(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/11/po.jpg)The Obama administration is so desperate to reach a nuclear deal with Iran by the current deadline of November 24th if at all possible that it is willing to trust Russia to play a key implementation role. In the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s duplicity with regard to Ukraine and Putin’s increasingly aggressive stance towards the West that harkens back to the Cold War, the Obama administration is deluding itself into thinking that it can trust Putin to keep his word on ensuring that much of Iran’s uranium stockpile is converted into a relatively harmless end product.
According to an article on November 4th in the New York Times, the Obama administration is encouraged by Iran’s purported willingness to ship much of its huge stockpile of uranium to Russia, which would convert it to fuel rods. The idea is that fuel rods are much more difficult to use in making nuclear bombs. Iran’s current stockpile of uranium is estimated to be in the range of 28,000 pounds, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The New York Times article quoted an unnamed American it claims to be deeply involved in the negotiations as saying that “if the Iran-Russia deal works, it could be the cornerstone of something much larger.”
The New York Times also quoted from a recent speech delivered by Wendy R. Sherman, the chief American negotiator with Iran, in which she presumably alluded indirectly to the proposed Russian involvement in uranium conversion, stating that “we have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable.”
A senior National Security Council official praised Russia’s role in the negotiations with Iran. The official, quoted by the New York Times, said that “it is accurate to say that the Russians have played a very helpful role during these negotiations.”
Mind you, this is the same Russia whose president lied outright about the presence of Russian military forces in Crimea and has recently added to his barrage of insults against the United States by accusing the U.S. of supporting “neo-fascists” and “Islamic radicals.” Putin has cultivated alliances with both the Iranian and Syrian regimes in order to enhance Russia’s own influence in the Middle East.
This past September, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak announced a series of bilateral projects agreed to between Iran and Russia, worth seventy billion euros. In clear defiance of the U.S.-led international economic sanctions against Iran, Russia’s closer ties with Iran will include cooperation in the energy sector, which Novak described as “mutually beneficial” to the two countries. Areas of cooperation include power, oil and gas and what Novak described, in a meeting with his Iranian energy counterpart, as “the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
Even if Putin were somehow miraculously sincere in his intentions this time, which is virtually impossible for the Russian leader who is trying to re-create the Russian empire, he cannot control what Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and ultimate decision-maker, will actually do. Khamenei torpedoed a similar deal worked out between the Obama administration and Iran in 2009 that would have involved the shipment of some of Iran’s nuclear fuel out of Iran. Moreover, Iran has refused to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency unfettered access to conduct inspections anywhere in the country, meaning that Iran would be free to hide some uranium and assets used to produce weapons grade enriched uranium in undisclosed covert locations. Its centrifuges would keep spinning. And Iran’s alternative route to a nuclear arms capability – its heavy water plutonium reactor – would not be affected by a uranium conversion deal with Russia.
Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei, who must sign off on any final deal, said this past May that those Iranians who promote negotiations with the United States are committing “treason.” He also committed his country to jihad against the United States:
“Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. … This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought. … This requires a difficult and lengthy struggle and need for great strides.”
President Obama wants a deal at all cost with Iran to tout as his significant foreign policy achievement. The potentially tragic consequences will be the next president’s problem. The Obama administration thinks that it can get away with even a bad deal, because it assumes that the primary opponents of such a deal – Israel and many members of both parties in Congress – are too powerless to stop it. The administration believes that it is too late for Israel to take unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities and that the U.S. Congress can be end-run.
In his October 28th article in The Atlantic entitled “The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here,” Jeffrey Goldberg quoted a senior Obama administration official’s epithet accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of cowardice. The charge derives in part from the Obama administration’s belief that Netanyahu is not willing or able to launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at this time.
“It’s too late for him to do anything,” Goldberg quoted another senior Obama administration official as saying, referring to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s purported hesitation “to pull the trigger.”
As for the Congress, the Obama administration has sent strong signals that it believes it does not have to seek formal Senate ratification of any agreement the administration reaches with Iran because such an agreement would not constitute a formal treaty. Moreover, the Obama administration believes that the president has the executive power to unilaterally suspend most sanctions against Iran.
President Obama has no compunctions about thumbing his nose at Congress and countenancing vile insults hurled by his senior lackeys against Israel’s prime minister. But he appears willing to trust one proven liar and aggressor, Putin, to help implement a key part of an agreement with a regime whose supreme leader, a fanatic theocrat, has vowed jihad to destroy the United States.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.