[Freemanlist2] Rolling back the Iranian threat - MORTIMER B. ZUCKERMAN
Freeman Center For Strategic Studies
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Thu Feb 12 08:22:30 CST 2015
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Rolling back the Iranian threat
After far too many concessions, President Obama must ensure that Tehran disarms
BY MORTIMER B. ZUCKERMAN
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, February 9, 2015, 5:00 AM
20 17 6
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Don’t trust. Verify.
Iran believes time is on its side to build a nuclear bomb and the means to deliver it. Only an optimist blind to the history of Iran’s clandestine ways and the labyrinthine story of the negotiations from 2003 could think otherwise following our grant of a second extension of time.
There was a time during negotiations when Iran froze most of its program and kept up with its commitments. That promise of hope was unfortunately disproved when President Obama led the 5+1 not simply in an extension of time, but inducements to keep talking:
Ok, Tehran you can keep your underground Fordow fuel enrichment plant; you don’t have to dismantle your Arak plutonium facility; you can maintain the right to enrich uranium; and forget what we have been saying for years about getting rid of all your centrifuges, those spinning cylinders that enrich uranium potentially to weapons grade for a nuclear bomb.
How about 4,000-5,000 centrifuges and we’ll throw in some small easement of sanctions?
All the red lines imposed have evaporated. We went from saying “no enrichment of uranium” to a “temporary complete enrichment freeze” to a “partial freeze,” coupled with shipping some of Iran’s stockpile to Russia to be diluted for power generation. Iran has gone from insignificant levels of enrichment — low-grade or otherwise — prior to 2010 to thousands of kilograms of enriched uranium.
Big question: Why didn’t the 5+1 lock in these concessions as the price of not tightening sanctions? And if the parties were so close to agreement last November, why did they extend by months instead of a few weeks?
The retreats have hardly stiffened spines. Now it seems Russia and China are apt to accept any Iranian compromise they can package as reasonable. They can return to raking in millions in Iranian trade. Iran knows and is empowered by this.
Just about every western leader is consistently on record saying “No deal is better than a bad deal.” But the rhetoric does not match the reality. There are secret letters begging Iran for a compromise. No one is talking about dismantling Iran’s program anymore.
There is a sickening smell in the air, the harbinger of a bad deal.
The Obama administration has ignored its previous commitment to Congress to ensure that Iran will not have nuclear weapons. It has acted in a way that ensures that Iran will pay no price for negotiating in bad faith and will suffer no consequences for recalcitrance.
We cannot leave Iran with thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium when it doesn’t even need a single centrifuge to have peaceful nuclear energy.
We must insist Iran cuts to 500 kilograms its reserves of uranium that has been enriched to 3.5%; it must stop enriching more uranium at Fordow and end tests of new generation centrifuges. We must insist on our having the right to inspect all its nuclear facilities. Witness the 10-year runaround that Iran has given the International Atomic Energy Agency.
But the issue before the world is not just whether Iran can operate 9,000 or 4,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges. We also have to confront Iran’s program for missiles. Iran doesn’t need intercontinental ballistic missiles to reach Israel; they need them to reach Europe and the U.S. and the only thing to carry on an intercontinental ballistic missile is a nuclear warhead.
The Israeli Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, former military intelligence chief and executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies, notes that the Iranian program is currently three to six months away from a bomb. Any deal will have to roll Iran back from the brink.
We should remember that Iran remains the Islamic republic, with all the ambitions of a hegemonic power. Its human rights record is deplorable; its ties are stronger than ever to terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, whom Iran supplies with weapons, money and advisers; it supports bloody regimes like the one in Syria and sectarian governments like Iraq. They now claim a negative role in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
What is Obama’s message? It seems to be more to want an accommodation with Iran than preventing its expansion, to avoid even a confrontation over its ability to attack the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped ICBM.
We must have a clear message to Iran. We must make them understand what we consider an unacceptable deal: anything that fails to roll back their program to small numbers of centrifuges; anything that permits more than one bomb's worth of enriched uranium in country; or allows a heavy-water plant and, vitally, any deal that does not allow for scrutiny and understanding of what the consequences of cheating would be.
We cannot live with a just-in-time Iranian nuclear program that leaves it with the option of going for a weapon at a moment of its choosing.
Zuckerman is chairman and publisher of the Daily News.
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