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A Contentious Deal
Author: BobR    Date: 07/15/2015 13:07:33

In case you've been under a rock the past couple days, the big story of the week (other than the return of Bloom County) is that a coalition of nations reached an agreement with Iran to constrain their nuclear program. The arrangement is fairly comprehensive, relying on extensive monitoring to ensure Iran cannot possess nor create enough enhanced uranium or plutonium to create a bomb.

Here is a breakdown:
Uranium stockpile: Iran has agreed to slash its stockpile of enriched uranium by about 98 percent, from about 10,000 kilograms to less than 300 kg over 15 years. That uranium must be kept at a low-enrichment level — at 3.67 percent or less — that would prevent it from being used in a weapon over that period.

Centrifuges: The deal cuts Iran’s nuclear centrifuges by about 66 percent over 10 years, from about 20,000 to 6,000. Those centrifuges are used to isolate the isotopes needed to develop nuclear-grade materials.

Heavy water reactor: Iran will rebuild its Arak heavy water reactor so that it can no longer produce weapons-grade plutonium. The country also won’t be allowed to build a new heavy water reactor for 15 years.

Breakout time: The deal would extend Iran’s breakout time for a nuclear weapon — the time it would need to amass enough nuclear material to build a bomb — to one year, according to the White House. Iran has also agreed to restrictions on other activities required to turn nuclear material into weapons.

Nuclear weapons: Iran underscored a promise to never seek a nuclear weapon, giving the international community more leverage if it violates that pledge. Iran has also agreed to issue a statement that accounts for military aspects of the nuclear program.

This covers the next 10 years. Over that time, the current hard-liners in power will be dying off, and the younger people (who like America) will be moving into positions of power. It also gives us plenty of time to work on an extension to the treaty.

Needless to say, the GOP refuses to accept or acknowledge any success by the Obama administration. As expected, they are responding with hysterical hyperbole:
House Speaker John Boehner blasted the deal as “unacceptable,” saying that if it is “as bad a deal as I think it is at this moment, we’ll do everything we can to stop it.”

He warned it would only “embolden” Iran and even could trigger a global nuclear arms race.
[..]
Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who penned an explosive letter in March to Iran’s leaders, described the deal as “a terrible dangerous mistake” that will pave the way for a nuclear Iran.

“The American people are going to repudiate this deal, and I believe Congress will kill the deal,” he told MSNBC.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin, said Congress must “vigorously and judiciously review” the accord.

“There is no trust when it comes to Iran,” Cardin said.

[..]

Senator Lindsey Graham, a 2016 presidential candidate, said Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have been “dangerously naive” in their dealings with Tehran.

“You have taken the largest state sponsor of terror on the planet and given them money to increase their terrorist activities” by funding groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Graham said.

Israel's Netanyahu went even further:
“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran, and Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction,” Netanyahu told reporters before a meeting of his security cabinet.

“We will always defend ourselves.”

That last line, of course, refers to Israel potentially bombing the facilities. Despite all of these protestations from the neo-cons, chickenhawks, and paranoid schizophrenics, the Secretary of Defense has pointed out that Iran's failure to honor the agreement could result in military action from the U.S.:
Defense Secretary Ash Carter reassured Israel and other allies in the Middle East on Tuesday that the U.S. would utilize the "military option" against Iran if needed.

"We remain prepared and postured to bolster the security of our friends and allies in the region, including Israel; to defend against aggression; ensure freedom of navigation in the Gulf; and check Iranian malign influence," Carter said in a statement.

"We will utilize the military option if necessary," he added.

That's not likely to assuage the Republican critics. They are still moving forward with plans to block the deal. It's a tough road for them, because they will need a 2/3 veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress, and that is not likely to happen.

Besides Israel, the rest of the Middle East is mixed on the agreement. Sunni countries (like Saudi Arabia) are not happy because it changes the balance of power and money with regard to the two major Islamic sects. That's not really our problem or concern - they've been fighting each other for more than 1000 years, and that's not likely to change soon.

It doesn't help when we provide them with arms, adding fuel to an already raging fire. This agreement will prevent the most lethal of weapons from being created in the middle of that maelstrom. The concerns are that the inflow of money will result in Iran buying more conventional weapons and providing them to terrorists (of course - who one considers a terrorist generally depends upon which side of the conflict one is standing). We will see over the next several years whether this comes to pass, and whether the result is better or worse than doing nothing at all.

Sometimes I think Republicans aren't just afraid it will get worse - I think they're hoping it will, so President Obama's legacy will be tarnished rather than burnished. That's pretty sad.

37 comments (Latest Comment: 07/15/2015 20:54:22 by Will in Chicago)
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