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Ed Webb

Iran An Experiment in Strategic Risk Taking.pdf - 1 views

  • what-ever happens next, the patient efforts of the E3/EU+3 since 2006, along with the harshest non-proliferation sanctions ever imposed, will have demon-strated that illegal nuclear proliferation is costly. Simply put, this is the most detailed non-proliferation agreement ever devised. But it nevertheless includes several problematic aspects, which deserve careful scrutiny
  • By 2025–30, providing its weaponisation expertise is solid, Iran will be technically in a position to make, in a matter of months, a nuclear weapon that can be carried by a medium-range ballistic missile. By year 15 of the deal, produc-ing one bomb’s worth of HEU might take less than two weeks; and after a few more years, it might only be a matter of days.6 And by the end of the deal, if it had not ratified the Additional Protocol, Iran could just stop its ‘voluntary’ implementation
  • Iran has become a nuclear-threshold state, and it will remain one, with our blessing
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  • Countries do not give up when they have invested so much, unless they are forced to do so after a major war (as Iraq was), or when regime change comes (as it did in Brazil and South Africa
  • The eternal hope of Western dip-lomats is that authoritarian regimes are on the wrong side of history and therefore cannot last long. But sometimes they do.
  • Around 2012, under US pressure, the E3/EU+3 abandoned roll-back in favour of contain-ment
  • Reimposing sanctions will be hard when hundreds of Western, Russian and Chinese companies flourish in Iran
  • Could the deal have been better? Its supporters have used two slogans: ‘this is the best possible deal’, and ‘this deal now or war later’. Both are false alternatives, giving the impression that they were created for rhetorical purposes. Washington’s self-imposed deadlines left it negotiating against itself. It may very well have been wiser to wait until Iran felt the pressure of sanctions even more. At times, the United States may have given Tehran the impression that it needed a deal even more than the Iranians did. The second argument is equally spurious: few serious analysts or politicians would support immediate military action against Iran
  • we should make it work. This will require careful and constant monitoring: let us beware of ‘Iran fatigue’. The E3/EU+3 should supplement the massive-retaliation snapback provi-sions with informal understandings among the group’s members on how to respond to minor violations: a graduated response is needed. A key aspect will be the way the IAEA will judge whether or not the PMD question is settled. Here, Tehran should not be let off the hook. Finally, the E3/EU+3, or at least its four Western members, should regularly – perhaps annually – make a solemn commitment that they will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear explosivedevice and are ready to use any means to that effect.
  • Any precedent the Iranian crisis creates will be fully exploited by the next ‘Nth country’
Ed Webb

Iran An Opening for Diplomacy.pdf - 1 views

  • the agreement does, in fact, have the potential to open up the frozen dialogue between the US and Iran and permit a broader discussion of urgent regional issues. This potential unblocking of the relationship could be one of the agreement’s great rewards
  • intrusive verification measures that go far beyond what was pos-sible under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and even the Additional Protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement, effectively blocking a covert path to the development of a nuclear weapon
  • Unquestionably, the JCPOA is far from perfect. It could hardly be other-wise. Both sides made compromises to come to an agreement and both sides moved further from their initial positions than they would have expected at the outset. Iranian redlines were reportedly crossed. Security issues, notori-ously intractable and sensitive, were at the heart of the negotiation on all sides. For Tehran, there were hard trade-offs between restricting the prized nuclear programme that it regards as a vital interest, and the lifting of the onerous sanctions that are crippling its economy. Security issues were at stake for the other participants too: preventing a nuclear-armed Iran and thus lessening the danger of conflict in the Middle East, reducing the threat to Israel, as well as the risk of further proliferation in an already-turbulent region
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  • we may have to live with more uncertainty than we would like; opponents of the agreement in both the US and Iran will exploit the inevitable difficult moments.
  • We do not trust the Iranians and they do not trust us. Arms-control or nuclear-limitation agreements are not concluded between friends and allies, but between adversaries
  • If the US blocks the agreement, we will be isolated. Our allies and part-ners are unlikely to acquiesce in the careless rejection of an agreement so painstakingly arrived at; nor would they – especially the Russians and the Chinese – be inclined to maintain the stringent sanctions that were crucial to bringing the Iranians to negotiate seriously
  • airstrikes would do no more than retard the programme for a year or two at best and guarantee that Tehran regarded a nuclear weapon as a vital necessity
  • For at least 15 years, the nuclear issue has been the central obstacle in our relations with Iran, effec-tively standing in the way of any broader dialogue between the US and one of the most important countries in the Middle East.
  • A lifting of sanctions will begin to bring Iran back into the world economy with unforeseen consequences. It is estimated that sanctions relief will greatly boost Iran’s oil exports and sub-stantially increase GDP. Khamenei notwithstanding, some leading figures in Iran, including President Hassan Rouhani, have made no secret of their hope that the nuclear agreement will lead to a broader dialogue. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif specifically said to Kerry, ‘If we get this finished, I am now empowered to work with and talk to you about regional issues’.2The US side certainly has similar hopes. There is an urgent list of regional issues – beginning with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Syria – on which the two countries might engage
  • The regional ambitions of Iran and other Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia, will certainly continue to conflict. It will take a great deal more to lessen Israel’s very understandable fears of Iran. But the nuclear dimension will be in abeyance
  • As with the Soviet Union, we face in Tehran a fundamentally antagonistic regime whose hostility is durably rooted in ideology. History suggests that while this will preclude close relationships, it need not be an obstacle to finding common ground on a limited range of issues of mutual interest
  • The day we establish an embassy in Tehran is regrettably probably far off. (It seems fashionable, if bizarre, to see the establishment of diplomatic relations as a ‘reward’ to the country in question.) There is no doubt, however, that the absence of diplomatic representation on the spot has deprived us of a valuable diplomatic tool
Ed Webb

