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The Race for Iran

ENRICHMENT STILL THE KEY TO NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY WITH IRAN

It seems increasingly likely that we will see another round of nuclear diplomacy with Iran in coming weeks, in September.   This round will probably include discussions with the “Vienna Group” (the United States, Russia, and France) at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on refueling the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) in light of the Iran-Turkey-Brazil Joint Declaration announced in Tehran on May 17 .  It will probably include as well another go between Iranian negotiators and representatives of the P-5+1; precedent suggests that this meeting would take place in Geneva, but the Iranians are currently proposing Turkey as an alternative location, which could also facilitate Turkish and Brazilian participation in the talks. 

 As we look toward these discussions, senior Iranian officials—including Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi—are reiterating, see here, that Tehran would be prepared to discontinue enriching uranium at the nearly-20 percent level required to fabricate fuel for the TRR, if the international community accepts the Joint Declaration and new fuel is provided for the TRR.  Predictably, “U.S. and European diplomats” are telling Western journalists that recent imposition of new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, by the United Nations Security Council, the United States, and the European Union (EU), has prompted Tehran’s willingness to return to the negotiating table and consider stopping enrichment at the near-20 percent level. 

As we noted previously, see here, this seems to be “another (seemingly willful) misreading of the Iranian position”, as the Iranians have always linked their pursuit of enrichment to the near-20 percent level to the international community’s failure to come through, in a credible and timely way, on cooperation with Tehran to refuel the TRR.  But the view that sanctions are compelling significant concessions from the Iranian side is not just a misreading of the situation.  If this assessment is taken seriously as the basis for formulating Western negotiating strategy for the next round of nuclear talks with Iran, it will doom these talks to failure

As has been the case for several years, the key to successful nuclear diplomacy with the Islamic Republic is the willingness of the United States and its European partners to accept internationally safeguarded uranium enrichment on Iranian territory as an indispensable part of any nuclear “deal”.     

To understand this argument, it is important to recall some relevant history.  The TRR issue arose in the first place because, in June 2009 (before the Islamic Republic’s last presidential election), Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA sent a letter to the Agency’s then-Director General, Mohammed ElBaradei, requesting assistance in finding a vendor to supply new fuel for the TRR.  Iranian officials have explained to us how this letter, requesting to purchase new fuel for the TRR—as the Islamic Republic had done almost 25 years before—was intended as a confidence-building measure (CBM, in the lingo of arms control).  From Tehran’s perspective, if Iran were able to purchase new fuel for the TRR from abroad, it would not need to pursue enrichment at the nearly-20 percent level (which, though still classified as low-level enrichment under the NPT, is more problematic from the perspective of non-proliferation fundamentalists). 

When we met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York in September 2009 (Ahmadinejad was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly), he emphasized the potential value of international cooperation to refuel the TRR as a “CBM”.  Ahmadinejad, however, made clear that, if such cooperation, in the form of a straightforward and thoroughly safeguarded commercial deal for new fuel, were not available, the Islamic Republic would consider enriching uranium to the requisite level and trying to make the fuel itself.   

But, rather than take the opportunity offered by the original Iranian letter to the IAEA, the Obama Administration decided to put forward its own proposal as a “test” for Tehran.  Under this proposal—engineered from the White House by the National Security Council’s nonproliferation “czar”, Gary Samore—Iran would “swap” roughly 75 percent of its then-current stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) for new fuel for the TRR.  The Obama Administration and its partners wanted to use a fuel “swap” to extract enough of Iran’s then-current LEU stockpile from Iranian control to preclude even a theoretical possibility of nuclear “breakout” by the Islamic Republic for at least a year. 

Some commentators have suggested that the “swap” idea was a major concession on the Obama Administration’s part, in that it “implied” an acceptance of uranium enrichment on Iranian territory.  But this view is simply incorrect.  In the Obama Administration’s public presentation of the proposal, the roughly one-year, “breakout free” window that a swap deal would have provided would have been used to explore with the Iranians, through negotiations, whether a larger agreement on nuclear issues was possible. 

The critical reality, however, was that Obama Administration officials wanted to use the one-year window to see if it was possible to reach consensus among themselves about fundamental questions of Iran policy—including the acceptability of carefully monitored uranium enrichment in Iran

At the October 1, 2009 meeting of the P-5+1 with a senior Iranian delegation headed by Saeed Jalili, secretary-general of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council, in Geneva—a meeting which included a 45-minute one-on-one session between Jalili and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns—the Iranians were not provided with any assurances that the “swap” proposal implied acceptance of the legitimacy of uranium enrichment on Iranian territory.  Nevertheless, the Iranians accepted the idea of a swap in principle, subject to follow-on technical discussions. 

At these follow-on discussions in Vienna and subsequently, the Iranians wanted to negotiate on specific details of the “swap” proposal, which was formalized by the IAEA’s Nobel Prize-winning then-Director General, Mohammed ElBaradei, as we have extensively documented and analyzed since October, see here, here, and here.  Among other things, the Iranians indicated a willingness to “escrow” their LEU in Turkey, pending delivery of finished new fuel for the TRR, in December 2009, see here.  But, under domestic and Israeli pressure, the Obama Administration turned Baradei’s “swap” proposal into a “take it or leave it” proposition, see here—something that Baradei himself says should not have been done, see here and here

Moreover, the Administration continued to withhold any signal to Iran on the crucial enrichment issue, see here. Unable to confront the dysfunctionality of its own policy, the Obama Administration effectively cut off prospects for further nuclear discussions at the end of 2009.  Instead, the Administration began a months-long diplomatic campaign to push a fourth, watered-down resolution imposing sanctions on Iran through the United Nations Security Council—which it had determined would be necessary before any further talks with Iran could continue. 

In the meantime, by not bargaining with Iran, the Western powers handed Tehran the perfect justification to start enriching to higher levels.  This, of course, is precisely what Tehran did, starting in February 2010.  The historical record strongly suggests that Iran did not take the decision to pursue higher-level enrichment in a serious and sustained way until its option for an acceptable deal on refueling the TRR with the Vienna Group had been put in serious doubt

It was at this juncture that Brazil and Turkey stepped up their own (by then largely coordinated) diplomatic efforts with Iran over the TRR issue.  But, by the time that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan put themselves forward as potential brokers for a fuel-swap deal, the Obama Administration was not genuinely interested in reaching a deal with Tehran. 

Instead, the Administration decided to keep previous commitments extracted from it by Israel, the U.S. Congress, and important pro-Israel interest groups in Washington to move ahead with a new sanctions resolution—these domestic political demands meant that new sanctions were, in effect, a prerequisite for any further talks with Iran

The Obama Administration cynically insisted that Brazil and Turkey include provisions in any deal they might broker with Tehran which U.S. officials assumed would trigger an Iranian rejection, see here. Some Administration officials even calculated that, when the Brazilians and Turks “struck out” in Tehran, it would then be possible to leverage them into supporting the new sanctions in the Security Council.   

Ultimately, of course, the Iranians accepted the terms President Obama spelled out in a letter to his Brazilian counterpart in April 2010.  Turkey agreed to serve as the repository for Iran’s LEU for one year pending the delivery of new fuel for the TRR; furthermore, Turkey committed that, if the new fuel were not provided in accordance with the agreed terms, it would return the LEU to Iran—an important assurance for Tehran. 

But there was an important additional element, agreed to by the Brazilians and the Turks in the Joint Declaration:  the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal announced on May 17, 2010 had, as its very first substantive point, a forthright acknowledgement that the Islamic Republic has the “right” to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy (as well as nuclear fuel cycle including enrichment activities) for peaceful purposes without discrimination”.  This is a critical new element in the multilateral diplomacy surrounding Iran’s nuclear activities.  In the face of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding that the Islamic Republic suspend all uranium enrichment, Tehran wants its right to enrich acknowledged as an essential condition for progress toward a larger nuclear deal

Obama and his senior advisers were caught flat-footed by the Joint Declaration; the Obama Administration immediately rejected the agreement that Lula and Erdoğan had negotiated with the Iranians (a deal which met all of the criteria spelled out in Obama’s letter to Lula) and accelerated work on a new sanctions resolution that would be adopted by the United Nations Security Council in June 2010.  Remarkably, Iran, Turkey, and Brazil have worked to keep the Joint Declaration alive as a potential opening for further nuclear diplomacy, even after the Security Council adopted Resolution 1929. 

Now that there appears to be a serious prospect for renewed negotiations over the TRR issue, the Iranians have reiterated what has been their position from the outset—that they would pursue higher-level enrichment if they believed they did not have a genuine option for obtaining new fuel for the TRR from international providers; if they could obtain new fuel on a reasonable basis, there would be no need for undertaking higher-level enrichment.  This Iranian position is not new, and it is not the product of sanctions. 

Moreover, by saying that Iran will stop enriching at higher levels if it is provided with new fuel for the TRR and the Joint Declaration is accepted by the international community, senior Iranian officials are indicating—as they have for some time—that acceptance of internationally safeguarded enrichment inside Iran remains an indispensable part of any larger diplomatic solution to the nuclear deal.  The Obama Administration has yet to come to terms with this reality.  The United Kingdom remains implacably opposed to enrichment on Iranian soil.  France, which was drawn into supporting the original “swap” proposal advanced by the Obama Administration, now seems to be retreating; diplomats familiar with the Vienna Group discussions say that France now claims that it would actually take considerably longer than a year to produce finished fuel for the TRR and that the Iranians would probably end up getting less fuel than originally envisioned.               

In our conversations with them, Iranian officials have consistently indicated that acceptance of safeguarded enrichment in Iran would open up possibilities for cooperative solutions to other contentious issues in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear diplomacy with the world’s major powers—including ratification and implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  But, if Western officials delude themselves that sanctions are “working” and that this gives them the chance to “squeeze” Iran in the upcoming round while “fudging” on the larger issue of enrichment, they will blow yet another opportunity to put relations with the Islamic Republic on a more positive, and certainly less dangerous, trajectory.      

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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253 Responses to “ENRICHMENT STILL THE KEY TO NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY WITH IRAN”

  1. Alan says:

    kooshy, yes I agree with you about Israel (hooray!). In reality it is a major area of convergence for the US and Iran, if the US/Obama has the bottle to take it on.

  2. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    I understand Iran suggested it would consider the suspension of the enrichment to 20% if the TRR deal went ahead (with escrow in Turkey). I think the US should not be too prominent in the making of the deal, and that Israel has no part in it.

  3. kooshy says:

    Alan

    “The big points, the only points really, is the Iranian desire to have their enrichment program endorsed and the Western desire to limit it. Both of these can be achieved through an agreement where Iran gives up 20% enrichment. So if that is to be part of the TRR deal you propose, they’re three quarters of the way to the comprehensive deal anyway.
    In some ways, to go for the bigger deal could be an advantage vis-a-vis Israel as it would put huge pressure on them, possibly forcing them into the type of reckless move that the US could exploit, should they be so inclined.’

    We are begging to come close to agree, however I believe strategically Iran wouldn’t mind to see Israel (weaker) on the opposite side of the ME. If it could be formulated to an acceptable frame work on the Arab street.

  4. Alan says:

    James – I agree about the malign influence of Israel, but the TRR deal cannot be separated from the wider issue, because it would undermine all the legal framework that has been built up around it. I don’t think the West will want to do that.

    The big points, the only points really, is the Iranian desire to have their enrichment program endorsed and the Western desire to limit it. Both of these can be achieved through an agreement where Iran gives up 20% enrichment. So if that is to be part of the TRR deal you propose, they’re three quarters of the way to the comprehensive deal anyway.

    In some ways, to go for the bigger deal could be an advantage vis-a-vis Israel as it would put huge pressure on them, possibly forcing them into the type of reckless move that the US could exploit, should they be so inclined.

  5. James Canning says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    re: Aug. 5th, 12:12am – - China strongly supports Iran’s domestic nuclear power programme and equally strongly opposes any Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

    China is the #1 buyer of Saudi crude, and obviously opposes any war in the Middle East. China also wants to continue to enlarge its investments in Iranian oil and gas.

  6. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    The logic of pursuing a specific deal, Iranian LEU in exchange for TRR fuel, with LEU escrowed in Turkey pending Iranian receipt of TRR fuel, seems compelling. It will give Iran grounds to suspend enrichment to 20%.

    Seeking a wider deal guarantees interference from Israel and Israel lobby. A number of years ago, the US and Iran nearly made a deal for reopening their respective embassies, and for Iran to accept Israel within its June 1, 1967 borders. Israel insisted that Iran force Hamas to stop suicide bombings in the occupied West Bank, as part of the US/Iran deal! This wrecked the deal.

    The object must be to keep Israel out of the deal entirely.

  7. Alan says:

    Arnold:

    “Alan’s idea that the West was willing to negotiate contradicts everything everyone in the West said about the deal.”

    The West moved their position to escrow in Turkey in response to Iran’s initial concerns.

    It seems to me a big part of the problem was Iran wanted to dodge the commitment given in October to discuss a comprehensive deal, and instead tried to shoehorn their enrichment rights into the TRR deal.

  8. fyi says:

    Cyrus:

    You are right.

    Keeping Iranian power checked is the name of the game.

  9. Alan says:

    Eric:

    “I agree, Alan, that most of the complaints could have been negotiated away, but I’m not at all sure that applies to two major differences:

    1. The complaint that the TD expressly confirms Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

    2. The complaint that the amount of LEU covered by the TD no longer represents a sufficiently large percentage of Iran’s LEU.

    This means essentially that the Vienna Group had, and probably still has, no intention of approving any TRR deal that doesn’t include at least two elements:

    A. The absence of any acknowledgement of Iran’s enrichment rights.

    B. Applicability to enough LEU that Iran would not have enough left over to build a bomb (or maybe two bombs).”

    This is why I don’t think a separate TRR deal is possible. Back on October 1, two things were agreed in principle – (1) the fuel exchange deal and an undertaking to discuss it again in a further meeting later that month, and (2) an undertaking to hold a separate meeting before the end of the month on a comprehensive nuclear deal, which would encompass enrichment issues.

    Iran has since refused to hold that “other” meeting, culminating with the Tehran Declaration, which effectively dismissed the need for any other kind of meeting when it “acknowledged” Iran’s enrichment rights.

    No acknowledgement of enrichment rights will be achieved without a wider nuclear deal. I still believe such a deal can be reached, and that it can be suitably future-proofed to avoid the problems you describe (e.g. conversion of all LEU to fuel rods). The problem has become that the TRR is the tail wagging the dog, and the type of deal everybody needs cannot be achieved over the TRR alone because it would undermine the entire legal framework built up around the case.

    Thus if any talks in September materialise, they will almost certainly not be over the TRR alone. Perhaps that was the point of the rambling nonsense from Ahmadinejad, a translation of which was posted here the other day – to prepare his own population for comprehensive talks.

  10. Cyrus says:

    ERic asks: “why would you NOT declare that you’ll observe the Additional Protocols?”

    My answer: Iran already did observe and implement the AP for 2.5 years. Futhermore it allowed inspections of sites such as Parchin, which fall entirely outside of the IAEA’s authority. Futhermore its replies to the Modalities Agreement were all beyond the AP. What did that get Iran? Nothing. Again, this has nothing to do with facts. It doesn’t matter how much transparency Iran shows. That’s just not the issue. Like I said, the US accuses Iran of having the “intention to obtain capabilities” which is something no amount of intrusive inspections can disprove.

  11. fyi says:

    ASIA NEWS

    AUGUST 3, 2010.U.S., Hanoi in Nuclear Talks

    Vietnam Plan to Enrich Uranium May Undercut Nonproliferation Efforts, Rile China.

    By JAY SOLOMON

    WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is in advanced negotiations to share nuclear fuel and technology with Vietnam in a deal that would allow Hanoi to enrich its own uranium—terms that critics on Capitol Hill say would undercut the more stringent demands the U.S. has been making of its partners in the Middle East.

    The State Department-led negotiations could unsettle China, which shares hundreds of miles of border with Vietnam. It is the latest example of the U.S.’s renewed assertiveness in South and Southeast Asia, as Washington strengthens ties with nations that have grown increasingly wary of Beijing’s growing regional might.

    Clinton, with Vietnam Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong in July, hailed broad U.S. cooperation with Vietnam

    .U.S. officials familiar with the matter say negotiators have given a full nuclear-cooperation proposal to the communist country and former Cold War foe, and have started briefing House and Senate foreign-relations committees. A top U.S. official briefed on the negotiation said China hadn’t been consulted on the talks. “It doesn’t involve China,” the official said.

    Some counterproliferation experts and U.S. lawmakers briefed on the talks say the deal also marks a step backward in Washington’s recent nonproliferation efforts, pointing to a key proviso that would allow Hanoi to produce nuclear fuel on its own soil.

    Both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations had been requiring that countries interested in nuclear cooperation with the U.S. renounce the right to enrich uranium in-country for civilian purposes, a right provided to signatories of the United Nations’ Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The technologies required to produce fuel for power reactors can also be used to create atomic weapons, raising proliferation fears.

    U.S. officials have hailed a nuclear-cooperation agreement that President Barack Obama signed last year with the United Arab Emirates as a nonproliferation model, because the Arab country agreed to purchase all of its nuclear fuel from the international market. The Obama administration is currently negotiating a nuclear pact with Jordan in which Washington is also demanding that the country commit to not developing an indigenous nuclear-fuel cycle.

    The senior U.S. official briefed on the Vietnam talks said the State Department is setting a different standard for Hanoi, as the Middle East is viewed as posing a greater proliferation risk than Asia. “Given our special concerns about Iran and the genuine threat of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, we believe the U.A.E….agreement is a model for the region,” said the U.S. official. “These same concerns do not specifically apply in Asia. We will take different approaches region by region and country by country.”

    Vuong Huu Tan, director of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute, a government office, said Vietnamese and U.S. officials reached an initial agreement on nuclear cooperation in March and hope to finalize the pact later this year. He said Vietnam didn’t plan to enrich uranium, “as it is sensitive to Vietnam to do so.”

    Atomic Dance
    U.S. nuclear-cooperation deals’ terms vary by country:

    South Korea. Seoul is seeking rights to reprocess spent fuel as it renegotiates its 1974 deal that expires in 2014.

    Egypt. Deal struck in 1982 doesn’t allow for reprocessing of spent fuel. Like most deals over the decades, it is silent on the issue of uranium enrichment, which has increasingly emerged as a proliferation threat.

    India. Pact from 2009 requires New Delhi to separate military and civilian nuclear programs, but allows for the reprocessing of spent fuel.
    .Congressional staff and nonproliferation experts briefed on the negotiations have been quick to criticize the State Department’s position as a rollback of a key Obama administration nonproliferation platform. They also say Washington’s position exposes it to criticism from Arab and developing countries that the U.S. is employing a double standard in pursuing its nuclear policies.

    This could cause Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other nations currently pursuing cooperation agreements with Washington to balk at accepting the same tough terms as the U.A.E.

    “It’s ironic…as nonproliferation is one of the president’s top goals that the U.A.E. model is not being endorsed here,” said a senior Arab official whose government is pursuing nuclear power. “People will start to see a double standard, and it will be a difficult policy to defend in the future.”

    Nonproliferation experts also challenge the State Department’s argument that Asia poses any less of a proliferation threat than the Middle East. They note that North Korea has actively been spreading dual-use technologies to countries such as Myanmar in recent years. Japan is believed to have the technologies to quickly assemble nuclear weapons if the political decision were made.

    “After the U.S. set such a good example with the U.A.E., the Vietnam deal not only sticks out, it could drive a stake through the heart of the general effort to rein in the spread of nuclear fuel-making,” said Henry Sokolski, executive director of Washington’s Nonproliferation Education Center, a public policy think tank.

    Vietnam signed an initial memorandum of understanding with the Bush administration in 2001 to pursue cooperation with the U.S. on securing fissile materials and developing civilian nuclear power. The Obama administration has accelerated talks with Hanoi in recent months aimed at completing a deal to allow for the exchange of know-how and cooperation in security, storage and educational areas. It would also allow U.S. firms such as General Electric Co. and Bechtel Corp. to sell nuclear components and reactors to Vietnam, according to U.S. officials.

    President Barack Obama welcomes Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington April 12.

    .”If we’re able to have U.S. companies and technologies in play in Vietnam this gives the ability to exert some leverage,” said the U.S. official briefed on the negotiations. “If we shut ourselves out, others may have different standards.”

    U.S. officials stressed that any agreement with Vietnam will require that Hanoi’s nuclear installations be under close oversight by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is seen as insuring Vietnam’s nuclear materials aren’t diverted for military purposes.

    The Vietnamese are studying the agreement’s final draft and further talks are expected in the fall, said American diplomats.

    The Obama administration has sought to significantly raise the U.S.’s profile in South and Southeast Asia amid concerns that China has begun to economically and politically dominate the region.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Hanoi last month and noted growing U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation on a range of security, economic and environmental issues. Mrs. Clinton backed Hanoi’s position at a regional security forum that calls for establishing an international legal process to solve territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China attacked Mrs. Clinton’s position as threatening Beijing’s security interests.

    “The Obama Administration is prepared to take the U.S.-Vietnam relationship to the next level,” Mrs. Clinton said while in Hanoi. “We see this relationship not only as important on its own merits, but as part of a strategy aimed at enhancing American engagement in the Asia Pacific.”

    Tensions between Washington and Beijing have heated up again in recent weeks after relations between the two countries seemed to have stabilized in the spring.

    U.S. officials this week said they haven’t been briefing Beijing, or seeking its approval, while conducting the nuclear talks with Vietnam. “This is a negotiation between the U.S. and Vietnam,” said the senior U.S. official. “We don’t ask China to approve issues that are in our own strategic interest.”

    Officials at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

    The U.S. has taken other steps in recent months to strengthen its ties to South and Southeast Asian nations historically wary of Chinese influence.

    Last month, the Pentagon reestablished ties with Indonesia’s special forces command, known as Kopassus, after severing them in 1999 due to its alleged human-rights abuses. The U.S. also finalized a nuclear-cooperation agreement with India last week, which allows New Delhi to reprocess U.S.-origin nuclear fuels.

    Some governments have criticized the India deal in ways similar to the concern being voiced about the Vietnam arrangement—that it illustrates a U.S. double standard. U.S. officials argue that the deal with India, already a nuclear-weapons state, allows for greater international oversight.

    In addition to the South China Sea dispute, the U.S. and China have sparred over the proper response to North Korea’s alleged sinking in March of a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan. The Obama administration has also publicly opposed China’s plans to sell two nuclear-power reactors to Pakistan. Washington says the sale would violate Beijing’s commitments to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a Vienna-based body that seeks to control the spread of nuclear technologies.

  12. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric;

    “Second and more important here, even though this disclosure generated a firestorm of accusations in the US press, it did not result in Iran being harassed by the IAEA. By all accounts, the IAEA visit was quite pleasant, without any complaint by Iran before, during or after.”

    First of all, when the Fordow inspection first happened, IAEA was still under ElBaradei. He is no longer in charge and Amano is nothing like ElBaradei.

    Secondly, Iran’s problem is not IAEA, it is P5+1 and the UNSC. It is the constant threat of war (even nuclear attack), it is the sanctions that keep coming and in all likelihood fairly soon will lead to a war. The problem is not just USA either. The whole Europe stood by USA (heck they even pushed USA to make it tougher) in its condemnation/accusation of Iran for Fordow.

  13. Mr. Brill: Not to mention that you’re now claiming more knowledge of Fordow than ElBaradei who was there, and who is the author of the “hole in the ground” statement.

    Nothing but insinuations, that is your argument style.

  14. “Eric; Here I just found this from El Baradei (in an interview with NYT):
’He also said inspectors had found ‘nothing to be worried about’ in the underground facility at Qum built in secret by Iran. ‘The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things. It’s a hole in a mountain.’”

    Indeed it was a hole in the ground (albeit with a 50,000 square foot building sitting on the hole), though Iran didn’t report it as a “hole in the ground,” of course. It duly reported it as an enrichment “facility” designed to house 3,000 centrifuges.

    I draw two important conclusions from the IAEA inspection in late October. First, the fact that nothing had yet been installed suggests that the “new” Code 3.1 may require disclosure far too early for many facilities. This disclosure occurred several years after new Code 3.1 would have required, after all, and still turned up nothing. Second and more important here, even though this disclosure generated a firestorm of accusations in the US press, it did not result in Iran being harassed by the IAEA. By all accounts, the IAEA visit was quite pleasant, without any complaint by Iran before, during or after.

  15. Mr. Brill: “If Fordow wasn’t a “facility,” one must wonder why Iran felt obliged to disclose it, ever.”

    Oh, that’s nice.

    When Iran does “disclose more”, you ask “why”?

  16. Fiorangela: I quote you from a longer post down below about the countries and the AP:

    Quote:

    This report specifically says that while the IAEA can verify that there’s no reprocessing going on at the declared facilities in Iran, it can’t verify the absence of undeclared activities in other places though — which is true, since as explained many times before, the IAEA only verifies the absence of undeclared nuclear activities for countries that are bound by the Additional Protocol. Most countries have flatly refused to sign that protocol, including Egypt (where unexplained traces of highly weapons-grade enriched uranium were recently found)

    As I long ago mentioned, the IAEA does not formally verify the “absence of undeclared nuclear activities” in ANY country unless they have signed and ratified the Additional Protocol, which allows more instrusive inspections. Iran hasn’t, so that leaves Iran amongst about 40 other countries in which the IAEA cannot formally verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material.

    Nevertheless, though Iran has not formally ratified the Additional Protocol, it did implement the Additional Protocol for 2 years and allowed more intrusive inspections — and no weapons program was found – and has offered to formally ratify the Additional protocol once its nuclear rights are recognized — but the US flatly refuses.

    And, as Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Committee for Nuclear Policy has explained:

    For some it is tempting to declare, based on the inability of the IAEA to presently draw a conclusion on the absence of nuclear activities, that Iran continues to operate concealed facilities and that any such facilities must be for a military program. But the IAEA has cautioned that the lack of a conclusion does not imply suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities, as the matter is frequently spun in the media and by some governments.

    According to the IAEA’s own Annual Safeguards Implementation Report of 2004, of the 61 states where both the NPT safeguards and the Additional protocol are implemented, the IAEA has certified the absence of undeclared nuclear activity for only 21 countries, leaving Iran in the same category as 40 other countries including Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. Note especially the last sentence in which it says that the IAEA has to conclude that the nuclear programs of even those countries remain peaceful:

    “With regard to 21 States with both CSAs [Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements] and AP [Additional Protocol] in force or otherwise applied, the Agency concluded that all nuclear material in those States remained in peaceful nuclear activities. For 40 other such States, the Agency had not yet completed the necessary evaluations, and could therefore only draw the conclusion that the nuclear material placed under safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities.”

    Finally, I would only add that the IAEA has explicitly said that it has no evidence of any “undeclared” nuclear material or activities in Iran either. For example this is what ElBaradei stated regarding the 2007 NIE:

    IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei … notes in particular that the Estimate tallies with the Agency´s consistent statements over the last few years that, although Iran still needs to clarify some important aspects of its past and present nuclear activities, the Agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran.

    End Quote

    Bottom line: The AP is a red herring. Even if Iran agreed to it, the IAEA STILL could not VERIFY that Iran’s program is “peaceful”, only that all the DECLARED items were still in peaceful.

    Of course, the US would IMMEDIATELY declare, based on forged Israeli “evidence”, that Iran had some “hidden program” somewhere and demand more inspections over and over until the situation was as intrusive as what Saddam had to put up with under his more extreme inspection schedule (since UNSCOM was looking for EVERYTHING, not just a nuclear program).

    And in the end, despite UNSCOM’s CERTIFYING that Iraq had eliminated all its WMDs years earlier, Iraq still was invaded.

    But Mr. Brill says, “Where’s the harm?”

    Can you say “disingenuous”? I knew you could.

    Brill wants Iran to bow down to more inspections because he KNOWS the US and Israel will demand even more, and thus Iran would eventually be brought low or subject to attack. And this is what Mr. Brill WANTS, as he has admitted that he doesn’t trust Iran. He KNOWS that Iran’s unilateral ratifying of the AP would open the door for further intrusions which would ACCELERATE, not slow down, the course for war. And this is what he wants, despite his protestations to the contrary.

    We HAVE to go back to the bottom line over and over again:

    1) We KNOW Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Everybody with serious knowledge of the situation, including the 16 US intelligence agencies, knows this.

    2) We KNOW that what Iran is doing now is COMPLETELY LEGAL.

    3) Therefore the US and the EU and Israel are ENTIRELY IN THE WRONG over the Iran issue.

    4) Therefore Iran and the rest of us gain NOTHING by acceding to US/EU/Israel demands, just as Iraq and the rest of us gained nothing by acceding to the same demands before 2003. All we do by acceding to these demands is to LEGITIMIZE them, and they are NOT LEGITIMATE!

  17. Mr. Brill: “Is it that big a deal merely to commit to what nearly 100 other countries have committed to without demanding any quid pro quo, even if it gains Iran nothing concrete in return?”

    You’ve been told why it is a big deal. You just prefer to ignore those points, instead trotting out the nonsense that marking “none” in an AP category would be “useful information”.

    You argue that Iran’s ratifying the AP is not a bargaining chip. But it is, because Iran can always offer that as a point in negotiations whenever it feels it can use it. That is not up to you to judge. EVERYTHING is a bargaining chip, whether any particular item is effective depends on the negotiations ongoing at the time.

    Unfortunately, since the US has no serious intent to negotiate, almost all Iran’s bargaining chips are in the long run pointless. And this is the point you continually ignore in favor of nonsense like “gee, what’s the harm?” and nonsense about Iran convincing the US public which in turn would prevent the US state from proceeding in its goals. The FACT that Iran has no bargaining chips means that every offer from Iran will simply be used against it. There is no way to bargain with someone who is intent on killing you.

    The bottom line is you simply want Iran to bend over because you don’t like Iran You’ve revealed your motivations here, so there’s no point in trying to con the rest of the audience here that you’re really on Iran’s side in this by saying “what’s the harm?” There is harm, and there is even greater harm by acquiescing to that harm.

    How about this? Iran’s Supreme Leader agrees to step down, fire Ahmadinejad, completely change the Iranian political structure to mirror the US structure, and cease all enrichment, acknowledge Israel as the dominant force in the universe, and convert all the Shia to Judaism.

    What’s the harm? It’s all a way to convince the US public that Iran is harmless, isn’t it?

    Your argument is ridiculous.

  18. Contrary to Brill’s comments on China, China doesn’t give a damn about mid-east peace as long as it has access to the oil. And Iran is China’s main source, so China doesn’t want Iran bombed. It’s that simple. China will only pressure Iran if it thinks Iran is doing a poor diplomatic job of preventing itself from being bombed.

    Basically, this is China’s view of North Korea as well. China does not want North Korea to collapse, and it doesn’t want North Korea to be bombed, so it doesn’t want North Korea to stumble into a war which would eventually put US troops on China’s borders. So it’s willing to pressure North Korea to some degree to try to deal.

    The same is true of Iran. China couldn’t care less if Iran had nuclear weapons, because China knows how long it took China to get a serious nuclear arsenal which is still thousands of weapons below the US and Russia arsenals. It’s hardly concerned that Iran gets one or half a dozen bombs, just like North Korea. It’s also is not concerned about the effect of Iran having nuclear weapons on the middle east because a) China knows Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, just like everybody else does, despite Brill’s contention otherwise, and b) China knows any possible Iranian nuclear weapons program would be irrelevant. The worst that could happen with an Iranian bomb is that Iran’s middle eastern influence would lessen, or it would become more isolated, thus possibly affecting China’s access to the oil and gas, however unlikely.

    China also has to deal with US pressure over Iran, where the US uses other issues like arms sales to Taiwan to pressure China to do what it wants. Since Taiwan is more important to China than Iran, China occasionally, to a small degree, and under protest, may occasionally go along with the US in the UNSC, knowing the end result will be of little real significance anyway.

    So China – and Russia, which follows the same calculus – will support a few more UN sanctions, while simultaneously working out deals to sideline the effects of those sanctions, and also publicly opposing any unilateral sanctions that go beyond the watered down sanctions the US can get through the UNSC without a veto from China or Russia.

    It’s a farce, and says nothing about any serious concern China has over Iran.

  19. Mr. Canning: “Eric is “right on the money” (as some people say or used to say in the US), that the key issue is what is believed by most Americans.

    No he is not and that is NOT the key issue.

    The US government does not care what the US public believes as long as the US public is not in a position to vote anyone out of office in the next election. This does require some manipulation of the US public belief system, but this is a matter of course at this point in US history. The US public will believe whatever it sees on the news at 10 or 11PM and what it sees in the New York Times and Washington Post headlines.

    More importantly, whatever Iran does will NOT be reported correctly in the controlled US media. Therefore it is IMPOSSIBLE for Iran to convince the US public of anything, especially now when the meme that Iran has a nuclear weapons program has been set in stone, just like the meme that “Saddam had WMDs” and “Saddam supported Al Qaeda” and “Saddam was involved in 9/11″, all of which are believed by a majority of the US public.

    You have correctly said the US public is ignorant and uninformed, yet you agree with the notion that somehow, if Iran ratified the AP, this would change. What’s wrong with this picture?

    The ONLY way the US public could be convinced not to attack Iran would be if somehow the meme that it would another costly DISASTER for the US military and especially the US taxpayer could be embedded. But I assure you that sites like this one do not have the clout to do this. Unless ALL the major newspapers and nightly TV new broadcasts were to emphasize this meme, it will not succeed in displacing the war meme.

    Brill is using this argument simply to justify his “disclose more” nonsense. Don’t fall for that.

  20. Mr. Canning: “My understanding continues to be that Russia and China agreed to the most recent UN sanctions primarily because Iran had started to enrich U to 20%. I thought that this was a serious tactical error by Iran, and I continue to think it was.”

    While I might be inclined to agree that Iran’s decision to begin 20% enrichment was perhaps adopted too quickly by Iran. I can see their reasoning.

    First, they are under a time limit to acquire the nuclear fuel needed for the TRR. Since they had just spent nine months from the time they requested the fuel from the IAEA, and had been given the run around from the West on a fuel swap deal, they clearly thought they would have to produce the fuel themselves.

    Second, they clearly thought that by enriching to 20%, they could use that as a bargaining chip to induce the West to come back to the table on the fuel swap. And in fact, that DID work – on Brazil and Turkey. Unfortunately, Iran misjudged the US and the EU’s intentions, which clearly on in bad faith. I think a case can be made that Iran has misjudged this way several times – but on the other hand, Iran really doesn’t have much choice in that it has to keep negotiating to buy time to prepare for the war it can clearly see the US intends.

    As for whether Russia and China were induced by the 20% enrichment, I don’t think this is a clear causality. Iran started enriching in February, as it had announced it would back in December or early January. The sanctions were not pushed through until the Brazil-Turkey deal was announced months later. Prior to that, the Russians and China were still opposed to additional sanctions. It’s possible that the Russians and China assumed, as did the US, that the Brazil-Turkey deal would fail, in which case they would have a weak case to oppose sanctions further. But I think there were other motivations at work, particularly that Russia and China were working to make the new UN sanctions extremely narrow over previous sanctions.

    To support that contention, one has to note that Russia and China were very against any further subsequent unilateral sanctions by the US and the EU.

    So I don’t think the 20% enrichment was the primary consideration for Russia and China in supporting the UN sanctions. Rather it was that without their support for narrow UN sanctions, the West would have imposed even more severe unilateral sanctions – which, unfortunately, they did anyway.

    In this regard, I think China and Russia miscalculated on the intent of the US and the EU to further the course for war.

  21. Mr. Canning: “The LEU has no current purpose in Iran, nor witll there be any use for it, for years to come!”

    The LEU clearly has an immediate use – to be enriched to 20% to provide fuel for the TRR.

    This would not be necessary if Iran were allowed to buy fuel on the open market, which Iran is willing to do and which would take less time, albeit be more expensive than locally enriching.

    Re Saddam’s “expelling” the UNSCOM inspectors. He didn’t. While he was highly uncooperative, and even at times ceased cooperating completely until threatened, in 1998 he did not “expel” the inspectors. They were ordered out by Richard Butler as this notice at “Fair Action Alert” says:

    USA Today Repeats Myths on Iraq Inspectors
    www dot fair dot org/activism/usat-iraq.html

    Quote:

    August 12, 2002

    An August 8 USA Today article that described how Saddam Hussein is “complicating U.S. plans to topple his regime” repeated a common myth about the history of U.S./Iraq relations. Reporter John Diamond wrote that “Iraq expelled U.N. weapons inspectors four years ago and accused them of being spies.”

    But Iraq did not “expel” the UNSCOM weapons inspectors; in fact, they were withdrawn by Richard Butler, the head of the inspections team. The Washington Post, like numerous other media outlets, reported it accurately at the time (12/17/98): “Butler ordered his inspectors to evacuate Baghdad, in anticipation of a military attack, on Tuesday night.”

    USA Today wouldn’t have to consult the archives of other media outlets to find out what happened: A timeline that appeared in the paper on December 17, 1998 included this entry for December 16: “U.N. weapons inspectors withdraw from Baghdad one day after reporting Iraq was still not cooperating.” USA Today also reported (12/17/98) that “Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov criticized Butler for evacuating inspectors from Iraq Wednesday morning without seeking permission from the Security Council.”

    As for Iraq accusing weapons inspectors of being spies, Diamond might have mentioned that this accusation has proven to be correct. The Washington Post reported in 1999 (1/8/99) that “United Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in American efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime.”

    USA Today was clearly aware of the spy story, since the paper wrote an editorial excusing it. Headlined “Spying Flap Merely a Sideshow” (1/8/99), the paper argued that “spying on Saddam Hussein is nothing new and nothing needing an apology. But the Clinton administration suddenly is scrambling to explain why it did just that.” The paper added that the information gathered “no doubt found uses other than just weapons detection. That may not be playing by the books, but it’s understandable and probably inevitable.”

    End Quote

  22. Mr. Brill: “would such statements not carry more weight if we could also point out that Iran’s disclosures include the very same broad categories of information as the disclosures made by nearly 100 other countries – categories of information that were added by the IAEA for the express purpose of filling disclosure gaps that the “Iraq surprise” had revealed in the pre-existing Safeguards-Agreements-only monitoring scheme?”

    Another truly disingenuous and intellectually dishonest statement given that I have just pointed out that FORTY COUNTRIES are in the EXACT SAME POSITION AS IRAN – never having ratified the AP!

    Yet only Iran is singled out – by Israel, the neocons, and YOU – as having to expend more effort to “disclose more”, especially after already having done so for two years and gotten nothing for it.

  23. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric;

    Here I just found this from ElBaradei (in an interview with NYT):
    “He also said inspectors had found “nothing to be worried about” in the underground facility at Qum built in secret by Iran. “The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things. It’s a hole in a mountain.””

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/opinion/06iht-edcohen.html?_r=1

  24. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric;

    My information may not be accurate, but “as far as I know”, it was just a hole in the ground (at the time of disclosure), or at least that is what I remember the inspectors saying once they went to inspect the site. Of course by a “hole” I dont mean literally a hole and nothing more. There was a building (so far as I remember reading about it) with some infrastructure such as electricity, water etc. I don’t think that there was even any equipment installed in the building (but I maybe wrong).

    I remember reading a report by Gareth Porter (I think it was he) which mentioned that there are a lot of these holes made by the Iranian military and they are “general purpose” holes for any “sensitive” facility which would need protection. I tried to find the specific report or interview, but I was not successful and did not spend too much time on it. I will try to find it later and if I do I will post the link.

    As for not being covered by AP, you may be right. I thought the disagreement was because of AP related obligations.
    However, this does not change the main substance of my arguement, show me one more NPT member which has been harassed like Iran, using the NPT as a pre-text for harassment. If signing the NPT has brought us nothing other than harrassment, why should we expect AP will not prepare the grounds for much more intensified harrasment?

  25. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cyrus’ Iran Affairs website, it’s about as good as they come:

    http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2010/06/iaeas-may-2010-report-on-iran.html

    Cyrus and I don’t agree on whether Iran ought to observe the Additional Protocols, but we certainly do agree on Iran’s obligation to observe them (non-existent at the moment), and he describes this and other aspects of the dispute very clearly and thoroughly.

  26. kooshy says:

    James Canning

    “Saddam Hussein badly botched the PR campaign he needed to conduct in order to avoid a US invasion. He should have invited Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Richard Branson, and perhaps Tom Hayden to come to Iraq and discuss how Iraq destroyed its WMD and was still subject to UN sanctions.”

    Oh my dear, don’t you think it’s a jolly good idea to add her majesty the queen to this list of the dignitaries, for watching the fireworks in Arabia,

    And I must add, one almost can’t avoid inviting, this new “queen” from the colonies,

    If you insist she could add to the atmosphere.

