Iran Remains Nuclear Ready confirms: U.S. nuke deal to allow Iran 6,000 centrifuges for continued uranium enrichment

Posted at 11:21 am on March 19, 2015
So the rumors last month were true: Six thousand centrifuges will continue to spin, which is supposedly a great victory for the U.S. since it would mean — assuming Iran isn’t covertly operating even more centrifuges under the UN’s nose — that Iran would need a solid year to “break out” and refine enough uranium to power a nuclear bomb. Which means Barack Obama would have a year to prepare and execute a U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities to stop them.Oh, minor footnote: Barack Obama’s never going to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Ever. And both sides understand that.

[Six thousand is] less than the 10,000 such machines Tehran now runs, yet substantially more than the 500 to 1,500 that Washington originally wanted as a ceiling. Only a year ago, U.S. officials floated 4,000 as a possible compromise…
It’s unclear how complete the draft agreement is. Iran’s deeply buried underground enrichment plant remains a problem, officials said, with Washington demanding the facility be repurposed and Tehran insisting it be able to run hundreds of centrifuges there. Iran says it wants to use the machines for scientific research; the Americans fear they could be quickly retooled for enrichment…
Any March framework agreement is unlikely to constrain Iran’s missile program, which the United States believes may ultimately be aimed at creating delivery systems for nuclear warheads. Diplomats say that as the talks move to deadline, the Iranians continue to insist that missile curbs are not up for discussion…
After the deal expires [in 15-20 years], Iran could theoretically ramp up enrichment to whatever level or volume it wants.

So Iran gets to keep enriching, maybe gets to keep using its heavily fortified Fordow facility, gets to keep perfecting its ICBMs while all of this is happening, and then is free to get crazy with the nuclear cheez whiz in 15 years — and amid all this, a variety of American and international sanctions would be gradually relaxed. In return for all that, the U.S. gets a handful of magic beans. Pet the Gatestone Institute, even the French — the French! — think Obama’s a sucker who’s unwittingly kickstarting a nuclear panic among the Middle East’s Sunni powers. The same guy who’s spent years talking up “nuclear zero” may end up leaving a legacy of Islamic states arming themselves to the teeth with civilization-destroying bombs:

[French Foreign Minister Laurent] Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (“contempt, really,” one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: “The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians,” before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran…
French diplomats are no angels, and they haven’t suddenly turned 180 degrees from their usual attitude of reflexive dislike toward Israel. They worry, however, that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as “like us,” but others potentially as madmen.

