Nuke Deal Elusive as Iran Digs in Heels Over ‘Inalienable’ Enrichment Rights

Anti-Iranian regime protesters chant outside the Palais Coburg in Vienna, where final negotiations over Iran's nuclear program continued Friday ahead of a November 24 deadline

Anti-Iranian regime protesters chant outside the Palais Coburg in Vienna, where final negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program continued Friday ahead of a November 24 deadline

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Washington Free Beacon, BY: :

VIENNA—Secretary of State John Kerry spent hours locked behind closed doors with Iran’s foreign minister early Friday as both sides rushed to reach a final nuclear agreement that sources say is becoming increasingly elusive as a result of Tehran’s intransigence.

As the United States seeks to impose clear and verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear research work ahead of a Nov. 24 deadline, the Iranians have refused to cede any ground and are publicly insisting that its “inalienable” nuclear rights must be recognized under any final deal.

Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spent several hours Thursday night and several more on Friday morning meeting in private, according to a senior State Department official. There is no indication yet that major headway has been made between the sides.

The foreign ministers from the negotiating countries, including the United States and Iran, are all gearing up to leave Vienna today, according to one source familiar with the status of the talks. While it remains unclear at this point if the leaders will return in the coming days, some have speculated that Zarif could be conveying the parameters of a tentative deal with higher-level officials in Tehran.

Any agreement that it is reached is likely to pave the way for another extension in talks as final details continue to be hashed out, the source said.

With neither the United States nor Iran appearing publicly before reporters in Vienna and answering questions, insiders in Washington and Vienna are becoming increasingly skeptical that the Obama administration will be able to deliver a deal the American people and Congress will find acceptable.

“The Iranians have refused to budge on the most basic elements—they want to keep the entire fuel cycle, and do so at a level that will allow them to breakout [with a nuclear weapon] whenever they choose so quickly no one will be able to stop them,” said one senior foreign policy strategist currently in Vienna for the talks.

The Obama administration is poised to ink a deal that includes many concessions to Iran before the Monday deadline comes around, according to a senior congressional aide who works on the issue of Iran.

“As Iran digs its heels against dismantling its enrichment program, eliminating its plutonium ‘bomb factory’ at Arak, and coming clean on its nuclear weapon, the worry is that the Obama administration will make more massive concessions and move to grant ‘nuclear amnesty’ to the terror-supporting mullahs in Tehran before Monday,” the congressional aide told the Washington Free Beacon.

“The Clinton administration gave ‘nuclear amnesty’ to North Korea in 1994 and North Korea exploded its first nuclear bomb little more than a decade later. So we’ve all seen this charade before,” warned the congressional source.

Many watching the talks unfold in Vienna remain skeptical that Iran will even hold up its end of any bargain that may be reached.

“If Iran agrees to something, history shows they will be lying—it will be the only time in 25 years Iran would not be secretly cheating on its nuclear obligations,” said the foreign policy strategist. “At this point, it seems that only more pressure will get Iran to dismantle its plutonium bomb factory and enough of its illicit nuclear infrastructure to assure us, our allies, Congress, and the American people that Iran won’t have the capability to build nukes.”

If Kerry and his team fail to deliver a deal that restricts many of the most controversial aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, Congress is likely to step in and impose new economic sanctions on Tehran—an outcome that will likely lead Iran to abandon any further negotiations.

“Without that [type of deal], there will be more sanctions on Iran, not fewer as Tehran seeks,” the source explained. “Even if that means a period of increased tension, Tehran won’t race ahead and will be back at the table soon, or it will soon again face a balance of payments crisis and economic default.”

However, Kerry’s version of a likely deal differs drastically from these parameters, which also are supported by a majority of Congress.

The Obama administration only hopes to delay Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon by about a year, according to U.S. officials quoted by the New York Times.

Congressional leaders have called this unacceptable, with many in the Senate promising to veto any final deal that caves to Iran’s demands to continue its nuclear enrichment regime.

“We are now just a few days away from the Iran nuclear deadline. And the P5+1 appear poised to accept a weak deal with a regime that cannot be trusted,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) said on Thursday. “Despite approximately $14 billion in direct sanctions relief, as well as incalculable indirect benefits to the Iranian economy and the nuclear program, Iran has repeatedly stated that it will never stop enriching uranium or take one step back in its research and development.”

General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, told Congress Thursday afternoon that the White House’s goals with Iran are flawed. Even if Tehran’s program is stalled, the U.S. intelligence community is not capable of detecting an Iranian nuclear bomb, Hayden said.

“Because of the covert nature of Iran’s activities, American intelligence alone will not be able to verify the agreement,” Ros-Lehtinen reiterated. “It is impossible to verify Iran’s nuclear program because as the Defense Science Board report has said, the capability to detect Iran’s undeclared or covert nuclear sites is either inadequate or does not exist.”

Meanwhile, Kerry is scheduled to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond later Friday afternoon.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry will travel from Vienna to Paris Friday evening for consultations with his European counterparts. It is unknown whether or not he will return to Vienna before the Nov. 24 deadline, a sign talks are at an impasse and western delegations will plot the way forward.

Also by Adam Kredo:

Fred Fleitz: Fatally Flawed Negotiations with Iran — The WMD Perspective

CSP: Fred Fleitz, Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy; Former Chief of Staff to then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton; former Professional Staff Member, House Permanent Selection Committee on Intelligence; Former Analyst, Central Intelligence Agency speaks at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill regarding the fatally flawed negotiations with Iran.

 

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National Leaders Urge Congress To Repudiate Iran Nuclear Talks And Any Agreement They Might Produce

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(Washington, D.C.): Today, the Center for Security Policy released a letter signed by 17 prominent security policy practitioners and other national leaders denouncing the Obama administration’s conduct of the nuclear talks with Iran and the seriously defective deal likely to emerge from them. Signatories include: former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, former National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave,formerAssistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter, formerAssistant Secretary of Defense (Acting) Frank Gaffney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jack David, National Review Editor Rich Lowry and Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes. 

The letter calls on the U.S. Congress to repudiate this year’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran and dissects the terms of the agreement it is reportedly producing. The authors believe the United States and its Western allies have already given away too much to Iran – and still moreconcessions appear to be in the offing.  Their professional assessment is that any accord along these lines will be a threat to our interests, allies and security.