  27. For those who might want to check out Fordow, it’s approximately here:

    E 50° 59′ 38.4″
    N 34° 52′ 49.44″

    (I know about the removed buildings because I checked out Fordow just before Google Earth updated its photos on Oct. 4 of last year.)

  28. Pirouz 2,

    “Let me give you one example: Fordow…Now Fordow at the time of disclosure was a hole in the ground and nothing more.”

    Probably not the best example. Fordow’s covered by Iran’s SA already, not the AP, the only question being whether the “new” or “old” Code 3.1 applied to the timing of disclosure. The new 3.1 requires disclosure when Iran decides to build a facility; the old 3.1 requires disclosure only 180 days before nuclear material is introduced. Either way, Iran’s existing SA already covers it.

    “Iran has a lot of such “holes”, it is part of Irans “passive defence” against a possible air/missile attack. These “holes” are not necessarily nuclear sites.”

    Fordow would not have to be disclosed under Iran’s SA if it were not a [nuclear] “facility” as defined in Iran’s SA. That definition doesn’t cover “holes in the ground.” If Fordow wasn’t a “facility,” one must wonder why Iran felt obliged to disclose it, ever.

    Not that it matters but, on “disclosure day,” the Fordow “hole in the ground” at least had a pretty big building sitting on top of the hole – about 400 feet long and 125 feet wide. Several smaller buildings that used to be there several years earlier have been torn down. Presumably the torn-down buildings had been put up for the construction phase, but they were quite a bit bigger than one would need just to make a “hole in the ground.” Maybe Fordow is a “facility” after all. Maybe that’s why Iran disclosed it.

    In any case, I agree Fordow is a good test of your worst fears. What have you heard about IAEA inspections and information demands concerning Fordow? My understanding is that IAEA inspectors have taken a look inside. I’m not aware that Iran’s complained about over-reaching, though I’ll confess I haven’t checked thoroughly.

  29. Fiorangela,

    “Who ARE those 100 countries? What is it that they have committed to, that Iran has not yet committed to?”

    http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/SV/Safeguards/sg_protocol.html

    There’s a link near the top that takes you to the actual text of the Model AP.

  30. James Canning says:

    Pirouz_2,

    Saddam Hussein badly botched the PR campaign he needed to conduct in order to avoid a US invasion. He should have invited Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Richard Branson, and perhaps Tom Hayden to come to Iraq and discuss how Iraq destroyed its WMD and was still subject to UN sanctions. The average American requires a celebrity or billionaire to provide information. Saddam could have chosen a selection of both, that were well-informed and strongly opposed to war.

    Phyllis Bennis has an excellent piece explaining why the US will put up with virtually any behavior by Israel. Hint: it has a great deal to do with the fabulous gusher of taxpayer money pouring into the troughs feeding the armaments manufacturers, their lawyers and lobbyists, etc. “Why the U.S. Won’t Cut Ties With Israel, No Matter How Extreme Its Government Gets”.
    http://www.alternet.org/story/147733/why_the_u.s._won%27t_cut_ties_with_israel%2C_no_matter_how_extreme_its_government_gets?page=1

  31. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric:

    It is very important to refuse because when US decides to intrude in an area that is non of its business and might be sensitive, it will use AP and will keep saying that Iran is not meeting its obligations under AP.

    Let me give you one example: Fordow. All West and even IAEA complain that Iran has not disclosed that site early enough. Their arguement is that Iran had to disclose it WHEN IT DECIDED TO BUILD IT! This whole arguement is based on AP (as far as I know), and the west’s arguement that Iran has agreed to AP and that AP obligates Iran to disclose its site when the decision is made to build the site. Iran on the other hand says that since its parliament never agreed to AP, it is not a binded to AP and as such it only has to disclose the location of its nuclear sites 18 months before introducing the nuclear material into them.

    Now Fordow at the time of disclosure was a hole in the ground and nothing more. Iran has a lot of such “holes”, it is part of Irans “passive defence” against a possible air/missile attack. These “holes” are not necessarily nuclear sites. They are underground sites which can become any sensitive facility. They are making (and have been making) these holes all around Iran for a number of years. Any time a government establishment wants to make a “sensitive” facility (it can be a missile factory, a jet research facility or even a hospital for that matter) which needs protection they go to the military and ask them to provide them with one of the many holes that they have made in the ground and military if the government approves it, gives them a hole. So strictly speaking, since at the time of creating the hole it was not made for the nuclear purpose (as far as I know), I am not sure if this is even a violation of AP! But does that matter to the “international community”??? No, even without agreeing to AP, AP is being used to harras Iran.

    Mark my words, the moment Iran agrees to AP US will demand to go and inspect every single hole in Iran on the “suspicion” that it might be a nuclear site and will base its arguement on the AP and will start pushing for new sanctions on the grounds that Iran is violating its obligations under AP.

    Does this happen to the other 100 countries which have agreed to AP? That is why those two arguements that you give, in my opinion, are not applicable to Iran’s case.

    If Iran agrees to AP, it has given one more additional stick to the West to harass it whenever they wish to do so.

    As for your question regarding the American publics opinion:
    In my opinion, influencing the US public opinion is important, and that is why Iran has started to make channels such as PressTV.
    However, we should not go under the illusion that we can change US public opinion by agreeing to more “disclosure”.

    First of all the importance of the “public opinion” in liberal democracies has been highly exaggerated. In liberal democracies public support is a “nice thing to have” but it is by no means a vital necessity. US (and west in general) is being ruled by an elite NOT by their people, as such what the public thinks comes fairly low in the list of important factors which influence the decision making procedure. As I said before: it is a “nice thing to have” and NOT a “necessity”.

    Secondly, the ruling elite can make the public opinion go any way it wants. It can even make people believe the absurd claim that Iraq was connected to Al Qaeda and 911. AND NO AMOUNT OF DISCLOSURE by Saddam could change that fact.
    The UN inspectors could almost go and search Saddam’s bedroom, did that make any change in the US public opinion?

    I am telling you, even if Saddam had agreed to act like a clown and dress in some oriental dress and do some “belly dancing” on CNN for the entertainment of the US public, the CNN would present it as the latest “insult” by the mad dictator to the integrity of the US media.

    The US public opinion did not change when women and children by thousands were killed by white phosphorous in Fellujah, eventhough it had already become WELL KNOWN that Iraq had no WMDs and that Bush-Cheney-Powel had lied. The US public opinion only changed when it became obvious that the war had been lost and in fact the bullet from Indiana Jones’s pistol had not killed the “Arab” and the “Arab’s” ridiculous sword was sending Indiana Jones back to US in body bags by 1000′s. It only changed when the public realized that Hollywood and the world of Indian Jones and Rambo is very different from the real world and its Vietnams.

    By the way this talk about Iran making more and more disclosure to convince the “international community” reminds me of a story my beloved father used to tell. May his memory live long, he knew French very well and was very fond of the French literature, when it came to the international relations he always recieted a poem from La Fontaine whose moral was:

    “THE STRONGEST REASONS ALWAYS YIELD
    TO REASONS OF THE STRONGEST.”

    The poem goes as:
    A lamb her thirst was slaking,
    Once, at a mountain rill.
    A hungry wolf was taking
    His hunt for sheep to kill,
    When, spying on the streamlet’s brink
    This sheep of tender age,
    He howl’d in tones of rage,
    ‘How dare you roil my drink?
    Your impudence I shall chastise!’
    ‘Let not your majesty,’ the lamb replies,
    ‘Decide in haste or passion!
    For sure ’tis difficult to think
    In what respect or fashion
    My drinking here could roil your drink,
    Since on the stream your majesty now faces
    I’m lower down, full twenty paces.’
    ‘You roil it,’ said the wolf; ‘and, more, I know
    You cursed and slander’d me a year ago.’
    ‘O no! how could I such a thing have done!
    A lamb that has not seen a year,
    A suckling of its mother dear?’
    ‘Your brother then.’ ‘But brother I have none.’
    ‘Well, well, what’s all the same,
    ‘Twas some one of your name.
    Sheep, men, and dogs of every nation,
    Are wont to stab my reputation,
    As I have truly heard.’

  32. Fiorangela says:

    Eric Brill, You’ve made this statement a number of times:

    “Is it that big a deal merely to commit to what nearly 100 other countries have committed to . . .”

    It has the same nonspecific quality as our leaders telling us they are “protecting American interests in the region.”

    Who ARE those 100 countries? What is it that they have committed to, that Iran has not yet committed to?

  33. James Canning says:

    Dan Cooper,

    What a spectacle indeed! Trillions of dollars squandered on useless or unnecessary weapons and idiotic military adventures in the greater Middle East, while tens of millions of American have little or no healthcare or adequate nutrition.

    The Democrats ordinarily tend to cut “defence” spending. A cruel result of the “9/11″ attacks is that any Democrat trying to do the right thing and cut “defence”, is portrayed as the enemy of the nation’s security.

    Appalling ignorance on the part of the great majority of the American people, does a good deal to explain the state of affairs that obtains.

  34. James Canning says:

    Pirouz_2,

    The idiotic US missile defence system planned for Eastern Europe is still in the works. What was to go into Poland is now planned for Rumania. Obama is a pawn in the hands of the armaments manufacturers. And the generals.

    Yes, the BBC is quite right to say the insane US military adventure in Iraq was a defeat. Cost: $3 trillion! As a serious reverse to American power, it would be dwarfed by the catastrophe that would result from an idiotic Israeli/US attack on Iran.

  35. fyi says:

    Castro on teh coming war with Iran:

    http://www.cubadebate.cu/reflexiones-fidel/2010/08/03/emplazamiento-al-presidente-de-estados-unidos/

    Towards the end:


    On 2 August, a news dispatch from AFP content similar to that of other news agencies reported:

    “’Tengo que viajar en septiembre a Nueva York para participar en la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas. “‘I have to travel to New York in September to attend the UN General Assembly. Estoy dispuesto a sentarme con Obama, cara a cara, de hombre a hombre, para hablar libremente de cuestiones mundiales ante los medios de comunicación para encontrar la mejor solución’, afirmó Ahmadinejad durante un discurso difundido por la televisión estatal.” I am willing to sit down with Obama, face to face, man to man, to speak freely on global issues to the media to find the best solution, “said Ahmadinejad during a speech broadcast on state television.”

    “Pero el presidente Ahmadinejad advirtió de que el diálogo deberá estar basado en el respeto mutuo. “But President Ahmadinejad warned that the dialogue should be based on mutual respect.

    “’Si creen que pueden agitar un bastón y decirnos que debemos aceptar todo lo que dicen, esto no ocurrirá’, añadió. “‘If you think you can shake a stick and tell us that we must accept everything they say, this does not happen,” he added. Las potencias occidentales ‘no entienden que las cosas han cambiado en el mundo’, añadió.” The Western powers’ do not understand that things have changed in the world, “he added.”

    “’Ustedes respaldan a un país que cuenta con cientos de bombas atómicas pero dicen que quieren detener a Irán, que podría eventualmente tenerla un día…’” “‘You are supporting a country that has hundreds of nuclear bombs but say they want to stop Iran, which could eventually take it one day …’”

    Los iraníes han declarado que dispararán cien cohetes contra cada uno de los barcos de Estados Unidos e Israel que bloquean a Irán, tan pronto registren un mercante iraní. The Iranians have stated that one hundred rockets shoot each of the ships of the United States and Israel that Iran blocked as soon recorded an Iranian merchant.

    De modo que, cuando Obama dé la orden de cumplir la Resolución del Consejo de Seguridad, estará decretando el hundimiento de todos los buques de guerra norteamericanos en aquella zona. So, when Obama give the order to comply with Security Council resolution, will be enacting the sinking of all U.S. warships in the area.

    A ningún Presidente de Estados Unidos le ha caído encima tan dramática decisión. A no U.S. president has fallen into such a dramatic decision. Debió preverlo. He had it coming.

    En esta ocasión me dirijo por primera vez en la vida al Presidente de Estados Unidos Barack Obama: On this occasion I am speaking for the first time in life when United States President Barack Obama:

    Usted debe saber que en sus manos está ofrecer a la humanidad la única posibilidad real de paz. You should know that in your hands is to offer humanity the only real chance of peace. Sólo en una ocasión podrá usted hacer uso de sus prerrogativas al dar la orden de disparar. Only once can you make use of its powers by giving the order to fire.

    Es posible que después, a partir de esta traumática experiencia, se encuentren soluciones que no nos conduzcan otra vez a esta apocalíptica situación. After you, after this traumatic experience, are solutions that do not lead us back to this apocalyptic situation. Todos en su país, incluso sus peores adversarios de izquierda o de derecha, con seguridad se lo agradecerán, y también el pueblo de Estados Unidos, que no es en absoluto culpable de la situación creada. Everyone in your country, even their worst enemies of the left or right, surely will thank you, and also the American people, which is not at all blame for the situation created.

    Le solicito se digne a escuchar esta apelación que en nombre del pueblo de Cuba le transmito. I request you will deign to hear this appeal on behalf of the people of Cuba will transmit.

    Comprendo que no puede esperarse, ni usted daría nunca, una respuesta rápida. I understand that you can not expect, or you would never, a quick response. Piénselo bien, consulte a sus especialistas, pídales opinión sobre el asunto a sus más poderosos aliados y adversarios internacionales. Think about it, consult with your experts, have an opinion on the matter to its most powerful international allies and adversaries.

    No me interesan honores ni glorias. I’m not interested honor or glory. ¡Hágalo! Do it!

    El mundo podrá liberarse realmente de las armas nucleares y también de las convencionales. The world will truly free of nuclear weapons and the conventional.

    La peor de todas las variantes será la guerra nuclear, que es ya virtualmente inevitable. The worst of all variants will be nuclear war, which is now virtually inevitable.

    ¡EVÍTELA! Avoid it!

  36. Pirouz 2,

    All well put.

    “So no I don’t think that implementing AP will make any changes in Russia or China’s attitudes.”

    Do you feel it would make any difference in American public opinion? If so, do you think that would help Iran’s position?

    I’m still not clear why you and others feel it’s important to refuse. Is it that big a deal merely to commit to what nearly 100 other countries have committed to without demanding any quid pro quo, even if it gains Iran nothing concrete in return? Even if, as you say (and I agree entirely), the US will always press for more and more information, which argument would you prefer to be in a position to make:

    Argument 1: “It’s true that we haven’t disclosed everything that other countries disclose, but what would be the point? The US would never be satisfied anyway.”

    Argument 2: “We’ve disclosed everything that other countries disclose, and the US just keeps asking for more. Why should we have to disclose things that others don’t have to disclose?”

    Incidentally, some writers (not you) seem to be confused as to why Iran should agree to make disclosures required by the AP if it has nothing to disclose. As with many disclosure schemes, the AP includes a very long list of categories in which disclosures are to be made. If a country has nothing to disclose within a category, it simply responds “Not Applicable” or “None” or words to that effect. While some might feel there’s no point even in answering such a question, there is: it informs the question-asker that you have nothing that falls into the category. That’s useful information.

  37. kooshy says:

    “To the contrary, I think China believes it will not be conducive to Middle East peace (not to mention stable oil prices) to permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, nor to permit Iran to play “hide the ball” games that leave other countries worrying that Iran might have nuclear weapons or be able to produce them on short notice.”

    But do you think it will be in China’s interest to let US having a controlling hegemony on supply of the oil to the world including future supply of oil to China.
    As per Levretts paper on china’s policy toward Iran this is not how china plans for her energy security.

    Weren’t the Chinese who once told the US that we can lose 300 mil how many you can lose.

  38. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric;

    I disagree with you on your assessment of China’s calculations regarding Iran and Japan. If China’s strong reaction can stop Japan as the technologic and economic giant that it is (and with its strong alliance with USA), to take the further step of making the war heads, it can be very sure that it can also pressure relatively weak Iran which is isolated by all major powers in the world from taking the next step. This is especially true considering the “Physical limits” to the Iranian ability in terms of the number of the war heads (and the delivery systems) that it can possibly make: Iran has a very limited of Uranium ore and further supplies of Uranium will be under TOTAL control of the West.

    In my opinion, Iran is no where in the vicinity of being a threat to China compared to Japan.

    So, again in my opinion, Chinas attitude is influenced by the “pressure” from USA. The very same Russia which was supportive of Iran when G. Bush decided to go for missile defence in Poland, has all of a sudden started to worry about Iran when under Obama, the missile defence plans in Poland was cancelled.

    So no I don’t think that implementing AP will make any changes in Russia or China’s attitudes. In order to further enhence my arguement I would like to remind you that even Jack Chirac was not worried about Iranian nuclear program, he openly said it, though later on in a very embaressing move he had to retract his comment and say that he was under the influence of alcohol or some medications when he made that comment.

    If Chirac was not worried about our nuclear program, much less should be China.

    As for your question regarding my advice to Iran, if I were in a position to make such an advice:
    I would advice Iran to keep the option of withdrawing from the NPT “IF” a military attack does happen, and I would STRONGLY advice against implementing the AP as it is right now.

    By the way, I think in some environments Iran’s military capabilities have been highly underestimated and my “guess” is that some people do so to create a rosy picture about the consequences of a US attack on Iran and to lure the US into attacking Iran.
    What is Iran’s true capabilities? I can’t claim that I know, I am completely ignorant about the military subjects; however, from the bits of news that I get from here and there, I do get a feeling that Iran does have the capability to cause far more damage than Iraq could ever do. So I agree with Leveretts when they say that an attack on Iran will make the operation in Iraq look like a walk in the park. And by the way BBC described the American adventure in Iraq as a “defeat” for the USA.

  39. fyi says:

    Dan Cooper:

    It is actually worse.

    In NYC, more than 750,000 (local) government workers are on food stamps.

  40. Dan Cooper says:

    The Guardian (UK) reports that according to US government reports, one million American children go to bed hungry, while the Obama regime squanders hundreds of billions of dollars killing women and children in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    The Guardian’s reporting relies on a US government report from the US Department of Agriculture, which concludes that 50 million people in the US–one in six of the population–were unable to afford to buy sufficient food to stay healthy in 2008.

    US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that he expected the number of hungry Americans to worsen when the survey for 2010 is released.

    Today in the American Superpower, one of every six Americans is living on food stamps.

    The Great American Superpower, which is wasting trillions of dollars in pursuit of world hegemony, has 22% of its population unemployed and almost 17% of its population dependent on welfare in order to stay alive.

    The world has not witnessed such total failure of government since the final days of the Roman Empire. A handful of American oligarchs are becoming mega-billionaires while the rest of the country goes down the drain.

    And the American sheeple remain acquiescent.

    http://www.vdare.com/roberts/100731_eat_cake.htm

  41. Alan,

    “Eric – quite possibly so. I think though that a new war will surely create the reaction you and Castellio describe in the early days/months or years even, but I’m not so sure it will cement the future of a pro-Israel US for a few generations.”

    I certainly agree with your last statement. Despite my confidence that there would be no obvious Israeli “fingerprints” on the war plans, eventually many analysts would figure it out, since it’s been widely known for many years that Israel preferred that the US attack Iran even before Iraq. Israeli influence would be weaker next time, not stronger.

  42. kooshy says:

    Arnold

    It is also important to remind everyone that during and after the October negotiations on the TRR fuel supply, the Iranians had explicitly expressed their concern with participation of France in TRR deal since France including the other two in the group had previously acted in bad faith with regard to Iran’s nuclear contracts. Therefore it was natural and legitimate for Iran to ask for objective guarantees for delivery time, place, and amount before they move forward with the deal. Understanding the Iranian position and traditional negotiation technique, when they immediately hinted and raised concern about France’s participation in the deal was indirectly letting the other side know that “we do know what your real intentions are.” They knew they no matter what they will lose the PR in the west, fine better to use the PR then begging for what is yours.

  43. Dan Cooper says:

    WIKIGATE

    WASHINGTON – August 02, 2010

    The facts revealed by WikiLeaks are indeed shocking: wide-scale killing of civilians by US and NATO forces; torture of prisoners handed over to the Communist-dominated Afghan secret police; American death squads; endemic corruption and theft; double-dealing and demoralization of Western occupation forces facing ever fiercer Taliban resistance.

    The reports reveal the ugly underbelly of a war merchandised to the public as a noble mission to liberate oppressed women and clean up a nest of terrorists. They have embarrassed and outraged the hell out of Washington and its NATO allies. Comparisons to the famed Pentagon Papers of the Vietnam War era that undermined public support for that misbegotten conflict are inevitable.

    The Obama administration and the Pentagon insist release of these old reports from 2004-2009 “endanger our boys.” Nonsense. The only thing the truth endangers are the politicians who have hung their hats on the Afghan War and some paid Afghan informers who are most likely well known to the Taliban and its allies.

    What Washington really wants is a totally obedient, obsequious Pakistan, not real ally . But the interests of the two nations must at times diverge. Trying to make Pakistan into a satellite state will result in that enormously important, nuclear-armed nation of 170 million one day exploding with anti-American hatred, as was the case in Iran in 1979. The US-led war in Afghanistan is putting the two nations on a collision course. Over 90% of Pakistanis already say that their nation’s primary enemy is the United States, followed by India.

    Here in Washington, the US Congress just ignored the WikiLeaks scandal and voted yet more billions to fuel the Afghanistan War. Politicians are petrified to oppose this nine-year war lest they be accused of being anti-patriotic, the kiss of death in hyperpatriotic America where flag-wavers root for foreign wars so long as their kids don’t have to serve and they don’t have to pay taxes to finance them.

    http://www.ericmargolis.com/political_commentaries/wikigate.aspx

  44. Pirouz 2,

    “Do you TRULY believe that of all countries “CHINA” is worried that Iran will have a “Japan” option when Japan itself is sitting under China’s nose?”

    Yes, I do believe that. I don’t think China worries that Japan will seek nuclear weapons. Indeed, I believe that China’s predictable strong displeasure with any decision by Japan to seek nuclear weapons is one of the (several) important reasons why China, the US and other countries aren’t terribly worried that Japan might seek nuclear weapons.

    As for Iran, however, I believe that China shares the concern of the US and many other countries that Iran might seek to acquire nuclear weapons. I seriously doubt China is happy that Israel already has nuclear weapons – nor am I; nor is much of the world. But I don’t think China believes it can do anything about Israel’s weapons, nor does it believe that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons should entitle Israel’s enemies to have nuclear weapons. To the contrary, I think China believes it will not be conducive to Middle East peace (not to mention stable oil prices) to permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, nor to permit Iran to play “hide the ball” games that leave other countries worrying that Iran might have nuclear weapons or be able to produce them on short notice.

    China recognizes, just as most of the world does, that Iran has a strong incentive to seek nuclear weapons, and probably acknowledges (at least to itself) that China would feel exactly the same as Iran does if it were in Iran’s situation. For that very reason, China probably believes that Iran needs to be watched more carefully than Japan needs to be watched. That’s why China supports, and will continue to support, restrictions aimed at preventing Iran from achieving the reality or illusion of nuclear-weapons capability.

    What Iran should be seeking from China – and I believe can expect – is support for whatever Iran needs to do to carry out Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program. Inevitably, there will be nuclear activities that Iran considers necessary that will be susceptible to misinterpretation – for an obvious example, accumulating enough LEU to make multiple bombs (if further enriched), as will inevitably become necessary once Iran begins operating multiple nuclear power plants. It is especially in those “ambiguous” situations that Iran will need to press China a bit for support, so that China does not simply agree with the US’ predictable demand that any such “ambiguous” activity must be prohibited.

    Iran will be much more successful in its efforts to persuade China on such matters if Iran is in a position to point out that Iran’s nuclear activities have been fully disclosed and found to be entirely consistent with Iran’s claim of strictly peaceful intentions. Conversely, Iran is likely to find it more difficult to gain China’s support if Iran is not in a position to make such claims. This is one of several important reasons why I think it would be in Iran’s best interests to start making the same disclosures that are presently being made by Japan and nearly 100 other countries around the world.

  45. Arnold Evans says:

    About the TRR deal:

    I don’t recall hearing anything about negotiating terms from any US official at any point in the winter or spring about the TRR deal. The Iranian public position was that this deal does not guarantee that we’ll actually receive uranium. The West’s public position was that this is a balanced deal that Iran must accept or leave.

    Alan’s idea that the West was secretly willing to negotiate the terms has no support in any statement from Obama or Clinton or Mullen (I think he, but maybe Gates spoke on the issue of a TRR deal, saying as everyone else did that the deal was good as presented and its terms not subject to change.) or unnamed US officials speaking to the press. In fact, Alan’s idea that the West was willing to negotiate contradicts everything everyone in the West said about the deal.

    Alan, you have a habit of substituting what your position would be for what the US’ position is.

    Alan’s current presentation, that the US was not willing to separate the TRR deal from a larger deal on Iran’s nuclear program means the US was tying the deal to the other US demands of Iran suspending enrichment and generally giving up any nuclear capability. For the US that means holding its uranium stock below one ton until or unless the US expressly gives it permission to pass that level.

    This one ton thing is new and takes into account that, as ElBaradei said, the demand for a suspension has been overtaken by events. Holding Iran’s domestic stock is now more important than the suspension itself. This was not the case when Iran’s stock was below the amount necessary to build one weapon.

    How the US intended the deal to work, as is now clear based on the US letter to the IAEA, is that Iran would not only export enough uranium to get beneath one ton, but would also agree to a mechanism by which it would keep its uranium below that level for the duration to the transaction. The mechanism was probably to be a fuel bank that Iran would export uranium to outside of Iranian soil.

    While the transaction was ongoing, discussions were to be held. US certainly hoped that Iran would actually suspend enrichment to begin formal negotiations, but possibly, though nobody has ever said so, it is conceivable that the US might show flexibility on the suspension demand, if Iran was holding its uranium stock under a ton.

    France (and the US) are just purely lying that it takes three years to make 120 kgs of medical reactor fuel. And France isn’t even committing to three years. The Western point is that Iran will not get the fuel until Iran has given up a Japan option and is no longer in a position that it could relatively easily build a weapon using material in its domestic stock if it was to leave the NPT.

    Effectively, what happened was that Iran asked for TRR fuel and the West added TRR fuel to airplane parts and nuclear agricultural products it is offering to trade for Iran effectively suspending enrichment.

    Until the Turkey/Brazil deal, this tying of the TRR deal with the demands the US has been making since 2006 and before has been suspected but not confirmed by the US. When the US made public the terms it had offered, and it is clear now that Iran was neither to have a mechanism to recall its uranium once exported or a definite date to receive the fuel, under the deal the US offered, the worst case scenario for the US was that it would keep 1200 kgs of LEU, ship 1 kg of medical fuel as a preliminary shipment before the 1 year deadline (failing to do this would have no consequence anyway unless the IAEA board of governors voted that there should be a consequence) and just keep a years production of Iran’s LEU.

    The best case scenario for the US had been that the TRR deal would be what forced Iran to submit to the demands it had not submitted to since 2005.

  46. Pirouz 2,

    ““IF” Iran had the military might to completely fend off a US attack and significantly hurt USA in return, let alone signing the AP I would withdraw from NPT!”

    Though I haven’t thought this through, I suspect I’d end up agreeing with you – but only because you make it easy by assuming a condition that may or may not exist, and you decline to say whether you think it does. What if you were advising Iran in real life? Would you advise Iran to withdraw from the NPT, or not?

  47. James Canning says:

    Eric and Pirouz_2,

    Eric is “right on the money” (as some people say or used to say in the US), that the key issue is what is believed by most Americans. The scaremongers obviously rely on the profound ignorance of most Americans.

  48. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Russia will provide the fuel for Bushehr #1 at least through 2015. Russia would prefer to provide fuel for all five Bushehr nuclear power plants. (No. 1 should be online next month.)

    Russia and China support Iran’s enrichment of LEU. I continue to understand the enriching to 20% was the largest issue that caused them to back the latest round of sanctions in the UN (though both countries oppose the add’l sanctions put into place by the US and the EU).

  49. kooshy says:

    Pirouz_2
    August 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm Post

    Very precise observation, that nails it

  50. Pirouz 2,

    “The whole world KNOWS that Iran’s activities are perfectly legal under NPT and that it is not developing a nuclear bomb. The whole NAM is fully behind Iran.”

    The “whole world” doesn’t know this. You may know it, I may be quite confident it’s true, all of the non-aligned countries may be fully behind Iran. We can be sure that none of the above will ever bomb Iran. But I can assure you that a very large majority of the American public does not know this. In fact, it believes quite the opposite, and there are many loud voices in the United States who use this strong public opinion to back their insistent cries for an attack on Iran.

    I’m not saying agreeing to the AP would solve the nuclear impasse. But it certainly would help, since Iran and its supporters would find it much easier to respond to the annoying “What’s Iran trying to hide?” argument.

  51. James,

    “My understanding continues to be that Russia and China agreed to the most recent UN sanctions primarily because Iran had started to enrich U to 20%.”

    Really? I did not understand that to be Russia’s and China’s reason – in part because I never quite understood what alternative Iran had at that point BUT to undertake the enrichment itself. I understand Iran lacked (and lacks) the technological capability to fabricate fuel plates, but it argued then that it was confident it would figure that out soon enough. Though I agree Iran probably was foolish to say it would continue enriching to 20% even if a TRR deal were struck, I never took that seriously and always doubted that anyone did. It’s highly likely that any TRR deal would have included a provision to ship that 20% fuel to someone else (possibly to France to make fuel plates for the TRR, or to Russia to be “cleaned” first), and a commitment by Iran to stop enriching to 20%.

  52. Alan (and Arnold),

    Thanks to Arnold for the link to the Reuters article quoting the France/Russia/US response to the Tehran Declaration.

    I agree, Alan, that most of the complaints could have been negotiated away, but I’m not at all sure that applies to two major differences:

    1. The complaint that the TD expressly confirms Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

    2. The complaint that the amount of LEU covered by the TD no longer represents a sufficiently large percentage of Iran’s LEU.

    This means essentially that the Vienna Group had, and probably still has, no intention of approving any TRR deal that doesn’t include at least two elements:

    A. The absence of any acknowledgement of Iran’s enrichment rights.

    B. Applicability to enough LEU that Iran would not have enough left over to build a bomb (or maybe two bombs).

    While Point B might not matter if Iran can always retain enough “home grown” fuel to operate actual up-and-running nuclear power plant(s), that certainly won’t be the case in the long run if the Vienna Group’s enrichment limits are accepted, and possibly not even in the short run: you or someone else mentioned earlier that Iran may soon run short of LEU to operate Bushehr. Even if Iran can get by at Bushehr in the short term, that would only kick the can down the road. Sooner or later, Iran will need to keep more LEU than the Vienna Group would want Iran to keep, in order to operate multiple nuclear power plants without relying on outside fuel sources.

    When that occurs, if Iran has agreed as part of some TRR-fueling deal to keep its enriched LEU below a specified low level, we’d be right back to the same enrichment-rights impasse we have today – except that there would be a several-years history of Iran voluntarily restricting its enrichment. Iran would insist on its right to enrich more; the US predictably would respond that Iran was “reneging” on its minimal-enrichment commitment and obviously must be planning to build nuclear weapons.

    I think Iran generally should avoid agreeing to restrictions that it inevitably must terminate later – even if the agreed restrictions give Iran explicit cancellation rights. The US will cry “bad faith” whenever Iran exercises those cancellation rights, just as it did when Iran resumed enrichment and suspended its observance of the Additional Protocols and new Code 3.1.

    Iran might nevertheless determine that its imminent need for TRR fuel justifies accepting some “temporary” restrictions on its enrichment rights. Before signing up for a TRR deal, though, Iran should consider carefully the additional price it will inevitably pay down the road when it announces that it will henceforth be enriching a lot more uranium. I can easily imagine what the US will argue then:

    “For several years now, Iran has cooperated with the international community to use nuclear fuel in its TRR that has been manufactured for Iran by other countries. This arrangement has worked out well for all parties concerned. There is no reason to believe that a similar arrangement cannot be worked out for other countries to supply Iran with nuclear fuel to operate its power plants. Yet Iran now refuses to continue its cooperation with the international community.”

    Having become accustomed to relying on other countries to supply its nuclear fuel, Iran would be asked to explain to a skeptical world why that successful practice should not simply continue. In addition, Iran may not have built up its enrichment capacity in the meantime, since doing so will have been unnecessary and would only have raised suspicions. Suddenly Iran would need to acquire, install and start operating a large number of additional centrifuges, and to assert a strong desire for LEU self-sufficiency that it had not previously asserted. Iran might find it easier simply to accept continued restrictions on its enrichment rights, just as it had done when it signed the TRR deal, and thus might never attain self-sufficiency.

    For these reasons, Iran might be well-advised to hang tough on its enrichment rights – insisting on the right to produce enough LEU in the predictably increasing quantities that will become necessary as its nuclear power plants are completed and begin operating. Right now, that might amount to about the same amount as the Vienna Group is prepared to accept. All that would be necessary, then, would be for Iran to ensure that the agreed ceiling rises to remain well above what it will need down the road as its nuclear power plants come on line.

  53. James Canning says:

    Pirouz_2 (and Eric),

    My understanding continues to be that Russia and China agreed to the most recent UN sanctions primarily because Iran had started to enrich U to 20%. I thought that this was a serious tactical error by Iran, and I continue to think it was. But the situation can be retrieved if Iran suspends the 20% enrichment as part of the deal for the TRR fuel.

  54. James Canning says:

    Pirouz_2,

    Iraq having destroyed its WMD, the irritation felt by Saddam, regarding apparent spying activities of weapons inspectors, ought not have caused him to expel the inspectors. Iraq was not about to attack Israel, nor was Israel about to attack Iraq. Ejecting the inspectors was a disastrous error of judgement, and it had more to do with pride than it did with protecting military secrets.

    Iran should keep the moral high ground, seek to stregthen the NPT, and continue to call world attention to Israel’s failure to sign the NPT.

    I continue to be fascinated by your extreme reluctance to have Iran ship LEU to Turkey. The LEU has no current purpose in Iran, nor witll there be any use for it, for years to come!

  55. Pirouz_2 says:

    @Eric A. Brill:

    By the way Eric, I have been meaning to tell you this but I keep forgetting it! :)

    You say that signing AP will weaken US governments position in persuading other countries and even its own public into believing that Iran is hiding something.

    I completely disagree.

    US already has an EXTREMELY weak position in persuading other countries. The whole world KNOWS that Iran’s activities are perfectly legal under NPT and that it is not developing a nuclear bomb. The whole NAM is fully behind Iran.
    If countries such as Russia and China stand by USA in its sanctions, it is not because they really “suspect” a foul play on Iran’s part. Do you TRULY believe that of all countries “CHINA” is worried that Iran will have a “Japan” option when Japan itself is sitting under China’s nose?!?!?!
    If these countries stand by the USA (reluctantly) it is not because they “suspect” something about Iran, it is ONLY because they are being either “bought off” or “harassed” into submitting into US policies. As such there is no amount of disclosure that Iran can provide which would make those countries feel confident in Iran’s peaceful intentions. Disclosure is the answer when there is a “real” suspicion, not when there is an intention of harassment under the pretext of “suspicion”.

  56. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric:
    You asked Cyrus: “If you were Iran, why would you NOT declare that you’ll observe the Additional Protocols?”
    And then rephrased the question as: “If you were Iran, why would you NOT declare that you’ll observe the Additional Protocols?”

    Although your question was to Cyrus, I’d like to jump in and give you an answer of my own.

    I think when we think about AP, we should ask ourselves “what did we get out of NPT?”
    There are rights which have been guaranteed under NPT, which one of those rights are we enjoying at the moment?
    Are we BUYING nuclear fuel for TRR? or are we being blackmailed into losing a part of our own LEU in exchange for what we are entitled under NPT to buy with no “conditions”?
    Are we freely buying Uranium ore from outside? (see the text of the latest round of sanctions)
    Are we free to invest in Uranium mining industry in any country? (see the text of the latest round of sanctions)
    Are we secure in our daily life or are we being threatened with military attack and EVEN on nuclear attack on a daily basis?

    Is it not the “NPT” which is being used as a stick on our head and as a cause for our harrasment?
    Whenever a comparison is made between Israel and Iran is it not the answer that “but they did not sign the ‘NPT’, you did!”?
    Can you name ONE advantage, ONE right guaranteed under NPT that Iran is enjoying freely? I am not talking about rights that we are exercising at the cost of sanctions and constant harassment, I am talking about rights that we should freely be enjoying WITH THE TECHNOLOGICAL HELP OF THE NUCLEAR STATES RATHER THAN THEIR CONSTANT HARRASMENT! (Actually according to NPT non-nuclear states are entitled to get the “technological” help from the nuclear states for peaceful nuclear activities including Uranium enrichment technology, so they shouldnt have to resort to black market and A.Q. Khan to get a technology that they are perfectly entitled to get from France, UK, USA, Russia, China, etc. under NPT).

    Let alone enjoying any of our rights under NPT, NPT is being used as a stick to constantly harras us and stop us from exercising our most basic rights under NPT!
    NPT is being constantly abused to the point of becoming a completely meaningless agreement which could only be used by USA to abuse other countries!

    It is a very obvious thing what will happen if Iran signs the AP! WHAT HAPPENED TO SADDAM HUSSEIN WHEN HE SIGNED THE AP? DID YOU KNOW THAT ONE OF THE REASONS THAT IRAQ THREW OUT THE UN INSPECTORS WAS THAT UNDER THE DISGUISE OF “INTRUSIVE” INSPECTION ISRAELI AGENTS (AND VERY OFTEN UN INSPECTORS THEMSELVES) WERE PENETRATING EVERY SINGLE INDUSTRY THAT IRAQIES HAD AND GAVE A DETAILED REPORT TO TEL-AVIV?

    So in answer to your question:
    “IF” Iran had the military might to completely fend off a US attack and significantly hurt USA in return, let alone signing the AP I would withdraw from NPT!!

  57. James Canning says:

    Richard,

    Re: Aug. 4th, 6:30am – - There you have it: the US long has supported a nuke-free Middle East; HOWEVER, for the moment and more moments, and still more moments, the US will not pressure Israel to sign the NPT, allow IAEA inspections, or to get rid of its nukes.

    I think it is extremely unlikely Israel would use its nukes, unless it appeared another country with nukes was threatening to attack. (I exclude Iran from this category because I think Iran does not want nukes.)

  58. James Canning says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    Re: Aug. 4th, 6:49pm – - The US allowed the UN measure to proceed (seeking a Middle East free of nukes) because it was pushing the Iran sanctions. Israeli officials scrambled to arrange for Democrats in the US Congress to squeeze Obama’s private parts, so that the issue was sufficiently ambiguous for the Israel lobby to say the US supports Israel’s retention of nuclear weapons and refusal to sign the NPT, while the US bellyaches day in and day out about Iran’s supposed failure to comply with the NPT etc etc etc etc. I am well aware there are numerous stooges of the Israeli government in the US Congress, and that a number of these stooges knowingly conspire to subvert the national security of the American people, for their own political benefit.

  59. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Regarding the appalling ignorance of the American public, do you know the latest poll figures on the issue: Do you bleieve Iran has nuclear weapons? Early this year, two-thirds answered “yes”.

    In early 2003, there was a conspiracy within the office of the Vice President, and within the National Security Council, to claim Iraq had sought to obtain uranium from Niger. Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice caused this assertion to be put in the draft of Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN (Feb. 5th). Powell took it out.

    The CIA had known for years the claim about the effort to buy uranium was rubbish, and that it had been planted by neocons and other warmongers trying to set up the invasion of Iraq.

  60. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    Your link to the interview with Creveld brings out an extremely important point: Israel built the “security wall” in the wrong place, even though 90% of Israelis thought it should be on the Green Line. The astonishing incompetence of Condoleezza Rice played a large role here, because she, and the moron in the White House, failed to comprehend that any such barrier needed to be on the Green Line, and not wandering hither and thither all over the West Bank.

  61. Alan says:

    Eric – quite possibly so. I think though that a new war will surely create the reaction you and Castellio describe in the early days/months or years even, but I’m not so sure it will cement the future of a pro-Israel US for a few generations.

    I think the real “opportunity” for the US to deal with Israel in a way that makes us all happy lies in the “build-up” and how they handle it. I’m not holding my breath over it, but the opportunity at least exists.

  62. Cyrus,

    Rather than, or at least before, launching into a detailed response to your strong comment, let me first ask this:

    If you were Iran, why would you NOT declare that you’ll observe the Additional Protocols?

    If Iran is really disclosing as much or more already, as your comment suggests in part, why not take credit for this by announcing that you’re going to observe the AP? No extra work, and possibly some extra credit.

    Is it just a matter of pride? Is it merely because Iran got nothing concrete in exchange last time?

    Is it more than just that? Do you really believe that Iran’s AP “bargaining chip” has some value, or might I be right that its only “value” lies in the hands of Iran-haters like John Bolton who pray each night at bedtime that Iran will never play that chip? Might I be correct when I argue that Iran, right now, is getting something “negative” in return for not observing the AP: suspicion among tens of millions of Americans that Iran is hiding a nuclear weapons program?

