Half Standards: Gun Control and the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Deal

“Double standards” is defined as a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another.” Double Standards are typically viewed as unjust, and some countries (like the government of Israel) complain when they are held to more rigorous standards of behavior than its neighbors by political bodies like the United Nations. Curiously, in 2015, some US Democratic candidates for president have introduced a new concept of “Half Standards,” in which they actively and happily pursue policies for other countries which are much less rigorous than they expect for Americans.

Democrats on Gun Control for Americans

After the killing of two journalists on air in August 2015, Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders stated that he would introduce “constructive gun control legislation which most significantly gets guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.” Similarly, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented that she is in favor of “reform that keeps weapons out of the hands that should not have them.

Such calls for gun control is not without controversy, as most Americans view the right to bear arms as a fundamental right laid out in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights that “shall not be infringed.” How can the government decide that there are parties that “should not have them [guns]?” Will the government take steps to block certain individuals from this right the way that it blocks felons from voting?

Who “should not have them“? Clinton called out “domestic abusers, the violently unstable” as targets who would lose the right to bear arms. Will the US courts create a system of defining such individuals?

What exactly will these “bad” people be prevented from owning?  In their call for new gun legislation, how far will the ownership limitations go? Will a domestic abuser be restricted from purchasing a new gun or will they also need to forfeit guns they currently own? What about ammunition? If a person has factories that make guns and ammo, would they be forced to sell it? If they ran a mine that sourced all of the raw materials to make guns or ammunition, would they be forced to shut it down? In short, would a “violently unstable” person be allowed to own and run an entire gun manufacturing infrastructure and warehouse even if they promised to give up having a gun in their home?

Contrast these Democrats’ positions about barring certain Americans from owning guns, with their positions on Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

Democrats Supporting the Iranian JCPOA

Clinton gave a strong defense of the nuclear agreement with Iran on September 9, 2015, even while she noted the many short-comings of the JCPOA.

Hillary Brookings
Hillary Clinton at the Brookings Institute discussing her support of the JCPOA
September 9, 2015

Iran is a “violently unstable” player: The US State Department has long considered the Islamic Republic of Iran to be a supporter of terrorism, one of only three countries with such designation. The Iranian government has been hostile to America since 1979 and continues to call for the “Death of America”.

…and will remain a “violently unstable” player: Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made clear in several interviews, that “this deal is not contingent on Iran changing its behavior. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that a change in the behavior of the Iranian regime should be an integral part of a timetable of sanctions relief to the Iranians, the Obama administration made clear that such notion would not be part of any Plan Of Action.

Iran “should not have them (WMDs)”: US President Barack Obama repeatedly stated that the Iranian regime should never be armed with weapons of mass destruction. He has tried to convince Americans that the JCPOA will keep Iran from actually being in possession of such nuclear weapons, and Clinton and Sanders agree that the JCPOA would accomplish such task.

…but will maintain the entire food chain of processing WMDs: While Iran would technically not have a nuclear bomb IF it adheres to everything in the JCPOA, it will continue to have everything required to manufacture and deliver such weapons:

  • Uranium mines left untouched
  • It maintains a stockpile of uranium
  • Thousands of centrifuges (6,104 by the White House count) for enrichment left intact
  • Heavy-water nuclear plant Arak is “redesigned” but not dismantled
  • Enrichment facilities of Natanz and Fordow will both remain operational
  • Obtain new short- and long-range ballistic missiles (available in 5 to 8 years)

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Iranian Nuclear Infrastructure
(from BBC website)

Would Clinton and Sanders enable “violently unstable” Americans that have a constitutional right to bear arms, keep an entire weapons making assembly line? Why do they promote a “half standard” for a “violently unstable” country to maintain a vast nuclear weapons infrastructure?


Related First One Through articles:

Some Ugly Supporters of the P5+1 Iran Deal

The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran

Is the Iran Deal a Domestic Matter (NY Times) or an International Matter (Wall Street Journal)

The New Endorsed Parameters of Peaceful Nuclear Power

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The Obama Administration Lays Foundation of Blame at Israel for a Potential War with Iran

President Obama has not only begun to lobby aggressively to win support for the P5+1 deal on the Iranian nuclear program, he has begun to lay the foundation of blame for a potential war squarely on Israel.

epa04873202 US President Barack Obama delivers a speech on the nuclear deal with Iran, at American University's School of International Service, in Washington DC, USA, 05 August 2015. Obama urged Americans to accept a controversial nuclear deal with Iran in spite of criticism from Republican lawmakers. The speech evoked late US President John F. Kennedy's 1963 USSR speech at American University during the height of the Cold War.  EPA/PETE MAROVICH / POOL ORG XMIT: MHR02

US President Barack Obama delivers a speech on the nuclear deal with Iran, at American University’s School of International Service, in Washington DC, USA, 05 August 2015. (photo: EPA/PETE MAROVICH / POOL ORG XMIT: MHR02)

Diplomacy or War?

  • US President Barack Obama: “Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some sort of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon… How can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives?August 5, 2015

What does the world want?

  • US President Barack Obama: this deal is not just the best choice among alternatives, this is the strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated, and because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.” August 5, 2015

If war happened, who is to blame?

  • US Secretary of State John Kerry: “I fear that what could happen is if Congress were to overturn it, our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated and more blamed, and we would lose Europe and China and Russia with respect to whatever military action we might have to take because we will have turned our backs on a very legitimate program that allows us to put their program to the test over these next years.” July 24, 2015

Is there anyone in the United States – including the Obama administration – that believes this is a great deal? Does anyone deny that Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain largely intact with this signing? Honest people can arrive at different conclusions about whether to endorse or reject this agreement. So why state that a negative outcome of the vote would be the fault of Israel, “money” and “lobbyists“?

Obama has framed his opponents in a familiar anti-Semitic canard that Jews are responsible for wars around the world.  Here is a section of Article 22 from the anti-Semitic terrorist group Hamas in its foundation Hamas Charter:

“The enemies have been scheming for a long time, and they have consolidated their schemes, in order to achieve what they have achieved. They took advantage of key elements in unfolding events, and accumulated a huge and influential material wealth which they put to the service of implementing their dream. This wealth [permitted them to] take over control of the world media such as news agencies, the press, publication houses, broadcasting and the like. [They also used this] wealth to stir revolutions in various parts of the globe in order to fulfill their interests and pick the fruits. They stood behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and behind most of the revolutions we hear about here and there. They also used the money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith and the like. All of them are destructive spying organizations. They also used the money to take over control of the Imperialist states and made them colonize many countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and spread their corruption therein. As regards local and world wars, it has come to pass and no one objects, that they stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate. They collected material gains and took control of many sources of wealth. They obtained the Balfour Declaration and established the League of Nations in order to rule the world by means of that organization. They also stood behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits from trading with war materials and prepared for the establishment of their state. They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their intermediary. There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it

Obama and Kerry have dismissed anyone who disagrees with the agreement they helped craft.  They have announced that members of Congress must fall into one of two camps: agree with Obama OR be a pawn in the Israeli scheme of lobbyists.

Now, if the US goes to war, any casualties and ramifications would be the fault of Israel and its lobbyists. Not Iran. Not the poorly negotiated deal. But Israel.

There is a long history of anti-Semites blaming Israel for wars in the world. It is shocking to see the administration of the Unites States – which purports to be a strong ally of Israel – use a blood libel to lay blame for another Middle East war on Israel.


