Sunday, November 24, 2013

Analysis: Israel Left With Few Options [UPDATED - Israelis Visiting Saudi Bases: War Planning?]

Now that articles are coming out and reviewing the Iran Agreement, we are beginning to see a variety of different commentaries and analyses. Surprisingly, most are realistic and have come to the realization that this is a bad deal for Israel and a very very good deal for Iran. Below are a few of the best commentaries thus far:

Netanyahu believes the six-month deal leaves Iran's military nuclear capabilities largely intact, while giving Iran relief from painful economic sanctions, undermining negotiations on the next stage. At the same time, Israel's strongest piece of leverage, the threat of a military strike on Iran, seems to be out of the question despite Netanyahu's insistence it would remain on the table.

"Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world," Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday, calling the deal a "historic mistake."

He said Israel was not bound by the agreement, and reiterated Israel's right to "defend itself by itself," a veiled reference to a possible military strike against Iran.

Netanyahu had said that any deal must ensure that Iran's enriching of uranium — a key step toward making a nuclear bomb — must end. He also said all enriched material should be removed from the Islamic Republic, and called for the demolition of a plutonium reactor under construction.

But after the deal was announced, it was clear that Netanyahu made little headway. While freezing parts of Iran's enrichment capabilities, it will leave others, including the centrifuges that are used for enrichment, intact. 

The deal relies heavily on Iranian goodwill, a still-to-be-defined system of international inspections and the continued pain of sanctions that remain in place.

Enrichment is at the heart of the dispute because it can be used for peaceful purposes or for producing a nuclear bomb.

Under the compromise, enrichment would be capped at the 5 percent level, and Iran's stockpile of 20 percent uranium would be "neutralized," effectively preventing it from reaching weapons-grade level. 

Israel says any enriched uranium in Iranian hands is potentially dangerous, since its centrifuges can quickly convert it to weapons grade. Israel believes that Iran's ability to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact will allow it to quickly resume the program if the later talks fail.

"Iran is a threshold nuclear country," said Netanyahu's Cabinet minister for intelligence affairs, Yuval Steinitz. "So far it was completely against U.N. security resolutions, and now it gets some kind of recognition at least for the next six months as a threshold nuclear country."

The bad is in what is left out:

  • all enrichment
  • cooperation in revealing details of Iran’s military work at Parchin
  • Construction (though not installation) of new centrifuges
  • Reversal of nuclear progress

Chatting last week with a prominent nuclear expert in Washington (a Democrat), we talked about the problems with the then prospective deal.  Ironically, we were in complete agreement:

  • Phased deals such as this buy more time for the would-be nuclear state to advance its program while giving key concessions on the sanctions front.
  • Sequenced agreements of this kind don’t work (viz: North Korea).
  • The administration was too desperate for a deal.
  • There will be no phase two.

In reality, Iran has given nothing of substance other than a “pause” in its program.  The administration has left the hard work to the IAEA, including Parchin and verification.  Any hint of suspicion that Iran will continue work at an as yet undisclosed secret site was missing.  In return, while the concessions to Iran on sanctions are in and of themselves not dramatic, the reversal in momentum for sanctions and the loss of the psychology of impenetrable sanctions is of immeasurable value to Tehran. 

 Dealmakers will be back, letters of credit will once again be available, and it will be the beginning of the end of international cooperation on sanctions.  Worse yet, the administration will be loath to call Iran for failing to measure up to the letter of the agreement for fear of collapse, with all the concomitant loss of reputation to the President.  The administration, having once been an advocate for an end to Iran’s nuclear program, will become an advocate for Iran.  Don’t believe it?  Look at last week’s outrageous comments by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei about Israel.  Where was Kerry?  Look at the administration’s opposition to new sanctions on the Hill.

In short, it is wrong to say Iran has given nothing; Iran has given something, but nothing that halts its progress towards a nuclear weapons capability.  It has simply pushed back a break-out date which was immaterial to Iran, which has little intention of immediate break-out in any case. In return, it has earned something far more valuable than the concessions it granted: an advocate for the current regime in the White House.

