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National Security issues pertaining to Iran

Prevendra - Iranian Nuclear Power Plants

Iranian nuclear accord deserving of skepticism or buying diplomatic space?

PDF of the full text of the

Prevendra - Iranian Nuclear Power PlantsThe Sunday news of an Iranian nuclear accord having been signed in which Iran had agreed to allow its nuclear program to be rolled back was exceptionally good news, a historic agreement indeed. An agreement which immediately brought to the forefront speculation of  the union of two strange bedfellows – Israel and Saudi Arabia – as both had been projecting how neither was happy with the agreement. But such was not the case, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came forward with a tepid endorsement, according Aljezzera , “The kingdom said it hoped that this agreement would be followed by further steps that would guarantee the rights of all states in the region to peaceful nuclear energy.” Which left Israel as the lone disapproving voice, with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, calling it a “historic mistake” and warning that his country would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

Given Iran’s track record when it comes to use of chemical weapons (Iran-Iraq war) and the manner in which it has extended its foreign policy in Lebanon (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Forces) and the sponsorship of terrorism (Ministry of Intelligence and National Security), Israel has every right to be skeptical.

Perhaps we should all be skeptical. Fully justified when one reviews the verbiage of the four page agreement (full document provided above) and understand how the Iranian nuclear accord lacks specifics. The determined efforts of the permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Germany and Iran have collectively come up with an agreement which in the grand scheme of things is both obtuse and lacking in specifics. Perhaps we should read this as a letter of intent. And thus the devil will literally be in the details. So why this historic pact, written with such ambiguity?

Prevendra - Hassan RouhaniIran

The answer, I believe, lays in Iran. I’ve been following Iran and Iranian affairs for quite a few years, since the 1979-81 “Hostage crisis” to be specific. I believe this loosely worded pact allow Iranian President  Hassan Rouhani sufficient latitude to appeal to the populace in Iran. The reactions seen throughout Iran of euphoria, should signal to the Iranian leadership that their citizens want such an accord. The euphoria should also signal to the leadership of Iran, we voted you into power to bring Iran back into the mainstream of international commerce and trade.

In the international game of nuclear chess, the move is Iran’s.

The following piece from the Guardian – speaks to Israel’s skepticism.


Powered by article titled “Obama admits Israel has good reason for scepticism over Iran nuclear deal” was written by Dan Roberts in Washington, for The Guardian on Monday 25th November 2013 11.00 UTC

Barack Obama sought to cement a rare policy breakthrough over Iran this weekend with a flurry of phone calls designed to shore up support in Congress and reassure sceptical foreign allies.

After months of domestic policy setbacks, the agreement in Geneva of a deal to place strict restraints on Iran’s nuclear programme, in return for an easing of sanctions and with the aim of preventing the country developing a nuclear weapons capacity, promises to mark a turning point in the president’s troubled second term. But the White House must first convince critics in Washington that negotiators have not conceded sanctions relief too readily, and Obama is anxious to deter efforts in the Senate to impose fresh economic sanctions.

Efforts to win over key lawmakers began within hours of the deal being struck in Geneva on Saturday night and continued on Sunday with a phone call to Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, an arch-critic of the agreement.

The White House said “the two leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” during the phone call, and said that Obama “told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution”.

The White House added that Obama “underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions. The president and prime minister agreed to stay in close contact on this issue as the P5+1 [the US, China, Russia, France, Great Britain and Germany] and Iran negotiate a long-term solution over the next six months”.

Early reaction in Washington suggested that the six-month deal’s package of more intrusive inspections and enrichment restrictions, while not enough to persuade all Republicans, may prove sufficiently robust to avoid an embarrassing rebellion on Capitol Hill.

“Well, the deal’s been made,” said Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee. He argued that the pact must not “become the norm” for a longer-term agreement with Iran.

“I think it’s now time for Congress to weigh in,” Corker told Fox News Sunday, “because I think people are very concerned that the interim deal becomes the norm, and that’s why I’ve crafted legislation to hold the administration and the international community’s feet to the fire over the next six months to ensure that this interim deal is not the norm.

“I think you will see a bipartisan effort that this will not be the final agreement.”

Senior Democrats in the Senate were more supportive, suggesting that Obama will have sufficient political backing to prevent the deal from being undermined in Washington. “By any standard, this agreement is a giant step forward and should not be undermined by additional sanctions at this time,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, who had previously voiced suspicion of Iranian motives.

More hawkish Republicans expressed their scepticism. Saxby Chambliss, the vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, told ABC’s This Week: “Nothing in the details [of the deal] moves us in the direction of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” On CNN’s State of the Union, Ed Royce, the chair of the House foreign affairs committee, said: “They [Iran] are a state sponsor of terrorism, trying to get a bomb.”

For Obama to successfully trumpet the diplomatic breakthrough as a personal achievement will require days of careful political messaging. A similar White House success, in removing chemical weapons from Syria, was undermined domestically by a widespread perception that Obama had stumbled upon a solution thanks to help from Russia rather than deserving praise as the primary architect of the deal.

Within minutes of the Iran deal being struck, Obama made a surprise late-night appearance before cameras in the White House, to insist that his brand of compromise was the key to progress this time around.

“Ultimately, only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program,” he said. “As president and commander-in-chief, I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict.”

He also paid tribute to Congress for creating an environment for the deal to happen.

“Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today,” Obama said. “Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress. However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions – because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.”

White House officials were also keen to stress that the public talks in Geneva were only the tip of a wider diplomatic effort to reach out to Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani, that had been underway for months in private.

“Over the course of the last several months of very intensive diplomacy in September, October and November of this year, we had some limited bilateral discussions with the Iranians,” said a senior administration official on Saturday night. “[It is] important to understand that this builds on a several-year effort, one of the leading priorities for President Obama”.

The White House also sought to counter arguments that it was naive in its dealings with Rouhani, insisting that a staged approach to containing the Iranian nuclear threat was the only practical way to proceed.

“We, frankly, just believe that you weren’t going to get to an end state from a standing start, so we needed to put this in place to halt the progress of the Iranians while we negotiate that final step,” said another official.

Sceptics in Washington will demand further signs of progress before crediting Obama with the lasting diplomatic achievement he craves, but for the first time since his re-election last year the president is on the verge of a major public success. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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