Monday, July 20, 2015

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly – The Iran Nuclear Deal

For the purpose of full disclosure, I am not a politician or foreign policy expert, although I might have once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. I am just one of you, just maybe a slight bit more knowledgeable since I served in an intelligence unit for five years, but maybe that is a good thing. It seems that the more politicians and experts are involved in a subject, the less positive the outcome.

Take for instance this new ‘deal’, somberly referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with Iran over their nuclear program. To be sure, there are many who are applauding this as a foreign policy success story. In fact, I have actually looked at the deal and I can honestly say that it is a good deal.

Some of you might have just fallen off your chair at that last comment, so I’ll give you a moment to get your wits about you and perhaps get a cup of coffee or something stronger.

The idea that President Obama has achieved something that the world once thought impossible, an end to the threat of Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb, might seem a bit much for some to accept. I caution however, that while that would be truly historic, and provide the President with a much needed legacy, as the idiom goes: ‘the devil is in the details’.

The deal assumes a radical assumption that somehow Iran will act in good faith, rather than an assumption of bad faith. It goes against the known history of the past, in favor of a future one, that at best, remains cloaked in uncertainty.

So what is ‘Good’ about this deal? Well, quite frankly, if you are the Iranians, everything…… I haven’t seen a deal this one-sided since the Dutch bought the island of Manhattan for $24.

Note: For those of you who are for this Iranian deal and will come unglued about the above statement - Okay, yes, I know that’s a myth. I’m a native New Yorker. I know that the Dutch actually traded iron kettles, axes, knives, and cloth for the Island. I know that the Canarsee Tribe didn’t actually own the island, so the Dutch got taken and then had to pay the Wappinger Tribe when it was discovered that they actually owned the land….. sheesh, allow me at least some literary sarcasm.

Getting back to the point, this deal is truly one sided. Iran agrees to ‘shelve’ components of their program from 8-15 years. Pardon me, but wasn’t Iran a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? The fact that they have been working toward a nuclear weapon, in violation of their agreement, kind of makes me believe they can’t be completely trusted. So we are already starting off this agreement knowing that the Iranians have a history of not following through on their agreements. With this in mind, I can’t understand how we wouldn’t proceed under the ‘assume bad faith’ doctrine.

So how did the feckless diplomats handle this? Well, according to the administration we have 24/7 monitoring of the Iranian facilities, the so-called ‘anytime, anywhere’ verification. This would go a long way toward keeping the Iranians honest, but apparently 24/7 doesn’t actually mean 24/7. You see, it applies only to the ‘known’ facilities. The secret ones, which apparently fall under the category of ‘known secret’ and those that may, as of yet, be ‘unknown’ have a different process:

If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities, at any non-declared sites, they may request access to ‘verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the agreement’, by informing Iran of the basis for their concerns. Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA's concerns. If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of twenty-four days is triggered. Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves. If they fail to reach an agreement, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days. The majority rule provision (the United States and its European allies: Britain, France, Germany and the EU, could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them. If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically re-imposed under the snapback provision.

As a result of the above, the breakout time, the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon, should Iran abandon the agreement, will allegedly increase from two to three months to one year; this would be in place for ten years.

Seriously? Think about this for a moment. We are entering an agreement with a country that has a history of not following their agreements. We can conduct 24/7 verification of all their ‘known’ facilities, but if we actually find out about a secret one, then we have this rube goldberg-esque process to get them to comply. Yeah, nothing can possibly go wrong with that scenario.

So what is ‘Bad’? Well, if the above didn’t give you the warm fuzzies, consider this. No one is addressing the fact that this agreement does nothing to curtail the Iranians from actually getting the bomb, it just slows it down. To me that sounds a bit sketchy. It would be like negotiating with the school bully, who is threating to kill you, for a fifteen year reprieve.

