Those Americans (of various political persuasions) who say it is not necessary for the US to have a strong military for any reason except defense of the homeland and then only if it is actually attacked; who say that the US should not be the “policeman of the world”; who say (as Donald Trump does) “let the Russians fight ISIS”; who say “let the Muslims kill each other, it’s of no concern to us”; who say the only business we should have with other countries is trade; who say they share President Obama’s opinion that America is not better than any other nation and that no country should dominate any other – watch what will happen now as their ideal becomes reality and Obama’s doctrine is put into practice:
J. E. Dyer, who has had many years’ professional experience of defense issues and has thought long and hard about these matters, writes at Liberty Unyielding:
U.S. and Russian officials are still discussing how to share the combat space in Syria. But all things military are ultimately decided by political leverage. I assure you, it is impossible for U.S. forces to maintain a posture of “making things crystal clear to the Russians”, if there is no political respect for the Obama administration itself on the Russian side.
The lack of respect will be for a reason – and it will be for the same reason that American forces won’t be able to hold any line in Syria. They won’t have reliable back-up from the White House. Time will quickly erode the U.S. military position on how to share the battle space, and Russia will simply dictate the conditions in which our forces operate.
I doubt we can really conceive how fast things are going to move from this point on. Reports continue to flood in that Iran is deploying troops in large numbers to Syria, and that Russia and Iran will mount a major ground offensive there soon. For the military task at hand, their weapons and skills are not as good as ours, but they will fight ruthlessly and without compunction, which we have not done at any time in the last 25 years. Where we have fought delicately, to “encourage” a new status quo that could last without us, Russia and Iran will fight brutally to hold territory they mean to stay on, in one form or another.
I don’t think even geopolitics specialists really appreciate how dangerous a precipice we stand on.
There is no assumption of our current order that is not up for grabs now. We haven’t seen a situation like this for many hundreds of years.
Things you think can’t possibly come up for rearrangement – how the Suez Canal operates; who if anyone keeps it safe to navigate the waters of the Mediterranean; how freely air traffic moves between Europe and Asia; whether the Strait of Malacca is open to everyone; whether military outposts targeting the United States proliferate in the Americas – all these things are in the realm of the “thinkable” now.
The protection of the United States has been lifted from the world.
On what else will the nations cease giving ear to anything the Obama administration says? We’re going to find out.
Russia has brought fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft batteries to Syria. He has put military “boots on the ground” there too. The aerial bombing and ground fighting have started. Command centers have been established. Russia is there to stay.
An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily deplores the fact that Russia is now the dominant great power in the Middle East.
And it is a fact. Obama has handed the region to Putin as on a golden platter.
And what’s worse, with Russia comes China and Iran. We can’t see Putin sharing power with any other country for very long. But right now, the Vast Nasty Country Conspiracy is in full operation. (See here, here, and here.)
Moscow won’t just be destroying IS; it will be replacing us as dominant power in the Mideast, where the oil the free world needs is. And Putin won’t be alone.
According to Russian Sen. Igor Morozov, who sits on Russia’s international affairs committee, Chinese forces are joining Russia against IS. “China has joined our military operation in Syria,” Morozov said in Pravda. “A Chinese cruiser has already entered the Mediterranean, and an aircraft carrier follows it.”
With Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani believed to have met with Russian officials this month, the “genuinely broad” coalition against terrorism in which “Muslim countries are to play a key role” may end up as Russia, China and Iran.
Meanwhile, London’s Daily Express reports on German reporter and author Jurgen Todenhofer’s book, “Inside IS — Ten Days in the Islamic State.”
In it, he warns that the free world “is drastically underestimating the power of ISIS’, which “intends to get its hands on nuclear weapons”, then undertake “the largest religious cleansing in history”. Years ago, all these would have seemed laughable predictions. But Obama’s new world of American decline is full of such terrifying surprises.
Charles Krauthammer thinks, as we do, that Putin has little interest in defeating the Islamic State.
He writes, also at IBD:
If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin.
Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the Russian military to the Middle East — for the first time in decades — in order to help fight the Islamic State.
The ruse was transparent from the beginning. Russia is not in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Kremlin was sending fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and SA-22 anti-aircraft batteries. Against an Islamic State that has no air force, no planes, no helicopters?