Key problems with the incipient agreement identified in the open letter, which was organized by the Center for Security Policy, include:

  • The deal will effectively concede to Iran the “right” to enrich uranium and allow Iran to continue uranium enrichment.
  • It will permit Iran to install new, still more advanced centrifuges and to retain its large stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
  • It will not require Iran to disassemble existing centrifuges, its underground Fordow enrichment facility or its plutonium-producing Arak heavy water reactor now under construction.

In the signatories’ judgment these dangerous U.S. concessions will do virtually nothing to stop, or even substantially to delay, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.  They note estimates by three leading Washington think tanks that Iran will retain its presently assessed capability of producing weapons-grade nuclear fuel in as little as four-to-six weeks from a decision to do so.

In addition to raising their concerns about these disturbing U.S. concessions, the authors of the letter expressed alarm that Iran is already defying a key premise of this year’s nuclear talks and prerequisite for any future deal – namely, that the regime in Tehran would cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In that connection, Iran was supposed to give IAEA inspectors unrestricted access to Iranian nuclear sites and answer outstanding questions about the military dimensions of its nuclear program. The signatories conclude that since Iran has failed to live up to these commitments even before an agreement was reached, there is no reason to believe it will abide by these or similar obligations in the final, comprehensive agreement that the Obama administration is trying to finalize by a November 24 deadline.  Neither is there reason to expect that the mullahs will cooperate with efforts by the IAEA to monitor their future compliance with such an accord.

Finally, the authors of the joint letter regard as wholly unacceptable President Obama’s reported intention to deny the U.S. Congress any say in the forthcoming nuclear agreement with Iran and his plan to suspend unilaterally statutorily mandated U.S. sanctions against Iran once a final accord is reached. It appears that Mr. Obama is proceeding in this fashion precisely because he knows that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would find his deal unsupportable.

The letter concluded by stating that Congress must act now to prevent the realization and implementation by the United States of an extremely bad nuclear deal with Iran. Its signatories called on lawmakers to:

…Adopt legislation to repudiate the nuclear agreement now taking shape.  We urge you and your colleagues to insist that a coherent, realistic and firm U.S. policy be adopted instead, one aimed at actually preventing the Iranian regime from realizing its nuclear weapons ambitions.  This should require, at a minimum, that there be no further easing of sanctions or further talks with Iran until Tehran complies with all UN Security Council resolutions related to its nuclear program, fully cooperates with the IAEA, and provides truthful answers to all outstanding questions about its nuclear program.

View full text: Iran letter to Congress 111214

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BLACK: It’s Not The Centrifuges-It’s The Warhead

iranian-nuclear-weaponTruth Revolt, By Edwin Black, Nov. 11, 2014:

November 24, 2014 is a looming deadline for Iran, Israel, the United States and the world over its nuclear weapons program. Just days ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] released a report summarized by its conclusion: “The Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, nor has it proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for cooperation.”

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, leading the international negotiations, has described the back and forth as “a forest of distrust.” At the same time, she declares, “Our bottom line is unambiguous … Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.” In the background, media revelations recently disclosed secret correspondence between the Obama White House to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — kept even from Congressional leaders and America’s closest allies and Israel. Washington is struggling to enlist Tehran in the faltering campaign against the Islamic State. This process has juggled agreed numbers of centrifuges — a limit of 4,000 … or is it 10,000 … or is it something in between? Centrifuges are a critical component because each vertical cylinder slowly but steadily distills uranium into a highly enriched weapon-ready state.

However, as the world ponders Iran’s dash to enrich more kilograms of uranium, the underlying concern is not so much about the enrichment process itself, but the end product: a nuclear warhead. Iran has been developing its warhead for some sixteen years. That design is nearly perfected.

Compare the process to gunpowder. To use gunpowder, you need load it into a cartridge, load the cartridge and a bullet into a rifle, and then find a marksman. Iran has nearly mastered all those steps — but in nuclear terms.

Four technological achievements are key to completing Tehran’s nuclear weapon:

1) accretion of enough nuclear materials, highly enriched to weapons-grade or 90 percent; 2) machining that material into metal for a spheroid warhead so it can fit into a missile nosecone; 3) developing a trigger mechanism to initiate the atomic explosion at a precise moment during missile reentry; and, of course, 4) a reliable delivery system.

Start with the nuclear material. Experts estimate that a single bomb would require approximately 25 kilograms of Highly Enriched Uranium, or HEU, with a U-235 concentration of at least 90 percent. Much of Iran’s nuclear enrichment remains at 3.5 and 20 percent levels. But the numbers are deceiving. Enriching to 3.5 percent is 75 percent of the task of reaching weapons-grade. Once Iran has reached 20 percent, it has gone 90 percent of the distance. Indeed, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani delivered a 2005 speech in his capacity as National Security Advisor in which he declared, “a country that possesses fuel cycle technology can enrich uranium —and the country that can enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent.” Today, Iran possesses enough nuclear material for a fast “break-out” that would finish the job, creating enough for five or ten bombs, in about six weeks.

Second, that HEU must be metalized and shaped into a dense spheroid compact enough to fit into a missile nosecone. Iran has mastered the metallurgical techniques using other high-density metals such as tungsten, which have been test-detonated in a special chamber to measure their explosive character.

Third, the spheroid must be detonated. Iran’s warhead design employs a R265 shock generator hemisphere drilled with 5mm boreholes that are filled with PETN— pentaerythritol tetranitrate, an organic high explosive favored by terrorists. When triggered with precision, the PETN array can cause a massive synchronized implosion. That will fire an internal exploding bridgewire which will in turn actuate an embedded neutron initiator to detonate the atomic reaction—and the mushroom cloud. This sequence of devices has been assembled and tested. Iran has some 500 exploding bridgewires.

Fourth, the warhead must be delivered. The Shabab-3 missile nosecone is large enough to accommodate the warhead. The outer radius of the R265 shock generator-encased warhead is 550 millimeters, less than the estimated payload chamber diameter of about 600 millimeters. Most of all, the Iranian military has selected the Shabab-3 not only because it possesses a range of 1200 kilometers, but because it can be detonated in an airburst some 600 meters off the ground on re-entry. The height of 600 meters was used in the Nagasaki explosion. Such a weapon cannot be crashed into the ground. It must be detonated while still airborne. Iran has a small fleet of Shahab-3 missiles.

