansas freshman, emboldened the normally supine Senate GOP caucus to read Tehran in on the constitutional fact that the president is powerless to bind the United States unless the people’s representatives cement the arrangement.
Obama, naturally, reacted with his trusty weapon against opposition, demagoguery: hilariously suggesting that while the Alinskyite-in-chief had our country’s best interests at heart, the American war hero and his 46 allies were in league with Iran’s “hardliners.” (Yes, having found Muslim Brotherhood secularists, al-Qaeda moderates, and Hezbollah moderates, rest assured that Obama is courting only the evolved ayatollahs.) When that went about as you’d expect, the administration shifted to a strategy with which it is equally comfortable, lying.
Obama’s minions claimed that, of course, the president understands that any agreement he makes with Iran would merely be his “political commitment,” not “legally binding” on the nation. It’s just that Obama figures it would be nice to have the Security Council “endorse” the deal in a resolution because, well, that would “encourage its full implementation.” Uh-huh.
Inconveniently, the administration’s negotiating counterpart is the chattiest of academics, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Afflicted by the Western-educated Islamist’s incorrigible need to prove he’s the smartest kid in the class — especially a class full of American politicians — Zarif let the cat out of the bag. The senators, he smarmed, “may not fully understand . . . international law.”
According to Zarif, the deal under negotiation “will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the U.S., but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.” He hoped it would “enrich the knowledge” of the 47 senators to learn that “according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement.” To do so would be “a material breach of U.S. obligations,” rendering America a global outlaw.
This, mind you, from the lead representative of a terrorist regime that is currently, and brazenly, in violation of Security Council resolutions that prohibit its enrichment of uranium.
Clearly, Obama and the mullahs figure they can run the following stunt: We do not need another treaty approved by Congress because the United States has already ratified the U.N. charter and thus agreed to honor Security Council resolutions. We do not need new statutes because the Congress, in enacting Iran-sanctions legislation, explicitly gave the president the power to waive those sanctions. All we need is to have the Security Council issue a resolution that codifies Congress’s existing sanctions laws with Obama’s waiver. Other countries involved in the negotiations — including Germany, Russia, and China, which have increasingly lucrative trade with Iran — will then very publicly rely on the completed deal. The U.N. and its army of transnational-progressive bureaucrats and lawyers will deduce from this reliance a level of global consensus that incorporates the agreement into the hocus-pocus corpus of customary law. Maybe they’ll even get Justice Ginsburg to cite it glowingly in a Supreme Court ruling. Voila, we have a binding agreement — without any congressional input — that the United States is powerless to alter under international law.
Well, it makes for good theater . . . because that is what international law is. It is a game more of lawyers than of thrones. In essence, it is politics masquerading as a system governed by rules rather than power, as if hanging a sign that says “law” on that system makes it so. At most, international law creates understandings between and among states. Those understandings, however, are only relevant as diplomatic debating points. When, in defiance of international law, Obama decides to overthrow the Qaddafi regime, Clinton decides to bomb Kosovo, or the ayatollahs decide to enrich uranium, the debating points end up not counting for much.
Even when international understandings are validly created by treaty (which requires approval by two-thirds of the Senate), they are not “self-executing,” as the legal lexicon puts it — meaning they are not judicially enforceable and carry no domestic weight. Whether bilateral or multilateral, treaties do not supersede existing federal law unless implemented by new congressional statutes. And they are powerless to amend the Constitution.
The Supreme Court reaffirmed these principles in its 2008 Medellin decision (a case I described here, leading to a ruling Ed Whelan outlined here). The justices held that the president cannot usurp the constitutional authority of other government components under the guise of his power to conduct foreign affairs. Moreover, even a properly ratified treaty can be converted into domestic law only by congressional lawmaking, not by unilateral presidential action.
Obama, therefore, has no power to impose an international agreement by fiat — he has to come to Congress. He can make whatever deal he wants to make with Iran, but the Constitution still gives Congress exclusive authority over foreign commerce. Lawmakers can enact sanctions legislation that does not permit a presidential waiver. Obama would not sign it, but the next president will — especially if the Republicans raise it into a major 2016 campaign issue.
Will the Security Council howl? Sure . . . but so what? It has been said that Senator Cotton should have CC’d the Obama administration on his letter since it, too, seems unfamiliar with the Constitution’s division of authority. A less useless exercise might have been to CC the five other countries involved in the talks (the remaining Security Council members, plus Germany). Even better, as I argued earlier this week, would be a sense-of-the-Senate resolution: Any nation that relies on an executive agreement that is not approved by the United States Congress under the procedures outlined in the Constitution does so at its peril because this agreement is likely to lapse as early as January 20, 2017. International law is a game that two can play, and there is no point in allowing Germany, Russia, and China to pretend that they relied in good faith on Obama’s word being America’s word. It is otherworldly to find an American administration conspiring against the Constitution and the Congress in cahoots with a terror-sponsoring enemy regime, with which we do not even have formal diplomatic relations, in order to pave the enemy’s way to nuclear weapons, of all things. Nevertheless, Republicans and all Americans who want to preserve our constitutional order, must stop telling themselves that we have hit a bottom beneath which Obama will not go. This week, 47 senators seemed ready, finally, to fight back. It’s a start.
Could the Iran Deal Be the Worst International Accord of All Time?
by DANIEL PIPES July 14, 2015 10:27 AM
Barack Obama has repeatedly signaled during the past six and a half years that that his No. 1 priority in foreign affairs is not China, not Russia, not Mexico, but Iran. He wants to bring Iran in from the cold, to transform the Islamic Republic into just another normal member of the so-called international community, thereby ending decades of its aggression and hostility.
In itself, this is a worthy goal; it’s always good policy to reduce the number of enemies. (It brings to mind Nixon going to China.) The problem lies, of course, in the execution.
The conduct of the Iran nuclear negotiations has been wretched, with the Obama administration inconsistent, capitulating, exaggerating, and even deceitful. It forcefully demanded certain terms, then soon after conceded these same terms. Secretary of State John Kerry implausibly announced that we have “absolute knowledge” of what the Iranians have done until now in their nuclear program and therefore have no need for inspections to form a baseline. How can any adult, much less a high official, make such a statement?
The administration misled Americans about its own concessions: After the November 2013 joint plan of action, it came out with a fact sheet that Tehran said was inaccurate. Guess who was right? The Iranians. In brief, the U.S. government has shown itself deeply untrustworthy.
The conduct of the Iran nuclear negotiations has been wretched, with the Obama administration inconsistent, capitulating, exaggerating, and even deceitful. The agreement signed today ends the economic-sanctions regime, permits the Iranians to hide much of their nuclear activities, lacks enforcement in case of Iranian deceit, and expires in slightly more than a decade. Two problems particularly stand out: The Iranian path to nuclear weapons has been eased and legitimated; Tehran will receive a “signing bonus” of some $150 billion that greatly increases its abilities to aggress in the Middle East and beyond. The United States alone, not to speak of the P5+1 countries as a whole, has vastly greater economic and military power than the Islamic Republic of Iran, making this one-sided concession ultimately a bafflement.
Of the administration’s accumulated foreign-policy mistakes in the last six years, none have been catastrophic for the United States: Not the Chinese building islands, the Russians’ taking Crimea, or the collapse into civil wars of Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. But the Iran deal has the makings of a catastrophe.
Attention now shifts to the U.S. Congress to review today’s accord, arguably the worst international accord not just in American history or modern history, but ever. Congress must reject this deal. Republican senators and representatives have shown themselves firm on this topic; will the Democrats rise to the occasion and provide the votes for a veto override? They need to feel the pressure.
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How climate-change doubters lost a papal fight
By Anthony Faiola and Chris Mooney
Pope Francis was about to take a major step backing the science behind human-driven global warming, and Philippe de Larminat was determined to change his mind.
A French doubter who authored a book arguing that solar activity — not greenhouse gases — was driving global warming, de Larminat sought a spot at a climate summit in April sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Nobel laureates would be there. So would U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs and others calling for dramatic steps to curb carbon emissions.
After securing a high-level meeting at the Vatican, he was told that, space permitting, he could join. He bought a plane ticket from Paris to Rome. But five days before the April 28 summit, de Larminat said, he received an e-mail saying there was no space left. It came after other scientists — as well as the powerful Vatican bureaucrat in charge of the academy — insisted he had no business being there.
“They did not want to hear an off note,” de Larminat said.
The incident highlights how climate-change doubters tried and failed to alter the landmark papal document unveiled last week — one that saw the leader of 1 billion Catholics fuse faith and reason and come to the conclusion that “denial” is wrong.
Wearing a yellow raincoat, Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he arrives in Tacloban, Philippines, in January. (Wally Santana/AP)
It marked the latest blow for those seeking to stop the reform-minded train that has become Francis’s papacy. It is one that has reinvigorated liberal Catholics even as it has sowed the seeds of resentment and dissent inside and outside the Vatican’s ancient walls.
Yet the battle lost over climate change also suggests how hard it may be for critics to blunt the power of a man who has become something of a juggernaut in an institution where change tends to unfold over decades, even centuries. More than anything, to those who doubt the human impact of global warming, the position staked out by Francis in his papal document, known as an encyclical, means a major defeat.
“This was their Waterloo,” said Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, who has been tracking climate-change deniers for years. “They wanted the encyclical not to happen. And it happened.”
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Papal advisers say Francis signaled his intent to draft a major document on the environment soon after assuming the throne of St. Peter in March 2013. His interest in the topic dates to his days as a bishop in Buenos Aires, where Francis, officials say, was struck by the effects of floods and unsanitary conditions on Argentine shantytowns known as “misery villages.”
In January, Francis officially announced his goal of drafting the encyclical — saying after an official visit to the Philippines that he wanted to make a “contribution” to the debate ahead of a major U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December.
But several efforts by those skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change to influence the document appear to have come considerably later — in April — and, maybe, too late.
In late April, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a free-market group that serves as a hub of skepticism regarding the science of human-caused global warming, sent a delegation to the Vatican. As a Heartland news release put it, they hoped “to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science: There is no global warming crisis!”
It was meant to coincide with the same April meeting that de Larminat was trying to attend. Heartland’s activists were not part of the invited contingent, either, Heartland communications director Jim Lakely said.
“It was a side event,” he said. “We were outside the walls of the Vatican. We were at a hotel — literally, I could throw a football into St. Peter’s Square.”
Seven scientists and other experts gave speeches at the Heartland event, raising doubts about various aspects of the scientific consensus on climate change, even as several also urged the pope not to take sides in the debate. It’s impossible to know how that influenced those in the Vatican working on the pope’s document — which one Vatican official said was at “an advanced stage.” But Lakely said his group did not see much of its argument reflected in the final document.
“We all want the poor to live better lives, but we just don’t think the solution to that is to restrict the use of fossil fuels, because we don’t think CO2 is causing a climate crisis,” Lakely said. “So if that’s our message in a sentence, that message was not reflected in the encyclical, so there you go.”
The father of conservative movement-building through direct mail, Richard A. Viguerie, issued a forceful denunciation of Francis, his encyclical and his priorities, calling the pope’s message on climate change “a confusing distraction that dilutes his great moral authority and leadership.”
Mr. Viguerie’s post does not address the substance of the encyclical; rather, it argues at length that the pope should not be writing about climate change “at a time when Catholics, indeed Christians of all denominations, are facing persecution” as well as “a host of moral and spiritual challenges”:
While the pope fiddles with one controversial political issue that is not at the core of spiritual matters, our spiritual culture is burning.
He goes on to assert that the Catholic clergy has “abandoned the teaching of morals” and “sees, hears, and knows few sins,” while “the liberals’ true agenda is to destroy religion” and, he says, the environmental movement has socialist roots.
Those who most fervently deny the scientific consensus on climate change have ridiculed Pope Francis. Steven Milloy, who regularly denounces climate scientists on his website and on Twitter, posted a series of strident messages after a draft of the encyclical leaked earlier this week. Mr. Milloy is linked to the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute and has also argued against the scientific studies that suggest that secondhand smoke causes cancer.
