Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision '08, Iran, Politics, WORLD POLITICS — Rick Moran @ 7:08 am

Iran has graciously consented to obey international law and allow inspectors into their recently revealed nuclear enrichment facility while also agreeing to allow Russia to complete the processing of a large part of their nuclear fuel.

This is an “I told you so” moment for the left…or is it? The Daily Beast:

Who knew this whole “diplomacy” idea might actually accomplish something? Mounting pressure on Iran over its nuclear program appears to be paying dividends as the U.S. engages in multilateral and direct negotiations with Iranian officials in Geneva this week. Already Iran has agreed to let U.N. inspectors into its recently revealed uranium enrichment plant and to send most of its uranium to Russia for enrichment, which would help reassure foreign powers that it is not on the path to produce nuclear weapons. The tentative arrangement could be enough to hold off a new round of sanctions on Iran, whose economy is suffering and whose government is still containing fallout from its dispute presidential election. Of course, the deal only works if Iran follows through on its word and some observers aren’t holding their breath. “This is only a start, and we shall need to see progress through some of the practical steps we have discussed today,” European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana told The Washington Post.

This “whole diplomacy thing” has accomplished nothing. Nada. Zipedee Doo Da. Iran had already assured the IAEA that they would allow access to the new site. And as for completing the processing of their LEU in Russia - that too, is not much of a concession. That would be the enriched uranium from the facility at Natanz - a place that the IAEA has been watching very closely so that Iran could never turn that enriched uranium from the 5% level to the bomb grade 90% level.

The fact is, that stockpile was never a problem It was too closely watched for Iran to carry out any funny business. The real problem is that we don’t know what other facilities Iran has built, nor do we know what other steps they have taken to build a bomb that we would never be able to determine. The fact that they were hiding an enrichment facility that was much too small to enrich uranium for commercial purposes, and could easily been used for military purposes, is the real problem with the Iranian nuclear program; it’s what we don’t know and what the Iranians refuse to tell us that makes this situation so dangerous.

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk - an arms control advocate - lays out the logic of this argument:

For some time, a few of us - including Josh Pollack and Andreas Persbo - have been arguing (with little success) that the public debate is misguided in its singular focus on breakout scenarios at Natanz. Is Iran 18 months away? How much LEU does it have? These were interesting questions but, to my mind, distractions. Natanz is the most watched site in the world. If the Iranians build a bomb, they will do it someplace else. Like Qom.

Josh Pollack did a wonderful job of tackling these issues in his post, Why Iran’s Clock Keeps Resetting (August 19, 2009) and over at TotalWonkerr, where he noted “One of the shortcomings of breakout lit so far may be its emphasis on on a single site. A hidden site is also a possibility…”

The real risk was always that Iran would construct a covert site other than Natanz. As long as Iran remains under the current safeguards arrangements, I wrote to a colleague this summer, we have “no confidence that Iran is not simply trucking centrifuge components to another location, buried deep under some mountain.”

For example, we would never know (without human intelligence that would have penetrated their nuke program) whether or not the mullahs have been working on a design for a bomb. Computer modeling for such a design is impossible to detect. Nor do we know what progress the Iranians have made in warhead design so that a nuke could be married to one of their improving rockets - the Shahab II and III.

To spout nonsense about diplomacy “working” at this point is truly ignorant. Not even Obama has said anything except that this is a “constructive beginning.” And WaPo’s Glenn Kessler points out that this sudden “cooperation” by the mullahs is not unexpected:

The outcome, which President Obama in Washington called a “constructive beginning,” came after 7 1/2 hours of talks in an 18th-century villa on the outskirts of Geneva that included the highest-level bilateral meeting between the two countries since relations were severed three decades ago after the Iranian revolution. But the difficulties that lie ahead were illustrated when the chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, held a triumphant news conference at which he denounced “media terrorism,” insisted that Iran has always fully met its international commitments, and refused even to acknowledge a question from an Israeli reporter.

The sudden show of cooperation by Tehran reduces for now the threat of additional sanctions, which has been made repeatedly by the United States and others over the past week after the revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear facility. The United States will need to keep the pressure on Iran to avoid being dragged into a process without end.

Anyone who followed the EU3 talks that were carried out during the Bush Administration knows full well that the Iranians are experts at dragging negotiating partners “into a process without end.”

Meanwhile, no one can say if at some still undiscovered location in Iran - and indeed the evidence points to this being more than a possibility - centrifuges aren’t whirring away creating HEU that could be used to construct a nuclear weapon. That’s the bottom line and any celebratory nonsense about diplomacy “working” is simple, partisan blather.


  1. Barring an invasion and complete takeover of Iran how exactly are we to find these unknown sites?

    Reducing Iran’s acknowledge stockpile of uranium and inspections now is a great first step and certainly something we have neither the manpower, material, or funds on hand to achieve by force.

    Comment by Richard bottoms — 10/2/2009 @ 12:37 pm

  2. When Iran finally gets its nukes, all this would look useless.

    For a country that supposedly wants “peaceful” use of nuclear energy, the Iranians do seem to be taking the hard road… why the secrecy? after all that was only for “peaceful” purposes right ?

    Economic sanctions wont do a damned thing. Iran basically played its cards to perfection. Now the Israelis have even lesser room than before to pre-emptively attack their facilities..

    Who knows ? Obama may very well not mind a nuclear armed Iran to force Israel into even more concessions.

    Well played Dinnerjacket.

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 10/2/2009 @ 9:08 pm

  3. Rick,
    While I share concerns about Iran’s ultimate goals, your argument that “this proves nothing’ falls a bit short.

    Essentially, you seem to be saying that no matter what Iran might do or say, we still won’t know what else they might be hiding. Very reminiscent of “you can’t prove a negative” — and ultimately an impossible threshold to overcome.

    You are basically correct. But reading Jeffrey Lewis at Arms Control Wonk, it seems there is a body of opinion over there that the Qom facility is probably just one in a string of unknown facilties. US intel evidently believes this as well as is searching very hard for more. For instance, the wonks point out that a secret enrichment facility wouldn’t be very useful unless there was a secret processing plant for the Uranium hex. And secret mining operations to supply the processing plant.

    Until Iran gets a smidgen of credibility, nothing they say can be realistically believed.


    Comment by Polimom — 10/3/2009 @ 10:15 am

  4. My only comment is that I pray for the success of diplomacy with Iran. I don’t want America to be going to war with any other nations. We go in, we blow their stuff up, destroy their government… and then we stay there and build the country back up and build them a new government… and then we spend all our money and allow our soldiers to die trying to build up other nations. So I wish for the success of diplomacy.

    Comment by Malcolm — 10/3/2009 @ 7:51 pm

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