StratDem’s review of the diplomatic breakthrough in Lausanne…
Detailed set of understandings sets foundation in place for anticipated June agreement
P5+1 nuclear accord continues to move forward — ‘Fact sheet’ announcement
Strategic Demands reviews the first week after agreement on parameters — a look at commentators, agreement supporters and naysayers….
Krauthammer: “Lifting Iran sanctions could destabilize the Middle East”
Former Mossad Chief: Obama’s Right on Iran
April 6, 2015
Via Y-Net News
Netanyahu should accept the American offer of dialogue on the draft agreement reached in Lausanne, instead of signalling his intent to scupper it out of hand
[Open letter from Efraim Halevy, former head of Israel’s intelligence service]
The document approved in Lausanne is full of loopholes and lacks numerous details. There’s a great deal of exhausting work to be done before the talks are completed, and we can expect some tough battles over the coming months before the formulation of a final agreement.
Nevertheless, US President Barack Obama was right in labeling the document a “historic” one – and for the following reasons:
1. For decades, Iran rejected the international community’s demand to hold talks of any kind with respect to its nuclear program. The interim agreement reached in Lausanne proves that Tehran capitulated, by agreeing to conduct negotiations about its plans and the nuclear infrastructure it has built up for years, primarily in secret.
2. Iran was forced to agree to the curtailment of its programs, the destruction of valuable equipment at some of its facilities, and a drastic reduction in the number of centrifuges that will remain in operation. The vast majority of the centrifuges will be removed from the production sites and stored in known locations under international supervision. The new centrifuges will be removed from the existing facilities and stored under international supervision.
3. The Fordow facility will be left with just 1,000 of its more than 6,000 centrifuges, and these will be used for research and development for civilian purposes only, under international supervision. No fissile material will remain in Fordow, and uranium-enrichment operations will not take place there for a period of 15 years.
4. Iran was forced to agree to an unprecedented regime of international supervision and monitoring of its nuclear facilities and the dismantling of critical systems. The facility in Natanz will be left with approximately 5,000 old-model centrifuges, and 1,000 new ones will be removed from the site and stored under supervision. The Arak reactor will cease production of plutonium, the original core of the reactor will be destroyed or removed from the country, and the facility will be used for research and development programs only with the approval of the superpowers.
5. Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years. It has also agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium to just 300 kilograms. The surplus quantities will be removed from the country or handled in a different manner, but will not remain under Iranian control.
6. Iran has agreed to implement measures, the details of which have yet to be finalized, to meet the demands for clarification with respect to trials it has carried out in the field of nuclear weapons systems.
7. Obama’s speech following the signing of the framework agreement was broadcast live on Iranian state television without any censorship or breaks in the middle. Never before, since the Islamic Revolution, has an American president been afforded such a stage, and on such a sensitive subject to boot.
And thus President Obama could say there is a historical dimension to the agreement that was reached. Anyone who has followed events in Iran in recent decades or has studied the matter has to admit truthfully that he never believed Iran would ever agree to discuss these issues, let alone agree to each of the clauses I have mentioned.
According to the introduction to the understandings reached, “Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
This statement, along with Obama’s open invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to enter into an intensive dialogue, affords the Israeli government the opportunity to improve the agreement in its final version. However, Israel’s hasty response – its total rejection of the memorandum of understanding – seems to herald the beginning of an Israeli campaign designed to thwart the deal. Scrapping the deal would of course mean scrapping all the understandings already achieved.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too; you can’t conduct an all-out war against the president to thwart his historic achievement and, in the same breath, hold talks with him to improve the product. Moreover, taking the fight to Congress would require deeper Israeli intervention in the approaching elections in the United States.
One of the arguments being voiced against the continuation of the talks is that Iran has a history of lies and cunning, and can thus be expected to breach the agreement and deceive the world. True, the Iranians have a tendency to deceive, but they could do so even if they agreed to zero centrifuges, the closure of all their nuclear facilities, and supervision on the part of the Mossad itself.
Loopholes can always be found, so there is no such thing as a “good agreement.” The Iranians will uphold an agreement only if it is worth their while.
Netanyahu has raised a new demand – that the framework agreement should include Iran’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Clearly, Iran is not going to change its spots; therefore, anyone who voices such a demand is signaling that he doesn’t want the agreement and has his eyes on an aggressive solution.
Y-Net / Efraim Halevy is a former Mossad chief
No reason trust terror supporting Iran but should we gamble young, emboldened by Western contact, forcing change internally? Tough question.
Must read by @ArianeTabatabai Don’t Fear the Hardliners If domestic politics kills #IranDeal, it’ll b in DC, not Tehran http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/04/dont-fear-the-hardliners-iran-nuke-deal-zarif-khamenei/ …
It’s not over yet, but make no mistake, Obama has won both the left and the center on #Iran in the US debate.
