Another Possibility, by Robert Gore

Things are seldom what they seem;

Skim milk masquerades as cream

W.S. Gilbert

One of the oldest tricks in negotiating is to make the other side think that you regard some point as terribly important when in fact it is not, fight over it tooth and nail, give ground grudgingly, and by so doing win major concessions on points that are actually far more important. It appears that the Iranian negotiations have yielded an agreement that, if implemented and fully complied with by the Iranians, will essentially eviscerate their nuclear program. Iran has cut its centrifuges by two-thirds, and the centrifuges it will use are legacy, several generations behind state of the art. It has agreed not to enrich uranium beyond 3.67 percent, far below the 90 percent necessary for a bomb. A heavy water reactor at Arak will be reconfigured so that it cannot produce plutonium (the Iranians have never had the capability to reprocess such plutonium into bomb cores). The once-secret Fordow uranium enrichment site will be converted into a research center. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors will have virtually full-time, soup-to-nuts access, from uranium mining to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and will monitor imports into the country of materials and components that could have potential nuclear applications.

It is telling that a list released by the Israeli government of the improvements it seeks on the deal amounts to tweaks, but does not fundamentally upend the deal. The Iranians could conceivably give ground on some of those items, especially if they become, as seems likely, Republican talking points. While various politicians, media talking heads, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to question Iranian trustworthiness and whether they will live up to a final agreement, if one is reached, the framework cannot be dismissed. Keeping in mind the above caveats about implementation and compliance, this deal, as Patrick Buchanan noted, “Appears to do what Obama says it does: close off every known avenue to an Iranian bomb” (“Will Bob Corker Save the GOP?” 4/7/15, buchanan.org).

It is the very lopsidedness of the deal that should set off alarm bells. Not so much that the Iranians may one day evade its terms and develop nuclear bombs. Even if they did, their arsenal would be minuscule compared to those of five of the six nations that will also sign off on the agreement, and Israel has its bombs as well. Iran would be looking at not even mutually assured destruction should it use its nuclear weapons, only its own assured destruction.

Nevertheless, two facets of the Iranian negotiations don’t add up. First, why was Iran so insistent on keeping its nuclear program? The ready answer, of course, is that it wanted to keep it as a foundation to later develop nuclear weapons. That cannot be dismissed entirely, but they have not pursued such work for at least a decade, and if the outside world were to discover such an effort, Iran would run the very real risk of massive bombing and possibly full-on war. There are those who ascribe an apocalyptic death wish to Iranian leaders, but that has not been the way they have behaved to date. The Iranians say that their nuclear program has been a source of national pride, and that is why they have been adamant about keeping it in some form, and they do have, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the right to engage in peaceful nuclear research.

Why then, did they agree to dial back their nuclear program to such a rudimentary level that there is no way they can discover anything that has not already been discovered by other countries’ much more advanced programs? Is this to be make-work for Iranian nuclear personnel? Does a nation with the world’s fourth largest oil reserves need to develop nuclear power? Why cling so tenaciously to this program that will, once the agreement is implemented, serve so little constructive purpose for the Iranians?

What if Iran already has a bomb, or bombs? Military expert Richard Maybury has suggested that several countries may have nuclear weapons that we don’t know about. There are gaps in records tracking the Soviet Union’s bombs when it dissolved. Some of those bombs may have become available on the black market, where they would have undoubtedly commanded sky-high prices. North Korea or Pakistan, both nuclear powers, might sell bombs at the right price, especially if that price including substantial “commissions” to key officials.

At first blush it may appear farfetched, but even Russia or China could sell bombs to Iran. They are chafing at the US’s unipolar view of the world. Iran would use the bomb under only extreme circumstances, and the Russians or Chinese would undoubtedly extract assurances that an Iranian bomb, if detonated, would blow up in London, Washington, or New York, not Moscow or Beijing. The threat would be clear: a detonation in Russia or China would mean the complete destruction of Iran.

Those who dismisses the Iranian agreement with the argument that Iran will eventually breach it should ponder this question: why would Iran go to all the trouble and expense of secretly developing a nuclear bomb, risking detection and war, if they could simply buy bombs, and, better yet, keep them secret? It would be naive to assert that a black market in nuclear arms is impossible. If Iran were a buyer, the detection risk would be minimal: bombs could be put in ostensibly commercial aircraft, flown from Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, or Karachi to Tehran, from which they would be transported to and hidden away in some remote, deeply fortified bunker. The Iranians might not have much, if any, launch capability, but they could surely smuggle bombs into the US or Europe for either nuclear blackmail or outright detonation.

This gets us back to the old negotiating trick. Iran’s nuclear program, if it was ever important to them, may be much less so now, which is why they have essentially given it away. If Iran already has bombs, they will do everything they must in order to reach an agreement, which by their lights will be irrelevant except for the concessions on sanctions they extract. Easing sanctions will aid their economy, giving the government more wherewithal to, among other things, buy bombs. Signing and then complying in every particular with the agreement will reduce suspicions, give Iran new legitimacy, and probably stop hostile Middle Eastern nations, most importantly Saudi Arabia, from acquiring their own bombs. Meanwhile, Iran will have a nuclear arsenal that only the nation or nations that sold to them will know about. Its leaders will also have the satisfaction of outfoxing the western powers, and discrediting the bellicose rhetoric of despised Israeli and American politicians.

