A deal reached between the west and Iran

So it looks like a deal has been reached between Iran and the P5+1 nations. (Here is a fact sheet on the deal put out by the White House.) This is supposed to be an interim deal until a more comprehensive deal is worked out in six months. Juan Cole looks at what both sides got in the deal.

In response for a loosening of sanctions, worth some $7 billion to Iran, President Hasan Rouhani undertook to freeze enrichment activities at their present level. He also pledged to cast Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 19.75% for the production of medical isotopes in a form that makes it impossible to further enrich it. Nor will Iran produce more 19.5% low enriched uranium. (Uranium enriched to 95% is suitable for a bomb, and the Western diplomats figure that 19.75% is closer to 95% than is the stock of uranium enriched to 3.5% to serve as fuel for the three nuclear power plants at Bushehr. Iran also agreed to do no further work on its proposed heavy-water reactor at Arak. (Heavy-water reactors produce plutonium, with which bombs can easily be constructed).

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees any kind of rapprochement with Iran as a bad thing, is not happy and is calling the agreement a ‘historic mistake’ and you can be sure that he and his many allies in the US Congress and media will try to scuttle the deal. They are using the usual apocalyptic language that we have come to expect.

“Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu repeated a reference to his own red line by stating,, “Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.”

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economic minister and key member of Netanyahu’s governing coalition, said, “if a nuclear suitcase blows up in New York or Madrid five years from now, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning.”

“If there will be a deal which would allow Iran to have the ability to ‘break out’ and build a bomb within six weeks, we cannot sit idly by in this situation, and we will examine all the options,” Bennett told Israel’s Channel 2 on Saturday night.

While the Israel lobby is undoubtedly powerful (Jeffrey Rosen of AIPAC, the most influential member of the Israel lobby, famously boasted of their power saying, “You see this napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”), two recent concerted efforts by them (to prevent Chuck Hagel becoming Defense Secretary and to get the US to attack Syria) both failed, the latter because of massive US public opposition.

US public opinion is in favor of a negotiated deal with Iran but it is not clear that it is as strong as the opposition to war with Syria, so today president Obama has to spend a lot of time once again soothing Netanyahu’s hurt feelings. Max Blumenthal recalls the time when Obama and then French president Sarkozy were caught on an open mike expressing their irritation with Netanyahu. Sarkozy told Obama “I can’t stand Netanyahu. He’s a complete liar” to which Obama replied, “You think you can’t stand him? I have to deal with him every day.” Blumenthal adds, “He can’t stand him but must constantly meet with him.” Obama has effectively become what Philip Weiss calls a ‘Bibi sitter’, trying to calm him down.

What is clear is that the prospect of war with Iran, the neoconservatives’ dream, is rapidly slipping away and that has to be seen as a good thing. Despite Israel’s threats, it is unthinkable that Israel would actually attack Iran just after this deal was finalized. Obama will likely let Netanyahu save face by allowing him even greater freedom with settlement expansions (after all, who cares if the Palestinians lose yet more of their land and are marginalized even more) and giving Israel more weapons and financial aid. After all, US policy has been that while strict limits must be imposed on every other nation’s weaponry, Israel must not only have no limits but must be aided in its militarization.


  1. countryboy says

    The way I see it, if a suitcase bomb goes off in New York or Madrid in 5 years it’ll probably have been planted by an Israeli agent. I have supported Israels right to exist but the Israelis have crossed the line between security and outright barbarism and the US should cut ties and end all aid to them.

  2. thewhollynone says

    Cut ties and end all aid to Israel? Nothing would make the Israelis more paranoid! Just what we need more of in this world– paranoids with nuclear weapons. And it doesn’t matter that Israeli paranoia would have great justification because if US backing for Israel ceased, all the Arabs would forget their differences, join forces and encircle Israel, and proceed to push the Jews into the sea and reclaim that land for Islam; that’s their stated goal. The Jews might have to go, but they would go out with a bang. Isn’t that how the world got destroyed in Neville Shute’s novel?

    Anyway, cutting off Israel is a no-go plan politically. Most rich educated Jews don’t live in Israel; they live in the great cities of the western world where they exercise political and economic power far, far beyond what their numbers entitle them to; and their mantra is that Israel is inviolable no matter what ugly things Israeli politicians do or say; and anyone who disagrees is immediately accused of anti-Semitism or of being Nazi.