Related FirstOneThrough article:

Israel and Wars

Has the “Left-Wing” Joined the UN in Protecting Iran and the Palestinians from a “Right-Wing” Israel?

The New Blood Libel

The Joys of Iranian Pistachios and Caviar

This is not a Satire (?)

The full text of the Iranian nuclear deal completed in Vienna on July 14, 2015 was a weighty 159 pages. The many members of the negotiating teams clearly used their time very productively as they worked through months of discussions and debates, even working past several deadlines on complicated scientific matters of nuclear fission.

The great citizens of the United States can thank the members of Secretary of State John Kerry’s team who negotiated endlessly on behalf of every American. His negotiating skills were clearly evident as he secured important points to benefit the country in these tense talks. In particular, Americans may not have caught a key clause buried inside the deal points. I offer one here (see page 67 of the agreement):

“Section 5.1.3 License the importation into the United States of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs, including pistachios and caviar.”

kerry green tieThis was an important concession that Kerry’s team was able to secure.  Americans have grown tired of California pistachios and miss their Beluga Caviar from the Caspian Sea.  While the Iranian team was busy focused on centrifuges, missiles and fissile material, Kerry scored a big hit for US bellies.

Over the coming weeks, Obama will surely point out this key item in emphasizing that this is a “good deal” for the United States. The American people have suffered long enough from the sanction regime that has denied them these delectable treats from Iran.

pistachios

To paraphrase Robin Leach in Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to the Obama Administration trying to sell this “good deal” to Congress:  “Wishing you pistachio wishes and caviar dreams.”

O’bama, Where Art Thou?

In 2000, the Coen brothers released a movie called “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey (it won the Oscar for Best Screenplay from Adapted Material).  The original tale of 2700 years ago, described Odysseus’ 10-year ordeal to return home from his decade-long Trojan War. A convoluted parallel is taking place in the Middle East today.

Iran and Iraq Wars

In 1979, Iran went through an Islamic revolution at which time it threw out its western-backed leader. In a year’s time, Iran was at war with its Muslim neighbor next door in Iraq. That eight year war claimed 1 million lives.  Within two years of that war’s end, in 1990 Iraq went to war with its neighbor Kuwait, which brought America back to the region in Operation Desert Storm.

America would return to the region to defend itself rather than an ally. After the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, the US launched a major offensive against Iraq in 2003, under the belief that Iraq was behind the 9-11 attacks and that it was developing weapons of mass destruction again (Israel destroyed Iraq’s initial plant in 1981).  While running for president of the USA, then-Senator Barack Obama stated that the Iraq war was a mistake and promised to pull US forces out if elected, which he did in 2011.

The vacuum created from the withdrawal of American troops was filled by Islamic radicals seeking to create a new Islamic State.  The group brutally slaughtered many thousands of people as it sought to impose a new country based on radical Islam throughout the Middle East, beginning with Iraq.

Obama Cast as Hero

Obama defined himself in his presidential campaign as being anti-war. The world cast the young politician as a hero (like Odysseus?) and awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 before he even did anything. His moniker “Hope” stuck to him like bumper stickers on a Subaru: here was a man who was going to leave the wars behind and bring Americans home. The decades of war in the Middle East were ending, and Odysseus – ‘er Obama – was the hero to make it happen.

obama car

Obama in the Middle East

Obama has fought (and sought to portray his fights) in the Middle East with a very light hand, compared to his aggressive war in Afghanistan:

  • In Yemen, he preferred discrete drone strikes against terrorists, over deploying thousands of US troops on the ground
  • In Syria, where a civil war has claimed over 200,000 lives (and counting), he has been reluctant to get involved. Indeed, even after Syria used chemical weapons which crossed Obama’s “red line”, he still opted to use diplomacy over a military strike
  • In Libya, Obama overthrew the government, but he claimed it was a “limited operation” and didn’t even seek Congressional approval
  • In Iraq, he removed all US troops, even though he was advised strongly against doing so by members of Congress.

And then there is Iran.

The US did not initially get involved in stemming Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In 2006 the UN Security Council passed its first resolution calling for Iran to stop its nuclear program, and US President George Bush convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a sanctions program against Iran. However, when Iran elected Hassan Rouhani president in 2013, the Obama administration opted to shift courses from crippling sanctions and a military threat, to engagement. Obama called Rouhani. US Secretary of State Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. The dream was that Iran had changed attitude to become more moderate, and therefore changed course on the direction of its nuclear program.

The 2013 Iranian election provided a pathway for Obama to dial back on sanctions and threats on the Iranian nuclear program.  While the Iran still shouted “Death to America, Death to Israel”, hanged gays from the center of the capital, and promoted terrorism around the world, Obama “Hoped” that Iran had moderated its ways with a single election, which would enable Obama to avoid returning American troops to the region.

The People on Iranian Nuclear Weapons

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July 22, 2015 Protest in Times Square, NY
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

It is almost universal in the western world that people do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Whether in protests in New York or London, or reading blogs in Berlin or Tel Aviv, ordinary people understand that a state-sponsor of terrorism with a violent ideological bent should never be permitted to have weapons of mass destruction.

In the summer of 2015, the question before the US Congress is whether the proposed Iranian deal will ensure that Iran will not have the ability to obtain nuclear weapons.  For some reason, the view that the deal will be effective is held uniquely by Democrats, while Republicans view the deal as a guarantee for a nuclear-armed Iran.

At a rally in New York City on July 22, 2015 against the Iran deal, almost every speaker was a Republican, including George Pataki and Allen West. The Democrats that came out were not politicians, but ordinary citizens like Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz who said that Iran should not be a partisan issue (he needs to talk to more fellow Democrats). Speakers like Caroline Glick and others called out Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, for not being there. The crowd essentially called out “O Democrats, Where Art Thou?”

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10,000 people protest against Iran deal in Times Square
(photos: FirstOneThrough)

Obama’s Homeward Journey; The World’s Souvenir

Like Odysseus, Obama is coming to the end of his journey. He has charted his way home from long wars, and he is doing everything he can to avoid returning back to the scene of the battles.

However, avoiding war is not always a good choice.  A commitment to end a war should only be kept if conditions warrant. A fear of returning to a region should not govern important matters of foreign policy.

Obama claims that the Iranian deal will prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons and is pitching the merits of the deal on that basis. His party loyalists are willing to believe him; liberals will always believe in this hero. But is this deal more about Obama finally arriving home to complete his epic poem?

The world is not a poem which ends with Obama’s last speech. The world will live with the ramifications of this deal for many years to come. There are many who feel strongly that Obama and the United Nations are pursuing a dangerous course that will guarantee a much more costly war in the future, rather than deal effectively with the issue today.

A nuclear-armed rogue state is not a souvenir the world can afford to end Obama’s journey.


Related FirstOneThrough articles:

Has the “Left-Wing” Joined the UN in Protecting Iran and the Palestinians from a “Right-Wing” Israel?

The New Endorsed Parameters of Peaceful Nuclear Power

The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran

Obama’s Iranian Red Line

Has the “Left-Wing” Joined the UN in Protecting Iran and the Palestinians from a “Right-Wing” Israel?

The left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article in May 2015 questioning Israel’s nervousness over a possible deal regarding Iranian nuclear weapons. It pointed out that another Muslim country, Pakistan, already possessed nuclear weapons and Israel did not object.  However, the paper noted that “though Pakistan is the first Muslim state with a nuclear weapons program, it does not call for Israel’s destruction or sponsor terror attacks against Israel. A nuclear Iran, by contrast, would receive cover to step up its hegemonic ambitions in the region and intensify its support for terrorism against the Jewish state.”  A significant difference.