End of Iran sanctions will open gates to companies keen to enlarge markets
Oil prices will come down, gas prices down, disruption in US fracking production
Realignment in Petrol politics predicted
China new ‘silk road’ strategy full-speed ahead, Asia geo-strategic pivot — Iran connections
“Iran is going to have sanctions lifted, including crippling sanctions, pretty much up front. And that’s going to have billions and billions of dollars flow into the Iranian coffers, not for schools or hospitals or roads, but to pump up Iran’s terror machine throughout the world.
And it’s a military machine that’s now engaged in conquest throughout the world in Iraq and Syria and Yemen, around the borders of Israel elsewhere.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Netanyahu should contain himself, Iran deal doesn’t threaten Israel
U.S. senator was responding to comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing the deal.
By Haaretz and Reuters | Apr. 5, 2015
“This can back backfire on him,” Feinstein said. “I wish that he would contain himself, because he has put out no real alternative. In his speech to the Congress — no real alternative. Since then — no real alternative.”
Feinstein was one of the more outspoken opponents of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress , calling it “humiliating, embarrassing, and very arrogant.”
“I think that what Prime Minister Netanyahu did here was something that no ally of the United States would have done,” Feinstein said. “I find it humiliating, embarrassing, and very arrogant because this agreement is not yet finished…”
Bob Corker, the ex-Chattanooga mayor at center of debate on Iran nuclear pact
Even Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) acknowledges that he is an unlikely leader of the debate over the superpower framework for curtailing Iran’s nuclear program. A decade ago, he was mayor of Chattanooga, the nation’s 136th-largest city…
Hard-liners face a crisis as Iran looks to reach a permanent deal with world powers over its contested nuclear program, long a point of nationalistic pride. The nuclear deal, which they view as a disastrous capitulation to an implacably hostile West, is being welcomed as a turning point and the start of a new era by moderates, who yearn for greater openness.
Benjamin Netanyahu is the least important player on the Iran chessboard
Netanyahu: ‘I’m not trying to kill deal with Iran, just a bad deal’
Former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr: This Is ‘One-Sided’ …
Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, came to power in 1980 following the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini.
Russia Hails Iran Nuclear Deal, But is a Mixed Blessing for Moscow, Oil Prices, Oil revenues predicted to fall
The Iran-Saud competition in a post-OPEC world continues to play out, and realignments in a post-Carbon dependent world begin to enter stage left-right on the geo-political stages of national interests…
The US attempts to move from Trillions spent on wars grouped around Mideast interests to broader economic interests and realignments as a multiple international interests act around energy and vital economic interests…
WASHINGTON — It may be hard to remember today, but Barack Obama became president, more or less, thanks to his foreign policy. His early opposition to the war in Iraq gave him the wedge he needed to differentiate himself from the far-and-away frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.
During the campaign, he used Iran to further drive home the contrast. In a debate in July 2007, Obama said he’d meet with then-Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “without precondition.” It was an extension of Obama’s diplomacy-first foreign policy, and he came under withering attack not just from the GOP, but also from Clinton.
“I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive,” Clinton told the Quad-City Times after the debate.
Obama stood by his controversial position and as president, embarked on high-stakes negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, resulting in Thursday’s improbable agreement to reduce, control and monitor Iran’s nuclear program. Coming on the heels of major deals with two other longtime U.S. adversaries, China and Cuba, Obama is steadily building a diplomatic legacy to match his campaign rhetoric.
On a Thursday call with reporters, senior administration officials underscored how much of a priority Obama has made a diplomatic solution on Iran.
“There’s no foreign policy issue he has spent more time on,” said one official. “I’d say over the course of his presidency, other than the war in Afghanistan and terrorism, Iran is an issue that he’s spent more time on than any other issue. The first negotiation that he had on this started in 2009, so he’s very familiar with the Iranian nuclear program and all the different elements.”
In exchange for relief from sanctions, Iran agreed to concessions that just days earlier had seemed to be off the table. The prospect of Iran coming into the fold of the international community is the first ray of hope in a region beset by chaos since the U.S. invasion of Iraq more than a decade ago. The elimination of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein led to the rise of Shiite sectarianism and Sunni repression. The resulting insurgency has culminated in the virtual breakup of Iraq, with Iran dominating its Shia region and the self-proclaimed Islamic State controlling much of the Sunni region.
With the only realistic alternative to negotiations being war on Iran, Obama’s commitment to the process stands as a testament to the power of diplomacy to avoid, or at least postpone, bloodshed. To be sure, Obama has not always shied away from violence, including with his early and enthusiastic embrace of drone strikes and a military surge in Afghanistan that accomplished little beyond expanding the killing.
The deal with Iran comes two months after Obama announced a warming of relations with Cuba, another longtime U.S. foe. “In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new,” Obama said during his State of the Union speech.
Republicans in Congress threatened to oppose an administration appointment related to Cuba to protest the new policy, or otherwise tie the president’s hands. “I am committed to doing everything I can to unravel as many of these changes as possible,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Pope Francis praises Iran deal in Easter peace wish
66 or 67 Senators to sabotage agr?