On top of that, the agreement calls for lifting sanctions and returning upward of one hundred and fifty billion dollars to the Iranian government. Who, if you weren’t already aware of this, is the biggest sponsor of state supported terrorism, a fact that was never even discussed within the framework of the agreement. So I guess they curtail their overt nuclear program, but can continue their reign of terror without any problems along with a healthy dose of new financing. Now where do you think the bulk of this money will go? I’m not a betting man, but I would think that a large chunk will go toward sowing the seeds of terrorism through its surrogates: Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as through its own Qods Force, which has been actively involved in Iraq, where an estimated 1,100 US troops were killed by groups trained and equipped by the Qods, not to mention Syria, the rest of the Middle East, Afghanistan and parts of Africa. The administration even concedes this point.

Now to the ‘Ugly’ part. The government of Iran is a habitual liar. That’s not a baseless slander, but simple fact. The country possesses nearly ten percent of global oil reserves as well as eighteen percent of natural gas reserves. Their claim that their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes has always been a charade. Evidence has clearly shown that, despite their claims to the contrary, they have pursued technology to weaponize nuclear energy.

In fact, the IAEA inspectors are on record as saying that they (Iranians) have routinely stonewalled the inspectors and that it is entirely possible that Iran has an undisclosed clandestine nuclear weapons program in place. The lifting of sanctions will open Iran up to a host of countries and their companies, including some of our allies who agreed to this deal; many of whom were already dealing with Iran in violation of existing United Nations sanctions.

United Nations monitors recently issued a report that expressed frustration about the failure of United Nations member states, including those negotiating this deal, to report back to the UN about new incidents of Iran violating Security Council sanctions against its nuclear program, even though some have unfolded in plain sight. I guess reporting U.N. violations was not deemed important to risk sensitive negotiations, during which the Iranians were promising not to violate the provisions of the agreement.

One example in the report cited the failure of member states to report the highly publicized presence of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Qods Force, in Iraq. His Iraq visit was a violation of the U.N.’s imposed travel ban on key Iranian officials. Not that he cares much about restrictions, as he moves freely about the region, including a lot of time spent directing the fight against ISIS in Syria.

If you don’t know anything about the Qods Force, I suggest reading my novel: Bishop’s Gate.

One thing I am curious about is, once the sanctions are lifted and those countries and companies get their fingers into Iran legally, how many will be willing to vote to snapback sanctions? One thing I do know is that once you open Pandora’s Box, what you unleash will not willingly go back inside.

The administration claims that "tough, new requirements will keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon".

No it won’t. It might prolong it slightly, but they will obtain it. The world is playing checkers while the Iranian’s are playing chess. They are happy to let time pass by, while they work toward their end game, which brings me to another point. Can someone explain why their ICBM program remains intact? Isn’t anyone concerned about the “I” in ICBM, which stands for Intercontinental?

Iran doesn’t need an ICBM to hit Israel or Saudi Arabia, or to further its regional terrorism program, so what is the purpose? Please spare the talking point about how Iran’s is much further away from an ICBM then they are from a nuke. That isn’t really all that encouraging. Plus, they have two allies, who coincidentally are their main weapons suppliers, waiting in the wings. It is entirely possible that they might potentially expedite the ICBM process.  The lifting of weapons sanctions is another really bad idea.

Despite all the flowery prose coming forth from the administration and the world about this deal, the fact of the matter is Iran is Iran. They have not changed. Ink on a piece of paper does not change the heart of a person or a country. When you are chanting ‘death to America’ and ‘death to Israel’ your words resonate very clearly. When you sponsor terror throughout the region, and make no apologies for it, you show us who you truly are.

Iran is a theocracy. It is ruled by the nation’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian Revolution, after Khomeini's death.

Many will point to the allegation that Khamenei has reportedly issued a fatwa saying that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was ‘forbidden under Islam’. However, I am also aware that the Qur’an says that there are two forms of lying to non-believers, Taqiyya and Kitman, which are permitted under certain circumstances.  Taqiyya, which is saying something that isn't true, is permissible when it advances the cause of Islam. If he didn’t agree with his country’s nuclear program, then why were they still pursuing it in violation of his alleged fatwa?

On the other side of that coin, when the Supreme Leader is quoted as saying ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’, and has actually taken steps to direct terrorist activities against both countries, I tend to take him, and his words, very seriously.

