Ex-IAEA Deputy Expresses Concerns about Iran Deal - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil interviews Olli Heinonen (Times of Israel)
Olli Heinonen, the International Atomic Energy Agency's former top official for monitoring nuclear proliferation, on Monday expressed a range of concerns about the deal taking shape, warned of Iran's history of deception, and cautioned that the one-year framework for nuclear breakout might leave insufficient time for an international reaction to violations of the agreement.
Heinonen believes that if Iran tries to engage in covert nuclear development, the reaction time of the international community could be too slow - and the so-called "snapback" of sanctions could take too long to register an impact.
Israel Believes Washington Did Not Maximize Its Leverage with Iran - David Makovsky (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The crux of the Israeli critique of the Iran nuclear deal is that the U.S. did not use its full leverage in the negotiations, and that Washington's objective evolved during the talks from eliminating Iran's program to merely constraining it.
From Israel's perspective, time was on Washington's side, first because Iran's main source of revenue, oil, saw its price halved in the past several months, and second because the world was united against any Iranian nuclear enrichment by dint of six related UN Security Council resolutions.
More broadly, Israel believes that Iran has never made a strategic decision to disavow nuclear weapons, and that the West has moved more toward Tehran during the talks than vice versa.
Israeli officials also believe there is a lot of wishful thinking about Iranian intentions.
The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute.
Iran Deal Fails the Tests of Verification - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
What the president calls "this verifiable deal" fails the first test of verification - mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it.
The deal also fails the second test of verification: It can't be verified.
We've seen this movie before. Iran agreed in 2003 to implement the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that permits intrusive inspections, only to renounce it in 2006 after stonewalling weapons inspectors.
But even the Protocol is inadequate, since it doesn't permit no-notice, "anytime, anywhere" inspections.
The Iran Deal: How Not to Negotiate in the Middle East - Michael B. Oren (TIME)
In reaching the parameters agreement, international negotiators were worn down by the protracted talks.
They were persuaded by Iran's displays of warmth and earnestness, and accepted its claim that the nuclear program was a matter of national pride similar to America's moon landing.
Most damagingly, the P5+1 recognized the Islamic Republic's right to enrich and to maintain its nuclear facilities.
Instead of telling the Iranians that "if you don't take this offer, our next one will be smaller," the P5+1 said, "If you don't like these terms, perhaps we can improve them."
Rather than responding to Iranian intransigence with heightened sanctions and credible military force, negotiators removed these options.
The U.S. and its P5+1 partners must reject any further Iranian demands. They should make clear to Tehran that it risks losing the gains it has made while facing punitive measures such as ramped-up sanctions. They must be prepared to walk way.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
Khamenei's Nonexistent Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons (MEMRI)
In President Obama's announcement following the conclusion of the negotiations in Lausanne, he again mentioned the nonexistent fatwa that Iran's Supreme Leader is said to have issued against the development of nuclear weapons.
Such a fatwa has never been issued, and to this day no one has been able to produce it.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Obama Rejects Netanyahu's Call for Iran to Recognize Israel - Kendall Breitman
"The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment," President Obama said in an interview with NPR on Monday.
"We want Iran not to have nuclear weapons precisely because we can't bank on the nature of the regime changing....If suddenly Iran transformed itself to Germany or Sweden or France, then there would be a different set of conversations about their nuclear infrastructure." (Politico)
- Israel Suggests Ways to Make Iran Nuclear Deal "More Reasonable" - Isabel Kershner
Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, on Monday presented a list of desired modifications for the final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, due to be concluded by June 30, that he said would make it "more reasonable" and close dangerous loopholes.
The Israeli list includes: An end to all research and development activity on advanced centrifuges in Iran. A significant reduction in the number of centrifuges that can quickly become operational if Iran breaks the agreement and decides to build a bomb. The closing of the underground Fordo facility as an enrichment site, even if enrichment activities are suspended there. Iranian compliance in revealing its past activities with possible military dimensions. A commitment to ship its stockpile of enriched uranium out of Iran. And the ability for inspectors charged with verifying the agreement to go "anywhere, anytime" in Iran.
Steinitz said that the suggestion that there was no alternative to the framework agreed in Lausanne, or that Israel had not put forward an alternative, "is wrong."
