by Bob Quasius – The Obama Administration is claiming a historic victory in the Geneva agreement for an Iran nuclear deal. However, Israel disagrees:
“What was accomplished last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it’s a historic mistake” – Benjamin Netanyahu
However, as always the devil is in the details, and this deal isn’t even a permanent deal but rather a six month interim deal with many loose ends still being resolved. Iran is already claiming the Obama administration misrepresented the deal.
Years ago I learned after lengthy negotiations between Japan and Germany, the diplomats each brought home different agreements, one in German; the other in Japanese. The German version committed Japan to much more than the Japanese version. Since few understood both languages this went unnoticed for decades, until a translator compared an English translation of the German version to the Japanese version, and discovered Germany and Japan didn’t agree to the same terms; Japan committed to much less than Hitler wanted! Apparently not reaching agreement would have been a loss of face for General Oshima, so a bad agreement was better than no agreement at all. The politics of diplomacy hasn’t changed!
Obama claims all of Iran’s 20% enriched Uranium will be turned into oxide. According to Iran, half will be used for the Tehran Research Reactor and the rest diluted, which means it can be enriched again later.
The most difficult part of making a nuclear weapon is getting enough 90% highly enriched Uranium. A simple bomb design itself is not difficult, and plans for the original Hiroshima bomb are readily available. Uranium enrichment technology is dual-use, meaning the same centrifuges that make low enriched Uranium can also be configured to make highly enriched Uranium.
By achieving 20% enrichment capability, Iran is already most of the way to 90% enrichment, according to most experts. The final sprint to fielding a nuclear weapon after mastering the fuel enrichment cycle can be as short as 1-2 months after the final decision is made to actually build nukes.
Iran already has enough enriched Uranium to make four nuclear bombs should they decide to enrich from 5% and 20% to 90% needed for bombs. Four nuclear bombs is enough for Iran to obliterate tiny Israel, but that’s only if Iran can actually deliver four nukes atop missiles. One bomb would be needed for a test to know if Iran’s design even works, and if the devices are as crude as North Korea’s, it might take 2-3 tests to get the design right.
Then, because Israel has advanced Arrow II anti-ballistic missile defenses, it would take enough missiles to overwhelm Israel’s defenses and still deliver four nukes on Israeli cities. Bottom line, if Iran weaponized all it’s enriched Uranium it presently has it still wouldn’t be enough to achieve its goal. The solution for Iran, facing a potential strike from Israel was simple: buy more time to accumulate more enriched Uranium before that final sprint to nuclear weapons capability!
The Geneva deal basically limits Iran from EXPANDING it’s programs with advanced centrifuges, but Iran already has 25,000 centrifuges in operation, and over the next six months no doubt will accumulate much more 5% enriched Uranium, which can later be enriched further to highly enriched Uranium for nukes.
The deal does absolutely nothing to impede Iran’s rapid progress towards fielding better medium and long range ballistic missiles.
Meanwhile, while the interim deal is in-place, there is tremendous pressure on Israel, Saudi Arabia, and allies not to act militarily because Iran has already “agreed” to a deal, even though they weren’t invited to the negotiating table and don’t agree at all with what was agreed to. If you were Israel and a nation that repeatedly threatened to wipe you off the face of the Earth was aggressively pursuing nuclear technology, would you stand by idly?
Nuclear programs are notoriously to monitor effectively, and Iran has a long history of deception, hidden nuclear sites, etc. The deal doesn’t even include inspection of some known sites, such as Parchin, where experts Iran has already conducted explosives tests for nuclear weapons designs. Iran’s new president was also Iran’s chief negotiator for years, and now brags about how he deceived the Western powers while Iran massively expanded their nuclear program from a research program to full-fledged development. Here he brags about how Iran vastly expanded its program under cover of useless talks at which Iran offered nothing of substance.
Make no mistake about it. Iran is the big winner here, and Israel and the Gulf states the big losers. However, Israel might just decide to even the playing field by destroying Iran’s nuclear sites with military action, and it appears the Saudis and others will let them use their air space. Who knows, the Saudis are afraid enough of a nuclear-armed Iran that the Saudis might even follow-on and attack Iran’s nuclear sites as well.
The deal that really needed to be made in Geneva was dismantling of Iran’s Uranium enrichment altogether. By leaving fuel enrichment intact, Iran now has the time it needs to accumulate enough low enriched Uranium to later make the final steps to build 1-2 dozen nukes needed to bomb Israel back to the stone age. However, Israel is not likely to stand by idly and allow that to happen.
In my opinion, war is imminent in the Middle East. The parallels between Geneva 2013 and Münich 1938 are striking. The Münich appeasement delayed the inevitable invasion of Czechoslovakia by six months, while giving the weak-kneed politicians who negotiated it a popularity boost at home. It’s no coincidence Obama’s approval ratings are lagging badly after multiple train wrecks in Obamacare, the economy, and immigration reform.
Iran gets badly needed funds to keep it’s economy from collapsing, and may delay fielding nuclear weapons by six months until a time when Iran can make enough nukes to achieve it’s long term goal of annihilating tiny Israel.
Israel would respond to an attack by flattening Iran with its own nukes, but Iran’s leaders don’t care because they belong to the 12th Imam cult which features an apocalyptic worldview and believe heaven awaits them, 47 virgins and all. One can’t take past assumptions about more rational but aggressive players like the old Soviet Union and apply to Iran’s current leadership. I don’t believe for a moment most Iranian people want war, but Iran is led by extremists with fanatical views, not representative at all of the Iranian people.
Iran’s theocracy has total control over the levers of power, and even has the ability to remove candidates they don’t like from the ballots. Democracy in Iran is an illusion, as any would-be candidate that doesn’t share the worldview of Iran’s ayatollahs will never be on the ballot. Free speech and even the internet are subject to the heavy hand of censorship. In short, despite the illusion of elections, Iran is a totalitarian state with religious fanatics at the helm.
Bob Quasius is the founder and president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans, and began his professional career as a civilian engineer working for the Navy nuclear propulsion program.