Suspicions have been raised about Obama’s motives for vigorously pursuing this deal (see “He Said That? 4/3/15,” SLL). If one wants to believe the worst about Obama, that would be not that he’s trying to pave the way for Iran to build bombs, but rather that he knows Iran already has bombs, and he’s helping them cover their tracks. That is thrown out as a possibility only, the truth or falsity of which we may never know. However, if you believe that Obama wants to destroy America and is sympathetic to the Islamic cause, especially the Shiite cause, this alternative interpretation fits those beliefs. From Obama’s standpoint, if the agreement eventually goes through and Iran complies with its terms, there will be—just before the 2016 elections—the benefit of embarrassing all those Republicans who spoke so forcefully against it before they even saw its terms. One thing we do know about Obama’s motivations—domestic political considerations are almost always paramount.

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17 responses to “Another Possibility, by Robert Gore

  1. Pingback: SLL: Another Possibility? | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. Totally agree. That is the one thing Obama cares about. His legacy, which will be to move the progressive democrats forward in the next election. I hadn’t considered Iran already has the bomb. If it does, I doubt it’s a secret, just not common knowledge.

    The entire event is a charade played out for the benefit of the electorate, which would be to serve as a distraction in the run up to the elections. Orchestrated by the established oligarchy to show how well diplomacy works, and defend the status quo at all costs, while in reality, it’s only the status of the USD as the world’s reserve currency and it’s economy that keeps the west afloat.

    The Iranian treaty may very well be a distraction, while other one worlder events are the real front burner issues, like TPP, and may be what Obama needs to get progressives support.

    Thanks for the perspective.

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  3. I’ve been struggling to understand exactly what Obama has been up to with these Iran negotiations. This really helped make some sense of it.

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  4. To understand the Iranian side one has to understand the tech/process. Lets say Iran already has the bomb or bought one. They still need the tech to maintain them. Nukes are not static like say a 16″ naval artillery shell. The contents and the mechanisms degrade over time. That means you have to have the infrastructure to maintain those assets, just like a car. Only unlike a car, you have to maintain your own garage to keep the assets viable. Outsourcing it fails at the sovereignty level of deterrent.

    The other factor is time. Even if its legacy tech, given sufficient time, Iran can derive the necessary 90% purity required. Also keep in mind that their latest facilities they are building are MOAB proof.

    But understand one thing, MAD only works if both sides are rational actors. Russians, and Chinese, they dote on their kids just like Americans, want to see the next day, and know a nuke exchange is a losers play. Teheran however is not a rational actor and whether they see a new day is probably irrelevant to them.

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    • I think Iranians dote on their kids, too, and want to see the next day. See below for you point that Tehran is not a rational actor, and why it may be in the Russians or Chinese’s interest to sell Iran bombs.

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  5. Two things kill the credibility here, the idea that China or Russia would sell nukes, and the idea that Iran is a rational actor. The Mullahs are NOT rational, and no one in their right mind will sell nukes to them. You can also rule out Pakistan, since they are on the other side of the religious divide. There are other black sources of nukes I’m sure, but it will take some more pointing out of the sources to make that work.

    All of the critics have been saying the deal thus far preserves most of the program, who all is saying otherwise?

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  6. Particular Individual

    The number of centrifuges isnt as big a factor as given credit. What counts is the matrix of how those centrifuges cascade to eventually create more low grade vs less high grade U235. Since the centrifuge ONLY separates lighter matter and heavier matter, the matrix design (width vs length) defines the end product. Low grade requires more individual cascade lines that dont go as far while higher grade requires fewer cascade lines that go much farther to result in the higher purity. Any number of centrifuges can be configured either way. But limiting the total number of centrifuges to a lower number only makes them really viable for weapons fuel because you need significantly more individual cascade lines of centrifuges to supply the quantity needed to keep a power facility online.

    Limiting the number of centrifuges suggests that USA *WANTS* Iran to have a bomb according to Mike Morell, ex deputy director of CIA. Why? To counter balance the Saudis power in middle east and sell more weapons to everyone in the region! MIC winning again.

    Mike Morrell on Charlie Rose: Fewer centrifuges means more likely for bomb – http://adam.curry.com/enc/20150301211354_mikemorellonroselimitingiranscentrifugesbomb.mp3

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  7. I firmly believe that the 2016 presidential winner will be a terrible one termer so a woman Democrat should fit nicely (Elizabeth Warren).

    Also Iran would like to use nuke power because when done right it is cheaper, safer and cleaner than fossil fuels. Also, like a drug dealer why use your own supply when its better to sell and make a profit? Same goes for oil reserves.