Hence, Iran’s metronomic accretion of nuclear material is not just an ambiguous physics undertaking that should worry the West. It is part and parcel of a nuclear attack plan that the international community is determined to address.

Edwin Black is the author of 11 award-winning editions, including IBM and the Holocaust,and his most recent book Financing the Flames. The author can be found at www.edwinblack.com

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US Embracement of Iran Will Only Help the Islamic State

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (l) shake hands as EU envoy Catherine Ashton and Oman Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi watch. Zarif began talks with Kerry and Ashton in Oman on Nov.9, 2014 to end a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program. (Photo: © Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (l) shake hands as EU envoy Catherine Ashton and Oman Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi watch. Zarif began talks with Kerry and Ashton in Oman on Nov.9, 2014 to end a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

As the November 24 deadline for a deal with Iran looms, President Obama wrote a secret letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei reportedly suggesting a common bond against the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS or ISIL).

The unpublished letter reportedly offered cooperation with Iran against ISIS if a nuclear deal is reached. Secretary of State Kerry saidthis is incorrect and that the nuclear negotiations are being treated as a wholly independent issue.

The evidence supports Kerry, as Iran publicly rejected cooperation with the U.S. against ISIS in September. There has already been some level of indirect coordination, as U.S. airstrikes assisted Iraqi forces and two Iranian-sponsored militias, Asaib Al-Haq and the Hezbollah Brigades, in breaking the ISIS siege of Amerli.

President Obama similarly said the U.S. is not coordinating with Iran and that the nuclear issue is not being paired with the ISIS issue. He would not confirm or deny the letter but said he told Iran, “Don’t mess with us, we’re not here to mess with you. We’re focused on our common enemy.”

The White House ruled out military cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Iran, raising the question of what kind of relationship the U.S. is seeking with Iran.

The letter underscores one of the biggest flaws in the U.S. strategy against ISIS: The failure to tackle Iranian-backed militias in Iraq whose activity fuels ISIS and other Sunni extremists and undermines the Iraqi government.

Iran needs ISIS and Al-Qaeda just as these organizations “need” Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei and his allies, the Syrian regime, have a strategy of setting up Al-Qaeda and ISIS as their opponents  so they can purport themselves up as the “moderate” alternative.

That is why Iran helps Al-Qaeda, even permitting it to use Iranian territory to send fighters to Syria. And that’s why, as senior U.S. Treasury Department official David Cohen mentioned, the Assad regime buys oil from ISIS.

Yet, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, James Jeffrey, hit the nail on the head when he said Supreme Leader Khamenei “is basically a believer in a very similar Islamic philosophy to that of ISIS…It is a pan-Islamic force of revolutionary bent.”

Read more at Clarion Project

End the Bush-Obama Fecklessness: Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Facilities Now

mrz111309dapr20091113032918By Andrew G. Bostom, November 10, 2014:

The Obama administration and Iran’s rulers, spurred by the latter’s alleged “pragmatic” wing [1], appear to be rushing headlong towards a final agreement on November 24, 2014, which would validate Iran’s right to enrich uranium for putative non-military uses, and also provide the global jihad-promoting Shiite theocracy [2] extensive relief from economic sanctions. This mutually desired outcome was strongly hinted at by both U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman during an October 23, 2014 speech [3], and the recent public statements [1] of key Iranian regime advisors.

Indeed, reports surfaced this past week [4] that President Obama himself has made direct, supplicating overtures to Iran’s head Shiite theocrat, Ayatollah Khamenei, linking U.S.-Iranian “cooperation” in fighting the Islamic State Sunni jihadists, to reaching a final nuclear agreement November 24, per the so-called “P5 +1” (= the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, i.e., the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany) negotiations process. At a post-midterm elections press conference, 11/5/14, Mr. Obama openly expressed [5] his endorsement of the apparently forthcoming nuclear deal with Iran:

I think that we’ll be able to make a strong argument to Congress that this is the best way for us to avoid a nuclear Iran, that it will be more effective than any other alternatives we might take, including military action.

Pace Mr. Obama’s and his advisers’ “arguments”—a toxic brew of willful, dangerous delusion, ignorance, and cynicism—the diplomatic processes they are aggressively pursuing will inevitably yield an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Thus within two days of the U.S. President’s latest roseate pronouncement, a tocsin of looming calamity was sounded in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report [6] released Friday, 11/7/14.

Even the centerpiece of touted P5 +1 negotiations’ “success,” curtailment of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, was questioned by the IAEA, which noted the Islamic Republic was continuing activities “which are in contravention of its obligation to suspend all enrichment-related activities.” The IAEA report [6]further observed that contrary to its relevant commitments, “Iran has not suspended work on all heavy water related projects.” Most ominously, the IAEA report highlighted [6] Iran’s failure to cooperate and resolve “outstanding issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” Specifically, the IAEA expressed [6] its remaining concern,

about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.

As a concrete example of Iran’s ongoing defiance, the IAEA cited [6] unresolved questions (which date back to the IAEA’s 11/8/2011 report [7], paragraphs 38-45) pertaining to nuclear weapons detonation research, such as “detonator development and the initiation of high explosives and associated experiments.” Regarding the Parchin facility—long known as a center [8] for weapons triggering research and development, which allegedly [8] (per the IAEA’s own 11/8/2011 assessment [9]) includes possessing the design for an implosion-type nuclear weapon, and experimental efforts to construct a nuclear warhead—the 11/7/14 IAEA report added [6] it

has observed through satellite imagery that the construction activity that appeared to show the removal/replacement or refurbishment of the site’s two main buildings’ external wall structures appears to have ceased. This activity is likely to have further undermined the Agency’s [IAEA’s] ability to conduct effective verification. 

Albeit with decided understatement, the IAEA’s 11/7/14 report came to this rather dire conclusion [6]:

the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities.