    When people on this website, like you and I, state their firm belief that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, and some even claim to “know” this, would such statements not carry more weight if we could also point out that Iran’s disclosures include the very same broad categories of information as the disclosures made by nearly 100 other countries – categories of information that were added by the IAEA for the express purpose of filling disclosure gaps that the “Iraq surprise” had revealed in the pre-existing Safeguards-Agreements-only monitoring scheme?

    So let me ask again:

    If you were Iran, why would you NOT declare that you’ll observe the Additional Protocols?

  63. kooshy says:

    Hassan Hassani

    “Ahmadinejad in the provence of Hamedan today:”

    “http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=112300”

    “Does this guy look unpopular?”

    Can any of the so called democratic elected western ( Powers , International community) leaders do this, would their security details allow them to get this close in an unprotected street,pre announced in regular bases. As some here have used their mastery of the English vocabulary, yes my “Nancy Boy” It takes Lots of “right kind of Bollocks” to go out like that.

  64. Alan says:

    Fiorangela,

    “Finkelstein’s words are terrifying, and to me they signal the inevitability of a war with Iran: except for the United States, no other military force can challenge Israel. Who does Finkelstein anticipate will deliver to Israel the “devastating defeat” that he urges?”

    It may signal the inevitability of an Israeli war with somebody, but not necessarily a US war with Iran though. Israel will do all they can to kick one off and drag the US in, but this is where the US has to play its cards very carefully. It could be their greatest opportunity to sort out the hopeless mess the US has got itself into with Israel.

    On Martin van Creveld – have a look at this truly astonishing assessment by him. I think it very clearly puts in perspective the way the US/Israel relationship works.

    http://www.rense.com/general34/dutchisraelimilitary.htm

  65. Castellio, Fiorangela and Alan,

    Though I’ve only reviewed quickly your debate on whether a war on Iran would shine the harsh light of day on the Israel lobby as the puppeteer, I must say that I agree with Castellio – much as I’d like to think that Alan and Fiorangela will prove to be correct. If the US should ever attack Iran, Americans will believe deep in their hearts that they have determined all by themselves that Iran is a serious threat to the United States.

    Many writers will try to persuade them that they have been duped, and the results of those efforts will be negligible, as they always have been in the past. The writers will be dismissed as anti-Semites (or self-hating Jews, depending on their lineage) who insult Americans by suggesting they cannot think for themselves about such important matters as war and peace.

  66. Fiorangela says:

    Let us hope and help Lillian Rosengarten (see my post at 10:39 am) to achieve her goal: to unite ALL Jews and people of All religions and no religion in saying to Israel: NOT IN OUR NAME!

    Because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
    Norman Finkelstein engaged in two discussions, the first, with a Lebanese interlocutor, the second, a speech at an American university. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDe65-nF3FQ His closing words to the first discussion were, “Israel has to suffer a defeat.” In the second discussion, a member of the audience challenged Finkelstein on that statement. Here is Finkelstein’s response:

    (I prepared this transcript from youtube.com/watch?v=RyDrP )

    “Yes, I did say that Israel needs to suffer a major defeat. If you ask me what kind of defeat, I’ll give you a simple answer: read Martin van Crevald, Israel’s leading military authority. He says Israel is a more militarized state than Germany was between 1871, the era of Bismarck, through 1945, the Nazi era. Israel is a MORE militarized state.

    “And my view is, Israel needs to suffer just like the Germans and the Japanese suffered during World War II to finally shake it up and bring it back to its senses. It is carrying on like a marauding state, a vandal state.

    “These are not words, it’s not rhetoric. Look, for yourselves, at the record. Last year the National Intelligence Estimate came out with the conclusion that … Iran was no longer involved in a program to develop nuclear weapons. Every country in the world, all the people in the world, including an overwhelming majority of Americans sighed with relief: There’s not going to be a war.

    “Every country in the world except Israel, where both the government and, overwhelmingly, the population, were pushing for a war with Iran.

    “That’s a problem. It’s become a lunatic state.

    “I don’t say that with any sort of gratification or happiness. Because among other things I think its lunacy is going to lead inexorably to its destruction. And I don’t see any virtue in that, I don’t see any reason to be happy about that. Destruction of any country, of any people, is something that we should all recoil at and look at with horror. But that’s the direction it’s going.

    “It’s a very odd thing but probably true: the best thing that happened to Germany was that defeat it suffered in 1945. It became a moral country. The most peace-loving, the most morally serious, the most decent of all Europeans, are clearly the Germans. That defeat shook up the society. I think it was a good thing, and frankly, I think it would be a good thing if Israel, too, suffered a devastating defeat; that’s correct.”

    Finkelstein’s words are terrifying, and to me they signal the inevitability of a war with Iran: except for the United States, no other military force can challenge Israel. Who does Finkelstein anticipate will deliver to Israel the “devastating defeat” that he urges?

    Lillian Rosengarten, I plant my flowers in your garten: NOT IN MY NAME.

  67. Cyrus says:

    Eric in response to your statement: “My only suggestion is that it weaken the US’ ‘What’s Iran trying to hide?’ argument by making more full disclosures about its nuclear program. ”

    But Eric as we both know Iranians tried this already, with the predictable consequence. The US is trying to shoft the burden of proof by placing Iran into a position of having to disprove a negative — to prove that there are no black swans in existence — which is a logical and practical impossibility. If Iran were to accept this shifted burden of proof, it would be faced with two equally bad choices: try fruitlessly to prove that it doesn’t have a nuclear program and fail (which it must necessary fail, because you can’t disprove a negative) or to simply give up trying to do so (and thus hand the US an immediate propaganda victory.) In either case, the US argument that Iran is “hiding something” would continue unabated. In short, this demand on Iran to continue “disclosure” (of what, anyway?) is a trap. The force of the US argument is not based on anything factual but is instead based on speculation and scaremongering which cannot be disproven. As I said, Iran is being asked to prove that it won’t possibly do something in the indefinite future. No amount of disclosure or transparency can meet that standard of proof. Iran already implemented the Additional Protocol. It already allowed anytime-anywhere inspections. It has already exceeded the AP in responding to the Modalities Agreement issues and those have been resolved. The only issue remaining is the so-called Laptop of Death. And even then Iran has addressed some of hte allegations, to the extent that it has been provided the necessary documentation to respond to them. No other country on the face of the earth has been as intensively scrutinized by the IAEA as Iran, and there has yet to be an iota of evidence of any nuclear weapons program found. Under these circumstances, the Iranians are wise not to fall into the trap. They have already lessen the believability of the US claims substantially, for anyone who actually bothers to read the details. The unwashed masses who rely on Fox News may continue to believe the allgations, but they’re the sheep and canon fodder who will always be misled.

  68. Fiorangela,

    On whether writers like Bret Stephens should be “shunned, ignored:”

    What good does it do for us to shun such writers when others read them and believe what they write? Wouldn’t we be more effective taking the time to research and challenge a lot of the misinformation about Iran that gets spread by people like Stephens?

    For example, consider this passage in Stephens’ recent Commentary article:

    “Iran also had a direct operational role in the bombings of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and of the Jewish community center there in 1994. The man chiefly responsible for the last of those attacks, Ahmad Vahidi, is today Iran’s defense minister. Iran has also carried out high-profile assassinations of its enemies on European soil; taken British sailors hostage; put U.S., Canadian, and French nationals on trial (and in jail) on patently bogus charges…”

    If people like us don’t read what Stephens writes, who’s ever going to say: “Wait just a doggone minute here, Mr. Stephens – where’s your evidence for those serious allegations?” Do you imagine the typical head-nodding Commentary reader is going to question those statements, or will he assume that Stephens must have a sound basis for making those allegations? If no one challenges Stephens, is he less likely or more likely to include similar statements in future writings?

    For an example that you can probably expect comes quickly to my mind, I pay very close attention to the adjectives used in articles to describe Iran’s 2009 election. In fact, I’ll still confess to a habit of doing a quick search for the word “election” in many on-line pieces I read on Iran that might be expected to mention it. I’ve noticed an unmistakable trend away from “stolen election” and “rigged election” to “protested election” or “disputed election.” By no means do I claim responsibility for that trend, but I’ve done my part, and many thousands of people have at least visited the website where my article (and nothing else) appears. Long-anticipated books and other long works on the “stolen” election (most notably, Dr. Ali Ansari’s long-promised follow-up to his Chatham House Preliminary Study) have either not appeared or have degenerated into meaningless little bob-and-weave slaps at the election. If I’ve played even a small part in squelching free (but misinformed) expression on this once-hot topic, I’m gratified.

    Some facts-be-damned writers, such as Stephens, find it hard to give up their old ways, but at least his “stolen election” did not appear in his very first reference to the election, and he didn’t elaborate at all; I count my blessings. Other writers – such as Roger Cohen, who I’d once feared would make a second career solely out of stories about the “stolen” election, complete with statistics “proving” the fraud (plucked out of thin air, as best I can tell) – now limits himself (with an occasional exception) to silly remarks such as “Sometimes you have to smell the truth, breathe it.”

    In my view, one does a lot more good for Iran’s cause by taking on writers like Stephens than by ignoring them. Which would be more useful for Iran, after all – to do some homework on one or more of Stephens’ allegations in the passage quoted above, or to write something like this on Race for Iran: “My name is John Smith and I think Israel should give up its nuclear weapons.” When I come upon such a why-bother statement, I’m sometimes reminded of the scene in Arthur, the movie starring Dudley Moore as a lazy heir to an immense fortune who spends his days lounging around the mansion. Arthur rolled out of bed late one morning and announced to his butler, played expertly by John Gielgud: “Jeeves, I believe I shall take a bath.”

    Gielgud’s inimitable response: “I shall alert the press, sir.”

  69. Alan: “Regarding your (2), as Arnold says, there are definitely differences between the two escrow deals. In the November deal, the P5+1 didn’t want to separate the TRR deal from an overall nuclear deal”

    Complete bull crap. Go back and read my extraordinarily long post on the entire time line.

    “, and nor were they offering to supply ALL the fuel for the TRR within a year.”

    No, they were intent on extending the deal for years and years in while they held on to Iran’s LEU. You didn’t bother to mention that little detail.

    “However, these are points that could, in my view, be easily negotiated had Iran been willing to do so, particularly because of the Turkey escrow.”

    Oh, that is seriously disingenuous. Obama’s letter to Brazil EXPLICITLY said that the fuel swap was entirely separate from the enrichment problem – UNTIL Iran accepted it, then Obama backtracked. Yet you blame Iran for the whole deal.

    Pathetic. This is what you call “balanced”?

    “Instead, Iran elected to up their enrichment levels to 20% and build up their stockpile of LEU. This meant any new TRR deal had to take these factors into account.”

    Only because the US never wanted to negotiate in good faith on the original deal.

    “The Tehran Declaration didn’t. The Tehran Declaration also required an overt endorsement of enrichment, which the November deal didn’t. These were terms the P5+1 could never accept.”

    And somehow Iran was to blame for that, despite the fact that enrichment is Iran’s completely legal right.

    You’re another bullshit artist intent on hawking the US position under the guise of being a critic of it, just like Brill.

  70. Brill: “In short, if the “disarm Israel” argument were motivated only by a desire for nuclear disarmament, I’d applaud the sentiment.”

    Ah, here we go.

    Closet Zionist. I knew it.

  71. Fiorangela says:

    speaking of Mondoweiss, and of nurturing the desirable flowers (Flowers of the angels ;>) and pulling out the weeds, Not all Jews are Zionists:

    quote: ” It is important to tell you, I am one of those assimilated Jews with no affiliation to organized religion. I have always been more political than religious, a sixties hippie and active war resister. I don’t believe in wars and am a pacifist. I believe in dialogue and speaking to the enemy as a way to understand the “other” through listening and compassion. I believe in engaging in conflict resolution through peaceful means. In Israel where violence is met with violence we witness a cycle of hate that deepens with each generation, a circle of hell and endless suffering.

    I believe there is a strong distinction between Zionism and Judaism. This cannot be overemphasized and helps to explain my strong desire to make that distinction by joining a Jewish ship to Gaza. That it is German Jewish ship is significant because of my background but more important for me, is an opportunity to speak out against human rights abuses as a Jew who is not a Zionist. Not all Jews are Zionists. I did not always know this. To assume that every Jew supports the Israeli Zionist vision is an unfortunate misperception. Judaism is an age-old, compassionate humble way of life and opposes the idea of a political state for Jews on grounds of religious beliefs. The Zionist ideal is to form a religious state, a Jewish state and to oppress the population of Palestinians. The hallmark of Zionism is harsh nationalism that imposes itself in a completely illegitimate and amoral way on the local population. Through consistent collective punishment, the Zionist state continues to crush the spirit and freedom of the Palestinian people and now the Bedouins.

    Because I am a Jew I would have been exterminated in Germany. I survived because my father was able to see the writing on the wall when Hitler came to power. He was always a realist. This exodus is imprinted in my very being for all my life. That’s just the way it is. I want to say to the world I am a Jew and not a Zionist, and therefore the actions of the Israeli Zionist government are not in my name. It is my fervent hope that Jews all over the world will stand up and shout, “NOT IN OUR NAME.” Perhaps then Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, all the religions of the world and all countries (including of course the United States) of the world, shall join together to demand full equality for Palestinians and Israeli citizens, for there is no difference in the value of their lives.” end quote

  72. Hassan Hassani says:

    Ahmadinejad in the provence of Hamedan today:

    http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=112300

    Does this guy look unpopular?

  73. Fiorangela says:

    edit: expand on point #3.

  74. Fiorangela says:

    To expand on point #2: propagandists work on the basis of “toss it on the wall and see what sticks;” they couldn’t care less whether their words have truth value or logic; and if their words are repeated in order to criticize them, that is, are repeated in a negative light, that still achieves the purpose of the propagandists: even negative advertising is advertising: N more people will hear or read, “Iran cannot be contained;” that is the takeaway message, and we will have helped to disseminate it.

    Yes, Castellio, I agree that Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam, as well as Phil Weiss who runs Mondoweiss, and also Muzzlewatch, do courageous work.

  75. Fiorangela says:

    Castellio, I suggest that pundits such as Stephens be “shunned, ignored” for three reasons:

    1. I recall when Mennonite people suffered horrible crimes in their community. Their way of handling the loss was by mourning their dead, then destroying the scene of the crime, forgiving the criminal, and moving on with their lives. I consider Mennonites a rarified example of moral behavior in the US, and their method it to isolate misbehavior that occurs in their community, to shun and shame in order to stop the spread of the behavior they consider unacceptable. Some years ago, William Bennett, author of the Book of Virtues, advocated that behavior contrary to American moral virtue be ‘shamed.’ What could be more opposed to what America thinks it stands for theoretically than the assertion that an entire nation of people should be subject to acts of war ranging from sanctions (which are acts of war) to aerial attacks to even nuclear attacks, for no good reason? People who advance such views should be shamed and shunned because what they advocate is hideous and shameful.

    2. The right to free speech entails both a right and a responsibility. Pundits like Stephens write with absolute impunity and no accountability for the acts set in motion by their words. Propaganda was one of the primary tools that made the twentieth century one of the most violent in recorded history; propaganda set in motion the massacre in Rwanda. The people who use the words inciting death and destruction should be held equally as accountable for their acts as the person who wields the machete or the gun.

    3. Stephens likely spent very little effort stringing together the talking points that somebody like Frank Luntz or a functionary in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with Hebrew University’s Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory, has statistically determined will motivate the maximum number of people and will, with the least possible input produce the maximum exposure by becoming amplified by people like us. I’m not willing to amplify Stephens’ or MFA’s messages.

    The best way to keep weeds out of my garden is by planting it with desirable plants and nurturing those plants to keep them watered and healthy. In my opinion, the garden of public opinion should be planted with the words of thinkers and analysts like Gordon Adams, John Tirman, Giandomenico Picco, and, of course, Flynt and Hillary Leverett, and dozens of others who have been crowded out of main stream media by weeds like Bret Stephens.

  76. Alan says:

    Eric – re your (1), Turkey was the proposed 3rd party location.

    Re your (3) – I don’t feel I was being harsh; I have the utmost respect for the Leveretts and Ben and the work they do, and this post of theirs does not change that at all. However, I felt matters of great significance were omitted in this presentation to make the situation appear completely one-sided.

    Perhaps that was the point, as this debate has become so polemical that an overt and unapologetic defense of the Iranian position in a western outlet is required to counter the numerous anti-Iranian views that dominate the debate.

    If so, admirable though it may be, I will still always be critical. My interest is in the balanced view because that is how to best understand the dynamics of what is going on.

    Regarding your (2), as Arnold says, there are definitely differences between the two escrow deals. In the November deal, the P5+1 didn’t want to separate the TRR deal from an overall nuclear deal, and nor were they offering to supply ALL the fuel for the TRR within a year.

    However, these are points that could, in my view, be easily negotiated had Iran been willing to do so, particularly because of the Turkey escrow.

    Instead, Iran elected to up their enrichment levels to 20% and build up their stockpile of LEU. This meant any new TRR deal had to take these factors into account. The Tehran Declaration didn’t. The Tehran Declaration also required an overt endorsement of enrichment, which the November deal didn’t. These were terms the P5+1 could never accept.

    However, the Tehran Declaration and the P5+1 response both constitute grounds for negotiation because neither slam the door shut on the other. However, I can’t see how a TRR deal in isolation is possible (and never really was).

    Regarding my sources of information, with regard to Iran I don’t think I’m any better informed than anybody else. I just try to understand what motivates both sides to do what they do, and many are not really interested in doing that.

  77. fyi says:

    Persian Gulf:

    Cooperation with US on Afghanistan, just like the Conoco deal, and the 2003 Fax, was a trial balloon for improving bilateral relations.

    Each of them failed.

    Iranian leaders have concluded – with high level of confidence – that they cannot do business with US Regime.

    Now, their aim is to limit damage to Iran.

  78. Castellio,

    “I’m surprised, Eric. I think one of the first things to do is to separate Israeli missiles from their fissile material. That should be an immediate goal if one seriously doesn’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons.”

    Yes, that would be a worthy goal. Many other ways, even more effective, of taking away Israel’s nuclear weapons come to mind. The same goes for India and Pakistan, and North Korea, and even for the original 5 nuclear weapons states.

    But none of those steps is even worth discussing, for one simple reason. No country that has nuclear weapons is ever going to give them up. Period.

    One might say “No harm in trying.” That would be true – and I’d join in the effort, waste of time or not – if there were no consequence of trying. But the argument is usually presented with a second part, and that’s the part that concerns me:

    Part 1. Israel should give up its nuclear weapons.

    Part 2. Unless and until Israel gives up its nuclear weapons, it’s unfair to ask that Iran not develop nuclear weapons.

    I don’t think this follows, but most who make the “disarm Israel” argument do.

    What if, for example, Iran acquires nuclear weapons under this argument, and Azerbaijan declares itself to be an enemy of Iran? May Azerbaijan then acquire nuclear weapons, perhaps with the assistance of Israel, under this argument? Or suppose the Kurds somehow acquire a small state of their own and promptly declare themselves to be enemies of Iran?

    In short, if the “disarm Israel” argument were motivated only by a desire for nuclear disarmament, I’d applaud the sentiment. But I’d wonder why, if that indeed were the motivation, the argument was not being made simultaneously about, say, India or Pakistan or North Korea – not one of which I’ve ever seen mentioned when this “disarm” argument is made on this website.

    I don’t fail to sympathize with Iran’s concern that its enemy, Israel, has nuclear weapons but Iran doesn’t. I wish Israel didn’t have them either, but that is not reason enough to allow Iran to follow suit.

  79. Dan Cooper says:

    Eric A. Brill

    Thanks for asking.

    I have been very busy lately but will catch up with all the interesting articles, yours and everyone else’s comments in the next few days.

  80. Arnold: One point in regards to this: “The Tehran declaration maintains that the uranium is the property of Iran until the swap is made. The US offered that the uranium would be under IAEA custody.”

    In fact, the deal allowed for both Iran and the IAEA to observe the nuclear material during the process, which essentially is the same as being under IAEA seal if not formally so. The deal does say that the uranium is still Iran’s property, and would be returned if the deal fails, which is only logical. The reasons for the US not liking this are pretty obvious.

    The US appears to leave unstated the implied notion that if the Vienna Group didn’t renege on the deal, Iran could still waltz into Turkey, seize the uranium and run off with it. Obviously an absurd prospect. That idea didn’t even make sense when Iran was insisting the stuff remain in Iran. The only way Iran could do that would be if Iran had definitely decided within the year the fuel rods were being produced that it would, on delivery of the rods, immediately withdraw from the NPT, kick out the IAEA, and start making nukes.

    And then of course all the problems that would cause Iran would somehow vanish, allowing them to succeed at all that. Not a likely scenario.

    How anybody could believe that Iran could somehow take delivery of the fuel rods – in a phased delivery at that – and somehow pull any of that off is beyond me. We’re not talking about anything like “hidden programs” or whatever here. It’s pure physical, move some pounds of stuff around, and taken 120kg of other stuff before handing over 400 or 1200kg of other stuff. The US is acting like it’s some James Bond supervillain thing where Iran would shoot everybody and run off with the stuff, yelling “Nyah! Nyah! Fooled you again!”

    This is the way the US wants people to think.

    Iran at one point even offered to store the LEU on one of its islands under IAEA control to dissuade anybody from that belief. The US ignored the offer.

  81. Alan says:

    Castellio, Fiorangela:

    Castellio says:

    “However, what will cement the bond between Israel and the US for a few generations to come is a hot war with Iran. Israel needs America in a war on Iran to keep the wavering Americans firmly on side. That is, I believe, what is driving the agenda.”

    I totally agree with part 2 of this. Part 1 may be right too, but I think it’s 50-50, which is why the debate is becoming ever more fevered over it. If the “hot war” happens it will bring an awful lot of the Lobby out of the closet in order to maintain the pro-Israel perspective of the US public.

    I think the way it could be played is to put Israel in a situation where they have to sabotage US efforts to avoid a hot war. There are many instances where Israel has outmanoeuvred the US to get their way in the region at US expense, and never been exposed for it.

    Perhaps, for once, they can be exposed, because there is something to what Fiorangela says about the public’s willingness today to look a little more closely at things given the outrageous crimes Israel has committed in recent times.

  82. And just as a reminder for those who believe “disclosing more” is of any value – or even possible – read this piece:

    Analysis of the Feb 2010 IAEA report on Iran
    www iranaffairs dot com/iran_affairs/2010/02/analysis-of-the-feb-2010-iaea-report-on-iran.html

    Quote:

    The first paragrah specifically mentions the period of time when Iran voluntarily suspended enrichment as a good faith gesture under the terms of the Paris Agreement. Since it leave out some context, here is a brief review of what happened: If you remember, under the terms of that agreement, Iran’s good faith gesture was supposed to be reciprocated by an EU-3 offer to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue in good faith, in a manner that recognized Iran’s right to continue enrichment. The Iranians made it clear from the start that the right to enrichment had to be recognized, and the temporary suspension of enrichment was not supposed to become permanent. The suspension was supposed to last for 6 months. Instead, the EU-3 first dragged their feet for 2 years without making any offer, and then when Iran announced the restart of enrichment, they gave Iran an offer that independent analysts called an empty box in pretty wrapping which demanded that Iran permanently give up enrichment. Then the EU3 had the gall to accuse Iran of “violating” the Paris Agrement when Iran refused. So in short, Iran showed flexibility, and was cheated. Those who argue that Iran should suspend enrichment don’t seem to remember that we’ve been down that road before.

    End Quote

    Quote:

    This report specifically says that while the IAEA can verify that there’s no reprocessing going on at the declared facilities in Iran, it can’t veify the absence of undeclared activites in other places though — which is true, since as explained many times before, the IAEA only verifies the absence of undeclared nuclear activities for countries that are bound by the Additional Protocol. Most countries have flatly refused to sign that protocol, including Egypt (where unexplained traces of highly weapons-grade enriched uranium were recently found)

    As I long ago mentioned, the IAEA does not formally verify the “absence of undeclared nuclear activities” in ANY country unless they have signed and ratified the Additional Protocol, which allows more instrusive inspections. Iran hasn’t, so that leaves Iran amongst about 40 other countries in which the IAEA cannot formally verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material.

    Nevertheless, though Iran has not formally ratified the Additional Protocol, it did implement the Additional Protocol for 2 years and allowd more instrusive inspections — and no weapons program was found – and has offered to formally ratify the Additional protocol once its nuclear rights are recognized — but the US flatly refuses.

    And, as Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Comittee for Nuclear Policy has explained:

    For some it is tempting to declare, based on the inability of the IAEA to presently draw a conclusion on the absence of nuclear activities, that Iran continues to operate concealed facilities and that any such facilities must be for a military program. But the IAEA has cautioned that the lack of a conclusion does not imply suspicion of undeclared nuclear materials and activities, as the matter is frequently spun in the media and by some governments.

    According to the IAEA’s own Annual Safeguards Implementation Report of 2004, of the 61 states where both the NPT safeguards and the Additional protocol are implemented, the IAEA has certified the absence of undeclared nuclear activity for only 21 countries, leaving Iran in the same category as 40 other countries including Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. Note especially the last sentence in which it says that the IAEA has to conclude that the nuclear programs of even those countries remain peaceful:

    “With regard to 21 States with both CSAs [Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements] and AP [Additional Protocol] in force or otherwise applied, the Agency concluded that all nuclear material in those States remained in peaceful nuclear activities. For 40 other such States, the Agency had not yet completed the necessary evaluations, and could therefore only draw the conclusion that the nuclear material placed under safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities.”

    Finally, I would only add that the IAEA has explicitly said that it has no evidence of any “undeclared” nuclear material or activities in Iran either. For example this is what ElBaradei stated regarding the 2007 NIE:

    IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei … notes in particular that the Estimate tallies with the Agency´s consistent statements over the last few years that, although Iran still needs to clarify some important aspects of its past and present nuclear activities, the Agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran.

    End Quote

    So we’re not even talking about Japan or Brazil here! FORTY COUNTRIES ARE IN THE EXACT SAME POSITION IRAN IS! I.E., the IAEA cannot certify their programs are for peaceful purposes!

    FORTY COUNTRIES!

    As for Arnold’s argument that certain inspections will merely be given to the US military for targeting:

    Quote:

    Paragraphs 36-39: “Transparency” inspections of centrifuge production sites. These paragraphs says that Iran has asked to look at the nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor provided by Russia, and cover some other minor points that are not controversial. The most controversial paragraph is number 39, in which the IAEA demands to be allowed to see the facilities where Iran makes the centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium. In previous reports, this demand was clearly labelled as a “transparency” inspection — the term “transparency” was used to clearly indicate inspections that go beyond the legal authority of the IAEA. Iran continues to refuse the inspection of centrifuge production facilities, as usual. Much like the IAEA demand to test the heavy water Iran has produced, these fall outside of the IAEA’s inspection authority which is exclusively limited to checking nuclear material. Not also the other irony: one of the reasons that it is widely assumed any US or Israel bombing of Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz would be useless is because Iran can quickly rebuild whatever centrifuges that were destroyed. So naturally, the US is keen on getting the info on the location of the centrifuge production facilities — the sites that the IAEA is demanding to inspect even thought it falls outside of the IAEA’s authority. Note also that the IAEA reported no longer refer to these as “transparency” inspections, thus continuing to mix up legally required inspections with extra-legal demands in its reports.

    End Quote

    Exactly as Arnold has argued.

  83. Arnold Evans says:

    Do you know whether there were any significant differences – differences that left Iran with better odds of getting back its LEU under the Tehran Declaration?

    We’ve talked about this here before at substantial length. Here is the letter the US sent the IAEA outlining the differences the US perceives between what it offered and the Tehran declaration. Before the letter, Alan argued with Kooshy and myself that the Tehran agreement was the same as the earlier escrow agreement. After the letter, Alan dropped that argument.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6582W120100609

    The Tehran declaration maintains that the uranium is the property of Iran until the swap is made. The US offered that the uranium would be under IAEA custody.

    The Tehran declaration commits the West to delivery in a year. The US had offered an initial partial delivery within a year and no time commitment to the full delivery.

    The Tehran declaration obligates Turkey to return the uranium if Turkey does not receive medical fuel in a year. The US says a return of the fuel would be justifiable – but still not obligatory – if the West failed to deliver fuel as agreed (the US’ agreement includes no deadline and so can never be failed).

  84. And even more explicitly, from Haaretz:

    Quote:

    Israel’s Army Radio reported on Wednesday that the United States has sent Israel a secret document committing to nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

    According to Army Radio, the U.S. has reportedly pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity, as well as nuclear technology and other supplies, despite the fact that Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Other countries have refused to cooperate with Israel on nuclear matters because it has not signed the NPT, and there has been increasing international pressure for Israel to be more transparent about its nuclear arsenal.

    Army Radio’s diplomatic correspondent said the reported offer could put Israel on a par with India, another NPT holdout which is openly nuclear-armed but in 2008 secured a U.S.-led deal granting it civilian nuclear imports.

    End Quote

    So the US is now COMMITTED to SUPPORTING Israel’s nuclear capabilities!

  85. Mr. Canning: Let me follow that up with the more explicit piece in Haaretz:

    Obama administration: Israel has right to nuclear capability for deterrence purposes
    www dot haaretz dot com/print-edition/news/obama-administration-israel-has-right-to-nuclear-capability-for-deterrence-purposes-1.300652

    Quote:

    The revelations come in the wake of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference held in May, which called on Israel to agree to international inspection of its nuclear installations, and to the holding of an international conference for a nuclear-free Middle East. The conference’s final document was passed despite Israel’s strong protests to the Americans.

    In talks since the conference, the Americans made it clear that that decision had been a “mistake.” In an effort to clarify the administration’s stance on the Israeli nuclear question, it was determined that – in coordination with Israel – the full details of the high-level understandings between the two sides, reached during the 1960s, would finally be revealed.

    The understandings have been updated over the years, including during this past year.

    Washington’s aim through these revelations was to clear the air and correct the impression given at the May conference that the United States did not back Israel.

    Following their meeting at the White House Tuesday, a special announcement was made an hour later concerning assurances given to Netanyahu by U.S. President Barack Obama.

    According to the announcement, “The president told the prime minister he recognizes that Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats, and that only Israel can determine its security needs. The president pledged to continue U.S. efforts to combat all international attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”

    “The president emphasized that the United States will continue its long standing practice to work closely with Israel to ensure that arms control initiatives and policies do not detract from Israel’s security, and support our common efforts to strengthen international peace and stability,” the statement continued.

    In the event that the proposed conference on a nuclear-free Middle East is held, “the United States will insist that such a conference will be for discussion aimed at an exchange of views on a broad agenda, to include regional security issues, verification and compliance, and all categories of weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery.”

    “The president emphasized that the conference will only take place if all countries feel confident that they can attend, and that any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening such a conference unlikely. In this regard, the two leaders also agreed to work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel at the IAEA General Conference in September.”

    End Quote

  86. Mr. Canning: Another reminder about the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons:

    Quote:

    By criticizing the final resolution of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the U.S. government once again demonstrated its indifference and unresponsiveness towards the international community and the bloc of 188 nations that demanded Israel to join the NPT and put its nuclear facilities under the comprehensive safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    In a statement following the conclusion of the conference, the U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his concern over Israel’s being singled out and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Israel’s “security”, which is seemingly hinged on the possession of nuclear weapons.

    “The United States has long supported such a [nuclear-free Middle East] zone, although our view is that a comprehensive and durable peace in the region and full compliance by all regional states with their arms control and nonproliferation obligations are essential precursors for its establishment. We strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security,” he said in a statement published immediately after the conference wrapped up.

    Obama’s militant national security advisor also issued a statement with similar content. “The United States will not permit a conference or actions that could jeopardize Israel’s national security… We will not accept any approach that singles out Israel or sets unrealistic expectations,” General James L. Jones said.

    End Quote

    Please remember this the next time you feel a need to cite Obama as supporting Israel being pressured into the NPT.

  87. And the Leveretts explicitly analyzed the situation in the Huffington Post on May 28 exactly as I have:

    Quote:

    The bottom line: On April 20, roughly a month before the Joint Declaration between Iran, Turkey, and Brazil was announced in Tehran, President Obama conveyed, in writing, to President Lula that, to be acceptable to the United States, a deal to refuel the TRR would need to include Iran’s shipment of 1,200 kg of LEU to Turkey for “escrow” for one year, pending the delivery of new fuel. In the deal they brokered with Iran, Brazil and Turkey delivered on every one of those points. Obama’s letter says nothing about a U.S. requirement that Iran halt its enrichment program, or even stop enriching uranium at near-20 percent levels, which Obama Administration officials now claim are irredeemable flaws in the Brazil-Turkey deal.

    End quote

    Quote:

    It saddens us to write this–but is President Obama prepared to engage Iran, Brazil, Turkey, or anybody else in good faith on this issue?

    End Quote

    My answer: No, he is not – and never was. Anyone who believes otherwise is a SUCKER.

  88. And here is Obama’s letter – remember, sent one week before the Turkey-Brazil deal!

    Obama’s Letter to Lula Regarding Brazil-Iran-Turkey Nuclear Negotiations
    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node/10195

    Quote:

    Notwithstanding Iran’s continuing defiance of five United Nations Security Council resolutions mandating that it cease its enrichment of uranium, we were prepared to support and facilitate action on a proposal that would provide Iran nuclear fuel using uranium enriched by Iran — a demonstration of our willingness to be creative in pursuing a way to build mutual confidence.

    End Quote

    Quote:

    Last November, the IAEA conveyed to Iran our offer to allow Iran to ship its 1,200 kg of LEU to a third country — specifically Turkey — at the outset of the process·to be held “in escrow” as a guarantee during the fuel production process that Iran would get back its uranium if we failed to deliver the fuel. Iran has never pursued the “escrow” compromise and has provided no credible explanation for its rejection. I believe that this raises real questions about Iran’s nuclear intentions, if Iran is unwilling to accept an offer to demonstrate that its LEU is for peaceful, civilian purposes. I would urge Brazil to impress upon Iran the opportunity presented by this offer to “escrow” its uranium in Turkey while the nuclear fuel is being produced.

    End Quote

    And a week later, the deal was “meaningless” and “integrally linked to uranium enrichment suspension”!

    Can anyone POSSIBLY explain how Obama can NOT be considered an EXPLICIT LIAR based on this single letter and the subsequent reaction to the Turkey-Brazil deal?

  89. And check this out:

    US Media Censors US Support of Iran Fuel Swap
    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node/10179

    Quote:

    U.S. officials have dismissed the deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey, even though the deal is “nearly identical” to the one proposed by the U.S. Indeed, according to the Washington Post, U.S. officials are “thoroughly irritated” with Turkey for its role in mediating the agreement.

    But if you get your information from major U.S. media, here’s something that you almost certainly don’t know: Brazil and Turkey say that before they reached the deal, they understood that they had the backing of the Obama Administration for their efforts. The available evidence suggests that Brazil and Turkey had good reason to believe that they had U.S. support, and that the Obama Administration has taken a 180 degree turn in its position in the last few weeks, and is now trying to cover its tracks, with the active collaboration of major U.S. media.

    Reuters reports from Brasilia – in an article you won’t find on the web sites of the New York Times or the Washington Post:

    Brazil argues Washington and other Western powers had prodded Brazil to try to revive the U.N. fuel swap deal proposed last October. “We were encouraged directly or indirectly … to implement the October proposal without any leeway and that’s what we did,” said Amorim.

    In a letter to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva two weeks ago, U.S. president Barack Obama said an Iranian uranium shipment abroad would generate confidence.

    “From our point of view, a decision by Iran to send 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium abroad, would generate confidence and reduce regional tensions by cutting Iran’s stockpile,” Obama said, according to excerpts from the letter translated into Portuguese and seen by Reuters. I haven’t seen any reference to this letter from President Obama to President Lula in the U.S. press – have you? But in Brazil, this letter from Obama to Lula was front-page news on Saturday morning – I saw it on the front-page of O Estado de S. Paulo, above the fold.

    Note that the Reuters story, dated May 22, says Obama sent this letter two weeks ago. The deal was announced Monday, May 17. So, about a week before the deal was announced, Obama told Lula that from the U.S. point of view a decision by Iran to send 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium abroad would generate confidence and reduce regional tensions. Note furthermore that Obama’s words – according to Reuters, this is a direct quote from Obama’s letter – actually specify an exact amount of transfer that would “generate confidence”: 1,200 kilograms, exactly what was agreed a week later. So the U.S. officials and media stenographers (like Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post – “Iran creates illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations”) saying a 1,200 kilogram transfer would have been great in October but would be worthless now are directly contradicting what President Obama himself wrote to President Lula one week before the deal was announced. But if course you wouldn’t know about that direct contradiction from the U.S. media, because in the U.S. media, the letter from Obama to Lula apparently doesn’t exist.

    Morever, Brazil says that before the deal, no-one raised the issue of Iran’s 20% enrichment as an obstacle:

    “It wasn’t on the agenda. Nobody told us, ‘Hey if you don’t stop 20 percent enrichment, forget the deal’,” said [Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso] Amorim. So, if Brazil is telling the truth – and there is no evidence that they are not – then this means that President Obama’s letter to Lula did not raise the 20% objection, and the excerpt provided by Reuters suggests that it didn’t.

    So far, I’ve seen one clear reference in U.S. media to claims by Brazil and Turkey that they had the Obama Administration’s backing in pursuing negotiations: not in a news article, but in an International Herald Tribune column by Roger Cohen reprinted by the New York Times, “America Moves the Goalposts.”

    End Quote

  90. Castellio says:

    MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
    FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
    SUBJECT: War With Iran

    “We write to alert you to the likelihood that Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a wider war.”

    http://www.consortiumnews.com/2010/080310c.html

  91. Apparently I misread Alan’s comment as October 2009, rather than November 2009.

    On further research, I have learned that ElBaradei apparently did in fact propose the third party escrow country as part of the swap deal sometime in November 2009, sometime after Clinton had demanded that Iran accept the original deal involving shipping most of its LEU out of the country to Russia and hence to France for reprocessing and then delivering the fuel rods to Iran later. This proposal was from ElBaradei, NOT the Vienna Group, although the Vienna Group subsequently acknowledged it. However, the Vienna Group SINCE THEN has NOT re-iterated Turkey as an acceptable third part escrow source, but has insisted on Iran complying with the original draft proposal which specifies Russia, and then France, as the sequence for turning Iran’s LEU into fuel rods for the TRR. There has also been NO acceptance of Iran’s further offers and requests for guarantees that the deal would be honored by the West.

    Iran naturally did not trust France and also did not like the idea of shipping 80% of its LEU out of the country at once. So Iran proposed instead two other possibilities: 1) buying the fuel rods and exchanging them for LEU, and 2) shipping the LEU under the original deal in stages.

    The Vienna Group dismissed these suggestions, which is why ElBaradei came up with the third country escrow idea. Iran was initially hesitant because it seemed an even more complicated deal than the original. Nonetheless it was clear Iran would be in difficulty if either France, a known unreliable partner, or Russia (also unreliable if less so than France), were to renege on the delivery. So Iran was in principle willing to accept the third party escrow deal.

    However, the issue then was HOW to make the fuel swap. The Vienna Group wanted Iran to ship out its LEU first, THEN take delivery of the fuel rods. This of course put Iran in exactly the same quandary as the original deal – its vulnerability to another country. Whereas the Vienna Group spun this request as a way for Iran to keep its LEU while getting fuel rods for the TRR.

    This of course was complete nonsense. The IAEA had the LEU under seal in any event and would continue to do so until it was shipped out the country. Iran could not keep its LEU and receive the fuel rods without kicking out the IAEA and leaving the NPT, in essence, which clearly Iran is not prepared to do anytime soon, if at all. So the West’s spin on that was ridiculous.

    Instead, the US used this breakdown in the process to push for more sanctions against Iran. ElBaradei specifically said on November 20, 2009, that Iran had not actually rejected the IAEA plan, as the news media had spun it, and that sanctions should not be applied.

    On November 23, Iranian envoy Ali Ashgar Soltanieh explicitly said the issue was some sort of guarantees that the other governments would follow through on the deal and not renege, as France has done in the past.

    By that time, however, as Kaveh L Afrasiabi reported in Asia Times Online on November 24, 2009, there was already a shift by the West to pushing for the fourth round of sanctions.

    An interview with Soltanieh by Der Spiegel on November 25, 2009, included this exchange:

    SPIEGEL: Ambassador Soltanieh, last Wednesday, your government announced that it would not transfer the enriched uranium stored at the nuclear facility in Natanz abroad so that it can be further refined there. In doing so, Iran backed out of an agreement that it had made at the nuclear talks held in Geneva in early October. Is this Tehran’s idea of building confidence?