(the issue of Congressional ‘prerogatives’ to declare war (rarely invoked) and to review foreign policy agreements…)
Schumer, new Senate D leader, is squeezed
Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, set off a tempest this week when he issued a statement strongly supporting a bill that could disrupt a nuclear deal with Iran.
With that bill, Congress is trying to ensure it has a say in the final agreement, and the strong stand by Mr. Schumer, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, suggested that he could oppose an accord President Obama sees as a potentially legacy-defining achievement.
Mr. Schumer has since largely declined to elaborate and has said only that he will wait for a classified briefing before making further comment.
His position — annoying to the White House, at odds with the majority of Senate Democrats and expressed during a congressional recess — reflects the vigorous crosscurrents Mr. Schumer faces in his first real test since Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, announced that he would retire, placing Mr. Schumer as heir apparent.
Mr. Schumer, long personally hawkish on matters related to Israel, is caught between the Jewish voters and donors in his state and beyond who are pressuring him in conflicting directions, factions within his own party in the Senate, and a watchful White House that is seeking to limit the role of Congress in any deal it may make.
4/12/15 1:10 AM
Obama: Partisanship on Iran deal ‘has crossed all boundaries’ htz.li/29g
The American Conservative magazine
The American Liberal
(Ed: with memories of my old friend, Allard Lowenstein)
Why are anti-war Democrats silent on Iran deal?
Liberal doves often decry AIPAC’s outsized influence on U.S. foreign policy, but the bigger question is: Why can’t they compete?
Opinion by Peter Beinart | Haaretz | Apr. 10, 2015
Many in Congress want the chance to kill the Iran deal. President Obama doesn’t want to give them that opportunity. I’m torn.
Like many liberals, I think America is generally better off when Congress has more oversight over foreign policy. It’s no coincidence that the greatest foreign policy disaster of the twentieth century, Vietnam, occurred near the height of what Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “The Imperial Presidency.” And the greatest foreign policy disaster of the twenty-first century occurred when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney created another imperial presidency after 9/11. Seeking unaccountable presidential power is a bipartisan affliction, and so even progressives who sympathize with Barack Obama’s foreign policy should be worried by his efforts to deny Congress a voice over something as big as a nuclear deal with Iran.
On the other hand, although the legislative branch’s constitutional prerogatives don’t depend on whether Congress reflects public opinion, it’s worth noting on that on Iran, it most certainly does not. Since last Thursday’s framework agreement, polls from both The Washington Post/ABC News and Reuters/Ipsos have shown that a small plurality of Republican voters actually support the Iran deal. Yet it’s likely that every single Republican senator will oppose it. Democrats, the polls show, back the agreement by margins of three or five to one. Yet key Senate Democrats are skeptical of the deal, and few have endorsed it enthusiastically.
What’s the reason for this gulf between popular and congressional opinion?
In part, it’s because hawks are more mobilized. An ultra-hard line against Iran has been near the top of the agenda of AIPAC—and pro-Israel political action committees—for two decades now. AIPAC supporters distribute their money to both parties. But in recent years they have been joined by GOP billionaires, like Sheldon Adelson, who have been liberated by the Supreme Court to spend vast sums for the purposes of shifting the Israel and Iran debates further right. Tom Cotton alone got more than $2 million from these Iran hawks in his 2014 Senate run.
Doves often decry this, but the bigger question is: Why can’t they compete?
More than a decade after the invasion of Iraq, despite the disasters that American military intervention has brought, there is still a culture of impunity for Democratic politicians who defy their party’s voters on questions of war and peace.
There are several reasons for all this. It’s partly because when it comes to foreign policy, conservative donors are more single-minded than liberal ones. Every Republican politician knows that Adelson conditions his checks on their Iran vote. Even dovish Democratic donors, by contrast, generally care about issues like abortion, gay marriage, gun control and climate change, which makes them more willing to donate to Schumer or Clinton despite their differences on Iran.
It’s also notoriously hard to mobilize Americans against wars until those wars begin. The anti-Vietnam movement didn’t become a force inside the national Democratic Party until 1968, when more than 20,000 Americans had already died. And liberal activists only began putting real pressure on Democratic politicians over Iraq after the war began, when they powered Howard Dean’s insurgent campaign. Since World War II, the general pattern has been that elites drive foreign policy—generally in an interventionist direction—until they make a mess big enough to make the public cry stop.
But these are explanations, not excuses. Liberal activists should go office to office in the senate, as Allard Lowenstein did when searching for a challenger to Lyndon Johnson in 1968, looking for someone to run against Schumer for majority leader unless he comes out clearly in support of the Iran deal. And they should start recruiting primary challengers against anti-Iran-deal Democrats who are up for reelection in 2016. These challengers don’t have to win. They just have to ensure that Democratic Senators who now worry mostly about alienating AIPAC begin worrying about alienating Democratic voters too.
I understand the urge to scuttle a congressional vote on Iran, but the far better path would be to pressure members of Congress to begin representing their constituents. Yes, Congress deserves a voice over the Iran deal. But the American people do, too.