The parameters of the final Iran deal made many people question whether Iran would be able to advance a nuclear weapons program immediately, as the verification program ultimately was very far from the “anywhere, anytime” stated goal that would have better ensured Iranian compliance.  The plan left wide open the possibility that Iran could “break-out” with nuclear weapons in a decade.

Putting aside the question of if-and-when Iran obtains nuclear weapons for a moment, the following deal points are clear:

Unlike the core issue of Iran potentially having nuclear weapons, these dangerous deal points are not in question.

Ramifications – More Money and Weapons

The US State Department considers Iran a state-sponsor of terrorism.  Specifically, it stated: “Iran has historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), although Hamas’s ties to Tehran have been strained due to the Syrian civil war.  Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has also assisted in rearming Hizballah, in direct violation of UNSCR 1701.  Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Hizballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran.  These trained fighters often use these skills in support of the Assad regime in Syria.”

With the execution of this Iranian deal, $150 billion will flow to Iran, some of which, the Obama administration noted, will most likely go towards terrorism.  The deal will also provide a fresh flow of missiles to Iran and likely to Iranian friends on the borders of Israel.

Iran Hamas
Hamas leader Haniyeh and Iranian spiritual head Khamenei

Ramifications – Tighter Border Controls

While Israel’s main fear is a nuclear-armed Iran, the flow of money and missiles to Hamas and other terrorists on Israeli borders are also significant concerns.  The likely Israeli actions to counter these threats will be:

  • Tighter Gaza blockade
  • Permanent security positions along the Jordan Valley
  • Fewer permits with longer delays in allowing Palestinian Arabs to travel to Israel and between territories

The significantly enhanced threats on Israel’s borders – even before factoring in a nuclear Iran – will force Israel to take additional security measures which will harm daily life for ordinary Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

World Preemptive Action – Stop Israeli Defenses

The global powers voted to approve the Iranian deal and lift the sanctions against Iran, knowing of Israel’s security concerns.  The world has now begun to take additional steps to prevent Israel from protecting itself:

As Israel prepares to protect its citizens from the immediate threats from the Iranian nuclear deal that the United Nations approved, the world prepares to challenge those very defenses that Israel needs to implement, such as the land and sea border controls..

 What is the Goal of all the Negotiations?

These actions beg questions that contradicts the narrative used in the west:

      • was the real goal of the Iranian nuclear deal to protect Iran from a nuclear Israel? The deal includes language that the P5+1 group will “protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage [against the Iranian nuclear program].” Seriously?
      • Has Obama deliberately handed over authority and control of the region to Iran, as he has no desire to put US troops back into the Middle East?

Is the world now taking steps to protect Palestinian Arabs from their perception of a Mr. Right Wing Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel?

The Obama narrative is that the world is safer with the Iranian deal.  In actuality, is the world safer, or is Iran safer? 

President Obama faces an American public that is more wary of Iran and sympathetic to Israel than much of the world, so he is spinning the deal in verbiage that is more accepting to Americans.  Thus far, Americans are buying the pitch, even while they strongly question whether it will work.

Who’s goals are these anyway?

  • The Arab and Muslim world celebrated the advancement of its goals to destroy the west and Israel.  They did not attempt to hide their mission.
  • The left-wing American parties, papers and groups like J-Street have endorsed the Iranian deal, and are pushing Israel to further dismantle its defenses. They are either lying to themselves or the American people about their goals. Perhaps both.

As Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in the Atlantic, “The Iran deal represents one of those rare issues that has unified Israelis of most political parties[including] the left, center, and right.”  In the United States, it has only unified the left-wing with the Iranian dream.


Related First One Through articles:

The New Endorsed Parameters of Peaceful Nuclear Power

The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran

Hidden Reactor, Silent Reaction

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

UN’s Confusion on the Legality of Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

A “Viable” Palestinian State

The New Endorsed Parameters of Peaceful Nuclear Power

In July 2015, six world powers concluded their negotiations with Iran on its nuclear power program. Parties like US President Barack Obama congratulated himself and the negotiating team for “prevent[ing] Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensur[ing] that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful going forward.”

That claim is questionable in the short-term and clearly false in the long-term. What is certain, was the deal established the new parameters for peaceful nuclear power for the world to (potentially) replicate.

 iran-historic-nuclear-deal
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (3rd L) delivers a statement during a ceremony next to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L-R) at the United Nations in Geneva November 24, 2013 (Reuters / Denis Balibouse) / Reuters

Nuclear Energy versus Nuclear Weapons

There are thirty-one countries in the world that have nuclear power plants for generating electricity and nine countries which have nuclear weapons. Those countries are (countries in bold posses both nuclear energy and weapons):

  • Nuclear power plants (31): United States; France; Russia; South Korea; China; Canada; Germany; Ukraine; UK; Sweden; Spain; Belgium; India; Czech Republic; Switzerland; Finland; Slovakia; Hungary; Japan; Brazil; South Africa; Bulgaria; Mexico; Romania; Argentina; Slovenia; Pakistan; Iran; Netherlands; Armenia
  • Nuclear weapons (9): Russia; United States; France; China; United Kingdom; Pakistan; India; Israel; North Korea

There are more than 31 countries that use electricity from nuclear plants – such as Italy and Denmark that each get over 10% of their power from nuclear plants – but do not host nuclear power plants in their country.  Nuclear power plants generate 14% of the electricity in the world.

Safety Concerns of Nuclear Energy

Despite the sizable role that nuclear electricity-generation plays, there are many safety concerns.

Peaceful power plants: Notable “meltdowns” of peaceful nuclear power plants include Ukraine (1986); United States (1979); and Japan (2011).  Countries with nuclear power plants institute many safety procedures to protect the surrounding areas from potential nuclear radiation fallout.

Fuel: Beyond the plants themselves, countries carefully manage the materials that are the basis for nuclear power: raw uranium and plutonium (that are mined); enriched uranium and plutonium (suitable for use in nuclear power or weapons); and spent fuel rods (post-use, no longer able to generate electricity, but have radiation).

  • Mining: Uranium is mined in 20 countries, with 90% mined in just a handful of countries: Australia; Kazakhstan; Russia; Canada; Niger; Namibia; South Africa; Brazil; USA; and China. Plutonium, while found in trace amounts in nature, is created in nuclear plants by modifying uranium.
  • Spent fuel: Edwin Lyman and Harold Feiveson have written about safety concerns of spent fuel.  Spent nuclear reactor fuel is highly radioactive and contains significant concentration of weapons-usable plutonium isotopes. Some countries like the USA, Canada and Sweden plan to store the spent fuel in geologic repositories. Others like UK and France reprocess the spent fuel and separate the plutonium from the uranium. Such uranium, which can be handled, becomes a potential source for theft to be used in nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapon facilities: Some nuclear facilities do not focus on generating electricity but are built specifically to produce weapons of mass destruction. These facilities pose risks not only from the radioactive materials or potential fallout from a meltdown of the plant, but from the massive destruction that such weapons can produce.