Panglossian assessments notwithstanding, the most rational and feasible alternative to the axiomatic, but unacceptable consequence of feckless Obama, and before that George W. Bush Administration policies, are coordinated U.S. military strikes which target and destroy Iran’s four essential nuclear facilities: the uranium enrichment compounds at Natanz and Qom (/Fordow); the uranium conversion hub at Isfahan; and Iran’s plutonium-producing reactor, (still) being constructed at Arak. Consistent with the IAEA’s ongoing concerns [6] about “undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran” (including, perhaps, at Khondab [10]?), it must be underscored that three of these four sites—the Natanz and Qom uranium enrichment facilities, and the heavy-water, plutonium producing Arak reactor—were each developed clandestinely [8]. Moreover, August 14, 2002, early in the Bush II Administration, it was revealed publicly [8] that two of these secret nuclear sites, Natanz and Arak, were already under construction. Former Bush and Obama Administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ published (January, 2014) memoir [11], as first reported by the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus [12], discloses [12] how President Bush, some five years after the revelations about Natanz and Qom, was convinced by Gates to forestall a pre-emptive Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the (absurd) “geo-strategic rationale” for this executive decision:

Gates writes that his most effective argument was that an Israeli attack on Iran that overflew Iraq would endanger what the surge had achieved with Baghdad. Bush then ‘emphatically said he would not put our gains in Iraq at risk,’ according to Gates (p. 193 [13]).”

Finally, just prior to leaving office, the George W. Bush Administration negotiated a November 17, 2008  “SOFA” (status of forces agreement [14]) with our “Iraqi allies” which, as per Article 27, paragraph 3 (“Iraqi land, sea and air shall not be used as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries.”) prohibited the US from attacking, for example, Iranian nuclear production facilities, from Iraqi bases and airspace.

The case for limited, targeted military strikes on Iran’s four known nuclear facilities has been made with pellucid cogency by Georgetown University International Relations Professor, and expert on Iran’s nuclear program, Matthew Kroenig [8]. In his dispassionate May, 2014, study, A Time to Attack [8], Kroenig elucidates [8] the profoundly destabilizing threat posed by an Iran armed with nuclear weapons:

From Iran , a revisionist and risk-acceptant state, we can expect…reckless behavior. Iran will almost certainly be willing to risk nuclear war in future geopolitical conflicts, and this will mean that it will be able on occasion to engage in successful nuclear coercion. It also means that, in playing these games of brinkmanship, it will increase the risk of a nuclear exchange.

Kroenig then outlines [8] the tactical obstacles military strikes on Iran’s four established nuclear facilities would confront, from the relative ease of attacking the surface Isfahan and Arak sites, to the difficulty of targeting the underground Natanz and Qom complexes.

…Isfahan and Arak are above ground and therefore are easy military targets. We [the U.S.] could easily destroy these facilities using air- or sea-launched cruise missiles, launched from U.S. B-52 bombers operating outside Iranian airspace or U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.

Natanz is buried under seventy feet of earth and several meters of reinforced concrete, and Qom is built into the aide of a mountain and is therefore protected by 295 feet of rock. To destroy these sites we would need to use the Nassive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP. The MOP weighs 30,000 pounds and according to open source reporting, is capable of penetrating up to 200 feet before exploding. Some simple arithmetic (200 feet is greater than 70+ feet) suggests that Natanz doesn’t stand a chance. It is unlikely that the MOP could penetrate into the enrichment chamber of Qom in a single shot (295 feet is greater than 200 feet), but we could simply put subsequent bombs in the crater left from a previous bomb and thus eventually tunnel our way in. Putting multiple bombs in the same hole requires a fair bit of accuracy in our targeting, but we can do it. In addition to destroying their entrances, exits, ventilation heating and colling systems, and their power lines and sources. The MOP can only be carried on the U.S. B-2 stealth bomber. Since it can be refueled in midair, the B-2 can be sent on a roundtrip mission from U.S. bases in Missouri and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to its targets in Iran and back home again without stopping. The B-2 could also be escorted by stealthy U.S. F-22 fighters, or F-16s, to protect it against fighter aircraft.

This relatively limited, and very brief campaign consisting of “a barrage of cruise missiles and bombing sorties,” Kroenig observes [8], plausibly conducted in one night,

would almost certainly succeed in its intended mission and destroy Iran’s key nuclear facilities.

Citing [8] four historical precedents where pre-emptive bombing of nuclear facilities achieved the goal of non-proliferation, decisively—“Nazi Germany during World War II, Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq several times in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and Syria in 2007”—Kroenig concludes [8] by enumerating the multiple benefits which would accrue from similarly destroying Iran’s known nuclear installations:

There is absolutely no doubt that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facility would significantly set back Iran’s nuclear progress and create a real possibility that Iran would remain non-nuclear for the foreseeable future.

Moreover…[a] strike…would stem the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and bolster the nonproliferation regime around the world.

Furthermore, a U.S. strike would also strengthen American credibility. We declared many times that we were prepared to use force if necessary to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. A strike would demonstrate that we mean what we say and say what we mean and that other countries, friends and foes alike, would be foolish to ignore America’s foreign policy pronouncements.

Read more at PJ Media

Netanyahu: ‘There is No Moderation in Iran’

 

BY:
November 10, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Monday to a 9-step plan to eliminate Israel posted by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday.

Netanyahu warned that an impending deal over Iran’s nuclear program negotiated among the P5+1 (permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) does not take into account the violent and inflammatory rhetoric emanating from the Iranian regime.

“He is publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he’s negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” Netanyahu said. “There is no moderation in Iran.”

Netanyahu slammed efforts to reach a ‘deal’ with Iran, citing the Iranian regime’s failure to cooperate with UN nuclear inspectors and dishonesty in disclosing information regarding its nuclear weapons program.

“It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel’s eradication, it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said. “This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. I call on the P5+1 countries: don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”

****

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei Tweets: Israel Should be Wiped Off the Map. CNN Says It Doesn’t Matter - Fred Fleitz

Today’s big news about Iran concerns a message posted to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei official Twitter account  with a link to his nine-step plan to eliminate the state of Israel.  More details HERE.  The Iranian leader said he prefers Israel be eliminated by a referendum from which “Jewish immigrants” would be excluded.  If this is not possible, Khamenei said  “powerful confrontation and resolute and armed resistance” is the only solution.

This is obviously an important development as the West presses to seal a controversial nuclear deal with Iran that will have a negligible effect in slowing its pursuit of nuclear weapons.   Khamenei’s comments are troubling because they indicate that this kind of hateful rhetoric, which was often expressed by former Iranian President Mamoud Ahmadinejad, continues to be the official view of the Iranian regime despite the election of the supposedly “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani in June 2013.