    Ali Asghar Soltanieh: I’m not sure how you arrived at this interpretation of the negotiations in Geneva. There, we stated that our research reactor in Tehran needed uranium that was 20 percent enriched in order to produce radioactive isotopes that could be used, for example, for radiation therapy in hospitals. We wanted to negotiate the concrete course of action in additional talks, and we still want that. But that’s up to the IAEA in Vienna, where I am the head of our delegation. We urgently need fresh supplies for our reactor — 200 hospitals are depending on it.

    SPIEGEL: Turkey is trying to hammer out a compromise and is offering to store the uranium for Iran. But Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says that the leadership in Tehran is insisting that the uranium be exchanged for fuel within Iran.

    Soltanieh: We need guarantees that we will get fuel in return for our uranium. Given the way we’ve been treated by the West over the last 30 years, we have plenty of reasons to be mistrustful.

    At the same time, the IAEA Board of Governors issued a negative report about the Fordow plant that Iran had invited the IAEA to examine. ElBaradei dismissed concerns about the plant, indicating it was little more than “a hole in a mountain”, with some equipment in it, but no centrifuges and no nuclear material. However the US browbeat the IAEA BOG to issue a finding that this somehow “raised questions about other Iranian enrichment facilities”, despite the fact that no one knows if any exist. Iran warned at the time that if the Board took this step, Iran would be forced to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA to the minimum necessary under their Safeguards Agreement – which, note, did not REQUIRE them to disclose the Fordow facility until some time before nuclear materials were introduced in it. Since Iran is no longer under the AP, it was not required to reveal information about the facility.

    Speculation about the “military purposes” of the facility were debunked by two physicists from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Subsequent to that, David Albright, a well known expert in the field, apparently challenged that debunking. However, Albright’s own technical qualifications have been in some question for some time, as revealed by articles by former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter.

    A recap of the situation as of November 27 was published by Sharmine Narwani in the Huffington Post.

    As a result of the IAEA BOG action, Iran’s Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali-Akbar Salehi announced that Iran would build ten more potential enrichment sites.

    On November 30, Nader Bagherzadeh and Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich asked the question: “Iran: Time to Leave the NPT?” pointing out the following:

    Quote:

    Since 2003, the IAEA has consistently failed its obligations towards Iran as defined by the 1974 Safeguards Agreement. It has failed to facilitate refueling of a small reactor in Tehran, used mostly for short-lived medical isotopes. It has cancelled several key technical assistance programs with Iran, some of them related to nuclear safety issues, under pressure from the US. At America’s behest, the IAEA has become a conventional weapon inspector agency, seeking information about national secrets of Iran related to missiles and conventional bomb making capabilities; which is completely outside of its jurisdiction, as spelled out in the 1974 agreement. In violation of Article 9 of the 1974 Agreement, the IAEA has shared Iran’s sensitive nuclear technology with member nations, as well as outside nuclear experts with dubious connections to Iran’s enemies. And most importantly, the Agency with tremendous pressure from US, has elevated a technical non-compliance matter to the level Chapter 7 UNSC sanctions, which should have been used when there is a clear indication of a nuclear weapons program.

    The Agency’s clear violation of Iran’s rights under the NPT leads one to wonder if the IAEA is ever going to clear Iran’s file and revert it back to the normal status while the US is exerting pressure. It is unrealistic for Iran’s leadership to assume that by fully engaging the IAEA, sometime in the near future, this agency, working against the wishes of Obama’s administration, will clear Iran’s path to have nascent enrichment capability. After all, the so called “laptop” filled with mostly fabricated information against Iran’s nuclear programs did not show up until it was clear that the IAEA was going to declare 6 outstanding concerns on Iran’s past nuclear activities were no longer valid.

    Although Obama has extended his hand towards Iran, the policy of “zero-enrichment” has not changed an iota from Bush’s policy. When Obama chose Gary Samore and Dennis Ross to handle Iran’s nuclear case, it was obvious that Obama did not have any major changes in mind, and the goal was to use a softer approach to gather more support for putting pressure, or as Ross calls it “bigger sticks.” Moreover, a recent trip by Ross to Beijing to convince Chinese leadership to sign up for more sanctions against Iran on behalf of Obama, shows that not only Ross was not marginalized after he was transferred from the State Department to the White House, but he is practically in the driver’s seat for Obama’s Iran policy.

    In addition to the West’s shaping of IAEA’s illegitimate position on Iran’s nuclear file, relentless fabricated attacks by the western media has finally resulted in portraying Iran as an outlaw when it comes to the nuclear activities. The propaganda machine led by the likes of Fred Hiatt of Washington Post and Nicolas Goldberg of Los Angeles Times, have helped create such an environment that a recent Pew poll showed that more than 50% of Americans support a US military strike against Iran while the U.S. is in a quagmire in the graveyard of the empires – Afghanistan, and continues to be engaged in its sixth year war in Iraq.

    The latest IAEA’s report which continued its demands from Iran to go beyond its obligations under the NPT safeguards and Subsidiary Arrangement Code 3.1 is another misrepresentation of the truth by the Agency. Iran’s Majlis (parliament) never approved this code which requires reporting any nuclear project at the point of inception. It is ironic that a major NPT member (i.e. US) is allowed to threaten Iran’s nuclear facilities with military strikes, but when Iran rightfully wants to prevent that from happening by using passive defensive majors, she is censured by the Board.

    End Quote

    On December 9, 2009, Gareth Porter published a recap of the situation in Counterpunch:

    Iran’s Fuel for Conflict: Washington-Tehran nuclear deal hasn’t worked out
    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node/9032

    Quote:

    Talks between Tehran and the West were stalled for months over the question of uranium enrichment: Iran was allowed to do this under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) but forbidden to do so by UN Security Council resolutions. Then a possible solution emerged from an unexpected quarter. More than 40 years ago, the US had built a nuclear reactor in Tehran to produce radioisotopes for medical research. After the 1979 revolution and the severance of diplomatic relations with Washington, Iran had to look elsewhere for the supply of uranium enriched to 20% that it needed to operate this reactor. It obtained 23 kilograms from Argentina under an agreement signed in 1988, enough to feed the reactor until 2010.

    With this date approaching, Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in June 2009, asking for help in purchasing fuel, which would be allowed under the provisions of the NNPT but would require that international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear programme be lifted.

    On hearing of this request, the Obama administration decided on a strategy that would force Iran to divest itself of its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU), then estimated at 1,500 kilograms. During a visit to Moscow in July 2009, Gary Samore, President Obama’s chief adviser on the Iranian issue, put forward a proposal that he had formulated with Bruce Reidel for the Brookings Institution in December 2008 (1). This would require Iran to send most of its stock of LEU to Russia to be enriched to 20%, which would set Iran’s nuclear programme back at least 12 months.

    Then, just one week after agreeing to talks with the G5+1 (the US, France, the UK, Russia and China + Germany), Tehran informed the IAEA that it was building a second uranium enrichment facility near Qom, in addition to the plant at Natanz. The US, Britain and France denounced this action, suggesting that Iran had only informed the IAEA because it knew that western intelligence services were about to reveal the plant’s existence.

    Tehran said it had complied with the NNPT’s time limits for informing the IAEA and insisted that the site was intended as a backup in the event of an Israeli air strike on the Natanz site, threats that Tel Aviv regularly makes and which Washington uses to exert pressure on Tehran. (Samore has advocated making use of these threats in his arm-wrestling matches with Iran.) And on 6 July 2009, in an interview with ABC, Vice-President Joseph Biden declared: “Israel can determine for itself, it’s a sovereign nation, what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran.” Many observers saw this as a green light for an Israeli strike.

    ‘Confidence-building measure’

    Whatever the truth may be, the revelations about the Qom site, which Iran allowed the IAEA inspectors to visit, encouraged the Obama administration to take a tough line at the G5+1 talks in Geneva on 1 October. This resulted in a proposal that Iran should send 80% of its LEU to Russia, after which it would go to France to be turned into fuel rods for the research reactor in Tehran. Presented as a “confidence-building measure”, the offer was intended to deprive Iran of most of its uranium reserves immediately, for 12 months or so, which would delay any technological breakthrough. Obama would have been able to claim an agreement as a diplomatic victory.

    Washington suggested that this timeframe would allow the two sides to reach a broader agreement that would eliminate the possibility of Iran developing a bomb. But the logic behind this offer was faulty: the US continues to deny Iran the right to enrich uranium (which would allow it to develop nuclear weapons), yet Iran insists that its right to enrich uranium is not negotiable. And the issue would have to be addressed again in a year’s time, when Iran would once more have accumulated a large quantity of LEU.

    Yet the Iranian negotiators did not reject the western proposal outright: they were under orders to be cooperative, to avoid a breakdown that might lead to fresh economic sanctions. But then Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, the senior US representative in Geneva, told reporters that the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, had agreed that Iran would send 1,200 kilograms of depleted uranium overseas. An empty promise: an Iranian negotiator, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters on 16 October that Iran had not agreed to the western plan, or even to its premises. Nor were the Iranian negotiators authorised to accept such a plan at the second round of talks scheduled for 19-21 October in Vienna, during a meeting of the IAEA.

    The second round of talks revolved around a draft agreement prepared by the outgoing IAEA director general, Mohamed El Baradei, for 80% of Iran’s uranium stocks to be sent to Russia. A French diplomat confided to the Washington Post that this proposal was “not far” from the West’s ideal solution. On 21 October, the final day of the talks, the media claimed that Iran had agreed to the El Baradei plan. Iran’s IAEA representative, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said the draft was “on the right track” but that his country would have to study the text carefully. El Baradei admitted it was necessary to wait for an answer from Tehran, where a public discussion swiftly began.

    Cheaper to buy from abroad

    The former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who is now the speaker of the parliament, and Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign affairs, both insisted that it would be far cheaper for Iran to buy enriched uranium from abroad. They also explained that producing the 116 kilograms required for the medical research reactor would only require 750 kilograms of depleted uranium, not 1,500 kilograms as stated in the agreement.

    There were more fundamental objections. Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rival in the June presidential elections and a principal opponent since then, said that, if the conditions demanded by the El Baradei plan were met, the efforts of thousands of scientists would “go up in smoke”. Conservative parliamentarian Hesmatollah Falahatpisheh felt that any deal should be conditional on the lifting of economic sanctions, particularly those on raw uranium imports. And Mohsen Rezai, the conservative secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council (2), declared that Iran should retain 1,100 of its 1,500 kilograms of LEU.

    Beyond their often violent differences, all Iran’s political factions are against the western proposal. They all believe that the El Baradei plan would deprive Iran of the leverage it has gained over the last few years.

    Senior national security officials under the presidencies of Ali Akbar Rafsanjani (1989-97), Mohammed Khatami (1997-2005) and Ahmedinejad admit that the object of accumulating LEU was always to force the US to engage in serious and comprehensive talks on matters of common interest. They point out that before the enrichment programme began, the US showed no interest in talks. The accumulation of LEU put Iran in a stronger position to negotiate. How could Iran give up this trump card without getting something in return?

    Larijani and Boroujerdi’s positions have been widely misinterpreted as evidence of divisions within the Iranian leadership. The New York Times suggested that the Obama administration had scored a political point by dividing Iran’s political class. But this analysis rests on the assumption that Ahmedinejad had accepted the El Baradei plan, when he was mainly concerned with preventing a breakdown in the negotiations.

    Call for guarantees

    Behind the scenes, a new consensus was being formed between the government and the opposition. Mousavi’s denunciation of the western plan came on 29 October, the same day that Iran published its counterproposal that the uranium should be sent abroad in batches, the second only being shipped when the first was returned. The state news agency IRNA called the “simultaneous exchange” feature of the counterproposal a “red line” in the negotiating position, Iran fearing that any uranium it sent abroad would never be returned. This matches Boroujerdi’s insistence on 26 October that the LEU should be sent to Russia in batches and call for “guarantees” that it would be returned.

    Ambassador Soltanieh confirmed, in an interview given to Press TV on 18 November, that Iran wanted a “100% guarantee” that the enriched uranium would be returned, pointing out that Iran had paid for fuel before the 1979 revolution. But after the revolution it had received neither the fuel nor a refund. Iran also insisted that part of the uranium for the medical research reactor should be obtained through commercial transactions. Rafsanjani, a powerful opposition figure, suggests that Iran could enrich uranium to 20% if the LEU sent abroad was not returned.

    Although the Iranian counterproposal eliminated everything about the El Baradei plan that made it attractive to the Obama administration and its allies, the Iranian negotiators carefully avoided rejecting the plan outright. They reportedly expressed a “positive attitude” and a willingness to discuss it further. To avoid a breakdown in the talks, Ahmedinejad made yet another offer: to leave roughly a quarter of its LEU under IAEA seals on Iranian soil until the uranium for its medical research reactor is delivered. But Obama’s warning on 15 November that time for negotiations was running out suggests that a new cycle of sanctions is about to begin.

    If the talks do break down, it will be because of the logic behind the proposals put forward by Washington. Russia and China have been ambiguous in their support. As Samore suggests, Washington wants an agreement that it can present as a diplomatic victory over Iran. Samore believed that the administration would have done better to try a broader discussion that took account of Iran’s political and economic interests. In the end, the Obama administration seems to have adopted a position that makes it impossible to achieve an agreement acceptable to Tehran and move towards a global settlement with the US. If this is the case, the US may have started down the long, dark corridor to confrontation.

    End Quote

    On December 13 or 14, 2009, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki offered that Iran would swap 400kg of LEU for fuel rods immediately. The US predictably slammed the offer, demanding that Iran agree to the original Vienna Group offer. By this time, ElBaradei’s suggestion of using Turkey as an escrow country was tossed by the wayside. NONE of the articles since ElBaradei made the suggestion have mentioned that offer, only the original offer to send LEU to Russia and then to France. The alternative offerings of Iran were totally dismissed by this time.

    On December 19, 2009, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottak re-iterated Iran’s desire to consider the offered fuel swaps.

    Before Christmas, 2009, the US demanded once again that Iran accept the offer or face sanctions. Iran rejected this deadline on December 14, 2009.

    But on December 26, Iran offered to make the swap in Turkey.

    On December 31, an Iranian official said Iran agreed to make the swap in Turkey, although Japan and Brazil were also considered possible locations (though hardly likely given their locations.)

    On January 3, 2010, Iran issued an ultimatum to the West: accept the swap offer within one month or Iran would begin enrichment to 20% to produce its own fuel roads for the TRR.

    On January 20, 2010, Iran issued a memo to the IAEA on the third party swap proposal, whose details were not made public, but supposedly was essentially the same as earlier statements. The US immediate condemned that response as not being a formal response and as “inadequate”.

    On the 22nd, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki denied that Iran had rejected the swap proposal, which is how the Iran memo had been spun by the press.

    Meanwhile Germany’s Merkel pressed for new sanctions, as did the US where Congress took up new US sanctions by the end of January.

    On January 31, the Iranian Foreign Minister said that talks with Brazil at Davos had raised “new ideas”. This is presumably the start of what became the Turkey-Brazil deal.

    On February 3, 2010, Ahmadinejad accepted the third part swap deal, saying it was “no big deal” and that the fuel swap would only take 4 or 5 months. The US State Department dismissed these comments as “not a formal response” and said the fuel swap “could take years”. The French and Germans also denounced his statements as “buying time”. In an interview, Ahmadinejad said the following:

    “Some people at home made a noise and said they would take our fuel and not give us anything. And we responded, if they don’t, what happens? Whose words will be proven? If they do not fulfill their obligations, it will be proved that we were right and the hands of the atomic agency and the signatories of the contract will be exposed and then we will do our own things.”

    In other words, Ahmadinejad was saying “Let’s call the West’s bluff.”

    On February 7, 2010, Iran Ahmadinejad announced that Iran would begin 20% enrichment while at the same time remaining open to the fuel swap deal. This agrees with what Iran had said at the end of 2009 – that if the West did not accept Iran’s offer, Iran would begin enriching on its own. It was seen as a gamble to pressure the West into accepting the offer, a gamble which could backfire if it resulted in Iran being unable to enrich enough uranium to supply the TRR. The IAEA was invited to observe the process.

    On February 10, Ali Akbar Salehi stated that Iran would cease enrichment to 20% if they could get the fuel elsewhere.

    On February 90, 2010, the Leveretts recapped the situation on this site, under the title: Just which country Is “Playing for time” in nuclear diplomacy with Iran?

    Quote: “Of course, the Obama Administration and its European partners have effectively rejected these Iranian positions—precisely because accepting them would mean that the Obama Administration would not have a year or more to sort through what it is prepared to do regarding the prospective substance of U.S.-Iranian engagement. Instead, the Administration would have to make strategic choices and develop real positions on important issues much sooner than it had contemplated. And, rather than do that, the Obama Administration is moving to embrace the same counterproductive and feckless policies aimed at isolating and pressing Tehran that the George W. Bush Administration employed.”

    On February 24, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was interviewed in which he said:

    Quote:

    “Tehran seems to be waiting for new offers from West. But Western powers are standing firm on the October 2009 proposal. Aren’t the chances of an agreement minimized?

    There is no vague point about the nuclear fuel Tehran’s research reactor needs. The facility was constructed by Americans before the revolution and US itself supplied its fuel. We bought the material once after the revolution from Argentina. The reactor is used for humanitarian medical purposes. Eight-hundred fifty-thousand patients need the products of this reactor. Everything that revolves around this reactor is peaceful.

    As an IAEA member, Iran has certain rights. One of them is that its peaceful nuclear demands should be met. So the IAEA has to supply the nuclear fuel for Tehran’s reactor. This is our right. Countries which do not possess the nuclear fuel cycle know-how should expect IAEA’s help. The agency should have paved the way for our access to the fuel, but with the unreasonable concerns of some powerful countries about our peaceful nuclear program, which is political driven of course, it turned into a nuclear swap deal.

    Iran has basically accepted the exchange offer to create a better situation for interaction. But our country has its own terms and conditions since it doesn’t fully trust the other side. We had three ways to supply the fuel we need: to purchase it, to receive it in exchange of our low-enriched uranium or produce it inside.

    Tehran’s nuclear fuel will be consumed within a year, so we are facing time limits. We spent several months on negotiations over the fuel and we didn’t gain any results. If we want to spend another several months with no achievements, how could we be accountable to those people? Unfortunately, Iran’s humanitarian and medical demands have become pawn to politics. So we have come to the decision that we should start 20 percent uranium enrichment inside so as not to lose more time. At this point, we are receiving different proposals from various countries. We will examine them all and if they serve our demands, they will definitely be welcome. Otherwise, we continue 20 percent uranium production.

    Moreover, it is not only the Tehran reactor that needs fuel. In our development programs, we are going to construct nuclear facilities to meet our agricultural, medical and energy needs. These are all peaceful purposes and we will achieve them through cooperation with IAEA. These power plants naturally need fuel and we should plan for that. The more produced inside the better it is for us in terms of costs. The remaining should be purchased from other countries. We are ready for purchase and exchange.

    End Quote

    On February 25, Iran formally responded to the swap deal, re-iterating its requirements which were already dismissed by the West.

    Also on the 25h, Ali Larijani explicitly said that Iran’s program would follow “the Japan model”, in that “Japan has nuclear technology but does not possess any nuclear weapons and Iran will follow the same path in its nuclear program.”

    On March 1, 2010, Ali Asghar Soltanieh reminded the IAEA in a letter of three occasions in which the West did not live up to deals related to the Iranian nuclear energy program, in which the US, Germany and France all failed to live up to their agreements with Iran.

    Also on March 1, 2010, Japan offered to supply 20% enriched uranium to Iran for use in the TRR, and Iran said it would that add that proposal to its agenda.

    On March 2, 2010, Iran again offered the fuel swap deal in a letter to the new IAEA head Amano.

    On March 18, Iran again offered to do a one-shot fuel swap inside Iran, saying “”What we are saying now is that we are ready to deliver the total amount of fuel in one go, on condition that the exchange take place inside Iran and simultaneously.”

    On March 19, the Leveretts on this site discussed “Is the U.S. “Offer” to Iran on Medical Isotopes a Pretext for More Coercive Action?” which explains the Iranian isotope problem in some detail.

    On April 5, 2010, Iran re-iterated AGAIN its willingness to do a fuel swap on Iranian soil.

    On April 19, 2010, the Leveretts wrote on this site “Can the Obama Administration take a deal with Iran on the Tehran research reactor?”, saying:

    Quote:

    Although the Administration continues to depict Iran as having rejected the possibility of working with the international community to refuel the TRR, this is not an accurate representation of reality.

    Since October 2009, the Islamic Republic has accepted “in principle” the idea of a “swap” deal for refueling the TRR—that is, a deal in which some part of Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) would be exchanged for new fuel assemblies for the TRR. Iranian officials—including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki—have reiterated this position on numerous occasions over the past six months.

    That this remains Iran’s position on the TRR issue was confirmed yesterday in Washington by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, at a press conference at the Turkish Embassy (see Ben Katcher’s post) and at an invitation-only session at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the Council, Davotuğlu was adamant in his insistence that a diplomatic solution to the current nuclear impasse is “still possible—on the TRR especially”. Davutoğlu “has traveled to Iran five times since August and spoken for more than 14 hours with senior Iranian officials and politicians, including the Supreme Leader, in an effort to broker a compromise” on the issue. Thus, he speaks with both deep knowledge about and a nuanced appreciation of Iranian negotiating positions.

    Davutoğlu recounts that, initially, the Iranians “were insisting on a simultaneous exchange in Iran, in installments”. But, while distrust of Western intentions and good faith prompted Tehran to insist on a simultaneous exchange of LEU for finished fuel, Davutoğlu firmly attests to the genuineness of the Iranians’ commitment to a “swap” deal: “If we had 116 kilograms [of finished fuel for the TRR] today, I assure you that tomorrow I will get you 1,200 [kilograms of LEU] from Iran”. And, according to the Turkish Foreign Minister, the Iranians have over time become “more flexible” on the precise terms they would accept for a deal on refueling the TRR. He declined, however, to provide particular details of the current Iranian position.

    End Quote

    On April 27, 2010, Brazil urged a revival of the swap deal.

    On May 5, 2010, Ahmadinejad welcomed Brazil’s offer of assistance in mediating the issue, but Brazil said the President of Brazil had not made a formal offer.

    On May 5, 2010, in an interview with Charlie Rose, Ahmadinejad said the following:

    Quote:

    MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD (via translator): Let me give you a short history of an issue on my mind here that also involves our discussion. According to the rules of IAEA, all member states must give other member states, those who possess the fuel and the technology for fuel production. This has to be done without any preconditions.

    Now, we haven`t had a reactor in Tehran that develops medical isotopes that basically meets the needs of 800,000 patients in Iran. It meets to the grade level of 20 percent, a fission grade level of 20 percent.

    Now our fuel is almost ending. And so we requested the IAEA to provide us with some more fuel. According to the regulations of the IAEA they have to provide that fuel to us and get paid by us. The IAEA instead of sending out requests to purchase the fuel to all countries decided to only send the request to two member states, the United States and Russia.

    And acting against the spirit of the IAEA, they said that they will give the 20 percent fuel, but in return demand that Iran give a lower enriched grade fuel to countries abroad as an exchange. And we said very well.

    And then negotiations happened and they were moving forward. But then some demands were set in place that were not right. We are the ones that want to buy the fuel. We have to have conditions, not those who want to sell it, because those who want to sell it have to provide the fuel basically within the framework of the NPT regulations without any preconditions.

    And they came and said they want an exchange and fuel, and we said sure enough we can do that. But then later on they came and said we want Iran`s enriched uranium to be bought outside so that Iran moves farther from the ability to build a nuclear bomb.

    Once that statement was made the people in Iran felt there was insincerity involved and there is something not quite fair about the process. And they reacted and prevented the process from moving forward.

    Now today we wish to continue with talks but the agreement that is arrived at has to be mutual, based on mutual exchange. We are agreeing to have an exchange, and we had agreed to it beforehand as well, but, again, it has to be a mutual agreement in order to carry out an exchange, not for one group to say it`s my way or the –

    End Quote

    On May 7, 2010, Turkey said it was continuing talks with Brazil on the Iran issue.

    On May 10, Iran re-iterated its desire for a fuel swap, with “concrete assurances”, and said the Brazil-Turkey fuel swap proposal was feasible.

    On May 11, Iran announced that Turkey and Brazil had a new proposal, but Brazil said it was not yet formal.

    On the weekend of May 15, Brazil’s President went to Tehran. The Leveretts commented here as “Lula and Erdogan go to Tehran”, pointing out the negative responses from the Washington Very Serious People. Among others, Hillary Clinton was quoted elsewhere as saying: ““We will not get any serious response out of the Iranians until after the Security Council acts.”

    On that Saturday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman again re-iterated Iran’s need for guarantees.

    After 18 hours of negotiations that Sunday, Turkey announced the deal was done.

    The Joint Declaration is here:

    Nuclear Swap Agreement between Iran, Turkey and Brazil
    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node/10032

    The deal specifically says Iran will transfer 1200 kg of LEU to Turkey within one month og agreement by the Vienna Group, where it would be observed by Iranian and IAEA personnel, and then would receive 120kg of fuel within one year. If the conditions were not fulfilled, Turkey would return the LEU to Iran.

    Almost immediately, Clinton dismissed the entire exercise as “meaningless” and announced new sanctions on Iran.

    Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, said “We need to be clear; the TRR proposal had nothing do with Iran’s sanctioned activities to date, and its nuclear obligations.”

    Cyrus Safdari on Iran Affairs quote Dr. Gary Sick on the overall US reaction:

    Quote:

    I now have approval to quote from Dr. Gary Sick’s post on the Gulf2000 Project members-only site (I should point out that at the time, I was hesitant about Gary Sick’s belief that the US uranium swap offer contained an implicit recognition of Iran’s right to enrichment. I think the issue is now clear: the US still insists on zero enrichment in Iran, a deliberately unachievable standard intended to prevent a resolution of the standoff.)

    “Shortly after the initial announcement of the Brazil-Turkey-Iran nuclear deal, a G2K member with extensive diplomatic experience wrote to me privately, predicting that Washington would try to reject the deal by “raising the bar,” i.e. making demands that were not in the original proposal. He asked if I would bet against his prediction. I said No Way.

    “G2K member Jim Lobe has helpfully provided the full transcript of yesterday’s press briefing by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley…. The text indicates that my friend was correct in his prediction and that I should be happy I did not accept his wager.

    “The transcript is pretty opaque, with lots of diplomatese and tergiversations, but the essence of the US position seems to be captured in Crowley’s opening talking points: “. . .the United States continues to have concerns about the arrangement. The joint declaration does not address the core concerns of the international community. Iran remains in defiance of five UN Security Council resolutions, including its unwillingness to suspend enrichment operations.” Shortly thereafter he adds that “public statements today suggest that the TRR deal is unrelated to it ongoing enrichment activity. In fact, they are integrally linked.”

    “If I understand him correctly (and it appears that he does not want to make the point too explicit), the problem with the Brazil-Turkey-Iran uranium swap deal is that it does not provide for Iran to suspend its enrichment activities, and that suspension is “integrally linked” to the TRR refueling.

    “Just for the sake of simple honesty, it really should be pointed out that the original swap agreement, tentatively accepted in October, included no such linkage. If it had, Iran would never have accepted it even provisionally. In fact, that was the real surprise of the October offer, for it was widely interpreted as a tacit US acknowledgment of Iran’s right to enrich uranium. It was, after all, LEU produced at Natanz that was to be swapped for new fuel cells, and there was no provision in the agreement that Iran was required to cease such enrichment.

    “So now the refueling of the research reactor is “integrally linked” with the suspension of enrichment activities. Near the end of the transcript, when he was being pressed about whether the US would be willing to sit down with Iran to discuss the swap, Crowley says: “Iran has to come forward ultimately and indicate that it is willing per U.N. Security Council resolutions to suspend its enrichment program while we work with Iran on how it can pursue its fundamental right to civilian nuclear energy.”

    “In other words, Iran must agree to suspend enrichment before talks can begin. In the meantime, efforts would proceed to present a sanctions resolution in the UNSC. Why does that position remind me of a previous administration?

    “As for Brazil and Turkey, Crowley is hard pressed to conceal his annoyance. When asked if perhaps they might be incorporated in any negotiations with Iran on the grounds that “They might be able to coax more out of Iran than you have been able to,” he ignores the suggestion and observes merely that these two countries “are on the Security Council and they’re going to be presented with a draft resolution at some point in the near future. They have assumed the responsibility to see if this situation can be resolved.” He reiterates that the US “respects” their efforts but makes it unmistakably clear that it does not support them in any way. According to Crowley, the US government has made no effort to contact Brazil and Turkey since the Tehran deal, and the US is continuing its effort on sanctions unabated.

    “In short, my friend was prescient, and I would certainly have lost the bet.”

    Or as another commentator points out:

    “Just one week ago US officials reiterated that the fuel swap proposal is still on the table and that its terms cannot be altered. Now that Iran has accepted those terms, Clinton says it’s not enough.”

    End Quote

    Do I need to go on? I’ve just plowed through nearly 40 pages of links to articles. I think the above should make it clear that Iran has been quite reasonable concerning the fuel swap situation.

    So I will re-iterate what I said at the beginning of this painfully long post:

    ElBaradei apparently did in fact propose the third party escrow country as part of the swap deal sometime in November 2009, sometime after Clinton had demanded that Iran accept the original deal involving shipping most of its LEU out of the country to Russia and hence to France for reprocessing and then delivering the fuel rods to Iran later.

    This proposal was from ElBaradei, NOT the Vienna Group, although the Vienna Group subsequently acknowledged it. However, the Vienna Group SINCE THEN has NOT re-iterated Turkey as an acceptable third part escrow source, but has insisted on Iran complying with the original draft proposal which specifies Russia, and then France, as the sequence for turning Iran’s LEU into fuel rods for the TRR. There has also been NO acceptance of Iran’s further offers and requests for guarantees that the deal would be honored by the West.

  92. Castellio says:

    I’m surprised, Eric. I think one of the first things to do is to separate Israeli missiles from their fissile material. That should be an immediate goal if one seriously doesn’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons.

  93. Liz,

    Thanks.

    Pirouz’s earlier point that younger Iranian soldiers were mixed into formations with older soldiers had cast some doubt on these “human wave” stories – unless one were to conclude that the young kids were culled out of the formation and sent out to tromp around in minefields while older soldiers were eating dinner or polishing their boots. Your report casts even more doubt on this story.

    You wrote: “That is probably one reason why you fear Iran.”

    I don’t fear Iran at all. I’m not quite sure why you say this, but I suspect it’s because I believe Iran should not obtain nuclear weapons.

    I have a very strong desire not to see any more countries get nuclear weapons, not just Iran. Many who write on this website appear not to share that view – or at least are inclined to make an exception for Iran. They consider that acquiring nuclear weapons is just another useful diplomatic tool. I don’t. Nuclear weapons are much too dangerous for the world to allow any country to use them for that purpose, nor can I think of any other purpose that would justify letting any more countries get them. (We can argue till the cows come home about whether countries that already have nuclear weapons should give them up, but I consider such discussions pointless: no country that has nuclear weapons is going to give them up, and I think all of those countries already know that most of the world would like them to.)

    Arguably this means I should be just as restrictive with respect to Japan, and I can understand why some people get angry at my “double standard.” But that merely reflects a second objective I keep in mind – a desire not to interfere with another country’s affairs unnecessarily. Japan has a plausible explanation for its large plutonium stockpile, and several other important factors in its favor that reduce the likelihood of its ever seeking nuclear weapons. I’ve described those factors in earlier posts. As a result, I believe it’s unnecessary to restrict Japan any more than it is already restricted. I might feel quite different if, for example, Japan ever dropped out of the NPT, or terminated its compliance with the Additional Protocols, or insisted on the right to engage in nuclear activities that suggested non-peaceful intentions, or became involved in tense relationships with one or more neighbors – especially if it were no longer protected by the US’ “nuclear umbrella.”

    Iran, and Israel if the horse were not already out of the barn there, are in quite different situations from Japan. Both live in a dangerous part of the world, both have many large, small and medium-sized enemies, close and far away, and both thus have a strong incentive to seek nuclear weapons. Obviously that incentive was so strong for Israel that it long ago went ahead and built nuclear weapons. If I were Israel, I would have done exactly the same thing. It’s too late to prevent that now, and I think it’s pointless to demand that a country with nuclear weapons give them up (that will never happen) – or, as some on this website occasionally do, insist that the possession of nuclear weapons by a country’s enemy justifies that country in developing nuclear weapons of its own. I don’t agree with that. We’d soon end up with dozens of nuclear states if that justification were sufficient.

    If I were Iran, and could, I probably would try to do what Israel has already done – develop nuclear weapons. It is for that very reason that I think it’s important to keep a close eye on Iran’s nuclear program. Give it the help it needs and deserves (and has been unfairly denied) to develop its peaceful nuclear energy program – I’ve always supported that strongly. But don’t let Iran engage in nuclear-related activities that plainly have no purpose except to develop a bomb. So far, I’m not aware that anything Iran has ever done falls into the latter category, and so I don’t think my line-drawing imposes any restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities at all. Please bear this in mind.

    The analysis under which the US government has reached the same conclusion I’ve reached about Iran’s nuclear program takes into account many factors that I think are entirely inappropriate – for just a few of many possible examples: its belief that Iranians, or Muslims in general, are irrational and hot-headed, that Iran’s leaders are religious fanatics who want to push the Israelis into the sea and forcibly convert the rest of the world to Islam, that Iran would supply nuclear weapons to terrorists, that Iran is right now developing nuclear weapons and hiding that from the world, and on and on.

    Some conclude that I must believe the same things as the US government believes about Iran since I agree with the US government about the need to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. That conclusion is entirely unwarranted. Two people who reach the same conclusion can get there by entirely different routes, and often do. That is precisely what happened here. There are sound reasons for keeping a careful eye on Iran’s nuclear program – reasons that include none of the absurd bases cited by the US government to reach the same conclusion.

    I disagree very strongly with how the US government treats Iran, and I can’t imagine that anyone who pays attention to what I write can fail to have noticed that. But I do agree with the US government about one thing: Iran should not be allowed to manufacture nuclear weapons. That’s what Iran agreed when it signed the NPT, and I have no doubt that Iran intended to keep that promise then and intends to keep it today.

    It’s not Iran I worry about – I worry about some of its zealous supporters who feel that Iran is being far too timid.

  94. kooshy says:

    Very interesting article for Stuart Levey

    Iran rebuilds silk route
    By Robert Tait

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/LH04Ag01.html

  95. Castellio says:

    Fiorangela: I don’t travel in rarefied circles. Once Iranian missiles hit American ships, it’s like… over. No one, or hardly anyone, is going to be looking for the fingerprints. And when they see them they won’t care.

    So yes, we do disagree on this.

  96. Castellio says:

    Fiorangela writes: “It’s time to recognize that Israel acts in Israel’s interests and subscribes to ethical and moral standards that are in apposition to American ethics and morals. That the US may also be behaving immorally is our problem and we need to be about repairing that failure. Rather than gratifying Commentary by taking their hasbara seriously, Commentary and its coterie should be shunned, ignored, closed out of polite society. In a time of multiple demands and limited time, only thinkers who support American interests should claim the attention of thoughtful readers.”

    It won’t surprise her that I agree with the first two sentences, but I actually disagree with the “shunned, ignored, closed out”. I think the likes of the Commentary, The Tablet, etc. etc., should be shown for how misinformed and dishonest they are. Richard Silverstein for one, a very brave soul, is doing a lot of heavy lifting these days at http://www.richardsilverstein.com

    I do wonder why RSH is so juiced about cutting into Brill when his indefatigable energies and sarcasm could find a more pertinent target.

  97. Alan,

    “For example, it was the Vienna Group that initiated the escrow proposal in a third country in November 2009. It was not an Iranian concession in December as presented here…”

    One request for clarification and two comments:

    1. In your comment quoted above, you didn’t identify the third country, but in a later reply to Richard you said it was Turkey. So I’m assuming it was Turkey, that the Vienna Group proposed this to Iran in November 2009, and that Iran had not proposed Turkey – or any other third-party escrow – before the Vienna Group made this proposal. I’ll appreciate your confirming that I have this correct, since my comments below depend on this assumption.

    2. It’s very interesting to learn that the Turkey-escrow proposal did not originate with Iran, as I’d always understood. For me, the point is especially important because it calls into question my long-held suspicion that the US had no genuine intention that Iran’s LEU would ever go back to it, nor would Iran receive any 20% fuel unless it first jumped through a number of additional hoops that the US would dream up in the meantime. The Tehran Declaration struck me as a significant improvement for Iran principally because it appeared much more likely that Iran would get back its LEU if Iran didn’t get what it was promised. And the US’ strong negative reaction to the Tehran Declaration seemed to confirm that my skepticism about US intentions had been well-founded.

    But if the VG offered a Turkey escrow to Iran in November, it naturally makes me wonder whether my skepticism about the US’ good faith was fair after all – at least if there was not some significant difference between the escrow terms proposed in November and those proposed in the Tehran Declaration. Do you know whether there were any significant differences – differences that left Iran with better odds of getting back its LEU under the Tehran Declaration?

    Moreover, if the escrow terms were substantially the same in both proposals – meaning that Iran had roughly equal prospects under either proposal of getting back its LEU if the other side didn’t perform – then I’m puzzled as to why the US would propose a Turkey escrow in November and yet vehemently oppose substantially the same Turkey escrow when it resurfaced in the Tehran Declaration. I recognize that the explanation may be nothing more than “Not Invented Here,” or it may be that the desire for additional sanctions had become much stronger in the meantime (which plan obviously might have been thwarted if the US had accepted the Tehran Declaration), but I’m curious to hear whatever you know about why the US reaction changed so much between the two proposals.

    3. Minor point: Might you have been a bit too harsh on the Leveretts here? They didn’t actually say the third-party escrow idea originated with Iran. They said merely that “the Iranians indicated a willingness to ‘escrow’ their LEU in Turkey, pending delivery of finished new fuel for the TRR, in December 2009….” That could mean that Iran raised the subject for the first time, but it could also mean that Iran agreed in December to the Turkey-escrow proposal made by the Vienna Group a month earlier. I’ll concede that I interpreted it to mean that Iran had raised the subject for the first time, but my interpretation reflected my mistaken pre-existing understanding that the idea had come from Iran, not the language chosen by the Leveretts to describe it.

    Even if you agree on this point (and please don’t feel obliged to), it’s clear that you feel the Leveretts’ described the sequence of events differently from how you would have – which begs a question that I’ve also had after reading your in-depth comments on earlier topics:

    Where do you get such detailed information about these things?

    I’d like to dig in a little deeper, and so I (and probably others) would appreciate a few sources of more detailed information – especially on the TRR negotiations, since the detail you’ve provided (on which side broached the Turkey-escrow proposal) has already caused me to re-think my conclusions about that issue.

  98. Arnold: Well, there’s one more question we can ask Brill: Is he also a closet Zionist? He was fast to bring up Israel and try to con us into saying we would go along with his opinion if Israel were in the same boat as Iran.

    I can’t wait to hear his answer to that one. I’m quite sure he’s a closet “hasbara” now that he’s been exposed as someone who singles out Iran for condemnation.

  99. Fyi: Thanks for the link to the VIPS letter to the President. I think their overall analysis is right on, but I couldn’t commit to Israel attacking Iran within the next month.

    I wouldn’t be surprised OTOH if they were right.

    I would be even less surprised if Israel attacked Lebanon within the next month, along with the Hariri Tribunal being used to demonize Hizballah.

    Nasrallah yesterday said he would prove Israel is behind the Hariri assassination next Monday.

    The problem with the VIPS letter to the President if that if their analysis is correct, which it is, then OBAMA is not the guy to talk to since he clearly buys into the conspiracy to attack Iran. They think Obama is going to be hoodwinked by Netanyahu when Israel attacks Iran. I don’t think Obama cares, except perhaps as to the timing. But if Israel does attack Iran, you won’t hear word one from Obama criticizing israel about it. Instead, Obama will back Israel to the hilt, just as he did when he told the US public that Israel has every right to nuclear weapons AND to its own decisions on its own security. So Obama has ALREADY given the green light to Israel to attack Iran WHENEVER ISRAEL CHOOSES.

    So the only question now is WHEN Israel will attack, and whether Israel would still prefer the US to initiate the attack, which might delay Israel’s decision to attack.

  100. Persian Gulf says:

    fyi:

    exactly, Iran can certainly live with the Talibans. it’s more of a threat to others than us. wasn’t it a strategic mistake of Iran to cooperate with the U.S in the way Iran did in 2002? (another big mistake of your favorite supreme leader!) what did we get in return? it was even worse than the suspension of nuclear program. Iran could have figured out her difficulties with the Talibans with other means. there is no point antagonizing the Talibans when their dislike of the others is more than us. and the Leveretts don’t talk about that aspect at all, or to say why should Iran again help the U.S when it can actually get leverage in that front.

    btw, I am not convinced with your explanation of driving accidents in Iran, the deaths number especially. but I gave up for now, left it for another time.