I said most of what I had to say about this in this post but let me reemphasize an obvious point: All this is, really, is a punt. Obama’s stuck between two unpalatable options, bombing Iran and starting (or escalating) a hot war across at least three countries in the region, namely, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, or doing nothing and being known to history as the Man Who Let Iran Get the Bomb. A 15-year deal with sunset provisions is as explicit an attempt as you can get to push the ultimate disposition of Iran’s nuke program onto some future president. Maybe the mullahs will be deposed by then and the problem will solve itself (although it’s naive to think even a friendlier regime in Tehran will be willing to capitulate on enrichment). Maybe the U.S. will have developed new weapons by then, cyber or otherwise, that will permit a more effective attack on Iran’s facilities than we’re capable of right now. Maybe the Israelis will figure something out. Or maybe the status quo will hold, more or less, and President Hillary or President Jeb or whoever will have to make the sort of tough decision that Obama’s incapable of making. Whatever the answer, it won’t be his problem anymore. Unless of course Iran violates the agreement before January 2017. And why would they do that and risk alienating O when he’s busy reorienting America’s entire Middle East policy towards detente with the Shiite menace?
Two other points here. One: After all the Democratic screeching about Tom Cotton’s unprecedented, historic, near-treasonous Logan-Act-smashing letter to Iran, it did squat to disrupt the deal. And that was predictable, of course, since Cotton’s letter said nothing that Iran didn’t already know. It was cheap left-wing demagoguery from the word go, designed to bolster a guy whose committed the sort of sins against separation of powers that would have liberals demanding impeachment if a Republican had committed them. Take nothing these people say seriously. Two: All lefty defenses of doing a deal with Iran boil down to “the mullahs are rational.” Even if the worst occurs and they build a bomb on the sly — a prospect Obama’s Democratic supporters are clearly already preparing for rhetorically — it’s not a huge deal because Iran’s rulers haven’t made any suicidal moves to date. They didn’t fight to the bitter end against Saddam in the 80s, they preferred Shiite proxies and arms shipments to direct battlefield confrontation with the U.S. in Iraq — they know their limitations, so they won’t do anything dramatic with Israel knowing the scale of nuclear retaliation that awaits. The problem with that defense is that it assumes that things can’t get worse in Iran; the current regime is the craziest Iran is capable of, supposedly, and since they’re kinda sorta rational, that means there’s no worst-case scenario. Rule one of Middle Eastern regime change, though, is that things can always get worse (and usually do). In fact, the left’s criticism of Cotton’s letter tacitly acknowledges it: Cotton’s letter allowed “hardline” opponents of the nuclear deal in Iran’s parliament to proclaim that the negotiations were doomed and shouldn’t continue. What happens if Khamenei dies and one of those “hardliners” ascends the throne? Lefties and righties alike recognize what a nuclear clusterfark it would be if Pakistan’s leadership was deposed by something more Taliban-esque. We all understand it’d be a terrible idea to let the Saudi royals have the bomb knowing what’s waiting in the wings to replace them. What if something similar happened in Iran, with the fanatics di tutti fanatics within the regime suddenly inheriting a supply of highly enriched uranium? Why does Iran get such a weird benefit of the doubt as to its enduring stability and rationality?
Update: Ah, here’s a nice catch by Jeff Dunetz. If Iran’s nuclear production is all about supplying power plants, why on earth would they settle for only a few thousand centrifuges but insist on more than 4,000, per the AP excerpt above? Your answer:

If you are going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 is pretty much the number you need,” [former CIA deputy director Mike] Morell, now a CBS analyst, said on Charlie Rose. “If you have a power program, you need a lot more. By limiting them to a small number of centrifuges, we are limiting them to the number you need for a weapon.”

Iranian Horn Enhances More Uranium (Daniel 8)

Tehran Nuclear Chief: Iran “Enhancing” Its Nuclear Program, Uranium Enrichment Process
Iran has been “enhancing” its nuclear program and bolstering its uranium enrichment capability, Iran’s atomic energy chief told a group of the country’s ambassadors and envoys in Tehran on Saturday.

“We are enhancing the industrial section of Iran’s nuclear activities technologically with modern systems and machines,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to Fars news agency. He further asserted that the quality of the country’s process of uranium enrichment was improving, Tehran Times reported.

Salehi added that Iran’s nuclear program was on the “right path” and was “compatible with the strategic plans of the country,” according to the IRNA state news agency. He also said that Iran is beginning to sell its heavy water on the open market.

Salehi’s remarks recall a concern raised last year by Mark Dubowitz and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who warned that details leaked about the nuclear deal suggested that “eventually the regime could legally develop an industrial-size enrichment program, reducing its bomb breakout time to days and increasing the risk of uranium diversion to covert sites.” Similarly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in his speech before Congress last year that the deal “creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal.”
President Barack Obama acknowledged last April that given the nuclear advances that Iran could achieve over the course of the deal, Iran’s nuclear “breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero” by the time that the accord expires.

Iran Horn Continues To Make Enriched Uranium

Iran says it is ‘enhancing’ nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment

Tehran nuclear chief Salehi hails technological progress, says Iran establishing itself as an exporter of nuclear products

May 14, 2016, 6:04 pm

Iran is enhancing its nuclear activities, and has improved its capacity to enrich uranium, Iran’s nuclear chief told a gathering of his country’s diplomats in Tehran on Saturday.

“We are enhancing the industrial section of Iran’s nuclear activities technologically with modern systems and machines,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran who was a key figure in the negotiation of last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and the US-led P5+1 world powers.

