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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Mutually Assured Obfuscation

The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens rips President Obama's pre-emptive criticism of the 'inevitable critics' of his deal with Iran.
Yes, it’s worse. Much worse.

Yes, because what the president calls “this verifiable deal” fails the first test of verification—mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it.

Take sanctions. Iran insists all sanctions—economic as well as nuclear—will be “immediately revoked” and that “the P5+1 member countries are committed to restraining from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.” But the Obama administration claims Iran will only get relief “if it verifiably abides by its commitments.” The administration adds that “the architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal.”

So who is lying? Or are we dealing with a case of Mutually Assured Obfuscation?

Yes, too, because the deal fails the second test of verification: It can’t be verified.

Here again there are significant discrepancies between the U.S. and the Iranian versions of the deal. The administration claims “Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol,” a reference to an addendum to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that permits intrusive inspections. But Tehran merely promises to implement the protocol “on a voluntary and temporary basis,” pending eventual ratification by its parliament, inshallah.

We’ve seen this movie before. Iran agreed to implement the Additional Protocol in 2003, only to renounce it in early 2006, after stonewalling weapons inspectors.

But even the Protocol is inadequate, since it doesn’t permit no-notice, “anytime, anywhere” inspections. “A verifiable agreement would require unfettered access to all key facilities, personnel, documentation, and other information being sought,” notes Olli Heinonen, a former top nuclear inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Protocol, he adds, “does not fully oblige this.”

Yes, as well, because Mr. Obama’s caveat, “if fully implemented,” is catnip to the rulers of Iran. What happens if Iran complies with every aspect of the accord, save one—for instance, if it starts fielding more advanced centrifuges?

“The Iranian regime cheats incrementally, not egregiously, even though the sum total of its incremental cheating is egregious,” says Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Does anyone think Mr. Obama will walk away from his deal at the first instance of Iranian noncompliance? This is a president who failed to inform Congress of Russia’s suspected violations of a 1987 nuclear arms-control treaty so he could get his own treaty ratified by the Senate in 2010.

Yes, furthermore, because a deal that is “backed by the world’s major powers,” as Mr. Obama says, is also beholden to those powers.


So let me rephrase the president’s question: Is targeted military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities—with all the unforeseen consequences that might entail—a better option than a grimly foreseeable future of a nuclear Iran, threatening its neighbors, and a proliferated Middle East, threatening the world?

I know my answer. What’s yours?
Targeted military action against Iran's nuclear facilities is most definitely a better option than a nuclear Iran.

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