  101. Liz says:

    Eric,

    My husband and his brothers all fought in the Iraq-Iran war as volunteer baseej members and one of his brother was martyred. These western stories about human wave attacks, children warriors, white horses, and the rest are all bogus. That is probably one reason why you fear Iran. The New York Times, CNN, Hollywood,…all portray Iran and Iranians as irrational and even crazy. However, the truth is that those who support the world’s last apartheid state, shock and awe,…are the evil and crazy idiots.

    http://www.almanar.com.lb/newssite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=148968&language=en

  102. masoud says:

    Hi Eric,

    I’m sorry, but I think I’m counting this one as a TKO for Arnold. Now that we all understand each others positions, there is hardly a need to continue the conversation. I think it’s best if we let the forums move on to more fruitful discussions.

    To add to what Priouz was saying, during WWI all the high schools in eastern Canada were emptied out of boys with the students lying about there age to go die gloriously in battle, you were simply a disgrace and a coward if you didn’t.

    Masoud

  103. Arnold Evans says:

    Richard points this out. I hardly have to.

    Eric:

    Frankly, I don’t care that Japan already has that. As I’ve explained several times before, each country’s situation is different. Japan possessing enough plutonium to make “thousands of bombs” worries me less than Iran’s possessing enough plutonium to make “thousands of bombs” would worry me. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it does. Maybe that’s unfair, but I am confident most people agree that distinctions need to be drawn. If Israel were in Iran’s situation, I’d feel exactly the same about Israel. So would you and Arnold and Richard, I strongly suspect, and so would most other people in the world.

    No. Back when you were lying and saying you were not trying to argue and do not believe Iran should have less rights to its nuclear program than Japan, you conceded that there is no legal or moral argument that could defend such a position. Now that you’re trying to argue that position, that “distinctions need to be drawn” there really is no need for me to engage it. You’ve conceded the opposite.

    If Israel was in Iran’s situation? Israel has weapons. Israel isn’t even in the same situation as Japan. You would feel the same? You don’t feel the same. Iran having enough plutonium to make thousands of weapons would worry you but you know Israel has hundreds of actual weapons and have expressed no worry. This is another lie Eric.

    Then you claim I would feel the same. Eric, you earlier asked how I would feel about Israel. I said if Israel’s fissile material is all safeguarded, Israel has no weapon. Israel cannot destroy a city like Hiroshima. Israel cannot launch a surprise first strike. Before that I said that if Israel was to put all of its nuclear material under safeguard, it would be a tremendous step forward in terms of reducing the threat of a nuclear attack in the region. I’m pretty sure you responded in one way or another to both of those posts.

    This is the core of our dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. You worry that Iran may achieve capabilities that you concede there is no moral or legal argument against Iran having.

    We’re done.

    Your claim that Iran should implement the AP? You want the AP to be used, unlike how it is used in Japan, to prevent Iran from getting a Japan option. Iran should take the risk that the US may misuse the AP that way because to you it isn’t a risk, it is your preferred outcome.

    Your claim that if Iran gets a Japan option, the US would immediately attack? Ridiculous. Attacking Iran has costs for the US, and as long as those costs are greater than the benefit of preventing an Iranian Japan option, no attack is going to happen.

    Your claim that you and people like you are the one thing standing between Barack Obama and bombing Iran? Ridiculous. A president of the United States has a vast array of tools he could use to manufacture consent for a war if he makes the determination that the adversary’s deterrence will not impose higher cost than the expected benefit of an attack.

    Your claim that you and people like you would be comfortable with Iran having the nuclear capabilities Japan has if Iran disclosed more? Ridiculous. Your explanation right there above about why you worry more about Iran than Japan has nothing to do with disclosure. You were lying all along.

    Your claim that an attack on Iran would cause any policy change the US asks for from the air? Ridiculous. Your example of Iraq in 1991, as I’m pretty sure you’ve conceded, would have caused no change at all, not even Hussein leaving Kuwait, if it wasn’t backed by 600,000 troops making preparations for an invasion.

    Your claim that you could construct better nuclear program policies for Iran than Iran’s leaders? Ridiculous. Iran’s leaders and nuclear policy makers have vastly more information about which questions and disclosures would have what impact on the capabilities of the US program to prevent Iran from having a Japan option (which you support) than you do. Iran’s leaders also don’t have an agenda that they “worry” about Iran having the capabilities Japan has that you admit to.

    Your claim that Japan does not benefit from a Japan option? Ridiculous. Here you’re claiming that you understand the issues regarding Japan’s nuclear program better than Japan’s ministry of defense. There’s really no word for that.

    If you’re having fun, you can press on. Maybe it makes you feel justified in opposing Iran’s nuclear program.

    When you claim Iran should “disclose more” or ratify the AP or implement the altered code 3.1, this is a person speaking who worries that Iran might get the same nuclear capabilities Japan has, but also concedes that there is no legal or moral argument that Iran shouldn’t have the same nuclear capabilities Japan has. It is not to be taken seriously.

    I’m willing to move on. To agree to disagree. But if you want to keep arguing that Iran is being unreasonable for not submitting to concerns based on your worry that might attain its legal rights, I’ll keep pointing out the absurdity of your arguments.

  104. Mr. Brill: I see no reason to respond to a hypothetical which is not only irrelevant to the issue at hand but is in fact a red herring to divert attention from the issue at hand.

    Particularly since with your circumlocution around the definition of an issue, I can have no clear idea as to what position you were intent on trapping me into so you could spend several days dancing around something I never said with more vague statements.

    Nice try, but no.

  105. Richard,

    “If Israel were in Iran’s situation, I’d feel exactly the same about Israel. So would you and Arnold and Richard, I strongly suspect, and so would most other people in the world.”

    You devoted several sentences to criticizing this remark. I was surprised not to find a statement of whether you agreed with the second sentence.

  106. Dan Cooper,

    Where’ve you been?

  107. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    The refugees in Iran are needed in Iran; without them low paying work that many Iranians disdain will not be completed. In that, Afghans are like Central American so Iran.

    It is desirable for US to leave Iraq and Afghanistan; both for US and for Iran.

    My thought was that Taliban regime in Afghanistan is a threat to Russia, China, India, and Central Asia. I, were I an Iranian leader, would make do nothing to help Russia, India, or China as they struggle with Salafist-inspired terrorism. Iran has no obligation to help them.

    pmr9:

    As you have observed, there is no chance of any broad settlement on the nuclear file.

    Notice that Jackson-Vanik “sanctions” against Russia and UN sanctions against Iraq are still in place. Iran is quite correct in assuming that sanctions are going to stay put even if she surrenders.

    It would take something like a public apology by US, EU, Russia, China, and India followed by monetary compensation and rescinding of sanctions against Iran to restore the situation to something workable.

    Fiorangela:

    Stepehens, Senor, Grecht, Leeden and their like are pitiful individuals that have seriously damaged US Jewery.

    Lindberg was blaming American Jews for US entry into WWII but it did not stick. However, already non-Jews are publicly asking: “To whom do you owe your primary loyalty?”

    Don Cooper:

    Not Auden – Robinson Jeffers.

  108. Fiorangela says:

    Castellio, you wrote:
    “However, what will cement the bond between Israel and the US for a few generations to come is a hot war with Iran.
    Israel needs America in a war on Iran to keep the wavering Americans firmly on side. That is, I believe, what is driving the agenda.”

    I disagree. I believe that if US/Israel join in war against Iran, Americans will turn against Israel in a potentially dangerous way.

    There is not the adrenaline rush that followed 9/11; Americans, bless their hearts, are war weary; they’re worried about their own debts and the debts of the nation; Americans are increasingly distrustful of anything Washington, and Washington is where Israel wields its power: that’s the place of the marriage bed, and Americans are beginning to notice the stink of it. An attack on Iran will enrage many Americans: tho unemployment has been blamed on immigrants, and the housing bubble has been blamed on immigrants and ACORN, a war on Iran will, as Hillary Mann Leverett has cautioned Jews, have Israel lobby fingerprints all over it.

    Not only do I not think it ‘antisemitic’ to advance such an argument, I think it is in the best interests of all concerned that the caution be sounded, loud and often: If Iran is attacked, American Jews and Israel will suffer.

    Listen to what Norman Finkelstein has to say on that score: Israel has to suffer a defeat

    You know what the Jewish attitude is? Never to forgive, Never to forget. And I agree with that. Why roll out the red carpet? Less than two years after your whole country was destroyed by them.
    The Secretary of State said it was the birth pangs of a new Middle East. That’s the statement of a freak. A human freak would compare the birth of a child with the destruction of a country, and yet there are people here who are so anxious to welcome her.
    They are trying to figure out, What are the Americans thinking? They can’t wait for their banquets. How can anyone respect that? I respect the Jews a thousand times more: Never to forgive, Never to forget. All the death and all the destruction, and you can’t wait to welcome him. It’s disgusting. Who the hell cares if Bush is coming? You should have declared him persona non grata.

    Mod: But you say there will be another war.

    He’s not welcome here. He destroyed your country. You know full well that resolution could have been passed three weeks earlier. He destroys your country, and you can’t wait to greet him.
    You have no self-respect. How can you expect other people to respect Arabs if you show no respect for yourself?

    If the Lebanese people overwhelmingly vote to let the Americans and the Israelis have their way, I guess you have to accept that, and I couldn’t possibly say that they don’t have the right to make that choice. Listen, in Nazi occupied Europe, you have to remember, most of the population made the choice to live under the Nazis. All this talk about a French Resistance is just a joke, it never happened. . . . Maybe 10% of the French resisted; the rest said, Don’t Resist! Because the Nazis were ruthless. You resist — four hundred are killed for each soldier who is killed. That’s how the Nazis operated. So most of the French said, like you, We want to live.
    But now I have to ask you, in retrospect: Who do we honor? Do we honor those who say, “Let us live,” or do we honor those who say, Let’s resist.

    Leaders come last.
    There will be a leader who comes to power in Israel who is willing to make the concessions after the conditions have been created, namely, Israel has to suffer a defeat.

  109. Fiorangela says:

    Dan Cooper: re Mel Goodman:

    The Greatest Threat to Us All; by Joseph Cirincione:

    Arsenals of Folly examines the cold war arms race not by recounting treaty negotiations but by studying the psychology, physics, and politics of the era. Perhaps Rhodes’s most valuable contribution is his meticulous documentation of how American officials frequently and deliberately inflated their estimates of military threats facing the United States, beginning with the 1950 report to President Truman, known as NSC-68, that exaggerated Soviet military capabilities. As we know from misleading assessments about Iraq and now Iran, threat inflation has continued to this day.

    America faces real threats that need no embellishment. But as Rhodes shows, politicians have often exaggerated threats for political advantage. “Fear is a very dangerous thing,” said British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin after World War I. “It is quite true that it may act as a deterrent in people’s minds against war, but it is much more likely to act to make them want to increase armaments….”

    The manipulation of fear to promote programs that Americans would otherwise not support is different from honest disagreement over the scale of the threats. Rhodes shows how Paul Nitze, the principal author of the 1950 NSC report, intentionally exaggerated Soviet nuclear capacities and minimized those of the US in order to “bludgeon the mass mind of ‘government’”—as Nitze’s superior, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, admitted years later. Although the Soviet Union had lost at least 25 million people and half its industry in World War II, Nitze portrayed the USSR as a fanatical enemy that, within a few years, would threaten America with an estimated two hundred nuclear weapons. According to his report, the then American stockpile of 1,400 weapons would be insufficient to counter such a threat. Nitze’s report came at a time when international events, including the Korean War, seemed to validate this dark vision. In response, Truman quadrupled the defense budget and began a strategic program that would increase the US nuclear arsenal to some 20,000 thermonuclear bombs by 1960 and 32,000 by 1966. “

  110. Fiorangela says:

    Accurate scholarship can
    Unearth the whole offence
    From Luther Herzl until now
    That has driven a culture mad,
    Find what occurred at Linz Deir Yassin, Beirut, Gaza, Fallujah . . .
    What huge imago made
    A psychopathic god:
    I and the public know
    What all schoolchildren learn,
    Those to whom evil is done
    Do evil in return.

  111. Fiorangela says:

    I suggest that it’s time we start thinking of and dealing with writers like Bret Stephens and journals like Commentary as the enemies of American values and interests that they are.

    Bret Stephens and Commentary is the string and Stephens the tin can on the this side of the Atlantic; the other can resides in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. MFA has boilerplate for every pseudoargument Stephens offered. The Israelists like nothing better than to intensify their neurosis by digging into poorly understood, if not contrived, Iranian religious beliefs.

    It’s time to recognize that Israel acts in Israel’s interests and subscribes to ethical and moral standards that are in apposition to American ethics and morals. That the US may also be behaving immorally is our problem and we need to be about repairing that failure. Rather than gratifying Commentary by taking their hasbara seriously, Commentary and its coterie should be shunned, ignored, closed out of polite society. In a time of multiple demands and limited time, only thinkers who support American interests should claim the attention of thoughtful readers. I suggest Andrew Bacevich, Stephen Kinzer, Robert Naiman at Just Foreign Policy. Gordon Adams wrote a comprehensive comment on National Security Journal the other day: http://security.nationaljournal.com/2010/08/us-military-power-preeminence.php?comments=expandall#comments

    Why don’t Americans hear more of Gordon Adams and his colleagues, and less of tired, worn out propagandists?

    Really, ladies and gentlemen; the neocons and propagandists have had their run. We need to make ourselves thoroughly conversant with the thinking and arguments of persons like Adams, and Col. Lang.

    Even so, this statement from Stephens’ work caught my eye:

    All this suggests that a better comparison for Iran than the Soviet Union might be Japan of the 1930s and World War II—another martyrdom-obsessed, non-Western culture with global ambitions. It should call into question the view that for all its extremist rhetoric, Iran operates according to an essentially pragmatic estimate of its own interests.

    Japan on my mind.
    Over 50 years ago Charles Tansill examined Roosevelt’s foreign policy between 1933 and 1941: mises dot org/books/backdoor dot pdf Back Door to War.

    Provocation to war is not a new concept:

    Some scholars like Charles A. Beard have pointed out that presidential
    pronouncements from 1933 to 1937 gave scant encouragement
    to ardent one-worlders, but they underestimated the importance of the
    Chief Executive’s conversion to the explosive nonrecognition doctrine
    so strenuously advocated by Henry L. Stimson. This was a bomb whose
    long fuse sputtered dangerously for several years and finally burst into
    the flame of World War II. It was entirely fitting that Stimson became
    Secretary of War in 1940; no one deserved that title quite as well as
    he. The entry in his Diary for November 25, 1941, is illuminating.
    With regard to Japan “the question is how we should maneuver them
    into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much
    danger to ourselves.”

  112. Humanist says:

    Fiorangela,

    “ There is nothing we can do about the decisions Iran makes and the actions it takes”

    I am pretty sure many officials or scholars in Iran are routinely studying the ideas discussed in many global websites including ‘the race for iran’. I wouldn’t be surprised if in couple of Ministries the summery of such studies are systematically compiled and sent to the top.

    Joe Klein of Times Magazine was impressed by the level of political knowledge of average Iranians. Extrapolate that phenomenon to government and university centers and combine it with the fact that so far the “foreign policy decisions” of Iran has been relatively “rational” then you could conclude someone out there is listening to you.

    It is possible Iran decided to publish the detailed results of June 2009 presidential election when on June 15 Charlie Rose show (the one that Flynt Leverett also participated) Hooman Majd said something like “..the process of election might have been all right but did they properly count the ballots is the question”. The First Time Publication of the data of Forms 22 and 28 might have been a response to that concern, leaving no doubt that the counting was carried out properly thus there was no fraud in the election.

  113. Dan Cooper says:

    Friedman supports an attack on Iran, whose independence is intolerable. This is the psychopathic vanity of great power which Martin Luther King described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. He was then shot dead.

    The psychopathic is applauded across popular, corporate culture, from the TV death watch of a man choosing a firing squad over lethal injection to the Oscar winning Hurt Locker and a new acclaimed war documentary Restrepo. Directors of both films deny and dignify the violence of invasion as “apolitical”. And yet behind the cartoon facade is serious purpose. The US is engaged militarily in 75 countries. There are some 900 US military bases across the world, many at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels.

    Melvin Goodman is now a scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. He was in the CIA more than 40 years and rose to be a senior Soviet analyst. When we met the other day, he described the conduct of the cold war as a series of gross exaggerations of Soviet “aggressiveness” that wilfully ignored the intelligence that the Soviets were committed to avoid nuclear war at all costs. Declassified official files on both sides of the Atlantic support this view. “What mattered to the hardliners in Washington,” he said, “was how a perceived threat could be exploited.” The present secretary of defence, Robert Gates, as deputy director of the CIA in the 1980s, had constantly hyped the “Soviet menace” and is, says Goodman, doing the same today “on Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran”.

    Little has changed. In America, in 1939, W.H. Auden wrote:

    As the clever hopes expire
    Of a low dishonest decade:
    Waves of anger and fear
    Circulate over the bright
    And darkened lands of the earth,
    Obsessing our private lives […]
    Out of the mirror they stare,
    Imperialism’s face
    And the international wrong

    http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=580

  114. BTW, if you want an excellent research tool on the Iran issue, the site “Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran” has articles from many sources going back some time. So you can follow the time line for events in specific articles published at the time. Very useful. Between that site and this one, you can be very fully informed on the Iran issue.

    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node&page=44

  115. Pirouz,

    Thanks.

    Eric

  116. Mr. Brill: “4. Continue to enrich uranium, seek no guarantee of Iran’s enrichment right on the ground that the NPT already guarantees this, and voluntarily start making fuller disclosures (my recommendation).”

    Oh, here we go again.

    “Disclose more”.

    DISCLOSE WHAT? And to what end, if as you now admit fully, Iran got nothing from disclosing more in the past?

    Christ, this guy is a broken record.

  117. Pirouz says:

    Eric, that’s sloppy writing by Stephens, probably deliberately so.

    Teenage volunteers in the defense of Iran were not self-contained in specific units by age. They were distributed among formations in the same way as any other soldier. Keep in mind, also, the Islamic age of adulthood for Iran back then was 15. Fifteen year olds could even vote in national and local elections!

    And, these assault formations were not led by an actor on a white horse. There are stories of actors on a white horse touring the lines before a battle, as a form of inspiration. But leading a charge into battle is pure fantasy. That just wasn’t so.

    It’s peculiar that there is so much attention given to the subject of teenage volunteers in the defense of Iran during the Imposed War. There were teenage volunteers in the German Army and teenage conscripts in the Russian army, during World War II. And there were teenage volunteers on both sides of the American Civil War. The common denominator being the intensity and level of desperation of the conflict.

    Personally, my favorite American cousin volunteered into the Marine Corps in 1966 at the age of 17, He served two combat tours in Vietnam.

  118. Mr. Brill: “But if “Japan option” means – as Arnold occasionally argues in one or more of his shifting and nearly countless definitions of this useless term – designing or building nuclear weapon detonators, for example, or stockpiling vast amounts of nuclear fuel that have no apparent peaceful use, apparently so that the world will worry that Iran can produce a deliverable nuclear bomb on short notice if it doesn’t get the respect it feels it deserves, then I don’t agree that Iran has the right to a “Japan option.””

    Ah, finally we’re getting to the heart of the matter. Mr. Brill just doesn’t like Iran.

    “Frankly, I don’t care that Japan already has that. As I’ve explained several times before, each country’s situation is different. Japan possessing enough plutonium to make “thousands of bombs” worries me less than Iran’s possessing enough plutonium to make “thousands of bombs” would worry me. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it does. Maybe that’s unfair, but I am confident most people agree that distinctions need to be drawn. If Israel were in Iran’s situation, I’d feel exactly the same about Israel. So would you and Arnold and Richard, I strongly suspect, and so would most other people in the world.”

    And here we have affirmation of the fact that Mr. Brill just doesn’t like Iran. His disclaimer that he would feel the same about Israel were Israel in Iran’s position is purely a red herring. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that clearly Mr. Brill is being at least disingenuous here. I suspect very much that were Israel in the same situation, Mr. Brill would have not any problems at all with Israel’s position.

    Given that Israel has in fact explicitly maintained a position of “nuclear ambiguity” for the last thirty or forty years, I’d say Mr. Brill is really being disingenuous about the relative postures of Israel and Iran.

    Can you say “double standards”? I knew you could.

    Would Mr. Brill like to state explicitly that he believes Israel should be required to unilaterally and completely dismantle its entire nuclear arsenal as a “confidence building measure” and in furtherance of a nuclear free Middle East?

  119. Perhaps Alan would care to comment.

    A lesson in bad faith: the Vienna Group’s response to the Brazil-Iran-Turkey Joint Declaration
    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node/10540

    Also, Alan is TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY WRONG when he states that the Vienna Group offered Iran Turkey as an alternative escrow partner in October 2009. I have not researched this issue, and the only alternative offered to Iran by October 30, 2009, were Russia, France and the United States. France was dismissed by Iran because Sarkozy had made hostile remarks about Iran, and France had also reneged on an earlier promise to deliver nuclear materials.

    What happened in October, 2009, instead, was that Iran offered to ships its LEU stocks in several stages, rather than all at once as was the deal in the draft proposal signed by the Vienna Group.

    The reasons for Iran’s alternative proposal are easy to understand. First, it would require some 80% of Iran’s LEU to be offsite under the control of a country not favorable to Iran at one time. Second, although the TRR nuclear requirements were a priority, it would also mean that Bushehr, expected to come on line this year, might be short on needed LEU.

    Although the end result of Iran’s shipping its LEU in stages would be the same, the Vienna Group immediately and angrily dismissed the counter offer – thus exposing that the REAL goal of the offer was to get its hands on Iran’s stock of LEU.

    Hillary Mann Leverett explained the situation in her article in Foreign Policy on October 30, 2009, which you can read here:

    Pragmatists in Tehran
    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node/8855

    Therefore Alan is completely wrong when he says the Vienna Group offered Turkey as an option in October, and that Iran is completely to blame for that deal’s collapse.

  120. Incidentally, lest anyone wonder why I am so pessimistic about Iran’s prospects of striking a deal with the US, take a look at this long piece by Bret Stephens in Commentary:

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/iran-cannot-be-contained-15462?page=all

    One hardly knows where to begin on many of Stephens’ factual allegations, but the effort would probably be pointless since few of his readers care to read any defense of Iran. I will give Stephens this, however: he didn’t blame the USS Cole on Iran. Probably just an oversight.

    Possibly more important about this piece – and several other recent pieces resemble it in this respect – is how effortlessly Stephens transforms an entirely unproven assertion – in this case, that a “a nuclear[-armed] Iran is probably inevitable” – into an unchallenged fact by inviting the reader to look ahead and consider how the US ought to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran – an intellectually stimulating exercise that makes only one preliminary demand on the eager reader: ignore the utter absence of evidence that Iran is in fact a nuclear-armed state, anywhere close to becoming one, or even trying to become one.

    By the time a reader gets a third of the way through the article, he’s like to have long forgotten that none of this has been established. The only question will be whether he thinks “containment” will work to contain nuclear-armed Iran, or whether the US will have no choice but to attack nuclear-armed Iran. (Those familiar with Bret Stephens can guess which choice he recommends.)

  121. Off-topic, but will someone comment on this passage Bret Stephens’ Commentary piece, especially the last sentence?

    “The emphasis on martyrdom became all the more pronounced in Iran during its war with Iraq, when Tehran sent waves of child soldiers, some as young as 10, to clear out Iraqi minefields. As Hooman Majd writes in his book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, the boys were often led by a soldier mounted on a white horse in imitation of Husayn: “the hero who would lead them into their fateful battle before they met their God.” Tens of thousands of children died this way.”

    Specifically, did Majd say in his book (which I read, but don’t recall in detail) that “tens of thousands” of children died this way? It’s unclear whether Stephens is attributing his final sentence to Majd. I suspect Stephens is not, but wants to leave this unclear, so that it appears he’s relying on Majd as a source for this statement.

  122. Castellio says:

    Paul: I agree with most you write, but suggest you question your certainty in terms of American world hegemony. South America is, largely, no longer the US backyard; Japan is strugging to find some sovereignty, and will succeed; Germany is beginning to carve a new path with long-term thinking, and Russia and China are neither super powers nor junior partners, and are not moving in the direction of junior partners either.

    America is hardly offering a ‘vision of the future’ to anybody, with the exception of those Latin American emigres leaving countries still ruled by the comprador class.

  123. Mr. Brill: “Nobody can say for sure.”

    This is Mr. Brill’s answer for everything: vague generalities. Possibilities. Maybes.

    Meanwhile we have an actual history of how things work in the real world.

    It’s easy to argue from the position of unlimited possibilities. Everything becomes true in such a position. As Hassan ibn Sabbah once said, “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” A position I can even agree with most of the time.

    In the real world of US vs Iran, not so much.

  124. pmr9 says:

    fyi

    I’m not suggesting that the reprocessing of spent fuel to obtain uranium containing U-236 should be done in Iran. Other countries that have fuel reprocessing capacity, such as Japan, could easily do this. Iran could simply offer to mix its existing stockpile of LEU (enriched slightly further to allow for the neutron sink effect of U-236) with uranium obtained from spent fuel. It should of course insist that Nuclear Suppliers Group countries bear the cost of supplying the U-236-containing uranium, as it is they who are denying Iran its right to prepare fuel by enrichment of natural uranium. From what I’ve read, the resulting mix would be usable as fuel but not as a source for weapons-grade uranium: further enrichment would enrich for U-236 as well as U-235.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if Iran were to make such an offer. For what it’s worth, I think that the US would reject it just as it dismissed the Tehran declaration. The advantage to Iran would be to make it more obvious that US concerns over nuclear proliferation are just a pretext for confrontation

  125. Castellio says:

    Fiorangela points out that “Since then [9/11], the bond between US and Israel may be weakening.”

    Yes, 9/11 was the public act of marriage between the Israeli and American governments in a “common war” against the “terrorists”, now quite indistinguishable from any Arab or Persian Muslim. Yet rational historical analysis, when possible and open, begins to unravel those ties. The American public support, when informed, wavers, offended by the the racist principles of Israel, the price to defend them, and the rank hypocrisy of the “peace process”.

    However, what will cement the bond between Israel and the US for a few generations to come is a hot war with Iran.

    Israel needs America in a war on Iran to keep the wavering Americans firmly on side. That is, I believe, what is driving the agenda.

  126. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Aren’t there nearly 3 million Afghan refugees in Iran? This is a considerable burden. Jordan and Syria have millions of Iraqi refugees, which are a serious burden to both countries.

    I think it is a high priority for Iran to facilitate the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, and Iraq.

  127. Alan says:

    pmr9/Paul – I think there is a genuine concern within the US government of what a more hardline Iranian government would do with a well-advanced nuclear program. In that context, the current lot possibly doesn’t bother them much. There may also be a concern about activities of elements beyond the direct control of the government, insofar as the elements that would replace the current lot are obviously there now.

    I also think there is a need to see existing concerns resolved through the IAEA system to preserve the integrity of it all.

    I also believe Iran can use that system to corner the US if necessary, because even if the evidence provided is false, the IAEA still need to formulate specific questions from it – people, places, materials – which should be easy to disprove. It doesn’t take much of that to kill off the credibility of the source.

  128. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    I think the moron in the White House did not comprehend the difference between Sunni and Shia, and did not recognize that Iraq would be friendly with Iran in the wake of the overthrow of Saddam AND destruction of the Sunni power structure. I say this with some confidence because Bush apparently was not even aware he had authorized the foolish Jerry Bremer to disband the Iraqi army and security services (which was the direct cause of the civil war).

  129. Alan says:

    James – yes, I meant the administration when I said Bush Jr. But as thick as they all were, even they had to see Iran was the big winner from a US invasion of Iraq, which is why Iran had to be next on the list for the policy to make any sense. I believe the neocon “thinkers” originally had their sights on Syria, but Israel switched them to Iran.

    Fiorangela – yes I agree. It’s also worth considering exactly what would AIPAC be without US public opinion on their side. Once that goes, they’re history. The question is how to pull it off.

  130. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    US and Iran can talk as much as they like about this or that subject but all cooperation is based on some form of exchange.

    I jsut do not see the future of Afghanistan being that important to Iran.

    Even in 2002 it was a means to an end.

    Now, of course, we are in the post-sanction world with Taliban posing major security threats to Pakistan, India, Central Asia and thus indirectly to China and Russia.

    In fact, US position is similar to Iran’s – Afghanisatn is not worth that much and we can live with Taliban as long as we are not there any longer.

  131. James Canning says:

    paul,

    Thanks for the link to the story on Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s call for US sanctions against Russia and China! She is an idiot, of course, as well as the top-ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    What arrogance and stupidity on the part of the Obama administration, to be sending Einhorn to China to try to talk the Chinese into pulling out of Iraq!

  132. Fiorangela says:

    Eric, There is nothing we can do about the decisions Iran makes and the actions it takes.

    Do you have any suggestions for American policy makers on the steps they should take, and any ideas how American citizens can be sufficiently persuasive to cause America’s leaders to listen to them?

  133. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iran’s position is sensible: that all foreign troops should leave Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran may have to live with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Iranian thinking that foolish US military activities are increasing the chances the Taliban will return to power in Kabul, is probably correct.

    My point was that it is in Iran’s interest to deal with Americans, so that other matters can be discussed informally.

  134. Humanist says:

    In this article of Leveretts I hoped to read something about what Jondullah did after Iran agreed ‘in principle’ with TRR deal in Vienna. Then many amateur analysts saw a dim light at the end of the tunnel. Soon that light to be faded away by the bombing in Sistan.

    Maybe Leveretts didn’t mention anything on that consequential bombing that killed many including 5 or 6 Revolutionary Guard generals because they are analytical and for every claim they try to present a convincing evidence…. and in this case all the details are secrets).

    The question still lingers . Who were those who wanted to derail the agreement? I wasn’t mich surprised when I read Mousavi and a few other suspicious characters in Iran opposed the deal. What is not clear is who were behind the Western scenes contradicting or opposing each other. Why CIA (that in my view can pull Jondollah strings) was disagreeing with the deal. Or they were not involved and the West was playing a deceptive show? Or were Israel, Saudi Arabia, UK or Pakistan (who are the other players in the Jondullah game) in any way or form trying to muddy the waters? Or the most powerful player didn’t want any smoothing of a friendly path for US – Iran relations?

    Or… so many other possibilities…. that make amateur analysts dizzy!

  135. paul says:

    It’s simply absurd to claim that any part of the US government, except perhaps for those who believe their own propaganda, is seriously concerned about nuclear weapons proliferation in Iran. To the extent that there is real concern, it is only at most a moderate concern, and one that should be alleviated by the monitoring already in place. Iran MIGHT agree to more monitoring, possibly, but I doubt that would happen, unless the US agreed to put Israel’s nukes on the table, which it will never do, unless we citizens elect new leaders who do not bow to the ‘permanent government’. That will be the day.

    And the point about Israel brings us back again to the real issue, which is now and has always been US hegemony in eurasia, and thus, the world. Or let’s say Nato-allied hegemony. Or now that China and Russia are on board, as junior partners, perhaps what we mean is ‘major power hegemony’. But US hegemony works for now, anyway. That’s the issue. So you can be sure that any attempts by Iran to mollify the US will be shouted down very angrily. Ahmadinejad could lick Obama’s boots and hand him the keys to Natanz and it wouldn’t be enough. The case here is exactly the same, in terms of the unfolding of Economic War to Shooting war (or other form of regime change) as with Iraq. Only, I think Iran is smart enough to know that obeisances to the Obama Regime and the US High Command will gain nothing and lose everything. Iran continues to stick to basic principles, such as its sovereign right to enrich uranium. This is the right course for Iran, the only course that gives it a chance to continue to appeal to the non-aligned movement – those countries excluded from the Great Powers Gold Club.

    This article gives us a good sense of how sincere The Secret Peacemaker is about any ‘negotiations’ with Iran…

    “WASHINGTON — The United States should immediately impose sanctions on Russia and China under a US law that punishes major investments in Iran’s energy sector, a senior US lawmaker said Monday.
    “It’s time to implement our sanctions laws and demonstrate to Russia and China that there are consequences for abetting Tehran and flouting US sanctions,” …
    Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said firms run by the Russian and Chinese governments had invested “huge sums” in Iran’s energy sector, “effectively bankrolling” Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program and its backing of Islamist groups.

    Her comments came as a top US State Department official, Robert Einhorn, was on a trip to Asia set to include a stop in Beijing to press China to fully enforce sanctions on Iran.”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jMpK-Jk_14FkeY_IIskuEFbKyoUw

    … Of course, if Obama was remotely serious about negotiating in good faith with Iran, he wouldn’t be so serious about hammering down the Economic War against Iran. I find it shameful that so many alternapundits continue to dismiss Obama’s economic war against Iran. As recent upheavals in Iran have demonstrated, Iran is already suffering heavily, and if China and Russia are persuaded to join in, the suffering will start to escalate towards Iraq levels. Remember, that was a form of genocide-lite.

    What’s also interesting to notice about this article is the blatant Good Cop Bad Cop routine being played by the Dems and Republicans here, and by the President vs. Congress. This is a large part of what has been used to support the Myth of Obama the Secret Peacemaker. ‘Gee’, Obama says to China, ‘I might come across like Genghis Khan, but THOSE guys are Satan. Better deal with me…’. Works like a charm every time. So, will Russia and China come around? OF COURSE THEY WILL!!!
    That’s a silly question. They always do. But they’ll want some deals. That’s how it always works out. Obama, like Bush before him, goes out with the carrot and the stick and comes back with some more bogus global ‘consensus’. Unlike Bush, Obama’s a smoother operator, so it’s likely that he lays out a few more carrots and bashes about less with sticks. That too is part of the Good Cop Bad Cop strategy. ‘I may be bad’, says Obama, ‘but at least I’m nicer than that last guy’. Same playbook, different page.

    To their credit, Iran isn’t playing out of Saddam’s playbook. If Saddam blathered about sovereignty, empire and whatnot, no one believed him. Iran actually has a large potential audience to play to. Of course, that audience is also susceptible to the blandishments of the Empire, but each nation knows, at the same time, that as Iran goes, so may they go, should they ever dare to stand up to the Hegemon.

  136. fyi says:

    pmr9:

    You proposed: “For instance, Iran’s LEU could be mixed with uranium extracted from spent fuel containing enough neutron-absorbing U-236″.

    Re-processing of spent fuel is not trivial, speically if the fuel is hot.

    Moreover, re-processing is another area that UNSC has tried to remove that sovereign right from Iran.

    EU representatives, on different occasions, had told Iranians that they (EU) do not want Iran to even have that knowledge.

    And journalistic threats against Iran have, on occasion, contained references to murdering 5000 or so Iranians with the tehcnical knowledge in nuclear science and engineering.

    [Yes, it is freedom of speech; let me see someone make the same statement about some other country with impunity.]

    UNSC can keep on issuing its sanctions etc. but once you have repeatedly threatened NPT-safeguarded sites and an NPT signatory with Death and Destruction and she did not blink; well then, you have lost the game, so to speak.

    Even if UNSC returns the Iranian file to IAEA and even if Iran agrees to ratify AP (a big if) what has been shattered cannot be put togther, namely the integrity of UNSC and IAEA and NPT – just like the case of the shredding of CWT during Iran-Iraq War.

    This is over as Ahmadinejad has said repeatedly.

  137. pmr9 says:

    The US asserts that it is unacceptable for Iran to maintain a stock of LEU, even under IAEA seals, because of the risk that Iran might break out of the NPT, enrich its stock of LEU to weapons grade, and build some weapons.

    Cyrus argues that this is just a pretext, and the real issue is that Iran challenges US/Israeli hegemony in the region. Alan and Eric argue that at least some elements within the US government are sincerely concerned about the proliferation risk, and that Iran should try to address this even at the cost of increased vulnerability to attack.

    One way for Iran to resolve this would be to propose alternatives that allow Iran to maintain its nuclear fuel capability but reduce or eliminate its hypothetical weapons capability. For instance, Iran’s LEU could be mixed with uranium extracted from spent fuel containing enough neutron-absorbing U-236 to make enrichment to weapons grade nearly impossible. How would the US respond?

  138. Frontiervillesecrets,

    “Any move by Iran towards compliance will be greeted by us moving the goal posts further away.”

    I agree, but that matters only if Iran sees some need to kick the football between those goalposts. I do not understand why so many people feel Iran needs to care about reaching some settlement with the US – an effort for which I see no good prospects and in which I think Iran should not bother to engage.

    I think Iran should care about what the US thinks only as much as necessary to squelch the effort by Iran’s enemies in the US and Israel to press the US into war against Iran. Period. I don’t think Iran can make any progress in that effort by seeking to strike deals with the US, and I see downside in even trying because the US inevitably spins each failed effort as further evidence of Iran’s warlike intentions.

    I think Iran should just keep doing what it’s doing, but expand its disclosures so that most of the world – not the US government, certainly, but most of the world (notably including China, Russia and the large and influential educated portion of the American public) – is persuaded that the presently persuasive “What’s Iran trying to hide?” argument is not persuasive and should be ignored.

    Doing this might do no good at all. I recognize this possibility. But I think taking this step would persuade the key groups mentioned in the preceding paragraph – possibly enough that China and Russia would resist further sanctions the next time that gets proposed, possibly enough that a large chunk of the educated American public would hop off the attack-Iran bandwagon.

    By contrast, as long as Iran refuses to agree to the same full disclosure as nearly 100 other NPT signatories, all of these potentially “swayable” groups will continue to wonder why. That’s not good for Iran, and it baffles me, frankly, that others insist that it is.

  139. Cyrus,

    “Eric – your hypotheticals all proceed on the presumption that if only Iran does certain things then the standoff can be resolved and the US mollified.”

    No, not at all. You and Arnold and others seem to feel some pressing need to “settle things” with the US. You then presume that I feel the same pressing need, and then tell me that the way I suggest to solve this “pressing need” won’t work.

    I don’t feel any pressing need, or even a non-pressing need, for Iran to strike any deals with the US. Not only don’t I perceive such a need, but I think the effort would be a waste of time for Iran and that its inevitable failure would be spun by the US to Iran’s detriment.

    That is why I suggest that Iran should just go on its merry way without hoping to “mollify” the US. My only suggestion is that it weaken the US’ “What’s Iran trying to hide?” argument by making more full disclosures about its nuclear program. By doing so, while Iran is going on its merry way to develop its peaceful nuclear energy program, it will have weakened – not destroyed, but weakened – an argument that the US government has successfully exploited to create a risk that the US will attack Iran.

  140. Cyrus says:

    Eric – your hypotheticals all proceed on the presumption that if only Iran does certain things then the standoff can be resolved and the US mollified. This is false assumption. As I said before, the US doesn’t accuse Iran of hiding nuclear weapons programs, but of seeking to or intending to acquire the knowledge necessary to make nukes at some indefinite time in the future. No amount of inspections, no amount of disclosure, no amount of IAEA verification can “prove” that Iran won’t do something in the indefinite future. The problem isn’t insufficient disclosure by Iran; the problem is that no matter how much disclosure Iran permits, it will never be enough because the nuclear issue is entirely pretextual and a manufactured issue.

  141. Liz says:

    Iran’s weapons development program has never had a nuclear aspect to it and implying that such was the case it not only dishonest but also dangerous. It is pathetic to see that any progress on any front in Iran is portrayed by the US as a threat. The real threat comes from DC and it’s arrogant politicians along with a cowardly US president who mearly wishes to cling to power.

  142. It is clear that the US does not want a peaceful resolution to the Iranian situtation. It should be clear to all that we, the US, are not “negotiating” in good faith. Any move by Iran towards compliance will be greeted by us moving the goal posts further away. What has happened to Barack Obama’s rhetoric about not being afraid to talk to and negotiate with our adversaries. Change to believe in? I don’t think so. The 2008 Obama campaign rhetoric is feeling very “LBJ 1964″ and “Nixon 1968″…just tell the people what they want to hear. Who would have thought he would be so hawkish? I feeled duped.

  143. Fiorangela says:

    Alan, I think I see your point here and agree:

    By ideological, I mean Bush Jr (and to a lesser extent Clinton), had totally incorporated the Israeli agenda into his own crazed plans for the Middle East. People disagree with me, but I maintain this was comparatively new, and really the only time in Israel’s history that the two worked hand in glove to this extent.

    The articles of incorporation for the US-Israel union was 9/11 and the war on terror. I can still feel the gut-punch I felt on 9/12 when Israel stepped into the situation and declared that US and ISRAEL were joined in a war on terror. That was quite shocking to me, and felt no small resentment that this profound US tragedy was being used by Israel (on 9/10 I could not have found Israel on a map).

