Insider news & Analysis in Iran

Washington Post: The world’s attention is focused on Russia, but a critical deadline in the nuclear talks with Iran is fast approaching. On July 20, time will be up — or will it? — for a final deal on Iran’s illicit nuclear program.

There is no chance that Iran will agree to dismantle its program, send out its nuclear materials and come into full compliance with United Nations resolutions. For one thing, the Obama administration is no longer demanding it do so. Instead of dismantling the heavy-water Arak plant, now there’s talk about “re-purposing” it. Instead of eliminating the potential for a bomb, Secretary of State John F. Kerry speaks about allowing a break-out period of six to 12 months.

Observing President Obama’s aversion to strong action (e.g. tolerating Syria’s chemical weapons, failing to stop Russia’s takeover of Crimea), the mullahs no doubt are confident that there is little downside for them if they don’t make a deal that would impair their nuclear weapons capability. With President Obama, Sen. Harry Reid (R-Nev.) and others ready to run interference on sanctions and the Iranian economy on the rebound, Iran is in the catbird seat. Iran, by being allowed to retain its centrifuges, advance its ballistic weapons program and continue with advanced research, has given up nothing while securing relief from sanctions and certainty that the United States will take no military action.

There is little chance the talks will break off for good in July, for that would constitute yet another Obama failure and increase calls for heightened sanctions. More likely will be either a plea for more negotiating time or a transparently awful deal that legitimizes Iran’s program, an imitation of the North Korea deal that allowed that dictatorship to go nuclear.

It is not for trivial reasons then that Israel and pro-Israel American groups and lawmakers are sounding the alarm. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Speaking in Washington on Thursday, [Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron] Dermer said negotiations in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 – the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – risked leaving Iran “a threshold nuclear power” that would move them back from “two months, where they are today, to maybe two or three months further” from a nuclear  weapon. . . . Also addressing  the forum at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, spoke of what successful policy on Iran might look like. “Failure is anything short of having a verifiable way to dismantle the nuclear weapons program,” he said. “Failure  would be allowing Iran to proceed with an [intercontinental ballistic missile]  program.”

 

Israeli officials certainly are doing everything to anticipate how events may play out in July. As former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams relates, retired Gen. Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence and now director of the Institute for National Security Studies, recently gave a speech in which he cautioned: “Iran is trying to portray itself as a country prepared to make fundamental concessions, but at the same time it is preserving the core abilities in both routes it is developing for a nuclear weapon.” Likewise, Gen. Yaakov Amidror, the former Israeli national security adviser and before that head of research for Israeli Military Intelligence, warned, as Abrams notes, that a “flimsy deal” would confirm Israeli suspicions that the West lacks the will to prevent Iran from becoming a threshold state…

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