  3. countryboy says

    Antisemitism don’t fly. After all, the Palestinians are also Semitic people. Frankly, they’re ethnicly the same people divided by religion. When it comes to Nazi like conduct Israels treatment of the Palestinians comes pretty close. My opinion is the US really should cease all support for it beyond Israels basic right to survive.

  4. Al Dente says

    countryboy @1

    I’m more concerned with nukes being delivered by terrorists than other governments, even those which you don’t like. There are several ex-Soviet nuclear weapons unaccounted for.

    I can see the Israelis setting off a nuclear weapon in Tehran or Riyadh, not in New York or Madrid.

  5. thewhollynone says

    Incidentally, I don’t trust the Persians at all, and I’m neither of Jewish nor Greek ancestry. As a female, I am horrified at the thought of such men gaining more political and military power in the world. Of course, I don’t think the orthodox Jews are much better!

    The political, economic, and social situation in Iran is so terrible that many Iranians are trying to leave there, desperately trying to get refugee status in places like Australia. There was an interesting article some weeks ago about people, most of them Iranians, being smuggled on fishing boats from Indonesia to Australia. One has to feel sorry for the Iranians who didn’t realize what they were getting in to when they let those religious nutcases take over their country.

  6. Félix Desrochers-Guérin says

    Unlikely. Nuclear forensics makes it pretty much impossible to blow up a nuke without everyone knowing whose nuke it is.

  7. colnago80 says

    Why is Prof. Singham writing on this topic since he is on record as opining that Iran has a perfect right to develop nuclear weapons as long as Israel has a nuclear capability and the sanctions are illegal. However, if Iran has a perfect right to develop nuclear weapons, then so do Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. Does Prof. Singham think that this is a good idea? The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Given the impending Shiite/Sunni religious war, Sunni and Shiite nations having nuclear weapons is a recipe for disaster. Just imagine what would have been the result if the Catholics and the Protestants in the Thirty Years War had had nuclear weapons. We probably wouldn’t be here today.

  8. colnago80 says

    At least the religious nutcases aren’t running Israel (yet). At this point, they are completely out of the coalition government but who knows what will happen if Iran gets the bomb.

  9. colnago80 says

    Sometimes I wish that Israel would take a page from the Assad playbook and apply Hama rules on the Gaza Strip. That would give countryboy something to really whine about.

  10. thewhollynone says

    But the Arabs don’t agree to Israel’s basic right to survive. If we do support it, and we do, then we are in for a penny, in for a pound. Besides there’s no way to stop the rich Jews all around the world from supporting Israel. Many, many Christians support Israel, too, and love to travel there, and would hate to see that land become Islamic. Never been there myself; every time I get the urge to go, the boys over there start with the fighting again, and I decide to put off the trip there and to go someplace safer, like, you know, Ulster.

    As for anit-Semitism, I know they are the same people, you know they are the same people, anybody rational knows they are the same people, but name-calling is an irrational last line of defense in a failing argument.

    I sympathize with the Palestinians, I really do. Just don’t know what I would do if a bunch of orthodox Jews moved into south Mississippi and took over the government and the economy, and passed their religion into law. Jeez, the Baptist/Catholic coalition is bad enough!

  11. thewhollynone says

    A lot of people AREN’T here today because of those religious wars! And a lot more people aren’t here today because of religious superstition impeding the progress of scientific medicine. Ah, well, there are too many people in the world today anyway, but that argument belongs in another thread.

  12. colnago80 says

    It would have been a lot worse if Gustavus Adolphus, Count Tilly, and von Wallenstein had had 20th Century weapons, forget about nuclear weapons. Central Europe might have been completely depopulated.

  13. says

    But the Arabs don’t agree to Israel’s basic right to survive.

    Who told you that lie?

    Arab nations are perfectly willing to respect the 1967 borders. The problem is, Israel isn’t.

  14. countryboy says

    I don’t know who might be name calling, I commented on actions and conduct. I certainly didn’t call anyone names.

  15. Nick Gotts says

    Why is Prof. Singham writing on this topic since he is on record as opining that Iran has a perfect right to develop nuclear weapons as long as Israel has a nuclear capability and the sanctions are illegal.

    Q. Is the genocidal scumbag really so stupid he can’t see that believing A has the right to do X is consistent with believing it would be a bad thing if A did X?
    A. Yes.

  16. Nick Gotts says

    Yes, of course, I would expect you to enjoy contemplating mass murder and torture. They seem to excite you in some way.