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  8. FrozenPatriot

    Who’s to say it wasn’t Obama that sold/gave them a bomb?

    Like

  9. SuperTruckerTom

    An aircraft carrier is the primary target for any tactical weapon.
    The Straights of Hormuz are awfully narrow.
    A hypersonic missile with a multikiloton weapon is formidable.
    Why else would you want to run a pipeline through Syria to the Mediterranean Sea?
    To avoid paying a toll to pass through the Straights safely.
    It has been my belief for years that Iran has a Nuclear Ace up its sleeve.

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  10. If Iran already has “the bomb(s)” wouldn’t Israel know about it?

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  11. AppeasersRTraitors

    ” Iran would be looking at not even mutually assured destruction should it use its nuclear weapons, only its own assured destruction.”

    Iran has already admitted years ago (and shown by its use of children and human wave “mine detectors” in their war against Iraq) that they have no compunction about losing massive pecentages of their population if it acheives their goals of exterminaing ISrael:

    Rafsanjani in 2001: Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president and still active in Iran: “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession…application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world”.

    add that to these and you have a non-sane actor either with or about to get nukes:

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran
    1. “Israel’s leaders sometimes threaten Iran, but they know that if they do a damn thing, the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”

    Hasan Rouhani, President of Iran.

    3. “The Army of Iran can by itself destroy Israel.”

    Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Army
    4. “According to the Supreme Leader’s statement marking Nowruz, if Israel acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be annihilated….The armed forces are prepared with all their power to execute the orders of the Supreme Leader in minimum time.”

    Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, Deputy Chief of Staff
    5. “Our battalions are named Imam Ali, Imam Hussein and Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] to clarify our final destination to the Basiji. We will not abandon our [armed] struggle until the annihilation of Israel and until we will be able to pray in al-Aqsa mosque.”

    Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, Commander of the Basij militia
    6. “The enemies are talking about the options [they have] on the table. They should know that the first option on our table is the annihilation of Israel.”

    Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani, Lecturer at religious seminary in Qom
    7. “We must spare no effort in liberating holy Jerusalem and cutting off the hands of the infidels from this holy site.”

    Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, Assembly of Experts Chairman
    8. “The Zionist regime will soon be destroyed, and this generation will be witness to its destruction.”

    Hojatoleslam Ali Shirazi, Supreme Leader’s representative in the Revolutionary Guards
    9. “The issue of Palestine is an Islamic issue. The Islamic world must come together to destroy the false Israeli regime….If this happens, nothing will be left of Israel.”

    Ayatollah Mohammed Ali Movahedi-Kermani, Tehran’s interim Friday Imam
    10. “As the Supreme Leader has stated, if the Zionists cause any problems for Iran, Haifa and Tel Aviv will be annihilated.”

    Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, Senior Military Adviser to the Supreme Leader
    11. “Iran has long-range missiles that can reach 1,500 kilometers….The Supreme Leader maintained that ‘every combatant Palestinian group that fights the Zionist regime will receive the support of the Iranian regime.’”

    Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, Member of the Presidium of the Assembly of Experts
    12. “The only way to subdue the enemies is by refusing to compromise on the goals of the resistance and to remain strong; the future of criminal nations such as the Zionists will be erased from the history books.”

    Hojatoleslam Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, Hizbullah Operations Liaison, Former Ambassador to Syria
    13. “If once the destruction and demise of occupying Israel was an impossible and unattainable dream, today thanks to the historic and intelligent actions of Imam Khomeini, it has become possible and is actually in the process of occurring.”

    Iranian Ministry of Defense statement
    14. “The day will come when the Islamic people in the region will destroy Israel and save the world from this Zionist base.”

    Hojateleslam Alireza Panahian, Advisor to Office of the Supreme Leader in Universities
    15. “The day is near in which the sword of resistance and Islamic Awakening will cut off the blood supply of the occupiers of the holy land of Palestine.”

    Revolutionary Guards statement
    16. “Every Muslim who does not want to fight Israel is violating religious law and essentially forgetting Israel’s crimes over the past 60 years on Islamic soil.”

    Mohammad Dehghan, Member of the Majlis Executive Committee
    17. “The only solution to the Palestine problem is the destruction of the Zionist regime….We view the wondrous resistance as the only way towards a victorious and inspiring battle against the false, illegitimate Zionist regime.”

    Basij organization media outlet, Fars Province
    18. “[The United States and Israel] should not make a mistake, because if they make even the smallest mistake, we will not remain silent and will annihilate Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

    Esmail Kowsari, Deputy Chairman of the Majlis Foreign Policy Commission
    19. “The destruction of Israel is the idea of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and is one of the pillars of the Iranian Islamic regime. We cannot claim that we have no intention of going to war with Israel!”

    Ahmad Alamolhoda, Member of the Assembly of Experts
    20. Iranian State Television Airs Animated Strike on Israel

    An imagined Iranian missile strike on Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Dimona, malls, and IDF bases.

    ******
    feel free to reply with quotes about how peace loving Iran is from your resident jihadist Juan Cole.

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