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Experts: Netanyahu is right on Iran

By Missing Peace
Former IAEA inspector David AlbrightFormer IAEA inspector David Albright

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu continues to warn about any deal that would not totally dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

He is right, say nuclear experts and former diplomats who are familiar with Iran and the negotiations on its nuclear program.

Yesterday for example former US envoy Dennis Ross warned against ‘letting Iran getting off the hook’ and expressed understanding for Netanyahu’s concerns.

Dore Gold

Today Dore Gold a former Israeli ambassador and the writer of the book ‘The rise of a nuclear Iran’  published an analysis about the emerging deal with Iran.

Gold called eliminating Iran’s 20-percent-enriched uranium, but allowing the Iranians to continue to produce 3.5-percent-enriched uranium  an unacceptable option.

That is if the goal of the West is to prevent Iran from advancing a nuclear weapon.

Gold also exposed some serious flaws in the proposed deal.

For example,  he wrote about the question of plutonium production, that up until now, the West
has been encouraging states not to erect heavy-water reactors, but instead
to accept light-water nuclear reactors which have a reduced risk of being
used for plutonium production. At present it appears that Western proposals
to Iran do not include the dismantling of the Arak heavy-water facility.

Gold furthermore pointed to the fact that President Obama’s former aide on the National Security Council, Gary Samore,  in October  warned that ending the production of 20-percent-enriched uranium is not enough because Iran can also reach weapons-grade uranium
using its stock of 3.5-percent-enriched uranium. Thus, any agreement must eliminate all of Iran’s enriched uranium, according to Gold.


Nuclear experts

Karl Vick, Time Magazine correspondent in Israel, published an article in which he wrote that some of the West’s leading experts on nuclear proliferation are making much the same case as Netanyahu does.

Vick cited Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and David Allbright David Albright, a former
IAEA inspector, who is now a fellow at the Institute for Science and International Security, the Washington think tank that does the most-quoted independent research on Iran’s nuclear program.

Here is what Vick wrote:

Heinonen, who speaks with a Finnish accent and a bureaucrat’s caution, was
blunt on the danger posed by the stockpiles of uranium Iran has enriched
beyond the 3 percent “low enrichment” required to fuel a nuclear reactor to
the 20 percent “medium” level ostensibly necessary for research.

“Medium” has a half-way sound but because so much of the heavy lifting in the nuclear
cycle precedes the spinning of centrifuges, 20percent actually is most of
the way to the “heavily enriched” 90 percent level required to fuel a
nuclear weapon. “If you already have 20 percent enriched uranium, actually
you have done 90 percent of your work,” Heinonen said.

He adds that the same formulations apply to uranium technically dubbed low-enriched, “which is why I understand the concerns of Prime Minister Netanyahu.” Iran has almost 7 metric tons of that material, and “you have done something like 60 percent of the effort you have to do to produce weapons grade uranium.”

Why all this matters was explained  on Nov. 7 by David Albright, an American former IAEA inspector.

Recently, it was estimated how long Iran would need to do what much of the world most fears – cast aside its consistent claims that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful means, and make a dash for a bomb.

The amount of time it needs, Albright noted, depends on how much enriched
uranium it has on hand, and how many centrifuges it has available to spin
the uranium to higher, more dangerous levels. With current stores and no
“cap” imposed by an interim agreement on the number of centrifuges it could
use, Tehran might create a bomb in as little as a  month, the ISIS study
concluded.  That month becomes the window for the outside world – including
IAEA inspectors, if Iran hasn’t kicked them out by then – to detect what’s
going on, and mount a response, such as the “military option” that President
Obama continues to say is “on the table.”

Albright said Iran’s leadership team on the nuclear issue, President Hassan
Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, “is very good on making promises –
enticements – but has not been so good about delivering,” Albright told the
reporters on the Nov. 7 call. “And it happened in ‘05 the same way: Lots of
promises, but in the end Iran wants a centrifuge program that is essentially
uncapped.  They’ll trade that for some transparency, but it’s never viewed
as enough … and so you never get a settlement.”


Iran’s track record

Then there those  who focus on Iran’s track record in the negotiations about its nuclear program.

Here is for example analyst David Gerstman who wrote an essay about the troubling historical precedent of the potential deal:

Aside from the specific problems with the potential deal, (and the way it’s reported) there’s a historical precedent that’s troubling.

One of the reasons many in the West saw Rouhani’s election as a harbinger for rapprochement with Iran was because when Rouhani was Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator a decade ago, was the last time the West (specifically Britain, France and Germany) and Iran reached a deal.

If that’s the reason to be hopeful for an agreement with Iran, it’s also a reason to suspect Iran’s motives. In 2006, Rouhani boasted how he had duped the West. It was a boast that he repeated again in an interview before the elections in Iran earlier this year, Rouhani was anxious to show that he was not too moderate to lead the country.

Far from honoring the commitment, in which Iran said “it has decided voluntarily to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities,” Rouhani told the interviewer that all Iran did was merely suspend “ten centrifuges” in the Natanz enrichment facility. “And not a total suspension. Just reduced the yield.”