"The alternative is not necessarily to declare war on Iran. It is to increase pressure on Iran and stand firm and make Iran make serious concessions and have a much better deal."
Regarding Obama's statement that America would back Israel in the face of any Iranian aggression, Steinitz said, "We do appreciate it."
But he added that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be an existential threat to Israel.
"Nobody can tell us that backing and assistance are enough to neutralize such a threat," he said. (New York Times)
See also Ten Questions on the Nuclear Deal with Iran - Israel Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz (Times of Israel)
- Verifying Iran Nuclear Deal Not Possible, Experts Say - Bill Gertz
Despite promises by President Obama that Iranian cheating on a new treaty will be detected, "the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will not be effectively verifiable," said Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation from 2002 to 2009.
Arms control experts challenged the administration's assertions that a final deal can be verified, based on Iran's past cheating and the failure of similar arms verification procedures.
U.S. intelligence agencies, which will be called on to verify the agreement, have a spotty record for estimating foreign arms programs.
A 2007 National Intelligence Estimate falsely concluded that Iran halted work on nuclear weapons in 2003. The IAEA, in a 2011 report, contradicted the estimate by stating that Iran continued nuclear arms work past 2003, including work on computer modeling used in building nuclear warheads.
DeSutter said the transparency measures announced at best could detect quantitative excesses at known locations, but not secret illegal activities, like those that Iran carried out on a large scale in violation of its obligations under the NPT.
David S. Sullivan, a former CIA arms verification specialist, said past cheating by Iran was confirmed as recently as July 2014. "Why are we negotiating for a new agreement, when existing Iranian NPT violations remain in effect, ongoing, and unresolved, suggesting that Iran is unlikely to comply with any new agreement?" Sullivan said. "The negotiations started as an attempt to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, but now they have legitimized it." (Washington Free Beacon)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- The Iranian Nuclear Parameters - Amos Yadlin
The agreement reached in Lausanne is a problematic compromise - one that reflects the U.S. eagerness to reach an agreement for fear of the failure to reach an agreement, the fear of war, or fear that the other powers would not join in another round of sanctions. Iran came to these negotiations seeking to have the sanctions that have hurt Iran's energy and finance sectors significantly lifted immediately. The Iranians have understood the U.S. desire to reach an agreement, which is why Iran was able to drive a harder bargain than the powers.
The U.S. should clarify that the emerging nuclear agreement does not give Iran a green light to continue with subversion and terrorism - and should back this with decisive, resolute action against Iran on all fronts in which Iran operates across the Middle East. The U.S. should remain committed to sanctions imposed on Iran regarding Tehran's involvement in terrorism, weapons shipments, abuse of human rights, and missile development and proliferation.
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former IDF chief of Defense Intelligence, is director of Tel Aviv University's INSS.
(Institute for National Security Studies)
- The Flawed Underpinnings of the New Nuclear Understandings with Iran - Dore Gold
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif boasted, after the understandings were announced, that Iran did not have to close down a single nuclear facility, it will continue to engage in uranium enrichment, and it can engage in research and development (meaning it can develop new generations of centrifuges that operate 10 or 20 times faster).
And while Iran holds on to this nuclear complex, Western sanctions on the Iranian economy will be removed and Tehran will be awash with cash to support its expansionism into Middle Eastern countries, its missile programs which are not covered by the agreement, and its global backing of terrorism.
Iranian expansionism at present is the best window into Iranian intent. If Iran sees itself as a new imperial power, taking over its neighbors, then what are the chances that its leadership will remain a nuclear threshold state? The chances are close to zero. They will cross the threshold and go for a bomb. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- In Wake of Iran Deal, Time for U.S.-Israel Dialogue - Ron Ben-Yishai
It is time for Israel to undergo intensive dialogue with the U.S. to neutralize the dangerous aspects of the agreement between the world powers and Iran. And there are quite a few. Israel should seek coordination on the actions that the U.S. and Israel will take should Iran violate the terms of the agreement.
In addition, Israel must receive a commitment from the U.S. to prevent the military nuclearization of other Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
Even if these understandings are secret, they have great value. If, for example, the U.S. agrees in advance with Israel on joint intelligence estimates and joint diagnosis of violations of the agreement by Iran, and if the U.S. promises Israel that it will not oppose military action on its part if Iran makes a break for the bomb, Israel will have some security and a safety net in light of the nuclear deal being formulated with Iran. This will avoid disputes with the U.S. on whether Iran was in violation or not.
