On 9/11, Commit To Blocking Iran and Saudi Arabia From Ever Possessing Weapons Of Mass Destruction

The horrific terrorist attacks conducted against Americans on September 11, 2001 was not only the worst loss of life in a coordinated attack by foreign enemies, it changed the vector of American and world history.

On the 21st anniversary of the attacks, the United States posted comments by President Biden about “Patriot Day” at various embassies around the world. In the Middle East and North Africa, the American embassies took very different approaches.

The US embassies in Israel, Egypt and Yemen were unique in posting Biden’s remarks about the 9/11 terrorism. The embassies in other countries which are considered US allies, such as Jordan which receives $1.45 billion in annual aid from the U.S., Qatar, which houses the largest US military presence in the region, and Saudi Arabia, where President Biden just visited to increase its oil exports, all opted to remain silent on the solemn day.

What do these three countries have in common?

Israel has been fighting the scourge of Palestinian Islamic radical terrorism for decades. Egypt and Yemen are fighting terrorist forces backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many of the other regional Muslim-majority countries back those terrorist groups like Hamas, or have other US-designated terrorist groups operating openly in their borders, including Turkey, Lebanon and Qatar.

As we remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks, we must also remember the state sponsors of terrorism – Iran and Saudi Arabia in particular – and make sure that they never have access to weapons of mass destruction.

Related articles:

Paying to Murder Jews: From Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Palestinian Authority

Will Biden Enable Hamas’s Sponsors of Iran, Qatar and Turkey

Some Global Supporters of the P5+1 Iran Deal

NY Times Tries Hard to Paint Obama/Biden as Pacifists and Trump as Mercenary

It must be especially galling to the left-wing media that an outlandish person like Donald Trump could forge peace deals in the Middle East while its patron saints in the Obama administration could not.

Consider the deliberate twisting of facts in The New York Times on September 24, 2020 about U.S. arm sales to Saudi Arabia. In a “News Analysis” section called “A Fraying Rationale for U.S. Aid to the Saudis in Yemen,” the Times wrote that

“Mr. Trump decided in early 2017 to restart arms sales to the Gulf Arab nations that President Barack Obama had halted in late 2016.”

The sheer audacity of this line in the Times is outrageous.

Obama’s term ENDED in “late 2016.” From 2009 to 2015, the Obama administration sold more weapons to foreign countries than any administration in U.S. history – particularly to Saudi Arabia. Obama’s penchant for arms sales was so egregious that even liberal media firms like Vice were appalled, writing an article as Obama left office in January 2017, “Obama’s Administration Sold More Weapons Than Any Other Since World War II.” The sub-header to the article was “Many were sold to the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.” The article noted that “Under Obama the overall sales, pending delivery of equipment and specialised training for troops, to Saudi Arabia alone has ballooned to $115 billion.” At the time of the article, the war Saudis were participating in in Yemen was well under way with “over 10,000 killed2.2 million displaced and nearly half a million children on the brink of famine from the ensuing crisis.

While the Times was factually accurate that in Obama’s final month of his presidency he halted the sale of precision-guided munitions, it was only of that particular weaponry and only after eight years of selling the Saudis over $100 billion in arms!

New York Times article written to paint Obama and Biden as pacifists and Trump as a mercenary on September 24, 2020, coupling a picture of destruction in Yemen with one of Trump with the Saudis sitting comfortably in the White House striking deals.

The Times article stated that “current and former administration officials, as well as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, say American involvement [in selling Saudi’s weapons] must end.” That’s quite a bit of “malarkey” as Biden would say, having been second in command in an administration that sold $115 billion in arms to the Saudis.

The Times added that “the State Department, starting in the Obama administration, sent a senior level official, Larry Lewis, on frequent trips to Saudi Arabia to advise on civilian harm,” making the Democrats appear worried about the death to civilians, but “the next year Trump administration officials pushed him [Lewis] out of the agency,” making Team Trump appear callous.

The attack on Trump continued to cast him as a simple arms merchant and uncaring of the damage done by the weapons: “Mr. Trump has offered a more transactional rationale [for selling arms to the Saudis]: that the United States should continue to sell weapons for the money. “They have nothing but money. Nothing but cash, and they pay us now.“”

The foreign policy failures of the Obama administration in the Middle East were plentiful, ranging from giving Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, a legal pathway to nuclear weapons; selling more weapons to Arab countries that any administration in history as a counter-balance the blessing of a nuclear-emboldened Iran; watching the arms sales be used to pound Yemen, the poorest country in the world, into sand; watching the plane-loads of cash sent to Iran get funneled into terrorist groups; failing miserably in negotiating between Israel and the Palestinians leading to Gaza wars in 2012 and 2014 and the stabbing intifada of 2015, to name but a few.

While U.S. voters don’t rank foreign affairs high on their priority list, The Times doesn’t want to take a chance.

During this particularly contentious election, The Times is actively recasting Obama and Biden as pacifists and Trump as a cold mercenary when in fact it was the Obama administration which enabled death and destruction in the Middle East and Trump who forged peace agreements in the region.

Related First One Through articles:

Half Standards: Gun Control and the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Deal

Some Global Supporters of the P5+1 Iran Deal

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

The Arab Spring Blooms in the UAE

The United States Should NOT be a Neutral Mediator in the Arab-Israel Conflict

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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)

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.


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

Times sq3
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?”

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.