You wouldn’t know this from CNN’s coverage of this issue this morning when a reporter made the incredible assertion that Khamenei’s tweet may not matter because there are other views in the Iranian leadership and since Iran and the West are on the brink of striking an historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

CNN apparently does not understand why Khamenei’s title is “Supreme Leader.”

CNN, like the foreign policy establishment, is in lock step with the Obama administration in denying the threat from Iran to get a nuclear agreement with Iran to bolster the Obama legacy.  Dismissing such an outrageous message from Iran’s Supreme Leader is an indication of how far the Obama administration’s media enablers are prepared to go.

Also see:

Obama’s Pandering to Iran Has No Limits

1578134015CSP, by Fred Fleitz:

The Obama administration is in desperation mode on the nuclear talks with Iran.  With the prospect of a Republican Senate taking action next year to thwart its controversial nuclear diplomacy and a fast approaching November 24 deadline for the talks, the Obama administration reportedly has doubled down on its previous one-sided concessions to Tehran by offering to allow it to operate up to 6,000 uranium centrifuges.

Further confusing this situation, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the president wrote a secret letter to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei in which he reportedly stressed that “any cooperation on the Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a November 24 diplomatic deadline.”

Although the Obama administration made several disturbing concessions to get Iran to the bargaining table, one of the worst was implicitly conceding to Tehran the “right” to enrich uranium by allowing it to operate uranium centrifuges.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly made this point when he visited the United States in September when he said Iran has no need for uranium enrichment and any enrichment it conducts is for one purpose: making nuclear bombs.

Charles Krauthammer made a similar point during the Fox News Special Report program last night, saying that to get a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration “has abolished the central idea of nonproliferation . . . you cannot enrich.”

Using 9,000 centrifuges currently operating, Iran is enriching to reactor-grade enough uranium to fuel about two nuclear weapons per year if further enriched to weapons-grade.  Although allowing Iran to operate 6,000 centrifuges means it would accumulate reactor-grade uranium at a slightly slower pace, this proposal ignores the risk from Iran’s large reactor-grade uranium stockpile and the fact that far fewer centrifuges are needed to enrich to weapons-grade from reactor-grade.

Using less than 2,000 centrifuges, Iran could enrich from reactor-grade to weapons grade in 2.2 to 3.5 months.  Iran currently has enough reactor-grade uranium to make enough weapons-grade nuclear fuel for at least seven nuclear weapons if further enriched.

The Obama administration’s decision to allow Iran to enrich uranium was unconscionable and made the negotiations to slow or halt the Iranian nuclear program an unacceptable risk to American and international security from the outset.  Over the last year, Obama officials gave away more and more to Tehran in the nuclear talks, setting the stage for a final agreement that is certain to be a diplomatic train wreck.

Words escape me to discuss the foolhardiness of the letter that President Obama reportedly sent to Ayatollah Khamenei last month.  Given that Iran is in part to blame for the surge in sectarian violence in Iraq since 2011 due to its ties to the Maliki government and its training of Iraqi Shiite militias, why would the United States be discussing cooperation with Iranian officials against the Islamic State and linking this to getting a nuclear agreement?  If the United States was to say anything to Iran about restoring stability to Iraq and defeating the Islamic State, it should be: “Stop meddling in Iraq!”

A Republican Senate and responsible oversight of the president’s abysmal foreign policy cannot come soon enough.

Iran Quietly Fearful of Republican Takeover of Congress

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Hassan Rouhani / AP

By Adam Kredo:

Iranian leaders are quietly expressing fear about the Republican takeover of Congress Tuesday night, with many conveying concerns that Tehran has lost a key bloc of U.S. Democrats who wanted to roll back economic sanctions and hand Iran a favorable nuclear deal, according to an internal CIA analysis and Farsi language reports.

Fears about the Republican takeover of Congress have plagued Iranian leaders for weeks, according to the CIA analysis obtained by theWashington Free Beacon that outlines internal commotion in Iran over the shifting political tides in the United States.

The eventual outcome of Tuesday’s elections prompted many Iranian commenters and officials to express concern that years of U.S. capitulation to Iranian demands might soon come to an end.

Republican gains in Congress appear to have motivated Iran to work harder toward inking a nuclear deal with the Obama administration before the lame duck legislative session concludes, according to an official analysis by the CIA’s Open Source Center authored ahead of the midterm elections.

Some Iranians are now betting that the White House will fully lift sanctions before the new Congress assembles and that it will also sign a deal that permits Tehran to continue enriching uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.

“Iranian media from across the political spectrum have cautioned that potential Republican gains in the upcoming U.S. congressional mid-term elections could disrupt the ongoing nuclear negotiations,” the CIA’s Open Source Center wrote in an Oct. 31 analysis marked unclassified but for official use only.

“Some commentary has focused on the possibility that political deadlock between President Obama and Republicans if the latter gain a majority in Congress would constrain the U.S. President’s ability to strike a deal with Iran by [the] 24 November [deadline], while other commentators have highlighted concerns that Republicans may be more reluctant to ease sanctions on Iran, which is a key point of contention for Iran in nuclear negotiations,” according to the CIA analysis.

Tehran’s fears came to fruition on Tuesday night and prompted Iranian commenters and even government officials to express a renewed sense of urgency about finalizing a nuclear deal with the White House.

The spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security Committee predicted negotiations with the Obama administration would continue, but added that Americans must now “drink the cup of poison” as a result of the elections, according to a Persian language report in Iran’s Fars News Agency.

“The change in the balance of power in Senate has no effect on the nuclear negotiations,” Seyyed Hussain Naqavi Husseini, spokesperson for Iran’s National Security Committee of its Parliament, was quoted as saying.

The “Islamic Republic knows that due to Zionists’ influence in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, it is difficult for U.S. politicians to make a decision but this time they should drink the cup of poison,” Hussaini said. “Americans should recognize Iran’s rights and if they do that we can reach to agreement.”

Continued talks with Iran hinge on Obama’s ability to lift sanctions, according to the CIA analysis.

“Hardline media in the past few months questioned the efficacy of nuclear talks if the U.S. president is unable to lift sanctions unilaterally,” the Open Source Center wrote. “They also have exploited disagreements on the nuclear negotiations in the domestic U.S. political arena as a means to warn President Hassan Rouhani to remember Iranian domestic political obligations when considering terms agreed to in any final deal.”