Russia then sent reconnaissance drones over Western Idlib and Hama, where there are no Islamic State fighters. Followed by bombing attacks on Homs and other opposition strongholds that had nothing to do with the Islamic State.
Indeed, some of these bombed fighters were U.S. trained and equipped.
Asked if we didn’t have an obligation to support our allies on the ground, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter bumbled that Russia’s actions exposed its policy as self-contradictory.
Carter made it sound as if the Russian offense was to have perpetrated an oxymoron, rather than a provocation — and a direct challenge to what’s left of the U.S. policy of supporting a moderate opposition.
The whole point of Russian intervention is to maintain Assad in power. Putin has no interest in fighting the Islamic State.
Indeed, the second round of Russian air attacks was on rival insurgents opposed to the Islamic State. The Islamic State is nothing but a pretense for Russian intervention. …
Just three weeks ago, Obama chided Russia for its military buildup, wagging his finger that it was “doomed to failure”. Yet by Monday he was publicly welcoming Russia to join the fight against the Islamic State.
He not only acquiesced to the Russian buildup, he held an ostentatious meeting with Putin on the subject, thereby marking the ignominious collapse of Obama’s vaunted campaign to isolate Putin diplomatically over Crimea.
Putin then showed his utter contempt for Obama by launching his air campaign against our erstwhile anti-Assad allies not 48 hours after meeting Obama.
Which the U.S. found out about when a Russian general knocked on the door of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and delivered a brusque demarche announcing that the attack would begin within an hour and warning the U.S. to get out of the way.
In his subsequent news conference, Secretary Carter averred that he found such Russian behavior “unprofessional.”
Good grief. Russia, with its inferior military and hemorrhaging economy, had just eaten Carter’s lunch, seizing the initiative and exposing American powerlessness — and the secretary of defense deplores what? Russia’s lack of professional etiquette.
Makes you want to weep.
Consider: When Obama became president, the surge in Iraq had succeeded and the U.S. had emerged as the dominant regional actor, able to project power throughout the region.
Last Sunday, Iraq announced the establishment of a joint intelligence-gathering center with Iran, Syria and Russia, symbolizing the new “Shiite-crescent” alliance from Iran across the northern Middle East to the Mediterranean, under the umbrella of Russia, the rising regional hegemon.
Russian planes roam free over Syria attacking Assad’s opposition as we stand by helpless. Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of state beseeches the Russians to negotiate “de-conflict” arrangements — so that we and they can each bomb our own targets safely. It has come to this.
Why is Putin moving so quickly and so brazenly? Because he’s got only 16 more months to push on the open door that is Obama.
He knows he’ll never again see an American president such as this — one who once told the General Assembly that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation” and told it again last Monday of “believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.”
They cannot? Has he looked at the world around him — from Homs to Kunduz, from Sanaa to Donetsk — ablaze with conflict and coercion?
Wouldn’t you take advantage of these last 16 months if you were Putin, facing a man living in a faculty-lounge fantasy world?
Where was Obama when Putin began bombing Syria? Leading a U.N. meeting on countering violent extremism.
Go on, weep.
That’s what we’re doing, figuratively at least.
This article by Ryan Mauro is titled “The Five Ways Iran Has Disarmed The West”.
Iran did not do it without help from the West itself, chiefly from President Obama.
The deal with Iran does not disarm the regime of its nuclear weapons capacity, but it does go a long way towards disarming the West.
There are five ways that the deal handcuffs the U.S. and its allies by undermining their options against Iran in the future.
1. Disarming the Sanctions Option
The deal’s supporters claim that the international sanctions that collapsed the Iranian economy will immediately “snap back” if the regime violates the deal, so why not give it a try?
To believe that claim, you have to believe that our international partners are willing to hurt themselves in order to hurt Iran a little at our request. These governments and influential companies will be making a fortune off of business with Iran. The regime is alreadymaking companies salivate with enticements to invest in its energy sector. Iran is hoping to sign $100 billion in oil and gas deals with Western companies.
Europe is more concerned about its energy dependence upon an increasingly aggressive Russia than Iran. Turkey wants to act as a corridor for Iranian natural gas shipments to Europe, in addition to importing more natural gas for itself. If Iran must be punished, are we really to believe that Europe would give up that business with the regime, accept higher oil prices and revert to being held hostage by Russia?
