The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed deep concern and opposition to the framework deal signed in Lausanne today, two days after the March 31 deadline, between Iran and the P5 +1 powers regarding Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program. The deal does not shut down Iran’s centrifuges, nor does it shutter a single one of Iran’s known nuclear facilities. Further, it does not require that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium be shipped out of the country; Iran flatly refused to do this. President Barack Obama said in 2012 that Iran must end its nuclear program and abide by UN Security Council resolutions, which includes suspending uranium enrichment. This deal achieves none of these things. To the contrary, Iran will be able to continue enrichment, by agreement, with 5,060 centrifuges for the next decade. After 10 years, they will be able to dramatically increase enrichment, which they will be able to perform with new, greatly improved centrifuges. In 15 years, restrictions end, allowing it to have a massive nuclear program. Iran will then have an open path to a nuclear weapon. Worse, even if this deal would work with regard to its nuclear weapons, with massive sanctions relief outlined in this deal, Iran stands now to enjoy a windfall of tens of billions of dollars with which to continue to perpetrate terrorism, to promote terror proxies like Syria’s Assad regime, Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and to destabilize the entire Middle East. On those grounds alone, the deal is a disaster.
The ZOA is also deeply critical of President Barack Obama for publicly and willfully misrepresenting the position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as being in favor of war with Iran. In fact, the Israeli Prime Minister is repeatedly on record for a negotiated agreement that actually terminates Iran’s nuclear program –– as this framework deal does not –– and for continued, tough sanctions to bring about that result.
Regarding this deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that “A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel. Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it.” House Speaker John Boehner has called it “an alarming departure” from the White House’s original goals, saying, “After visiting with our partners on the ground in the Middle East this week, my concerns about Iran’s efforts to foment unrest, brutal violence, and terror have only grown. It would be naïve to suggest the Iranian regime will not continue to use its nuclear program, and any economic relief, to further destabilize the region.” Senator Bob Corker (R–TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says, “we must remain clear-eyed regarding Iran’s continued resistance to concessions, long history of covert nuclear weapons-related activities, support of terrorism, and its current role in destabilizing the region.” Retired Air Force General, Michael Hayden, who formerly served as head of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, has slammed the deal, saying, “We have just agreed that Iran will be an industrial-strength nuclear state and that it will never be any more than one year away from having a nuclear weapon.” Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, says, “the agreement looks like a grave error of historic proportions.”
In a striking disclosure, an Iranian journalist who defected, Amir Hossein Motaghi, said a few days ago that “The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.” Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, since, as Senator Bob Menendez (D–NJ) noted some weeks back, “the more I hear from the Administration … the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”
In a statement today, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Since the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), President Barack Obama has taken a drastically wrong direction in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. We gave Iran substantial relief from sanctions –– the only thing that had brought it to the negotiating table –– and essentially permitted Iran to retain all the components of its illegal nuclear weapons program.
“Now, in this framework for an agreement signed in Lausanne, President Obama has doubled down on capitulation.
President Obama claims that the November 2013 JPOA has ‘succeeded exactly as intended,’ that Iran ‘has met all its obligations’ and has eliminated its dangerous stockpile of nuclear material. This is patently untrue: according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report obtained by the New York Times, the IAEA is actually unable to certify that all nuclear material in Iran is being used for peaceful purposes. It also said that only one of its twelve queries to Iran had been even answered. I myself spoke to the IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards, during a visit to Vienna in February, and he told me that the IAEA is very worried that, no matter what is agreed, Iran will find a way to evade compliance.
President Obama says the Arak plutonium facility –– something only required of a nuclear weapons program, not a peaceful nuclear energy program –– will be re-purposed, but continued construction of facility components off-site is still not outlawed. Moreover, despite what he said in a joint statement with the EU High Representative about Iran agreeing not to produce weapons grade plutonium at Arak, Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, has said in a separate statement that Iran has agreed only to Arak being ‘modernized’ –– a very different and vague concept.