Conservative Iranian pundit Fuad Izadi admitted on Wednesday that the situation had just gotten “much worse” as a result of the elections since a Republican Congress is likely to try to block any nuclear deal that they view as too favorable to Tehran.

Other Iranian analysts labeled the next two months as critical for the Obama administration to reach a deal with Iran.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Also see:

A rose-colored glasses vision of a ‘new Iran’

Expecting Tehran to surrender its nuclear ambitions is wishful thinking

- – Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The British Economist magazine gave its Nov. 1-7 cover story over to a lengthy puff piece on Iran, just in time for the U.S. congressional elections — or more likely, aimed at the looming Nov. 24 deadline for the current round of the endless “P5 + 1″ talks on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

“The revolution is over,” The Economist bleated: The new, younger Iranian generation, all born well after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution, aren’t religious, don’t go to the mosque and care a lot more about the Internet, getting ahead materially, and getting their hands on cutting-edge technology than Islam. Besides, according to Jack Straw, a former British foreign minister cited for the report, “Tehran looks and feels these days more like Madrid and Athens than Mumbai or Cairo.” (Given the burgeoning Muslim populations in European capitals, he may have a point.) The Green Movement is so five years ago, and Election Day marked 35 years since the U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran.

Yes, some people got beaten up or arrested, tortured even, after those fraudulent 2009 presidential elections, but things have settled down a lot since then, says The Economist. The Qods Force is just “a special-operations unit” that “fights on Iran’s behalf outside the country” — nothing to do with exporting the revolution, liaison with Islamic terror groups such as al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic State or the Taliban, or managing narcotrafficking operations in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Americas.

Besides, the Iranians’ new president, Hassan Rouhani, is a “centrist” and “the face of moderation” in Iran today. Aside from the more than 900 executions in Iran since he became president in 2013, the important thing is that he’s been reaching out to the neighbors, you know: helping prop up Iranian puppets in Iraq and Syria, making sure Hamas doesn’t run out of missiles to lob at Israel, and reassuring internationally wanted war criminal, Sudanese President Omar Bashir, that charges of genocide are no impediment to good bilateral relations. As we should all realize by now, “Iran is a bastion of stability.” (Where did we hear that phrase before? Oh, yes, that was President Carter, when he called Iran “an island of stability” — in 1978, right before the revolution broke out.)

All of which is to say that everybody should just calm down, forget they ever read the Iranian Constitution (which cites the Koranic command to terrorism and dedicates the country to global jihad), and give the mullahs and their revolutionary goons a chance. A chance to reach an agreement in the nuclear negotiations, by the deadline, please. After all, Iran “says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.” Yes, Iranian negotiators have been stonewalling the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for years on a commitment to come clean about its past nuclear activities with possible military applications.

This time, though, Iran promises it’s dealing in good faith. After all, it’s so much “more mature and modern” now that the rest of the world should really just forget about how it built its nuclear-weapons facilities in secret for years, buried them deep underground, refused IAEA inspections, got caught with the blueprints for a nuclear warhead, tested warhead explosives devices, and built intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland by 2015.

Just sign the agreement, quickly, so Iran can get busy installing all those brand-new, better, faster centrifuges, spinning up ever-increasing amounts of enriched uranium, and putting the finishing touches on its heavy-water reactor at Arak (for a parallel plutonium route to the bomb).

Where on earth did The Economist get this sunshine and lollipops vision of a “new Iran”?

It will come as no surprise to Iran watchers that the list of those The Economist acknowledges for “sharing their knowledge and insights” reads like a membership roster for the Iran lobby in America: National Iranian American Council stalwarts Afshin Molavi and Trita Parsi are there, and so are regime cheerleaders Suzanne Maloney, Vali Nasr and Karim Sadjadpour. A little more difficult to understand is a set of senior scholars from the Washington Institute of Near East Affairs who ought to know better, including Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji, Dennis Ross and Robert Satloff.

Doves of peace bursting from a shattered portrait of the Ayatollah Khomeini on The Economist magazine cover notwithstanding, the nuclear deal that appears to be on the table between the P5 + 1 and Iran is a bad one, dangerous to international stability, an existential threat to Israel, and a deadly threat to U.S. national security as well (especially if Iran is working on a miniaturized version of a nuclear warhead that could deliver an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, to the unprotected U.S. electric grid.)

Congress, new members and old alike, and the American people must oppose this deal and any deal that the Obama White House and John F. Kerry’s State Department propose to sign with Iran, unless it guarantees that the Iranian nuclear-weapons program and ICBM delivery system will be shut down permanently.

Clare M. Lopez is the vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Chicanery and Resignation as Iran Nuclear Talks Approach Their Conclusion

399618039CSP, by Fred Fleitz:

Amid growing speculation that the P-5 nuclear talks with Iran might be extended pass a November 24 deadline, there were several developments this week that further muddied the waters over the nuclear negotiations.

  1. NYT says Obama plans to sidestep Congress on an Iran deal

An October 19 New York Times article by David Sanger said the Obama administration “will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress have a vote” on a final nuclear deal with Iran. Sanger also said the president intends to suspend sanctions without Congressional consent.

Although some talking heads got worked up over Sanger’s article, none of this is news.

Since a nuclear agreement with Iran will not be a treaty, it will not be subject to Senate ratification. Last July, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) tried to give Congress a role in approving the agreement by submitting an amendment requiring congressional review of any final agreement with Iran. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow this amendment be put to a vote.

Concerning Iran sanctions, Congress has always given presidents the leeway to suspend sanctions if he believes this is in the interests of the United States. The president has already unilaterally suspended some Iran sanctions. Those of us who follow the Iranian nuclear issue have long known the president would unilaterally suspend most of the remaining sanctions after a final nuclear deal was reached.

Several members of Congress expressed their irritation with the Obama administration after the Sanger article. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Wednesday that the House will not sit idly by while the Obama administration negotiates a deal with Iran. House Foreign Affairs Committee member Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) said “I disagree with the administration’s reported assertion that it does not need to come to Congress at this point during negotiations with Iran.”

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) said “Congress will not permit the president to unilaterally unravel Iran sanctions that passed the Senate in a 99-to-0 vote.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) recently said “If a potential deal does not substantially and effectively dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program, I expect Congress will respond. An agreement cannot allow Iran to be a threshold nuclear state.” Menendez has said he may push new sanctions against Iran if a final agreement is not reached by November 24.