In recent Twitter posts, he called some of the leaked portions of the encyclical “adolescent, insipid, primitive, embarrassing,” as well as “a stumbling, bumbling PR disaster for Red Pope.”
Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change
By JIM YARDLEY and LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, blending a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.
The vision that Francis outlined in a 184-page papal encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He describes relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment and says apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness are to blame.
The most vulnerable victims, he declares, are the world’s poorest people, who are being dislocated and disregarded.
Francis, the first pope from the developing world, used the encyclical — titled “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You” — to highlight the crisis posed byclimate change. He places most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity, while warning of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us” if corrective action is not taken swiftly. Developed, industrialized countries were mostly responsible, he says, and are obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” he writes. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
The Vatican released the encyclical at noon on Thursday, three days after an Italian magazine posted a leaked draft online, to the fury of Vaticanofficials. The breach led to speculation that opponents of Francis in the Vatican wanted to embarrass him by undermining the release.
Even so, religious figures, environmentalists, scientists, executives and elected officials around the world awaited the official release, and scheduled news conferences or issued statements afterward. News media interest was enormous, in part because of Francis’ global popularity, but also because of the intriguing coalition he is proposing between faith and science.
“Humanity is faced with a crucial challenge that requires the development of adequate policies, which, moreover, are currently being discussed on the global agenda,” Cardinal Peter Turkson said at a news conference at the Vatican. “Certainly, ‘Laudato Si’ ’ can and must have an impact on important and urgent decisions to be made in this area.”
In his encyclical, read by a nun at the Vatican on Thursday, Francis focused on the harm climate change poses to the poor.CreditMax Rossi/Reuters
Francis has made it clear that he hopes the encyclical will influence energy and economic policy and stir a global movement. He calls on ordinary people to press politicians for change. Catholic bishops and priests around the world are expected to discuss the encyclical in services on Sunday. But Francis is also reaching for a wider audience, asking in the document “to address every person living on this planet.”
Even before the encyclical, the pope’s stance against environmental destruction and his demand for global action had already thrilled many scientists. Advocates of policies to combat climate change have said they hoped that Francis could lend a “moral dimension” to the debate.
“Within the scientific community, there is almost a code of honor that you will never transgress the red line between pure analysis and moral issues,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and chairman of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “But we are now in a situation where we have to think about the consequences of our insight for society.”
Francis has been sharply criticized by those who question or deny the established science of human-caused climate change, and also by some conservative Roman Catholics, who see the encyclical as an attack on capitalism and as political meddling.
Governments are now developing domestic climate-change plans to prepare for aUnited Nations summit meeting on the issue in Paris in December. The meeting’s goal is to achieve a sweeping accord in which every nation would commit to new policies to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. Many governments have yet to present plans, including major emitters like Brazil, which has a large Catholic population. The encyclical is seen as an unsubtle nudge for action.
“It gives a lot of cover to political and economic leaders in those countries, as they make decisions on climate change policy,” said Timothy Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation.
Catholic theologians say the overarching theme of the encyclical is “integral ecology,” which links care for the environment with a notion already well developed in Catholic teaching: that economic development, to be morally good and just, must take into account people’s need for things like freedom, education and meaningful work.
“The basic idea is, in order to love God, you have to love your fellow human beings, and you have to love and care for the rest of creation,” said Vincent Miller, who holds a chair in Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton, a Catholic college in Ohio. “It gives Francis a very traditional basis to argue for the inclusion of environmental concern at the center of Christian faith.”
Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, left, and Cardinal Peter Turkson presented the 184-page papal encyclical on Thursday.CreditAndrew Medichini/Associated Press
He added: “Critics will say the church can’t teach policy, the church can’t teach politics. And Francis is saying, ‘No, these things are at the core of the church’s teaching.’ ”
Francis tapped a wide variety of sources in his encyclical, partly to underscore the universality of his message. He cites passages from his two papal predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and draws prominently from a religious ally, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He also cites a ninth-century Sufi mystic, Ali al-Khawas.
“This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church,” Francis writes. The Bible teaches human beings to “till and keep” the garden of the world, he says. “ ‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, plowing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving.”
His most stinging rebuke is a broad critique of profit-seeking and the undue influence of technology on society. He praises achievements in medicine, science and engineering, but says that “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.”
Central to Francis’ theme is the link between poverty and the planet’s fragility. The pope rejects the belief that technology and “current economics” will solve environmental problems, or “that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.”
“A huge indictment I see in this encyclical is that people have lost their sense of ultimate and proper goals of technology and economics,” said Christiana Z. Peppard, an assistant professor of theology, science and ethics at Fordham University in New York. “We are focused on short-term, consumerist patterns.”
Encyclicals are letters to the clergy and laity of the church that are considered authoritative. Catholics are expected to try to sincerely embrace their teachings. But more specific assertions in them can be categorized as “prudential judgments,” a phrase that some critics have invoked to reject Francis’ positions on issues like climate change or economic inequality.
Many conservatives will be pleased with the encyclical’s strong criticism of abortion, and its dismissal of arguments that population control can be an answer to poverty. However, Francis sharply criticizes the trading of carbon credits — a market-based system central to the European Union’s climate policy — and says it “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
Above all, Francis frames the encyclical as a call to action. He praises young people for being ready for change, and said “enforceable international agreements are urgently needed.” He cites Benedict in saying that advanced societies “must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency.”
“All is not lost,” he writes. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”
St. Francis of Assisi’s hymn Laudato Si’ spoke of “Brothers” Sun and Fire and “Sisters” Moon and Water, using these colorful phrases figuratively, as a way of praising God’s creation. These sentimental words so touched Pope Francis that he named his encyclical after this canticle (repeated in paragraph 87 of the Holy Father’s letter).
Neither Pope Francis nor St. Francis took the words literally, of course. Neither believed that fire was alive and could be talked to or reasoned with or, worse, worshiped. Strange, then, that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican named Hans Schellnhuber appears to believe in a Mother Earth.
The Gaia Principle, first advanced by chemist James Lovelock (who has lately had second thoughts) and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, says that all life interacts with the Earth, and the Earth with all life, to form a giant self-regulating, living system.
This goes far beyond the fact that the Earth’s climate system has feedbacks, which are at the very center of the debate over climate change. In the Gaia Principle, Mother Earth is alive, and even, some think, aware in some ill-defined, mystical way. The Earth knows man and his activities and, frankly, isn’t too happy with him.
This is what we might call “scientific pantheism,” a kind that appeals to atheistic scientists. It is an updated version of the pagan belief that the universe itself is God, that the Earth is at least semi-divine — a real Brother Sun and Sister Water! Mother Earth is immanent in creation and not transcendent, like the Christian God.
What’s this have to do with Schellnhuber? In the 1999 Nature paper “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution,” he said:
Ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory, as pioneered by Lovelock and Margulis. This hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.
Geo-physiological, in case you missed it. Cognizant, in black and white. So dedicated is Schellnhuber to this belief that he says “the Gaia approach may even include the influence of biospheric activities on the Earth’s plate-tectonic processes.” Not the other way around, mind you, where continental drift and earthquakes effects life, but where life effects earthquakes.
Although effects such as the glaciations may still be interpreted as over-reactions to small disturbances — a kind of cathartic geophysiological fever — the main events, resulting in accelerated maturation by shock treatment, indicate that Gaia faces a powerful antagonist. Rampino has proposed personifying this opposition as Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
Mother Earth gets the flu and instead of white blood cells and a rise in temperature to fend off the infection, it sends white ice and a decrease in temperatures. How? Geophysiologically! I remind the reader that our author, writing in one of the world’s most prominent science journals, does not use these propositions metaphorically. He proposes them as actual mechanisms.
Schellnhuber echoes the theme of a cognizant, i.e. self-aware, planet in another (co-authored) 2004 paper in Nature 2004, “Climbing the co-evolution ladder,” suggesting again that mankind is an infection, saying that mankind “perturbs … the global ‘metabolism’” of the planet.
Schellnhuber, a one-time quantum physicist who turned his attention to Mother Earth late in his career, was also co-author of a 2009 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper “Imprecise probability assessment of tipping points in the climate system,” which asked select scientists their gut assessment about the arrival of various “tipping points.” Tipping points are a theme of Schellnhuber’s research (see inter aliathis and this).
Tipping points are supposed moments when some doom which might have been avoided if some action had been taken, is no longer possible to avoid and will arrive no matter what. Tipping points have come and gone in climate forecasts for decades now. The promised dooms never arrive but the false prophets never quit. Their intent is less to forecast than to induce something short of panic in order to plead for political intervention. When the old tipping point is past, theorists just change the date, issue new warnings and hope no one will notice.
One of the tipping points Schellnhuber asked about was the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, depending on what the temperature did. All of the selected experts (who answered the questions in 2004 and 2005) gave moderate (~15-25%) to quite high probabilities (50-80%) for this event to have occurred by 2015. The ice did not melt.
Schellnhuber presented more tipping points to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014 in the co-authored paper, “Climate-System Tipping Points and Extreme Weather Events.” In that paper, Schellnhuber has a “scientific” graph with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Adam “flicking” a planet earth over a methane tipping point, such that the earth would roll down into a fiery pit labeled the “Warming Abyss.” Hell on earth.
The Problem of People
Schellnhuber is most famous for predicting that the “carrying capacity” of the earth is “below” 1 billion people. When confronted with this, he called those who quoted him “liars.” But he then repeated the same claim, saying, “All I said was that if we had unlimited global warming of eight degrees warming, maybe the carrying capacity of the earth would go down to just 1 billion, and then the discussion would be settled.” And he has often said that this temperature tipping point would be reached — unless “actions” were taken.
The man is suspicious of people. In that same interview he said, “If you want to reduce human population, there are wonderful means: Improve the education of girls and young women.” Since young women already know where babies come from, and since this knowledge tends neither to increase nor decrease population, the “education” he has in mind must be facts about how to avoid the consequences of sex. Austin Ruse discovered a 2009 talk in which Schellnhuber said the earth “will explode” due to resource depletion once the population reaches 9 billion, a number that the UN projects in 2050. Presumably he wants earth to avoid that fate, so he mustsupport the population control that Pope Francis so clearly repudiated in his encyclical.
Confirmation bias happens when a scientist manipulates an experiment so that he gets the outcome he hoped he would get. When Schellnhuber invites only believers in tipping-points-of-doom to characterize their guesses of this doom, his view that the doom is real will be confirmed. And when he publishes a paper that says, “Scientists say world is doomed” the public and politicians believe it. Scientists skeptical of the doom are dismissed because they are skeptics. This isn’t good science. It’s really bad religion, and a pagan one at that.
Global warming research is characterized by an insider’s club. If you believe, you’re in. If you doubt, you’re out. This is also so at the Pontifical Academies of Science where Schellnhuber was appointed by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The bishop locked scientists with contrary views out of the process, scientists he has repeatedly dismissed as “funded by the oil industry.” Given this, how likely is it that the Holy Father was fully aware of the views of the chief scientist who advised him?
Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change
“…On June 2, as Congress debated global warming legislation that would raise energy costs to consumers by hundreds of billions of dollars, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released an 880-page book challenging the scientific basis of concerns that global warming is either man-made or would have harmful effects.
In “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC),” coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals.
The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.
The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC’s self-imposed deadline of May 2006.
The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change. Because it is not a government agency, and because its members are not predisposed to believe climate change is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, NIPCC is able to offer an independent “second opinion” of the evidence reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). …”
Story 1: President Obama — “Good Deal” for Islamic Republic of Iran, Shia, Russia, China — Bad Deal for United States, U.S. Allies Including NATO, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Sunnis — ‘If Iran cheats, the world will know’’ After Iran Has Nuclear Weapons — Deal Not Written nor Signed — Trust Terrorists? — — Chamberlain At Least Got A Written Signed Agreement From Hitler — Peace In Our Time — Time For Military Option: Destruction of Iran’s Nuclear Facitlites –The Road To World War 3 and Nuclear Proliferation — Videos
IF – Rudyard Kipling’s poem, recitation by Sir Michael Caine
Neville Chamberlain – Peace in our Time
Peace in our Time September 1938
Obama Iran Nuclear Deal Talks — US President Barack Obama Speaks Delivers a Statement on Iran
Obama On Iran Nuclear Deal – Full Speech
What’s in the Iran nuclear framework agreement?