And even if the international community were to go along with the “snapback” sanctions, they would likely be fruitless. The Iranian regime believes — and with good reason — that all it needs is to be able to withstand the economic pain until a nuclear weapons arsenal is finished. … That’s a period of about one year maximum.
In 2005, Iranian President Rouhani (then the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator) gave a speech where he boasted of advancing the nuclear program through deception and by dividing the West’s ranks. He denied seeking nuclear weapons, but pointed to the example of how Pakistan got nuclear weapons. The world shouted as Pakistan built nuclear weapons but once it did, the world accepted it and moved on.
“If one day we are able to complete the [nuclear] fuel cycle, and the world sees that it has no choice … then the situation will be different,” he said.
2. Disarming the Military Option
Once the interim nuclear deal was signed, Russia announced that the changed situation meant that Iran could finally receive its advanced S-300 air defense system. Four modernized versions of the system are due to arrive in Iran by the end of this year. Military experts warn that once they become operational, they will be “game-changers,” especially for the Israelis. In addition, Russia is expected to provide advanced combat jets.
Within five years or less, the U.N. arms embargo will be lifted. Iran will be allowed to modernize its military by buying combat aircraft, large artillery systems, attack helicopters, warships and missiles. Iran says it will also continue developing ballistic missile technology.
Iran understands that the question isn’t whether the U.S., Israel and other enemies can bomb its nuclear program. The question is whether the political leadership would consider it a viable option. By increasing the cost of potential military action, Iran decreases the chances of that military action taking place.
Military action may only push the Iranian nuclear program back by a few years. Is that worth the casualties, monetary expense, the possibility of pilots being held captive, Iran’s retaliation or the political risk for the elected Western leaders? Iran wants a negative answer to those questions.
3. Disarming the Sabotage Option
There is a long list of apparent covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program, with the Stuxnet cyber attack on Iran’s centrifuges being the most famous. The steady pace of apparent sabotaging stopped with the interim deal and now, under this deal, the West must actually help Iran stop future sabotage.
The deal refers to, “Cooperation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”
4. Disarming the State/Local Initiative Option
Another effective option against Iran has been divestment measures implemented in 30 states. There are five forms of legislation that have been passed, as pushed by United Against Nuclear Iran: Contracting legislation; divestment legislation/policies; banking legislation; insurance legislation and state authorization legislation.
The deal requires that the federal government must pressure these state and local governments into ending these measures. It states that the U.S. must “take appropriate steps, taking into account all available authorities” to “actively encourage officials at the state or local level” to lift sanctions.
This language would not be in the deal if these measures didn’t hurt Iran. Its inclusion also means that the administration has some kind of game-plan to bend the states’ arms into complying with the deal.
5. Disarming the Regime Change Option
The deal runs the risk of stabilizing the regime and saving the Iranian Islamic Revolution. To date, the ideology has brought nothing but misery to Iranians. If the deal produces an Iran on steroids, the regime will be allow to do something it never could do before: present its Islamic Revolution as a viable ideology, one that produces strength and prosperity.
As Democratic Senator Bob Menendez pointed out, the regime would never sign a deal that undermines itself. As I’ve explained previously, the deal will fatten the wallets of the oppressors of the Iranian people far more than the average Iranian. One of the top priorities of the so-called “moderate” President Rouhani has been dramatically increasing the budget of the security services that keep the regime in power.
The Iranian regime’s future has turned bright. Whereas in 2009 its survival was in question, the regime now can look forward to years of growth where its strength increases and its adversaries are increasingly disarmed of their most useful options against it.
Will the theocrats of Iran be grateful to Obama for establishing them firmly, bringing them vast riches, and making their country a nuclear power?
And we wonder: did he hope they would be? Or is he unconcerned, just as long as they pursue jihad, destroy Israel as soon as they can, and then turn on America?
Insanity? Stupidity? Or just craven submission to Obama, the Dear Leader?
Democrats say what’s wrong with the Iran deal, then say they support it:
A video addressed to the Senate Democrats who support Obama’s deal with Iran:
Here’s a moderately good satirical video making a very important point about Obama’s “deal” with Iran:
If Khamenei calls Obama now, he’ll get two deals for the price of one.
