A Bogus Deal on Iran

Both Turkey and Brazil have grown much closer to Iran in recent years and have voiced their opposition to further sanctions. So it is not surprising that they have now come to the Islamic Republic’s rescue, handing it a lifeline on its nuclear program just as the Obama administration, after a year of failed diplomacy, had begun to contemplate the possibility of new sanctions.

Acting more as Iran’s advocates than neutral brokers, Turkey and Brazil worked out a deal whereby Iran would ship low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher grade nuclear material. But the deal does little to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, which are now approaching the 20 percent threshold that is considered the prelude to an operational nuclear weapon. A senior Israeli official has rightly called the deal “an Iranian trick,” as it will not end Iran’s own enrichment efforts and comes just as Secretary Clinton says the U.S., Russia and China have agreed on a draft resolution to impose sanctions.

The nuclear deal is just the latest sign of Turkey and Brazil’s newfound closeness with Iran. President Lula da Silva of Brazil reacted to the Ahmadinejad’s highly suspect “victory” in last year’s presidential elections by saying, “What right do I have, or any president, to question the election results in Iran. It would be overly arrogant for Brazil, 12,000 kilometers away, to pass judgment on Iran’s elections. Nor would I want them to judge ours.” A few months later, Ahmadinejad said that the ties between Iran and Brazil have “no limits.”

This deal comes just as Secretary of State Clinton announced that the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China have finally agreed on the potential sanctions to be placed on Iran. The punishments include an arms embargo, freezing the assets of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, intercepting suspected WMD-related shipments, and other restrictions on dealing with the regime. This deal threatens to reset those negotiations.

China is reacting positively to the deal in the hopes of using it to justify the delay of further action. Iran provides China with 11.4 percent of its crude oil imports, and their overall trade has doubled since 2005. The Iranian refusal to budge made it difficult for China to stand by the Islamic Republic’s side in the United Nations, but this latest maneuver will give them the excuse to call for more diplomacy. Avoiding sanctions is clearly the goal of the Brazilian President, who boasted, “Diplomacy emerged victorious today.”

The Brazilian President is technically right. Diplomacy was indeed victorious—but it was a victory for Iran, and not for the U.S. or anyone threatened by Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities. Whereas Russia and China were in a tricky spot due to Iran’s blatant refusal to work with the international community, the role has been reversed and now the U.S. is the one in a tricky spot.

“But if he accepts it, many of the urgent issues he has said will have to be resolved with Iran in coming months—mostly over suspected weapons work—will be put on hold for a year or more.”

The New York Times perfectly frames America’s new position. “Mr. Obama now faces a vexing choice. If he walks away from this deal, it will look like he is rejecting an agreement similar to one he was willing to sign eight months ago,” the newspaper wrote.

Giving Iran another year will allow the regime to better prepare for the day when sanctions may finally be placed upon them. One of the regime’s key vulnerabilities is that it has to import petroleum-based products, including 30 percent of its gasoline. Iran is moving fast to expand ten of its current refineries and build seven more, allowing them to produce twice as much gasoline in 2012. The Iranians have struck a $6.5 billion deal with a Chinese company to help make this happen.

If Iran ships out a large part of its uranium to Turkey, it will not significantly delay its pursuit of the ability to create a nuclear arsenal. It is true that Iran will lose some of their uranium stock, which they are already short on. However, while international pressure is alleviated, Iran can work on other aspects of the weapons program such as the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile. In the meantime, Iran can work to replenish its uranium stockpile from places like Zimbabwe, Venezuela, North Korea, possibly Burma, and through expanding production from its own uranium mine near Bandar Abbas, which they are still refusing to give the IAEA access to.

It is also important to remember that the deal does not stop Iran from enriching the uranium it keeps to 20 percent. David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security says that it would only take about six months to enrich the uranium from 20 percent to the bomb-grade level of 90 percent using 500 to 1,000 centrifuges. Iran currently has about 9,000 centrifuges, but only about 60 percent are said to be operating due to technical difficulties, probably courtesy of Western intelligence agencies.