Historic Nuclear Deal With Iran Sparks Mixed Reviews
Bill O’Reilly – Let’s Give Iran Deal a Shot , We Don’t Want to Risk War – Fox News
Is Obama Lying About Iran Nuke Deal, Netanyahu Deal Leads to Horrific War, 0% GDP Growth
Heinonen: We Don’t Know How Many Centrifuges Iran Has
Does Iran Need 54,000 Nuclear Centrifuges?
Peters: If Israel Disappeared From The Face of The Earth Tomorrow, Obama Would Not Shed a Tear
Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, a song by Six Elements
The most important quote from Obama’s Iran deal speech
There is one quote, buried in the middle of Obama’s Thursday address on the new Iran nuclear deal, that really captures his approach to what has become one of his key foreign policy priorities. It explains both why Obama wants this deal so badly — and how he’s planning to tackle the inevitable political fallout now that a basic framework for an agreement has been struck.
Here’s the passage:
When you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented backed by the world’s powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?
The question, for Obama, isn’t whether this deal is perfect (though he clearly thinks it’s pretty good). It’s whether there are any alternatives that might be better. And the president, quite fundamentally, believes there aren’t.
Obama sees a deal with Iran as the least-worst option
As he said in the speech, Obama thinks there are only two possible alternatives to the deal that’s shaping up if the US wants to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. Either America could go to war with Iran, or it could withdraw from negotiations and hope sanctions would force Tehran to give up its hopes for a bomb.
The second option hasn’t worked so far. “Is [a deal] worse than doing what we’ve done for almost two decades with Iran moving with its nuclear program and without robust inspections?” he asked. “I think the answer will be clear.”
That leaves only one real alternative: war. Obama (along with most military experts) believes that war would delay Iran’s nuclear program at best. He believes, deeply and in his bones, that international inspections are a more effective way of stopping Iran from getting nukes — and that the consequences of war would be severe. This is, after all, a president who was elected on the basis of his opposition to the Iraq War.
This argument — that all of the alternatives to the deal are worse — also explains how Obama plans to handle the political challenges to the deal. At home, Republicans will vociferously oppose the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of America’s closest ally in the Middle East, will do the same. Both believe Iran can’t be trusted, and appear to believe that terms of this agreement aren’t enough to ensure Iran won’t get a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu and the Republicans are perhaps the most important of the “inevitable critics” Obama mentioned in his speech. His response to them is clear: what do you have that’s better? What is the credible alternative to what I’m doing, and how — specifically — could it prevent Iran from getting a bomb without taking us to war?
Or is it war you want?
This argument isn’t just an exercise in spin. If Congress chooses to pass new sanctions, and enough Democrats vote with Republicans to override Obama’s veto, it can kill the Iran deal. This line about alternatives is likely what the president and his aides will peddle to legislators, especially congressional Democrats tempted to side with Republicans, in the days to come.
Essentially, we’re about to get a test of whether enough Democrats share the president’s belief that “there is no alternative” to a deal — and whether that argument, together with partisanship and party loyalty, are enough to save the deal from the coming political fight.
Obama announces outlines of a nuclear deal: ‘If Iran cheats, the world will know’
By Juliet Eilperin
President Obama on Thursday announced a potentially historic nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the culmination of intense negotiations between the United States, Iran and several world powers.
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Obama stressed that the deal — which none of the parties involved have yet formally agreed to — represented the best possible path to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
“Sanctions alone could not stop Iran’s nuclear program, but they did help bring Iran to the negotiating table. Because of our diplomatic efforts, the world stood with us,” Obama said. “Today, after many months of tough principle diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal.
“And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives,” the president added.
[Fact sheet from State Department: Parameters of plan on Iran nuclear program]
As part of the unprecedented framework, the Iranian government has agreed not to stockpile materials it could use to build a nuclear weapon. In exchange, the United States and several world powers have agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions placed on it by the international community.
The president said that sanctions placed on Iran “for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program” will remain in place.
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Lausanne, Switzerland, said that the final agreement “will not rely on promises, it will rely on proof,” saying that diplomatic relations moving forward will depend on Iran’s compliance with the terms of the agreement.
Both the president and Kerry stressed that Iran will be under close scrutiny moving forward.
“If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it,” Obama said. “With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. So, this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.”
President Obama has made the negotiations between Iran, six major world powers and the European Union a centerpiece of his foreign policy, investing any final outcome with major potential benefits and risks.
The pact came after an all-night work session that extended well past the talks’ original deadline of March 31. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf tweeted Thursday afternoon, “For those keeping track, it’s 6am in Lausanne. That was truly an all-nighter.”
Iran, world powers agree on parameters of Iranian nuclear deal(3:01)
Negotiators from Iran and major world powers reached agreement on a framework for a final agreement to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions, participants in the talks said. (Yahoo News)
Obama had been slated to leave early Thursday afternoon to deliver an economic speech in Louisville, but remained in the White House as the deal in Lausanne, Switzerland coalesced.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted just before 1 p.m. ET, “Solutions on key parameters of Iran #nuclear case reached. Drafting to start immediately, to finish by June 30th.”
Before coming out to speak Obama spoke separately with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
According to a statement released by the White House, “The leaders affirmed that while nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.”
The president also called Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to discuss the agreement, and said during his speech he plans to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Thursday.
As Obama’s motorcade made its way to Joint Base Andrews shortly after the speech large, cheering throngs stood along the route through the Mall and along the Tidal Basin. At 3:21 p.m. the motorcade arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, roughly three hours behind schedule, and the president jogged up the stairs to Air Force One as he prepared to take off on the flight to Kentucky.
Hitting the sweet spot: How many Iranian centrifuges?
With the deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and Germany) right around the corner, the negotiating parties are starting to reveal more of their cards in hopes of striking a deal. Along with the creative solutions that the West has put on the table, there are now reports about it showing more flexibility on what remains the talks’ key sticking point: enrichment.
News reports indicate that the current numbers of centrifuges that the two sides are discussing fall in the range of about 4,000 to 5,000 of the machines. This is the “sweet spot” for both sides, when it comes to how many centrifuges Iran can have for enriching uranium.
How far both sides have come. The negotiations surrounding Iran’s enrichment capacity would make any Iranian rug merchant haggling in the bazaar proud. Many in the West were pushing for a few hundred centrifuges. This past summer, Iran’sSupreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (link in Persian) stirred things up when he put a specific number on his country’s enrichment goals. Given his status as Iran’s highest political authority, the large number he had announced made many nervous that a deal would no longer be reachable. Khamenei formulated Iran’s goal of enrichment capacity as 190,000 separative work units, or SWUs. (An SWU is a measure of the work expended during enrichment.)
For the country to be able to reach this number, Iran would likely need at least 190,000 and perhaps as many as about 243,000 first-generation centrifuges, known as IR-1 centrifuges. (The efficiency of these first-generation centrifuges varies a good deal, from about 0.78 SWU per unit per year to 0.9 SWU, but in the past couple of years most of them have been producing at the lower end of the scale. All of which means that Iran may need a lot more than first anticipated to reach the goal of 190,000 SWU produced annually.)
The news came at a time when most of those discussing Iran’s practical needs—how much fuel the country requires to keep its domestic nuclear energy program running—said they could be met with roughly 1,500 centrifuges, or fewer than one percent of Khamenei’s figure.
Tehran has made it clear that its goal is to have industrial-scale enrichment. But while fixing a clear and concrete goal, Khamenei’s speech also gave a lot of room for his negotiating team to maneuver. This part of the speech was lost in translation in the United States. Many in the arms control community and Congress focused on that 190,000 SWU figure, with those in favor of a deal becoming worried that this number would tie the hands of negotiators. Those opposing it cited this figure as a reason why the talks would fail.
In fact, what Khamenei had stated was: “Our officials say we need 190,000 SWU. It is possible this need is not for this year, the next couple of years, or the next five years, but this is the country’s undeniable need.”
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, explained Khamenei’s statement, noting that 190,000 SWU would meet the Bushehr civilian nuclear power plant’s need for fuel for one year. This wouldn’t mean that Iran could take care of all of its fuel needs domestically, but it would give it a backup plan in case its suppliers fail again. This number, however, seems way above Bushehr’s needs alone.
Oddly, while fixing a redline, Khamenei’s statement also opens the doors wider for the negotiating team—and Iran’s nuclear industry in general—on the matter. It is significant that he doesn’t give a timeline for industrial-scale enrichment.
It is also significant that Iran has been adhering to the interim deal reached in November 2013. Even though it has more advanced and efficient technologies, such as the recently installed cascades of second-generation, IR-2m centrifuges (which produce approximately 5 SWU per machine per year, or more than four or five times that of an IR-1), Iran has chosen not to feed their new machines with natural uranium hexafluoride gas—a vital step to enrichment.
And in practical terms, Iran is nowhere close to being able to produce 190,000 SWU any time soon. Of the more than 190,000 IR-1 centrifuges needed, the country currently only has approximately 20,000—and only half of those are actually operating. While Iran also has a number of centrifuges even more advanced than the IR-2m under research and development at the Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant, those centrifuges are not currently operating. And Tehran has undertaken to not install any new machines. Consequently, 190,000 SWU is not a number Iran can realistically attain any time soon.
Spinning out the implications. If the negotiating team accepts the 4,000- to 5,000-centrifuge proposal on the table, it can sell the deal back home in Iran using Khamenei’s guidelines, depending on the timeframe fixed in the final agreement. This is especially true if this proposal is part of a larger package that the team can stand behind. The current deal includes an attractive offer from the P5+1 on other sticking points, including the Arak heavy water reactor and the underground enrichment facility in Fordow.
But in Iran, the issue of enrichment is the most visible component of the nuclear talks. Many people may not be aware of the other sticking points such as Arak or Fordow, but virtually everyone in Iran is aware of the enrichment debate. Any limitation on enrichment will likely cause some factions to criticize the negotiating team, but no deal is possible without some kind of limitation. So far, the Rouhani government has let the issue of enrichment become the centerpiece of debate about the negotiations, and the only measure of the team’s success. But knowing that any deal of any kind would diminish Iran’s enrichment capacity, the government must step up and begin to publicize to the Iranian public the benefits of the other components of the agreement, such as the considerable concessions it is getting from the P5+1. This will allow the Iranian government to sell the deal as a whole, and not be judged by the number of centrifuges it is “losing.”
During his 2013 presidential campaign, Hassan Rouhani famously declared that the centrifuges should spin, but that people’s lives should run too. He hadn’t said how many centrifuges should spin but this has become one of the key issues of the first eighteen months of his presidency. Something in the range of 4,000 to 5,000 centrifuges is a good compromise, a “win-win” formula for both sides. They’ll allow the Iranian negotiating team to go back to Tehran and state that they started negotiating at a time when their opponents at the bargaining table were pushing for Iran to be limited to a few hundred centrifuges, and that the Iranian team successfully kept over half of the current operating centrifuges. They can also say that they managed to keep Arak with some design modifications, and Fordow as a research facility. Meanwhile, the White House can tell Congress that it has effectively rolled back approximately half of Iran’s enrichment capacity.
For Iran, anything less than 4,000 centrifuges will be a hard pill to swallow. The Iranian parliament, or Majles, won’t roll out a red carpet for the negotiating team if it comes back with a lower number. Likewise, on the US side, selling more than 5,000 centrifuges to Congress would be extremely difficult. Many congressmen still believe any enrichment to be a major concession to Tehran, let alone about half of the country’s current number of operating centrifuges.
With nearly a month left until the November 24 deadline, the Iranian government should step up its promotional campaign to its people regarding the negotiations, and accept a number falling between 4,000 and 5,000 centrifuges.