One thing Israel cannot accept is Obama's offer to defend it if attacked. Israel should adhere to the stance set by David Ben-Gurion that Israel defends itself by itself, and does not become the client state of a foreign patron.
- How Hizbullah and Hamas Benefit from Iran Deal - Eyal Zisser
It is not only the Iranians who will enjoy the economic benefits Iran stands to garner from the deal, but also Hizbullah and Hamas operatives, whose paychecks and equipment come directly from the Iranian pocket. The Iran-U.S. deal has cemented Iran's position as a legitimate regional power.
Tehran has always coveted this position, which entails the expansion of Iran's influence to include what it considers its "security belt," that spans from Iran to Lebanon, Gaza and even Israel. Prof. Eyal Zisser is former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
- Iran Has Escaped a Noose - Ehud Barak
The common perception across the Middle East is that America negotiated not out of strength but out of an appetite to obtain a deal. This by itself allowed Iran an advantage in the negotiations, and that advantage has been enhanced by the announcement of an agreement. Making a deal with the U.S. - one that allows Iran's leadership to announce relief from all sanctions without shuttering a single nuclear facility - surely strengthens the Iranians, and that bodes ill from Iran in other arenas.
President Obama does our side no favor by arguing that a strike will ignite another Middle East war. A surgical strike on key nuclear facilities in Iran can throw them five years backward, and a repetition would become a major Iranian worry. The possibility should not be rhetorically holstered. It may be the only language Iran understands. The writer is a former prime minister of Israel.
- How Iran Outmaneuvered the U.S. in Nuclear Talks - Michael Singh
It is hard to deny that the "key parameters" of the Iran nuclear deal hew more closely to Iran's long-held demands than to those of the U.S.
The Obama administration's negative view - aired publicly - of military conflict and its other alternatives to a deal appear to have driven its willingness to make concessions.
The Iranians lived up to their reputation as savvy negotiators. As the negotiations progressed, Iran worked to improve its options in the event of no deal and to worsen those of the other side, while employing audacious tactics to secure the best possible agreement among the range of feasible outcomes. The U.S. should seek to counter the Iranian approach, lest the nuclear negotiations be remembered not as a signature foreign policy accomplishment but as a case study of a powerful country playing a strong hand poorly. The writer, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, worked on Middle East issues at the National Security Council from 2005 to 2008.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Iran Deal Leaves Security Fears - Peter Brookes
There's a very good chance this deal will not be finalized, considering the devilish details that need to negotiated by the next deadline, the end of June.
This includes the pace of economic sanctions relief, nuclear R&D limitations, possible military dimensions questions, establishing benchmarks (e.g., nuclear stockpiles), and the need for intrusive challenge inspections to support verification during implementation.
Some have insisted that the only other policy option to the framework as currently proposed is war - so take it or leave it. While the either/or argument sounds compelling, it's a misleading and false narrative.
There are plenty of policy options between war and this agreement that potentially would have driven a better deal.
The writer is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Iran's Grand Strategy Is to Become a Regional Powerhouse - Michael Morell (Washington Post)
- Last month, Ali Younesi, who was head of intelligence for former Iranian President Khatami and is now a senior adviser to Iranian President Rouhani, spoke at a conference in Tehran and made clear that Iran's ambition is to reestablish the Persian empire. Iran "was born an empire. Iran's leaders, officials and administrators have always thought in the global" dimension.
- Younesi defined "Greater Iran" as reaching from the borders of China and including the Indian subcontinent, the north and south Caucasus and the Persian Gulf. He said Iraq is the capital of the Iranian Empire - a reference to the ancient city of Babylon which was the center of Persian life for centuries.
- "We must try to once again spread the banner of Islamic-Iranian unity and peace in the region. Iran must bear this responsibility, as it did in the past." He also said that anything that enters Iran is improved by becoming Iranian, particularly Islam itself, adding that Islam in its Iranian-Shiite form is the pure Islam. These views are shared widely among Iranian elites.
- Younesi's speech was an outline of Iran's grand strategy. It puts into context Iran's behavior in the region - largely covert operations to undermine its Arab neighbors, Israel and the U.S., the countries that stand in the way of its pursuit of hegemony.
The writer was acting and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013.
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