Saturday, November 23, 2013

Our ‘Sucker’s Deal’ with Iran

Charles Krauthammer

A president desperate to change the subject and a secretary of state desperate to make a name for himself are reportedly on the verge of an “interim” nuclear agreement with Iran. France called it a “sucker’s deal.” France was being charitable.

The only reason Iran has come to the table after a decade of contemptuous stonewalling is that economic sanctions have cut so deeply — Iran’s currency has collapsed, inflation is rampant — that the regime fears a threat to its very survival.

Nothing else could move it to negotiate. Regime survival is the only thing the mullahs value above nuclear weapons. And yet precisely at the point of maximum leverage, President Obama is offering relief in a deal that is absurdly asymmetric: The West would weaken sanctions in exchange for cosmetic changes that do absolutely nothing to weaken Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Don’t worry, we are assured. This is only an interim six-month agreement to “build confidence” until we reach a final one. But this makes no sense. If at this point of maximum economic pressure we can’t get Iran to accept a final deal that shuts down its nuclear program, how in God’s name do we expect to get such a deal when we have radically reduced that pressure?
A bizarre negotiating tactic. And the content of the deal is even worse. It’s a rescue package for the mullahs.

It widens permissible trade in oil, gold, and auto parts. It releases frozen Iranian assets, increasing Iran’s foreign-exchange reserves by 25 percent while doubling its fully accessible foreign-exchange reserves. Such a massive infusion of cash would be a godsend for its staggering economy, lowering inflation, reducing shortages, and halting the country’s growing demoralization. The prospective deal is already changing economic expectations. Foreign oil and other interests are reportedly preparing to reopen negotiations for a resumption of trade in anticipation of the full lifting of sanctions.
And for what? You’d offer such relief in return for Iran’s giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Isn’t that what the entire exercise is about?
And yet this deal does nothing of the sort. Nothing. It leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact. Iran keeps every one of its 19,000 centrifuges — yes, 19,000 — including 3,000 second-generation machines that produce enriched uranium at five times the rate of older models.
Not a single centrifuge is dismantled. Not a single facility that manufactures centrifuges is touched. In Syria, the first thing the weapons inspectors did was to destroy the machines that make the chemical weapons. Then they went after the stockpiles. It has to be that way. Otherwise, the whole operation is an exercise in futility. Take away just the chemical agents, and the weapons-making facilities can replace them at will.
Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing with Iran. The deal would deactivate its 20 percent enriched uranium, which, leaving aside the fact that deactivation is chemically reversible, is quickly replaceable because Iran retains its 3.5 percent uranium, which can be enriched to 20 percent in less than a month.
Result: Sanctions relief that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure untouched, including — and this is where the French gagged — the plutonium facility at Arak, a defiant alternative path to a nuclear weapon.
The point is blindingly simple. Unless you dismantle the centrifuges and prevent the manufacture of new ones, Iran will be perpetually just a few months away from going nuclear. This agreement, which is now reportedly being drafted to allow Iran to interpret it as granting the “right” to enrich uranium, constitutes the West legitimizing Iran’s status as a threshold nuclear state.
Don’t worry, we are assured. The sanctions relief is reversible. Nonsense. It was extraordinarily difficult to cobble together the current sanctions. It took endless years of overcoming Russian, Chinese, and Indian recalcitrance, together with foot-dragging from Europeans making a pretty penny from Iran.
Once the relaxation begins, how do you reverse it? How do you reapply sanctions? There is absolutely no appetite for this among our allies. And adding back old sanctions will be denounced as a provocation that would drive Iran to a nuclear breakoutexactly as Obama is today denouncing congressional moves to increase sanctions as a deal-breaking provocation that might lead Iran to break off talks.
The mullahs are eager for this interim agreement with its immediate yield of political and economic relief. Once they get it, we will have removed their one incentive to conclude the only agreement that is worth anything to us — a verifiable giving up of their nuclear program.
Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2013 the Washington Post Writers Group
Nov 22, 2013 | Melanie Phillips
It’s 1938 all over again