Salehi spoke of advances in enrichment capability, asserting that the quality of process of uranium enrichment in Iran is also progressing, according to the Tehran Times.

Iran’s IRNA state news agency reported: “Salehi said that Iran’s nuclear program is on the right path naturally and compatible with the strategic plans of the country in a transparent way based on international factors.”

He also told the envoys, at a conference that focused on the nuclear deal, that Iran is establishing itself as an exporter of nuclear products, including heavy water. “We have improved the country’s situation in the field of the civilian nuclear energy,” Salehi said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Iran is enhancing its nuclear activities, and has improved its capacity to enrich uranium, Iran’s nuclear chief told a gathering of his country’s diplomats in Tehran on Saturday.

“We are enhancing the industrial section of Iran’s nuclear activities technologically with modern systems and machines,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran who was a key figure in the negotiation of last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and the US-led P5+1 world powers.

Salehi spoke of advances in enrichment capability, asserting that the quality of process of uranium enrichment in Iran is also progressing, according to the Tehran Times.

Iran’s IRNA state news agency reported: “Salehi said that Iran’s nuclear program is on the right path naturally and compatible with the strategic plans of the country in a transparent way based on international factors.”

He also told the envoys, at a conference that focused on the nuclear deal, that Iran is establishing itself as an exporter of nuclear products, including heavy water. “We have improved the country’s situation in the field of the civilian nuclear energy,” Salehi said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Iran is enhancing its nuclear activities, and has improved its capacity to enrich uranium, Iran’s nuclear chief told a gathering of his country’s diplomats in Tehran on Saturday.

“We are enhancing the industrial section of Iran’s nuclear activities technologically with modern systems and machines,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran who was a key figure in the negotiation of last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and the US-led P5+1 world powers.

Salehi spoke of advances in enrichment capability, asserting that the quality of process of uranium enrichment in Iran is also progressing, according to the Tehran Times.
Iran’s IRNA state news agency reported: “Salehi said that Iran’s nuclear program is on the right path naturally and compatible with the strategic plans of the country in a transparent way based on international factors.”
He also told the envoys, at a conference that focused on the nuclear deal, that Iran is establishing itself as an exporter of nuclear products, including heavy water. “We have improved the country’s situation in the field of the civilian nuclear energy,” Salehi said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Salehi said earlier this week that Iran was negotiating with Russia to sell 40 tons of its excess heavy water.

The nuclear deal was designed to freeze and inspect Iran’s rogue nuclear program, in return for sanctions relief for the Tehran regime. Critics, notably including Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have warned that, far from blocking Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves the way to an Iranian nuclear arsenal.

Even as the deal is being implemented, Iran’s leaders have kept up a barrage of aggressive rhetoric against the United States and Israel. Earlier this month, for instance, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the United States is the Middle East’s main enemy, with the “Zionist regime” a close second.

Speaking at a meeting in Tehran with the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, Khamenei said that looking at the turmoil in the region in a “macro” sense, the US was clearly to blame, with Israel following closely behind.

Iran has also been testing ballistic missiles. In March, it tested what it said were missiles with a 2,000-kilometer range, capable of reaching Israel, inscribed with the words, “Israel must be wiped out.”

The Obama administration, which championed the Iran deal, has been under fire at home in recent days after a top presidential adviser, Ben Rhodes, reportedly told the New York Times he created an “echo chamber” of supportive experts in an effort to persuade lawmakers to back the deal. The article also claims Obama misrepresented the timeline of the negotiations in an effort to create a story line that bolstered the administration’s case.
AP contributed to this story.

Obama Needs To Use Red Mark Erasers (Eze 17)


Team Obama just crossed its own nuclear red line

By Post Editorial Board
June 19, 2015 | 7:42pm

Yet another Obama red line has been crossed. Only this time, Team Obama are the ones who crossed it.

Secretary of State John Kerry this week threw in the towel on a requirement that he long called essential to any nuke agreement with Iran: requiring Tehran to account for all of its past nuclear work.

Never mind, he now says: “We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another.

“We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in,” he added.

No, we don’t — as everyone who’s worked on the issue will tell you. They’ll also tell you that, absent that accounting, it’ll be impossible to verify if Iran is complying with any deal.

Kerry’s statement is a 180 from what he said just weeks ago. Asked in April about the insistence that Iran disclose its past military-related nuclear activity, he replied: “They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done.”

Iran’s nuke program long predates 2003, when the world first learned of it.

If we don’t know what they were doing then, there’s no way to tell if they’ve stopped. As former CIA Director Michael Hayden said, Kerry is “pretending we have perfect knowledge about something that was an incredibly tough intelligence target when I was director, and I see nothing that has made it any easier.”

Little wonder, then, that the State Department insists Kerry’s comments don’t reflect “any kind of concession or change in policy.”

For months, Kerry and President Obama promised the country — and skeptics in Congress — that they wouldn’t take a deal that didn’t include full Iranian disclosure. Now, plainly, Tehran’s refusing to go along — yet our leaders so want some deal that they’ll swallow it, and then lie.

The question is, are key leaders on Capitol Hill — we’re talking to you, Sen. Chuck Schumer — going to pretend they buy the lie?

Iranian horn making no concessions (Dan 8:4)


Iran Never to Allow Interviews with Nuclear Scientists
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran will never allow foreigners to interview its nuclear scientists, an Iranian lawmaker reiterated.
Speaking to Tasnim, Mohammad Saleh Jokar also noted that Tehran has twice rejected US bids to include interviews with Iranian scientists in a possible final nuclear deal.
Americans had drawn up a list of 23 Iranian people they wanted to interview about the country’s nuclear program, but after Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s outright rejection of any interviews with the Iranian scientists, Washington proposed a list with 15 names, he stated.
“That list of 15 individuals was also rejected. We will never accede to the Americans’ excessive demands and will never let our (nuclear) scientists be interviewed,” added Jokar, a member of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission.
Back on April 9, Ayatollah Khamenei had categorically rejected foreign access to the country’s “security and defensive” sectors under the pretext of nuclear monitoring.
Later on May 20, the Leader ruled out any request for interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists, describing it as an instance of “interrogation”.
“I would not let foreigners come (here) and talk to the Iranian nation’s dear scientists…, who have expanded this wide knowledge to this stage,” Imam Khamenei stressed.
Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) are in talks to hammer out a lasting accord that would end more than a decade of impasse over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program.

Far From A Nuclear Deal (Dan 8)


Iran nuclear talks still mired by disagreement on all main elements

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has for weeks rebuffed U.S. demands that U.N. nuclear monitors have access to military sites and nuclear scientists.


VIENNA — Iran and six powers are still apart on all main elements of a nuclear deal with less than two weeks to go to their June 30 target date and will likely have to extend their negotiations, two diplomats tell The Associated Press.

Their comments enforce concerns that obstacles to a pact remain beyond the public debate on how far Iran must open its nuclear program to outside purview under any deal.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has for weeks rebuffed U.S. demands that U.N. nuclear monitors have access to military sites and nuclear scientists as they monitor Tehran’s commitments under a deal and probe allegations of past work on atomic arms.

Negotiators are concerned about a lack of headway on all issues. Russian chief delegate Sergey Ryabkov said Friday the “the rate of progress … is progressively slowing down.”

Negotiators have been meeting five days a week in Vienna over the past few weeks. The two diplomats are familiar with the progress of the talks and spoke shortly before a planned five-day round reconvened Wednesday. They demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the confidential negotiations.

Ways of implementing specific parts of the deal are supposed to be contained in four or five annexes to the main text of an agreement.

The diplomats described said the draft of a main document as a patchwork of text and dozens of blank spaces because of stubborn disagreement on up to 10 elements crucial to any deal. Those details are to be included in four or five annexes, which remain incomplete.

Both sides remain publicly committed to June 30. Still, the diplomats said all nations at the table recognize that a delay up to July 8 is not a deal-breaker.

