There is a colossal danger to the world coming down the road: A nuclear Iran. It’s scary as hell because of the radical jihadist intentions of the Iranian mullahs.
Right now the president of the United States and the Congress of the United States are at odds regarding how to respond to Iran. Currently there is a “Joint Plan of Action” (JPOA) in place – an agreement between Iran and P5 + 1 (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – those nations in negotiations with Iran). This is a temporary agreement, scheduled to end on June 30, 2015 (having been extended from its prior expiration date of November 24, 2014).
JPOA outlines restrictions placed on Iran, and sanctions relief provided to Iran, for the course of negotiations regarding final understandings on Iran’s nuclear status. It is theoretically the case that all negotiations are to be completed by that June deadline.
Obama, in his State of the Union address, pledged to veto any legislation that imposes sanctions on Iran – a statement which is a direct challenge to the Congress. The president claims that such sanctions would be destructive to negotiations. What he has done is to misrepresent the position of Congress – for the legislation that is being advanced calls for additional sanctions ONLY IF and ONLY AFTER negotiations had failed.
The bill – sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – has bi-partisan support. In fact, it was Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has voiced the most vociferous criticism of the administration position. Addressing administration officials in the course of a hearing on Iran, he said:
“I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration…The more it sounds like talking points coming out of Tehran. And it heeds to the Iranian narrative of victimhood, when they are the ones with original sin: an illicit nuclear weapons program over the course of twenty years that they are unwilling to come clean on. I don’t know why we feel compelled to make their case…They get to cheat in a series of ways, and we get to worry about their ‘perceptions.’”
You can see him making this statement in a video here:
Against the background of this Congressional frustration with Obama, Speaker of the House Boehner invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.
Why Netanyahu? It’s obvious. He is the world leader, bar none, when it comes to speaking out on the dangers of a nuclear Iran and the importance of sanctions. What an honor, that the Congress wants to hear what he has to say on the matter. Israel is not a minor league player here. How significant, that he should speak out.
But do commentators notice any of this? Nahh…
In the US, the charge is that Boehner is “using” Netanyahu to “get back at” Obama. Here, the criticism is that Bibi is “using” Boehner to help him get re-elected (as he will get a boost in the elections from this talk before Congress). What a furore has ensued.
In the course of all of these charges and counter-charges, forgotten is the possibility that Netanyahu might help keep Congress strong – perhaps even strong enough to over-ride a veto. Overlooked is the fact that stopping Iran is the ikar – the heart of the matter.
The left here in Israel is accusing Bibi of “destroying” our relationship with Washington. However, “Washington” also includes the Congress.
What is more, I have noticed that already the Obama administration is backtracking on this matter: The US has an “unshakable” alliance with Israel, the White House has declared. And on Meet the Press today, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said that:
”Our relationship with Israel is many-faceted, deep and abiding. It’s focused on a shared series of threats, but also on a shared series of values that one particular instance is not going to overwhelm.”
Well now… Can we please go back to talking about Iran and sanctions?
From Omri Ceren of The Israel Project, I offer the following information:
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano spoke on Friday at the University of Indonesia. His talk included this statement (emphasis in the original):
“As far as Iran is concerned, the Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared to us by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. But we are not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
The Obama administration has made two basic arguments about the success of the JPOA interim agreement.
The first is that Iran’s program has been “halted” and its nuclear stockpile “reduced.” But this simply is not the case. The JPOA allows Iran to enrich to 3.5% purity, which is about 60% of the effort needed to get to weapons-grade levels, provided the new material is stored as oxide. They’ve used the last year to create at least one bomb’s worth of enriched uranium and will use the rest of the extension to enrich enough for another one.
The second claim is that the JPOA provides “unprecedented” access/insight/monitoring/inspections into Iran’s nuclear facilities. But the statement above from the IAEA Director General makes it clear that this is not the case.
(Added by Editor: The full text of the Joint Plan of Action is available here. The White House fact sheet on implementation is available here and the European Union fact sheet is available here.)
On January 15, 2015, Iranian president Rouhani announced that Iran was building two new reactors. The State Department clarified that this is not prohibited by any Security Council resolutions, and is not in violation of the JPOA agreement.
Clarified Omri Ceren:
The JPOA was supposed to freeze the Iranian program to prevent them from improving their position as talks proceeded. It failed. Instead the Iranians spent the last year building up their nuclear program – and their leverage – across all areas.
Fervently do I wish that those who claim to be serious thinkers on the issues would get as excised over the dangers of Iran and the damage that Obama is doing to his own nation, Israel, and the world, as they do over imagined political intrigues.
Much more to come.
I close here with Caroline Glick’s latest piece on this issue, “Iran, Obama, Boehner, and Netanyahu.”
“The role of an Israeli leader is to adopt the policies that protect Israel, even when they are unpopular at the White House. Far from being ostracized for those policies, such an Israeli leader will be supported, respected, and relied upon by those who share with him a concern for what truly matters.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. Contact: email@example.com