End-to-End Nuclear Facilities

Most countries with peaceful nuclear power plants do not have end-to-end facilities which can produce nuclear-generated power completely on their own.  Countries do not typically mine uranium, enrich it, produce the electricity and store or reprocess the spent fuel.  For example, Japan, which gets over 30% of its power from 50 nuclear plants, imports uranium from Australia, Kazakhstan and Canada. Historically, Japan relied on other countries for various steps of its nuclear program, but it has recently taken steps to enrich the raw uranium and reprocess some of the spent fuel inside Japan. For the most part, spent fuel has still been stored in the UK and France.

With the new 2015 P5+1 deal with Iran, Iran will have complete end-to-end nuclear capabilities with global approval.

iran_nuclear_624
Source: New Scientist/Global Security

Iranian Uranium Mines:  Iran opened two uranium mines in 2013, the Saghand mine and Gchine mine, that provide some uranium for its enrichment program (but these have low concentrations of uranium). The two mines in the city of Saghand in central Iran operate 1,150 feet underground.

Iranian Milling Facility: Approximately 75km from Saghand is the Ardakan mill which processes the uranium into yellowcake.

Iranian Enrichment Facility: The Uranium Enrichment Facility at Isfahan purifies the yellowcake to UF6, a gas, which enables it to be enriched. Enrichment increases the proportion of the U-235 isotope from its natural level of 0.7% to 3-5%.

After enrichment, the UF6 gas is converted to uranium dioxide (UO2) which is formed into fuel pellets. These fuel pellets are placed inside thin metal tubes which are assembled in bundles to become the fuel elements for the core of the reactor.

Natanz is Iran’s primary enrichment facility and consists of three underground buildings, two of which are designed to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and six buildings built above ground. It’s stated purpose is to produce enriched uranium for use in both the Tehran Research Reactor (requiring 19.75% U-235 content) and fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant (requiring 3.5% U-235 content).

The Fordow Enrichment Plant is a large underground industrial facility located near the city of Qom. The site includes two underground halls each able to hold 1,500 centrifuges.  Iran failed to disclose the existence of the Fordow facility until it was revealed publicly by western governments in 2009.

A heavy water nuclear reactor near Arak was first identified by US satellite images in 2002. Heavy water reactors produce a lot of plutonium waste product as part of enriching uranium, which can be used in nuclear weapons.

The nuclear reactor at Bushehr on the Arabian Gulf, was started by Germany in the early 1970s, but suspended after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  Russia took over constructing the plant and started delivering the nuclear fuel in May 2011.

Iran will soon have a complete end-to-end nuclear program which would include several underground and fortified nuclear sites.

From Nuclear Energy to Nuclear Weapons

There is a narrow gap between the assets and capability needed to build a power plant and what is needed to build weapons of mass destruction.  A brief primer from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI):

Both nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs use either uranium or plutonium to create a nuclear chain reaction that releases energy. The speed with which they release energy is the crucial difference between the two: in a reactor the energy release is controlled and sustained over an extended period, whereas in a nuclear bomb the release occurs in fractions of a second. The science of fission is fairly straightforward; however, controlling fission reactions to get the desired effect is challenging.

While on the surface it may appear that the infrastructure required for both electricity and weaponry is the same (just some technical understanding stands in the gap), the reality is more complicated.

“To develop a nuclear device, the difference in the speed of the chain reaction creates additional requirements for the firing mechanism, grade of the uranium or plutonium used, and the density, physical surrounding and shape of the fissile material. These differences are substantial barriers to a state looking to shift from power production to assembling a nuclear device.”

In short, the raw materials and infrastructure are very similar, while the technical capabilities are a bit more complicated.

 Iran’s Nuclear Program: from Energy to Weapons?

According to CIGI: “a peaceful program provides the scientific foundation
upon which a state can go on to build and operate its own dedicated plutonium production reactor to produce the material for a nuclear weapon… The main benefit derived from a once-through nuclear energy program for the construction of a nuclear device is the buildup of nuclear infrastructure that would otherwise be difficult, if not impossible, to camouflage….  a peaceful nuclear energy program is best characterized as a stepping stone to acquiring the wherewithal for a nuclear device.”

The White House produced a summary of how the contemplated 2015 deal would block Iran from converting a peaceful program into a weapons program:

  • Reduce level of raw uranium: cut stockpile (mostly acquired in the past from South Africa) by 98%
  • Block enriching uranium: by reducing centrifuge count at Natanz and Fordow
  • Cap the enrichment level: to 3.67%, below the required level to produce weapons
  • Block plutonium production: reconfigure Arak plant so it cannot produce plutonium; ship out all spent fuel. Additionally, no new construction of heavy-water reactors for 15 years

In July 2015, the P5+1 countries effectively endorsed the acceptable parameters of a valid and peaceful nuclear energy program.

Creating the New Paradigm for All Countries

Which begs the question, if there are 31 countries that have nuclear power plants, why are there only 9 with nuclear weapons? Do they not have the technical capabilities for producing a weapon? Lack the desire? How much effort and infrastructure would it take for a country like Hungary to go from a peaceful nuclear program to a weapons program?

If a known state-sponsor of terrorism which calls for the annihilation of other countries (Iran) is permitted to keep such a vast nuclear infrastructure, every other country would be permitted to build comparable nuclear infrastructure.  This is true for countries with existing nuclear plants like Armenia, or non-nuclear countries like Venezuela.  In other words, this deal marks the world’s endorsement of a baseline peaceful nuclear program.

This is obviously very dangerous for the safety and security of the entire world.

A Better Alternative

US President Obama and others have questioned whether there is a better alternative.  Here are some possible points that should be considered before blessing an explosion of “peaceful” nuclear infrastructure construction in the world:

  • No end-to-end capabilities.  As a checks-and-balance for nuclear proliferation, no country should be able to maintain a complete mines-to-reactor program. Countries which are state-sponsors of terrorism should be barred from two components of a complete program. For Iran, they would likely opt to abandon their mines which are not very productive anyway. They would then be left with a choice of modifying their global behavior or giving up another component of their program (maybe opting to ship all spent fuel out of the country permanently).
  • No underground fortified facilities.   As a global precaution against a peaceful program becoming weaponized, no nuclear enrichment facilities should be fortified to such a level that destroying them with conventional weapons becomes nearly impossible. This would require Iran dismantling some of their underground facilities or making them less fortified.
  • Anytime, anywhere inspections. All peaceful nuclear facilities should be available for inspections by the IAEA at anytime.  For this Iranian deal, it would require a more stringent approach than the lengthy 24-day process currently contemplated.
  • Cap on centrifuges. Not only should the number of centrifuges of a country be capped, but no facility should be able to have over a certain number of centrifuges (for example, a cap of 6000 in a country, and no single facility with over 1,500).

These are some examples which should become a requirement of every country for every peaceful nuclear power program. These steps would help protect the entire world from a step-up from peaceful nuclear energy to threshold nuclear weapons.

 


The current P5+1 Iranian nuclear deal cannot be viewed in a simple comparison of whether the deal is better than no deal. It must be viewed in the context of establishing a new baseline for the use of nuclear power around the world. On such basis, it is easy to see the existing shortfalls.

 


Related First One Through articles:

Parallel and Perpendicular Views of Iranian Nuclear Deal

Has the “Left-Wing” Joined the UN in Protecting Iran and the Palestinians from a “Right-Wing” Israel?

 

 

Parallel and Perpendicular Views of Iranian Nuclear Deal

In a world of 7 billion people, there can be no surprise that people have different views. Even in smaller segments of society, whether in a small town or school, different people could look at a situation and arrive at very different conclusions. One story, two views.