None of this is a condemnation of the President. This is not a partisan issue; if you think that way, you are part of the problem. We are facing a grave threat, and the administrations answer is to kick the can down the road. What good does this do? Understand that when the provisions of the deal sunset, the breakout time for Iran to have a nuclear weapon begins to diminish from the ‘one year’ theory. That is if, and it is a really big IF, they don’t already have a clandestine program place. So, theoretically, we have only bought ourselves a 10 year reprieve. Realistically, it might be much less.

Again, I don’t trust them.

As I have said, this isn’t just an Obama problem. The responsibility has been shared by every administration going back to President Carter. The current regime came into power through a bloody coup, and the world did nothing. If you haven’t, I suggest you take the time to read up on the current Islamic Republic of Iran. You cannot begin to understand the problem, if you don’t understand the history.

In the thirty-five years since the revolt, they have grown to the world’s number one sponsor of state terrorism. Their list of involvement in acts of terror is stunning in its depth and breadth. The U.S. hostage crisis, which lasted for more than a year, the 1983 Beirut Barracks bombing, the Israeli Embassy bombing in Buenos Aires, the Khobar Towers bombing, the training of Al Qaeda, and the list goes on. They have also been named as being involved and complicit in the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the September 11th attacks, and the Riyadh Compound bombing. 

The world has allowed the current Iranian government to grow from a simple street bully, to a global one. Iran has never stepped back from its commitment to attack the ‘great Satan’, and yet everyone has treated it like nothing more than baseless rhetoric, even when those words were dripping with innocent blood.

Someone recently asked me: What would you do? As if somehow they can justify this bad deal. My answer was: It should never have gotten to this point.

After WWII, the United Nations was created. It was an organization that was supposed to prevent things like this from ever happening. Part of its mandate is maintaining international peace and security. Like its predecessor, the League of Nations, throughout its seventy year existence, the U.N. has proven time and again that it is incapable of doing what it was established to do.

Consider for a moment the fact that the four policemen, a branch of the U.N., which was originally conceived by FDR, was to be the enforcement arm, responsible for keeping order within their spheres of influence. Britain would oversee its empire as well as Western Europe; the Soviet Union had responsibility for Eastern Europe along with the central Eurasian landmass; China controlled East Asia and the Western Pacific; and the United States was charged with overseeing the Western Hemisphere. As a preventive measure against new wars, countries other than the Four Policemen were to be disarmed. Ironically, this concept was originally drafted by FDR in November 1943 at the Tehran Conference. Guess that didn’t work out well.

Like an insolent child, Iran should never have been allowed to arrive at where it is today. Their behavior should have been stopped long ago. Now they are at the threshold of becoming a nuclear power, and the best we can formulate is a plan to delay it by ten to fifteen years.

What will we do in that time frame? Well, if history is any indicator, nothing. What will Iran do? I would venture to guess that they will do what they have always done. They will continue to pursue a covert nuclear program, they will continue to promote unrest and terrorism throughout the region, and push the boundaries to see what they can get away with.

There might be the occasional verbal admonishment, or the threat of ‘tougher’ sanctions, but, in the end, the west has already shown their hand. They have been judged by the Iranian’s as being weak and unwilling to fight, eager to ‘give up’ concessions in order to avoid a conflict.

Imagine what the world would be like today if, instead of pursuing ‘peace in our time’, Hitler was told that if you cross into Austria, you will be dealt with swiftly and severely? Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement quickly led to the so called ‘flower wars’, the annexation of Austria, the Sudetenland and Memel. Had the west stepped in and said no, to Hitler’s advances toward Austria, would it have prevented WWII? I don’t know, but I do know that despite their attempts to avoid it, the war eventually occurred. Bullies don’t stop until someone stands in their way and says ‘enough’.

WWII ended with a mushroom cloud over Japan, my fear is that WWIII will begin with one.

Only time will tell if I am right. I hope that I am not. I hope that the ‘experts’ got it right this time. That somehow the leopard has truly changed its spots.  However, if I am correct, then we have just turned the corner on a journey, which ends with that mushroom cloud appearing over the nation of Israel.

Israel won’t let that happen of course, which means, despite the grand designs of the negotiators, the prospect of World War III just became significantly greater, not less.

But what do I know? I’m just an author who writes fiction novels……… Then again, as we all know, ‘Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth’. 

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