(And the price to Iran is zero anyway.)
The great Rudy Giuliani delivered this powerful speech (recorded on two videos) at a symposium of the Iranian-American community in February, 2015:
(Hat-tip to our commenter Frank)
How hugely important the “deal” with Iran is to President Obama is plain to see in this story of his passionate struggle to finesse the Senate’s “approval” of his empowerment of Iran.
A huge majority of Americans do not want the “deal”. But that is no matter to Obama. It is not what Americans want that concern him, it’s what he wants. He wants Iran to be a nuclear power. Why? What other answer can there be but that he deeply desires the elimination of Israel and the harm and disgrace of America?
It was late July …
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, was widely expected to announce his opposition to the Iran deal – and dozens of other House and Senate Democrats were threatening to revolt against the nuclear agreement and deliver President Barack Obama a devastating blow on the international stage. But weeks before it would become public, the White House won a critical assurance that would dramatically change the outlook in Congress: Sen. Harry Reid would support it.
No surprise there.
In a private call, the Senate Democratic leader secretly assured Secretary of State John Kerry that he would back the deal, though he would keep quiet about it publicly, Democratic sources said. He promised to help deliver critical information about which Democrats to target – but Reid himself needed to let about a dozen friends, supporters and donors who were sharply critical of the deal know why he was backing it before his position became public.
What ensued was perhaps the most aggressive and coordinated lobbying drive ever to take shape between congressional Democratic leaders and the Obama White House – which have frequently been at odds over strategy and tactics. It was a strategy that focused exclusively on House and Senate Democrats, ignoring Republicans altogether. And it underscored how sensitive the deal was to a number of Democrats, who feared a sharp backlash from pro-Israel voters and their Republican foes.
The Democrats succeeded largely because the lobbying effort to back the deal was far more targeted and relentless than the public push and advertising campaigns aimed at scuttling it, according to lawmakers in both parties. For a president often criticized for being detached from Congress, Obama aggressively used his bully pulpit to win over his party, contacting 125 Democratic House members and senators since July, many of them repeatedly, according to Democratic sources.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the GOP chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an opponent of the deal, said his Democratic friends reported to him that the White House was “breaking arms and legs” to prevent Congress from voting down the deal.
And it worked, culminating in a victory where Senate Democrats filibustered a resolution to reject the deal and House Democrats secured enough support to sustain a veto, handing Obama the most far-reaching international achievement of his presidency.
To quell a Democratic uprising, the White House, Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi traded key intelligence about uneasy Democrats, dispatching powerful Cabinet officials to lock down support. Over the August recess, Pelosi gave the White House 57 names of House Democrats who were wobbly on the Iran pact; Obama called all of them, including 30 calls to Democratic lawmakers in between rounds of golf during his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, according to Democratic sources.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin called almost everyone in his 46-member caucus, interrupting a family vacation in Oregon to lobby skittish Democrats. On a jaunt to Florida last week where he talked about his presidential ambitions, Vice President Joe Biden made a side trip to help woo and eventually win over Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, an influential Jewish Democrat who was facing fierce protests, including from some activists who charged that she should “go to the oven,” a reference to the Holocaust.
American Jews who continue idiotically to vote Democratic have become outright enemies not only of Israel but of the survival of Western civilization.
Senior administration officials made 250 calls to House members and senators, sources said. That includes Jack Lew, the Treasury secretary and an Orthodox Jew, who was dispatched to help alleviate concerns of Jewish lawmakers, and Kerry, a former senator who relied on his longstanding Hill connections to push his party to back the deal.
Yet it was Ernest Moniz, the Department of Energy secretary and a nuclear physicist, who became the most prolific and effective surrogate, lawmakers said.
Moniz headed to the Detroit area to win over Michigan Sen. Gary Peters this summer. After pro-Israel forces were ratcheting up opposition in Montana, Moniz laid out his views to a local newspaper to help ensure Sen. Jon Tester didn’t defect. And he called into a North Dakota radio show to help give political cover to Heidi Heitkamp, the state’s centrist Democratic senator.