He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any “sense” in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told.
“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” he told Irane Farda television. “But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.
“My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more.” Mr Mottaghi was a journalist and commentator who went on to use social media successfully to promote Mr Rouhani to a youthful audience that overwhelmingly elected him to power.
But he was also subject to the bitter internal arguments within the Iranian regime. One news website claimed he had been forced in to report to the ministry of intelligence weekly, and that he had been tipped off that he might be subject to arrest had he returned to Tehran.
ISCA, which has come under fire from regime hardliners critical of Mr Rouhani, issued a statement denying that Mr Motaghi was in Lausanne to report for it.
“Amir Hossein Motaghi had terminated his contribution to ISCA and this news agency has not had any reporter at the nuclear talks, except for a photojournalist”, it said.
However, critics said Mr Mottaghi was “prey of the exiled counter-revolutionaries” and had gone to Lausanne with the sole purpose of seeking refugee status in Switzerland.
In his television interview, Mr Mottaghi also gave succour to western critics of the proposed nuclear deal, which has seen the White House pursue a more conciliatory line with Tehran than some of America’s European allies in the negotiating team, comprising the five permanent members of the UN security council and Germany.
“The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blasted the impending nuclear deal between the P5+1 world powers and the Iranian regime, calling the accord a historically bad agreement that lets Iran race towards nuclear weapons development.
“The deal emerging in Lausanne [Switzerland] sends a message that there is no cost for aggression, and in turn, that there is a reward for Iran’s aggression,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli Prime Minister vowed to continue fighting against vital threats to the national security of his country.
He added: “We will never close our eyes and we will continue to operate against every threat in every generation, and of course in this generation.”
Netanyahu predicted that many countries in the region would be immediately affected by a bad deal.
“Moderate, responsible countries in the region, primarily Israel but other countries as well, will be the first to be harmed by this agreement,” he said.
On Sunday, the Israeli Prime Minister expressed concern with the Iranian regime’s growing sphere of influence and control.
“After the Beirut-Damascus- Baghdad axis, Iran is carrying out a pincer movement from the south to take over and occupy the entire Middle East. The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous to humanity and it must be stopped,” Netanyahu said on Sunday at his weekly cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu suggested in the meeting that the impending nuclear deal likely “paves Iran’s way to the [nuclear] bomb.”
The foreign ministers of Iran and the entire P5+1 world powers met in Switzerland on Monday in hopes to secure a basic framework for a nuclear deal by Tuesday’s March 31 deadline. This marked the first time that all of the negotiating foreign minister’s gathered together at the same event.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the media, “I think it is possible to reach a deal by [Tuesday] night. The gaps are narrowing. I am always optimistic.”
“Our deadline is tomorrow night so obviously we are working very hard,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters.
The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur….
The Treaty Clause has a number of striking features. It gives the Senate, in James Madison’s terms, a “partial agency” in the President’s foreign-relations power. The clause requires a supermajority (two-thirds) of the Senate for approval of a treaty, but it gives the House of Representatives, representing the “people,” no role in the process.
Midway through the Constitutional Convention, a working draft had assigned the treaty-making power to the Senate, but the Framers, apparently considering the traditional role of a nation-state’s executive in making treaties, changed direction and gave the power to the President, but with the proviso of the Senate’s “Advice and Consent.” In a formal sense, then, treaty-making became a mixture of executive and legislative power. Most people of the time recognized the actual conduct of diplomacy as an executive function, but under Article VI treaties were, like statutes, part of the “supreme Law of the Land.” Thus, as Alexander Hamilton explained in The Federalist No. 75, the two branches were appropriately combined:
The qualities elsewhere detailed as indispensable in the management of foreign relations point out the executive as the most fit in those transactions; while the vast importance of the trust and the operation of treaties as laws plead strongly for the participation of the whole or a portion of the legislative body in the office of making them.
Another reason for involving both President and Senate was that the Framers thought American interests might be undermined by treaties entered into without proper reflection. The Framers believed that treaties should be strictly honored, both as a matter of the law of nations and as a practical matter, because the United States could not afford to give the great powers any cause for war. But this meant that the nation should be doubly cautious in accepting treaty obligations. As James Wilson said, “Neither the President nor the Senate, solely, can complete a treaty; they are checks upon each other, and are so balanced as to produce security to the people.”
The fear of disadvantageous treaties also underlay the Framers’ insistence on approval by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. In particular, the Framers worried that one region or interest within the nation, constituting a bare majority, would make a treaty advantageous to it but prejudicial to other parts of the country and to the national interest. An episode just a year before the start of the Convention had highlighted the problem. The United States desired a trade treaty with Spain, and sought free access to the Mississippi River through Spanish-controlled New Orleans. Spain offered favorable trade terms, but only if the United States would give up its demands on the Mississippi. The Northern states, which would have benefited most from the trade treaty and cared little about New Orleans, had a majority, but not a supermajority, in the Continental Congress. Under the Articles of Confederation, treaties required assent of a supermajority (nine out of thirteen) of the states, and the South was able to block the treaty. It was undoubtedly that experience that impelled the Framers to carry over the supermajority principle from the Articles of Confederation.
At the Convention, several prominent Framers argued unsuccessfully to have the House of Representatives included. But most delegates thought that the House had substantial disadvantages when it came to treaty-making. For example, as a large body, the House would have difficulty keeping secrets or acting quickly. The small states, wary of being disadvantaged, also preferred to keep the treaty-making power in the Senate, where they had proportionally greater power.
The ultimate purpose, then, of the Treaty Clause was to ensure that treaties would not be adopted unless most of the country stood to gain. True, treaties would be more difficult to adopt than statutes, but the Framers realized that an unwise statute could simply be repealed, but an unwise treaty remained a binding international commitment, which would not be so easy to unwind.
Other questions, however, remained. First, are the provisions of the clause exclusive—that is, does it provide the only way that the United States may enter into international obligations?
While the clause does not say, in so many words, that it is exclusive, its very purpose—not to have any treaty disadvantage one part of the nation—suggests that no other route was possible, whether it be the President acting alone, or the popularly elected House having a role. On the other hand, while the Treaty Clause was, in the original understanding, the exclusive way to make treaties, the Framers also apparently recognized a class of less-important international agreements, not rising to the level of “treaties,” which could be approved in some other way. Article I, Section 10, in describing restrictions upon the states, speaks of “Treat[ies]” and “Agreement[s]…with a foreign Power” as two distinct categories. Some scholars believe this shows that not all international agreements are treaties, and that these other agreements would not need to go through the procedures of the Treaty Clause. Instead, the President, in the exercise of his executive power, could conclude such agreements on his own. Still, this exception for lesser agreements would have to be limited to “agreements” of minor importance, or else it would provide too great an avenue for evasion of the protections the Framers placed in the Treaty Clause.
A second question is how the President and Senate should interact in their joint exercise of the treaty power. Many Framers apparently thought that the President would oversee the actual conduct of diplomacy, but that the Senate would be involved from the outset as a sort of executive council advising the President. This was likely a reason that the Framers thought the smaller Senate was more suited than the House to play a key role in treaty-making. In the first effort at treaty-making under the Constitution, President George Washington attempted to operate in just this fashion. He went to the Senate in person to discuss a proposed treaty before he began negotiations. What is less clear, however, is whether the Constitution actually requires this process, or whether it is only what the Framers assumed would happen. The Senate, of course, is constitutionally authorized to offer “advice” to the President at any stage of the treaty-making process, but the President is not directed (in so many words) as to when advice must be solicited. As we shall see, this uncertainty has led, in modern practice, to a very different procedure than some Framers envisioned. It seems clear, however, that the Framers expected that the Senate’s “advice and consent” would be a close review and not a mere formality, as they thought of it as an important check upon presidential power.
A third difficult question is whether the Treaty Clause implies a Senate power or role in treaty termination. Scholarly opinion is divided, and few Framers appear to have discussed the question directly. One view sees the power to make a treaty as distinct from the power of termination, with the latter being more akin to a power of implementation. Since the Constitution does not directly address the termination power, this view would give it to the President as part of the President’s executive powers to conduct foreign affairs and to execute the laws. When the termination question first arose in 1793, Washington and his Cabinet, which included Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, embraced this view. All of them thought Washington could, on his own authority, terminate the treaty with France if necessary to keep the United States neutral.
A second view holds that, as a matter of the general eighteenth-century understanding of the legal process, the power to take an action (such as passing a statute or making a treaty) implies the power to undo the action. This view would require the consent of the President and a supermajority of the Senate to undo a treaty. There is, however, not much historical evidence that many Framers actually held this view of treaty termination, and it is inconsistent with the common interpretation of the Appointments Clause (under which Senate approval is required to appoint but not to remove executive officers).
The third view is that the Congress as a whole has the power to terminate treaties, based on an analogy between treaties and federal laws. When the United States first terminated a treaty in 1798 under John Adams, this procedure was adopted, but there was little discussion of the constitutional ramifications.
Finally, there is a question of the limits of the treaty power. A treaty presumably cannot alter the constitutional structure of government, and the Supreme Court has said that executive agreements—and so apparently treaties—are subject to the limits of the Bill of Rights just as ordinary laws are. Reid v. Covert (1957). InGeofroy v. Riggs (1890), the Supreme Court also declared that the treaty power extends only to topics that are “properly the subject of negotiation with a foreign country.” However, at least in the modern world, one would think that few topics are so local that they could not, under some circumstances, be reached as part of the foreign-affairs interests of the nation. Some have argued that treaties are limited by the federalism interests of the states. The Supreme Court rejected a version of that argument in State of Missouri v. Holland (1920), holding that the subject matter of treaties is not limited to the enumerated powers of Congress. The revival of interest in federalism limits on Congress in such areas as state sovereign immunity, see Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida (1996), and the Tenth Amendment, see Printz v. United States (1997), raises the question whether these limits also apply to the treaty power, but the Court has not yet taken up these matters.
Turning to modern practice, the Framers’ vision of treaty-making has in some ways prevailed and in some ways been altered. First, it is not true—and has not been true since George Washington’s administration—that the Senate serves as an executive council to advise the President in all stages of treaty-making. Rather, the usual modern course is that the President negotiates and signs treaties independently and then presents the proposed treaty to the Senate for its approval or disapproval. Washington himself found personal consultation with the Senate to be so awkward and unproductive that he abandoned it, and subsequent Presidents have followed his example.
Moreover, the Senate frequently approves treaties with conditions and has done so since the Washington administration. If the President makes clear to foreign nations that his signature on a treaty is only a preliminary commitment subject to serious Senate scrutiny, and if the Senate takes seriously its constitutional role of reviewing treaties (rather than merely deferring to the President), the check that the Framers sought to create remains in place. By going beyond a simple “up-or-down” vote, the Senate retains some of its power of “advice”: the Senate not only disapproves the treaty proposed by the President but suggests how the President might craft a better treaty. As a practical matter, there is often much consultation between the executive and members of the Senate before treaties are crafted and signed. Thus modern practice captures the essence of the Framers’ vision that the Senate would have some form of a participatory role in treaty-making.
A more substantial departure from the Framers’ vision may arise from the practice of “executive agreements.” According to the Restatement of Foreign Relations Law of the United States, the President may validly conclude executive agreements that (1) cover matters that are solely within his executive power, or (2) are made pursuant to a treaty, or (3) are made pursuant to a legitimate act of Congress. Examples of important executive agreements include the Potsdam and Yalta agreements of World War II, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which regulated international trade for decades, and the numerous status-of-forces agreements the United States has concluded with foreign governments.