  1. Do Iran’s recent steps to dilute some of its enriched uranium mean Tehran is serious about reaching a deal on its nuclear program?

Reuters reported on Monday that a new IAEA report said Iran diluted 4,100 kg of 2% enriched uranium to the natural uranium level (0.7% uranium-235). While some may portray this as an important gesture indicating Tehran wants to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on its nuclear program, this move actually will have little impact on the threat from Iran’s nuclear program because its large stockpile of reactor-grade uranium was unaffected. Where this batch 2% enriched uranium enriched came from is unclear. However, a September 2014 IAEA report specified this was a separate batch from Iran’s 12,464 kg of reactor-grade uranium (enriched to 3 to 5%). Iran can still make 7-8 nuclear weapons from its reactor-grade uranium stockpile if this uranium was further enriched to weapons-grade.

  1. New U.S. Concessions

The Iranian news service Mehr reported this week that the Obama administration has offered to allow Iran to operate 4,000 uranium centrifuges. Iran is using centrifuges to enrich uranium to reactor-grade and could easily adapt them to enrich to weapons-grade. Iran has 19,000 centrifuges but only about 9,000 are currently operational.

If this report is true it is consistent with previous reports of U.S. offers allowing Iran to operate 1,500-4,500 centrifuges if it converted any uranium it enriched to uranium power. As I explained in an October 2 National Review Online article, these previous concessions would do little to stop or slow Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Whether or not the U.S. actually made the offer reported by the Iranian news service, this report confirms what appears to be the disturbing direction of the nuclear talks: the United States has conceded to Iran the right to enrich uranium and is now negotiating the size of an Iranian enrichment program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got it right when he told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell earlier this month that Iran’s centrifuges “are only good for one thing: to make bomb-grade material.” This is why Israel seeks the full dismantlement of Iran’s uranium enrichment infrastructure and its heavy-water plutonium reactor.

U.S. Iran policy has drifted further than most Americans realize under this administration.   While Obama officials and the foreign policy establishment dismissed Netanyahu‘s sobering words as unreasonable and extreme, he expressed what was the official U.S. position until January 2009.

  1. Dennis Ross Thinks There Could be a Partial Nuclear Deal with Iran

Dennis Ross, a former State Department officer who served as a special adviser to the Obama administration for the Persian Gulf, said in an October 15 Foreign Affairs article that “ultimately, there appears to be little likelihood of a comprehensive deal at the present time” because Iran is demanding a roll back of all sanctions and wants to operate industrial-scale uranium enrichment with limited transparency about its nuclear program. Ross claims the West will only permit a small enrichment program and wants full transparency.

Ross thinks a partial deal which “contains” Iran’s nuclear program and prevents Tehran from moving closer to a nuclear “breakout” capability – the ability to produce enough weapons-grade fuel for one nuclear weapon – would be a good outcome for the nuclear talks. Ross says this might also be achieved by a “muddling through” strategy under which Iran would agree to limit its nuclear program and the West would not impose additional sanctions. Under such a scenario, the nuclear talks would be suspended for a few months but bilateral talks with Tehran would continue.

Ross’ piece was probably a trial balloon by the Obama administration to weigh alternatives to a final deal with Iran.   His proposals are troubling because they perpetuate the fiction that last fall’s interim deal with Iran and the deal currently being negotiated push Iran back from a nuclear breakout. In fact, Iran passed that threshold years ago and can currently make enough nuclear fuel for one nuclear bomb in three to five weeks.

The current understandings with Iran allow Tehran to continue to enrich uranium and keep a huge stockpile of reactor-grade uranium which could be used to fuel 7-8 nuclear weapons if this uranium was enriched to weapons-grade. Iran also has been permitted during this year’s nuclear talks to install new centrifuge designs that may be four to 16 times more efficient. These are unacceptable concessions that Ross is proposing be made permanent under a partial deal with Iran or through a muddling through strategy.

Also see:

The Iran Lobby: Alive, Well and Changing the Face of the Middle East

799454648CSP, By Clare M. Lopez, Oct. 23, 2014:

“In February 2009, as President Barack Obama and his new administration were settling into office, the Center for Security Policy published a report I wrote entitled “RISE OF THE ‘IRAN LOBBY’ Tehran’s front groups move on—and into— the Obama Administration.” This occasional paper from the Center was offered as a warning about the constellation of forces that was just then moving into power positions from which to influence U.S. foreign policy in ways supportive of the Tehran regime’s objectives. Today, five years later, the disastrous fruits of that network’s efforts are evident across the Middle East in ways both predictable and unforeseen: Iran stands on the brink of deploying deliverable nuclear weapons, Turkey’s leadership sponsors HAMAS terrorism and harbors both neo-Ottoman ambitions and a visceral hatred of the Jewish State of Israel, and an Islamic State proclaiming itself a Caliphate sweeps armies and borders before it, oddly enabled by both Iran and Turkey.”

See version with embedded hyperlinks here

See version with footnotes here

 

Obama Admin Making “Disturbing Counterproposals” to Iran

2655171361Center For Security Policy, Fred Fleitz:

“U.S. negotiators have responded to Iranian intransigence on key issues with creative but sometimes disturbing counterproposals.”

This sentence describing the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran were not the words of Republican critics of President Obama’s Iran policy.  They were part of a lead editorial that ran in the Washington Post on October 3, 2014.

Think about it: the Washington Post is accusing the Obama administration of making disturbing counterproposals to a radical Islamist state-sponsor of terror which is suspected of having a covert nuclear weapons program.

The long list of these disturbing U.S. counterproposals include:

  • Dropping Western demands that Iran disassemble uranium centrifuges.
  • Allowing Iran to keep its large enriched uranium stockpile.
  • Allowing Iran to develop and install advanced uranium centrifuges.
  • Implicitly accepting Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium.
  • No longer insisting that Iran stop construction of the Arak heavy water reactor which will be a source of plutonium when completed.

While the U.S. continues to make disturbing counterproposals and concessions in the nuclear talks, Iran has given little in return and is refusing to cooperate with IAEA investigations into indications that its nuclear program has military applications.  Iran also refuses to provide IAEA inspectors with full access to its nuclear facilities.