This means that if this deal is enacted, Iran will still be enriching uranium to a level that will allow them to quickly create the fuel necessary for a nuclear bomb. The Iranians are openly expanding the number of their nuclear facilities, and likely have undeclared enrichment sites and stockpiles of uranium. The Syrians’ own nuclear program, which should be seen as an extension of Iran’s, and the planned opening of the Bushehr nuclear reactor in August further highlight the foolishness of relying upon this agreement to stop a nuclear-armed Iran from becoming a reality.

The Iranians’ best weapon in fighting the West has been the illusion that they can be dealt with diplomatically. Brazilian and Turkey have made this farce a reality. If the United Nations uses this latest deal as an excuse for inaction, the U.S. must immediately create a coalition that will place sanctions on Iran outside of the toothless organization’s framework.

  • MullahAssassin

    what kind of a "deal" is this? This is yet another slap in the face to the West and yet (another) wake up call to the world of Iran's intransigent stance towards building up a nuclear arsenal.

  • MullahAssassin

    “What right do I have, or any president, to question the election results in Iran. It would be overly arrogant for Brazil, 12,000 kilometers away, to pass judgment on Iran’s elections. Nor would I want them to judge ours.”

    Yes Lula. According to that reasoning, if it seems too arrogant for you to deny Iran the means to enrich nuclear weapons in the most volatile region of the world , then why not just help them out! Sounds like quite a humble plan.

  • apo

    Of course we must stop any little threat of a nuclear bomb by any "rogue" goverments….
    But we at the US get to have what is by far the biggest nuclear arsenal on earth without anyone complaining…. that is a bit strange… as world leaders, we are not setting a good example….

    • MullahAssassin

      Stopping nuclear proliferation comes in 2 flavors: Reducing current arsenals, and preventing new arsenals from emerging. Not sure how you are reading the situation, but I think the bigger problem right now is the latter. As with the former, Russia and the US agreed on START recently, did they not?

      Rogues will not respond to "good" examples in an appropriate manner, because most of them have acquired their arsenals and know-how via the AQ Khan network and not through autonomous research. The nuclear club must not expand anymore, at any cost, in my opinion.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

        You mean the Khan network that we discovered when we finally enforced the GWCFA and took down saddam?

        There's nothing strange about our arsenal to anyone familiar with 20th century history, though some like to play dumb about it.

        "Of course we must stop any little threat of a nuclear bomb by any "rogue" governments," just demonstrates the same kind of willful ignorance displayed about the commies during the Cold War (and to this day).

        • Jim C.

          This isn't the Cold War. We need to get a grip. You know, at some point, what does it matter who the regional hegemon is in the Middle East in, say, 10 years? Turkey? Iran? In terms of OUR security, it's all about the oil, and they need to sell it even more than we need to buy it. They can squabble over which sect gets which oil field, but they'll still need to keep moving it out of the gulf–they'd be fools to interrupt the supply in order to posture defiantly.

          We need to take a deep breath and consider this.

          • Democracy First

            Sounds like you want Iran to have nuclear weapons.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

            Actually this is very similar to the Cold War. We are faced with an ideology/religion predicated on our destruction, offended by our very existence, and expanding globally by subversion and violence.

            It's not about oil or money for the mad mullahs (they would have much better oil infrastructure if it was) and other jihadis, it's about power. The mad mullahs have tried to cut the Straits before, and they and the IRG leadership will be the last to suffer if it is (not that they aren't willing to suffer a great deal to destroy us). They don't need to keep the oil flowing, we do.

            Like most in the developed west, you just don't seem to understand how the mad mullahs and jihadis think. Much of their thinking is irrational and unreasonable, even foolish by our standards, but that's the way they think. We're talking about a mentality that uses their own children to clear minefields by detonation, and invented modern suicide bombing.

            Not all are true believers or tribal warriors. Many operate from familiar motives and values, but they too get their power, prestige, and wealth (for the ones that want it), from making war on us.

  • dhet
  • Turbeaux

    It couldn’t be anymore obvious that you can’t negotiate with terrorists. There is only one thing that will stop Islamic aggressive Iran from getting nuclear weapons and that is military force. The ruling Mullahs, the IRGC, and the nuclear sites all need to be targeted and obliterated. Otherwise, we will have to live with a highly emboldened nuclear-armed Iran, which will become exponentially far more aggressive once it acquires nuclear weapons.

