Revisiting Iran nuclear promises

Just over three months ago, President Obama stood in the Rose Garden of the White House and formally announced, in front of the world’s TV cameras:
“Today, the United States, together with our allies and partners, has reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make country, our allies, and our world safer.”
At that time I wrote here that even assuming everything the president detailed is actually in the final “deal,” the wildly optimistic predictions about the outcome he outlined just didn’t make sense back in April. They make even less sense this week. Here’s a summary of my April column:
According to the president’s assertions in the Rose Garden:
The proposed framework would “cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.”
Analysis: Back in April, Iran was about six weeks from “breakout,” and the “framework” does not address the bulk of its stockpiled enriched uranium; its “pathway to a nuclear weapon” is, in fact, already a wide-open highway.
Iran agreed to a robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime.
Analysis: Not according to top Iranian leaders who claim “national sovereign rights.”
“This deal is not based on trust. It’s based on unprecedented verification.”
Analysis: Only if the IAEA is allowed unannounced visits to spot-check and verify, including at yet undisclosed locations …
The core of its heavy water reactor at Arak will be dismantled and replaced.
Analysis: Not according to the Iranians (see below).
Iran’s installed centrifuges will be reduced by two-thirds.
Analysis: According to the Iranians, the old-generation IR1 centrifuges will be replaced by thousands of the new and much more efficient IR3 and IR4 models, some of which are already assembled on-site.
Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its underground Fordo facility.
Analysis: But the centrifuges will continue to operate and not be dismantled … and inspections will be limited to the “civilian research facilities.”
Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least 10 years.
Analysis: Maybe not at the currently known locations, but what about the yet undisclosed military facilities?
Most of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized.
Analysis: This was promised over three years ago. The world is still waiting for the first batch to be “treated.”
International inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iranian nuclear facilities and the entire supply chain that supports them.
Analysis: Iranians: “Only we will decide what they can inspect and when.”
In return for full Iranian compliance to all the above, the president said, “the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions.
“If Iran violates the deal,” he went on, “sanctions can be snapped back into place.”
It’s amazing how far the president had moved the Iranian nuclear goalposts since he said, at a March 6, 2012, press conference: “… we will not countenance Iran getting a nuclear weapon … my policy is to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon — because if they get a nuclear weapon that could trigger an arms race in the region, it would undermine our non-proliferation goals, it could potentially fall into the hands of terrorists.”
The March-April talks in Switzerland did not result in a deal or even a framework for one.
All one has to do is look at the conflicting “summary” papers put out after the Rose Garden speech by the State Department (1318 words in English), and the Iranian government (512 words in Persian), that offer totally contradictory understandings of what was agreed on in April.
According to Amir Taheri in the New York Post on April 4: “The American statement claims that Iran has agreed not to use advanced centrifuges, each of which could do the work of 10 old ones. The Iranian text, however, insists that “on the basis of solutions found, work on advanced centrifuges shall continue.”
Taheri adds: “The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The plant shall remain and be updated and modernized.”
The State Department paper talks about “phased sanctions relief” linked to Iranian compliance, while Iran claims, both in its official summary paper and in public announcements over the weekend, that the sanctions would be “immediately terminated.”
It is now clear that three months ago we were nowhere near “a historic understanding with Iran” … as we were led to believe in the Rose Garden in April.
As of this writing I’m waiting to see if this week’s July 7 deadline for an agreement generates a new Rose Garden speech. Personally, I’m not very optimistic.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

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