Iran A Good Deal.pdf - 2 views

  • the verifi-cation procedures of the JCPOA are tighter than the safeguards provided for in the Additional Protocol. The constraints and obligations Iran accepts under the deal also go beyond the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • to demand a return to the opening-gambit US provi-sions and to impose other conditions is to engage in fantasy. There has long ceased to be any possibility that Iran would give up its enrichment pro-gramme altogether
  • once it was agreed by eight parties after two years of negotiations, it is now the only deal possible
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  • Nor will other countries meekly accept a return to imposing tough sanctions at America’s beck and call if Washington undermines the deal that European allies worked so hard to reach.
  • Iran’s commitments under that temporary arrangement would fall away if the JCPOA were killed. Iran would be free to resume where it left off two years ago. Only this time the US would have very few partners willing to impose the tough sanctions that compelled the serious negotiations of the past two years
  • a major breakthrough for the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which to date has never explicitly granted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the right to verify nuclear weaponisation work that does not involve nuclear materials
  • Perfect accuracy of intelligence cannot be guaranteed, of course, but Iran would have to assume that any significant cheating on its part would very likely be quickly observed. If so detected, the US and its allies will not give up any of the options they now possess to compel compliance. In fact, such options will be more robust in the latter years of the Iran deal because the technology for military options such as bunker-busting bombs will likely improve, as will the intelligence picture on Iran’s activities.
  • it buys 15 or more years of certified non-nuclear status – and the reassurance of not having to resort to war to stop the programme
  • the suggestion that it might abet regional adventurism. That is an open question; Iran’s behaviour might get worse, especially in the near term, but the deal also offers prospects for it getting better.
Ed Webb

Russia may sell Iran $10 billion worth of tanks and jets in new arms deal - 0 views

  • further cement an alliance between Moscow and Tehran that is likely to prove a major stumbling block for any rapprochement between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, who has vowed to rip up a nuclear agreement with Iran that the Kremlin supports.
  • until 2020 deliveries of conventional weapons must be approved by the United Nations Security Council
  • Sergey Ryabkov, a deputy foreign minister, said on Monday that Russia’s support for the Iran deal “has not changed,” indicating that it would oppose any attempt to re-negotiate it.

    Russia has increased arms sales in recent years as it seeks to earn foreign currency and support potential allies in its confrontation with the West. 

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  • a $2 billion contract to deliver 24 advanced SU-35 jets to China, ending a decade-long unofficial moratorium on sales of hi-tech weaponry to Beijing because of fears over technology piracy.
  • Iran and China announced an agreement to hold joint military drills and cooperate in fighting terrorism
Ed Webb

Adviser says Trump won't rip up Iran deal, signals he may not move embassy | The Times ... - 0 views

  • adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said the new US leader will “review” the Iran nuclear agreement, but will stop short of ripping up the landmark international pact.
  • signaled that Trump might not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem immediately and indicated he would make negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a priority right off the bat.
  • appeared to represent a break with some comments made by other Trump advisers and the president-elect himself, and highlighted persisting confusion over what the contours of a Trump administration’s foreign policy may look like
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  • Phares also told the BBC that while Trump was committed to moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as other presidential candidates have vowed, he would not do so unilaterally.

