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Sunday, August 23, 2015

David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon, "Future Risks of an Iran Nuclear Deal": Serious Reporting From The New York Times

If you wondered whether The New York Times is capable of serious reporting concerning Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, beyond the insipid cheer leading that has characterized the newspaper's op-ed page, David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon have provided the answer. In a Times article entitled "Future Risks of an Iran Nuclear Deal," Sanger and Gordon acknowledge:

"Even some of the most enthusiastic backers of the agreement, reached by six world powers with Iran, say they fear Mr. Obama has oversold some of the accord’s virtues as he asserts that it would 'block' all pathways to a nuclear weapon.
A more accurate description is that the agreement is likely to delay Iran’s program for a decade and a half — just as sanctions and sabotage have slowed Iran in recent years. The administration’s case essentially is that the benefits over the next 15 years overwhelmingly justify the longer-term risks of what comes after.

. . . .

[A]fter 15 years, Iran would be allowed to produce reactor-grade fuel on an industrial scale using far more advanced centrifuges. That may mean that the warning time if Iran decided to race for a bomb would shrink to weeks, according to a recent Brookings Institution analysis by Robert J. Einhorn, a former member of the American negotiating team.

Critics say that by that time, Iran’s economy would be stronger, as would its ability to withstand economic sanctions, and its nuclear installations probably would be better protected by air defense systems, which Iran is expected to buy from Russia."

Sanger and Gordon proceed to observe:

"Under restrictions imposed by the accord, Iran would need a full year to produce enough nuclear material for a bomb; currently that timeline is two or three months, according to American intelligence agencies. But starting at year 10, that 'breakout time' would begin to shrink again, as Iran gets more centrifuges into operation."

However, Israeli intelligence believes that breakout time under the agreement would be significantly shorter, and The Institute for Science and International Security recently concluded that breakout time under the deal could be as short as seven months if advanced IR-2m centrifuges are re-installed during a breakout.

Sanger and Gordon go on to say:

"Some backers of the agreement are urging the White House and Congress to do more. Mr. [Adam] Schiff and Mr. [Dennis] Ross [who has not decided if he backs the deal] suggested in interviews that the United States should put Iran on notice that its production of highly enriched uranium after the main provisions of the accord expire would be taken by American officials as an indication that Iran has decided to pursue nuclear weapons — and could trigger an American military strike.

And both said the United States should also be prepared to provide bunker-busting bombs to Israel to deter Iran from trying to shield illicit nuclear work underground. Others have called for a long-term congressional 'authorization to use military force' if Iran violated the accord.

Mr. Ross has also urged the White House to specify the penalties for smaller violations of the accord, an idea Mr. Obama rejected in his letter, saying he wanted to maintain 'flexibility' to decide what responses might be needed."

"Trigger an American military strike"? "Authorization to use military force"? "Specify penalties for smaller violations"? Sorry, but none of these things are going to happen. Obama, who learned how awkward "red lines" can prove after threatening Assad re the use of chemical weapons, has no intention of acting forcefully so near the end of his second term, and certainly will not allow himself to be painted into another ugly corner.

Sanger and Gordon further observe regarding the "'24-day' rule for resolving disputes if Iran refuses to give inspectors access to a suspicious site — another measure that expires after 15 years," that "reimposing sanctions could be politically challenging" and that "some experts say that Iran could cover up smaller-scale illicit activities [within the 24-day time frame], including work on the specialized high-explosives that might serve as a trigger in a nuclear bomb."

Regrettably, Sanger and Gordon do not mention Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's red line: "I have already asserted that no inspection of military sites can ever be done." Or stated otherwise, the IAEA is free to look where we're not engaged in illicit activities, provided we receive a 24-day warning; however, all other locations are off limits.

Bottom line, Gordon and Sanger are telling us that notwithstanding everything that Obama and friends are busy telling us, Iran can, within weeks, build a nuclear arsenal after 15 years - if it doesn't find a way to cheat, e.g., work out of North Korea, long before then.

How reassuring . . .

1 comment:

  1. Over the weekend, the media knew what Caddell and Schoen were saying and posting about the 'death' of the Democratic Party (too late for Harry Reid!):

    "...The contempt that the president and John Kerry showed by taking this agreement to the UN before submitting it to Congress and the American people was reckless. They are not only thumbing their noses at the American people and Congress, but they are showing contempt for the primacy of our system of checks and balances and they could be setting up the Democratic party for years of attacks of “you caused this!” every time Iran behaves in a threatening manner.

    Should Obama veto a bill blocking the Iran deal and defy the will of Congress, he would once again find himself on the wrong side of public opinion: 61 percent of voters would want a veto overridden. If a veto is sustained solely by Democrats two-thirds of respondents, including a plurality of Democrats say they would blame the Democratic party if Iran got a nuclear weapon or used the money from sanction relief to support terrorist attacks on Israel.

    seems Iran will not even consider re-opening the USA embassy in Teheran: [from Reuters]

    "... Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, asked if Tehran would now countenance a restoration of the US diplomatic mission, said the United States’ “illogical attitude” towards Iran meant the time was not ripe for a similar move with Washington.

    “It seems that there needs to be a change in that kind of attitude and behavior on the part of the U.S. So the situation is different with the U.S.,” he said. ..."

    not even a packet of pistachio nuts for #44's legacy...
    and North Korea threatening war