How long it will take Iran to get nukes — rather than preventing Iran from getting them — seems to be the major issue now being discussed by the P5 + 1 negotiators. What impact, if any, will the mess in Iraq have?
The P5 + 1 “deal”
According to a Washington Free Beacon article posted on June 19th titled U.S., Iran Experts Dispute Nuclear Bomb ‘Breakout’ Timeline,
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Iran has the ability to produce highly-enriched uranium for one bomb in two months, if it so decided. . . . Western officials and experts say this potential timeline must be substantially extended under any deal to end the decade-old nuclear dispute. [Emphasis added.}
The article assumes that Iran does not already have nukes, despite the non-inspection of military sites where she had allegedly been testing them, machining Uranium for warheads and developing missiles with which to deliver them. Missile development, testing and Iran’s other military activities are not dealt with by the November 2013 framework for the P5 +1 discussions. As I noted in an article titled The Iran Scam continues,
The text of the English language version of the P5+1 “deal” is available here and the text of the January 16th White House summary of the recent agreement to go forward by reducing sanctions and beginning inspections of some (but not all) Iranian nuclear facilities is available here. I posted articles about the November 24th “deal” here and here and the White House summary here. The first two minutes and eleven seconds of the video embedded below provide a concise summary of what has been happening.
An article by Elliot Abrams re-published at Israel Hayom questions whether, in view of the current disagreements between Iran and the United States about what the “deal” means, there is really a deal. I am concerned that there is a “deal” but that it has little to do with Iran’s continued development of nuclear weaponry. There has been substantial albeit unilluminating media praise — particularly outside of Israel – for the “deal.” However, with rare exceptions U.S. and European media have provided little coverage of the omissions of both the P5+1 “deal” and the January 16th White House summary to deal effectively with Iran’s aggression oriented nuclear facilities and efforts – her Parchin military facility, development of nuclear warheads and missiles with which to deliver them.
The Washington Free Beacon article linked above continues with this Iranian perspective:
[A]n Iranian website this month published a report saying it would take at least 18 months to [enrich enough Uranium], a time frame that would reach three years if conversion of the material into uranium metal and moulding – steps required to make a bomb – were included. [Emphasis and insert added.]
Yet more time would be needed to develop a vehicle, a missile for example, for a nuclear warhead to be delivered to its target. “It is impossible for Iran to break out in months through the uranium route. The required time span is in years,” the report published on http://www.nuclearenergy.ir said, stressing that this was a “hypothetical” scenario.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a U.S.-based think-tank quoted in the Washington Free Beacon article disagrees:
[T]he Iranian website “expresses common government stances” on nuclear issues. “This study contains mistakes and uses unwarranted assumptions to arrive at its conclusions,” ISIS said of the Iranian report. “Using its data and correcting for mistakes, we arrive at a breakout estimate of 2-3 months in terms of the time to produce 25 kg of WGU (weapons-grade uranium).” That is the amount traditionally seen as sufficient for one bomb. [Emphasis added.]
Iraq — problem or opportunity? Substantial concern — which I share — has recently been expressed that if the Obama Administration cooperates with Iran in resolving the current conflict in Iraq then concessions in favor of Iran will be made by the P5 + 1 negotiators. On June 18th, Business Insider posted an article titled Here’s The Hidden Agenda Behind Any US-Iran Cooperation In Iraq. It observed,
The escalating crisis in Iraq comes amid the search a solution for another huge geopolitical dilemma — a nuclear deal among world powers and Iran. With a vested interest in keeping the current Shi’ite government in power in Iraq, Iran has been happy to step up and provide support in its fight against Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS). It is a rare situation in which U.S. and Iranian interests somewhat align. A senior State Department official said diplomats from both countries held talks on Iraq on the margins of broader nuclear-program discussions in Vienna. The U.S. expects to work with Iran, though the State Department stressed there will be no military cooperation. [Emphasis added.]
But the cooperation comes with a condition. A top spokesman to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that it could work with the U.S. if nuclear negotiations are successful.
“If that comes to a final resolution, then there might be opportunities for other issues to be discussed,” Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian, told reporters on Wednesday. He added the talks serve as a “test for confidence building.” [Emphasis added.]
During His (typically late) appearance for an address on the Iraq mess, President Obama indicated that the U.S. might provide airstrikes if required but did not say what His requirements might be. He claimed that He would send up to three hundred military advisers to assist the Iraq military but ruled out U.S. combat troops. He also claimed that our intelligence gathering abilities will be enhanced and coordinated with the Iraqis. He emphasized the need for Iraqis to resolve their sectarian differences and noted that Iran has been sending a similar message. He did not appear to have much faith that Iran has been serious in sending that message. He also said that He has “directed Mr. Kerry to lead a diplomatic effort to stabilize Iraq.” Does He contemplate something resembling the Israel – Palestinian “peace process,” which failed due to Palestinian intransigence? Are the Iraqi factions less intransigent the Palestinian factions?
The principal focus of President Obama’s June 19th address seems to have been on the need for the Iraqis to resolve their differences and to unite to achieve a common goal. That seems very unlikely. In a June 18th post by Paul Mirengoff at Powerline titled The world continues to confound our clueless President, it was contended that
The country is disintegrating, Iraqi soldiers are deserting, some of those who aren’t have been executed barbarically, and Baghdad is under serious threat.
What does Obama do? He urges Prime Minister Maliki to make his government more inclusive of his political opponents and to loosen his grip on power.
To appreciate the foolishness of this response, consider how Obama behaves in response to the smallest political crisis here at home. His response is always first to rally the base.
How, then, can Obama suppose that Maliki, in response to an existential crisis, will alienate his base by ceding power to opponents?
It isn’t going to happen. In fact, as the Washington Post reports, Maliki is actually “tightening his grip on power”:
Reinforced by a call to arms from the country’s top Shiite cleric and by promises of support from Iran, Maliki has set about rallying the country’s Shiite majority behind his leadership as Sunni extremists bear down on Baghdad.
Negotiations on the formation of a new government have been suspended, and instead, Shiite factions who had sought to prevent Maliki from securing a third term in office by aligning with Sunni and Kurdish politicians have thrown their support behind him.
That’s how the world works, Mr. President.
The P5 + 1 November 2013 framework for discussions has been worthless as a vehicle for preventing Iran from getting (or keeping) nukes. The apparent current focus of discussions on when, not whether, Iran can have them makes it even worse. If the Obama Administration cooperates with Iran either overtly or covertly in resolving Iraq’s problems — in view of President Obama’s June 19th address covertly is the more likely — and should such cooperation be reflected in further nuke concessions for Iran, what had appeared to be an indecent “deal” will become truly obscene.
Here’s a YouTube video of President Obama’s remarks on Iraq. Tip of the hat to The Conservative Tree House for spotting the video.