Where the President acts pursuant to a prior treaty, there seems little tension with the Framers’ vision, as Senate approval has, in effect, been secured in advance. Somewhat more troublesome is the modern practice of so-called congressional–executive agreements, by which some international agreements have been made by the President and approved (either in advance or after the fact) by a simple majority of both houses of Congress, rather than two-thirds of the Senate. Many of these agreements deal particularly with trade-related matters, which Congress has clear constitutional authority to regulate. Congressional–executive agreements, at least with respect to trade matters, are now well established, and recent court challenges have been unsuccessful. Made in the USA Foundation v. United States (2001). On the other hand, arguments for “complete interchangeability”—that is, claims that anything that can be done by treaty can be done by congressional–executive agreement—seem counter to the Framers’ intent. The Framers carefully considered the supermajority rule for treaties and adopted it in response to specific threats to the Union; finding a complete alternative to the Treaty Clause would in effect eliminate the supermajority rule and make important international agreements easier to adopt than the Framers wished.
The third type of executive agreement is one adopted by the President without explicit approval of either the Senate or the Congress as a whole. The Supreme Court and modern practice embrace the idea that the President may under some circumstances make these so-called sole executive agreements. United States v. Belmont (1937); United States v. Pink (1942). But the scope of this independent presidential power remains a serious question. The Pink and Belmont cases involved agreements relating to the recognition of a foreign government, a power closely tied to the President’s textual power to receive ambassadors (Article II, Section 3). The courts have consistently permitted the President to settle foreign claims by sole executive agreement, but at the same time have emphasized that the Congress has acquiesced in the practice. Dames & Moore v. Regan (1981);American Insurance Ass’n v. Garamendi (2003). Beyond this, the modern limits of the President’s ability to act independently in making international agreements have not been explored. With respect to treaty termination, modern practice allows the President to terminate treaties on his own. In recent times, President James Earl Carter terminated the U.S.–Taiwan Mutual Defense Treaty in 1977, and President George W. Bush terminated the ABM Treaty with Russia in 2001. The Senate objected sharply to President Carter’s actions, but the Supreme Court rebuffed the Senate in Goldwater v. Carter (1979). President Bush’s action was criticized in some academic quarters but received general acquiescence. In light of the consensus early in Washington’s administration, it is probably fair to say that presidential termination does not obviously depart from the original understanding, inasmuch as the Framers were much more concerned about checks upon entering into treaties than they were about checks upon terminating them.
A Conversation with Director General Yukiya Amano – 2015 NPC
Yukiya Amano is Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Mr. Amano served as Chair of the Agency’s Board of Governors from September 2005 to September 2006 and was Japan’s Resident Representative to the Agency from 2005 until his election as Director General in July 2009. At the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Mr. Amano was Director-General for the Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department from 2002 until 2005. He previously served as a governmental expert on the U.N. Panel on Missiles and on the U.N. Expert Group on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education. A graduate of the Tokyo University Faculty of Law, Mr. Amano joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry in April 1972, when he began a series of international postings in Belgium, France, Laos, Switzerland, and the United States.
IAEA Chief Urges Iran to Keep Its Promises on Nuclear Program
Director of the IAEA: We have never said that Iran has a nuclear weapon program, or nuclear weapons
Iran isn’t providing needed access or information, nuclear watchdog says
By Steven Mufson
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran has failed to provide the information or access needed to allay the agency’s concerns about the weapons potential of the country’s nuclear program.
With the deadline nearing for international talks on constraining Iran’s nuclear program, Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, said in an interview that Iran has replied to just one of a dozen queries about “possible military dimensions” of past nuclear activities.
Amano said that Iran has provided only “very limited” information about two other issues, while the rest have not been addressed at all.
“Recently, the progress is very limited,” he said.
The IAEA is the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, and its inspections are considered a key safeguard against countries using civilian nuclear energy technology to produce weapons. Failure by Iran to comply with IAEA demands would undermine the country’s efforts to win the lifting of U.N. sanctions.
Amano said that the six global powers negotiating with Iran should insist that the country implement the additional protocol that would allow IAEA inspectors to go anywhere at any time to examine sites suspected of harboring secret nuclear weapons development.
He said that he spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Feb. 7 in Munich but noted that Iran has not yet provided the information the agency needs.
Amano met early Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry. He was scheduled to meet later with President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice.
That additional protocol, Amano said, will be “very much needed. It will give us more powerful tools to look at activities not declared to us.” He said that in the past the agency has had two to four inspectors in Iran, but that recently there have been as many as 10.
Iran signed the protocol in December 2003 and initially implemented it, Amano said, but the country ended its compliance in 2006.
Amano said that near the top of his list of unanswered questions about possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear activities was the Parchin military complex. He said that the IAEA has information that Iran conducted experiments in a high-explosive chamber there.
“We would like to have access, and we would like to clarify,” Amano said. He said Iran had twice given IAEA inspectors access to the base, but he added that Parchin “is a huge area with many buildings.” Now, he said, the IAEA thinks it has identified “the right place to visit,” but its access has been blocked.
After the agency requested admittance to that area in late 2011, it observed by satellite extensive landscaping, demolition and new construction there.
Amano said that looking at sites with military nuclear potential was “like a jigsaw puzzle.” He said, “As we have a better understanding of one issue, we have better understanding of another issue.”
Amano said that the IAEA’s failure to detect Iraq’s nuclear weapons program in the 1980s had forced the agency to demand unfettered access to countries suspected of building weapons in secret.
In openly declared sites, he said, the agency places cameras and seals in strategic places so that it can “detect abnormalities in a timely manner,” ranging from a day to a week.
Amano’s comments come after a Feb. 19 report the agency sent to member governments that complained about Iran’s lack of responsiveness. The report said: “The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”
Although Iran has declared to the IAEA 18 nuclear facilities and nine other locations where nuclear material is used, the agency said in its report that it “is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Story 1: Part 2 Commentary On: Three Cheers For Netanyahu’s Warning To American People About Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic State and Three Thumbs Down On Obama’s Bad Deal With The Iranian Republic On Developing Nuclear Weapons And Intercontinental Missiles — “Your Enemy of Your Enemy Is Your Enemy” — Restore Severe Sanctions On Iran Immediately — Take Out The Nuclear Weapons Facilities With Israel Defense Forces – Stop Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Forever Now! — Videos
Iran Nuclear Site: Natanz Uranium Enrichment Site
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A Briefing on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Iranium – The Islamic Republic’s Race to Obtain Nuclear Weapons
O’Reilly on Iran Nuclear Deal: ‘Let’s See It’
Sen Rand Paul sounds off on Iran nuclear negotiations latest news today
Kerry says demanding Iran’s ‘capitulation’ is no way to secure nuclear deal
Benjamin Netanyahu speech to congress 2015 – Prime Minister of Israel Address Meeting of Congress
Benjamin Netanyahu speech to congress 2015 – Prime Minister of Israel Address Joint Meeting of Congress benjamin netanyahu speech to congress Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Address to a Joint Meeting of Congress Netanyahu on Tensions Over Iran Speech to Congress FULL Benjamin Netanyahu Speech To US Congress Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress The quickest of takes are already coming in, but few seem to agree about whether Netanyahu’s speech was a boom or a bust for President Obama and talks with Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Address to a Joint Meeting of Congress
“This was a speech the American people needed to hear, plain and simple. It addressed the gravity of the threats we face and why we cannot allow a nuclear Iran, or any semblance of a path to a nuclear Iran. It demonstrated why there is such deep-seated – and bipartisan – concern about the deal that is being made. I thank my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, who took the time to hear the Prime Minister’s address on behalf of their constituents, and I hope all Americans will have the chance to see it for themselves.” – Speaker John Boehner
Kerry says demanding Iran’s ‘capitulation’ is no way to secure nuclear deal
Iran Nuclear Talks Advancing, no Deal Likely Next Week
Negotiations on an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program have advanced substantially, but difficult issues remain and a senior U.S. official said he did not expect a deal in the coming week. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will join in talks next week between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Montreux, Switzerland. The United States and five major powers are seeking a deal under which Iran would restrain its nuclear program in exchange for the gradual easing of economic sanctions that have crippled the oil exporter’s economy. Washington and some of its allies believe Iran is seeking to develop an atomic bomb, which they regard as a direct threat to Israel as well as to Arab allies of the United States. Iran says its program is solely for peaceful purposes such as power generation.
Kerry Tries to Ease Gulf Countries’ Concerns On Iran Nuclear Talks
Krauthammer: Sanctions on Iran Are Only Way to Avoid Capitulation or War
Iran rejects US Nuclear Freeze Call
Rubio to Iran: You Can Have An Economy or Nukes Program, Not Both
Graham Discusses Secretary’s Kerry’s Testimony on U.S.-Iran Nuclear Negotiations
DNI James Clapper on Israel, Iran and Nuclear Negotiations (Mar. 2, 2015) | Charlie Rose
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, talks to Charlie Rose about the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and whether the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services are “on the same page” regarding their assessment of Iran’s capabilities. The full interview airs March 2, 2015 on PBS.
Ambassador John Bolton, American Enterprise Institute CPAC 2015
John Bolton: Obama giving Iran “an open path to nuclear weapons”
“The odds are right now the deal will be signed and that Iran will have an open path to nuclear weapons…there’s no guarantee that the verification mechanisms that are required are going to work. You really think we really know everything about Iran’s nuclear weapons program, like whether some of it’s being conducted in North Korea? I have no faith in our verification capabilities, number one. Number two, to the extent Iran is allowed any continuing uranium enrichment capability at all, and that’s where the administration’s concessions are moving, it has in its hands the long pole in the tent that any aspiring nuclear weapons state wants” he said. Adding that appeasing Iran is “par for the course for the Obama administration. The negotiation with Iran over its nuclear weapons program is a policy of appeasement, and the president is desperate to get this deal done so it doesn’t slip between his fingers.”
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History of Modern Iran A Nuclear Islamic Republic – BBC Documentary – YouTube
Like Israel, U.S. Arab Allies Fear Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal
Kerry Visiting Saudi Arabia to assuage concerns
By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
DUBAI—It isn’t just about Bibi.
The Israeli prime minister’s public confrontation with PresidentBarack Obama over the U.S. administration’s pursuit of a nuclear bargain with Iran may have drawn all the spotlight this week. But America’s other key allies across the Middle East—such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates—are just as distraught, even if they lack the kind of lobbying platform that Benjamin Netanyahu was offered in Congress.
These nations’ ties with Washington have already frayed in recent years, dented by what many officials in the region describe as a nagging sense that America doesn’t care about this part of the world anymore.
Now, with the nuclear talks nearing a deadline, these allies—particularly in the Gulf—fret that America is about to ditch its long-standing friends to win love from their common foe, at the very moment that this foe is on the offensive across the region.
“A lot of the Gulf countries feel they are being thrown under the bus,” said Mishaal al-Gergawi, managing director of the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi and a prominent Emirati political commentator. “The Gulf thought it was in a monogamous relationship with the West, and now it realizes it’s being cheated on because the U.S. was in an open relationship with it.”
Trying to assuage such concerns, Secretary of State John Kerry flew Wednesday to Saudi Arabia. There, he is slated to discuss with King Salman and foreign ministers of other Gulf nations their worries that the nuclear deal may enable Iran to dominate the region.
In remarks after Mr. Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday, Mr. Obama acknowledged Iran’s “ambitions when it comes to territory or terrorism”—but argued that “if, in fact, they obtain a nuclear weapon, all those problems would be worse.”
Steven Simon, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who served as senior director for Middle East and North Africa at the White House in 2011-12, noted that the Gulf countries—while genuinely alarmed by the U.S. outreach—can’t really propose a viable alternative.
“The alternative to what the administration is doing with Iran is war,” he said. “And I don’t think the Saudis and the Emiratis and others are actually prepared for war.”
America’s other key allies across the Middle East are just as distraught about Obama’s pursuit of a nuclear grand bargain with Iran. WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov discusses. Photo: AP
A joint effort to contain Iran and its proxies after the 1979 Islamic revolution was the key reason for the massive architecture of military, political and economic ties that the U.S. built with its regional allies in recent decades.
Even before the revolution, Iran tried to dominate the Gulf, laying claim to Shiite-majority Bahrain and seizing disputed islands claimed by the U.A.E.
Taking advantage of the Obama administration’s attempt to pivot away from the region, Tehran in recent years asserted its influence in Baghdad and solidified its control in Damascus and Beirut. Last month, pro-Iranian Houthi Shiite militias seized power in Yemen’s capital San’a and ousted that country’s U.S.-backed president.
The Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia that are engaged in proxy conflicts with Tehran in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon view this confrontation as an existential zero-sum game—and interpret any American opening to Iran, and any relaxation of the economic sanctions that have hobbled Iran’s ability to project power, as succor to the enemy.
“Some of these countries are more worried about the consequences of the deal, about how it will change the balance of power in the region, rather than the actual contents of the deal,” explained Ali Vaez, Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. These fears are overblown, he said: “The reality is that the U.S. may have a tactical overlap in its interests in the region with Iran, but strategically it sees the region in a very different way.”
That may be true, but this tactical overlap has already created strategic consequences in the crucial battlefields of Syria and Iraq, cementing Iran’s sway in both nations.
The White House decision to focus the U.S. military effort exclusively on Islamic State, sparing the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has allowed the regime and its Iranian-backed allies to regain ground there.
This means that even the fighters of the U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, which is supposed to help defeat Islamic State one day, are no longer sure about which side Washington really supports.
“America wants to back whoever is stronger, and the strongest now are Iran and Bashar. This is clear to all people,” said Bakri Kaakeh, a senior FSA officer in Aleppo province.
In Iraq’s war against Islamic State, the U.S. has in fact become a cobelligerent with Iran, which maintains brutal Shiite militias and is directly involved in running major campaigns, such as the current assault on the Sunni city of Tikrit.“Any opportunities that the Arab countries will have to undermine the deal, they will not miss it,” said Riad Kahwaji, CEO of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai. “They will all conclude that the U.S. is no longer a reliable strategic ally, and that the U.S. can sell them out any minute.”
John Kerry in Switzerland before flying to Saudi Arabia Wednesday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Moeen al-Kadhimi, a senior commander in the largest Iraqi Shiite militia, Badr, which is armed by Iran and staffed with Iranian advisers, said he’s yearning for the day when Tehran and Washington will finally reconcile.
“It’s our wish as Iraqis for this to happen. We will be happy, and the entire Middle East will be stabilized,” he said.
Stability under an Iranian tutelage, of course, isn’t the most desirable outcome for other powers in the region, particularly in the Gulf. The big question is what can these allies do about it.
Not much, said Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think tank close to the Obama administration.
“All of the fuss shows how much they need America. Who are they going to turn to? Russia or China?” he wondered. “ No one has the security footprint, capabilities, and network of partnerships across the region.”
But that doesn’t mean the disgruntled allies won’t start looking for ways to torpedo any U.S. opening to Iran—and for alternatives, including a nuclear option of their own, if that fails. Their dismay with the administration’s Iran policy—while not displayed as publicly as Mr. Netanyahu’s—is just as strong.
… Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it’s good to see you back on your feet.
I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down.
My friends, I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.
I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.
I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.
I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.
Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.
Now, some of that is widely known.
Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.
Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.
I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.
In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.
Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.
In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.
And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.
But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.
Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.
Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Israel.
My friends, I’ve come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.
But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.
The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran’s borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.”
I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That’s just last week, while they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.
Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.
In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.
Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I’d like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever.
Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don’t need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.
Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.
The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.
Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.
And if — if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.
True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here’s the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don’t stop them.
Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.
Now, we’re warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.
Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It’s done that on at least three separate occasions — 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.
Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock — as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught — caught twice, not once, twice — operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.
Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don’t know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, “If there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one.” Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that’s why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.
But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran’s nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.
Iran’s Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.
My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.
Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.
So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?
Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite — would only wet Iran’s appetite for more.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world’s: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel’s neighbors — Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.
And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won’t change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that’s supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.
This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.
If anyone thinks — if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don’t have to gamble with our future and with our children’s future.
We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.
Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second…
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.
If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
My friends, what about the argument that there’s no alternative to this deal, that Iran’s nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?
Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn’t get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can’t drive. A pilot without a plan can’t fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can’t make nuclear weapons.
Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.
And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.
My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.
Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true.
The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.
A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country…
… no country has a greater stake — no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.
Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.
My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, “never again.”
And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.
But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.
I know that you stand with Israel.
You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.
Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.
And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.
The prospective agreement is to be achieved based on the context of the Geneva agreement, officially titled the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). The Geneva agreement was an interim deal forged on November 24, 2013, under which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program for relief from some sanctions. The interim agreement went into effect on January 20, 2014. Later the parties agreed to extend their talks. The first extension deadline was set to 24 November 2014and, when it expired, the second extension deadline was set to 1 July 2015.
Catherine Ashton and Javad Zarif in final news conference; The negotiation was described “Useful”.
The first round of negotiations was held at the UN’s center in Vienna from February 18 to 20, 2014. A timetable and framework for negotiating a comprehensive agreement was achieved, according to Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Second round: 17–20 March
Diplomats from the six nations, as well as Ashton and Zarif, met again in Vienna on March 17, 2014. A series of further negotiations were to be held before the July deadline.
Fourth round: 13–16 May
This fourth round of Vienna negotiations ended on May 16. The Iranian and U.S. delegations headed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political AffairsWendy Sherman held a bilateral meeting. Both sides intended to begin drafting a final agreement, but made little progress. A senior U.S. official said “We are just at the beginning of the drafting process and we have a significant way to go,” while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters that “the talks were serious and constructive but no progress has been made” and “we have not reached the point to start drafting the final agreement.” The U.S. official emphasized that negotiations had been “very slow and difficult,” saying talks would resume in June and all parties want to keep the July 20 deadline and adding: “we believe we can still get it done.” Negotiators had made progress on one issue, the future of Iran’s planned Arak reactor, but remained far apart on whether Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium should shrink or expand. The U.S. delegation also raised the issues of Iran’s ballistic missile program and military dimensions of its past nuclear research. EU High RepresentativeCatherine Ashton conducted negotiations with Zarif and Wendy Sherman joined the talks at the end the last meeting.
Fifth round: 16–20 June
The fifth round of talks ended on June 20 “with substantial differences still remaining.” The negotiating parties will meet again in Vienna on July 2. Under Secretary Sherman noted after the talks that it was “still unclear” whether Iran would act “to ensure the world that its nuclear program was strictly meant for peaceful purposes.” Foreign Minister Zarif said the United States was making unreasonable demands of Iran, saying “the United States must take the most difficult decisions.”
Under the Geneva interim agreement Iran agreed to convert some of its up to 5 percent LEU into an oxide powder that is not suitable for further enrichment. According to the monthly IAEA report released during this round the conversion of LEU has not been started yet. This means that Iran’s LEU stockpile “is almost certainly continuing to increase for the time being, simply because its production of the material has not stopped, unlike that of the 20 percent uranium gas.”
Sixth (final) round: 2–20 July
The sixth round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group started in Vienna on 2 July 2014. The parties are headed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif conduct a bilateral meeting in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western foreign ministers arrived at Vienna to break a deadlock in the nuclear talks with Iran, but their joint efforts failed to advance the negotiations. “There has been no breakthrough today,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague on 13 July 2014 after meetings with the foreign ministers of USA, France, Germany and Iran. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “It is now time for Iran to decide whether they want co-operation with the world community or stay in isolation.” The European foreign ministers left Vienna the same day. The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the talks had “made some important headway.”  After three days of talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister Secretary of State Kerry headed back to Washington where he will consult with President Barack Obama and Congress leaders. No decision on an extension of negotiations beyond the July 20 deadline has been taken yet. In order to continue talks a decision of each member of P5+1 is required.
Wrapping-up the sixth round the Foreign Minister Zarif said that the achieved progress convinced the sides to extend their talks and the ultimate deadline would be November 25. He also expressed the hope that the new British foreign secretaryPhilip Hammond “will adopt a constructive diplomacy” towards Iran. Several sources reported that all parties were prepared to extend negotiations but extension faced opposition in the U.S. Congress. Republicans and Democrats in Congress made it clear that they view a prolongation of the talks as allowing Iran to play for time. The Republican chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign AffairsEd Royce said he hoped “the administration will finally engage in robust discussions with Congress about preparing additional sanctions against Iran”.
Before the expiration of the six months imposed by the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) the sides agreed to extend negotiations by four months with a final deadline set for 24 November 2014. Additionally, in exchange for Iranian consent to convert some of its 20% enriched uranium into fuel for a research reactor, United States will unblock $2.8 billion in frozen Iranian funds. Negotiations will resume in September. John Kerry said that tangible progress had been made, but “very real gaps” remained. Ed Royce stated that he did not see “the extension as progress”.
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has testified before the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the status of the talks. At her testimony on July 29, 2014 she said: “We made tangible progress in key areas, including Fordow, Arak, and IAEA access. However, critical gaps still exist…” Both Republicans and Democrats have insisted that a final agreement be put to a vote.
Negotiations under the First Extension of JPA
Seventh (first extended) round: New York
Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program were resumed on 19 September 2014. They started on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts were given the opportunity to join the talks. The talks were planned to last until September 26.
Eighth round: Vienna
Negotiating teams of Iran and the P5+1 have held their eighth round of talks in Vienna on 16 October 2014. The meeting was led jointly by Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative Ashton and the parties made an effort to sort out their differences. Ashton’s spokesman stated: “Diplomatic efforts to find a resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue are now in a critical phase”.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov pointed that the issues of Iran’s enrichment programme, the schedule for sanction lifting and the future of the reactor in Arak were not settled and the subjects of inspection and transparency, duration of the agreement and some others were not completely agreed yet. Ryabkov expressed his opinion that a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran will require no ratification. “We are negotiating a binding document, but under a generally recognized doctrine international political liabilities are equated with legal,” he said and admitted that some resolutions of the Security Council on Iran will need to be adjusted.
Ninth round: Muscat
The round of talks took place on November 11 in the Omani capital Muscat and lasted one hour. At the meeting, Iranian deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi exchanged views with their counterparts from the P5+1. The round, chaired by former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, was scheduled to brief the P5+1 members on Kerry and Zarif’s talks. Local media reported that some representatives of the parties remained in Muscat to continue the talks.
Tenth round: Vienna
Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 resumed in Vienna on 18 November 2014 with participation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU chief negotiator Catherine Ashton, and foreign ministry officials. The talks were supposed to continue until the November 24 deadline.
P5+1 Ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna, Austria, November 24, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry, after meeting British and Omani foreign ministers in London and Saudi and French foreign ministers in Paris, will arrive in Vienna for talks with Zarif and Ashton. Kerry’s meetings with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal were considered critical. After his Paris talks with Kerry Saudi Foreign Minister was due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
At IAEA meeting held on 20 November in Vienna the agency’s Director General Yukiya Amano, referring to allegations related to Iran’s engagement in weaponization activities, said that “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures.” The same day at a press conference in Brussels The International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) presented its 100-page investigation report and claimed that Iran was hiding its nuclear military program inside a civil program. The report was endorsed by John Bolton and Robert Joseph and authored by ISJ President Alejo Vidal‐Quadras, a professor in nuclear physics and the former Vice-President of the European Parliament.
The tenth round of nuclear negotiations and the first extension of the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 have ended on November 24. The two sides have failed to cut a deal at this round of talks and agreed to extend the Joint Plan of Action for the second time. The new deadline for a comprehensive deal was set to July 1, 2015. British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said it was not possible to meet the November deadline due to wide gaps on well-known points of contention. He stressed that while July 1 was the new deadline, the expectation was that broad agreement would be in place by March 1. According to Hammond, expert level talks will resume in December and Iran will receive about $700 million per month in frozen assets.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a press conference after the Vienna talks: “Today the Iranian nuclear program is internationally recognized and no one speaks about our enrichment right…” While answering a question about “fundamental gaps over how much enrichment capacity Iran would be allowed to retain”, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a news conference: “I’m not going to confirm whether or not there’s a gap or not a gap or where the gaps are. There obviously are gaps. We’ve said that.”