    Since then, the bond between US and Israel may be weakening:
    1. Americans were fooled once; it will be harder to run the same play again.
    2. Israel is coming under increasing criticism for its attacks on Lebanon, on Gaza, and on the Mavi Marmara. More and more Americans, especially from the Jewish American community, are emboldened to criticize Israel and to attempt to disassociate US Jewry from Likud Israel.
    3. The more Bolton and his camp speak out, the greater are the chances for moderation. They push the envelope too far, too crazed, to easily refuted.
    4. US is broke; more and more Americans are keenly aware of the impact of the economic spiral that’s just around the corner.
    5. The Bolton camp is pressing sanctions too far, with the effect that corporations around the world will soon become very wary of doing ANY business with Americans.

    Two examples:

    “US sanctions laws create significant compliance challenges for non-US companies as well as US companies because of their broad extraterritorial reach, aggressive government enforcement, and emerging theories of liability for persons and entities with only limited ties to the United States.”

    One Dutch company took exception to US enforcement of anti-Iran sanctions: http static dot rnw dot nl/migratie/www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/nl070919mc-redirected :
    “The United States has accused a Dutch airline components company, Aviation Services International BV, of breaching the trade embargo on Iran.”

    The company’s owner disagrees:
    “It’s a ridiculous idea. The Americans think their legal system takes precedence over that of the Netherlands. We do business in accordance with Dutch and European law.”

    If the US continues to allow Stuart Levey to run around the world like a bull in a china shop, smashing the commercial arrangements of other nations’ business interests and drumming up ill will toward the US, where will our children go for global friends and trading partners to sell the American brand, in a constrained US economic environment? Andrew Bacevich’s observation that only Israel and the US are so totally militarized applies to another characteristic that US and Israel share: they seem to think that making enemies is a better way to promote security and prosperity than is making friends. Perhaps I’ve read too much Augustine of Hippo: I believe it is better to be loved than feared. Cheaper, too.

  144. Arnold,

    “And contrary to the conventional wisdom, Iraq in 1991 did not have diverted fissile material that I know of, and therefore did not and could not have had a bomb.”

    I don’t know recall what “conventional wisdom” was then, but I remember that the surprise discoveries related more to Iran’s secret development of weapons devices, not production of highly enriched uranium. That was what caused the IAEA to recognize that Safeguards Agreements weren’t good enough to detect a nuclear weapons program. That, I understand, is why the IAEA drafted the Additional Protocols and pressed NPT signatories to adopt them, along with an “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1. The IAEA’s intention, I understand, was to fill the many gaps in the reporting and inspection scheme established by the Safeguards Agreements, so that the risk of another “Iraq surprise” would be reduced. I have no doubt that the IAEA always recognized that even the Additional Protocols, and the “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1, would not always ferret out a country’s manufacture or development of nuclear weapons. But the IAEA tried diligently to enhance the NPT’s reporting and inspection scheme to at least reduce the chances that something dangerous would slip through the cracks.

  145. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Let Taliban, Pakistan, India, US, China, Russia, EU, Saudi Arabia slug it out in Afghanistan.

    Iran can live with Taliban.

  146. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    I agree your option for Iran #4 makes the best sense. But Iran should suspend enrichment of U to 20% (provided it obtains the needed TRR fuel).

  147. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Let’s remember that Iran (and Syria) offered to help the US to withdraw in good order from Iraq, and to assist in maintaining stability in Iraq after such withdrawal. Bush was too arrogant and stupid to accept the offer.

    Iran quite rightly wants all foreign military forces out of Afghanistan.

  148. Cyrus,

    “[Iran] has repeatedly offered to place additional restrictions on its nuclear program well in excess of even the requirements of the Additional Protocol — as long as its right to enrich is recognized.”

    How about just continuing to enrich uranium without such a guarantee – especially since the chance of an enrichment-rights guarantee from the US is virtually nil anyway?

    It seems to me Iran has these practical “enrichment options:”

    1. Agree to suspend uranium enrichment as a confidence-building measure while it seeks to negotiate a deal with the US under which Iran’s right to enrich uranium is expressly acknowledged and Iran agrees to fuller disclosures about its nuclear program.

    2. Continue its uranium enrichment while it negotiates a deal with the US under which Iran’s right to enrich uranium is expressly acknowledged and Iran agrees to fuller disclosures about its nuclear program (same as #1, but without suspension of uranium enrichment).

    3. Continue to enrich uranium, continue to refuse fuller disclose about its nuclear program, and don’t pursue any agreement on enrichment rights.

    4. Continue to enrich uranium, seek no guarantee of Iran’s enrichment right on the ground that the NPT already guarantees this, and voluntarily start making fuller disclosures (my recommendation).

    Iran has tried #1. No luck, and its resumption of enrichment was unfairly spun by the US as yet another step in Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. I doubt Iran has much interest in suspending enrichment again, though we can’t entirely rule out that possibility in the upcoming talks.

    Iran is about to try #2, in September. You may have higher expectations than I do that Iran will trade a commitment to the AP for an explicit recognition of its enrichment rights. I put the odds of that at slightly above zero (just like last time – see #1), and I predict that the US will spin the failure of those talks as yet another step on Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons (just like last time – see #1). Iran probably will come away from those talks wondering whether it should have allowed the US to set it up for that inevitably negative spin.

    The failure of the #2 option will leave Iran, by default, where it is today: #3. It will have established that its AP “bargaining chip” isn’t so valuable after all, and some (I, for example) might argue that holding onto that worthless chip is actually helping Iran’s enemies by strengthening their “What’s Iran trying to hide?” argument.

    If Iran agrees with that advice, it will choose #4, which is what I recommend.

    The only real difference between #2 and #4 is that #2 means Iran would take another shot at the same effort that failed several years ago. I see no better prospects this time – almost no possibility that the US will explicitly agree to Iran’s enrichment rights. And if the US takes that long-standing position, I’ll be amazed if Iran’s offer to observe the AP will change the US’ mind. With an election coming up, I just can’t imagine that the Obama administration will recognize the enrichment rights of a charter member of the Axis of Evil – rights the US government has steadfastly denied to Iran so far – in exchange for Iran’s agreement to disclose what nearly 100 other countries disclose without any quid pro quo at all. Political suicide. Perhaps Iran could toss in a few other deal-sweeteners, but I cannot think of what those sweeteners might be – especially since Iran will be asking for even more than enrichment rights in the talks: notably, a fuel swap, fuel sale or some other arrangement to assure it a supply of fuel for its TRR.

    While some might argue, regarding #2, that there will be no harm in trying, I disagree. When Iran tried the very same thing several years ago and got nowhere in the attempt, the US spun the failure of that effort very strongly against Iran. The US would do so again. We’d see headlines like this:

    “Nuclear Summit Talks Fail – Iran Says “No” to Full Disclosure About Nuclear Program.”

    That’s why I think Iran should choose #4 right now. It can still talk with the US about enrichment rights if it wants to, and one can’t deny that maybe, maybe those talks would go better if Iran still had its AP bargaining chip to play. But if I am correct that the AP chip will have little if any bargaining value, and that the US may even prefer that Iran continue to hold that chip so the US can continue it’s “What’s Iran trying to hide?” argument, and that the US will make that argument even more loudly if the talks fail and Iran continues to refuse fuller disclosures, Iran might be better off just signing up for the AP and defusing that overblown issue once and for all.

  149. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iran is hostile to the Taliban and rightly concerned about the state of affairs that will obtain when the US pulls out.

    It is in the best interests of both countries that discussions regarding matters of mutual concern take place.

  150. James Canning says:

    Iran’s oil minister will be visiting China soon to discuss further Chinese investments in Iranian energy development. Obama, of course, is sending Einhorn to China to attempt to talk China into pulling out of Iran! What sheer arrogance and stupidity. But I suppose Obama needs to placate the numerous stooges of the Israel lobby that can be found in the US Congress.

  151. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    US and Iran are on post-sanction phase.

    There will be no forthcoming help from Iran on Afghanistan.

    This is understood by USG.

    If I were an Iranian leader, I would crave out Western areas of Afghanistan around Herat and let Russia, China, India, US live with the consequences of their anti-Iran policies.

    Only dogs, when hit, come back.

  152. James Canning says:

    Kudos to kooshy for the link to M K Bhadrakumar’s July 31st article in Asia Times: “A Persian message for Obama”. (Aug. 3rd, 12:31am).

    Bhadrakumar advises: “In particular, the US should strive to pursue an active engagement with Iran over Afghanistan.”

    To me, this advice is obvious, yet virtually no US politician in the US Congress will suggest it. And why is that? Israel lobby!

  153. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Re: Aug. 2nd, 9:04pm – - I agree with your comment to Castellio, that Iran can take steps to make any US attack much less likely. Maybe I should say Iran is taking steps that make such an attack much less likely, and the need is to achieve follow-through.

    The current UK government is keenly aware Britain was sucked into the foolish invasion of Iraq, and that the result was damage to the UK taxpayers and to the British armed forces.

  154. Cyrus:

    “Eric – When has Iran done anything that go beyond the requirements of a peaceful nuclear energy program?”

    I’ve never claimed Iran has. One of the more frustrating aspects of this debate, frankly, is Arnold’s insistence that I opine not on what Iran has actually done, or actually has proposed to do, but rather on the outer limits of what Iran might do if it were to follow Arnold’s advice to push the envelope.

    Unless my memory is failing me, nothing Iran has actually done or proposed to do would get anywhere close to the limits I would set on its nuclear program. It would go beyond what the US government thinks is appropriate – especially Iran’s enrichment activities – but I’ve made clear many times that I strongly disagree with the limits demanded by the US government.

  155. James Canning says:

    Ehud Barak, the Israeli “defence” minister, has been complainting that the new Turkish secret service chief is the former Turkish representative to the IAEA. To me, the selection of the former Yurish rep to the IAEA, as intelligence chief, makes very good sense. Small wonder the Israelis do not like it.

  156. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    I don’t think G W Bush intended to invade Iran, as of March 2003 when the US and the UK invaded Iraq. I think Bush was told that invading Iraq would cause a change in behavior in Syria and Iran, that would help to “protect” Israel.

    Many of the neocons and other warmongers who conspired to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq, did envision further attacks on Syria and Iran.

    Hezbollah did the entire Middle East, and the world, a major service when it successfully prevented the Israelis from crushing their ability to resist. The US officials who conspired with Israel to set up the insane smashing of Lebanon, saw it as the necessary step to enable an attack on Iran to proceed. The American news media have covered up this conspiracy.

  157. James Canning says:

    Alan,

    The catastrophic mistake of Saddam Hussein was not to play directly to the American people, perhaps by inviting Oliver Stone and Michael Moore to Iraq, for a televised discussion of Iraq’s compliance with UN resolutions. And for a tour of Iraqi households where children had died due to the UN sanctions.

    The neocon liars and warmongers had a much easier task of deceiving the American public because Saddam utterly failed to play the PR game.

  158. James Canning says:

    Cyrus,

    Perhaps a more subtle analysis of what is wanted by “the US” is called for. Numerous stooges of the Israel lobby in the US Congress want to keep pressure on Iran, no matter what Iran does or does not do, as long as Iran is unfriendly toward Israel. The extent to which these stooges are willing to compromise the national security of the American people, in order to promote and facilitate the continuing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis, would be easier to demonstrate if Iran did not play into their hands.

  159. Alan says:

    Fiorangela – “How did things go for Iraq when Iraq disclosed all it could possibly provide to inspectors?”

    Badly.

    In addition to Eric’s response, I would add that I’m not sure the two situations are directly comparable.

    There are the different circumstances on the ground of course, but there was also an ideological issue in 2003 which I don’t think applies any more. I have no doubt whatsoever Bush Jr intended to invade Iran as well, not least because if he didn’t, Iran stood to be the biggest winner from a US invasion of Iraq. I believe the US difficulties in Iraq, and Israel’s difficulties against Hizballah, ended their designs on Iran in 2006.

    By ideological, I mean Bush Jr (and to a lesser extent Clinton), had totally incorporated the Israeli agenda into his own crazed plans for the Middle East. People disagree with me, but I maintain this was comparatively new, and really the only time in Israel’s history that the two worked hand in glove to this extent.

    Obama’s difficulty today is how to disengage from that, and it is very, very tough. But fundamentally, I believe the same ideological union no longer exists. He has to make some very bold moves though, and it comes down to whether he has the bottle to do it. Many think not. Israel won’t take any chances on it though, which is why we are bound to see consistent efforts from them to provoke problems round the region in an attempt to bounce the US into acting on their behalf. That was never necessary under Bush.

  160. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Your advice to Iran, to heed the suggestions of China and Russia, is obviously meritorious. China and Russia do not want another war in the Gulf, and both countries are trying to promote a diplomatic resolution of the dispute. Warmongers like John Bolton and Charles Krauthammer would prefer that Iran ignore the advice of Russia and China.

  161. Cyrus says:

    I have to add this to the Leverett’s blog entry. Sure, everyone understands that the “willingness of the United States and its European partners to accept internationally safeguarded uranium enrichment on Iranian territory” is the key to resolving this dispute. So we have to ask the next question: why has this not been done already.

    I posit that the answer is “precisely because resolving the standoff is NOT what the US wants.” Rather, the US seeks to articificially maintain the nuclear issue as a pretext. Similarly, the US deliberately undermined the findings of the IAEA and arms inspectors in Iraq, precisely because “WMDs in IRaq” were also pretextual. That would explain why the many, many compromise solutions offered by Iran and other parties have also been ignored, why the US backtracked on the Uranium swap offer, and why it ignored the 2003 faxed peace offer, and they also undermined the EU3 “Paris Agreement” negotiations with Iran too. The US is simply not interested in finding a way out of this standoff — quite the contrary, it is looking for a way to aggravate it and built a narrative to support a war. Therefore, no amount of Iranians concession on the nuclear issue will resolve anything, just as previous Iranian compromises only resulted in the moving of goal-posts by the US. The US is rope-a-doping Iran and the world.

  162. Cyrus says:

    Eric – When has Iran done anything that go beyond the requirements of a peaceful nuclear energy program? Iran has not stockpiled tons of weapons-grade material, there is no real evidence that it has worked on making nukes, and it has repeatedly offered to place additional restrictions on its nuclear program well in excess of even the requirements of the Additional Protocol — as long as its right to enrich is recognized. How is the onus on Iran to disprove anything?

  163. Fiorangela,

    “How did things go for Iraq when Iraq disclosed all it could possibly provide to inspectors?”

    Not very well at all. Perhaps if Saddam hadn’t persisted for five years in refusing to make disclosures, waiting instead until the fall of 2002, several months after the UN Security Council had already adopted an Article 39 resolution declaring Iraq to be a “threat to the peace,” several months after the US Congress had already given George Bush carte blanche to attack and the US military was gearing up for an immediate war, less than a year after 9/11, it might have been different.

    Nobody can say for sure.

    What I am confident about, though, is that Iran’s playing “hide the ball,” continuing to refuse to make the same level of disclosure as nearly 100 other countries have agreed to do, is not helping Iran. It is helping only those in the United States and Israel who exploit this refusal to press for an attack on Iran “before it’s too late.” It may be that it would do no good at all for Iran to disclose more – notwithstanding that the nearest thing Iran has to allies on the UN Security Council (China and Russia) advise the very same thing I do on this point. Nonetheless, I and they think it would make a difference, and I certainly don’t perceive any advantage in Iran continuing to hold onto this worthless “bargaining chip.” That’s exactly what the John Boltons of the world would like Iran to do.

  164. Pirouz 2,

    One never sees inconsistencies in his own positions, of course. Nonetheless, I will claim not to see any in mine. You claim that my strong support of Iran’s right to enrich uranium on its own soil is inconsistent with my rejection (in your view) of Iran’s right to have a “Japan option.”

    Frankly, I am more than a little tired of all this talk about a “Japan option,” with which Arnold and others appear to be obsessed. Though I’ve written this many times before, in many different ways, I’ll do so again.

    I strongly support Iran’s right to develop and operate a peaceful nuclear energy program – with the assistance of others, if deals can be struck that both sides find acceptable, or entirely on its own if Iran prefers. If this means that Iran will need to establish a stockpile of LEU that, if further enriched, could be used to produce several or many bombs, so be it. If that amounts to a “Japan option,” then I suppose that means I believe in a “Japan option” for Iran. Label it however you like.

    But if “Japan option” means – as Arnold occasionally argues in one or more of his shifting and nearly countless definitions of this useless term – designing or building nuclear weapon detonators, for example, or stockpiling vast amounts of nuclear fuel that have no apparent peaceful use, apparently so that the world will worry that Iran can produce a deliverable nuclear bomb on short notice if it doesn’t get the respect it feels it deserves, then I don’t agree that Iran has the right to a “Japan option.”

    Frankly, I don’t care that Japan already has that. As I’ve explained several times before, each country’s situation is different. Japan possessing enough plutonium to make “thousands of bombs” worries me less than Iran’s possessing enough plutonium to make “thousands of bombs” would worry me. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it does. Maybe that’s unfair, but I am confident most people agree that distinctions need to be drawn. If Israel were in Iran’s situation, I’d feel exactly the same about Israel. So would you and Arnold and Richard, I strongly suspect, and so would most other people in the world.

    In short, if Iran needs to do something to advance its peaceful nuclear energy program, I’d give it every benefit of the doubt. But if it insists on rights to go beyond that – with no plausible justification other than to play “hide the ball” so that it can achieve some real or imagined “nuclear capability” – then I’d have no sympathy with it. The latitude I would permit Iran would go far beyond what the US presently finds acceptable, since the US’ limits would prevent Iran from carrying out its peaceful nuclear energy program. Exactly where I would draw the line would depend on the answer to the same question each time:

    “Is what Iran now proposes to do arguably necessary for its peaceful nuclear energy program, recognizing Iran’s right to carry on that program, if it so chooses, entirely on its own, and giving Iran the benefit of every reasonable doubt?”

    If the answer is “yes,” I’d say fine. If the answer instead appeared to be “no,” that Iran was proposing something that amounted merely to some childish effort to create a useful state of uncertainty about its peaceful nuclear intentions, I’d oppose Iran’s proposal.

    If I opposed Iran’s proposal, I wouldn’t bomb Iran if it persisted – though I doubt I’d see any value in giving Iran an explicit assurance of this. I might do nothing other than express my disapproval if I felt the risk created by Iran’s proposal was not significant. If I felt it would create a more significant risk, I might put mild pressure on Iran. Or I might put very severe pressure on Iran if I felt its proposed activity would create a very serious risk. My reaction would depend on the situation, but my test would be the same each time (see the question two paragraphs above).

    It’s worth noting that, in each case, the conclusion I reached about the risk posed by Iran’s proposed activity would depend not only on what Iran was proposing to do, but on how much Iran was already doing and, even more so, on how much I was confident I knew about what Iran was doing. If I felt that Iran had disclosed less than it ought to have been disclosing (especially if most other countries were routinely disclosing more), I’d be more inclined to worry that Iran was up to no good. I’d recognize that my suspicions probably were incorrect, but I nevertheless might be reluctant to take that chance. That’s why I think it would be in Iran’s best interests to be more transparent in its disclosures.

  165. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    Strategically, things are goling quite well for Iran.

    USSR is gone, Arab Nationalism is gone, Taliban are gone, and US is on her way out of both Iraq and Afganistan.

    Iran is now entrenched in Iraq, in Lebeanon, and in Afghanistan.

    She has bought a seat at the Palestine table – via HAMAS and Syria.

    And God only knows what she is doing in Pakistan and in the Southern Persian Gulf among the Shia Muslims.

    The immediate neighbours of Iran have concluded any number of commercial, security, and logistical deals with Iran, having realized that no matter how vile they may find the Islamic Republic, there is not margin in fighting it.

    Oil is still high enough to service the Iranian budget – food is plentfiul, and the sanctions furnishes the government with the excuse to remove subsidies.

  166. Fiorangela says:

    Eric, re,

    “How are things going for Iran at the moment?” and, presumably, wouldn’t they go better if Iran increased disclosure?

    How did things go for Iraq when Iraq disclosed all it could possibly provide to inspectors?

  167. Arnold,

    Sometimes I think my best response to your various arguments might be this simple question:

    “How are things going for Iran at the moment?”

    You and I and many others believe – Richard absurdly claims to “know” – that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Iran assures the world it doesn’t want one, and that it never will. No evidence has been found that it does.

    And yet:

    “How are things going for Iran at the moment?”

    Its people are suffering under several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions. The leaders and opinion makers of the world’s most powerful country have cast Iran as the greatest threat to world peace, and the vast majority of that country’s people strongly agree. War mongers in that country, and Israel, are screaming for an attack “before it’s too late.” Suspicion that Iran is hiding a nuclear weapons program is so strong that the slightest provocation could tip the scales. And yet Iran refuses to allay that suspicion by disclosing any more about its nuclear program – even to make the same level of disclosures that nearly 100 other countries have agreed to make. Even hoped-for “allies” on the UN Security Council – Russia and China – vote every time for sanctions against Iran and publicly call on it to be more transparent in its disclosures.

    Given that Iran doesn’t even have a nuclear weapons program, would you say things are going pretty well?

    It would appear you think so. Stay the course, you advise Iran, and things will get even better. Your only complaint seems to be that Iran isn’t playing its hand as aggressively as it should – not commanding the respect it deserves and could easily get. Nothing in the NPT or its Safeguards Agreement, after all, prohibits Iran from building a thousand fully functional nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them, as long as it doesn’t actually drop nuclear fuel into the bomb. Things would be even better for Iran, you say, if it would do that. It would be perfectly within its rights, and doing this would show the world that Iran can’t be pushed around.

    Not that the US could push Iran around if it wanted to, of course. If the US gets too aggressive, Iran can just send a letter to the IAEA, announcing its withdrawal from the NPT. Then Iran can finish up its nuclear weapons without any restrictions at all. This might take a year, you say, but the US will have no choice but to sit back and let it finish. When it does, Iran will really be sitting pretty.

    And even if the US should violate Iran’s sovereign rights by attacking Iran while it is finishing up its bomb, the US will fail miserably. Iranian men will fight and die, and their women and children will live in candlelit caves and eat roots and berries, before Iran will agree to tell the world anything more about its nuclear program. You’ve never actually asked the Iranian people whether secrecy about Iran’s nuclear program matters this much to them, but you’re certain that it does. Iranian scientists will work feverishly, night and day, deep underground, their laboratories lit by gasoline-powered generators. Even the most bitter enemies within Iran will unite against the foreign oppressors – Greens will give up Twitter, set down their cappuccinos, and march arm in arm with Ahmadinejad and Khamenei through the streets of Tehran.

    And what would Iran gain, you ask rhetorically, by choosing a different course – greater transparency? No matter what Iran discloses, the US will always demand more. You’re certain of this, so why even try to find out? The IAEA would immediately demand full details about all of Iran’s conventional weapons, and would soon be spiriting Iranian scientists and their families out of the country. So why not draw a line in the sand right here? If it’s a fight the world wants, this is the time to have it, before Iran is subjected to even more outrageous demands for information.

    Iran’s got nothing to hide, after all. It’s told the world over and over that it’s not working on nuclear weapons. So why are people constantly asking for information?

    This approach makes less sense to me than it makes to you.

  168. Alan says:

    RSH – the Vienna Group offered escrow in Turkey in November.

    In general, the “public record” tends to be a matter of choosing what parts you want to include and what parts you don’t want to include in order to support your analysis, as you, and the Leveretts in this instance, demonstrate.

    The argument isn’t about Eric’s views on Iranian enrichment. The argument as I see it is really about what “Japan Option” actually means. It is often characterised as a “nuclear weapon capability”, which can mean as much as full weaponisation bar final assembly and launch. It can also mean no weaponisation whatsoever. There is a wide range of “options” for Iran within the “Option”.

  169. Fiorangela says:

    George Shultz and Madeleine Albright discussed US foreign policy at Commonwealth Club of California on July 14, 2010.

    Marvin Kalb was maddening as moderator; he came to the topic with unexpressed underlying assumptions that are the mold of US thinking; any other comments are just window dressing, the moderator having defined the limits of discourse.

    Shultz harbors a great deal of animus toward Iran, I suspect based on the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut.

    Toward the end of the discussion, Shultz outlines his conceptualization of nonproliferation in a world where many, many more states will use nuclear fuel for energy needs: by vesting control of enrichment in an international body (ie. US and US’s chosen partners), which would monitor use of nuclear fuel.
    In other words, the US and certain established nuclear powers seek to control nuclear technology.

  170. Fiorangela: “If US intends to rely on Iran to help stabilize Iraq, it’s unlikely US will simultaneously bomb Iran.”

    That’s a very big IF there.

    I also can’t wait to see how many US “civilian” casualties start to develop as the insurgents decide they are softer targets than US military personnel. Given how the US has treated Iraqis, I’d say Iraq will be a deadly dangerous place for any US civilian for the next generation.

  171. Fiorangela says:

    Paul wrote: (at 1:54 am) “there COULD be a unifying-war-theory about NEGOTIATING CONSTRUCTIVELY with Iran, rather than attacking Iran. If Obama is as smart as his admirers think, and as much of a Secret Peacemaker as the myth carefully constructed and maintained by the alternapundits holds, then he must surely realize that Iran holds a key (in some ways ‘the’ key) to virtually all his regional conflicts – not because Iran has been interfering in those conflicts, but because it actually does have a pivotal position, geographically, culturally and politically.

    An NPR report this morning focused on Iran’s exertion of soft-power in Iraq. The structure of the report — “Iran generally suspected of deliberately causing instability…”, followed by, “Iran now building hospitals, controlling tourism to Najaf; tourism is the second-largest revenue stream after oil… Iraqis annoyed that nine Iranian companies seek to monopolize the tourism industry…” but concluding with a grudging, “Iran could be helpful in stabilizing Iraq.” The impression I took away was that US might be willing to dump Iraq reconstruction in Iran’s lap — and treasury.

    Taken in tandem with the next news item, a picture of how the next 20 years in Iraq is taking shape: the US will draw down military from Iraq, but will leave behind a massive embassy and at least five consulates in other parts of Iraq. All these US footprints will be staffed by US civilians by the thousands, who are already moving into Iraq to replace military drawdown. And the civilians and US civilian infrastructure will be guarded and supported by contractors numbering in the 5000 to 7000 range, for starters.

    If US intends to rely on Iran to help stabilize Iraq, it’s unlikely US will simultaneously bomb Iran. US task will be to simultaneously keep Israel on a tight leash, while working to control Iran through US civilian and contractor presence in Iraq. In other words, Iraq will remain the battlefield for the proxy war between US and Iran that has been going on since 1979.

  172. The UAE is cooperating with US sanctions against Iranian petroleum products ships.

    Iran feels sanctions heat at UAE ports
    www dot reuters dot com/article/idUSTRE6721I520100803

  173. Here’s the MSNBC report showing the AP picture of the crane.

    www dot msnbc dot msn.com/id/38534293/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/

    Sorry if this somewhat off topic, but we were discussing the possibility of resumption of hostilities in Lebanon as a prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran. Somebody said things were quiet, and I’ve been saying tensions are very high. I think this incident clearly shows that to be the case.

  174. More Israeli provocations on the Lebanese border, leading to three dead.

    Lebanon, Israel Clash Near Border Kills At Least 3
    www dot npr dot org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128949524&ft=1&f=1001

    Not so “quiet” now, is it?

    They’re talking about “conflicting stories”. THIS story seems pretty unconflicted to me given that it reportsly includes a picture showing an Israeli crane extending over the fence into Lebanese territory:

    “Israel’s military said its soldiers came under fire inside Israeli territory during a routine patrol and retaliated with artillery fire. A Lebanese army officer said the clash started when Israeli troops tried to remove a tree from the Lebanese side of the border.

    An Associated Press photo shows an Israeli standing on a crane reaching over the fence that separates the two sides on the Lebanese side of the border.

    The Lebanese officer said one of the Israeli shells hit a house in the Lebanese border town of Adaisseh. One civilian was wounded in the shelling, he said. A security official also said a Lebanese journalist working for the daily Al-Akhbar newspaper, Assaf Abu Rahhal, was killed when an Israeli shell landed next to him in Adaisseh.”

    I told everybody Israel was just looking for an excuse to start bombing Lebanon again.

  175. Alan:” Eric has consistently, exhaustively, stated that Iran is entitled to domestic enrichment. It is unfathomable to me that anybody could believe otherwise, and am astonished at his patience in continually reiterating his stance to both the initiated and uninitiated round here.”

    While at the same time he has repeatedly argued against Iran having the Japan option, which is precisely what you get when you allow domestic enrichment.

    “My view on Iranian enrichment is the same. I have been supporting exactly that for years. My criticism is Iranian tactics for achieving it, and I believe that is a large part of Eric’s viewpoint as well.”

    Oh, here we go again. And exactly what “tactics” of Iran need to be “criticized” given that Iran has the legal right to the full fuel cycle including domestic enrichment, which ipso facto immediately gives them the Japan option?

    “The point of this blog should not be the creation of some kind of blanket Iranian support program. If there is scope to criticise Iranian actions, they should be criticised too. The US should be vociferously criticised for all manner of dreadful things, but sometimes that just may not be the whole story.”

    In the case of this made up nuclear “crisis”, that IS the full story. Neither has there been any attempt on the part of either Arnold or myself to “create some kind of blanket Iranian support program.” The Iranians have done a certain amount of poor diplomacy and/or poor PR in the course of events, but they have done nothing illegal, and certainly nothing justifying referral of their case file to the UNSC according to the NPT and the UN Charter, let alone sanctions, let alone a “military option”.

    In the end, it’s really not relevant what the Iranians may have done or not done, AS LONG AS they have not violated the purpose of the NPT, which is to prevent the diversion of peaceful nuclear energy materials to military purposes. And they have not so violated the NPT.

    “For example, it was the Vienna Group that initiated the escrow proposal in a third country in November 2009. It was not an Iranian concession in December as presented here, while Obama’s “take it or leave it” was a response to the lack of a response from Iran and the vague Iranian murmurs circulating.”

    Bull, to be blunt. The entire issue of the 20% enrichment material is irrelevant to the main issue in any event. But beyond that, Iran had a very specific reason for doubting the trustworthiness of France, let alone the US. Obama’s reaction to the very clear Turkey-Brazil deal, which was identical to the US deal EXCEPT for the location of Turkey as the escrow partner, which clearly was anathema to the US because neither it nor France would be able to gain control of the Iranian nuclear material, is clear proof of the bad faith of Obama.

    “The fact that Ahmadinejad had publically declared in September an Iranian willingness to ship out LEU to be enriched abroad, converted to fuel and sent back to Iran is not mentioned either”

    The relevance of which is?

    “, and nor is the widespread belief that it could just as easily have been Iran who engineered an abortive TRR negotiation as an excuse to justify enriching to 20%, possibly to gain leverage in future enrichment limitation talks.”

    “Belief?” “Could?” You call this speculation “balance”?

    None of which is supported by the public record. The sequence of events is quite clear. Iran could not trust the US or France to keep their word, so the first deal failed. When Iran negotiated the second deal with Turkey and Brazil, the Obama reaction clearly shows that the Iranians were right about the first deal.

    The notion that Obama backed away from it because he was already trying to get sanctions imposed makes no sense, since with the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal, sanctions would not have been appropriate.

    “Nor is the opposition to a deal within political circles in Iran taken into account, particularly against the uncertain backdrop of the unrest following the elections.”

    Based on what evidence?

    “It seems at least plausible to me that the US was backing away from setting and enforcing deadlines to give politicians in Iran time to reach a consensus on a deal. The deadline was initially December 31, but no real move for sanctions was made for months.”

    “Plausible?” Again, you present this speculation as fact? You haven’t bothered to read ANY of the specific US statements against the Turkey-Brazil deal, which was roundly condemned and even predicted to be useless before the negotiations were even engaged in?

    “I don’t know what the truth is”

    How humble.

    “but it is at least clear to me that there are grounds for the US and the Vienna Group to be less than confident of Iranian goodwill, just as much as there are grounds for Iran to be less than confident of US goodwill.”

    And I suppose the fact that Iran is now prepared to re-open the talks is to be taken as the result of the newly imposed sanctions? In other words, you’re prepared to present all the typical US talking points here?

  176. Alan says:

    On the subject of this particular post, I think there is a serious lack of balance in the way it is presented.

    Vague informal Iranian statements are presented as solid concessions, while clear US/Vienna Group offers are presented as vague and obstructive.

    For example, it was the Vienna Group that initiated the escrow proposal in a third country in November 2009. It was not an Iranian concession in December as presented here, while Obama’s “take it or leave it” was a response to the lack of a response from Iran and the vague Iranian murmurs circulating.

    Iran consistently refused to lodge a formal reply to the improved Vienna Group offers. With regard to enrichment, Iran agreed on October 1 to a US proposal for a separate meeting on the subject by the end of October, something they didn’t do and still decline to go ahead with.

    The fact that Ahmadinejad had publically declared in September an Iranian willingness to ship out LEU to be enriched abroad, converted to fuel and sent back to Iran is not mentioned either, and nor is the widespread belief that it could just as easily have been Iran who engineered an abortive TRR negotiation as an excuse to justify enriching to 20%, possibly to gain leverage in future enrichment limitation talks.

    Nor is the opposition to a deal within political circles in Iran taken into account, particularly against the uncertain backdrop of the unrest following the elections. It seems at least plausible to me that the US was backing away from setting and enforcing deadlines to give politicians in Iran time to reach a consensus on a deal. The deadline was initially December 31, but no real move for sanctions was made for months.

    I don’t know what the truth is, but it is at least clear to me that there are grounds for the US and the Vienna Group to be less than confident of Iranian goodwill, just as much as there are grounds for Iran to be less than confident of US goodwill.

  177. Alan says:

    Eric has consistently, exhaustively, stated that Iran is entitled to domestic enrichment. It is unfathomable to me that anybody could believe otherwise, and am astonished at his patience in continually reiterating his stance to both the initiated and uninitiated round here.

    My view on Iranian enrichment is the same. I have been supporting exactly that for years. My criticism is Iranian tactics for achieving it, and I believe that is a large part of Eric’s viewpoint as well.

    The point of this blog should not be the creation of some kind of blanket Iranian support program. If there is scope to criticise Iranian actions, they should be criticised too. The US should be vociferously criticised for all manner of dreadful things, but sometimes that just may not be the whole story.

  178. Arnold Evans says:

    I do remember Eric saying that, but please don’t ask me to find the comment for you, it will be a very hard task to find them.

    This is the closest I’ve seen Eric come to saying Iran should be nuclear capable, but it was not “Yes, I think Iran should have a stock that could make a weapon.” it was more like “I think Iran should have a stock if its nuclear program requires it.” Which is actually the US position, including that the US leaves out the part that it intends to apply pressure on all suppliers, including Russia, of nuclear plants so that it will be impossible to Iran to develop a nuclear program that “requires it”.

  179. Arnold Evans says:

    Maybe the IAEA would overstep its bounds – in some of the ways you speculated or in other ways – and this would become necessary; maybe not.

    This is not the matter of a coin flip. This is a matter of the US using tools at its disposal to limit the capabilities of Iran’s nuclear program, in accord with the US’ openly acknowledged aim to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear capability. Why would the US not take advantage of the fact that Iran has committed itself to much broader questions about its nuclear program to prevent Iran from getting a Japan capability.

    Unless what Masoud wrote is impossible, then given what you acknowledge about US motivations, what Masoud wrote is what is going to happen.

    Before you ask for more detail,

    Well, you gave no detail at all. You wrote nothing I wouldn’t claim Iran is not doing now.

    consider this exercise: pretend Israel has no nuclear weapons today and that nobody suspects it is developing any. Suppose you’re put in charge of keeping an eye on Israel, ensuring that it has a fair opportunity to develop its peaceful nuclear energy program, but without engaging in activities that are plainly unnecessary to accomplish that and which would give the world reason to suspect that Israel might be working on a bomb.

    I’m in charge of ensuring Israel has no bomb? That’s easy. As long as Israel’s fissile material is monitored, Israel has no bomb.

    And contrary to the conventional wisdom, Iraq in 1991 did not have diverted fissile material that I know of, and therefore did not and could not have had a bomb.

    In charge of making sure Israel is not nuclear capable when Israel has never agreed not to be nuclear capable? I have to do what the US is doing with respect to Iran. I have to get Israel to stop its nuclear program and with any tool at my disposal, in full disregard for any conception of either legality or morality.

    And now I’m going to ask for details and point out that your vague answer before is not at all an answer to the question: When you say Iran should give up a Japan option to avoid Obama making the decision to attack, what do you mean Iran should give up.

    If you claim Iran should change its behavior, what specific changes to its behavior are you claiming Iran should make?

  180. Press TV quotes Israeli intelligence front DEBKAfile in story about Israeli military simulating attack on Iran.

    www dot presstv dot ir/detail.aspx?id=137052&ionid=351020101

    I’m inclined to take that one seriously since it makes sense that Israel would be planning and testing various ways to attack Iran, even if only as a cover for the way they end up striking Iran. Personally I think they will use their German-made submarines in the Persian Gulf and their cruise missiles.

    In fact, I suspect the alleged attack on a Japanese oil tanker very likely was from an Israeli sub, rather than “rogue elements of the IRGC”, which to me makes no sense.

  181. Pirouz_2 says: “I do remember Eric saying that, but please don’t ask me to find the comment for you, it will be a very hard task to find them.”

    I think so, partly because he was not very clear if he did say that.

    “And that makes him -in my opinion- in self contradiction, as the Japan/Brazil option is nothing except the ability to enrich Uranium (on an industrial scale) on its own soil and the capability of reprossesing and heavy water reactor.”

    Exactly! Arnold and I went round and round with him precisely because of that contradiction and the Pollyanna notion that Iran could “do more”, despite that never having worked in the history of the crisis.

    But this is precisely why I consider war to be inevitable. Because the US has staked out the position that what Iran is legally doing is NOT legal and is unacceptable. It’s going to be very hard for the US to back down from that position – AND force Israel to back down from it! It’s akin to the US admitting defeat from the get-go. No way the US is going to do that. Arnold believes that a war with Iran is known to the US leadership be so dangerous that the US will back down. I don’t believe the US leadership will ever back down because the whole story was a sham from the beginning.

    This is the bottom line on the inevitability of an Iran war: whether the US really believes that Iran is trying to get nuclear weapons, or whether that is just a ploy to cover an ulterior agenda, whether that is regime change or war for the sake of war profiteering or both.

    If you believe the former, maybe the US can be convinced to not start a war if it can be convinced that Iran is not trying to get nuclear weapons. But how CAN you believe that? Because the US ITSELF has ADMITTED that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program in its 2007 NIE! And any rational person examining the facts can see that what Iran is doing right now is perfectly legal, whether you believe in a Japan option or not!

    Therefore BY DEFINITION the US does NOT believe that Iran is trying to get nuclear weapons. Therefore BY DEFINITION the US has an ulterior agenda. There’s no third conclusion. Therefore under what circumstances will the US back down from starting a war with Iran?

    There’s nothing IRAN can do to force that to happen. There’s nothing the US public can do to force that to happen, since the US public according to polls believes Iran is trying to get nuclear weapons. So WHO or WHAT is going to prevent a war with Iran, after sanctions after sanctions fail to stop Iranian enrichment?

    Where is the mystical fairy dust that is going to change the course we can plainly see here? The exact same course that ran its course in the run up to Afghanistan and the run up to Iraq.

  182. Kooshy: “I am well aware of both sides positions since I have been fallowing for weeks if not months, as I remember Eric’s position with regard to Iran’s enrichment has been to continue enrichment and also voluntarily adopt AP and 3.1 which I do not agree with his position, unless US recognizes Iran’s full rights under NPT, which includes full cycle domestic enrichment.”

    But what Arnold and I have said is that the US doesn’t care what Iran discloses. So the AP and 3.1 are not relevant. What is relevant is whether Iran has the right to the Japan option, whether it wants it or not. In other words, whether Iran is in the right to do what it is doing now, regardless of whether that could enable Iran to have nuclear weapons should it decide to do so in the future. Mr. Brill kept saying Iran needed to “disclose more”. He repeatedly ignored the fact that it wouldn’t help, merely speculating that it might help.

    Arnold and I couldn’t see any sense in this. So we wanted to know his real motives for this argument. He refused to be pinned down on that until today. He refused to acknowledge that the Japan option was inherent in Iran’s legal rights, and that therefore it was irrelevant whether Iran “did more” or not. The bottom line was that the US doesn’t accept Iran’s LEGAL position and has stated it never will.

    All he’s established is that he has a Pollyanna notion that if Iran “did more” – which, other than the AP and 3.1 which ALREADY have DONE NOTHING for Iran, he can’t specify – that somehow Iran would be helped by this and the US would be hindered, despite all historical evidence to the contrary.

    But at least he acknowledges that Arnold and I are right that Iran is in the right and the US is in the wrong.