If U.S. Congress receives a deal by July 8, it has 30 days to review it before U.S. President Barack Obama could suspend congressional sanctions. Postponement beyond that would double the congressional review period to 60 days, giving both Iranian and U.S. opponents more time to work on undermining an agreement.

Any deal would cap nearly a decade of international efforts to restrict Iranian nuclear programs that could be turned toward making weapons.

Tehran denies any interest in — or work on — atomic arms, but wants negotiations with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to conclude with an end to sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.

The talks focus on ways to implement commitments by both sides reached in a preliminary deal in April. Iran agreed then to slashing the size of its uranium enrichment program for at least 10 years, as well as re-engineering a nearly built reactor to minimize its output or plutonium — like enriched uranium a potential pathway to nuclear weapons.

It also has agreed to give experts of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency unprecedented monitoring authority to ensure that Tehran is hewing to its commitments, as well as more leverage in following up on the allegations of past nuclear weapons work.

What Iran Deal? (Ezekiel 17)


Obama’s Nuclear Dream Fizzles
How a Nobel Peace Prize winner president threw away an ambitious set of nonproliferation goals.
Even in an administration full of audacious hope, the nuclear arms agenda of President Barack Obama stood out—he came out strong in 2009, declaring America’s commitment “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” His energetic embrace of nuclear disarmament was cited as part of his Nobel Peace Prize that year, and his announcement in Prague of a commitment to lock down vulnerable nuclear explosives all over the world within four years, to keep them away from terrorists, was attention-getting and audacious
Six years into his presidency, though, that ambitious dream has all but disappeared. As President Obama prepares for the last of the global summits he organized to safeguard nuclear explosive materials, his aides are hoping for modest achievements rather than pressing for broad new measures to help protect the world from a nuclear terror attack, according to current and former administration officials.
Obama has instead settled for what a senior White House official publicly described in 2012 as “the incremental nature of success” on nuclear secruity rather than throwing his full weight behind the creation of global standards for nuclear materials that independent experts say could have a more lasting and significant impact.
The administration’s focus on what its officials depict as the art of the possible has provoked grumbling from outsiders that progress achieved so far could be undermined after Obama departs in 2017, unless the government mounts a last-minute push for a more sweeping agreement—even one involving only a few dozen like-minded nations instead of a global pact.
“I completely understand that putting forth ambitious ideas is putting your hand into a buzz saw,” said Kenneth Luongo, senior advisor to the secretary of energy during the Clinton administration and former director of arms control and nonproliferation at the Energy Department, referring to opposition by several nuclear-weapons states and some others to a new system of nuclear material controls.
“But you have to do it, so you can show people the scar,” he said, and demonstrate to the world that the United States is prepared to take political risks to reduce this threat.
The Obama administration since 2009 has hardly slighted nuclear security: According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit group in Washington that advocates tighter control of nuclear explosive materials, the administration has invested more than $5 billion in it. That figure includes funds given to Russia and other countries to help secure their nuclear weapons arsenals, to convert research reactors so they burn fuel that cannot be used in weapons, and to improve the physical protection and accounting of nuclear explosive materials such as plutonium and highly-enriched uranium.
The summit meetings Obama led in in 2010, 2012 and 2014 about associated nuclear perils—in Washington, South Korea and the Netherlands—included 53 nations and were attended by 46 sitting presidents, prime ministers or other heads of state. Some of those leaders brought what the administration called “gift baskets” meant to highlight their commitment to nuclear security, including offers to ship nuclear explosive materials to the United States or Russia for destruction.