    “Many presidents of the United States have committed to do that, and he said as well that he will do that, but he will do it under consensus,”

  • State Department spokesman Mark Toner warned that nothing was stopping Trump from tearing up the agreement, rebuffing comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that the pact was enshrined by the United Nations Security Council and could therefore not be canceled by one party
  • Toner said if Trump pulls out of the agreement, it could fall apart and lead to Iran restarting work toward a bomb
  • “He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion,” Phares added. “It could be a tense discussion but the agreement as is right now — $750 billion to the Iranian regime without receiving much in return and increasing intervention in four countries — that is not going to be accepted by the Trump administration.”
    • Ed Webb
      Note that it is a multilateral deal, so five other powers would also have to agree, as well as Iran itself.
  • Phares did not elaborate on what consensus would be sought for such a move, which would break with decades of precedent and put Washington at odds with nearly all United Nations member states.
  • Earlier Thursday, Trump Israel adviser Jason Dov Greenblatt told Israel’s Army Radio that the president-elect would make good on his promise.

    “I think if he said it, he’s going to do it,” Greenblatt said. “He is different for Israel than any recent president there has been, and I think he’s a man who keeps his word.

  • Phares also indicated efforts for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would be a top agenda item for Trump, casting doubt on a claim by Greenblatt that Trump would not necessarily prioritize trying to push the Israelis and Palestinians into peace negotiations.
  • “He will make it a priority if the Israelis and Palestinians want to make it a priority,” Greenblatt said. “He’s not going to force peace upon them, it will have to come from them.”
  • The gap in signals coming out of Trump’s camp is consistent with frustration some have pointed to in trying to demystify what Trump’s foreign policy will be.

  • Tzachi Hanegbi, a minister-without-portfolio who is a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Thursday that the Iran nuclear deal and construction over the Green Line — the two most contentious topics between the Obama administration and Netanyahu — will no longer be a source of tension between Israel and the United States under a Trump presidency.
Ed Webb

Senior Saudi prince says Trump shouldn't scrap Iran deal | Reuters - 0 views

  • U.S. President-elect Donald Trump should not scrap a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers but should take the nation to task for its "destabilizing activities" in the Middle East, said a former senior Saudi official.
  • "I don't think he should scrap it. It's been worked on for many years and the general consensus in the world, not just the United States, is that it has achieved an objective, which is a 15-year hiatus in the program that Iran embarked on to develop nuclear weapons," Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to Washington and London said on Thursday.
    • Ed Webb
      Turki is a very powerful member of the Saudi royal family and widely listened to on security issues
  • would like to see if the deal could become a "stepping stone" to a more permanent program "to prevent proliferation through the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East."
    • Ed Webb
      A long-term goal on which Saudi and Egypt agree, and they don't agree on much. Of course, a major target of this would be Israel.
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  • His views are described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom's top princes and as influential in Riyadh foreign policy circles.
Ed Webb

Here's what will happen if Iran joins the WTO - The Washington Post - 1 views

  • While it remains uncertain whether economic and financial sanctions would be technically permissible under the WTO’s national security exception — which allows a member to take measures that it “considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests”– these actions would clearly violate the spirit of the WTO and have therefore been rarely used.
  • the United States has switched to using other tools for coercive diplomacy to punish other recent WTO entrants.
  • Congress therefore created the China Commission, which was specifically formed to monitor China’s human rights practices and maintain pressure on it. Similarly, Congress passed measures designed to allow it to more effectively use visa restrictions and financial asset freezes to coerce Russia, and foreign aid to extract concessions from Vietnam, after these states joined the WTO.
Ed Webb

Moscow Relishes Revamped Role in Mideast as Israel Seeks Assurances in Syria | Foreign ... - 0 views

  • Israel fears the Kremlin’s buildup could further escalate the Syrian civil war and embolden Iran and Hezbollah, its two greatest foes in the Middle East, both of which have joined Moscow in supporting Damascus. Amid uncertainty over Russia’s role in Syria, Netanyahu’s visit is meant to prevent a scenario in which the Israeli army and Russian forces accidentally fire at each other. The Israeli prime minister also seeks assurances from Putin that advanced weapons in Syria won’t be used to help arm Hezbollah, with whom Israel fought a devastating war in 2006.
  • Russia is Israel’s top oil supplier
  • In the past, Israel and Russia have managed to agree on security issues through concessions to one another. Israel halted military supplies to Georgia after a war in 2008 with Russia. In exchange, Moscow shelved plans to supply the S-300 air defense system to Iran and Syria.
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  • Israel and Russia will establish a coordination mechanism to prevent clashes between their forces on the Syrian border
  • Israel also has remained neutral in the Ukraine conflict, refusing to support American and European efforts to denounce Russia’s annexation of Crimea or join the Western sanctions regime against Moscow
  • Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, visited Moscow in July to coordinate Russian and Iranian support for Assad. Moreover, Russian officials now say they expect to agree to terms on the delivery of the S-300s to Iran by the end of the year, though it is unclear when it will go ahead
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