Conclusions may in turn generate additional comparisons. Once an opinion becomes anchored, another similar thought may come to mind. Over time, the two distinct ideas become linked together, in closely related parallel views. Two stories, one view.

THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Perpendicular Conclusions

Much of the world followed the negotiations between six global powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear ambitions. Not only did many people seek different outcomes, even people that sought the SAME outcomes, viewed the deal in completely different ways.

Consider the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Presumably each American newspaper sought a deal which left Iran without nuclear weapons capability.  On July 15, each paper ran factual headlines about the outcome of the negotiations.  Yet the emphasis for each was extremely different.

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Front page of New York Times,
July 15, 2015

The headline for the NYT read: “World Leaders Strike Agreement with Iran to Curb Nuclear Ability and Lift Sanctions.”  Sub-headers read “Accord is Based on Verification, Not Trust, Obama Says” and “G.O.P. Pledges to Kill Pact, But Veto Looms.”  An article further down the page was entitled “President’s Leap of Faith“.

In the middle of the front page the Times sought to summarize the deal terms in a Q&A format.  For anyone reading the answers, it was clear that the deal offered few assurances that Iran was not going to have nuclear weapons within the decade, and certainty that they would have it after a decade.

The portrayal was in sharp contrast to the front page of the WSJ.

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Front page of Wall Street Journal,
July 15, 2015

The WSJ also led with a factual headline about the reactions to the Iranian deal. “Iran Deal Ignites Fierce Fight” The paper included three large pictures with quotes from the leaders of the United States, Iran and Israel with their views on the deal terms.

Both papers considered that Obama and Iranian leader Rouhani were happy with the deal.  That was where the similarities ended.

The Times called out the Republicans as being unhappy, while the Journal highlighted Israel’s unhappiness with the deal. One paper took a more domestic review of the international matter, while the other focused on the international fallout. The NYT used small font to review the dissent of the deal in language that could have been used to describe a capital gains tax hike, while the WSJ used large color photographs in the center of the paper to draw attention to the significant global ramifications of the agreement.

The NYT seemed to tell its readership that if they had faith in Obama, they should have faith in this deal. The WSJ told its readership that a huge fight was brewing overseas, and the US aligned itself with an enemy state and against an ally.

Two papers presumably started at the same spot seeking the same result, but moved in opposite directions when the negotiations concluded.

False Parallels

The head of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Yehuda Kurtzer, also decided to weigh in on the Iranian deal from the ancient Jewish city of Hebron. In a blog called “On Iran, from Hebron” he described his trip with a group of rabbis who came to hear a wide range of narratives from all sorts of people in the city.  Kurtzer’s conclusion was that there exists an obvious parallel between the Iranian threat against Israel, and Jews living east of the Green Line. He said: “I am sad and nervous – both about what Israel is doing to itself in places like Hebron with its commitment to structures which risk its unmaking, and about the threats to Israel’s existence from state actors” and continued the parallel in more clear language about “a settlement [Hebron] that constitutes a self-imposed existential threat to Israel, while listening on Twitter to debates about external existential threats.

Here was a leader of an organization that described itself as a “pluralistic center of research and education deepening and elevating the quality of Jewish life in Israel and around the world,” equating a Jew living with his family in Hebron, with an Iranian regime shouting “Death to Israel” while it obtained the green light from the world to have nuclear weapons in ten years.

A champion of pluralism drew an equivalence between starkly different stories: Jews living freely in places they lived for thousands of years; and a country that has threatened -and will soon be armed for- a genocide.


I understand different people having different opinions. I respect the concept that two parties can start at the same spot and move in opposite directions. Yet I struggle when a single person can conflate two completely different matters into a single narrative.

The NYT loves Obama and feels that their trust and faith in him has prevailed over his presidency, so why not trust him again now? (Of course, that has nothing to do with trusting Iran, but the Times at least starts consistently). The WSJ has always pointed out the flaws of Obama’s foreign policies and used this bad Iranian deal to point it out again.

But what of the leader of a “pluralistic” organization? Does being pluralistic mean that everything and everyone carry the same weight? Does the notion that “pluralism can mean that no full knowledge of truth is possible” mean that it can be so amazingly wrong to suggest that the “external existential threat” of an Iranian nuclear bomb is the same as a “self-imposed existential threat” of Jews living in Hebron?

There is a logic to a liberal paper supporting a liberal president. One can agree to disagree. But how does one react to someone who distorts reality as if the world was a hall of mirrors perched atop a black hole? On Earth, we know opinions can diverge.  In the ethereal world of “pluralism”, it would appear that accepting information from everywhere can lead to a singularity of stupidity.

Israel’s Successful Approach to Nuclear Proliferation

To date, only Israel has developed a protocol to prevent countries from obtaining nuclear weapons.

 

nuclear countries

Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

On May 21, 2015, Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic published an interview with US President Barack Obama on ISIS, Iraq and Israel. Here is a review of Obama’s comments on Israel and his deliberate attempt to minimize his threats to Israel. It would appear that the president needs a reminder that the primary Jewish value is the sanctity of life.

 obama the atlantic
Photo of President Obama from The Atlantic May 2015

 

OBAMA’S CLAIM OF JEWISH SUPPORT AND
PRO-ISRAEL POSITIONS

  • 1)  Obama stated that he enjoys broad Jewish support.I consistently received overwhelming majority support from the Jewish community, and even after all the publicity around the recent differences that I’ve had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the majority of the Jewish American community still supports me, and supports me strongly.

Comment: Obama’s Jewish support has declined considerably. Obama received weaker Jewish support than any of the recent Democratic candidates for president (going back to the loser Michael Dukakis in 1988).

  • 2012 Obama 69%
  • 2008 Obama 78%
  • 2004 Kerry 76%
  • 2000 Gore 79%
  • 1996 Clinton 78%
  • 1992 Clinton 80%
  • 1988 Dukakis 64%

Obama’s poll numbers continued to collapse among Jews, especially during the six months prior to the interview. The latest Gallup poll had Obama’s approval rating among Jews at 54%, only 8% above the national average. That was the narrowest gap ever in Obama’s presidency. This precipitous drop-off coincides with Obama’s decision to encourage 58 Democratic loyalists to walk out on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the joint session of Congress

  • 2)  Obama said “political” opportunists are portraying him as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish because he questions Israel’s policy regarding Palestinians. there has been a very concerted effort on the part of some political forces to equate being pro-Israel, and hence being supportive of the Jewish people, with a rubber stamp on a particular set of policies coming out of the Israeli government. So if you are questioning settlement policy, that indicates you’re anti-Israeli, or that indicates you’re anti-Jewish. If you express compassion or empathy towards Palestinian youth, who are dealing with checkpoints or restrictions on their ability to travel, then you are suspect in terms of your support of Israel. If you are willing to get into public disagreements with the Israeli government, then the notion is that you are being anti-Israel, and by extension, anti-Jewish. I completely reject that.

Comment: Obama’s critics and his collapsing poll numbers are about OBAMA’s policies regarding Israel, not Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians. Obama’s poll numbers among Jews were fairly consistent during his first term, but with a downturn which could be attributed both to his criticisms of Israel’s permitting Jews to live anywhere they choose as well as the Democrat’s gutting of their pro-Israel platform in 2012. The more precipitous drop in Jewish support for Obama had to do with his Iranian nuclear negotiations and his treatment of the Israeli PM during that time.

Comment: Obama is being a hypocrite by stating that his “public disagreements with the Israeli government” should not be construed as anti-Israel, while Netanyahu’s public criticism of Obama’s policies were attacked. Obama has criticized Israel repeatedly on the world stage for Israel’s handling of disputed lands. However, when Netanyahu disagreed with Obama, it was over a matter that was an existential threat to Israel. Yet Obama chose to belittle Netanyahu’s argument and berate the Israeli leader.

  • 3)  Obama believes that Israel is simply a safe haven for Jews.There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law. These things are indivisible in my mind

Comment: Obama has never internalized that Israel is THE homeland of the Jewish people. There has always been an important and significant disconnect that Obama has about Israel: Israel is not simply a safe haven where Jews are “free of discrimination and persecution.” Such a safe space could have been created in Uganda too. Israel is not just “a homeland” as if Jews had been self-governing in many other places on earth for centuries; as if the Jewish religion did not have an exclusive and unique relationship with the holy land. Israel is THE homeland of the Jewish people as it has been for 3700 years. That is why the San Remo Conference in 1920 specified Palestine for the Jews.

  • 4)  Obama has hung all of his pro-Israel credentials on his support of Israel militarily.I have maintained, and I think I can show that no U.S. president has been more forceful in making sure that we help Israel protect itself, and even some of my critics in Israel have acknowledged as much.

Comment: Obama’s goal for Israel is not particularly unique. Obama has stressed that the Iraqi government needs to protect Iraq; the Afghani government needs to protect Afghanistan, and so on. Obama has sought to pull American forces out of conflict zones and put the onus on the local governments to protect themselves. That is a broad Obama policy decision – with which one can agree or not regarding America’s role as the world policeman.

What is not subject to debate, is that the policy is not unique and is hardly the great shining example for Obama to underscore as his complete bona fides in being pro-Israel. His stance for Israel’s security is part-and-parcel of his broad position regarding military support and cooperation around the region.

 

OBAMA’S DOUBLE STANDARDS
AND THREATS

  • 5)  Obama was highly critical of Netanyahu’s comments as being counter to Israel’s democratic laws. Obama came out forcefully against Netanyahu’s comments to get out the vote when Bibi feared he was losing the election. “what I [Obama] did say is that when, going into an election, Prime Minister Netanyahu said a Palestinian state would not happen under his watch, or there [was] discussion in which it appeared that Arab-Israeli citizens were somehow portrayed as an invading force that might vote, and that this should be guarded against—this is contrary to the very language of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which explicitly states that all people regardless of race or religion are full participants in the democracy. When something like that happens, that has foreign-policy consequences.

Comment: Obama was curiously selective in focusing on certain comments which portrayed Netanyahu only as an extremist. Obama chose to focus on Netanyahu’s comments on election eve when Netanyahu was worried he was going to lose the elections and was trying to rally groups to get out and vote for him. Obama ignored Netanyahu’s later comments which back-tracked and explained his intentions regarding election night. Obama ignored the many years that Netanyahu negotiated with the Palestinian Arabs (Netanyahu ran three prior Israeli governments). Obama ignored Netanyahu’s handing over cities to the Palestinian Authority in showing his willingness to swap land-for-peace.

Comment: Obama ignored comments from repressive regimes. Obama is putting forward sanction reliefs for Iran while the regime chants “Death to America”. Obama has back-tracked from his no nuclear capability for Iran pledge, while Iran chants “Death to Israel”. Obama pushed Israel to negotiate with acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and to release Arab terrorists convicted of murder, while Abbas celebrated the killers of innocent Israelis.

Comment: Obama ignored undemocratic regimes. Obama’s reference to Israel’s Declaration of Independence suggested that he only treats countries with liberal values as allies. How does Obama send billions of dollars to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is one of the most repressive regimes in the world?

Comment: Obama threatened Israel. While Obama ignored the many statements and long history of Netanyahu negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, and ignored the actions and statements of surrounding Arab governments, he threatened Israel. Threatening a country is a far cry from having a difference of opinion or being upset with momentary excited statements from an individual. When Turkish leader Erdogan called Zionism a “Crime against Humanity”, the White House denounced the statement but never threatened Turkey. When Erdogan called for Muslims to conquer Jerusalem, the White House was silent; no threats were issued. Indeed, Obama considered Erdogan one of his closest friends among world leaders.

As detailed in FirstOneThrough “International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu”, the relationship between Israel and the United States is both unique and not one of peers. Israel relies on the US on many levels. Therefore, Obama’s double standards for Netanyahu, coupled with Obama’s global pronouncement that he will punish the entire country of Israel, is an abuse that has angered Israel supporters around the world.

  • 6)  Obama has no issue criticizing Israel on the global stage, as he stated: “the one argument that I very much have been concerned about, and it has gotten stronger over the last 10 years … it’s less overt than the arguments that a Sheldon Adelson makes, but in some ways can be just as pernicious, is this argument that there should not be disagreements in public

Comment: Obama has double standards about criticism in public. Obama lectured Netanyahu that Bibi’s election eve comments and actions ran counter to Israel’s laws. Would Obama feel it is appropriate for Netanyahu to lecture him about America’s ongoing use of the death penalty which most of the western world abolished? Would Obama care to hear about Netanyahu’s views on how the US should treat gay marriage or gays in the military as running afoul of America’s foundation documents? Or would Obama feel that such comments have nothing to do with Israel and that he doesn’t need to listen to a lecture about his own country’s laws from a foreign leader?

Yet, when Netanyahu criticized Obama’s negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program – which poses a direct existential threat to Israel – Obama did not just get offended, but rallied his Democratic loyalists to boycott Netanyahu’s speech in D.C.

 

OBAMA’S “VALUES” RED HERRING

  • 7)  Obama received talking points from liberal rabbis. Obama’s interview was peppered with remarks specifically intended for a Jewish audience: “we creating a safe Jewish homeland, but also we are remaking the world. We’re repairing it.” Obama also said “when you show intolerance and when you are persecuting minorities and when you are objectifying them and making them the Other, you are destroying something in yourself,”

Comment: Obama learned only half a lesson from the rabbis. The phrases used by Obama are uniquely Jewish referring in English to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and “Acher”, the Other. The choice of language was so out of place that it would be the equivalent of a Jewish person littering a conversation with “Grace”. The Atlantic’s Goldberg even made the comparison stating “Obama, when he talks about Israel, sounds like a rabbi in the progressive Zionist tradition.” The aggressive Obama sales tactic was clearly courtesy of a progressive rabbi to parrot to a Jewish audience.

Regrettably, Obama only learned (or was taught) half of the lesson. The most important Jewish value of all is the preciousness and sacredness of life. Protecting life supersedes almost every other commandment. It is precisely for that reason that Jews have turned against Obama and his poll numbers have dropped. Enabling Iran to get a nuclear weapon threatens millions of people in Israel. Obama’s threats to suddenly withhold support for Israel at the United Nations risks putting Israel’s border security and economic viability at risk.

  • 8)  Obama has higher expectations for Israel. it’s true, I have high expectations for Israel, and they’re not unrealistic expectations, they’re not stupid expectations, they’re not the expectations that Israel would risk its own security blindly in pursuit of some idealistic pie-in-the-sky notions”

Comment: Obama has double standards for Israel. There is no crime in having high expectations for someone; indeed, it is often thought of as a compliment. However, if one uses those higher expectations to punish the party, that is a form of discrimination. For example, Obama cannot make demands on Israel for preconditions for final status talks but make none on Palestinian Arabs. Obama cannot wage wars thousands of miles from his shores against enemies who cannot possibly destroy the US, while berating Israel for fighting against an enemy on its borders that threaten to destroy Israel.

  • 9)  Obama thinks there is nothing unique about Jewish values or a Jewish State.Goldberg question: you want Israel to embody Jewish values. Obama: I want Israel, in the same way that I want the United States, to embody the Judeo-Christian and, ultimately then, what I believe are human or universal values that have led to progress over a millennium”

Comment: There is one Jewish State called Israel and its Jewish Values stress the sanctity of life. Obama managed to roll Judaism into Christianity and ultimately human and universal terms. While I am sure that he intended this as a compliment, it also undermined the uniqueness of Israel.

By way of comparison, does Obama have dreams that Turkey will embody Judeo-Christian values? How about Norway or Greece? Costa Rica? He probably does, but he would never make such a statement as those countries have distinct Islamic or Christian characters. To state that he wished they embody several cultural values does several things:

  • It minimizes the difference between the religions
  • It suggests that the country does not live up to those values

Regarding the first point, Obama minimized the fact that there is only one Jewish state. While Israel has religious freedom for all, it is the Jewish homeland. Israel’s goal is not to embody Obama’s dream of a Star Trek-like future of universalism.

Regarding the second point, Obama needs to be re-educated by the progressive rabbis that coached him, about the paramount Jewish value of the sanctity of life. It is precisely for that reason that Netanyahu came to address the joint session of Congress to talk about the Iranian nuclear threat. That exact value and speech that Obama boycotted.

  • 10)  Obama thinks Jewish Values are about freedom and human rights. Obama continued from his comments above about Judeo-Christian and universal values: “The same values that led to the end of Jim Crow and slavery. The same values that led to Nelson Mandela being freed and a multiracial democracy emerging in South Africa. The same values that led to the Berlin Wall coming down. The same values that animate our discussion on human rights and our concern that people on the other side of the world who may be tortured or jailed for speaking their mind or worshipping—the same values that lead us to speak out against anti-Semitism. I want Israel to embody these values because Israel is aligned with us in that fight for what I believe to be true. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t tough choices and there aren’t compromises. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have to ask ourselves very tough questions about, in the short term, do we have to protect ourselves,

Comment: Obama doesn’t know that Israel is the most liberal country from Greece to Singapore to South Africa.  What was this Obama rant? Was there an insinuation that Israel is an apartheid state (why mention Jim Crow or Nelson Mandela)? Was there a suggestion that Israel’s Security Wall which it built to stop Palestinian terrorism in 2002 is like the Berlin Wall? Does he think that people are being tortured or jailed for speaking their mind or worshipping in Israel? Israel is a thriving liberal country in the heart of a backwards Middle East. What were these bizarre comparisons? Why does Obama say that he “wants Israel to embody these values” rather than acknowledge that it DOES embody those values?

Should Netanyahu wax about his dream for America to not shoot unarmed black people?

  • 11)  Obama claimed to understand the need for protecting Jerusalem.  As he stated above and continued: “I was the first one to acknowledge that you can’t have the risk of terrorists coming up right to the edge of Jerusalem and exposing populations

Comment: Obama lied about understanding security for Jerusalem. If Obama understood the need for security for Israel’s capital, how can he condemn Jews LIVING in Jerusalem? Why did Obama condemn Jews moving into homes they legally purchased?

How can Obama state that Israel’s development of E1 which protects Jerusalem from the east, is a bad idea that hinders a final agreement?  Obama in March 2013 to Palestinian Arabs: “You mentioned E1, in particular.  I think that is an example of at least a public statement by the Israeli government that would be very difficult to square with a two-state solution.”  E1, which connects Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, a city which every Israeli Prime Minister has always insisted on retaining, is the exact solution for keeping “terrorists [from] coming up right to the edge of Jerusalem and exposing populations.

  • 12)  Obama thinks he is a better at Jewish Values than Netanyahu.  Obama concluded the thought above with “So this isn’t an issue of being naive or unrealistic, but ultimately yes, I think there are certain values that the United States, at its best, exemplifies. I think there are certain values that Israel, and the Jewish tradition, at its best exemplifies. And I am willing to fight for those values.”

Comment: Obama continued to move the discussion away from defending Israel’s security to defending its values.  In a fitting conclusion of delusion, Obama placed himself in the center of defending Israel.  How is he doing it? By enabling Iran to get nuclear weapons and withholding support for Israel at the United Nations.  Doesn’t seem logical to you?  Well, let me explain the Obamian logic:

  • Since Obama said he has Israel’s back, you must believe him.  Just ignore that his words about preventing Iran to get nuclear capacity have been meaningless; that the Syrian red line was crossed without consequence; that Obama has ignored US’s treaties to support Ukraine and let Russia take over half of the country.
  • Since Obama said he is willing to fight for Jewish Values, you must believe him. Just ignore that he doesn’t understand that the primary Jewish value is the sanctity of life. Ignore that he thinks Israel isn’t the most democratic and humane country for thousands of miles in every direction.

Obama clearly does not appreciate the values that Israel lives each day.  If he did, he would be doing the opposite of his current actions by nixing a bad Iranian deal and by standing proudly next to Israel in international fora like the United Nations.

 

OBAMA UPSET AT BEING CRITICIZED BY ISRAEL SUPPORTERS

  • 13)  Obama knows that double standards are wrong.you should be able to align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not held to a double standard in international fora”

Comment: Obama hasn’t internalized his own double standards for Israel.  Obama spoke about Israel’s history and the history of anti-Semitism even until today which makes it easy to align himself with Israel.  However, his personal higher expectations of Israel and the unique role that the United States has in defending Israel in international for a has made him use double standards for the country.

  • 14)  Obama feels his moral convictions and role as defender of Jewish values can let him criticize Israel without being hostile.we can have a debate, and we can have an argument. But you can’t equate people of good will who are concerned about those issues with somebody who is hostile towards Israel

Comment: Threats and actions that have dire consequences are not debates.  Of course anyone can debate and disagree (in a democracy!) The two questions are 1) how do you do it and 2) what are the ramifications.

Regarding how one disagrees, the notion of being publicly hostile and rallying party loyalist to blacklist the Israeli prime minister is NOT the way to disagree. When the animosity is so public that fellow world leaders would approach you and share their disgust with Netanyahu (French PM Sarkozy in 2011), you have clearly let it be known to the world that you seriously despise the man. Politics is an art of subtlty and getting things moivig along. Mission Failed.

To the second point, on the ramifications of disagreeing, in a civil society, people just go back to their corners and disagree. However, in this situation, the disagreement leads to Iran – which has sworn to destroy Israel – obtaining nuclear weapons. Here the disagreement has led to the threat of the US not siding with Israel at the United Nations to make Israel become a pariah state and subject to various sanctions.

This is not simply “it’s OK to disagree”. Those disagreements will seriously harm the very viability of the State of Israel. And to somehow suggest that putting Israel in grave risk REPEATEDLY should not lead anyone to question the “good will” of those people is puzzling.  To argue that the actions themselves are not “hostile towards Israel” is absurd.

 

While Obama may have won over some Israel-supporters with his heavily coached- discussion on values, the red herring he is marketing is foul.