But Luongo, who now directs a nonprofit group called Partnership for Global Security, said the meetings left “gaps and fissures” in the patchwork of domestic regulations and international agreements designed to protect nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands. And he urged that the United States lead an effort to transform the current system, where it is up to individual countries to decide how seriously to take the protection of their nuclear materials, into one with enforceable international standards.
Laura Holgate, the senior director for WMD Terrorism and Threat Reduction at the National Security Council and a leader of the efforts to prepare for next year’s summit, declined to address planning for the final summit. Shortly after the second summit in March 2012, however, Holgate said the administration had not sought new nuclear security treaties because too many other countries were opposed to such measures.
Instead, she said, the summit process reflected “the incremental nature of success,” adding: “That’s just the way it is in this field. You don’t have giant thunderclaps and then the world is different.”
Asked for further comment last week, a White House spokesman forwarded a copy of a speech last July in which Holgate said the summits had “built up an impressive track record in meaningful progress” and helped make it “harder than ever for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons.” In the speech, she said “we have not yet done all that we can or need to do,” but a “comprehensive” arrangement for controlling both civilian and military stocks of nuclear explosives would be promoted “over time.”
“We also need,” Holgate said then, “to reflect the principle of continuous improvement.”
In advance of the 2014 summit, however, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, in a document labeled “Official Use Only,” said that while U.S. initiatives had made the world safer, there are still “serious threats that require urgent attention.” The May 2013 report, which was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, said that terrorists were still seeking nuclear weapons, and plenty of raw materials to build them are still scattered around the world.
Hundreds of pounds of weapons-usable uranium are being stored at civilian sites, including in South Africa and Belarus, the document said. Scores of research reactors, where security is generally lower than at military sites, still operate with fuel composed of weapons-grade explosives, it said, including more than 60 in Russia alone. Meanwhile, global plutonium stocks are rising, the report said, with more than 100 metric tons produced since 1998, enough it said to build at least 20 thousand nuclear weapons.
The loss of even a small amount of this material from any of the hundreds of sites where they are stored could have catastrophic consequences, the report said. “In today’s global environment, a nuclear … device would not just impact one city or one country; it would gravely damage us all.”
The report’s depiction of the threat as an urgent problem has found resonance in a coalition of more than 80 arms control, academic, and philanthropic organizations known as the Fissile Materials Working Group. It plans to release a 16-page report Tuesday proposing what it calls “bold, new actions” to advance nuclear security at the final summit beyond what the Obama administration is presently considering, including creating a pathway toward “universal, mandatory…standards.”
The group’s membership spans the political spectrum, and includes the Arms Control Association, the Cato Institute, the Federation of American Scientists, the Stimson Center, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as well as independent groups in Russia, India, Denmark and elsewhere. One of its members, the Stanley Foundation, has financially supported foreign travel by staff at the Center for Public Integrity. The working group has already given copies of its report to diplomats heading for a preparatory conference scheduled to be held in Lithuania the week of June 28.
The Working Group report calls on the nuclear weapons states to share more information about security practices and expenditures, and to support visits by foreign experts who could review the security arrangements for their fissionable materials (not the weapons themselves)—the way U.S. scientists helped their Russian counterparts in the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union left huge stores of such materials poorly guarded.
Douglas Birch is a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.
R. Jeffrey Smith is an editor for the Center for Public Integrity. Read more of their investigations into nuclear materials and policy or follow them on Twitter.