When Hassan Rouhani was elected President of Iran, western leaders declared, in the teeth of stark evidence to the contrary, that this man was a reformer. So they rushed to do a deal with him over Iran’s nuclear programme, considered by the west to be a threat to the free world.
But Rouhani does not run Iran. The man who actually calls the shots – the only man who matters – is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Earlier this week, Khamenei said the Jews of Israel ‘cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them’ and that Israel was ‘the rabid dog of the region’.
What do you do with rabid dogs? That’s right: you put them down. That’s what Khamanei intends to do to the Jews of Israel. That’s why he says Israel is ‘doomed to collapse’ and why his regime has repeatedly declared it will wipe Israel ‘off the page of history’. Dehumanising the Jews: ring any bells? Know what happened next? But it’s not just the Jews who are in Iran’s sights. It’s the west, upon which it has been waging a self-declared war since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
‘Death to America! Death to Israel!’ chanted the crowd in response. Yup, that’s the agenda. Always has been. And they mean it.
That’s why Iran wants nuclear weapons. That’s why its nuclear programme poses such a mortal threat not just to Israel but to Britain, America and Europe. That’s why Iran is the principal terrorist regime in the world and why it has murdered countless western victims. That’s why Britain, America and Europe said it was ‘unthinkable’ that Iran should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
The most stunning aspect of the Iranian war against the west, however, is that since 1979 the west has effectively denied that it is taking place. When its civilians were murdered in terrorist atrocities with Iran’s fingerprints all over them, when its soldiers were blown up in Iraq by Iranian roadside bombs, when British Royal Navy personnel were kidnapped at gunpoint by Iranian forces on the high seas and held hostage for 13 days, the west turned the other way and refused to retaliate.
Iran has been protected throughout by a mysterious cloak of denial and paralysis. The west took the decision that acts of Iranian aggression and mass murder were to be absorbed without any response. For the west, war with Iran has always been seen as infinitely worse than war by Iran – regardless of the body count of its innocent victims. And now this suicidal farce has reached its last act – with the west tragically still in appeasement mode.
Obama’s White House and Britain’s Foreign Office, not to mention the apology for a statesman that is Baroness Ashton, the EU’s Foreign Affairs High Representative, are gagging to do a deal with the Khamenei regime – even though this has made it crystal clear that it will never yield at all on the central demand that it halt its progress towards nuclear weapons. What is currently on the table is a deal that will allow Iran to keep all its centrifuges and proceed inexorably to make its nukes, with the sanctions that have finally begun to bite being eased in return for precisely nothing. The west is now on the verge of handing to Iran on a plate what it once said was ‘unthinkable’. Obama, Ashton and Cameron might as well go to Tehran and wave a white flag.
There are persistent if unconfirmed reports that a deal with Iran was stitched up long ago by the very radical Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s most trusted and Iranian-born adviser. Whether or not this is true, what we are seeing playing out before our eyes could hardly be more disturbing. Presented with unambiguous evidence of the Supreme Leader’s genocidal prejudice towards the Jews of Israel, the Obama administration merely flapped the limpest of wrists. A spokesman said Khamenei’s remarks were ‘not helpful’, while Secretary of State John Kerry said: ‘Obviously we disagree with it profoundly’.
‘Disagree profoundly’ that the Jews are not human and like ‘rabid dogs’, eh. As if psychopathic racism is a debating-society proposition! But then, this is the same Kerry who told American law-makers to ignore any concerns the Israelis might express and to stop listening to them. After all, who cares what the putative victims of genocide say when they are only Jews who are still banging their own unhelpful drum! Only after Israel had expressed shock at the US response was Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN (who herself has a history of deeply questionable attitudes towards Israel) wheeled out to call Khamanei’s remarks ‘abhorrent’. Who do they think they're kidding? The hostility towards Israel being displayed by the Obama administration is as clear as it is shocking.
The rationale being offered by US officials in background briefings is no less jaw-dropping. This is how it goes. Measures to stop Iran from making the nuclear bomb will make the regime even more determined to make the bomb. So it’s smart not actually to stop Iran making the bomb. But not stopping it making the bomb, allowing the centrifuges to spin and enrichment to continue, also means it will make the bomb. So it’s win-win for Iran. World loses.
How’s that hope’n’change thingy working out for you right now?
We are indeed now facing the unthinkable. Not just that Iran is on the verge of being allowed to proceed to nuclear capability. The really unthinkable reality is that the enemies of the civilised world are not just to be found in Tehran. They are also in London, Brussels and Washington DC.

No comments: