Perhaps to the casual observer President Obama appears cool and in control – confident of his positions and the success of his “diplomacy.” But it doesn’t take an advanced degree in psychology to figure out that he’s worried – really, really worried – about what’s going to happen at the end of the day, when Congress votes on the Iran deal, and votes again after he vetoes the Congressional rejection of the accord.
He has never been one who was, shall we say, scrupulous in presenting matters with factual accuracy. But now he has moved so far from the truth that I hope even his supporters are saying, “Wait a minute, that’s not how it is.” Just possibly, in his attempt to paint a rosy picture he is overplaying his hand – distorting reality in a way that works against him.
On Tuesday evening, he met with some 22 leaders of American Jewish organizations, in order to make his case. In the course of his presentation, he said that if Congress rejected the Iran deal, the US might be forced to attack Iran militarily. But Iran would not respond military against the US, which has superior power. Instead: “That means more support for terrorism, more Hezbollah rockets falling on Tel Aviv.”
There are a good number of things wrong with this scenario – in addition to the implied threat to Israel. The first is that it is an attempt to advance Obama’s position that it’s either acceptance of this deal with Iran or war, there are no other alternatives. But this is absolutely not the case – which fact Prime Minister Netanyahu continually points out:
The alternative is not between this deal and war – it’s between this deal and another deal or another way of handling Iran. What should be done if the deal is rejected, is that the US should not only keep current sanctions in place, it should increase them – tightening the economic screws. It is hoped that this would bring Iran back to the table in time, as the Iranians are desperate for sanctions relief. (Remember, sanctions brought Iran to the table in the first place.) But if they do not return, they will have been rendered less able to advance their aggressive intentions – actually less able to advance their aggression than they would be with the deal.
For him to talk about the US attacking Iran is a joke. For Obama has made it absolutely clear that he has no intention of attacking Iran. How cheap scaremongering talk is.
As to “more terrorism” and “more rockets from Hezbollah falling on Tel Aviv” as Iran’s way of responding indirectly to an attack by the US, this is also ludicrous. I’d be laughing hard if this situation were not so serious. Consider:
The accord was supposed to be about controlling Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons. Obama rejected any suggestion that sanctions relief be tied to Iran reigning in its support for terrorist groups and its aggressive hegemony in the region. That’s not what this deal is about, he responded. Thus, Iran was essentially told, don’t worry about the terrorism – we don’t care.
This, you will note, is how Obama has Israel’s back.
And then, it was agreed that there would be tremendous sanctions relief up front once the deal was in place, so that some millions if not billions – of the roughly $150 billion it is estimated Iran is likely to see – might be directed to groups such as Hezbollah. This is not going to result in “more terrorism”??
Add to this the inclusion in the deal of a lifting, over time, of sanctions on conventional weapons for Iran. It would enable Iran to acquire such goodies as ballistic missiles. (THIS element, which is not about nuclear issues, Obama felt it was OK to put in the agreement.)
It is Obama’s deal that would render the Middle East a more dangerous region than it already is.
It is the opinion of Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that the deal would have the effect of emboldening Iran with regard to striking Israel.
Two nights ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a webcast message that was designed to summarize his opposition to the deal for Americans.
Last night, in a direct counter, Obama gave a talk at American University. Let’s try for key points:
He said: “In July, we reached a comprehensive of plan of action that meets our objectives. Under its terms, Iran is never allowed to build a nuclear weapon.” (emphasis added)
But here is what the NYTimes (normally an Obama supporter) had to say on this issue recently:
“American officials said the core of the agreement… lies in the restrictions on the amount of nuclear fuel that Iran can keep for the next 15 years. The current stockpile of low enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, most likely by shipping much of it to Russia.
“That limit, combined with a two-thirds reduction in the number of its centrifuges, would extend to a year the amount of time it would take Iran to make enough material for a single bomb should it abandon the accord and race for a weapon — what officials call ‘breakout time’…
“But American officials also acknowledged that after the first decade, the breakout time would begin to shrink. It was unclear how rapidly, because Iran’s longer-term plans to expand its enrichment capability will be kept confidential.
“The concern that Iran’s breakout time could shrink sharply in the waning years of the restrictions has already been a contentious issue in Congress. Mr. Obama contributed to that in an interview with National Public Radio in April, when he said that in ‘year 13, 14, 15’ of the agreement, the breakout time might shrink ‘almost down to zero, as Iran is expected to develop and use advanced centrifuges then.” (Emphasis added)
Obama also said:
“First, there’re those who say the inspections are not strong enough, because inspectors can’t go anywhere in Iran at any time with no notice.
“Well, here’s the truth. Inspectors will be allowed daily access to Iran’s key nuclear sites.
“If there is a reason for inspecting a suspicious undeclared site anywhere in Iran, inspectors will get that access even if Iran objects. This access can be with as little as 24 hours notice.
“And while the process for resolving a dispute about access can take up to 24 days, once we’ve identified a site that raises suspicion, we will be watching it continuously until inspectors get in.”
How simple and fool-proof he makes it sound. While in point of fact that business about 24 days is huge. Actually, on top of everything else, Iran will sit on the committee that makes a final decision about whether inspectors will be provided access to a disputed site.