When you dig into the details of this arrangement, there’s a lot of frosting and not much cake. First of all, this is not a permanent agreement in any way shape or form. It’s a six month “arrangement” which Iran could simply walk away from at the end (or at any point, really) after receiving a massive fiscal injection in the form of sanction relief. 

It is also simply a “suspension” of certain enrichment activities, with no dismantling of any of Iran’s facilities. The entire show can be started back up at any time. There’s additional transparency, with more inspectors allowed into additional facilities, which is good, but much like the suspension of enrichment this can be terminated any moment Iran decides not to honor the deal. (As they have done numerous times in the past.) The deal also allegedly limits the level of uranium enrichment the Iranians can reach, but that’s the same bone we’ve been chewing on for years. 
And finally, we have the Iranians on every cable channel doing an end zone dance saying this is “formal recognition” of their right to enrich uranium, while Kerry and his team are saying the opposite. It’s hard to imagine how solid any “deal” can be when the two sides are announcing essentially 180 degree opposite conclusions on basic terminology.

Israel was having none of it, as Netanyahu made clear almost immediately.

Israel’s prime minister harshly condemned the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran on Sunday, calling it a “historic mistake” and saying he was not bound by the agreement.
Speaking to his Cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the world had become a “more dangerous place” as a result of the deal and reiterated a long-standing threat to use military action against Iran if needed, declaring that Israel “has the right and the duty to defend itself by itself.” …
“What was reached last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said. “Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world.”
Voicing what he called Israel’s right to self-defense, he said, “I want to clarify that Israel will not let Iran develop nuclear military capability.”

Daniel Pipes at The Corner describes it as nothing less than A Foreign-Policy Disaster

But the American goal for the accord was that the Iranians not “advance their program” of building a uranium nuclear bomb (and perhaps a plutonium bomb too); the apparent deal exactly permits such advancement, plus sanctions relief to Tehran worth about $9 billion.
This wretched deal offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and Nov. 24 will be remembered along with Munich and Sep. 29.


Predictably, more and more is being written about this 'deal'. We'll keep posting some of the more interesting articles when they become available, this evening:

Israeli's In Secret Trip To Saudi Bases

 Israeli personnel in recent days were in Saudi Arabia to inspect bases that could be used as a staging ground to launch attacks against Iran, according to informed Egyptian intelligence officials.
The officials said Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and other Arab and Persian Gulf countries have been discussing the next steps toward possible strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites.

The officials said the U.S. passed strong messages to Israel and the Saudis that the Americans maintain and control radar capabilities around the skies of Iran and that no strike should be launched without the permission of the Obama administration.
It was unclear whether the visit to Saudi Arabia by Israeli military and intelligence officials signals any real preparation for a strike or if the trip was meant to signal to the West that Israel retains the right to defend itself.
The trip came prior to the announcement of a deal Sunday that purports to halt key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
At a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed what he called a “bad” and “dangerous” deal, while affirming that Israel will not allow Iran to go nuclear.
“Israel is not obligated by this agreement,” Netanyahu said. “I want to make clear we will not allow Iran to obtain military nuclear capability.”

Netanyahu Reacts

Netanyahu appeared to take issue with the conclusion of a senior Obama administration official who said the deal did not include recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium. An unnamed official in Netanyahu’s office told Army Radio that the agreement does allow Iran to enrich uranium, leaves Iran with all of the centrifuges that would allow it to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons, and does not dismantle Iran’s Arak heavy-water reactor, which could produce plutonium.
“There is no doubt that it’s the greatest diplomatic victory for the Islamic Republic since the Khomeni Revolution.  There is no doubt that they received acknowledgement of their ‘legitimate’…in their words, right to enrich uranium and that brings us here to a Middle East arms race,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israel’s Army Radio.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the world should not be celebrating a deal based on “Iranian deception and self-delusion.”
“Just like the failed deal with North Korea, the current deal can actually bring Iran closer to the bomb,” Steinitz said according to the Times of Israel. “Israel cannot take part in the international celebrations based on Iranian deception and self-delusion.”