  17. Nick Gotts says

    “Semitic people” has no modern referent in scientifically respectable anthropology: “Semitic” is used only in reference to languages, and ancient populations. Its use to describe modern populations is a remnant of 19th century racial pseudo-science. “Anti-semitism” refers and always has referred to hatred of Jews, often combined with a claim that Jews conspire against non-Jews; the term dates from the 19th century, and if not actually originated by Jew-haters, was quickly adopted by them.

  18. colnago80 says

    But Hamas and Hizbollah are not willing to respect the 1967 borders as they claim all of Palestine.

  19. colnago80 says

    If it’s a bad thing for A to do X, then maybe A should be prevented from doing X. That’s what the sanctions on Iran, which Prof.l Singham opposes, are all about.

  20. colnago80 says

    Interestingly enough, if Bibi’s bother had not been killed in the Entebbe raid, Bibi probably would have stayed in Massachusetts where he had founded a company and quite possibly have gone into US politics instead of Israeli politics. Of course, conservative Rethuglicans like Bibi would have been don’t do well in the people’s republic of Massachusetts.

  21. colnago80 says

    On Matthew Yglesias’ old blog, there was a commenter named Richard Steven Hack who claimed that, for 1 million dollars, he could steal one of Israel’s nukes.

  22. filethirteen says

    Personally I’d settle for equal sanctions against both Iran and Israel.

    Yes, even though that would still be somewhat unfair to Iran.

  23. says

    Eleven ouf of twenty seven posts by one raving and rabid loon.

    PZ Myers is right. There should be a three post limit on any thread to stop the nutjobs, trolls and spammers.

  24. Jockaira says

    He also pledged to cast Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 19.75% for the production of medical isotopes in a form that makes it impossible to further enrich

    Professor Singham may know more about this than any other person on this forum. I don’t believe that it is technically possible to cast 19.75% uranium into a form impossible to further enrich after element or isotope separation. It may be very difficult, very expensive, or maybe impracticable for other reasons to undo such a casting but apparently insoluble problems usually yield to sufficient determination and loads of cash. What about it, Prof?…or any other commenter with sufficient expertise?

    On the subject of suitcase bombs: According to what I know about these, they were all made in the 60’s or 70’s and would have weighed about 100 pounds, judging from the specs of the US warheads W54 and W72 (50’s thru 70’s) made for tactical battlefield use and weighing about 50 pounds each without shielding and accompanying weapons systems. The warheads represent the smallest practical construction for a nuclear explosive with a blast-yield from 10 to 600 tons of TNT. A suitcase bomb would be presumed to require quite a bit of shielding to protect the courier, at least until its deployment which explains the Soviet bomb weights of about 100 pounds for the complete package. This is consistent with the completed weapon assemblies manufactured by the US.

    It is likely, given the histories of other nuclear weapons, that these suitcase bombs would have dangerously deteriorated during the ensuing half-century of storage without proper maintenance on regular schedules. The fact that there are no records of the final disposition of these devices would be a substantial indication that they are truly “lost” or perhaps being husbanded by some evil plotters such as SMERSH, SPECTRE, or even the surviving minions of the redoubtable Dr. No.

    Suitcase bombs, in my opinion are a threat of the past, given our present hyper-concern with terrorist activity being the primary concern of the thousands of vigilant sentries of the TSA and DHS. I would have more concern with a low-tech gun-type fission device weighing several tons being imported via LASH container as a load of roasted pistachios from Iran or a load of genuine Pakistani cotton T-shirts imprinted with I♥NY.

  25. filethirteen says

    As an apologist for Israel I’m sure you think so. Personally I think I’m being quite even-handed. To say Israel and Iran should both endure the same level of sanctions sounds very fair to me. If the level was set the same for both, it might give them some perspective on each other’s position.

    For me to add that it this would be unfair to Iran – well, Iran’s far from my favourite place but to sanction them for developing nuclear energy when Israel already has nuclear weapons seems ludicrous. Is it fair for Israel to have nuclear weapons just because they already… have them? But this has nothing to do with fairness does it, it’s all about fear.

    I can see the Israelis setting off a nuclear weapon in Tehran or Riyadh, not in New York or Madrid.

    Oh, whew, I’m glad you explained that, that makes it alright then. Got it.

  26. Mano Singham says

    Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about nuclear technology to answer your question about the feasibility of converting the uranium to another unusable form. The only thing that I can suggest is that if the enriched uranium is diluted sufficiently, it may cost far more to re-concentrate it than starting with unenriched uranium from scratch.

    Kind of like diluting powdered gold in a huge vessel of water. Technically you can get it back but it may not be worth the effort. So in that sense the uranium may be made effectively useless.

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