Moniz was so influential that the final Democrat who announced her support – Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell – waited to return to Washington to meet with him to let him reassure her about the capability of inspectors to continue to detect nuclear activity in the country. He told them all that the deal cut off Iran’s pathways to building a nuclear bomb.
Reid later privately mused about the possibility of nominating Moniz for the Nobel Peace Prize, according to an aide familiar with the matter.
Moniz was lying, of course. And couldn’t Maria Cantwell read the deal herself, and consider what the result of a nuclear-armed Iran will be; and note the numerous reports of the “secret” side-deal between Iran and the IAEA which allows the ever cheating, lying Iranian regime to “inspect” itself?
What helped Obama and supporters was the fact that the congressional review law only required the White House to prevent a veto-proof, two-thirds majority from forming in each chamber. With 46 Senate Democrats and 188 House Democrats, that meant limiting defections to fewer than 13 in the Senate and 42 in the House. On Thursday, just four Democrats voted to break a filibuster in the Senate on a motion to disapprove of the Iran deal, keeping the accord alive, with Pelosi’s office announcing it had enough support to sustain a potential veto.
Given the more progressive bent in the House Democratic Caucus, the White House always viewed the House as its firewall – and spent ample resources and time to ensure that the dam didn’t break.
Bit of a mixed metaphor there, but we get the point. So how did he do it?
He used the dim but astoundingly lucky Nancy Pelosi …
Soon after the deal was announced in July, Pelosi announced her backing and worked furiously with the White House to keep Democrats in line. Through August, aides said, Pelosi was on the phone during trips across the country, including in Napa Valley, California, and New Orleans at an event recognizing the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, speaking to every member of her caucus – including some repeatedly.
Democrats still raised major concerns – namely over how Iranian nuclear sites could be inspected, how other countries would react if the U.S. walked away from the deal and whether rolling back sanctions against Iran would empower the country and threaten Israel.
When questions were raised, relevant Cabinet members would try to iron out those concerns. And when the pressure from the President was needed, he would intensify his lobbying.
Pelosi said Thursday that Obama knew the agreement so well he could teach a “masters class” on the topic.
She relied heavily on the President and his team to deliver the key votes. Soon after the deal was announced, Biden traveled to the House Democratic Caucus to lobby his party behind it, followed by visits from Moniz and Kerry. Then the White House focused heavily on small groups, dispatching Wendy Sherman, an under secretary of state, to brief the Congressional Black Caucus in late July.
Right before the August recess, with fears that angry town hall meetings in members’ home states could shift the debate, Obama spent more than two hours in the White House’s Blue Room with two dozen House Democrats, answering questions from skeptical members. In a meeting with 12 House Democrats in late July who were leaning against the plan, Obama convinced half of them to support it, aides said.
“This agreement is not perfect,” Pelosi said Thursday. “But I never have seen a perfect anything.”
Despite losing the support of Schumer, an influential Jewish Democrat who represents a staunchly pro-Israel constituency in New York, Democrats in the Senate were not too concerned it would have a broader impact. Schumer promised not to lobby Democrats to oppose the deal — and Democratic leaders took full advantage of that.
What can one say of a man who knows something is terribly dangerous and wrong, will vote against it, but solemnly undertakes not to tell others how dangerous and wrong it is?
As Reid and senior White House aides were coordinating on strategy, Durbin was calling members of his caucus on his family trip to Oregon in August.
“Wherever we are, we have to do our work – and he was on the phone with me and others the entire time,” Reid said Thursday as Durbin stood next to him.
Throughout the recess, a number of Democrats who supported the deal ended up meeting with fierce opponents in order to explain their line of thinking.
Now comes a particularly sickening part:
Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, ended up meeting with Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, in Miami. He talked with officials from the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, including Holocaust survivors.
“It was one of the most respectful, friendly meetings,” Nelson said.
No anger then? No desperation? No terror? Wow!
Some resisted the White House’s help in order to show their independence from a President who senators said often expressed how important the deal was to him personally.
“I never talked to the President,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. “I got one call from (national security adviser) Susan Rice. I told them, ‘I don’t want any calls from the administration, so leave me alone.'”
Wonderful! So there was one person who judged the issue for herself?