The U.S. has caved on the issue of the Iranian underground nuclear facility at Fordow which, as recently as December 2013, President Obama said, correctly, was unnecessary to any genuinely peaceful Iranian nuclear energy program. Now, instead, Iran has refused to close it and will keep its 500 Fordow centrifuges spinning –– with American acquiescence. The claim that they will not be enriching uranium, only supposedly harmless things like germanium, is false: the centrifuges are identical in design to those used for uranium enrichment, and can quickly be recalibrated for uranium enrichment. Moreover, Iran says it will be continuing full R&D on centrifuges –– whose improvement will considerably shorten the time it would need to become a break-out nuclear weapons state. It claims its enrichment will only be for peaceful nuclear energy, yet 17 countries with peaceful nuclear energy programs have no enrichment activities.
Under the framework agreement, Iran will be permitted to retain 6,104 of its current 19,000 centrifuges; it will be able to operate 5,060 for the next ten years. This has been described as constraining Iran. In fact, it achieves little, even assuming Iran adheres to such an agreement. With this existing infrastructure, Iran can raise enrichment to weaponization levels in a matter of weeks should it choose to do so. And of course, if Iran violates the agreement and utilizes new and better centrifuges in undisclosed locations, it will do so free from any prospect of intrusive and unfettered inspections discovering this.
President Obama claims the inspections regime has increased and are now ‘robust’ and enable ‘unprecedented verification,’ but these claims are vitiated by the fact that the inspections regime is woefully incomplete and contains gaping holes. First, the IAEA said in recent days that it “remains concerned” about the possible existence of military components of Iran’s nuclear program, “including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” Second, Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director general of the IAEA, has observed that Russia’s centrifuge program “went for years without detection despite tremendous intelligence efforts,” and that the Iraqi, Libyan, South African, North Korean, and Syrian programs also all managed to fly under the radar for considerable amounts of time prior to detection. Third, even when detected, violations would take more than the 12-month break-out period to be established, their significance proven and international action orchestrated to deal with them.
Despite these serious shortcomings, President Obama claims that ‘If Iran cheats, the world will know.’ What he didn’t say is that the responsibility to declare a violation will rest with the UN Security Council. As we know from bitter experience dealing with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the Security Council is hostage to a single veto –– for example, that of Russia’s Vladimir Putin –– and any one of its permanent members can thereby prevent timely action, just as it repeatedly declined to enforce the Council’s 1991 Gulf War ceasefire resolutions.
If the Security Council during 1990–2003 couldn’t enforce an intrusive regime of inspections, anywhere, anytime, without prior notice, backed by a Security Council-sanctioned threatened and sometimes actual use of force in the case of Saddam’s Iraq, what confidence can we have that the Security Council will be able to do so with Iran, which is not subject to any such inspections regime?
President Obama assures skeptics that if Iran reneges on or violates the deal, the tough sanctions that have already been significantly weakened can be reimposed, ‘snapped back into place,’ as he put it. This is untrue. Russia already says it will not support such a policy and indeed could choose (as could China) to veto any such attempts in the Security Council. The sanctions that we abandoned in Geneva under the JPOA in 2013, and the US and EU nuclear weapons sanctions we are likely to relinquish in the future, cannot be simply reinstated, let alone strengthened. Even if, with hard work and good luck, certain sanctions are reinstated, it would take many months for this to occur and a year for them to take their toll on Tehran. In other words, we have lost years from bringing Iran around by severe economic pressure to the hard choice of abandoning its nuclear weapons program. Given Iran’s ability to become a ‘break-out’ nuclear power in a matter of mere months, or even 12 months, as we are assured by President Obama, we no longer have that time to spare.
President Obama notes that the United States sanctions on Iran for ‘terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missiles will remain in place’ under the future nuclear deal. What he didn’t mention is that these comprise only a small portion of the aggregate of sanctions that we imposed on Iran. The Iranian economy will enjoy a resurgence, as it already has since the relaxing of sanctions under the JPOA, even if the U.S. sanctions remain in place. Iran will thus be awash with tens of billions of dollars to finance terrorism, its terrorist proxies and subversion across the region.
A 2012 Israeli intelligence assessment noted that a research group suspected of carrying out weaponization work at the Parchin military facility in 2003 had been kept intact. The new signed framework simply does not address this huge question. President Obama’s claim that the framework will give us access ‘to the entire supply chain supports Iran’s nuclear program’ is simply untrue.