Related First One Through Articles:

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

For Obama, Israeli security is not so time-sensitive

Bugs Bunny on Obama’s credibility in Negotiating with Iran

Red Herrings on the Red Line

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

Summary: Obama has asked Netanyahu to trust him on an issue (Iranian nuclear power) that is an existential threat to his country, even though Obama hasn’t earned that trust on more basic issues. Obama then compounds Netanyahu’s fear by stating Obama will act completely alone in controlling the outcome. Netanyahu’s nightmare is not just becoming “1938 Czechoslovakia”, but “2014 Ukraine”.

 obama netanyahu2
Netanyahu and Obama

TRUST

Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload.

The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further deteriorated over the years. Personalities aside, the lack of a shared vision about the path to peace and security in the violent Middle East damaged relations.  However, it was a series of bad decisions which destroyed the trust between the two leaders.

Negotiation with Palestinians. Obama’s actions early in his presidency, hurt his credibility with Netanyahu. Obama insisted on an Israeli settlement freeze as a pre-condition to negotiations with the Palestinians- a pre-condition that was never introduced before, even by the Palestinians. Despite Netanyahu’s serious reservations, he instituted a ten-month freeze on building new homes in the west bank of the Jordan River. In exchange, Obama could not get acting-Palestinian President Abbas to even show up to talk for the first nine months, and when he did, all Abbas offered was extending the freeze even longer.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry tried another round of negotiations with Abbas in the fall of 2013, the US again asked Israel to give up something to start talks while it made no demand of the Palestinians. Israel released dozens of terrorists that were convicted of murder from its prisons. In exchange, Kerry could not even get Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, let alone any compromises for a Palestinian state. The negotiations failed again.

In both situations the US pressured Israel to give up something just to initiate negotiations and asked nothing of the Palestinians. In the end, the Palestinians continued to give exactly the same: nothing.

Giving it away upfront. The Obama administration has used the tactic of giving away bargaining points upfront in the hope of gaining something in the negotiations down the road. In Cuba, Obama has pulled back sanctions, in the hope that the country reforms. In Iran, the US eased sanctions to get Iran to consider allowing monitors to watch it build nuclear power.

Netanyahu does not believe in such negotiating tactics and it has not worked out well for Israel.

Giving up on Allies. The disagreement on negotiating style is only part of Netanyahu’s issue.  Israel and the Middle East watched the Obama administration turn its back on its allies. Egyptian President Mubarak was once a close ally of the United States. One day, the Obama administration decided it would no longer stand by its ally and called for Mubarak’s ouster. He was rushed off to jail.

The US’s Middle Eastern allies were dumb-founded by Obama’s action. A senior Arab government official stated “[The Saudis] are at odds with the U.S. position, publicly pushing Mubarak out. And frankly so are we—this isn’t how you handle issues in region.”

Failure to Understand Regional Dynamics. Obama’s turn on Egypt’s Mubarak was followed by an embrace of the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood. Obama’s infatuation with the “Turkish model” of democratic Islam made him welcome the new Egyptian ruler Mohammed Morsi. Morsi reopened Egypt’s ties with Hamas (the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza) , much to the chagrin of Israel’s Netanyahu. Those actions also undermined the more moderate (on a relative basis) acting PA President Abbas.

Obama back-tracked from his support of democracy in Egypt by not objecting to the replacement of Morsi via a takeover by Abdul Fattah el-Sisi. El-Sisi clamped down on Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood which won praise in Israel. From Israel’s perspective, a mistake was rectified to some degree, but the damage done by Obama of not standing by an ally and not appreciating the regional dynamics was etched in memory.

Obama not standing by Treaties or Comments. In addition to not standing by allied leaders, Obama has not stood by his own word or by US treaties with governments. For example, Obama’s declared “red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons came and went without ramifications for Syrian President Assad. While Obama claimed credit for negotiating a solution to get rid of Syria’s known chemical weapons, there was no personal penalty for Assad. Assad continues to remain in power and murder his countrymen.

Saudi Arabia was incredulous and stated“We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white…When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it.”

obama syrian red line
Obama asserting a “red line” on Syrian chemical weapons

The Ukrainian situation is even more telling. In 1994, Ukraine signed onto the Budapest Memorandum which was to guarantee its territorial integrity in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons. While it adhered to its upfront part of the bargain by giving up its weapons, the Obama administration refused to enforce its end of the agreement by coming to the aid of Ukraine when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014. Russian leader Putin correctly assessed the temperament of Obama that he would fail to honor his obligation, just as he failed to take action in Syria. Putin has continued to move past Crimea to other parts of Ukraine while the US not only fails to come to the defense of Ukraine, but drags its feet in sending weapons to defend itself.

The situation is not lost on Netanyahu (while it is on the knee-jerk liberal New York Times which stated in its lead editorial on March 12, 2015 that “Republicans are perfectly willing to diminish America’s standing as a global power capable of crafting international commitments and adhering to them.”  As detailed above, Obama has made very clear that HE has diminished America’s commitments, not the Republicans).

Obfuscation. The last loose thread in the unraveling fabric of trust is the lack of transparency.

While Obama touted his goal of transparency when he ran for office, his administration has been one of the least transparent. Witness Obamacare, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said “We have to pass the bill to that you can find out what is in it.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran her own email server outside of the State Department and deleted emails at her own whim. Now, Obama refuses to provide details of the Iranian negotiations with Israel.

The trust between Obama and Netanyahu is broken.

ACTING ALONE

Compounding the Israeli frustration with the lack of trust in the Obama administration’s dealing with Iran, is the unilateral course that Obama has taken. Obama has effectively barred Israel from attacking Iran and is attempting to seal negotiations without legislative approval.

Blocking an Israeli attack. As soon as Obama began to negotiate with Iran, it became impossible for Israel to attack Iran. How could Israel attack the facilities while the US was pursuing a diplomatic initiative? The start of Obama’s talks signaled the end of Israel’s ability to destroy their nuclear program.

Skipping Congress. Obama repeatedly stated that he does not believe that he needs congressional approval to sign a deal with Iran. As such, he has asserted that he has complete authority to negotiate and finalize a deal.  The Republicans, which now have majority control of both the House and Senate, strongly disagree and have taken steps to make their position known to both the Obama administration and Iran itself.

COMPETENCIES and CONSEQUENCES

Israel’s Netanyahu is left in a precarious situation.  As his country is under threat of annihilation by Iran, its close ally has put itself in the lead seat in negotiations.  However, Netanyahu is looking at the current US president as:

  • Lacking an understanding of regional dynamics;
  • Incapable of negotiating;
  • Refusing to be transparent about the negotiations;
  • Unwilling to stand by statements and treaties in support of allies;
  • Determined to act alone without the legislative branch of government

The Trust in Competencies and Fear of Consequences leaves Israel in a vulnerable and lonely spot.  While Israel fears it will be sacrificed at the alter of larger players like Czechoslovakia in 1938, it sees how the lead negotiator will not enforce any security agreements that may be struck, as in the embattled Ukraine today.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Arab states agree with Netanyahu in speech to Congress: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/missing-netanyahus-speech-those-not-listening-and-those-not-speaking/

Conservative focus on safety: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-gap-between-fairness-and-ramifications-wmds-in-iraq-and-iran/

Obama’s Iranian red line: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/obamas-iranian-red-line/

The need for a global public reaction to Iran’s nuclear aspiration: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/hidden-reactor-silent-reaction/