I agree with the Washington Post’s concern that President Obama might be tempted to make more concessions to Iran to get a final nuclear agreement before the talks are schedule to end on November 24.  The Post recommends that unless there is a dramatic change in Iran’s positions, the interim deal which set up this year’s nuclear talks should be extended and Iran be threatened with tougher sanctions if it does not agree.

This recommendation does not go far enough.  A diplomatic process to reduce the threat from a nuclear Iran that includes disturbing American counterproposals and concessions is not in the national security interests of the United States.  It is therefore imperative that Congress reject these talks as well as any agreement they may produce and reestablish a responsible U.S. policy on the Iranian nuclear program by placing new sanctions on Iran until it complies with all UN Security Council resolutions on its nuclear program.

The Nuclear Giveaway

2051705677By Fred Fleitz:

With the Iran nuclear talks now in their endgame and the prospect of a very different political environment in Washington next year if Republicans capture the Senate, Obama officials are in overdrive to achieve their dream of a legacy agreement with Tehran so that President Obama can claim he halted the threat from the Iranian nuclear program. Their goal is to get a final agreement before the nuclear talks are scheduled to end November 24.

While the Obama administration has long been desperate to get such an agreement, two recent ill-advised American concessions and a string of misleading statements and proposals demonstrate how far the White House is willing to go and why it is vital that Congress denounce on a bipartisan basis the nuclear talks and a possible final agreement .

Two weeks ago, the United States floated a proposal to let Iran keep all of its 19,000 centrifuge machines, which Tehran is using to enrich uranium to reactor grade as long as all but 1,500 are “disconnected” and cease enriching uranium. This proposal alarmed many experts because Iran could quickly begin enriching uranium to weapons grade by reconnecting all of its centrifuges.

As generous as this offer was, it apparently did not go far enough for Tehran. The Associated Press reported on September 25 that U.S. diplomats have proposed letting Iran operate up to 4,500 centrifuges if its stockpile of enriched uranium gas is converted to uranium “powder.” This proposal rests on the assumption that such an arrangement would give the international community plenty of time to react to an Iranian “dash” toward constructing a nuclear weapon because it would take over a year for Iran to re-convert low-enriched powder into uranium gas for further enrichment to weapons-grade uranium.

The assumption behind this proposal is false. Both Amos Yadlin, former head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, and Mark Hibbs, a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment and nuclear proliferation expert, agree that it would take Iran only about two weeks.

A final agreement also appears unlikely to do anything to reduce the nuclear-proliferation threat posed by Iran’s large stockpile of low-enriched uranium. I noted in NRO last November how a 2013 American Enterprise Institute study found that Iran has produced enough reactor-grade uranium since 2009 “to fuel a small arsenal of nuclear weapons after conversion to weapons grade.” The Langley Intelligence Group Network agreed with this assessment and estimated that, from its 20 percent-enriched-uranium stockpile, Iran could make enough nuclear fuel for one bomb and could make another seven from its reactor-grade uranium if further enriched to weapons grade.

Estimates by the American Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Science and International Security, and the Nuclear Proliferation Education Center on how fast Iran could make enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear bomb using reactor-grade uranium range from four to six weeks.

This latest proposed concession continues a pattern of misleading statements and proposals by Obama-administration officials on the Iran talks that began with last November’s interim agreement with Iran, which set up this year’s negotiations on a final agreement.

Read more at Center for Security Policy

See also:

Cruz: Nuclear Iran is a Bigger Threat than ISIL

Ted CruzWashington Free Beacon, By Alana Goodman:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) could lead to a “massive loss of life” in the United States if it is not stopped, but added that he still believes Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose a greater threat to the U.S. than the Islamic State, in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon last week.

The senator also tied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Obama administration’s Iran policy, and warned the White House against using a military campaign against ISIL as an excuse to appease Tehran.

“As grave as the threat from ISIS is, in my view the most significant threat to U.S. national security remains the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” said Cruz. “The incoherence of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy will come to full flower if the peril of ISIS is used as an excuse to further appease Iran and facilitate their acquiring nuclear weapon capability.”

He added that “everything President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have done have increased the chances of Iran acquiring nuclear weapon capability, and have perversely increased the chances of future military conflict.”

While Cruz has not said whether he will run for president in 2016, his response to one question suggested that the possibility is on his mind.

“What should a strong president do [to prevent a nuclear Iran]? Well number one, I’ve introduced legislation in the Senate, comprehensive Iran sanctions legislation that demonstrates the direction I believe we should be taking,” said Cruz.

Although he noted that he remains supportive of a new sanctions legislation introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, he called the proposals “weak sauce.”

“Kirk-Menendez on its face is pretty weak sauce. It lays out future contingencies in which ultimately sanctions will be re-imposed. That’s not a rational way to negotiate with religious extremists like [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei,” said Cruz.

“The legislation I’ve introduced would immediately re-impose sanctions on Iran, would strengthen those sanctions to make them as crippling as humanly possible, and then it lays out a clear path to how Iran can lift those sanctions.”

Cruz said both ISIL and the Iranian regime are “radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us. The one thing on which they agree is killing Americans.”

His comments echoed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said earlier this month that Tehran posed a more significant geo-strategic threat than ISIL.

Still, the senator warned that failing to confront ISIL could lead to massive U.S. casualties.

“If we don’t act now and if they are able to consolidate power and control of a nation state with massive oil revenues, the inevitable consequence of that will be a significant and perhaps even massive loss of life here in the United States,” said Cruz.

He criticized the idea of arming Syria’s anti-Assad rebels, saying that many of them were allied with ISIL, and the Obama administration had not provided a clear plan on how to keep the weapons from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Cruz also defended his opposition to U.S. military action against the Syrian regime last summer.

“Had the administration gotten what it wanted last summer, there’s a very real chance ISIS would be stronger today than it is right now,” said Cruz.

The potential 2016 presidential hopeful sought to strike a middle ground between the non-interventionist wing of the Republican Party and those who supported President Bush’s “freedom agenda.”

“We have a job to do, and it’s not transform distant countries into democratic utopias,” said Cruz. “It’s not turn Iraq into Switzerland. It’s to prevent people who want to kill Americans from killing Americans.”

“I think it is unquestionably right that we are tired of sending our sons and daughters to distant lands to engage with nation-building,” he added. “But I think it is a profound misreading of the American spirit to confuse that with Americans being unwilling to defend themselves, being unwilling to stand up to serious and real national security threats, and to stand up with overwhelming force.”