Please consider the following (emphasis added):
“The U.S. intelligence community has informed Congress of evidence that Iran was sanitizing its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin, in broad daylight, days after agreeing to a nuclear deal with world powers.
“For senior lawmakers in both parties, the evidence calls into question Iran’s intention to fully account for the possible military dimensions of its current and past nuclear development. The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran have a side agreement meant to resolve past suspicions about the Parchin site, and lawmakers’ concerns about it has already become a flashpoint because they do not have access to its text.”
And this (emphasis added):
“President Obama says his nuclear deal with Iran depends on verification, not trust. But what if Iran has a very different interpretation of what verification entails than does Mr. Obama?
“Take Ali Akar Velayati, a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who appeared on Al-Jazeera on July 31 and was asked about U.N. inspections of Iran’s military sites. Here’s how he replied, according to the Memri translation service:
“’Regardless of how the P5+1 countries interpret the nuclear agreement, their entry into our military sites is absolutely forbidden. The entry of any foreigner, including IAEA inspectors or any other inspector, to the sensitive military sites of the Islamic Republic is forbidden, no matter what.’
“Interviewer: ‘That’s final?’
“Mr. Velayati: ‘Yes, final.’”
And finally, the latest from Omri Ceren of The Israel Project (emphasis in the original):
“Administration spokespeople spent the last several years assuring lawmakers and the public that uncertainties related to Iran’s past military-related nuclear work – the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program – would have to be resolved in any deal.
“’Access’ in the context of Iran PMDs is divided into access to information/documents, sites, and people. The WSJ revealed on July 26 that the administration had given up on forcing to provide the necessary information/documents detailing their past weaponization work. The AP revealed two days later that instead of the IAEA getting access to sites like Parchin, where they conducted experiments relevant to warhead detonations, the Iranians would be allowed to take their own samples and hand them over, which Congressional lawmakers believe will now be established as a precedent.
“And last night the WSJ confirmed that inspectors aren’t getting access to the people they want either. IAEA director-general Amano is now hoping that maybe the Iranians will give the agency access to other people who might be able to clarify their concerns some other way…
“That completes the trifecta: no access to information/documents, no access to sites, and no access to people.”
So, the president lies and he misrepresents and he twists facts. What else is new?
The final issue I will address here is the matter of Iran cheating – something that is a given in light of Iran’s history.
Michael Makovsky, writing recently in The Weekly Standard, said (emphasis added):
“…integral to Obama’s argument is his claim that this deal ‘provides the best possible defense against Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon in secret. . . . If Iran cheats, the world will know,’ and ‘If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.’ But the promised inspections regime will not be intrusive enough to detect Iranian cheating or to thwart any breakout attempts in time…
“Iran has a long and proud history of cheating on its international nuclear agreements. Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who once monitored Iran’s nuclear program, observed in 2013: ‘If there is no undeclared installation today . . . it will be the first time in 20 years that Iran doesn’t have one.’ Indeed, Iran’s main enrichment facility at Natanz was a covert facility that was only discovered in 2002, by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian opposition group…
“’While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran,’ wrote Iran’s nuclear negotiator and now president Hassan Rouhani, ‘we were installing equipment in parts of the [uranium conversion] facility at Isfahan. . . . In fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.’ In 2009, the world learned of yet another clandestine enrichment plant, under a mountain at Fordow, that Iran was trying to construct.”
I reported recently that polls indicate that the more information members of the electorate have about the deal, the higher the percentage against it. And this, of course, is true as well inside Congress. The fact that questions are being asked in Congress is an excellent sign, for those asking the questions are not likely to be pleased with the answers.
We are receiving news of additional Democratic members of Congress who have come out against the deal, and of increasing pressure on Senator Schumer to announce his opposition.
It is extremely good news that the influential American Jewish Committee has come out against the agreement and urges Members of Congress to do the same. This is especially the case as AJC was at the Obama briefing I referred to above, and obviously not convinced by it. Apparently, this information was released as Obama was speaking at American University.
Please see the statement by Executive Director David Harris (emphasis added):
“…until recently, we were told by P5+1 negotiators: ‘The alternative to a bad deal is no deal.’ What happened to that formulation, and why did it suddenly change?
“We understand that opposing this deal raises important questions about the future that no one can answer today with certainty…But we know with greater certainty that this deal raises still more ominous questions about the future.
But it is not enough yet, my friends. What happens still depends on each of you.
Obama is making phone calls to supporters and asking them to got the word out to Congress. He has hardly given up and Pelosi is putting out statements indicating that they believe they will achieve the numbers they need.
There is a reasonable chance of defeating this horror. Let this inspire you to step up the pressure.
Each of you needs to continue to contact your members of Congress and voice your strong opposition to the deal, while letting your elected representatives on the Hill know that the way they vote on this will affect how you vote the next time around.
And please, call on others to do the same.
Continue your letters to the editor, your talk-backs on the Internet, your statements on FB and websites, your sharing on lists. Stay cool and reasoned, rely on facts.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.