Negotiations under the Second Extension of JPA
Eleventh round: Geneva
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 were resumed on 17 December 2014 in Geneva and lasted one day. No statements were issued after the closed-door talks either by the U.S. negotiating team or by EU spokesmen. Deputy foreign minister Araqchi said that it was agreed to continue the talks “next month” at a venue to be decided. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said that Arak heavy-water reactor and sanctions against Iran were the two key outstanding issues in the nuclear talks.
Twelfth round: Geneva
The round, held at the level of political directors of Iran and the P5+1, took place on January 18, 2015 following the four-day bilateral talks between the United States and Iran. EU political director Helga Schmid chaired the meetings. After the talks France’s negotiator Nicolas de la Riviere told reporters: “The mood was very good, but I don’t think we made a lot of progress.” “If there is progress it is a very slow one and there are no guarantees that this progress will transform into a decisive shift, breakthrough, into a compromise,” Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov told journalists, adding that “major disagreements remain on the majority of disputed issues.” 
Thirteenth round: Geneva
Representatives of Iran and the P5+1 met on February 22 at the EU mission in Geneva. Nicolas de la Riviere said after the meeting: “It was constructive, we will know results later.”
Bilateral and trilateral talks
U.S.-Iran bilateral talks
According to a statement of the U.S. State Department bilateral nuclear consultations between the U.S. and Iranian officials “will take place in the context of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations”. The talks were held August 7 in Geneva and only few details about them were provided. The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and included Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan, national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. The Iranian delegation included Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi.
Deputy Minister Abbas Araqchi said that the bilateral talks were useful and focused on “the existing differences” in the negotiations. Deputy Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi made it clear that Iran will not accept a weak enrichment programme, while saying “we will not accept that our uranium enrichment programme becomes something like a toy”.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, John Kerry and Catherine Ashton at a trilateral meeting in New York, September 26, 2014
The second round of the bilateral talks between representatives from the USA and Iran took place in Geneva on September 4–5. The negotiations consisted of 12 hours long political talks and 8 hours long expert talks. The third round of the bilateral talks between the two countries took place in New York on September 18, 2014.
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. has turned negotiations with Iran into a series of bilateral talks between the two countries that “race to seal a deal”.Gary Samore, former White House coordinator for arms control and WMD, participating in a panel, said: “Any deal will have to be struck between Washington and Tehran and then ratified by the P5+1 and ultimately the UN Security Council.”
On October 14 Iranian negotiators headed by the deputy foreign minister held a bilateral meeting with Senior U.S. Officials William Burns and Wendy Sherman in Vienna. Among other issues the negotiators set the stage for the trilateral meeting with Secretary Kerry, Baroness Ashton, and Foreign Minister Zarif that was convened for the next day.
The US and Iranian delegations met on December 15 to 16 in Geneva in preparation for the multilateral talks, led by the US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi. A member of Tehran’s team told IRNA that uranium enrichment and how to remove sanctions were sticking points in the bilateral talks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif met with Secretary of State John Kerry on January 14 in Geneva and on January 16 in Paris. According to Al-Monitorthe negotiators have worked intensively to try draft a joint document called the Principles of Agreement. The document is supposed to be an element of the framework agreement between Iran and P5+1, which is to be completed by March.
Two rounds of bilateral negotiations between Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry occurred on February 6 and 8 on the sidelines of the Security Conference in Munich. During the conference, Mohammad Zarif gave an interview in which he claimed that IAEA inspected Iran for 10 years or more and found no evidence that Iran’s program wasn’t peaceful. He also claimed that JPA did not imply step-by-step removal of sanctions and the removal of sanctions has been “a condition for an agreement”. Foreign Minister Zarif stated: “I don’t think if we don’t have an agreement, it’ll be the end of the world. I mean, we tried, we failed, fine.” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, who also took part in the conference, pointed out that Iran must provide urgent clarification on key aspects of its nuclear program. Making this more specific Yukiya Amano said: “Clarification of issues with possible military dimension and implementation of the Additional Protocol and beyond is essential.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif held three bilateral meetings in Geneva on February 22 and 23.The Associated Press reported progress on a deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then “ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms.” After the talks Mohammad Zarif spoke about “a better understanding” between the parties and John Kerry said: “We made progress.” The columnist Charles Krauthammer commented on the leaked “sunset clause” that an agreement, containing this and other concessions to Iran, will mean “the end of nonproliferation.”
U.S.-EU-Iran trilateral talks
Iran, EU and U.S. held two trilateral meetings at the foreign minister level in New York in September 2014. The U.S. State Department has argued that there are points when it makes sense for the foreign ministers at the trilateral level to get together to talk. “In part because the majority of the sanctions are EU and U.S., the trilateral makes sense.”
On October 15 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Secretary of State John Kerry have met again, this time in Vienna. A senior U.S. Department of State official said at a briefing with reporters that the parties were focused on the November 24 deadline and had not discussed an extension of the talks. The negotiators were working on a full agreement – the understandings and the annexes to them. “This is a situation where unless you have the detail, you do not know that you have the agreement,” explained the official.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have held talks on November 9–10 inMuscat seeking to bridge differences on a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Officials from all delegations have abstained from briefing reporters. The talks ended without an imminent breakthrough.
After arriving in Viena on 20 November John Kerry met for more than two hours with Mohammad Zarif and Catherine Ashton. It was not reported whether they made any headway.
Uranium stockpile and enrichment
Diagram of nuclear power and weapons cycle
Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity is the biggest stumbling block in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement. The Security Council in its resolution 1929 has required Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. For many years the United States held that no enrichment program should be permitted in Iran. In signing the Geneva interim agreement the U.S. and its P5+1 partners shifted away from zero enrichment to limited enrichment objective. Additionally, they have determined that the comprehensive solution will “have a specified long-term duration to be agreed upon” and once it has expired Iran’s nuclear program will not be under special restrictions.
Limited enrichment would mean limits on the numbers and types of centrifuges. Shortly before the comprehensive negotiations began, Iran was estimated to have 19,000 centrifuges installed, mostly first generation IR-1 machines, with about 10,000 of them operating to increase the concentration of uranium-235. The Iranians strive to expand their enrichment capacity by a factor of ten or more while the six powers aim to cut the number of centrifuges to no more than a few thousand.
Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the IAEA, said in a radio interview that the agency does not have a complete picture of Iran’s nuclear profile since inspectors have been kept out of some sites. In particular, IAEA has not been able to assess “how much uranium has been produced in Iran over these years” and to verify the completeness of Iran’s declaration about the number of its centrifuges. Heinonen also pointed out that Iran has an “unfortunate history of misleading and not disclosing all its nuclear material.”
Western analysts argued there were two distinct paths to deal with Iran’s nuclear program: complete dismantling or allowing limited activities while preventing Iran from a nuclear “breakout capability”. The measures that would lengthen breakout timelines include “limits on the number, quality and/or output of centrifuges”. The former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security AffairsRobert Joseph has argued that attempts to overcome the impasse over centrifuges by using a malleable SWU metric “as a substitute for limiting the number of centrifuges is nothing more than sleight of hand.” He has also quoted former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “any enrichment will trigger an arms race in the Middle East.”
In order to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes, constraints should be put on its uranium enrichment. This should include the number and quality of centrifuges, research and development of more advanced centrifuges, the size of low-enriched uranium stockpile. The constraints are interrelated with each other – the more centrifuges Iran would have, the less stockpile the U.S. and P5+1 can accept, and vice versa. Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, estimated in May 2014 that Iran’s stockpile was large enough to build 6 nuclear weapons and it had to be reduced.Lengthening breakout timelines requires a substantial reduction in enrichment capacity and many experts talk about an acceptable range of about 2000-6000 first-generation centrifuges. But Iran stated that it wants to extend its capability substantially. In May 2014 Robert J. Einhorn, former Special Advisor on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the U.S. State Department, expressed confidence that if Iran will continue to insist on that huge number of centrifuges, there would be no agreement, since this robust enrichment capacity would bring the breakout time down to weeks or days.
Plutonium production and separation
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that a good deal will be one that cuts off Iran’s uranium, plutonium and covert pathways to obtain nuclear weapon. Secretary of State John Kerry has testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and expressed great concerns about the Arak nuclear reactor facility. “Now, we have strong feelings about what will happen in a final comprehensive agreement. From our point of view, Arak is unacceptable. You can’t have a heavy-water reactor,” he said. President Barack Obama, while addressing the House of Representatives and Senate, emphasized that “these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb.”
Arak Heavy Water Reactor (IR-40)
Despite these statements, some analysts have feared that Obama administration might accept dangerous concessions to achieve a deal with Iran. For example, Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and Chief of Staff to Undersecretaries of State for Arms, believed that such concessions were being proposed, and, as he explained: “… most dangerous is that we are considering letting Iran keep the Arak heavy water reactor which will be a source of plutonium. Plutonium is the most desired nuclear fuel for a bomb, it has a lower critical mass, you need less of it which is important in building missile warhead.”
The head of Atomic Energy Organization of IranAli Akbar Salehi said in an interview that the heavy water reactor of Arak was designed as a research reactor and not for plutonium production. It will produce about 9 kg of plutonium but not weapons-grade plutonium. Dr. Salehi explained that “if you want to use the plutonium of this reactor you need a reprocessing plant”. “We do not have a reprocessing plant, we do not intend, although it is our right, we will not forgo our right, but we do not intend to build a reprocessing plant.” Further in the interview Salehi expressed his opinion that the pressure on Iran has not been genuine, it has been just an excuse to put “political pressure” and the concern about developing nuclear weapons was “fabricated”.
According to information provided by the Federation of American Scientists, a sizable research program involving the production of heavy water might raise concerns about a plutonium-based weapon program, especially if such program was not easily justifiable on other accounts. Gregory S. Jones, a senior researcher and a defense policy analyst, warned that if the heavy-water-production plant at Arak was not dismantled, Iran would be granted a “plutonium option” for acquiring nuclear weapons in addition to the dangerous centrifuge enrichment program.
According to an editorial in the Washington Post, the most troubling part of the Geneva interim agreement has been the “long-term duration” clause. This provision means that when the duration expires, “the Iranian nuclear program will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party” to the NPT. Thus, once the comprehensive agreement expires, Iran will be able to install an unlimited number of centrifuges and produce plutonium without violating any international accord.” Many Western analysts have referred to the comprehensive agreement as a “final” nuclear agreement with Iran “but clearly it will only be a long-term interim agreement”.
Iran wants any agreement to last for at most 5 years while the U.S. prefers 20 years. The twenty years is viewed as a minimum amount of time to develop confidence that Iran can be treated as other non-nuclear weapon states and allow the IAEA enough time to verify that Iran is fully compliant with all its non-proliferation obligations.
The Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in May 2014: “Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. … This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought.” This and other declarations of jihadist principles by Ayatollah Khamenei leave no doubt about Iran’s adoption of religiously-inspired combat against the U.S. and the West. These principles include aramesh (hudna) and such a truce cannot exceed 10 years.
Some analysts suggested that if a single 20-year duration for all provisions of the agreement is too constraining, it would be possible to agree on different durations for different provisions. Some provisions could have short duration, and others could be longer. A few constraints, like enhanced monitoring at specific facilities, could be permanent.
Possible covert paths to fissile material
Fordow Underground Fuel Enrichment Facility near Qom
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. “We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so,” Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said, according to a translation of an interview with him. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pronounced a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa’s actual existence.
The Iranian uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz (FEP and PFEP) and Fordow (FFEP) were constructed covertly and designed to operate in a similar manner. The facilities were declared by Iran only after they were revealed by other sources. Thus, only in September 2009, Iran notified the IAEA about constructing the Fordow facility. The 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimateon Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions stated among the key judgments : “We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.” Additionally the Estimate stated that after 2003 Iran has halted the covert enrichment for at least several years.
