by Barry Rubin
There are widespread reports about an imminent deal with
“Iranian negotiators have agreed to a draft deal that would delay the country's ability to build a nuclear weapon for about a year, buying more time for President Obama to search for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.”
(To be fair, even this somewhat cautious note may be much less ecstatic than what we'll be hearing if the deal goes through.)
What is the proposed bargain? It is based on an offer the Iranian government made in 2007 and reintroduced last June. In practice, the result would be that
If the deal is made—and don’t take for granted it will be as the Iranian regime can think of plenty of delaying tactics, demands for modifications, real or imaginary internal conflicts blocking acceptance, etc.—there will be general rejoicing and the idea of further sanctions will be put on a back shelf to gather dust.
Indeed, it could effectively be argued, that existing sanctions could be removed. This does not seem likely at present--it would require a UN resolution undoing existing sanctions--but such a thing could arise in the future. And of course various countries in
In other words,
Or to put it another way, it's like setting up a massive and expensive sword-making industry, then shipping off the completed swords to be turned into ploughshares and pruning hooks when you didn't have any agriculture.
And by the way, since Iran--and its apologists--have been insisting that its real goal was nuclear power plants (as if one of the world's largest oil producers which exports almost all of its production needs that) then why doesn't Iran just agree to some deal in which all the uranium went to fuel such reactors with foreign-enriched fuel and close supervision? Even that would make more sense than this deal.
Does this make sense? There will be many silly reasons for this put forward:
One logical argument that will be advanced is that internal disorder is forcing the regime to take a step back and be more cautious. This is a partial argument but, again, doesn’t explain why there would be such a huge apparent concession from a regime unaccustomed to making them.
So what’s really going on?
First, the whole thing may turn out to be a maneuver for buying time and no agreement is actually made.
Second, the Franco-Russian reworked uranium could be turned back into something suitable for further enrichment into weapons’-grade material in several months.
Fourth, Iranian leaders, knowing that they have some way to go before being technologically ready to build weapons, are happy to accept a seeming delay in providing the uranium which will allow them to catch up with the technological and engineering requirements of making a bomb that works and missiles that will carry it to the target. Indeed, with sanctions loosened, it might get the very techniques and tools it needs to complete this process under the guise of other uses.
Note that the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which was supposed to have begun operation some months ago, has not been started up yet. Is this due to some technical difficulties? The reason certainly doesn't seem to be
If this last argument is true--and it seems to be a reasonable one--then the idea that such a deal would even "slow"
There could also be Iranian deals with other countries—perhaps
And speaking of an Israeli attack, this agreement would buy
As an Arabic-language expression has it: How do you know it was a lie? Because it was so big.
For example, if
Or there would have to be a factional dispute or domination by a less extremist group in the ruling circle that argued President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s adventurism was too dangerous to pursue. But all these people have been expelled.
Or it would seem apparent that
Such cautions seem quite logical. Yet no matter how ridiculous the situation seems if
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