“The campaign isn’t over. We don’t give up,” Bennett said, adding “the State of Israel is not bound by this agreement. If the State of Israel sees that Iran is endangering it, the State of Israel is entitled to defend itself and is able to defend itself.”

And this from the Weekly Standard:

Abject Surrender By The U.S.

In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.

Most importantly, the deal leaves the basic strategic realities unchanged. Iran’s nuclear program was, from its inception, a weapons program, and it remains one today. Even modest constraints, easily and rapidly reversible, do not change that fundamental political and operational reality.  And while some already-known aspects of Iran’s nuclear program are returned to enhanced scrutiny, the undeclared and likely unknown military work will continue to expand

Undoubtedly, an Israeli strike during the interim deal would be greeted with outrage from all the expected circles.  But that same outrage, or more, would also come further down the road.  In short, measured against the expected reaction even in friendly capitals, there is never a “good” time for an Israeli strike, only bad and worse times.  Accordingly, the Geneva deal does not change Israel’s strategic calculus even slightly, unless the Netanyahu government itself falls prey to the psychological warfare successfully waged so far by the ayatollahs. That we will know only as the days unfold.

Seven Loopholes Favoring A Nuclear Deal Signed By The World Powers

1. Parchin: This long-suspected facility remains out of UN oversight. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry boasted after the signing that daily IAEA inspections will take place at Fordo and Natanz. However, cameras are already fixed at both those facilities without an agreement, whereas Tehran’s consistent denial of IAEA access to Parchin is not addrfessed.

2. Secret nuclear locations:  Under the heading "Possible Military Dimensions," the last IAEA report noted: "Since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related organizations, including activities related to the development of a payload for a missile.” 

3. Dirty bombs: Iran doesn’t need a full-scale nuclear bomb or missile warhead for attacking Israel. For decades, Tehran has been working on perfecting hundreds of dirty bombs as part of its nuclear program, by adding plutonium or enriched uranium to conventional bombs. These weapons are easy to make and easy to use. In the hands of Hizballah or other Shiite terrorist organizations in Syria or Iraq, for instance, they could be used to strike Israel without leaving a trail to Tehran.

4. Rollback. While President Obama has presented the deal as a first step toward freezing or even rolling back “key aspects” of Iran’s nuclear program. The fact remains that, so long as Iran is permitted to enrich uranium, even though this is restricted to a low 5 percent grade, it is free to produce as much fissile material as it wants, whenever it wants. This seems more like roll forward than roll back.


Caver said...

Well, there just ain't no more iffies or maybes to hide behind. The betrayal is total and complete and very transparent....or should I say "in your face". A public backhand across Bibi's face would be no more telling than this.

The only hope is that even democratic members of the congress and senate are mad as wet hornets.....but to no avail I fear. There just isn't time.

Not good. Not good at all.

Lord would be a great day.

AudioOutlaw said...

Israel, bring the rain.

Scott said...

The updates that are coming in are even worse.

Stephen said...

and what are bulls doing ??

UP AGAIN tonite to fresh records
on the dow.

in E trading.

Stocks are getting VERY VERY expensive at these levels.

the congregation of FOOLS gets
bigger......and bigger....

Stephen >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Scott said...

The follow-up reports indicate that things are worse for Israel in this 'deal' than even originally expected.

As far as the other comments - please -

Lets don't get this merry-go-round started again.

Stephen said...

And yet, bulls are NOT worried.
Stocks are still sharply higher tonite. Perhaps the deal was not so bad after all. It is confusing.

Some are saying it is bad for Israel. that could be. and yet, bulls are ESTATIC tonite.

why ??

i think i know why.
Cos it may be that Israel will not do anything yet, and bulls sense that. If so, the end will really be delayed.

Stephen >>>>>>>>>>>>