President Obama has assured that Iran’s efforts to weaponize its nuclear technology ‘will be addressed.’ That means that it has not been addressed in this framework deal. Why not? How can a genuine agreement terminating Iran’s nuclear weapons program be presumed possible if this vital question has not been addressed and resolved? How can any deal be worth the paper it is written on when Iran continues unabated its Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program, whose only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads and would give Iran the capacity to strike the U.S.?
President Obama claims that ‘a solid majority [of Americans] support a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.’ What he declined to mention is that the American public is overwhelmingly skeptical of his nuclear diplomacy. A March 2015 Rasmussen poll shows that 60% of Americans don’t believe President Obama’s negotiations will halt Iran’s nuclear program. Another Rasmussen poll a few days later showed that 60% of Americans want Congress to sign off on any deal with Iran. This is precisely what President Obama has opposed and worked to avoid, even though a genuinely good deal, as he claims this framework to be, should be self-recommending to the Congress and American people.
The deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran declared that on April 9, 2015, that Iran would announce breakthroughs in laser enrichment on its ‘National Nuclear Technology Day.’ Laser enrichment is central to weaponizing nuclear technology. How is this compatible with Iran’s claims that it seeks only a entirely peaceful nuclear energy program?
President Obama falsely claimed that he and Mr. Netanyahu disagree on ‘whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution.’ This is a dishonest, straw-man argument: they disagree, not on pursuing a peaceful solution, but about how to pursue one. The Israeli Prime Minister has repeatedly called for a tougher deal that actually decommissions Iran’s nuclear weapons program and for continued tougher sanctions to induce the Iranians to agree to this. It is President Obama who is increasing the likelihood of military action by deciding to pursue a deeply defective deal that will not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program and in fact enable it to go nuclear in 15 years in the future.
Until Iran actually signs a deal terminating its nuclear program, how can anyone claim that ‘every pathway’ to a nuclear weapon is ‘cut off’? Indeed, given Iran’s international lawlessness and long history of cheating on deal and engaging in deceitful diplomacy, how can it be assumed Iran would even stick to such a deal, were it to actually sign one? In the framework agreement just concluded, there is no agreement for unimpeded inspections. There is no Iranian disclosure on its weaponization program. There is no agreement on the closure of even a single Iranian nuclear facility.
How is this framework to provide any sort of different result from the signed agreements with North Korea, which agreed to inspections and safeguards, yet violated them anyway, which only led to more talks, one of which stopped it from becoming a nuclear power? North Korea threw out inspectors and no consequences followed. The North Korean case shows that diplomacy, without credible measures of coercion, increased sanctions, or the threat of military force, doesn’t work.
“President Obama’s words ring false. How can he hail this latest understanding with Iran as one leading to a historic deal that will ‘cut off every pathway that Iran could take to a nuclear weapon,’ when final terms have not been reached?
“The P5+1 powers have capitulated to Iran, allowing them to retain centrifuges for nuclear weapons-grade enrichment which are prohibited by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran signed. Iran continues to build and develop ballistic missiles, whose only purpose is to carry large warheads, including nuclear warheads, as far as the United States.
“Negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program in isolation from other vital issues –– Irani’s ballistic missile program, its sponsorship of terrorism worldwide, its repeated aim to destroy the United States, to annihilate Israel and thereby commit a second genocide against the Jewish people –– is a huge mistake.
“It means that we pretend that Iran is serious about reaching an agreement on its nuclear program while Iranian leader call routinely for the annihilation of Israel. Only this week, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, declared that ‘erasing Israel off the map’ is ‘nonnegotiable.’
“In any genuine negotiation, such a monstrous statement would lead to the termination of talks. A threat to destroy a country should rule out that country’s efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon and any talks designed to acquiesce in that effort. Iranian retraction of its stated aim to destroy the U.S. and Israel should be a prerequisite of any deal. Such negotiations do not represent an effort to stop Iran. They represent an effort to reach an agreement at any cost, including capitulation to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”