Friday, August 21, 2015

THE NUCLEAR AGREEMENT WITH PERSIA: DANGERS AHEAD?

"A critical criteria of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a twelve month breakout timeline for Iran's remaining gas centrifuge program. However, this 12 month criteria does not hold if Iran were to re-install the advanced IR-2m centrifuges during a breakout. Breakout timelines of seven months result if these centrifuges are re-installed. The U.S. administration makes the assessment that Iran will not re-install these centrifuges because they are unreliable and work poorly. This assessment preserves a 12-month breakout timeline but it appears questionable. The JCPOA has many strengths but one of its most serious shortcomings is that it almost ensures that Iran can emerge in 15-20 years as a nuclear power with the potential, at a time of its choosing, to make enough weapon-grade uranium for several nuclear weapons within a few weeks. Addressing this weakness, in particular by finding ways to ensure Iran does not build a semi-commercial enrichment program, should become a critical part of the implementation of the JCPOA and not left to future generations of decision makers."
David Albright, Houston Wood, and Andrea Stricker, "Breakout Timelines Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action". Institute for Science and International Security. 18 August 2015, in www.isis-online.org
"Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death."
F├╝rst von Bismarck.
The remarks by the ultra-informative and insightful David Albright and his colleagues need to be taken seriously. And indeed one cannot gainsay the fact that per se there is a very good possibility that the regime in Persia, provided that it has the very same complexion as it does as present. The caveat employed by me is a deliberate one. There is no way to know what will be either the complexion or the policies of the future governors of Persia. It could of course very well be that the country will be saddled with the same mad Mullahs as at present. In which case, there is a very good likelihood that Persia will indeed (as Albright, et. al., state):
"Emerge in 15-20 years as a nuclear power with the potential, at a time of its choosing, to make enough weapon-grade uranium for several nuclear weapons within a few weeks 1."
But the crux of the matter is that at present, no one except the Good Lord in Heaven, has an idea as to the future nature of the governance of Persia circa Anno Domini 2025-2030. Unless one wishes to go down the path of the Bismarkian geopolitician who stages suicide in a futile effort to avoid death, there were no alternatives to the deal that was arrived at. Per contra to the musings of failed Neo-Conservative policymakers like the egregious Elliott Abrams, there was and is not in the offing a 'better deal' that could have been negotiated with Tehran 2. Which is not to say that the Americans and their allies had everything their own way. Obviously not. But that is the nature of diplomatic 'give and take'. 'Diplomacy' if the mot means anything, means that in a negotiations both sides must to at least some extent exchange gages. It is or should be self-evident that in order to arrive at any deal with Persia, the Americans, et. al., would had to agree to begin to dismantle the sanctions regime that has been constructed in the past fifteen years or so against Persia. Accordingly, the agreement does provide for the very same. Sans that concession there would not have been any agreement and the end-result of that would have been some combination of: i) Persian racing to begin developing nuclear weapons; ii) the Americans and the Israelis begin to contemplate taking military measures to forestall scenarios 'i' & 'ii'. Given the overall situation in the current Near & Middle East, to seriously give thought to beginning military activities against Persia would indeed be a case of madness. Given the alternatives available, the agreement, while far from perfect, is far better than the two scenarios outlined above. The incoherent yells of our Neo-Conservative failures notwithstanding.
1. Albright, et. al., op. cit.
2. Elliott Abrams, "Iran Got a Far Better Deal Than It Had Any Right to Expect". The National Review. 15 July 2015, in www.nationalreview.com.

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