McCaskill said she eventually backed the deal after consulting with ambassadors of Asian countries over what they would do with Iranian money they were holding if the United States walked away from the agreement.
“Suffice it to say, I am for the agreement,” she said.
Others received attention from the President, among them Peters, the Michigan Democrat, and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who faces a potentially tough re-election next year.
After taking an official trip to the Middle East, Peters invited Moniz to spend time in Detroit answering questions from skeptical voters. He also spoke to Obama twice on the phone, in addition to an Oval Office meeting.
“I still have a lot of concerns,” Peters said Wednesday, though he’s backing the deal because he believes there are no better options.
No better options than to guarantee that Iran will become a nuclear power?
There are a few Democrats who understand what’s at stake:
Privately, Reid worked to ensure that Democrats would be prepared to filibuster the deal – something that infuriated Republicans who wanted a straight-up-or-down vote so Obama would be forced to veto the resolution of disapproval. But at a private lunch Wednesday, Reid convinced his party to join in the filibuster, even as New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez pushed back on that strategy.
Menendez demonstrated that Obama couldn’t win over all of his party. Like Menendez and Schumer, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, opposed the deal. And Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who rarely speaks to the President, announced his opposition after he heard strong criticism at town hall meetings in his state.
The evening before Manchin announced his opposition this week, the President called up the conservative Democrat to get him to flip. Manchin, at home on his boat parked at National Harbor in Maryland, wouldn’t budge.
“He made his pitch, and I respect that,” Manchin said. “I think he knew that I was in a different place.”
“It’s a no-brainer for him,” he continued. “I said, ‘Mr. President, I understand that’.”
In the end, it wouldn’t matter. Republicans fell two senators shy Thursday of breaking a Democratic filibuster, which kept the Iran deal from even coming up for a vote.
How much effort did Republican leaders put in to get the deal voted down? How much has Obama been helped by the slackness, or naivety, or stupidity, or indifference, or secret sympathy of leading Republicans, who could have prevented the victory the Islam-loving president has scored today?
At least the names of those American politicians who voted for this baleful deal, struck by a treacherous US president with an evil Islamic regime, are on record. Their names will be forever attached to the calamity that will ensue.
Almost equally culpable are those who have failed to prevent it, and their names are on it too.
It looks as if the world may have reason to be grateful to the cruel musty old men who rule Iran (!) – for sparing it from the terrible “deal” Barack Obama thinks he has concluded with them.
The Ayatollahs will not comply with the agreement unless and until all sanctions against Iran are lifted.
But the Obama administration is telling America that Iran must first agree to comply before sanctions are lifted.
Dare we hope that this impasse will continue indefinitely? That the “deal” will fade away?
The crowing [by the Democrats] this week over Barack Obama’s success in gaining congressional support for his Iranian nuclear deal against Binyamin Netanyahu’s defeat was premature. The July 14 Vienna deal between Iran and six world powers was just the first round of the game. Decisive rounds are still to come, before either of the two can be said to have won or lost.
The biggest outstanding hurdle in the path of the accord is Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his silence on where he stands on the deal whether by a yea or a nay. Without his nod, nothing goes forward in the revolutionary republic. So the nuclear accord is not yet home and dry either in Tehran or even in Washington.
While Obama gathered congressional support in Washington for the accord to pass, Khamenei made three quiet yet deadly remarks:
1. “Sanctions against Tehran must be lifted completely rather than suspended. If the framework of sanctions is to be maintained, then why did we negotiate?”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest answered him: “Iran will only see sanctions relief if it complies with the nuclear deal.”
There lies the rub. For the Obama administration, it is clear that Iran must first comply with the accord before sanctions are eased, whereas Tehran deems the accord moot until sanctions are lifted – regardless of its approval by the US Congress.
Here is the first stalemate, and not the last. … Long exhausting rounds lie ahead that could drag on longer even than the protracted negotiations, which Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif brought to a close in Vienna.
2. Khamenei next took the step of referring the accord to the Majlis (parliament) for approval, pretending that to be legally in force, the accord requires [its] majority vote … He put it this way, “I believe… that it is not in the interest of the majlis to be sidelined.”
This step was in fact designed to sideline President Hassan Rouhani, on whom Obama and Kerry counted to get the nuclear deal through, and snatch from him the authority for signing it – or even determining which body had this competence.