Iran deal likely won’t happen (Dan 8)


Obama Legacy on Nuclear Arms Under Threat

As Iran talks enter critical stage, arms expansion elsewhere threatens key U.S. policy goal

June 14, 2015 7:46 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—As international talks over Iran’s nuclear program enter their critical final stage this month, a key goal of President Barack Obama’s presidency—curtailing the world-wide nuclear threat—hangs in the balance.

Mr. Obama’s campaign to stem the spread of nuclear weapons was cited as core reason for his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, but that signature effort has been bogged down amid a resurgence of Middle East turmoil, tensions between the U.S. and Russia and the growth of North Korea’s arsenal.

Senior U.S. officials cite the impending deal with Iran as a major step toward Mr. Obama’s nonproliferation objective. But many nonproliferation concerns have grown. Chinese scientists warned the U.S. in recent months that North Korea has expanded its arsenal to about 20 atomic bombs. And developing countries negotiating the future of the nuclear

Nonproliferation Treaty at the United Nations last month, meanwhile, sharply criticized the U.S. and Russia for not doing enough to shrink their nuclear-weapons arsenals.

In recent years, aside from the Iran talks, “the administration has lost focus and momentum on the [nonproliferation] issue, especially as the Republicans have seized the majority in the Senate and tensions with Russia have worsened,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington think tank.

Even a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions, a main goal, may lead only to a mixed record on disarmament. Key U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, are voicing fears the emerging deal won’t go far enough in blocking an Iranian path to a bomb. A number of Arab states have warned they could seek to match whatever nuclear capabilities Iran is allowed to maintain as part of a final deal.

The talks, facing a June 30 deadline, are under way in Vienna. U.S. and European officials involved in the diplomacy said disputes still exist with Iran over the future inspections of its nuclear and military sites and the timing of sanctions relief. These officials said the concerns of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s watchdog, to clarify Iran’s alleged past efforts to develop nuclear weapons technologies are unlikely to be addressed by month-end, but will need to be handled in stages.

“In terms of the actual timelines, the IAEA isn’t going by the 30th of June to be able to resolve its outstanding questions,” a Western diplomat said. “What the deal will have to do is make sure there is a mechanism by which it can do that.”

The Obama administration’s nonproliferation campaign, laid out along the lines of the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, has focused on trying to deny atomic weapons to previously non-nuclear countries, reducing the stockpiles already held by the five U.N.-recognized weapons states, and facilitating the use of civilian nuclear technologies for countries that commit to not go down the weapons path.

Administration officials view the diplomacy toward Iran as a linchpin of this overall strategy. The White House believes an agreement with Iran will deny Tehran the capability to break out and build a bomb for at least 10 years, removing pressure on Saudi Arabia and Iran’s other regional rivals to pursue nuclear technologies.

Still, U.S. allies and adversaries alike have voiced suspicion of the Obama administration’s broader nonproliferation campaign. And developing countries—who are signatories to the treaty—criticized the U.S. and other weapons states last month for not moving fast enough to dismantle their nuclear-weapons arsenals.

The U.S. and Russia in 2010 reached an arms-control agreement, called the New Start Treaty, to cut in half the countries’ nuclear-missile launchers. But subsequent U.S. offers to the Kremlin to make additional weapons cuts haven’t been reciprocated, according to the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, nuclear threats have crept back into the international dialogue. Russia’s military publicly has said in recent months it should rewrite its official doctrine to allow for a preemptive nuclear attack on the U.S. European officials were stunned in March when Russia’s ambassador to Denmark threatened the country with nuclear-weapons reprisals if it joined a North Atlantic Treaty Organization missile-defense system.

“This makes for a very difficult environment to rapidly negotiate a reduction in nuclear weapons,” said the senior U.S. official. “We’re trying to make sure our concerns about their policies don’t take on a dynamic of their own.”

Israel’s undeclared nuclear-weapons arsenal is also challenging the Obama administration’s broader nonproliferation agenda.

Mideast countries, led by Egypt, pressed the U.N. last month to quickly convene an international conference aimed at establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in their region. Some nations had been seeking to mandate the meeting be held as soon as this December.

Israel’s government—which neither confirms nor denies that the country possesses nuclear weapons—vehemently opposed the requirement that it attend the proposed conference in the absence of broader steps to address what it sees as threats to the Jewish state’s security.

Israeli officials voiced concern that the Arab states and Iran would seek to use the conference to force their country to disarm.

The Obama administration ultimately blocked the U.N. from holding such a conference due to Israel’s concerns. But Egyptian officials warned the White House the American veto would have long-term implications.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, has acknowledged in recent weeks that Iran will likely to define his international record.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” Mr. Obama said in an interview last month with Atlantic Media. “I think it’s fair to say that, in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

Giving More Concessions To Iran (Eze 17)


Negotiators may let Iran slide on past nuclear work

BY: Charles Hoskinson June 12, 2015 | 12:52 pm

The Obama administration and its international negotiating partners appear willing to sign a nuclear deal with Iran that would not require Tehran to come clean on possible past work to develop a nuclear weapon, which experts have called crucial to ensuring any agreement can be verified.

