Sunday, July 19, 2015

The GOP comes out swinging against the Iran deal and the Administration swings back harder

Also see a later posting: Heads up Spinners at work on the Iran deal 8/2/15 for comments on the anti Iran deal ad campaign.

 Nearly all  of the GOP members in Congress and their presidential contenders came out swinging against  the Iran nuclear arms control deal before they even  read the text, having  chosen to be deaf, blind, and intentionally dumb to the details of the provisions and the repercussions of killing the deal. Congress  will have sixty days  to become educated, though GOP’s pre-conceived notions seem already set in concrete.  Democrats swipe back harder and  turn to  keeping enough Senate Democrats in line to protect their president’s’ veto without GOP votes.

 Public rebuttals and counter rebuttals have begun. Key Administration arguments for the deal  are that the effectiveness of  verification measures make us safer than  a powerfully sobering result if the deal is killed. There would be no sanctions, no monitors by inspectors, a likely outbreak of war soon, a chance the US could be dragged into another Middle Eastern war to support our allies,  a nuclear arms race in the region, and knowing  Iran would be free to make  a bomb in a very short time.

If war now is considered better than the deal, the President pointed out, Iran’s  nuclear program would only be set back temporarily with conventional means. Bunker busters cannot wipe out their scientists’ knowhow.   The deal requires monitored mothballing  of 2/3 of their centrifuges and limits enriched uranium to 3.67% of stores for 15 years, making a bounce back difficult if impossible. 

Even Pres. Obama agrees there are  short term risks of beefed up hostilities from Iran’s surrogates due to Iran’s improving economic conditions and with the  conventional arms embargo lifted after five years, 8 years for missiles. Separate UN resolutions forbid Iran arming  surrogates.  Israel and our Gulf allies have already been offered more military aid to offset any  threat.

But are the provisions for verification good enough to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons?
To answer GOP charges that Iran could develop weapons in ten years, their R&D continues, and the administration is naïve, the administration is pitting their experts against the GOP’s that the deal will block the path.  The administration’s  lead technical negotiator, a hardly naïve  Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, is one of the  world’s top nuclear expert scientists,  .

 Republicans criticized the 24 day notice for Iran to approve  inspectors to visit suspected cheat sites, noting approval could still be  delayed for months.  Scrubbing sites in a short period is impossible, per Moniz. Tell- tale nuclear residue lasts for years. Military installations are subject to inspections, but the GOP claims monitoring provisions are vague.  The deal includes  monitoring the entire supply chain of nuclear materials that will provide evidence of hidden cheating to be pursued by inspectors for the next twenty-five years.  

Some in the GOP want to double down on sanctions to change Iran’s  behavior instead. The administration countered that the  purpose of sanctions was to force Iran to negotiate. If Congress kills the deal,  the sanction’s purpose, leverage to force Iran to renegotiate, and  an effective  sanctions coalition evaporates.  US leadership becomes untrustworthy. If  the deal survives,   “snap back” provisions obligate the signers automatically to reinstate sanctions if Iran is caught cheating.

A version of this appeared in the Sky Hi Daily News  July 23-24 2015   ($1.6 billion in aid offered to Israel) (destroys 2/3 centrifuges and limits all but 3.67% enriched uranium stores; limit refining metal to 5% over 15 years; after 10 years can build some centrifuges)

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