Thursday, November 21, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 229b: Former US UN Ambassador John Bolton on the emerging Geneva nuke deal with Iran

Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton weighs in:, speaking on the round two negotiations that are starting up after the French and/or Iranians stopped the last round. If it was the French, it was because they saw the deal as dangerously favourable to Iran's nuke bomb agenda. If Iran, it is because it is trying to manufacture a "right" to enrich Uranium despite the longstanding Non Proliferation Treaty conditions under which it got access to nuclear technologies under the Shah. (The same Shah Rezi Pahlevi the Mullahs overthrew.)

Bolton comments:
Secretary of State John Kerry has spared no effort to avoid another Geneva debacle, almost certainly making more concessions to Iran to secure agreement. The failed deal was certainly wretched from America’s perspective, involving countless problems and deficiencies. This week’s deal will be worse.
It is no answer that Obama is seeking merely an “interim” understanding with Iran. “Interim” concessions have a way of getting locked-in, as seemingly ad hoc trade-offs freeze into permanence. Indeed, Obama’s “step-by-step” approach itself tells Tehran’s mullahs how desperately Obama wants a deal, and how willingly he ignores the reality that Iran’s nuclear program has never been peaceful.

But there is a larger point here, beyond whatever specific terms emerge this week in Geneva. The West’s efforts to negotiate with Iran are doomed to failure because the parties’ objectives are utterly incompatible. A decade of abortive negotiations alone demonstrates this basic truth, which Iran’s ongoing diplomatic “charm offensive” cannot obscure.
 What is going on? Bolton's analysis:

Obama sees negotiations as deflecting the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. Iran sees them, by contrast, as helping ensure success for that very weapons program. There is simply no compromise between these objectives. There are no “bridging proposals” that can overcome irreconcilable differences.
Tehran’s primary negotiation objective is to eliminate the threat of military strikes against its nuclear program. Despite Obama’s rhetoric that “all options are on the table,” no one believes he will use force. And who knows what private assurances Obama or Kerry have already given the ayatollahs (a fruitful area for Congressional inquiry)? That leaves Israel, which the Obama administration is pressuring unmercifully, not just on Iran but also on the Palestinians.
I doubt that any US administration c 2013 can be naive about Iran and its long-term drive to nuke weapons. My own view is, they feel they can live with a nuclear Iran, especially in a context where Mr Obama plainly fundamentally agrees with the idea that the West, especially the US is the chief global problem to be kept in check.

U/D 1: Looks like I am not alone in that assessment, cf. PowerLine's Scott Johnson, here, on a conference call with Dr Emily Landau, an expert on nuke weapons breakouts:
Dr. Landau asks why parties other than France aren’t raising these technical issues. 
[To wit: The original clause on Arak – that would have prevented Iran from commissioning the facility for six months, but would have allowed for continued construction work – is Iran’s tactic in a nutshell. To make “concessions” that are not concessions at all, because Iran was not on track to commission the facility in the next six months, but certainly wanted to be able to continue construction work so that it would be ready to do so later in 2014. And in return, to get sanctions lifted.]
They are straightforward issues with respect to which she finds the apparent concessions to be puzzling. I asked Dr. Lanadau: Isn’t the simplest explanation that the United States is okay with Iran’s development of nuclear weapons? 

She laughed uncomfortably and responded that she took Obama at his word while acknowledging the circumstantial basis of the question. As we have all learned in recent days if not earlier, taking Obama and his “declared policy” (to borrow Dr. Landau’s term) at face value is a big mistake.
U/D 2: Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN and a distinguished historian, writing in an opinion piece in the LA Times, after describing the dismissive ridicule Israeli PM Netanyahu is facing as an alleged spoiler undercutting supposed Iranian moderates, observes:
Netanyahu is acting out of a deep sense of duty to defend Israel against an existential threat. Such dangers are rare in most countries' experience but are traumatically common in Israel's, and they render the price of ridicule irrelevant.

Moreover, when formulating policies vital to Israel's survival, the prime minister consults with Israel's renowned intelligence community, a robust national security council and highly specialized units of the Israel Defense Forces. Netanyahu may at times appear to stand alone on Iran, but he is backed by a world-class body of experts.

In 2011, these same analysts predicted that the Arab Spring, which was widely hailed as the dawn of Middle Eastern democracy, would be hijacked by Islamic radicals. They foresaw years of brutal civil strife. Netanyahu publicly expressed these conclusions and was denounced as a naysayer by many of the same columnists who are now lambasting him on Iran.
Yet it is precisely on Iran that Israeli specialists have proved most prescient. They were the first, more than 20 years ago, to reveal Iran's clandestine nuclear activities. They continued to scrutinize the program, emphasizing its military goals, even after 2003, when weaponization was purportedly halted.
Throughout several attempts at diplomacy, these experts have disclosed the ways that Iran systematically obstructed United Nations observers, lied to world leaders and hid nuclear facilities, such as the one at Fordow, which can have no peaceful purpose. Israeli intelligence has accurately tracked Iran's support for terrorist organizations, its role in the massacre of thousands of Syrians and its responsibility for attacks against civilians in dozens of cities around the world.
And the march of folly goes on, and on.

The onward path is predictable.

Beyond a certain point, Israel will strike, regardless of global opinion and International sanctions likely to come of such. For, given the repeated declaration of intent to wipe Israel off the map, the matter is survival, not only of Israel but the Jewish people.

At this point, frankly, I feel like a passenger in a car that has begun to skid and slide out of control into the path of fast moving heavy traffic.

We need a miracle. END