    Meanwhile, Pakistan’s stockpiles of plutonium based nuclear weapons will soon become the Sunni world’s nuclear supermarket as soon as Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons renders the NPT not worth the paper it is printed on, and thus a religion that is far more than anything else a radical totalitarian ideology and that has as its sole purpose and highest mandate, the domination of the world, will be armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. Meanwhile in the interim, the Obama administration is working feverishly trying to force Israel to get rid of its nuclear weapons via an Egyptian subterfuge.

  • Mike

    Lula is a LULU.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jemc50 jemc50

    Now…..! This is scary.

  • http://www.lakewoodcachiropractic.com/ nancy

    thank you for this article. What a deal? This article is really an eye opener. thank you for sharing. looking forward your next post

  • USMCSniper

    Bush;s and Obama's failures to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons through diplomatic means, is erodes U.S. credibility, and actually makes a war more possible in future. Not just an Israeli attack but to a conflict arising from Iranian support for revolutionary Islamist subversion of the surrounding Arabic-speaking countries. If Iran gets too confident and aggressive, it will miscalculate and set off a U.S.-Iran war over some incident in the Persian Gulf with U.S. ships or oil tankers; or a terrorist incident in which Iran's regime was too obviously involved in killing Ameircans; or friction over unrest in an Arabic-speaking state.

    When we look back at the present day from a decade or two hence, the issues pointed

    • Jim C.

      Or–say this happens–as Iran begins asserting its power in the region, it finds that in order to maintain that sort of influence, it has to start acting like a grown up instead a belligerent child, because now it has to be the policeman (if only to protect its own interests).

      I don't know what purpose actually attacking the US or Israel serves; the idea is that it can attack and therefore gain leverage in the region. Still, the oil MUST flow in order for any of this to be viable, which means there has to be stability–whether that stability is provided by Iran or some other Gulf State.

      • Jim C.

        Basically, I'm for getting out of the region, leaving a note that says "You're welcome," and letting Iraq and Iran figure out what they're going to do with each other, and letting Afghanistan and Pakistan figure out what to do with each other. "You're welcome. You got your wish. The "infidels" are gone. This mess is yours–figure out how to provide oil to rest of the world if you want to keep it. And if we have to come back, we won't be in such a good mood next time."

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

    Why should Brazil and Turkey help out the United States? What's in it for them, considering that the Obama regime is purposely withdrawing American power from the world? They are developing nations, Obama has stated and demonstrated that he won't punish anyone … including calling for UN Security Council "action" in response to North Korea's sinking of a South Korean ship … and people like Ahmadinewackjob will hurt nations they don't like.

    The power vacuum left by America is being filled, and countries like China, Russia, Iran (and the Iran+Syria+Hezbollah+Hamas Axis) are demonstrating their desire to make this century theirs.

    People say, "Buy gold". I say, "You can't shoot gold, take it for a headache, or eat it." I haven't the slightest intention of being a refugee (who are universally unarmed). Obama will have his place in history. It just won't be the place he wanted it to occupy …

    • Democracy First

      Exactly. It now makes more sense for nations to bow to iran and its axis then fight for democracy or side with the US. Obama, the left wing pacifist appeaser, has ceded the winning hand Bush left him.

  • dhet
  • dhet
  • http://wndr3700.org/ WNDR3700

    I think this is a bad deal. We to have decrease the threat of nuclear warfare. With this deal it gave them more freedom to become a threat.

  • http://cs6000ibrother.co.cc Merin Clerk

    OMG !! ?? What's happen ?

  • http://wile89stou.sosblog.com/ Office design

    We can't know for sure what sort of craziness is in the heads of the Iranian leaders, and we can't know how that situation might change in the future. If you're a leader in Israel, common sense says you must treat any risk of nuclear annihilation the same as if it were a certainty. We would do the same thing. If the United States thought Elbonia posed a 10% threat of nuclear attack next year, our military would pave Elbonia this year. So from a practical perspective, Israel doesn't need to know the exact odds of a future Iranian nuclear attack. Their strategy for dealing with the risk would be largely the same no matter the specific odds.

    Today I'll describe a potential fake deal that gives the international community what it wants from Iran: full and open inspections of Iranian nuclear sites. The interesting question is this: What fake benefit do we offer Iran in return for their cooperation?