    Frankly, I don’t really care any more about the argument over whether Iran should “do more”. It’s self-evidently not going to work. It’s certainly not going to stop a US war. That’s the bottom line: I say there will be war because there is no third alternative to 1) the US (AND Israel) accepts enrichment, or 2) Iran stops enriching, other than war. Mr. Brill wanted to argue that there will be no war, but he couldn’t say why. All he could say was that Iran could delay it if it “disclosed more”. And we’ve discredited that notion completely and repeatedly.

    So what are we still arguing about? That’s why I put up my four points. They are the only points that matter.

  183. Pirouz_2 says:

    @Richard Steven Hack:
    YOU WROTE:”He says now that he does and that he always said that. I don’t recall reading that at all.”

    I do remember Eric saying that, but please don’t ask me to find the comment for you, it will be a very hard task to find them.
    In fact that is my problem with Eric, on one hand he defends Irans right to enrich Uranium on its own soil and on the other hand -as far as I understand- he thinks that Iran’s giving up Japan (or Brazilian) option would be to its benefit and would make a US attack much less likely (something with which I disagree FUNDAMENTALLY).
    If he did not support Irans right to enrich Uranium on its own soil, I would have simply said that he is like another “Alan”. But he does! And that makes him -in my opinion- in self contradiction, as the Japan/Brazil option is nothing except the ability to enrich Uranium (on an industrial scale) on its own soil and the capability of reprossesing and heavy water reactor.

  184. Pirouz_2: Just a note to your point 2. Keep in mind that while the US may wish to destroy Natanz and be unable to, the US can keep delaying the nuclear program by repeatedly bombing the electrical facilities that supply the nuclear facilities with power. Eventually Iran might be able to harden those electrical facilities, but initially they will be very vulnerable. This is probably how the US would set back the Iranian energy program by two or three years, not just by bombing the hardened facilities themselves.

    Electrical transmission and generators are hard to protect since they generally have to be above ground to transmit power from where it’s generated to where it’s used. Of course, the Iranians could find some way to engineer hardened generator facilities and hidden power transmission conduits eventually. But it might take several years.

    Still, the over all point is correct. Short of constantly using nuclear bunker buster bombs repeatedly on all facilities, sooner or later Iran will harden them to the point where the cost of civilian casualties are too great. The US would have to use REAL nuclear weapons rather than just nuclear bunker busters. And this would be really bad geopolitically. repeatly nuking a country with an admitted lack of nuclear weapons.

    Some people suggest this is why the US might NOT just make a “surprise attack” on Iranian nuclear facilities, but go all the way and try to destroy a major portion of Iran’s infrastructure (dams, generating plants, waterways, etc.) like the US did in Iraq, right off the bat. Since the US may have to conduct considerable bombing just to clear the way to the nuclear facilities, by eliminating missile sites, radars, etc., the US may decide to up the ante and hit even more targets immediately. I’ve read estimates of up to 10,000 targets being hit in Iran over a period of weeks of bombings as being part of the contingency plans.

    I think that sort of bombing is likely to engender a major Iranian retaliation immediately more than a simple attack on just a few nuclear facilities. Whereas if the US were to hit just one or two nuclear facilities – to “send a message” rather than really do any serious damage – Iran might actually absorb that, and retaliate in less immediately significant ways.

    Hard to predict which way the US will go. But I lean toward a major bombing assault as the first step, because if the US wants war, that’s the way to get it for sure.

  185. kooshy says:

    “Kooshy: What we asked Mr. Brill was whether he supported Iran’s right to full enrichment and stockpiling, regardless of the AP. He says now that he does and that he always said that. I don’t recall reading that at all. More importantly, this is precisely what the US does NOT agree to allow Iran to do. Therefore Mr. Brill is in agreement with Arnold and I that Iran can do exactly as it is doing right now. And that makes him in total disagreement with the US position.”

    Richard

    I am well aware of both sides positions since I have been fallowing for weeks if not months, as I remember Eric’s position with regard to Iran’s enrichment has been to continue enrichment and also voluntarily adopt AP and 3.1 which I do not agree with his position, unless US recognizes Iran’s full rights under NPT, which includes full cycle domestic enrichment.

  186. Kooshy: What we asked Mr. Brill was whether he supported Iran’s right to full enrichment and stockpiling, regardless of the AP. He says now that he does and that he always said that. I don’t recall reading that at all. More importantly, this is precisely what the US does NOT agree to allow Iran to do. Therefore Mr. Brill is in agreement with Arnold and I that Iran can do exactly as it is doing right now. And that makes him in total disagreement with the US position.

    What Mr. Brill wants in ADDITION to that is some sort of disclosure from Iran that he cannot name. His latest post at 3:33 AM says some vague stuff that is not responsive to what Arnold asked him. Arnold asked him WHAT EXACTLY SHOULD IRAN GIVE UP to help make the US back down? He responded with the notion that Iran should do what it is doing. But he’s spent DAYS here arguing that Iran needs to “disclose more” despite the many times it’s been pointed out to him that when Iran DID “disclose more”, nothing changed in the US attitude.

    He goes round and round. Right now he’s seriously losing maneuvering room. It’s more like circling a drain than just going round and round. Arnold and I have pinned him down with specific questions he can’t address without giving up his positions.

  187. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric:

    1) USA may have many goals in mind but his ultimate goal is the regime change, BECAUSE: an Iran with a nuclear deterrence (and by nuclear deterence I dont mean the bomb, but only the capability to make the bomb in a short period of time) is NO THREAT TO EITHER US OR ANY OF ITS ALLIES (LEAST OF ALL TO ISRAEL WITH ITS 100s OF DELIVERABLE NUCLEAR WAR HEADS). The only thing that a nuclear deterent in Iranian hands would threaten is the possibility of a US/Israeli attack with impunity, and then the question remains that why would USA/Israel want to have such a capability (to make a military attack with absolute impunity) unless it is for a regime change?

    2) Let’s assume that USA takes as its goal the modest objective of just destroying the Iranian nuclear program:
    a) According to no lesser of a person than Robert Gates, a US military atack on Iranian facilities could “AT BEST” postpone the Iranian nuclear capability by 2-3 years. And of course since following such an attack Iran will withdraw from NPT it can easily start enriching Uranium in secret places that US would not even know about.
    b)Attacking Natanz is not as easy as a lot of people think. From what I understand from Mr. Seymour Hersh, nothing short of a nuclear attack or a ground invasion can possiblly destroy Natanz. Natanz is deeply burried under the ground (some more than 70 feet if I am not mistaken) and there is also Fordow which is even more deeply burried (under the mountains) and god knows howmany more such sites do exist (all of them without any nuclear related equipment/material and all of them potentially could be used for making Natanz like facilities on a short notice).

    3) The best way for Iran to reduce the probability of an attack by USA over its nuclear sites (as in the aforementioned second item), is to make it as clear as possible for the USA that:

    a) An attack on its nuclear sites will achieve NOTHING except making Iran withdraw from NPT and take its nuclear activities into under ground secret places that USA would not know about, and eventually develop a warhead.
    b) Such an attack would be very detrimental to US interests in this region and even if possible globally.

    In other words Iran must make the cost-benefit analysis of USA for even a limited attack to be as negative as possible.

    MAKING CONCESSIONS ARE THE SUREST WAY TO MAKE THE USA ATTACK IRAN EVENTUALLY.

  188. Mr. Brill: “You’ll recall I mentioned earlier that I recognized this possibility, and said that Iran might justifiably trim its disclosures if the IAEA overstepped the agreed bounds.”

    Which the IAEA already did when it referred the Iran case file to the UNSC, which is WHY Iran stopped adhering to the AP.

    Just a reminder.

  189. Arnold: “No, US combat deaths are pretty low in Afghanistan.”

    That’s what I said.

    “And Iran is not doing a lot of the things it would be doing after it was attacked to make them higher.”

    In Afghanistan, perhaps. I’m not sure Iran really could ramp up the deaths in Afghanistan, other than by supplying SAMS to the Taliban or better IEDS. Iran can’t really ramp up the number of troops fighting in Afghanistan. not on the Taliban side, anyway. So I actually expect that part of their response to be minimal compared to what could happen in Iraq where they have thousands of Shia on their side.

    “And somehow, the US has to get supplies over ground to all of its bases, usually using soldiers to either deliver or protect the deliveries. Iran, I’m pretty sure is going to ramp up the deaths immediately just by attacking whatever soldiers are vulnerable. Most will be in bases that will take missile fire that will mostly miss, (though rarely one will hit someone) but some will be outside getting shot at and dying.”

    Here’s my more precise point. It’s a matter of numbers. What is a “high death toll”? A hundred a month? Five hundred a month? A thousand a month? The US has had a hundred or more a month in Iraq in the past and that was against a mere insurgency. I would expect Iran to ramp up the death toll in Iraq to five hundred, maybe even a thousand a month. I would also expect the usual stupid arguments from some people that “fifty thousand people die in car accidents every year in the US” to be brought up in that situation – and the war would continue. Considering that the Iran war will probably be by definition a “hotter” war than the insurgency in Iraq – at least once US ground troops are moving around guarding supply lines – I would certainly expect the death toll to be higher than Iraq or Afghanistan or the two combined so far at their highest points.

    I don’t see that as sufficient, in the context of a hotter war against a bigger enemy than Iraq or Afghanistan, for the US government to wilt under US public pressure right away. Maybe it will cause the government to not be able to conduct the war for a full ten years, maybe not. But it’s not enough to stop the government from starting the war, and once started, wars are hard to stop. The government will sacrifice almost any number of US troops monthly to avoid saying the word “defeat”. THAT much they remember from Vietnam – not to say “defeat”. That, and the money being made, is why we’re still in Afghanistan and Iraq after ten years. And remember the money being made – THOSE guys don’t give a damn about US casualties and they control the Congress.

    Sure, eventually the US public will pressure the government to stop the war. But it may very well take ten years, despite an increased death toll.

  190. kooshy says:

    “If your answer to that explicit question is “Yes”, then you have officially committed yourself to approval of the existing Iranian situation in toto. You are clearly in complete opposition to the official US position on Iran. Therefore Iran is in the right and the US is in the wrong.”

    Richard

    That’s not fair I have previously read Eric’s post suggesting Iran should not comply with US/UN demand to stop it’s enrichment program , is true that he advocates adopting AP and 3.1at the same as it continues its domestic full scale enrichment. I am sure that Arnold can confirm this about his position.

  191. Arnold,

    “When you say Iran should give up a Japan option to avoid a decision by Obama to attack, what are you saying Iran should give up?”

    Iran should do whatever it needs to do to develop and operate a peaceful nuclear energy program – on the assumption that no one will ever help it (which means enrichment, among other activities). I’d give Iran the benefit of doubt, though not carte blanche.

    Iran should be as open as it can be in letting the IAEA know about whatever it’s doing, with due regard for its conventional military and other technical secrets, and with a right to complain and refuse to reply if the IAEA makes unjustified demands for information.

    Iran should not do anything that would give the IAEA good reasons to believe that Iran is doing more than it needs to do to develop and operate a peaceful nuclear energy program. Once again, I’d give Iran the benefit of doubt, but not carte blanche. For example, although I understand that Japan has enough plutonium that it could build “thousands of bombs,” I don’t think Iran should start stockpiling plutonium for which it plainly has no peaceful use. If Iran could point to some potential peaceful use, however – for example, a plausible claim that it was planning to use reprocessed plutonium in some light water reactor (for which I understand it might be useful) – I probably would find that explanation adequate, though I’d thereafter keep a more watchful eye on Iran.

    Before you ask for more detail, consider this exercise: pretend Israel has no nuclear weapons today and that nobody suspects it is developing any. Suppose you’re put in charge of keeping an eye on Israel, ensuring that it has a fair opportunity to develop its peaceful nuclear energy program, but without engaging in activities that are plainly unnecessary to accomplish that and which would give the world reason to suspect that Israel might be working on a bomb.

    You’re a reasonable person. Where would you draw the lines? I have a hunch you’d draw them in roughly the same spots as I’d draw the lines for Iran. And I have a hunch your lines might be more tightly drawn for Israel than they would be for other countries – not because you’re prejudiced against Israel, but simply because you’d take into account a number of other factors that, I predict, would lead you to believe that Israel (like Iran) would be more likely to want to develop nuclear weapons than, say, Japan would be.

  192. Kooshy: “I don’t believe US’s concern on this point is only focused on Iran it’s more of an agenda to broadly limit NPT rights for majority of nations.”

    I’ll agree to the extent that the US would like that, too, but it’s not the main issue with regard to Iran.

    “Agreed, as time has passed it has become more difficult to conduct a war in Iran, especially in last ten years with current US military involvements.”

    I disagree with that. I believe nothing about the situation in Iraq or Afghanistan prevents a future US war with Iran. As I indicated, Iraq was set up precisely for that purpose by Bush and Cheney, and Afghanistan can be drawn down in advance of a war with Iran precisely to prepare for it while giving Obama an out without admitting defeat. At worst, the US involvement in Afghanistan would delay, not prevent, a war with Iran.

  193. Mr. Brill: “Maybe the result would be the same – i.e. the war would expand far beyond what the US had in mind, despite all of its war games and other planning. Obviously this did not occur when Israel destroyed Iraq’s reactor in Osirak, or when Israel bombed the suspected nuclear site in Syria a couple of years ago.”

    Not even remotely similar. Iraq had no capability to turn that into a regional asymmetric war and and Syria didn’t even have a nuclear facility.

    “I acknowledge it could nevertheless be different this time; I assure you I don’t minimize that risk. By the same token, I don’t think it’s reasonable for you and others to conclude that the US would inevitably be drawn into a regime-change war as expensive, time-consuming and uncertain as, say, Iraq or Afghanistan, or Vietnam.”

    So on the one hand, you acknowledge Iran could do it, then you turn around and say that it’s not inevitable.

    OK, fine – it’s not inevitable that the war will last ten years, cost $10 trillion dollars, fifty thousand or more US lives, and sink the US economy.

    So it’s not “inevitable”. So what? It’s still highly possible, even probable. For you to argue otherwise, you need a scenario that agrees with Iranian military capability, with Iranian national aspirations and political nature, and still provides for Iran rolling over and doing nothing of significance.

    Here’s the bottom line, without the vagueness: Iran either retaliates or it doesn’t. The US either retaliates to that, or it doesn’t. And so forth. At some point, obviously somebody is going to blink and quit. Anybody assuming that’s going to be Iran needs to point to something in support of that argument. We KNOW what happens to the US when it fights an asymmetric Fourth Generation War. We’ve seen it in Iraq and in Afghanistan. In both cases, we’re looking at nearly ten years, trillions of dollars, and at least four or five thousand US casualties (not to mention several HUNDRED thousand WOUNDED, don’t forget them!), and complete failure to achieve the stated objectives of the war.

    Now you come along and say, “Well, Iran could be different”. Hard to argue with pure possibility. Difficult to take it seriously when the probability is so very different.

  194. Mr. Brill: So I can take your answer to Arnold at 2:28 to be “Yes”?

    Because contrary to your assertions, you have not said that many times before and I don’t think you can go back and point to any post where you explicitly said any such thing.

    If your answer to that explicit question is “Yes”, then you have officially committed yourself to approval of the existing Iranian situation in toto. You are clearly in complete opposition to the official US position on Iran. Therefore Iran is in the right and the US is in the wrong.

    So are you saying that despite Iran being in the right, and the US in the wrong. that Iran should nonetheless comply with US demands regardless of whether that would mean that Iran would get nothing out of it?

    In short, your only complaint is that Iran hasn’t surrendered to the US position that it is doing something wrong, even though you acknowledge that Iran is not doing anything wrong.

    Or you’re merely arguing that Iran should do “something more” (other than surrender) despite the fact that the US is ALREADY in the wrong on the status quo.

    So once again, WHAT DO YOU WANT IRAN TO DO, SPECIFICALLY? Not vague stuff about the AP or “disclosing more” or “making the US feel more confident that Iran is not making bombs” or “convincing the US public it’s not making bombs”. WHAT SPECIFICALLY MUST IRAN DO?

    And THEN, what happens when the US doesn’t buy it?

  195. Masoud,

    As you may have noticed, I declined to address your various speculations about possible IAEA abuses if Iran observed the AP. You’ll recall I mentioned earlier that I recognized this possibility, and said that Iran might justifiably trim its disclosures if the IAEA overstepped the agreed bounds. Maybe the IAEA would overstep its bounds – in some of the ways you speculated or in other ways – and this would become necessary; maybe not. Maybe the IAEA would turn over information to the CIA – as you speculated – and Iran would justifiably complain and not turn over additional information; maybe not. It’s also possible, of course, that none of this would happen. I hope you’ll not take my failure to address your speculations as a sign of disrespect. It’s not that at all, as I hope I’ve demonstrated by my thorough response to your earlier long post.

    Eric

  196. Mr. Brill: I see you’re evading the specific question again.

    Let’s see if you can provide a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the following specific question. You may then follow up with any other qualifying nonsense you choose.

    Answer this explicit question: Do you think Iran should be allowed to have natively enriched (to energy grade only) uranium on its soil in sufficient quantities, which, IF Iran were to leave the NPT and enrich it to weapons grade, would enable Iran to possess nuclear weapons, exactly as is the situation with Japan and Brazil?

    Answer the question asked, not your interpretation of it, or someone else’s interpretation of it, or the US government’s interpretation of it, or some other irrelevant response.

    “Yes” or “no”? It’s precise enough a question that it can be answered that way.

  197. Mr. Brill: “My feeling about that is that (1) unless and until Iran achieves a level of “nuclear capability” the US government finds unacceptable (whatever level that may be), the US government won’t treat Iran with more deference because it fears Iran’s nuclear capability; and (2) if and when Iran appears likely to achieve that level of nuclear capability very soon, the US will do whatever it considers necessary to prevent that”

    You’re not paying attention to the news. The US ALREADY considers where Iran is NOW to be unacceptable. The US has ALREADY said it will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran being WHERE IT IS NOW, starting with sanctions, and leaving a military option open.

    So what you’re claiming IN FACT is that Iran has to give up enrichment because that is where Iran is now – no weapons, no weapons program, only perfectly legal enrichment under the NPT. But you still haven’t explicitly said so. You’ve danced around by talking about the US at some future date, even though everything you’ve said APPLIES RIGHT NOW.

    You really are an extremely intellectually dishonest debater.

  198. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    When you say Iran should give up a Japan option to avoid a decision by Obama to attack, what are you saying Iran should give up?

  199. Arnold Evans says:

    Well, all that’s true in Afghanistan, except the death total is lower than we can expect in Iran (but ONLY really after ground troops are committed – until then, the death toll will probably be a few pilots and a few sailors – unless Iran manages to sink a destroyer or a carrier in the Gulf.) And here we are, nine years later.

    No, US combat deaths are pretty low in Afghanistan. And Iran is not doing a lot of the things it would be doing after it was attacked to make them higher. And somehow, the US has to get supplies over ground to all of its bases, usually using soldiers to either deliver or protect the deliveries. Iran, I’m pretty sure is going to ramp up the deaths immediately just by attacking whatever soldiers are vulnerable. Most will be in bases that will take missile fire that will mostly miss, (though rarely one will hit someone) but some will be outside getting shot at and dying.

  200. Arnold,

    “Ample reserves, plus ongoing enrichment (or even without ongoing enrichment since it has the technology) is what the US is claiming it has a strategic interest in preventing….So how should Iran give up a Japan option, if not by submitting to the US demand that it reduce its stock of uranium?”

    Arnold, just five minutes ago I wrote to you, once again, that I believe Iran has the right to ample reserves and ongoing enrichment. Are you asking now whether I believe that even though the US government does not agree with me? Answer: Yes. You asked me what I believe, not what the US government believes, not whether my personal beliefs agree with the US government beliefs on the subject.

  201. Paul: “It is remarkable that Iran keeps trying to negotiate. They cannot feel encouraged by the Bushamian history of faux negotiations.”

    I agree with your post and especially that last part. If I were the Iranians, I just wouldn’t bother any more. I’d say, as I mentioned earlier, “Hey, until you guys get serious about dropping regime change and recognizing our legal rights to enrich, just like Japan, we’ve got nothing more to say to you. You want to start a war, bring it on, but it’s on you, not us.”

    Of course, countries can’t do that, especially when they’re much weaker than they’re adversary. Basically, Iran needs to stall as much as possible so they can prepare for the inevitable war. I notice Ahmadinejad and others in the Iranian government tend to dismiss the possibility of a US attack on Iran, at least publicly. I hope they aren’t taking that position seriously to the detriment of planning to deal with that attack. I assume they aren’t that stupid.

  202. kooshy says:

    1) “Iran does not have an actual nuclear weapons development AND deployment program.

    Agreed the cost for Iran is way over any potential benefit.

    2) “Under Iran’s present NPT Safeguards agreement, Iran has or will have, regardless of whether it wants to or not, the same capability as Japan and Brazil to”

    Agreed, that’s correct as an inalienable NPT birth right once a member becomes mature in enrichment will have a similar 2nd strike capability may be that is why is easy to leave the treaty.

    3) The US is aware of point two at least, and possibly point one, and the US believes that Iran is aware of and possibly intends at least point two and the US must stop Iran from achieving the capability outlined in point two, let alone a full Iranian nuclear weapons development and deployment program.

    I don’t believe US’s concern on this point is only focused on Iran it’s more of an agenda to broadly limit NPT rights for majority of nations.

    4) The US is not willing to conduct military action at any time in the future as long as Iran does not execute point two to the point of constructing actual nuclear weapons.

    Agreed, as time has passed it has become more difficult to conduct a war in Iran, especially in last ten years with current US military involvements.

    “I believe the US has an ulterior agenda, comprising region change for the benefit of the US and Israel”

    I agree US is using the Iran nuclear issue for two political proposes one point is agreed by P5, that is limiting NPT rights to mid power developing nations, point two is to pressure Iran to submission on US’s regional agendas this part is been on since 79 with no actual success.

  203. Pirouz 2,

    As do many others, you assume, because the US undeniably would prefer a different regime in Iran, that the objective of a US attack on Iran would be regime change. You then argue that achieving a regime change would be very expensive, time-consuming and uncertain. So expensive, time-consuming and uncertain, in fact, that you and others conclude, for that reason, that the US will lose if it attacks Iran, and that the fear of such an inevitable loss is probably what will keep the US from attacking Iran.

    Another conclusion is possible: if a regime-change war would be – as you argue and I agree completely – expensive, time-consuming and uncertain, the US government might also recognize this and simply choose a less ambitious objective for an attack. Its objective might be as narrow, for example, as simply destroying Natanz and a few other key nuclear sites.

    Maybe the result would be the same – i.e. the war would expand far beyond what the US had in mind, despite all of its war games and other planning. Obviously this did not occur when Israel destroyed Iraq’s reactor in Osirak, or when Israel bombed the suspected nuclear site in Syria a couple of years ago. I acknowledge it could nevertheless be different this time; I assure you I don’t minimize that risk. By the same token, I don’t think it’s reasonable for you and others to conclude that the US would inevitably be drawn into a regime-change war as expensive, time-consuming and uncertain as, say, Iraq or Afghanistan, or Vietnam.

  204. Arnold Evans says:

    I strongly believe that Iran should have the right to enrich enough uranium to run its peaceful nuclear energy program — and to build up very ample reserves for this purpose on the quite reasonable assumption that Iran will not be able to rely on foreign suppliers of LEU.

    Ample reserves plus ongoing enrichment means a Japan option. Ample reserves, plus ongoing enrichment (or even without ongoing enrichment since it has the technology) is what the US is claiming it has a strategic interest in preventing.

    When the US says it needs Iran to export uranium and maintain its stock under a ton, that is because by US calculations, a stock of more than a ton is destabilizing to the region.

    Iran cannot give up a Japan option without giving that up. And you say, repeatedly, that Iran should give up a Japan option. You have to know that disclosing information according to the AP does not relinquish the Japan option, since you know Japan has disclosed information according to the AP.

    So how should Iran give up a Japan option, if not by submitting to the US demand that it reduce its stock of uranium? And if you have some way that you think Iran could give up that option without reducing its stock, then I was wrong in thinking that would postpone an attack.

    If the US attacks Iran, it is because Iran refuses to reduce its stock to a level the US considers comfortable – which is what the US means by breakout capability which Japan has and I’m describing as a Japan option. If you’re not advocating that Japan reduce its stock to such a level then whatever you are advocating would have no impact at all on Obama’s decision to attack, if he was to make it.

  205. Arnold:

    “I don’t quite understand how you think the position in Iraq is going to help the campaign against Iran. The war I expect to see in that case will largely be over the supply lines to the bases and it will be fully equipped, including with stinger-equivalents for the guerrillas fighting on Iran’s side.”

    I agree. Nonetheless, if the US intends to conduct ground excursions or support continual air strikes into Iran, it will need those Iraq bases, whether they’re safe or not, or whether they can control the supply lines or not.

    Remember, I’m not saying the US will succeed at any of this without paying a heavy price, or for that matter, succeed at all. I’m saying if the politicos want that, the Pentagon will salute, say “Yes, sir!” and go at it.

    More importantly, I’m saying the military difficulties involved are not going to be sufficient to dissuade the politicos from giving those orders. Sure, the Pentagon knows the problems. Every ex-military guy like Jeff Huber can state the problems. They could all state the potential problems with invading Iraq. They probably all said the potential problems of staying in Afghanistan rather than getting out.

    The government did it anyway. You can’t argue with history.

    “The US does have air bases in Iraq, but the aircraft carriers in the gulf without any land bases have or can have enough capacity for the bombing the US will be doing. The US is certainly not, in the beginning, staging a land invasion from Iraq.”

    I agree, unless as I said the US decides to actually run up regime change in Iran as a real objective and thus mount a full-scale attack a la Iraq. Which is possible, but I lean toward the “surprise attack” option simply because it will seem easier to an idiot like Obama.

    “But let’s say the US says explicitly to Iran: you have 30 days to export enough uranium that you’re under a ton and suspend enrichment and comply with all UN resolutions regarding your nuclear program or we’re attacking. Sovereign nations don’t submit to that kind of threat.”

    Correct.

    “Eric’s position is effectively that, minus the suspend enrichment, and Eric thinks Iran should submit to it preemptively. Eric, so far has not said that that would make him more comfortable regardless of any legal or moral arguments that he concedes he cannot make.”

    Correct.

    “Iran’s position is that attacking will hurt the US more than any benefits, and is right about that. 30 days from now we’ll be at war, even if the US doesn’t attack first once its said something like that. Iraq will order the US out immediately, as is its right under the SOFA and Iran, especially in an emergency, definitely has the votes to get that passed. When the US does not leave, attacks on US supplies and convoys will be both legitimate and popular in Iraq. The US is not winning a PR war in Iraq against Iran.”

    Correct.

    “There won’t be a need for any political activity in Afghanistan, some of the people fighting now will just get new weapons and professional support.”

    Correct.

    “US losses in the battlefield certainly impact elections. 300 US combat deaths a month for a year is enough that an anti-war candidate would beat a pro-war candidate, if that rate keeps up until election day. John Kerry essentially tied a war time president running for re-election with much fewer deaths than that. I’m pretty sure Iran would get to that between the two neighbors, along with Iranian missiles launched at US bases consistently from Iranian soil.”

    Probably. However, do keep in mind that anti-war Kerry DID NOT WIN. There’s also such a thing as “war bounce” for war Presidents. Look at Bush Senior’s 90% rating in 1991. Of course he pissed that away, but he still had it for a while. Even Bush Junior looked good in April and May 2003. It took another year before it was obvious the US was in trouble in Iraq. If Obama or his successors time it right, they can launch the war, reap the war bounce, then skip out the door leaving their successor holding the bag.

    Remember, we can’t be certain that an Iran war will turn into a hell war immediately. It might not. Iran might limit its immediate retaliation in favor of preparing something more effective later. In any event, the US media will be spinning the initial probably successful aerial and naval bombardment as “shock and awe”. Unless Iran retaliates immediately with its own “shock and awe”, that might play for quite a while.

    “I don’t know how long US public support for the war would last. Gas prices would be drastically higher, newspapers would always have local dead soldiers. There will constantly be voices in US society issuing reminders that this war is being fought to prevent Iran from having a Japan option, despite the fact that it is a morally and legally questionable demand that benefits Israel more than the US directly. That argument sounds a lot different when there are constant war deaths, high gas prices and economic dislocation.”

    Well, all that’s true in Afghanistan, except the death total is lower than we can expect in Iran (but ONLY really after ground troops are committed – until then, the death toll will probably be a few pilots and a few sailors – unless Iran manages to sink a destroyer or a carrier in the Gulf.) And here we are, nine years later.

    Again, Iran is not going to be a hell war like North Korea would be. It’s going to be a slower, lower casualty (on the US side) asymmetric war. It’s going to look like Vietnam and Afghanistan and the Iraq insurgency (at its highest) and maybe more so, but it’s not going to look like an immediate defeat for the US. No Fourth Gen War does.

    “Whenever public support goes, the war is over. Iran is still in place, will not have accepted any limitations on its nuclear program and will be reconstituting it even as the fighting occurs. The United States will be in a weaker strategic situation after it pulls out than it would have been by not attacking.”

    All of which is true in Iraq and will be true when the US leaves Afghanistan (absenting the nuclear option).

    “Another consideration is that for Russia, we are looking at the reverse of Afghanistan. Russia is an oil exporter that has an internal supply line with Iran. This is Russia’s opportunity to deal a long-term blow to the US’ position as a world power as US supplies to Afghanistan crippled the Soviet Union. Higher oil prices play into Russia’s hands, unlike China. Russia has good reason to quietly assist in the process of bleeding the United States in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Russia could well take advantage of this opportunity.”

    Could be. How much that plays into the US military-industrial complex calculations is anyone’s guess, however. I don’t think it plays a big part, off the top of my head.

    “Either way Ahmadinejad would possibly have been an apolitical engineer if not for the Iran/Iraq war. A new generation of Iranians will be radicalized by this conflict.”

    Yup. That’s one of the worst outcomes – the turning of the Iranian people against the US.

    “The United States will eventually get a president who is going to pull out of Iran and its neighbors and have a new appreciation for the price of maintaining a string of colonies in the region for Israel’s benefit.”

    Eventually. And whether it learns a new appreciation is doubtful. Like I said, no lessons learned in Vietnam.

    “How this scenario plays out, I do not think Iran is overall going to regret not submitting to the US ultimatum, and I think the US is overall going to regret issuing it.”

    Yup. Can’t argue with that.

  206. Arnold Evans says:

    (1) unless and until Iran achieves a level of “nuclear capability” the US government finds unacceptable (whatever level that may be), the US government won’t treat Iran with more deference because it fears Iran’s nuclear capability; and (2) if and when Iran appears likely to achieve that level of nuclear capability very soon, the US will do whatever it considers necessary to prevent that; and (3) the US will conclude that Iran has reached that point well before the US deems it necessary to worry that Iranian scientists will be able to scurry around in underground tunnels after a US attack and finish building a nuclear bomb that can be launched against any target the US considers to be important.

    Does deference mean impact on US strategic calculations at all? Iran’s program now, according to Secy. Gates, could be set back about three years with an attack. This certainly impacts the decision of whether or not an attack would be worth the cost. If that number was less, say only six months, the US would automatically attack, regardless of the cost to US interests?

    The US would X regardless of any cost to its interests is wrong for all X. It’s not even defensible. You’ve answered no questions regarding the costs of an attack. The costs of attacking Iran’s nuclear program matter.

    Contrary to what you believe, I think Obama would not give such an order unless he were quite confident that the American public overwhelmingly agreed that Iran should be attacked.

    So you think it is possible for Barack Obama to give a speech on primetime television explaining why the US should attack Iran and US support for attacking Iran would not become overwhelming? If only Iran ratifies the AP?

    It’s hard for me to believe you believe that.

  207. Arnold,

    “Answer this explicit question: Do you think Iran should be allowed to have natively enriched (to energy grade only) uranium on its soil in sufficient quantities, which, IF Iran were to leave the NPT and enrich it to weapons grade, would enable Iran to possess nuclear weapons, exactly as is the situation with Japan and Brazil?”

    Whenever you say “Answer this explicit question,” you create the impression that I’ve never answered the question before, even when I’ve answered it many times before. I’ve probably answered this question 25 times – in many cases, without the question having even been asked.

    Unless I’m entirely misunderstanding your question, which I seriously doubt, you’re asking simply whether I believe Iran has the right to enrich uranium on its soil to carry out its peaceful nuclear energy program, even if that would be enough LEU to fuel a bomb if Iran chose to leave the NPT and enrich it further.

    I strongly believe that Iran should have the right to enrich enough uranium to run its peaceful nuclear energy program — and to build up very ample reserves for this purpose on the quite reasonable assumption that Iran will not be able to rely on foreign suppliers of LEU. I would find nothing suspicious in this. I don’t purport to know how many bomb’s worth of LEU that wold translate into once Iran’s contemplated nuclear power plants are all up and running, but I’m sure it means enough that Iran could build quite a number of bombs if it left the NPT and enriched that LEU to bomb grade.

    I’ve said this many times before. Do you really claim not to have noticed?

  208. Arnold Evans says:

    I’ve laid out my position often and clearly enough that I’m quite disappointed to see it misstated to this extent.

    You and others have misstated a lot of my positions, and I’ve always corrected them. I’ve never even considered that a big deal.

  209. Arnold Evans says:

    “Yes, if Iran gives up the Japan option, that would make Obama less likely to attack.. If that’s what you’re arguing that’s what you should be saying.”

    Yes. In fact, I’m losing count with how many times I’ve said that, and losing patience with how many times I’ve had to remind you how many times I’ve said this.

    Then don’t lie about the AP. Japan signed the AP. The AP, at least directly, is not how the US could prevent Iran from getting a Japan option.

    The benefit the AP could have for you or the US is that the US could use it to impose “downsides” on Iran’s nuclear program, such as those Masoud mentioned. Which is the point for you, as it is for the US, but you’re not saying it.

    Don’t ignore what Masoud wrote, say that’s exactly what you want, increased confidence that the US could thwart or even ultimately bomb Iran’s program by – Iran, Masoud and I would say – abusing the increased disclosure requirements of the AP. You don’t consider that a downside. You know Iran does consider that a downside. To say “no downside” now is just to lie.

    Lose your patience whenever you want.

  210. Pirouz_2 says:

    Eric;

    YOU WROTE:”It does little good simply to announce repeatedly one’s conclusion that war is inevitable. If the only point in doing so is to get across one’s belief on that, once or twice is probably enough.

    It’s more useful to suggest ways that war might be avoided. Obviously it does no good to pretend that what is inevitable is not inevitable. But if one genuinely believes war is not inevitable – or even that it is unlikely, as I believe – it’s useful to suggest ways to increase the chances of a rosier outcome.”

    I am one of those who believe that although war is not 100% “inevitable”, it is highly LIKELY; meaning that I think with a high likelihood we shall witness a military conflict between Iran and USA in the course of the next 4-5 years.
    And I have expressed this view once or twice before, so as you very rightfully point out, that must suffice to make my opinion on the matter well known.
    There remains to express my view on the most viable courses of action to reduce the probability of the war.
    In my very humble opinion, wars break out when one side (or both sides as the case maybe) thinks that it will prevail and at the same time it makes a cost-benefit analysis which -rightly or wrongly- indicates to it that the benefits of the war will significantly outweight the costs associated with it.
    As a result in my opinion, the best (and I am afraid the only) way to prevent this war is for Iran to increase its ability to “kick back” and hurt USA as much as it can, and for the USA to understand that:

    1) It will lose this war in the sense that: there wont be a regime change in Iran and and for that matter USA won’t achieve ANY of its strategic goals just as Israel did not in 2006 and that in all likelihood Iran will develop nuclear weapons if this war breaks out

    2)The costs associated with this war HEAVILY outweights the benefits to be gained (ie. NOTHING!)

    The more Iran develops its abilities to BITE BACK, and the more USA understands the aforementioned two items, the less likely the war will become.

    ON THE OTHER HAND CONTRARY TO WHAT SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE, the more concessions Iran makes (signing AP, or even suspending the Uranium enrichment) the MORE LIKELY that the war WILL BREAK OUT!

  211. Arnold,

    “No response from you because it’s speculation?”

    Masoud speculated that a number of abuses that could happen if Iran adopted the AP. He may be correct, but he was just guessing. I could just as easily speculate that no abuses at all would occur. I might be correct, but I too would just be guessing. I wouldn’t expect you or Masoud to respond to my speculations.

  212. paul says:

    Anyone talking about the US being concerned to stop Iranian nukes is just buying propaganda. This war has nothing to do with that except tangentially. It has to do with control over Eurasia. And for this reason, the US High Command appears to think that regime change must happen in Iran one way or another. War speculations abound, always based on the idea that the US cannot afford another war. Sure. Unless the new war gives the US an excuse to change strategy from winning hearts and minds to unleashing the unrestrained power of the US military, possibly in conjunction with installing a Green Coup government in Tehran. Those pushing for this war, we can be sure, are thinking BIG.

  213. Arnold,

    “But let’s say the US says explicitly to Iran: you have 30 days to export enough uranium that you’re under a ton and suspend enrichment and comply with all UN resolutions regarding your nuclear program or we’re attacking. … Eric’s position is effectively that, minus the suspend enrichment, and Eric thinks Iran should submit to it preemptively.”

    I’ve laid out my position often and clearly enough that I’m quite disappointed to see it misstated to this extent.

  214. Arnold,

    I’m not at all obsessed with the Additional Protocols. The issue has taken on considerably more importance than it deserves, simply because Iran’s stubbornness has enabled Iran’s worst critics to make baseless accusations that are nonetheless persuasive to many Americans. I think Iran can and should neutralize what should be a minor issue by agreeing to observe the AP. I don’t believe that would end the US/Iran nuclear dispute, but it would slow the US down a bit. That is probably all Iran needs, since the US becomes less and less of a threat every year. Iran’s only real risk is that war-mongers will continue to cite Iran’s resistance to greater disclosure to persuade the American public that Iran is a nuclear-weapons threat and that the US must attack soon or it will be too late. Contrary to what you believe, I think Obama would not give such an order unless he were quite confident that the American public overwhelmingly agreed that Iran should be attacked.

    Where I see obsession is in your fixation on the importance of Iran’s achieving what you call the “Japan option.” My feeling about that is that (1) unless and until Iran achieves a level of “nuclear capability” the US government finds unacceptable (whatever level that may be), the US government won’t treat Iran with more deference because it fears Iran’s nuclear capability; and (2) if and when Iran appears likely to achieve that level of nuclear capability very soon, the US will do whatever it considers necessary to prevent that; and (3) the US will conclude that Iran has reached that point well before the US deems it necessary to worry that Iranian scientists will be able to scurry around in underground tunnels after a US attack and finish building a nuclear bomb that can be launched against any target the US considers to be important.

  215. paul says:

    Truly excellent article.

    ————–

    The flip side of the ‘unifying war theory’ about attacking Iran, which appears to be holding increasing sway in the US High Command, is that there COULD be a unifying-war-theory about NEGOTIATING CONSTRUCTIVELY with Iran, rather than attacking Iran. If Obama is as smart as his admirers think, and as much of a Secret Peacemaker as the myth carefully constructed and maintained by the alternapundits holds, then he must surely realize that Iran holds a key (in some ways ‘the’ key) to virtually all his regional conflicts – not because Iran has been interfering in those conflicts, but because it actually does have a pivotal position, geographically, culturally and politically. Obama still has a chance to be an historic peacemaker, to earn that Nobel Prize, if he chooses to work with Iran constructively.

    But history is not promising here. Despite the Myth of the Secret Peacemaker, Obama’s record offers very scant encouragment to those who supported him as the Peace Choice. He never has been a peace guy. Nor has he surrounded himself with peacemakers; quite the opposite. At best, Obama’s approach to geopolitics focuses on the kind of ‘realism’ that is all about the Politics of Power. This is not the approach that can bring peace. And as we are now seeing in Palestine, Obama’s particular version of this approach, in virtually any situation, is to lean very very hard on whomever he perceives to be the weakest ‘player’.

    We see this in how Obama is handling the Palestine-Israel conflict. Israel has proven to be intransigent and immoveable. Fatah, on the other hand, has constantly vacillated and is particularly weak right now, desperate for something, anything, to confer to it some semblance of legitimacy. Hence – in Obama’s world of Power Politics – it makes perfect sense for him to lean hard on Fatah to go to direct talks even without the most basic preconditions, and this is what he is doing.

    Please don’t make the mistake of paralleling the preconditions the Palestinians want from Israel with the precondition Obama wants from Iran. The Palestinians’ preconditions (stop building settlements, agree to ’67 borders in principle – as I understand them) are what they have every legal right and DUTY to demand. Obama’s precondition (that Iran agree to stop enriching uranium) is something he has no right to demand.

