American Elephants


Are We Thinking Clearly About the Iran Deal? Or Fooling Ourselves? by The Elephant's Child

On August 4 — David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the “Breakout Timelines Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action? (JCPOA) suggested that the likely breakout for a nuclear weapon for Iran is seven months.

Senator Menendez responded: ” [Six-to-seven months] would be concerning to me, because I already am a little concerned that what we bought here was a very expensive alarm system … [S]ix or seven months is not going to be helpful if they decide to break out, because by the time we re-impose sanctions … it [wouldn’t] be meaningful. The next president of the United States … will only have one choice: to accept Iran as a nuclear weapons state or to have a military strike.

The Institute analyzed the imprudent assumption on which the Obama administration bases its one-year contention:

The bare-boned limits on Iran’s centrifuge program provide for at least a 12-month breakout period. However, based on ISIS analyses the agreed limits do not guarantee a 12-month breakout timeline during the first ten years of the agreement, if Iran can relatively quickly re-deploy its already manufactured IR-2m centrifuges. The administration has taken the position that Iran will not deploy these IR-2m centrifuges, because they have assessed that they will not work well enough. However, this assessment depends on an assumption about Iran’s manufactured IR-2m centrifuges that may not hold. Moreover, available data indicate that the breakage rate of the IR-2m centrifuges are no worse than those for the IR-1 centrifuges. Uncertainties about the quality of the existing IR-2m centrifuges make a definitive resolution of this issue difficult. Nonetheless, straightforward prudence would argue to include these centrifuges in a breakout, since their redeployment would have a major impact compared to IR-1 centrifuges and the United States lacks high assurance that the IR-2m centrifuges will not work adequately if deployed. In this case, the 12-month breakout criterion does not hold during the first ten years of the agreement. At a minimum, it is arguable whether the breakout criterion holds. [Emphasis added].

Another witness was Gary Samore, executive director for research in Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  He said:

Senator, I don’t think re-imposition of sanctions is an effective response to breakout. I think the only effective response to breakout is military force. I mean, if the Iranians have decided to run the risk of openly dashing for a nuclear weapon, I don’t think sanctions are going to deter them or stop them.

Senator Menendez responded: So it seems to me that if Iran makes a political decision to move forward because it believes it’s the preservation of the regime, the revolution, or its place in the region, then ultimately … we are just kicking the ball down the road, but we will have a stronger, resurgent Iran with more money and greater defense capabilities than it has today.

There seems to be a basic assumption here that Iran wants to become an nuclear power to be — what?  merely a powerful nation among the powerful nations of the world. Not that Iran’s urgent desire is to destroy the United States of America, which the Ayatollah loathes, and the nation of Israel, — which he also loathes. In spite of all the evidence do we fail to understand Iran’s real aims? And prepare for that? They talk about increases in terrorism. They talk about Iraq and ISIS, and the other Gulf States. They even mention the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear state, as if that just places Iran in the world’s grouping of states that have nuclear weapons to insure that nobody attacks them.

One would think that observing the actions of ISIS, the beheadings, the immolations, the crucifixions, the destruction of the monuments of history and the behavior of al-Qaeda, there would be some recognition of the fact that these people don’t really observe the same standards nor conventions. We have been told that we worship life, while they worship death — but that makes no sense to the Western mind, so we ignore it.


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