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Good or Bad? Obama’s Phased Deal with Iran’s Nuclear Program

Earlier today, the New York Times (NYT) had breaking news about a phased deal that may be the basis for an agreement with Iran on or before March 24th.   We understand from sources in Geneva that Secretary of State Kerry had apparently been in discussions with Iranian negotiations over proposed terms. According to the Times report by Michael Gordon (no relation) and David Sanger, American and Iranian officials have concluded talks on limiting Iran’s nuclear program for “at least” ten years.

The proposed plan would limit Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material during the ten year period but slowly ease restrictions on their program. According to the article, “By phasing in a gradual easing of limits on Iran’s production, Mr. Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, who joined the negotiations for the first time, aim to extend the length of a potential deal. American officials said they would insist that Iran face hard constraints for ‘at least a double-digit number of years.'”

The reality is rather different according to reliable sources, who report that t he United States has concluded an agreement with Iran on a nuclear deal which allows them to advance their nuclear capability, even as it appears to limit it.

The deal calls for a ten year program which will include the replacement of all of their existing centrifuges with next generation centrifuges in addition to 3,000 additional units, all to be supplied by Russia. Public reporting of this is supposed to show the imposition of limitation of Iranian nuclear development, but in reality it will open the door to their nuclear capability in ten years or less.

Our sources report that the deal was completed on Saturday (not Monday as reported by the NYT ) and is likely to be confirmed by the State Department later this week.

According to U.S. law, the deal has to be ratified by an advise and consent process in U.S. Senate. However, our sources report that the Administration may try to avoid this requirement through Executive Order. It appears that the President is determined to complete this deal one way or another as part of his legacy. In part, the deal may have facilitated by Valerie Jarrett, a close personal adviser to the President with friends in the Iranian hierarchy. They draw from her childhood years in Shiraz, Iran where her father, a physician, was on staff at Nemazee Hospital. Our sources confirm that during the 2012 Presidential re-election campaign, Jarrett had opened up back-channel discussions with Iranian contacts that may have resulted in the Interim agreement in November 2013.  Should an official announcement appear this week, it may likely set the stage for Congressional hearings with Secretary Kerry, Undersecretary Wendy Sherman, and Mr. Moniz of the Department of Energy and independent experts about whether this is a deal that this nation can accept.

This announcement comes just before the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been invited to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on March 3rd.  Where an Iranian nuclear capability may seem like a danger to the US, half a world away, to Israel an Iranian bomb is an existential threat; Iran has on many occasions openly threatened Israel with annihilation.

It was particularly disturbing that just prior to the announcement about the agreement in Geneva, the U.S. announced that it would no longer share intelligence about the talks with Israel.

In a speech to a meeting of the Council of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem last week, Netanyahu said,  “If  an Iran deal is good, why hide it from Israel?” and then reiterated that he will “do everything in my power to prevent the conclusion of a bad deal that could threaten the survival of the State of Israel.”

The text  of the agreement has not yet been made public. When it does, the details will likely be shrouded in language that will obscure the deeper intentions of the Obama administration. An Iranian nuclear capability will be a threat to the Middle East and Europe whenever it comes, and only a complete and enforceable prohibition will be an acceptable conclusion to the talks that hold the future stability of the region, and perhaps the world, in the balance. It seems, however, that the Obama administration does not share this view, and in agreeing to it, will open the door to a new and deadly nuclear weapons race.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured photo is of Secretary Of State John Kerry in Geneva. Source: Credit Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone, via AP.