The following is an excerpt from a fact sheet prepared by Omri Ceren of the Israel Project that explains the significance of the Obama administration’s latest concession to Tehran—the reported collapse on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
The WSJ revealed late last night that the Obama administration has collapsed on the long-standing condition that the Iranians resolve the International Atomic Energy Agency's concerns about their past nuclear weapons work. This isn't a collapse on sequencing. It's not that the Iranians will get sanctions relief, and then they'll be expected to disclose their past work. This is a collapse on ever requiring the Iranians to fully come clean.
The development will be politically toxic on Capitol Hill.
The Obama administration has spent the last two years promising lawmakers that, whatever else would happen, Iran would at least have to fully resolve the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of their program. It had to be that way. The administration never secured any concession that would physically preclude the Iranians from going nuclear: dismantling centrifuges, shuttering facilities, and so on. Instead White House officials told Congress that the Iranians would be deterred from cheating by a robust verification regime. But any robust verification regime requires, as a prerequisite, that the IAEA have full insight into what the Iranians have done and what they've stockpiled.
And since no one imagined the Iranians would ultimately refuse—how could there be a deal with no PMD resolution?—the administration thought they had a safe deliverable to promise Congress. Officials went to the Hill and emphasized, 1st, that nothing mattered except verification, 2nd, that PMDs were the be-all and end-all of verification and, 3rd, that the Iranians would agree to resolve those issues. That was the message from the very beginning of talks—before the JPOA even took effect—all the way through the eve of Vienna. I've pasted some of the main testimony and briefings below.
Now the administration will move the goalposts. They'll argue they never needed Iranian cooperation because the U.S. intelligence community has adequate insight into the Iranian nuclear program and that they've shared that intelligence with the IAEA. There are policy problems with those claims—the U.S. intelligence community probably doesn't have adequate intelligence and the IAEA says it certainly doesn’t— but the administration also faces independent political problems. White House officials asked lawmakers for breathing room to conduct talks, and in exchange they promised to secure a resolution to the PMD issue as a basis for the verification regime. They said it was the most important element of the most important part of the entire Iran deal. They'll have to justify collapsing on it.
There are three places in the agreement that speak to the possible military dimensions of Iran's program. In the first paragraph, it talks about having the comprehensive agreement address all remaining concerns. That is a reference to their possible military dimensions. It talks about the need to address past and present practices, which is the IAEA terminology for possible military dimensions, including Parchin... So we have had very direct conversations with Iran about all of these. They understand completely the meaning of the words in this agreement, and we intend to support the IAEA in its efforts to deal with possible military dimensions, including Parchin.
We raised possible military dimensions.... in the Joint Plan of Action, we have required that Iran come clean on its past actions as part of any comprehensive agreement in three very critical ways... First... we expect, indeed, Parchin to be resolved.... Secondly, the plan says before the final step, there would be additional steps in the -- in between the initial measure and the final step, including addressing the U.N. Security Council resolutions, which require... dealing with issues of past (ph) concerns."
President Obama has promoted the recently agreed Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as “a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” There are many fallacies and ambiguities in this statement.
When the secretary of state says, as John Kerry did last week in his Senate testimony, that the Obama White House is “guaranteeing” Iran won’t have the bomb, you can be sure that—well, you can be pretty confident that he doesn’t mean it. And that someday soon he’ll pretend he never said it.
The Pentagon is illustrating Defense Secretary Ash Carter's trip to Israel with a picture of any angry-looking Benjamin Netanyahu. The picture is available on the Defense Department's website:
The caption reads, "U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following a meeting to discuss matters of mutual importance in Jerusalem, July 21, 2015."
In the summer of 1994 the Clinton administration faced the gravest crisis on the Korean peninsula since the signing of the armistice agreement in 1953. The genesis of the crisis had come in 1992 when Pyongyang concluded an agreement accepting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Subsequent IAEA inspections discovered inconsistencies between Pyongyang’s initial declaration regarding its nuclear program and IAEA findings. Pyongyang then threatened to withdraw from the NPT triggering an international crisis.
The Republican National Committee has come out against the Iran nuclear deal, which it labels as part of the "Clinton-Obama foreign policy." The RNC makes their case in a 33-second web video which will be released later today:
The ad uses audio from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. At the end of the short spot, the screen text reads, "Clinton-Obama foreign policy: Bad deals, a nuclear Iran. Too dangerous for America."
Last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized President Barack Obama for the Iranian nuclear deal. We're not "credible anymore," Cheney said, saying that our allies around the world no longer trust us.
A recently released Pew poll finds that only 38% approve President Obama's deal with Iran. A plurality disapproves of the deal.
"More Americans disapprove than approve of the deal struck last week by the U.S., Iran and five other nations to limit Iran’s nuclear program: Among the 79% of Americans who have heard about the agreement, just 38% approve, while 48% disapprove (14% do not offer an opinion)," the Pew poll finds.
President Obama assumes Congress will get in line and follow the United Nations's approval of the Iranian nuclear deal.
"This is by far our strongest approach to ensuring Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon," Obama said today in response to a question in the Oval Office about the United Nations move.
"There is broad international consensus around this issue. Not just among the international community but also among experts in the nuclear proliferation and my... assumption is that Congress will pay attention to that broad-based consensus."