The Estimate also stated: “We assess with moderate confidence that Iran probably would use covert facilities — rather than its declared nuclear sites — for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon.” Despite this assessment some analysts have argued that negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, as well as most public discussions, were focused on Iran’s overt nuclear facilities while there existed alternative paths to obtain fissile material. Graham Allison, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Oren Setter, a research fellow at Belfer Center, compared this approach with Maginot’sfixation on a single threat “that led to fatal neglect of alternatives”. They have pointed out at least three additional paths to obtain such material:
Hybrid pathway (a combination of overt and covert paths)
Some sources published recommendations for agreement provisions relating to monitoring and verification in order to prevent covert activities and to provide tools to react if needed. One of the sources warned the P5+1 that “if the monitoring elements that we recommend are not pursued now to diminish the risks of deception, it is difficult to envision that Iran would be compliant in the future, post-sanctions environment.” According to the recommendations the agreement with Iran should include:
A requirement to cooperate with the IAEA inspectors in compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions
Monitoring of nuclear research and development (R&D)
Defining certain activities as breaches of the agreement that could provide basis for timely intervention
According to multiple resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1929), enacted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, Iran is obligated to cooperate fully with the IAEA on “all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA…” On 11 November 2013 the IAEA and Iran signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to cooperate and resolve all present and past issues in a step by step manner. As a first step, the Framework identified six practical measures to be completed within three months. The IAEA reported that Iran had implemented those six measures in time. In February and May 2014 the parties agreed to additional sets of measures related to the Framework. In September the IAEA continued to report that Iran was not implementing its Additional Protocol, which is a prerequisite for the IAEA “to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities.” Under those circumstances, the Agency reported it will not be able to provide “credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”
The implementation of interim Geneva Accord has involved transparency measures and enhanced monitoring to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. It was agreed that the IAEA will be “solely responsible for verifying and confirming all nuclear-related measures, consistent with its ongoing inspection role in Iran”. IAEA inspection has included daily access to Natanz and Fordow and managed access to centrifuge production facilities, uranium mines and mills, and the Arak heavy water reactor. To implement these and other verification steps, Iran committed to “provide increased and unprecedented transparency into its nuclear program, including through more frequent and intrusive inspections as well as expanded provision of information to the IAEA.”
Yukiya Amano and Mohammad Javad Zarif
Thus, there have been two ongoing diplomatic tracks — one by the P5+1 to curb Iran’s nuclear program and a second by the IAEA to resolve questions about the peaceful nature of Iran’s past nuclear activities. Although the IAEA inquiry has been formally separate from JPA negotiations, Washington said a successful IAEA investigation should be part of any final deal and that may be unlikely by the deadline of 24 November 2014.
One expert on Iran’s nuclear program, David Albright, has explained that “It’s very hard if you are an IAEA inspector or analyst to say we can give you confidence that there’s not a weapons program today if you don’t know about the past. Because you don’t know what was done. You don’t know what they accomplished.” Albright argued that this history is important since the “infrastructure that was created could pop back into existence at any point in secret and move forward on nuclear weapons.”
Iranian and IAEA officials met in Tehran on 16 and 17 August 2014 and discussed the five practical measures in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation agreed in May 2014.Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, made a one-day visit to Tehran on August 17 and held talks with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials. After the visit Iranian media criticized the IAEA while reporting that President Rouhani and the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Salehi both tried “to make the IAEA chief Mr. Amano understand that there is an endpoint to Iran’s flexibility.” The same week Iranian Defense MinisterHossein Dehghan said that Iran will not give IAEA inspectors access to Parchin military base. Yukiya Amano has noted previously that access to the Parchin base was essential for the Agency to be in position to certify Iran’s nuclear programme as peaceful. Tehran was supposed to provide the IAEA with information related to the initiation of high explosives and to neutron transport calculations until August 25, but it failed to address these issues. The two issues are associated with compressed materials that are required to produce a warhead small enough to fit on top of a missile. During its October 7–8 meetings with IAEA in Tehran, Iran failed to propose any new practical measures to resolve the disputable issues.
Nuclear-related issues beyond the negotiations
There are many steps toward nuclear weapons. However, an effective nuclear weapons capability has only three major elements:
Fissile or nuclear material in sufficient quantity and quality
Effective means for delivery, such as a ballistic missile
Design, weaponization, miniaturization, and survivability of the warhead
Evidence presented by the IAEA has shown that Iran has pursued all three of these elements: it has been enriching uranium for more than ten years and is constructing a heavy water reactor to produce plutonium, it has a well-developed ballistic missile program, and it has tested high explosives and compressed materials that can be used for nuclear warheads.
Some analysts believe that Iran’s nuclear program should be negotiated in its entirety — it must include not only fissile material discussions but also ballistic missile development and weaponization issues.
Priorities in monitoring and prevention
Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State, has explained in his recent book (2014): “The best—perhaps the only—way to prevent the emergence of a nuclear weapons capability is to inhibit the development of a uranium-enrichment process …”
Joint Plan of Action has not explicitly addressed the future status of Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, having been an interim agreement, it could not take into account all the issues that should be resolved as part of a comprehensive agreement. If a comprehensive agreement with Iran “does not tackle the issue of ballistic missiles, it will fall short of and may undermine … UN Security Council Resolutions.” Moreover, shifting “monitoring and prevention aims onto warheads without addressing Iran’s ballistic missile capacity also ignores U.S. legislation that forms the foundation of the sanctions regime against Iran”.
Additionally, “monitoring warhead production is far more difficult than taking stock” of ballistic missiles and the U.S. government is far less good at detecting advanced centrifuges or covert facilities for manufacturing nuclear warheads.
Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and a holder of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), highlighted the view that the U.S. and other members of the P5+1, along with their attempts to limit Iran’s breakout capability and to prevent it from getting even one nuclear device, should mainly focus “on reaching a full an agreement that clearly denies Iran any ability to covertly create an effective nuclear force.”
Ballistic missile program
Iran’s ballistic missiles have been tied to its nuclear-weapons program. Security Council Resolution 1929 “decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” In May–June 2014 a U.N. Panel of Experts submitted a report pointing to Iran’s engagement in ballistic missile activities. The Panel reported that over the last year Iran has conducted a number of ballistic missile test launches, which were a violation of paragraph 9 of the resolution.
The United States and its allies view Iran’s ballistic missiles as a subject for the talks on a comprehensive agreement since they regard it as a part of Iran’s potential nuclear threat. Members of Iran’s negotiating team in Vienna insisted the talks won’t focus on this issue.
A few days before May 15, date when the next round of the negotiations was scheduled, Iran’s Supreme Leader AyatollahAli Khamenei told the IRNA news agency that Western expectations on limits to Iran’s missile program were “stupid and idiotic” and called on the country’s Revolutionary Guards to mass-produce missiles.
In his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services, Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Michael Singh argued “that Iran should be required to cease elements of its ballistic-missile and space-launch programs as part of a nuclear accord.” This question was off the table since Iran’s Supreme Leader has insisted that Iran’s missile program is off-limits in the negotiations and P5+1 officials have been ambiguous.
According to Debka.com, U.S. in its direct dialogue with Iran outside the P5+1 framework demanded to restrict Iran’s ICBM, whose 4,000 kilometers range places Europe and the United States at risk. This demand did not apply to ballistic missiles, whose range of 2,100 km covers any point in the Middle East. These medium-range missiles may also be nuclear and are capable of striking Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.
Iranian Defense MinisterHossein Dehghan stated at a press conference on August 2014 that Iran’s missile capability issue was not included in the comprehensive talks with the P5+1 countries and “will by no means be negotiated with anyone”.
In a Senate committee hearing former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz has expressed believe that Iran’s missile program and its ICBM capability, as well as its support of the terrorism, should also be on the table.
Possible military dimensions
Since 2002, the IAEA has become concerned and noted in its reports that some elements of Iran’s nuclear program could be used for military purposes. More detailed information about suspected weaponization aspects of Iran’s nuclear program – the possible military dimensions (PMD) – has been provided in the IAEA reports issued in May 2008 and November 2011. The file of Iran’s PMD issues included development of detonators, high explosives initiation systems, neutron initiators, nuclear payloads for missiles and other kinds of developments, calculations and tests. The Security Council Resolution 1929 reaffirmed “that Iran shall cooperate fully with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA.”
In November 2013 Iran and the IAEA have signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to resolve all present and past issues. In the same month the P5+1 and Iran have signed the Joint Plan of Action, which aimed to develop a long-term comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA continued to investigate PMD issues as a part of the Framework for Cooperation. The P5+1 and Iran have committed to establish a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation of the Joint Plan and “to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern” with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including PMD of the program and Iran’s activities at Parchin. Some analysts asked what happens if Iran balks and IAEA fails to resolve significant PDM issues. According to the U.S. Department of State, any compliance issues wouldn’t be discussed by the Joint Commission but would be dealt “at the expert level, and then come up to the political directors and up to foreign ministers if needed.” Thus, an unresolved issue might be declared sufficiently addressed as a result of a political decision.
Prior to the signing of an interim nuclear agreement, it was commonly understood in Washington that Iran must “come clean about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program,” as Undersecretary Wendy Sherman testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2011. The Iranians have refused to acknowledge having a weaponization program. Meanwhile, analysts close to the Obama administration begin to boost so-called limited disclosure option.Nevertheless, 354 members of U.S. Congress were “deeply concerned with Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” On October 1, they sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry stating that “Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement.”
Some organizations have published lists of suspected nuclear-weaponization facilities in Iran. Below is a partial list of such facilities:
Institute of Applied Physics (IAP)
Kimia Maadan Company (KM)
Parchin Military Complex
Physics Research Center (PHRC)
Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC)
In September 2014 the IAEA reported about ongoing reconstructions at Parchin military base. The Agency has anticipated that these activities will further undermine its ability to conduct effective verification if and when this location would be open for inspection. A month later, The New York Times reported that according to a statement by Yukiya Amano, the IAEA Director General, Iran had stopped answering the Agency’s questions about suspected past weaponization issues. Iran has argued that what has been described as evidence is fabricated. In his speech at Brookings Institution Yukiya Amano said that progress has been limited and two important practical measures, which should have been implemented by Iran two months ago, have still not been implemented. Mr. Amano stressed his commitment to work with Iran “to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme”. But he also warned: “this is not a never-ending process. It is very important that Iran fully implements the Framework for Cooperation – sooner rather than later.”
Supreme leader’s Fatwa against nuclear weapon
Ali Khamenei, Iranian leader issued a Fatwa (religious edict) denouncing nuclear weapon and calling it as “Haraam” (Forbidden by religion). American officials noticed the topic several times and called it as a point to start discussions. In an interview in Jordan, Kerry said he respect the idea.
Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa’s actual existence.
Ayatollah Jalal Ganje’i, a ayatollah based in Paris, has given a detailed explanation why it is “more than evident” that there is no fatwa to back up the regime’s officials when they claim that Iran has only peaceful intentions for its nuclear program. Ayatollah Ganje’i has concluded his comments as follows: “President Obama and other Western leaders cannot set policy according to non-binding and easily reversible remarks by Khamenei. Doing so would put the world in great peril on the basis of a fantasy.” The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made “a clear-cut distinction between the notion of pure Islam of the Prophet Mohammad and the American-style Islam”, but ‘Paris-style’ Islam has not been declared illegal.
The head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said in April 2014 that a dispute between world powers and Iran over its heavy water reactor at Arak had been “virtually resolved” and the reactor will be redesigned to produce one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned for it.
In May 2014, after the fourth round closing, Abbas Araqchi announced on Iranian TV that Arak reactor will remain a heavy water facility and would continue its work with 40 megawatts of power.
In June 2014, Salehi announced that Iran was redesigning the Arak reactor to produce less than 1 kg of plutonium per year, compared to 9–10 kg per year with the original design. Princeton University experts had proposed a redesign involving changing the reactor’s fuel and reducing its power level, with a similar effect on plutonium production. However, the concern remained that this redesign could be reversed.
After the sixth round of negotiations Abbas Araqchi had made clear that “any agreement about Arak or Fordo nuclear facilities is denied”.
France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on June 10, 2014 that the biggest point of disagreement in the talks is how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed. The six powers say Iran may keep some hundreds of centrifuges while the Iranians say they require hundreds of thousands of centrifuges. “…what is the purpose of having thousands of centrifuges if we’re not heading towards an atomic bomb? So the question that will be asked