The Associated Press, citing Western and U.S. officials, reported Thursday that members of the P5+1 group — the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China — were prepared to accept a deal that does not immediately answer questions about Iran’s past nuclear weapons program, in spite of the administration’s insistence that those questions must be resolved in any agreement.

As negotiators race to meet a July 1 deadline, this apparent concession will likely cause problems for the administration in Congress, where lawmakers have heard months of testimony from neutral experts saying this is a crucial element in verifying under any agreement that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful.

Once an agreement is signed, lawmakers will have 30 days to review it and decide whether to reject it. Obama can veto any rejection. The ability to verify a deal has been a major bipartisan concern, and may sway the votes of Democrats in whose hands the fate of any agreement will ultimately rest.

Iran is required by U.N. Security Council resolutions to detail any past secret work on nuclear weapons, which is believed to have ended more than a decade ago. But the International Atomic Energy Agency has said Tehran has not complied with that requirement.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who has emerged as the leading Democratic critic of the deal, noted the lack of progress in a floor speech Thursday.

“We can’t trust Iran to abide by its agreements or to abide by United Nations resolutions even when they are in the midst of negotiations, when you think they’d be behaving the best,” he said. “Why do we think we can trust them if they are violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, which is the world, not the U.S., not even the P5+1, but the world, telling them ‘you can’t do these things?’”

“Iran…needs to be held responsible for its commitments — forget about its word — its commitments. There can be no slippage, no delays, no obfuscation.”

Any concession on this issue may also cause a split in the negotiating group, most notably with France, which has taken a hard line on this issue. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said May 27 that it would be a deal-breaker if Iran denies access to military sites, backing up the IAEA’s interpretation of Iran’s obligations. He was reacting to comments a week earlier by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, that ruled out such access.

Iran Refuses To Comply (Daniel 8)


Iran envoy declines to commit to nuclear transparency measures

By Shadia Nasralla

VIENNA | Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:44am EDT

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear agency declined on Thursday to commit to nuclear transparency measures that were part of a preliminary deal Tehran and world powers reached in April, deflecting U.S. demands to implement such provisions.

The United States urged Iran to implement the so-called Additional Protocol, which allows more intrusive access to Iranian sites, and Code 3.1, which requires from Iran early notification of the construction of any new nuclear facilities.

“These are the issues still under discussion and I believe we should wait to see the final text… and before that, we cannot prejudge anything,” Reza Najafi told reporters.

He added that Iran and the powers could seal a final deal by their self-imposed June 30 deadline, despite lingering disputes over the capacity of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme, the extent of U.N. inspections and sanctions relief for Tehran.

Iran has long denied Western suspicions that it has used its declared civilian nuclear energy programme as a front for developing the ability to make atom bombs. To prevent any such outcome, the powers want Iran to accept unfettered inspections.

Laura Kennedy, U.S. envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, told a session of the IAEA’s 35-nation governing board that it “remains critical for Iran to implement the provisions of Modified Code 3.1 … without delay”.

Kennedy also said it was important for Iran to implement the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which allows U.N. inspectors under specific circumstances to visit Iranian sites with as little notice as two hours’ notice.

The Additional Protocol also permits the U.N. watchdog to collect environment samples like soil that can yield information on nuclear activities years after they have taken place.

Kennedy further said Iran had still not resolved longstanding IAEA questions about the “possible military dimensions” (PMD), mainly before 2003, of its nuclear programme.

Najafi reiterated Tehran’s stance that some of the IAEA’s documents supporting concerns about PMD are intelligence fabrications. He also repeated that there will be little progress in the IAEA’s inquiry into Iran’s nuclear past unless the agency stops using these documents.

He referred to a case related to a former CIA officer who was convicted in January of leaking classified information to a reporter about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear programme, which it says is entirely peaceful.

“We can discuss new practical measures provided that the inauthentic documents and information would be put aside,” Najafi said. The IAEA has said it carefully reviews information provided for its investigations and takes nothing at face value.

Iran and the powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — reached a framework deal on April 2 in Switzerland and are seeking to strike a broader settlement by June 30 under which Iran would curb its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)