The Great Cave: Iran and the West to ink nuke deal
Despite what you might think, the coming deal with Iran regarding it's nuclear enrichment program is not an indication of naivete on the part of the West. All the great powers know exactly what they're doing in trusting the Iranians to uphold their end of the agreement.
Call it the "Pontius Pilate Deal."
No one in the west wants to attack Iran. They wish to wash their hands of the entire matter and let Israel decide what to do. The failed negtotiations with Iran over the last 5 years have confirmed that Iran is not interested in ceding anything to the west regarding what they see as a sovereign "right" to enrich uranium. Therefore, the contours of this deal that may be signed as early as today, will not include a refusal to lift any sanctions unil the Iranians stop enriching uranium to any level. This has been the US negotiating position for more than a decade.
Iran and world powers expect to announce an initial deal as early as Friday to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions, a step that would mark the first breakthrough in a decade to blunt the threat of Tehran developing nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius are traveling to Geneva Friday to complete the deal. President Barack Obama described the emerging agreement Thursday in an interview with NBC News, saying that if Iran doesn't live up to its end, "we can crank that dial back up" on sanctions.
Um, no you won't be able to do that. If Iran breaks the deal - as they inevitably will - it is doubtful that the US could find enough support at the Security Council to reimpose sanctions. Russia has been running interference for Syria at the UN for years. Are we expecting them not to use their veto to sheild their other client in the Middle East?
U.S. officials view the agreement as the first phase in a broader diplomatic process that aims, over the next six months, to reach a permanent deal on reining in Iran's nuclear activities.
Iran, under this initial deal, would freeze the most advanced aspects of its nuclear program, including its production of near-weapons-grade fuel, in return for the U.S. and Europe easing some of the crippling financial sanctions they have imposed over the past five years, according to diplomats involved in the process.
The Obama administration is also seeking to constrain the numbers and capacity of the centrifuge machines Iran uses to enrich uranium and to prevent Tehran from commissioning a heavy water nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium by the end of next year.
Mr. Obama said the agreement is "greatly preferable to us ratcheting up that conflict." He said the U.S. will provide "very modest" sanctions relief in the initial phase of an agreement but would keep the broader "sanctions architecture" in place as a threat if Tehran doesn't comply.
"It is possible to reach an understanding for an agreement before we close these negotiations tomorrow evening," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN on Thursday in Geneva. "There is a window of opportunity now that...needs to be seized."
Tehran has just completed an upgrade at their Natanz enrichment facility, adding thousands of new and improved centrifuges. A deal that "constrains" their adding machines is irrelevant.
And they already have enough 20% enriched uranium to make about 6 bombs if they choose to further enrich the U-235 to 90%. No agreement is going to prevent that from happening if Iran chooses war.
Israel, is not pleased:
Israel's worst fears will be realized if a proposed deal by world powers goes ahead with Tehran, sharply curtailing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu options in his campaign against Iran's contested nuclear program.
The possible accord might not only tie Israel's hand in any future military action against Iran, but it could also have an unexpected knock-on effect and stymie U.S.-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
In a bitter outburst, Netanyahu denounced on Friday the contours of an Iranian agreement leaked to the media, once again putting himself in direct conflict with Washington.
"This is a very bad deal and Israel utterly rejects it," Netanyahu said as he headed into his third round of talks in just 48 hours with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and to defend the security of its people," he told reporters.
Tellingly, Kerry did not appear in public with the Israeli leader on Friday and instead flew off in silence to Geneva to join talks between Iran and six world powers, including Russia, China and the European Union.
Despite his veiled threat, Netanyahu would find it almost impossible to launch an attack on Iran should it clinch an initial deal to relax tough economic sanctions in return for a partial pullback of its large nuclear program.
"I can understand why Netanyahu is so furious," said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser.
"A unilateral military option would have no real chance now. Not because we can't do it, but because it would be seen as moving against the whole international community," he told Reuters. "That is something Israel cannot afford."
All of this wouldn't matter if Israel could count on America to back their play. But as other countries in the Middle East have discovered, Barack Obama is a feckless ally and the US simply can't be trusted.
Why else would the Saudis be looking to purchase nukes from Pakistan?
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight.
While the kingdom's quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran's atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.
Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.
Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring."
Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, "we will get nuclear weapons", the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions.
The Kingdom is perhaps overstating its claim to Pakistani weapons. Would Pakistan risk the diplomatic fallout if they became a nuclear proliferator? It's one thing to turn a blind eye when the father of the Pakistani bomb, A.Q. Khan, traveled the world selling nuclear know how to everyone from North Korea to Libya. But delivering an actual weapon to a third country is a big step that would outrage most of the world.
But the Saudis have enough cash that they could possibly overcome Pakistan's reluctance. The bottom line is that the Middle East is lining up and choosing sides. And the US is looking for an out on fulfilling its promise to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.