    And that brings us back around to the very bleak reality that in a year and a half, Obama has made no attempt to negotiate with Iran in good faith. Every negotiation has been a ploy, and the denouement has invariably been for the US to angrily run from the negotiation table, declaring that the Iranians are once again trying to work their Eastern Wiles, in order to avoid negotiating, and that more sanctions (which is economic war) are needed, to ‘make them change their minds’ (or to bring about a coup). Or maybe this time some bombs. The point is always to go through the motions of negotiation, to make it look like Obama tried his heart out, and then get to the real business, which is always to put the screws to Iran a little harder – just as was done to Iraq, on the way to open war.

    It is remarkable that Iran keeps trying to negotiate. They cannot feel encouraged by the Bushamian history of faux negotiations.

  216. Arnold Evans says:

    Richard, I’ll agree with you that if the United States wants another Vietnam, it is going to get one. There is nothing Iran can do to prevent that. And yes, there are parties in the United States, disproportionately powerful, who would benefit from another Vietnam.

    I don’t quite understand how you think the position in Iraq is going to help the campaign against Iran. The war I expect to see in that case will largely be over the supply lines to the bases and it will be fully equipped, including with stinger-equivalents for the guerrillas fighting on Iran’s side.

    The US does have air bases in Iraq, but the aircraft carriers in the gulf without any land bases have or can have enough capacity for the bombing the US will be doing. The US is certainly not, in the beginning, staging a land invasion from Iraq.

    But let’s say the US says explicitly to Iran: you have 30 days to export enough uranium that you’re under a ton and suspend enrichment and comply with all UN resolutions regarding your nuclear program or we’re attacking. Sovereign nations don’t submit to that kind of threat.

    Eric’s position is effectively that, minus the suspend enrichment, and Eric thinks Iran should submit to it preemptively. Eric, so far has not said that that would make him more comfortable regardless of any legal or moral arguments that he concedes he cannot make.

    Iran’s position is that attacking will hurt the US more than any benefits, and is right about that. 30 days from now we’ll be at war, even if the US doesn’t attack first once its said something like that. Iraq will order the US out immediately, as is its right under the SOFA and Iran, especially in an emergency, definitely has the votes to get that passed. When the US does not leave, attacks on US supplies and convoys will be both legitimate and popular in Iraq. The US is not winning a PR war in Iraq against Iran.

    There won’t be a need for any political activity in Afghanistan, some of the people fighting now will just get new weapons and professional support.

    US losses in the battlefield certainly impact elections. 300 US combat deaths a month for a year is enough that an anti-war candidate would beat a pro-war candidate, if that rate keeps up until election day. John Kerry essentially tied a war time president running for re-election with much fewer deaths than that. I’m pretty sure Iran would get to that between the two neighbors, along with Iranian missiles launched at US bases consistently from Iranian soil.

    I don’t know how long US public support for the war would last. Gas prices would be drastically higher, newspapers would always have local dead soldiers. There will constantly be voices in US society issuing reminders that this war is being fought to prevent Iran from having a Japan option, despite the fact that it is a morally and legally questionable demand that benefits Israel more than the US directly. That argument sounds a lot different when there are constant war deaths, high gas prices and economic dislocation.

    Whenever public support goes, the war is over. Iran is still in place, will not have accepted any limitations on its nuclear program and will be reconstituting it even as the fighting occurs. The United States will be in a weaker strategic situation after it pulls out than it would have been by not attacking.

    Another consideration is that for Russia, we are looking at the reverse of Afghanistan. Russia is an oil exporter that has an internal supply line with Iran. This is Russia’s opportunity to deal a long-term blow to the US’ position as a world power as US supplies to Afghanistan crippled the Soviet Union. Higher oil prices play into Russia’s hands, unlike China. Russia has good reason to quietly assist in the process of bleeding the United States in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Russia could well take advantage of this opportunity.

    Either way Ahmadinejad would possibly have been an apolitical engineer if not for the Iran/Iraq war. A new generation of Iranians will be radicalized by this conflict. The United States will eventually get a president who is going to pull out of Iran and its neighbors and have a new appreciation for the price of maintaining a string of colonies in the region for Israel’s benefit.

    How this scenario plays out, I do not think Iran is overall going to regret not submitting to the US ultimatum, and I think the US is overall going to regret issuing it.

  217. Perhaps we should recap the salient points of discussion, starting from Arnold’s well articulate positions. Let everyone jump in on which points they agree or don’t agree on.

    1) Iran does not have an actual nuclear weapons development AND deployment program. Meaning there is no ongoing development of nuclear weapons technology and even if there is, the Iranian leadership has not decided to actively manufacture and deploy nuclear weapons should they finalize the knowledge of how to make them.

    2) Under Iran’s present NPT Safeguards agreement, Iran has or will have, regardless of whether it wants to or not, the same capability as Japan and Brazil to, IF it decides to do so, leave the NPT and weaponize its stocks of enriched uranium to weapons grade and thereby construct nuclear weapons. Again, it’s not relevant whether it wants to or not, or recognizes or acknowledges this capability as apparently Japan and Brazil has recognized and acknowledged it. It will have it based solely on the facts of the technology it has available to it under the NPT.

    3) The US is aware of point two at least, and possibly point one, and the US believes that Iran is aware of and possibly intends at least point two and the US must stop Iran from achieving the capability outlined in point two, let alone a full Iranian nuclear weapons development and deployment program.

    4) The US is not willing to conduct military action at any time in the future as long as Iran does not execute point two to the point of constructing actual nuclear weapons.

    I agree with Arnold on points one and two, although I disagree on whether Iran really wants or even cares about point two to the same degree Japan does and Brazil might.

    I disagree with the idea that the US actually believes Iran intends point two, let alone a full nuclear weapons development and deployment program, based on the 2007 NIE and the facts as revealed so far by the IAEA. Therefore I disagree with point 3. I believe the US has an ulterior agenda, comprising region change for the benefit of the US and Israel, and a war in the process of getting there for the benefit of the military-industrial complex which in turn is partly because of domestic political reasons and a belief in US hegemony (which in turns means personal power of whoever is holding power in the US at the time.)

    I disagree with point 4, because of my opinion stated above that the US has an ulterior agenda which BY DEFINITION requires it to go to war with Iran at some point if at all physically possible, whether under the Obama administration or not is irrelevant.

    If we focus the discussion on those four points, I think it might be more productive.

    Or not.

  218. Arnold: “You claim there is no downside to Iran implementing the AP. Masoud explains what he expects to be the result of Iran implementing the AP, which is massive downside and no upside. I expect the same. Iran very likely expects the same. No response from you because it’s speculation?”

    He can’t answer that because his entire argument, to the degree he has one at all, is that, for some entirely speculative benefit that somehow involves the US government being unable to do what it clearly wants to do because somehow the US public would put a stop to it because somehow the US public would understand then that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program (but still – allegedly – would have a Japan option – which he hasn’t admitted yet that he doesn’t want), Iran should “disclose more”, either by re-enabling the AP and possibly by further disclosures he can’t enumerate. And for that to happen, there has to be no down side.

    So naturally he can’t address specific down sides listed for him in detail.

  219. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    From Richard:

    Answer this explicit question: Do you think Iran should be allowed to have natively enriched (to energy grade only) uranium on its soil in sufficient quantities, which, IF Iran were to leave the NPT and enrich it to weapons grade, would enable Iran to possess nuclear weapons, exactly as is the situation with Japan and Brazil?

    I’ll reiterate that Richard is, and I am, specifically asking about what you think, not what you think anyone else thinks.

    Wasn’t Masoud simply speculating?

    I am shocked by this answer. You have a new policy that you don’t respond to speculation now?

    You claim there is no downside to Iran implementing the AP. Masoud explains what he expects to be the result of Iran implementing the AP, which is massive downside and no upside. I expect the same. Iran very likely expects the same.

    No response from you because it’s speculation?

    We shouldn’t be arguing about the AP. You don’t claim to know about the AP. You don’t care about the AP.

    You want Iran to give up on a Japan option. You have no legal or moral argument for that, you admit. Your argument is that the US will attack Iran.

    Given that, I’ve asked what would the US lose by attacking Iran and would it be worth it. You’ve never answered unless I missed it.

    Maybe the US wouldn’t attack. Maybe it’s not worth it to the US to prevent Iran from having a Japan option. You still oppose Iran having a Japan option whether it will lead to a US attack or not. You’re clearly in a severe disagreement with Iran’s leadership on that as they do not oppose Iran having a program as extensive and flexible as Japans. That’s coloring your perception of every issue regarding Iran’s nuclear program in a way that you’re not being up front about.

  220. Mr. Brill: Oh, so very clever – not…

    Arnold says this: “My working theory is that you personally, like the US, want Iran to abandon its move toward having a Japan option. I have to say it’s cowardly for you to keep claiming Iran should implement the AP instead of arguing your real position which is that Iran should accept that unlike Japan it should not have flexibility in its program.”

    You ignore that part where you have to admit that you do not want Iran to have the full fuel cycle – which is precisely what we mean when we talk about the “Japan option”.

    Then Arnold says this: “Yes, if Iran gives up the Japan option, that would make Obama less likely to attack…If that’s what you’re arguing that’s what you should be saying.”

    To that you claim you’ve said this over and over.

    But that really wasn’t Arnold’s demand! Arnold was demanding you admit that you want Iran to be crippled in its nuclear energy program to a point below where many other nations are, such as Japan and Brazil.

    You dodged that question, as you have before. And this is really intellectually dishonest.

    Answer this explicit question: Do you think Iran should be allowed to have natively enriched (to energy grade only) uranium on its soil in sufficient quantities, which, IF Iran were to leave the NPT and enrich it to weapons grade, would enable Iran to possess nuclear weapons, exactly as is the situation with Japan and Brazil?

  221. kooshy says:

    A Persian message for Obama
    By M K Bhadrakumar

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG31Df01.html

  222. Mr. Brill: “Wasn’t Masoud simply speculating?”

    As opposed to, say, your Pollyanna speculations about the effects of Iran disclosing more?

  223. Fyi: “Well, if the scenario I have given is absurd then I cannot understand why US just does not pack and leave the Persian Gulf. Who is the enemy? Against whom are the Southern Persian Gulf states are being defended?”

    Who besides the liars in the US government and the neocons ever said we’re defending anyone?

    The US is defending its hegemony in the region. Like the PNAC documents said, this entails not allowing ANY country to become even a REGIONAL power, let alone a “superpower”.

    That is the justification. And the motive is because the US believes it can extract more money and power and oil for itself by doing so.

    I mean, this is pretty much accepted wisdom world wide at this point. Except of course it is never to be spoken aloud to the US citizenry.

  224. Arnold: “My working theory is that you personally, like the US, want Iran to abandon its move toward having a Japan option. I have to say it’s cowardly for you to keep claiming Iran should implement the AP instead of arguing your real position which is that Iran should accept that unlike Japan it should not have flexibility in its program.”

    I agree, although it’s hard to tell whether Mr. Brill actually has ANY agenda other than arguing for arguing’s sake, given the circumlocution of his arguments.

    “Yes, if Iran gives up the Japan option, that would make Obama less likely to attack. (Richard disagrees I’m pretty sure.)”

    Correct. I’m not even sure Obama knows or understands what a Japan option actually is. The administration only mentions “breakout” capability and that rarely.

    “For now, with 100,000 troops between Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t think Obama is going to attack even if Iran does not give up the Japan option. (Richard disagrees with that also.)”

    I think it’s closer to 150,000 troops total in Iraq and Afghanistan, 100,000 in Afghanistan next month, and still 50,000 or so in Iraq (whether “combat troops” or not doesn’t matter). But as I’ve argued, that’s really irrelevant to how and when Obama might attack Iran. The troops in Iraq are useful for that purpose, and the Iran attack is the perfect excuse to leave Afghanistan without admitting failure. Also, if Obama is waiting until after 2012 to attack Iran, and he continues to adhere to the fiction that his Afghan “surge” can work, then US troops in Afghanistan may be reduced before an Iran attack. In fact, I would expect it, both for political purposes in the 2012 elections and to prepare for an Iran attack. In other words, we can’t say conditions now necessarily obtain forever or won’t change as part of the run up to an Iran war.

    “Attacking Iran will have consequences for the United States. Escalating and severe consequences that the Obama’s military advisors are well aware of.”

    But again, as I argue, who knows if Obama cares? Certainly a lot of his advisers don’t seem to, and NONE of the neocons care. Also, just as one can argue that a war with Iran is “impossible”, his advisers and he himself may argue that such escalating and severe consequences are not certain, and therefore may be “worth the risk”.

    How many times has the Administration officials said “an attack will have bad consequences”, BUT “a nuclear Iran is worse”? Many, many times! I’d say we should take them at their word about that, i.e., they ARE willing to take the risk.

    “My feeling about Iran is that it does not fully regret the Iran/Iraq war, which was devastating. Iran came out of it, rebuilt and is more, not less ideologically committed to its religious values.”

    Probably true. And I think some hardliners in the IRGC would relish a war with the US, even if it damaged Iran even more than the Iran-Iraq war (which it probably would.)

    “I don’t know what Obama calculates the value to the US of preventing Iran from having a Japan option is. I don’t calculate the value as very high at all. Obama may well think preventing it is more important than I do.”

    Since he’s said so, I’d say that’s probably true, at least publicly. Except of course that he knows – or should know – differently: that Iran really can’t have a Japan option because Iran is not Japan and its economic, geopolitical and military threat circumstances are different. Japan can make enough nukes within a short time to be a very real threat to China and North Korea. Iran can NOT make enough DELIVERABLE nukes in time to be a very real threat to Israel. And yes, I think the Pentagon has probably told him that.

    Therefore I’d say his ulterior agenda is more important than preventing Iran from having a Japan option. The same ulterior agenda that, as Andrew Bacevich points out today in his Democracy Now! interview, has kept him in Afghanistan.

    “I don’t think the US can “succeed” in either Iraq or Afghanistan once it attacks Iran,”

    Again, what is the definition of “success”? If the original intent in attacking Iraq was to lay the groundwork to attack Iran – and it was – then what relevance does Iraq have? And if attacking Iran allows the US to extricate itself from Afghanistan while still maintaining high profits for the military-industrial complex, then what relevance does “success” in Afghanistan have? With the US public forgetting Iraq at a rapid pace, and will forget Afghanistan after we’re at war with Iran for five years, what relevance does either country have?

    Bacevich makes the same point in his interview. Within a few years after the fall of Saigon, we elected Reagan. In fifteen years since Vietnam, we intervened in Iraq in 1991. No lessons were learned, certainly not by the US government OR the US public or the US military.

    “and three failures, after the US had come to expect successes will lead to Obama being recorded as a worse president than George Bush, will harm the democratic party for a long time and therefore will impact what he really cares about politically which is the liberal democratic domestic agenda.”

    I’m not so sure he cares about the “liberal democratic domestic agenda” more than he cares about the Democrats maintaining a hold on the US Congress and thus a hold on the campaign funds from the military-industrial complex. One could plausibly argue that his doubling down in Afghanistan were explicitly at the expense of this liberal domestic agenda – yet he did it. Bacevich makes this point as well.

    Also, if a war starts with Iran in his first, it will last past his second term, assuming he gets one at all. He will be long gone. And again, what price has Bush and Cheney paid for Iraq? Some opprobrium. Do they care? I doubt it. Will Obama care? I doubt it.

    “I don’t think Obama understands or cares about foreign policy directly except to the extent that it helps or hinders his domestic agenda, health care and things like that.”

    I don’t think he cares about his domestic agenda except to the degree it helps or hinders his political career. But as far as foreign policy goes, he goes along with US hegemony and the military-industrial complex. All his actions so far have proven this. Despite all the “Pentagon cost-cutting” stuff we hear about, Obama has still expanded the US military and the national security apparatus beyond what Bush did. He has shown no signs of reigning in the US military. And he’s hewed as tightly to the Israelis as Bush has done.

    “But attacking Iran is going to be, and I think Obama is being accurately advised on this, ultimately as expensive as the decision to escalate the Vietnam war.”

    Agreed.

    “It will be a first order political failure by Obama.”

    Again, depends on your definition of “failure”. For the military-industrial complex, the oil companies, the banks, it will be a resounding success. For the rest of us, not so much. For Obama, if he times it right, he can get a “war bounce” in the 2012 elections if he works it right. If not, he walks away scot free. He never investigated Bush and Cheney’s illegal complicity in the Iraq war, and no one will investigate his illegal complicity in the Iran war.

    “I don’t think Obama calculates preventing Iran from getting a Japan option is worth it. I also don’t think Obama calculates that attacking Iran would over a term of, say, ten years, would even work to prevent Iran from getting a Japan option.”

    Again, if his ulterior agenda is not related to either of those outcomes, those calculations are not relevant.

    We appear to have to agree to disagree here. You believe Obama seriously believes Iran is a threat which must be stopped “somehow”, but not at the expense of a military attack – despite leaving that “as an option” (which makes no sense at all even to a five-year-old child.) I believe Obama knows full well that Iran is not a threat to anyone, let alone justifying a military attack for any reason, but that he is engaged in this charade for the benefit of the people who control his political destiny, which is to say the military-industrial complex, the Israel Lobby, etc. In other words, even if Obama really believes in his domestic agenda, he believes it is necessary to throw Iran – and the non-military-industrial part of the US economy – under a bus in order to achieve it.

    I submit that the reality of the history of the last hundred years of the US supports my position more than it does yours.

  225. Arnold,

    “Yes, if Iran gives up the Japan option, that would make Obama less likely to attack.. If that’s what you’re arguing that’s what you should be saying.”

    Yes. In fact, I’m losing count with how many times I’ve said that, and losing patience with how many times I’ve had to remind you how many times I’ve said this.

  226. Arnold,

    “Then Eric, what is your response to this from Masoud earlier:”

    Wasn’t Masoud simply speculating?

  227. Arnold Evans says:

    James,

    There are a lot of things an independent Jordan could and very likely would do that Jordan is not doing under its colonial monarch/dictator.

    1) It could rescind its recognition of Israel until the Palestinians accept a settlement, stop being one of two Arab countries that recognize Israel.

    2) It could refrain from transferring arms and training troops for the Palestinian authority that were used to seize power from Hamas after Hamas won the elections.

    3) It could cease its intelligence cooperation with Israel and the United States, including, reportedly, accepting Muslim prisoners from extraordinary renditions and torturing them on the US’ behalf.

    4) It could offer financial, material and diplomatic support to anti-Zionist organizations

    I’m surprised that I’m actually interacting with someone who thought Jordan was doing all it could to oppose Zionism or advocate for the Palestinians.

  228. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    Well, if the scenario I have given is absurd then I cannot understand why US just does not pack and leave the Persian Gulf. Who is the enemy? Against whom are the Southern Persian Gulf states are being defended?

    No my friend, war is always a possibility and US planner must account for every eventuality.

    Kuwait is 30 % Shia, and Eastern Saudi Arabia are majority Shia. A US fear, based on Internet sources, is that these areas can be lost to US through outright invasion or through subversion. I am not saying that the concerns of US thinkers are real, it is sufficient that they think that the possibility exists.

  229. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric, you overestimate the importance of public opinion in the decision to attack Iran as Richard says.

    If Obama was to decide it was in the US’ interests, 1) Israel’s supporters are very vocal and resourceful in the United States and would support Obama in his decision 2) Obama is inherently more persuasive than Ahmadinejad or Khamenei to the US public. There is nothing Iran can do to win a PR battle, in the United States, against the president of the United States.

    The only question is what factors into Obama’s decision of whether an attack is in the US’ interests, or Richard would say in his political interests. The AP is not a major issue in that.

    I’m not sure exactly what you think the AP would do. You seem fixated on the idea. I don’t understand why. The AP does not make Japan any less nuclear capable. The AP would not make Iran any less nuclear capable, except that it gives the US more information to use in its acknowledged covert activities against Iran’s program and imposes obligations on Iran that make it easier to apply political pressure to force Iran to abandon its program.

    My working theory is that you personally, like the US, want Iran to abandon its move toward having a Japan option. I have to say it’s cowardly for you to keep claiming Iran should implement the AP instead of arguing your real position which is that Iran should accept that unlike Japan it should not have flexibility in its program.

    Yes, if Iran gives up the Japan option, that would make Obama less likely to attack. (Richard disagrees I’m pretty sure.) If that’s what you’re arguing that’s what you should be saying. For now, with 100,000 troops between Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t think Obama is going to attack even if Iran does not give up the Japan option. (Richard disagrees with that also.)

    Attacking Iran will have consequences for the United States. Escalating and severe consequences that the Obama’s military advisors are well aware of. My feeling about Iran is that it does not fully regret the Iran/Iraq war, which was devastating. Iran came out of it, rebuilt and is more, not less ideologically committed to its religious values.

    I don’t know what Obama calculates the value to the US of preventing Iran from having a Japan option is. I don’t calculate the value as very high at all. Obama may well think preventing it is more important than I do. I don’t think the US can “succeed” in either Iraq or Afghanistan once it attacks Iran, and three failures, after the US had come to expect successes will lead to Obama being recorded as a worse president than George Bush, will harm the democratic party for a long time and therefore will impact what he really cares about politically which is the liberal democratic domestic agenda.

    I don’t think Obama understands or cares about foreign policy directly except to the extent that it helps or hinders his domestic agenda, health care and things like that.

    But attacking Iran is going to be, and I think Obama is being accurately advised on this, ultimately as expensive as the decision to escalate the Vietnam war. It will be a first order political failure by Obama. I don’t think Obama calculates preventing Iran from getting a Japan option is worth it. I also don’t think Obama calculates that attacking Iran would over a term of, say, ten years, would even work to prevent Iran from getting a Japan option.

  230. Pirouz says:

    Leveretts: this is the most accurate assessment of the situation I’ve seen articulated, anywhere.

  231. kooshy says:

    Fyi: “It is about the fact that Iran, once US leaves Iraq, can march into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and no one except US can stop her.”

    “You’re joking here, right?”

    That’s what I thought , a Shieh Persian country moves on the Sunie Arab country , that’s very strategic, any more leaf reading for Iran?

  232. Fyi: “I am not joking; I am stating my guess of what US concern is fundamentally bout.”

    Well, your “guess” is absurd, and despite the idiots in the US government, no one there has the slightest notion that Iran can or has any desire to “march” anywhere in the region, let alone invade Saudi Arabia. Iran might harbor designs for influence in Iraq, but one eight year war is enough for them, I think, so military invasion is out of the question even if the Shia in Iraq were amenable which, as Al-Sadr has demonstrated, they are not.

    Really, you need to read more about the region and the players before making such absurd comments.

  233. Mr. Brill: “Once one recognizes that the US is playing this WMD card for reasons other than its genuine beliefs about Iran’s nuclear program — as you plainly do recognize — why bother pointing out to the US government, over and over, that it has no basis for charging Iran with any nuclear misconduct?”

    Who the hell ever said I was pointing this out TO THE US GOVERNMENT?

    I swear, it’s amazing how you can come up with these notions inside your own head, then attribute them to me, then use them as the grounds for a long response which is irrelevant to anything I’ve ever said.

    “But I think Iran’s voluntary observation of the AP probably would make a difference – not to the US government, but to much of the large and influential segment of the American public that is educated and reasonably well informed about the Iran nuclear dispute.”

    Oh, here we ago. First you say the US government manipulated the public into believing Iran has nuclear weapons. Then you say if Iran ratified the AP, the US public wouldn’t believe that anymore.

    Again, a pure Pollyanna approach. The reality is that whatever Iran does, the US government AND the US press would spin it as inadequate.

    Do you insist on forgetting that Saddam Hussein TOTALLY COMPLIED with UN inspectors in the run up to the Iraq war? What did that get him? And yet most of the US STILL BELIEVES that Saddam did NOT comply with UN inspectors, and that Saddam ordered the UN inspectors out, when in fact it was the US that did so!

    You’re just arguing for emotional reasons now, without a shred of evidence to support any of your assertions. You’re just re-iterating over and over this ridiculous notion that if Iran “disclosed more”, it would get some benefit from it or it would be harder for the US to start a war. Harder? Perhaps. Hard enough? No way.

  234. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    I am not joking; I am stating my guess of what US concern is fundamentally bout.

    Of course, Iran will do no such thing since the Iranian people are admantly opposed to a war of choice or intervention in another country. They will not be tricked, cajoled, or seduced into it.

    But American strategic thinkers and American leaders might be thinking that everyone is like them in pursuing wars of choice.

  235. fyi says:

    Arnold Evans:

    The restoration of Muslim control to (East) Jerusalem and the settlement of the Muslim-Israel War will revolutionize US positions in the Persian Gulf, the Levant, and among Muslims world-wide.

    But it is no longer within the power of the United States to bring about such a settlement; she has lost control of its dynamics.

    Its settlement would not help Iran since the fate of Iraq and the security in Persian Gulf would still be issues between US and Iran.

    What needs to be done is the convocation of an international conference of Egypt, Syria, Iran, Lebeanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, PA, Israel, the United States, Germany, the Arab League, and OIC to agree to create peace interest with rules that all can live by. Without it, we will have more war and more blood-shed.

  236. Fyi: “It is about the fact that Iran, once US leaves Iraq, can march into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and no one except US can stop her.”

    You’re joking here, right?

  237. Arnold Evans says:

    Nor do I see any downside in Iran taking this step. I believe it is absurd to believe that withholding agreement to the AP preserves a valuable “bargaining chip” for Iran.

    Then Eric, what is your response to this from Masoud earlier:

    Which is to say, as soon as Iran signs the AP it will be effectively in violation of it, and will not ever be able to be in compliance with it. The day Iran signs that treaty, the IAEA will demand to know all the details relating to Iran’s ballistic missile systems and installations, and then it’s anti-air defenses, then the details of it’s air force,(all of which will be shared with the CIA) and then it will insist on interrogating Iranian scientists outside the country, and then it will also insist on taking the scientist’s family outside the country as well, so that it can ‘ensure’ that the scientist in question is ‘not being pressured’ to answer question a certain way, and if Iran balks at any one of these demands it will be deemed in violation of the AP. And once Iran has signed the AP, the demand that Iran comply with it’s ‘obligations’ on these issues will seem much more legitimate and impressive than the demand that Iran ratify some obscure annex to some antiquated international treaty.

  238. Arnold Evans says:

    My point is simply that an end to the “Zionist regime” tomorrow would mean Ahmadinejad can no longer invoke its demise as a source of his own legitimacy.

    An end to the Zionist regime tomorrow would lead to vast changes in the region. Probably more vast than the changes in Southern Africa when Apartheid fell.

    Iran having a nuclear capability would not be more threatening any more to the US than Brazil. The need for the US to maintain its colonies in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE would dissolve. The need for the US to be publicly supporting the starvation of Gaza would end.

    The US sanctions against Iran, expressly to punish Iran for supporting anti-Zionist organizations would end. Khamenei is right that the most important obstacle to a restored relationship between the US and Iran would be gone. Ahmadinejad would no longer be right that the US must choose between Iran and Israel.

    If you have an idea that Iran or Ahmadinejad benefits from the existence of Israel, that is crazy.

    The US spends a tremendous, nearly incalculable amount of resources directly and indirectly supporting Israel. Removing that burden would also benefit the United States.

  239. Richard,

    Few if any informed observers disagree that the US government is not behaving according to its honest understanding of the facts. Most informed observers also agree with you that the US government has one or more “ulterior motives” for misrepresenting Iran’s nuclear program — regime change for the benefit of Israel; punishment for Iran’s having “dissed” the US by seizing US hostages thirty years ago, or for helping insurgents in Iraq or Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Palestine or the Taliban in Afghanistan; or whatever — or perhaps for all of these reasons and others as well.

    What is important, though, is to recognize that the US has only one effective means to get where it wants to go: the very same WMD card that it played so effectively against Iraq in 2003. To be sure, it occasionally plays the insurgents-in-Iraq card, and the Hamas card, and the Hezbollah card, and the Taliban card – but the WMD card is the one it likes the best, because it works. Once one recognizes that the US is playing this WMD card for reasons other than its genuine beliefs about Iran’s nuclear program — as you plainly do recognize — why bother pointing out to the US government, over and over, that it has no basis for charging Iran with any nuclear misconduct? The US government already knows this. All it cares about is whether playing the WMD card works, and so your focus ought to be on preventing that card from working.

    It would be awfully nice if the American public, whose support the US government needs and presently has in spades, would simply listen to what you and many others, including myself, have argued about the US government’s baseless claims about Iran’s nuclear program. Succeeding in that effort might well render the WMD card entirely ineffective.

    So far, though, that effort hasn’t had any success, and I am not optimistic that that will change — unless and until Iran can be placed in a much more flattering light than now shines on it. Fairly or not, the US government has persuaded the vast majority of the American public that Iran either has the bomb or is working feverishly on the bomb. And one reason why Americans believe this is that the US government points out, every chance it gets, that Iran isn’t fully cooperating as requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    While the US government shamelessly overstates this point, there is a kernel of truth to the allegation that can’t be whisked away: the IAEA has repeatedly urged that Iran agree to observe the Additional Protocols. Iran adamantly refuses, as it indisputably has a right to do, and no informed observer would deny that Iran got nothing in return the last time it agreed to observe the AP. The American public nevertheless wonders why Iran refuses, and the US government exploits this suspicion very effectively. As long as it does, the WMD card will continue to be much more effective for the US government than it ought to be.

    Maybe that’s not correct: maybe the WMD card would play just as well even if Iran started observing the AP and thus denied this argument to the US government. I gather you believe this. But I think Iran’s voluntary observation of the AP probably would make a difference – not to the US government, but to much of the large and influential segment of the American public that is educated and reasonably well informed about the Iran nuclear dispute.

    Nor do I see any downside in Iran taking this step. I believe it is absurd to believe that withholding agreement to the AP preserves a valuable “bargaining chip” for Iran. Quite to the contrary, I believe that the John Boltons of the world actually hope Iran will continue to refuse to observe the AP. The longer Iran refuses, the more strongly their “What is Iran trying to hide?” argument will resonate with the American public.

    In short, I think (1) the US government has only one effective means to act on its “ulterior motives” – the WMD card; (2) there’s no point in trying to persuade the US government to stop playing this card, as long as it continues to work as well as it appears to be working; (3) the best way to make that WMD card less effective is not necessarily to point out that it’s presently unfair to play it; but instead (4) one way to make that WMD card less effective, at low or no cost to Iran, would be for Iran to start observing the AP, thus weakening – not destroying completely, but weakening – the “What is Iran trying to hide?” argument that sells so well today.

  240. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    US is a sovereign state and her democractically elected officials, if so chose, can take her into a war with Iran.

    There is no power on Earth to stop US from such a course of action.

    And EU, Russia, and China can only huff and puff.

    Do you expect our humanitarian friends in EU states to sanction US?

    Or Russia and Chinese change tack and reverse their policy of keeping Iran low?

    Anyway, none of this is about Iranian nuclear capacity. It is about the fact that Iran, once US leaves Iraq, can march into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and no one except US can stop her.

  241. Mr. Brill: “I do not conclude from it, however, that war is inevitable. I try to think of ways that war might be avoided notwithstanding the fact that the US and Israel are joined at the hip and probably always will be. I remain confident.”

    Shorter version: I’m a Pollyanna.

    You can’t provide the slightest bit of evidence to support your “confidence”, which appears to be totally self-generated. Tony Robbins would be proud. But it’s not relevant to the real world.

  242. Related to my last post, you need to look at this video interview with Andrew Bacevich:

    Andrew Bacevich on Afghanistan War: “The President Lacks the Guts to Get Out”
    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/2/andrew_bacevich_on_afghanistan_war_the

    Quote:

    “But you asked the question, where does the pressure come from? And the pressure comes from what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. The pressure comes from the national security apparatus. There are people in institutions who are deeply invested in maintaining the status quo. There are budgets, there are prerogatives, there are ambitions, that ostensibly get satisfied by maintaining this drive for American globalism, again, backed by an emphasis on military power. So I don’t discount for a second that the President would have had to, you know, shove aside some fairly stubborn resistance to make that course change on Afghanistan, and he chose not to do it.”

    Quote:

    “And the conclusion I came up with is—I mean, in the essence of the conclusion, is that we do what we do in the world, to include in places like Afghanistan, not because we are threatened, not because we are obliged to respond to something over there; we do what we do in the world largely as a result of domestic imperatives, perceived domestic imperatives. And I think that if you evaluate US foreign policy and national security policy from that perspective, then it becomes rather obvious that we are an imperial nation, we are a hegemonic nation, we are a nation that has embraced a militarized approach to policy that sets us apart from every other liberal democracy, perhaps with the exception of Israel. And again, it doesn’t work. It’s not making us safer and more prosperous and enabling us to enjoy and pursue liberty. On the contrary, I think it generates enemies, it’s undercutting our economy, and in many respects, it’s contributing to the growth of a national security state that is at odds with the exercise of individual freedom.”

  243. Richard,

    In my view, it does little good to declare repeatedly that the US and Israel are joined at the hip, that they’ve been joined at the hip for a long time, that war can be avoided only if the US and Israel cease to be joined at the hip, that that will never happen, but that it nevertheless would be best for everyone if it did happen. I’ve read similar analyses and pronouncements somewhere north of 1,000 times. Not once so far has the US government or Israel seen fit to accept this sage advice. I’ve reluctantly concluded that they probably never will unless someone can and will force them to do so. I’ve yet to see any sign that anyone can or will.

    I don’t like this state of affairs any more than you do. I do not conclude from it, however, that war is inevitable. I try to think of ways that war might be avoided notwithstanding the fact that the US and Israel are joined at the hip and probably always will be. I remain confident.

  244. Here’s a question people need to ask themselves:

    If people like the Leveretts, with a deep knowledge of the region and the players, and people like myself, with considerably less knowledge but an ability to read, can understand the fact that there is no Iranian weapons program, as is fully certified by the IAEA, as was stated by 16 US intelligence agencies in 2007, and given the facts of the NPT purpose and regulations which fully grant Iran the right to do everything it is currently doing, and given the history of the run up to the Iraq war, how is that people like the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff seemingly DO NOT understand these facts, but instead make statements directly at odds with these facts?

    The only conclusion one can rationally come to is that there is an ulterior motive on the part of the US government. You simply can’t look at the facts of the situation and conclude that Iran is “hell bent on acquiring nuclear weapons”, that sanctions must be applied because Iran has not suspended enrichment, that the call for Iran to do so by the UN was legal under the UN Charter and the NPT, and that a military strike on Iran is in any way legal or legitimate under international law if Iran does not suspend enrichment.

    You simply can’t come to those conclusions based on the facts and the history of the situation.

    Therefore those who do are ipso facto lying and have an ulterior agenda. There’s no other possible conclusion. There is no “reasonable people may disagree” in this matter. Obama is BY DEFINITION either too stupid to be President or a liar.

  245. Mr. Brill: “if the US government were basing its conduct on what the US government really thinks or knows, it would be taking into account the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, among considerable other data that point to the very same conclusion. Clearly the US government is not doing that.”

    Ridiculous statement. What the existence of that NIE shows is that the Obama administration has no interest in acknowledging the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Obama completely ignores the NIE in every mention of Iran, as does the rest of the administration.

    Your point that the US government manipulates the public to make it appear that it is obeying the will of the public is quite true. This is precisely what I mean when I say the government is acting in bad faith. The government KNOWS there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. The government has therefore an ulterior motive in ignoring that fact and acting as though it were not true. Therefore the government has no “mistaken impression” that Iran has a weapons program, which is the point under discussion. And whether the US public has a mistaken impression is precisely the result of US manipulation of the issue to deceive the public, aided by a compliant media.

    So again, Arnold is quite correct that there is no mistaken impression involved here, because what the US public thinks is based on what the US government has deliberately misled them to think. And the US government, I re-iterate, knows quite well that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. And that is the only impression of importance here.

  246. Castellio: “is there any ally or coalition of allies that can deter or deflect the American rush to war?”

    Well, obviously if the UK and the EU and Russia and China were to completely block any further UN sanctions, and publicly declare their support for Iran to have enrichment, that would clearly be a big problem for the US to overcome in terms of international support for any military strike.

    Aside from China and Russia, I don’t see the UK and the EU doing anything but going along with the US on the issue, although I don’t think they will join in with any military strike like they did on Iraq.

    Russia and China can veto sanctions in the UN, and they may do so when it looks like the next step is war. But they can’t stop the US from going ahead with unilateral sanctions, and then war.

    And nobody else has the influence on the US that could do so other than the Western nations. Only the UK and the EU influence would be at all relevant.

    And whatever Iran offers the UK and the EU won’t be enough to overcome US pressure on those countries. What CAN Iran offer them? Even if Iran went back on the AP, that would not be enough to convince the US, and people like Sarkozy and Merkel are very hostile to Iran as well. At best, Iran could possibly fragment some of the support for an end to Iranian enrichment. It wouldn’t be enough to stop the US.

    Mr. Brill: Please. You’re just trying to slip in your thoroughly discredited notion that Iran could achieve something significant by “disclosing more”. Iran is playing the cards it has, but in fact it really has almost no maneuvering room. The September talks are already a foregone failure that the US will use to ratchet up more tension and push for more sanctions next year.

    At this point Iran really should just sit back and say, “Until the US changes its intentions on regime change, we really have nothing further to discuss. We’ve complied for years with US demands and got nothing for our efforts. The US is acting in bad faith, is intent on regime change for its own benefit and the benefit of Israel, and is using our nuclear energy program as an excuse.”

    I’m of the view that if things are going to collapse, collapse them sooner rather than later. Of course, nations can’t or at least don’t follow that rule. So Iran will continue to try to buy time – possibly useful time if it is preparing itself for the inevitable US attack – but in the end, Iran is still going to be attacked.

    And, no, it is most definitely useful to keep re-iterating that, although it may not fully counter the cognitive dissonance rampant in discussions of the issue,

    The only way to even think of countering a war with Iran is to continually emphasize the dead-end nature of the current approach and the bad faith of the US and Israel in this matter. While I don’t think it will work, it is the only correct approach. Demanding that Iran “disclose more” isn’t going to help one iota.

  247. Richard,

    “Nobody cares what the American public thinks. What matters is what the US government thinks. And the US government, based on the 2007 NIE, KNOWS that Iran does not have a weapons program.”

    Quite to the contrary, if the US government were basing its conduct on what the US government really thinks or knows, it would be taking into account the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, among considerable other data that point to the very same conclusion. Clearly the US government is not doing that.

    I don’t mean to say that the US government is responding to what the American public has come to believe all by itself, which would suggest that the US government simply feels unable to resist the popular will but nevertheless might have its heart in the right place. What I mean to say is that the US government shapes the beliefs of the American public – ignoring, in the process, much flatly conflicting data that the US government knows or believes to be true – so that the US government is always in a position to claim that its behavior toward Iran reflects the will of the American public.

  248. Castellio:

    “RSH: Accepting your analysis, is there any ally or coalition of allies that can deter or deflect the American rush to war? I’m not questioning your beliefs on the nature of the American political structure at this moment, I’m asking you to envision possibilities of co-operation among other nations that would or could substantially change the thrust. Do any possibilities exist?”

    You’re asking the right question, and suggesting wisely that Iran should focus less on the US and more on “co-operation among other nations.” It does little good simply to announce repeatedly one’s conclusion that war is inevitable. If the only point in doing so is to get across one’s belief on that, once or twice is probably enough.

    It’s more useful to suggest ways that war might be avoided. Obviously it does no good to pretend that what is inevitable is not inevitable. But if one genuinely believes war is not inevitable – or even that it is unlikely, as I believe – it’s useful to suggest ways to increase the chances of a rosier outcome. If those ways include suggestions that Iran take steps that seem to ignore the shabby treatment Iran has received, those suggestions might seem a bit less objectionable if one keeps in mind their purpose.

  249. Castellio says:

    RSH: Accepting your analysis, is there any ally or coalition of allies that can deter or deflect the American rush to war? I’m not questioning your beliefs on the nature of the American political structure at this moment, I’m asking you to envision possibilities of co-operation among other nations that would or could substantially change the thrust. Do any possibilities exist?

  250. As I’ve said over and over, all this proves is the bad faith on the part of the US government. The US government will NEVER go against Israel – or its own desire for more war – on this issue.

    What this article shows is that there will be no September deal, and Obama can continue his war-mongering until the end of the year, and then push for more sanctions next year. This will be the cycle until Obama can claim, like Bush did for Iraq, that UN resolutions “justify” a military attack even if the UN explicitly says they do not.

  251. kooshy says:

    Fiorangela

    FYI

    Ahmadinijad
    In response to remarks by Dr. Richard Frye’s request to be buried in Isfahan, after thanking him for his love for Iran the president said: We want Dr. Richard Frye to be in Iran, so Iranian people will offer Dr. Frye a residential unit in Isfahan as a gift, which you can use for any way that you want to use it.

  252. James Canning says:

    The way forward is for the Tehran declaration of May 17th to be put into effect asap, with suspension of Iranian enrichment to 20%. Further agreements can then be achieved.