It had been the intention of Rouhani and Zarif to put the accord before the 12-member Council of Guardians for their formal endorsement. But Khamenei pulled this rug out from under their feet and kept the decision out of the hands of the accord’s proponents.
3. His next step was to declare with a straight face: “I have no recommendation for the majlis on how to examine it. It is up to the representatives of the nation to decide whether to reject or ratify it.”
This step in the nuclear chess game was meant to show American democracy up in a poor light compared to that of the Revolutionary Republic (sic). While Obama worked hard to bring his influence to bear on Congress, he, Khamenei, refrained from leaning on the lawmakers, who were freed to vote fair and square on the deal’s merits.
This of course is a charade. … The ayatollah exercises dictatorial control over the majlis through his minion, Speaker Ali Larijani. He has absolute trust in the lawmakers never reaching any decision on the nuclear deal, or anything else, without his say-so.
Congressional approval in Washington of the nuclear accord may give President Obama a fine boost but will be an empty gesture for winning endorsement in Tehran. It might even be counter-productive if American lawmakers carry out their intention of hedging the nuclear deal round with stipulations binding Iran to full compliance with the commitments it undertook in Vienna, or also continue to live with existing sanctions or even face new ones.
Still some room for hope then?
Hmm. What’s the betting Obama will cave to Ayatollah Khamenei?
Here is the text of the “side agreement” between IAEA and Iran:
Separate Arrangement II agreed by the Islamic State of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on 11 July 2015, regarding the Road-map, Paragraph 5
Iran and the Agency agreed on the following sequential arrangement with regard to the Parchin issue:
- Iran will provide to the Agency photos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
- Iran will provide to the Agency videos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
- Iran will provide to the Agency 7 environmental samples taken from points inside one building already identified by the Agency and agreed by Iran, and 2 points outside of the Parchin complex which would be agreed between Iran and the Agency.
- The Agency will ensure the technical authenticity of the activities referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above. Activities will be carried out using Iran’s authenticated equipment, consistent with technical specifications provided by the Agency, and the Agency’s containers and seals.
- The above mentioned measures would be followed, as a courtesy by Iran, by a public visit of the Director General, as a dignitary guest of the Government of Iran, accompanied by his deputy for safeguards.
- Iran and the Agency will organize a one-day technical roundtable on issues relevant to Parchin.
For the International Atomic Energy Agency: Tero Varjoranta, Deputy Director General for Safeguards
For the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ali Hoseini Tash, Deputy Secretary of Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs
And here’s interpretation and comment from The Big Story, by George Jahn:
An AP report has revealed that the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency has agreed with Iran that Iranian experts and equipment will be used to inspect Iran’s Parchin military site, located in not far from Tehran, where Iran is suspected of conducting covert nuclear weapons activity more than a decade ago.
Here are some questions and answers about the document, and what it means for the larger deal between Iran, the United States and five other world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for easing sanctions against Iran.
WHAT HAVE IRAN AND THE IAEA AGREED?
According to a draft document viewed by AP, Iran has agreed to cooperate with the U.N. in answering longstanding allegations about possible past work to develop nuclear weapons at its Parchin plant — but only with the Iranians conducting the inspections themselves.
Iran would collect its own environmental samples on the site and carry out other work usually done by IAEA experts. The IAEA will be able to review the Iranians’ work after the fact. The deal on Parchin was between the IAEA and Iran. The Obama Administration was not a direct party to the agreement, but apparently was aware of it.
WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF THE DEAL SAY?
Opponents of the broader deal are seizing an opportunity to say the entire exercise of negotiating with Iran is flawed, that it relies too much on trust of the Iranian government.
WHAT DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAY?
The Obama administration and other supporters say the wider agreement is focused on the future, with ample inspections, and that the side accord between Iran and the IAEA is focused on Iran’s activities in the past and therefore is not central to the overall deal.
HOW UNUSUAL IS THE AGREEMENT ON PARCHIN?
Any IAEA inspection of a country suspected of nuclear irregularities is usually carried out by agency experts. They may take swipes of residue on equipment, sample the air or take soil samples in attempts to look for signs of clandestine work on atomic arms or other potentially dangerous unreported activity.