Unimpressed, interviewer Abedini asserted that work had been suspended at the UCF — the Uranium Enrichment Facility at Isfahan. Quite the contrary, Rouhani countered, detailing the completion of various phases of work at Isfahan under his watch in 2004 and 2005. He went on to state proudly that the Iranian heavy water reactor at Arak was also developed under his watch, in 2004. …

Incredulous at the notion that Iran had bowed to international pressure and halted nuclear activities in that period, Rouhani asked the interviewer, “We halted the nuclear program? We were the ones to complete it! We completed the technology.”

The agreement of ten years ago, was not made in good faith. It was made to hold off the referring of Iran’s nuclear violations to the Security Council. So this was no idle boast to endear Rouhani to the hardliners, this is exactly what happened. In Meeting Iran’s Nuclear Challenge, arms control expert Gary Samore recounted in October, 2004:

Although Tehran protested the September 2003 Board of Governors resolution, it wasconfronted with a clear threat that the Board would find Iran in non-compliance with its safeguards agreement and refer the issue to the UN Security Council at the next IAEA Board meeting scheduled for late November. Faced with this threat, Iran negotiated an agreement with the Foreign Ministers of the UK, France, and Germany (the EU-3), which was announced on October 21, 2003. In an agreed statement, Iran promised to fully cooperate with the IAEA to address and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues concerning Iran’s past nuclear activities and to sign the Additional Protocol and begin ratification procedures,while observing the requirements of the Additional Protocol pending ratification.Finally, Tehran announced a decision to‘voluntarily to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities as defined by the IAEA.’

And this what happened:

In February, the IAEA reported that Iran’s earlier ‘complete’ declaration of past activities had failed to provide information on Iran’s earlier research on advanced P-2 centrifuge designs and experiments with Polonium-210, which can be used to initiate nuclear explosions. The IAEA also reported that Iran failed to provide timely access to sites suspected of involvement in nuclear research, including a facility that was razed to the ground before IAEA inspectors gained access to the site. Despite the suspension of enrichment activities, Iran informed the IAEA in April that it intended to begin hot tests at the Esfahan uranium conversion facility to process yellowcake into UF6, and the IAEA found that production of centrifuge components continued, because, according to Tehran, it could not break contracts with private companies manufacturing the parts.

Iran, of course, claimed that the EU-3 changed the terms its agreement, but a plain understanding of the agreement required Iran to come clean about its nuclear research, something it clearly did not do.

Eventually, the Iranian deceptions were referred to the Security council in 2006, leading to a resolution that said:

Noting with serious concern the IAEA Director General’s report of 28 April 2006 (GOV/2006/27) and its findings, including that, after more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern, and that the IAEA is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurances about the absence ofundeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,Noting with serious concern that, as confirmed by the IAEA Director General’s report of 8 June 2006 (GOV/2006/38) Iran has not taken the steps required of it by the IAEA Board of Governors, reiterated by the Council in its statement of29 March and which are essential to build confidence, and in particular Iran’sdecision to resume enrichment-related activities, including research anddevelopment, its recent expansion of and announcements about such activities, and its continued suspension of cooperation with the IAEA under the AdditionalProtocol

That’s how Rouhani’s term as nuclear negotiator went. Talks delayed the referral to the Security Council. By the time the issue was referred to the Security Council Iran had gotten its centrifuges spinning.

Rouhani’s boasts confirmed that this wasn’t an innocent mistake, but purposeful deception: a tactic designed to allow Iran to improve its enrichment technology, while evading any consequences. If in the coming weeks or months a deal is reached with Iran, who’s to say that history won’t repeat?

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas America’s most widely syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox
News contributor also wrote about a historical precedent.  In a piece titled “ The coming betrayal of Israel” he sharply criticized the Obama administration:

It would also appear that this “deal” had been in the works for at least
several months before the Geneva meetings. The Daily Beast reports: “The
Obama administration began softening sanctions on Iran after the election of
Iran’s new president in June, well before the current round of nuclear talks
in Geneva or the historic phone call between the two leaders in September.”

The administration pledges to watch Iran closely and if it violates any
provisions in a final agreement, sanctions would be re-imposed. If sanctions
and other means, such as the introduction of the Stuxnet virus into Iran’s
computers, failed to deter Iran’s nuclear program, why would anyone think
additional threats and more sanctions would produce the desired results?
Iran is playing for time and it appears the United States is willing to give
it to them.

History is a great teacher, but not everyone pays attention. In “The Guns at
Last Light,” Rick Atkinson’s chronicle of World War II, the author recalls
President Franklin Roosevelt’s view of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin
following their meeting at Yalta in February 1945: “‘Stalin doesn’t want
anything other than security for his country,’ the president said. ‘He won’t
try to annex anything and will work for a world of democracy and peace.’”

Winston Churchill similarly misjudged Stalin, writes Atkinson, telling his
war cabinet, “‘Stalin I’m sure means well to the world and Poland. … He will
not embark on bad adventures.’ He added, ‘I don’t think I’m wrong about
Stalin,’ whom he had called ‘that great and good man.’”

Times and dictators change, but human nature remains the same. Roosevelt and
Churchill were wrong about Stalin and the Obama administration is wrong
about Iran.