The document on Parchin, however, will let the Iranians themselves look for signs of the very activity they deny — past work on nuclear weapons.
It says “Iran will provide” the agency with environmental samples. It restricts the number of samples at the suspect site to seven and to an unspecified number “outside of the Parchin complex” at a site that still needs to be decided.
The U.N. agency will take possession of the samples for testing, as usual. Iran will also provide photos and video of locations to be inspected. But the document suggests that areas of sensitive military activity remain out of bounds.
The draft says the IAEA will “ensure the technical authenticity of the activities” carried out by the Iranians — but it does not say how. …
WHY IS THE PARCHIN AGREEMENT IMPORTANT?
Any indication that the IAEA is diverging from established inspection rules could weaken the agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog with 164 members, and feed suspicions that it is ready to overly compromise in hopes of winding up a probe that has essentially been stalemated for more than a decade.
Politically, the arrangement has been grist for American opponents of the broader separate agreement to limit Iran’s future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Critics have complained that the wider deal is built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.
The separate agreement on past nuclear activities does not affect the broader deal signed in July. And it doesn’t appear yet that the revelation will change any votes in Congress for or against a resolution of disapproval, which President Barack Obama is expected to veto if it passes.
HOW DID THIS AGREEMENT HAPPEN?
It could be a matter of priorities.
The Obama administration’s main focus in the broader Iran deal — signed by the U.S., Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — is crimping Iran’s present nuclear activities so they cannot be used in the future toward making a bomb. Faced with more than a decade of Iranian resistance to IAEA attempts to probe the allegations of past weapons work at Parchin, there may be a willingness to settle for an agency report that is less than definitive — and methods that deviate from usual practices.
The IAEA also appears to have recognized that Iran will continue to insist the allegations are lies, based on false U.S., Israeli and other intelligence. After a decade of stalemate it wants to close the books on the issue and allow the U.N. Security Council to do so as well.
The alternative might well have been no inspection at Parchin of any kind. [As if this “inspection” is not exactly equivalent to no inspection – ed.]
WHAT DOES THE IAEA SAY?
Director General Yukiya Amano says, “The arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our … standards in any way.” He says agreements with Iran on clearing up the nuclear arms allegations “are confidential and I have a legal obligation not to make them public – the same obligation I have for hundreds of such arrangements made with other IAEA member states“.
WHAT DO OTHERS SAY?
Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House: “We are confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program, issues that in some cases date back more than a decade. Just as importantly, the IAEA is comfortable with the arrangements, which are unique to the agency’s investigation of Iran’s historical activities.”
Olli Heinonen, in charge of the Iran investigation as IAEA deputy director general from 2005 through 2010, says he can think of no similar arrangement — a country essentially allowed to carry out much of the probe of suspicions against it.
The agreement is sinister and ludicrous.
(And now we know there is a “Separate Arrangement I” that we know nothing of.)
Commander J. E. Dyer writes at Liberty Unyielding:
Kerry offered to give the Senators a classified briefing on the side agreement – even though he also stressed that the U.S. has not been given access to it.
The reaction of JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] supporters to the AP report has been to emphasize that this agreement is about resolving IAEA’s questions regarding Iran’s past activities. The side agreement on Parchin isn’t about monitoring current or future activities, which are a separate issue.
The implication is that self-sampling and selfies are good enough for resolving the lingering questions about the past. Going forward, suggest Team Obama and its allies, is where we’ll see the tough, unprecedentedly rigorous verification regime for Iran’s military-related nuclear work.
The big problem with that logic – even more important than the point that verifying Iran’s past activities is crucial – is that there is nothing written down about the nature of the verification regime for military-related activities going forward. The JCPOA is silent as to methods and measures. It does not describe a rigorous verification regime. It doesn’t describe a verification regime at all.
All it says is that Iran and IAEA will develop agreements for inspecting the military-related sites IAEA requests access to. If IAEA isn’t satisfied, it can appeal to the JCPOA’s Joint Commission – on which Iran is one of the eight voting members.
So the only model we have to go by, in judging how this verification process is going to work, is the text of the side agreement on Parchin. And that text says we’re going to take Iran’s word for it. …
That approach isn’t good enough for the nuclear program of a radical regime that is still the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.