Here is a well thought out synopsis of the recent deal with Iran concerning their nuclear program. This article by william J. Broad and Sergio Pecanha appeared originally at The New York Times. Prior to reading it, however, it might be well to view author and journalist Thomas L. Friedman’s interview with President Obama on the agreement. Here is a link to that video interview. And, for balance, following the New York Times article is a Washington Post Op Ed piece by Charles Krauthammer, The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history. Finally, it would be wise to stop right now, really, right now, and pray that this agreement will be honored and that it will result in a safer environment where the Gospel message may be delivered with might and power. RMF
The Iran Nuclear Deal – A Simple Guide
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and SERGIO PEÇANHA
Negotiators reached a historic accord on Tuesday to limit Tehran’s nuclear ability in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. Here is a guide to the Iran nuclear deal.
An atomic bomb can be made from two types of radioactive materials: uranium or plutonium. The talks were aimed at curbing Iran’s ability to put these two elements to use in weapons. In each case, the manufacturing starts with uranium ore.
Uranium mined from the earth is less than 1 percent U-235, the isotope that can be used to fuel reactors and make bombs. Centrifuges are needed to separate the U-235 from the rest of the uranium, in a process called enrichment. The other fuel that can be used to make a bomb, plutonium, is made by irradiating uranium in a nuclear reactor. The process transforms some of the uranium into plutonium.
Curbing the Uranium Path
During the enrichment process, centrifuges are used to raise concentrations of U-235. For most power reactors in the West, uranium is enriched up to 5 percent. Bomb grade is above 90 percent and Iran had been processing ore to 20 percent enrichment.
Iran has agreed to transform its deeply buried plant at Fordo into a center for science research. Another uranium plant, Natanz, is to be cut back rather than shut down. Some 5,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium will remain spinning there, about half the current number. Iran has also agreed to limit enrichment to 3.7 percent and to cap its stockpile of low-enriched uranium at 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, for 15 years. That is considered insufficient for a bomb rush. Curbing the Plutonium Path
Iran was constructing a nuclear reactor at Arak that would have used natural uranium to produce Pu-239, which can fuel bombs.
Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild the Arak reactor so it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. The original core of the reactor, which would enable the production of weapons-grade plutonium, will be made inoperable, but will stay in the country. Under the terms of the deal, the reactor’s spent fuel, which could also be used to produce a bomb, will be shipped out of the country. Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.
How to Ensure That Iran Won’t Cheat
More than twice the size of Texas in area, Iran poses many challenges for atomic inspectors who have to police the agreement and gain access not only to scientists, labs and factories, but also to many underground sites and military bases. Western allies say the new inspections must be far more intrusive than those in the past, given the deal’s sweeping terms as well as Iran’s history of evasions, stonewalling and illicit procurements. The principal concerns are how to detect cheating and covert sites.
Iran has agreed to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency greater access and information regarding its nuclear program, and to allow the agency to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of covert facilities related to uranium enrichment anywhere in the country. Inspectors will also have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program, including uranium mines and mills, and to continuous surveillance of centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities.
What Is the Timeline of the Agreement?
The deal requires Iran to reduce its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and limits Iran’s enrichment capacity and research and development for 15 years. Some inspections and transparency measures will remain in place for as long as 25 years. According to President Obama: “This relief will be phased in. Iran must complete key nuclear steps before it begins to receive sanctions relief.” Sanctions for arms could be lifted in five years, ballistic missiles in eight.
Extending the Breakout Time
The agreement increases the “breakout” time — the amount of time it would take Iran to produce enough bomb-grade material for a singular nuclear weapon — to at least one year.
Additional work by Larry Buchanan, Josh Keller, K.K. Rebecca Lai, David E. Sanger and Karen Yourish.
The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history
By Charles Krauthammer Opinion writer July 2
The devil is not in the details. It’s in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama’s fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.
In pursuit of his desire to make the Islamic Republic into an accepted, normalized “successful regional power,” Obama decided to take over the nuclear negotiations. At the time, Tehran was reeling — the rial plunging, inflation skyrocketing, the economy contracting — under a regime of international sanctions painstakingly constructed over a decade.
Then, instead of welcoming Congress’ attempt to tighten sanctions to increase the pressure on the mullahs, Obama began the negotiations by loosening sanctions, injecting billions into the Iranian economy (which began growing again in 2014) and conceding in advance an Iranian right to enrich uranium.
It’s been downhill ever since. Desperate for a legacy deal, Obama has played the supplicant, abandoning every red line his administration had declared essential to any acceptable deal.
Inspections. They were to be anywhere, anytime, unimpeded. Now? Total cave. Unfettered access has become “managed access.” Nuclear inspectors will have to negotiate and receive Iranian approval for inspections. Which allows them denial and/or crucial delay for concealing any clandestine activities.
To give a flavor of the degree of our capitulation, the administration played Iran’s lawyer on this one, explaining that, after all, “the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site, so that’s not appropriate.” Apart from the absurdity of morally equating America with the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, if we were going to parrot the Iranian position, why wait 19 months to do so — after repeatedly insisting on free access as essential to any inspection regime?
Coming clean on past nuclear activity. The current interim agreement that governed the past 19 months of negotiation required Iran to do exactly that. Tehran has offered nothing. The administration had insisted that this accounting was essential because how can you verify future illegal advances in Iran’s nuclear program if you have no baseline?
After continually demanding access to their scientists, plans and weaponization facilities, Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago airily dismissed the need, saying he is focused on the future, “not fixated” on the past. And that we have “absolute knowledge” of the Iranian program anyway — a whopper that his staffers had to spend days walking back.
Not to worry, we are told. The accounting will be done after the final deal is signed. Which is ridiculous. If the Iranians haven’t budged on disclosing previous work under the current sanctions regime, by what logic will they comply after sanctions are lifted?
Sanctions relief. These were to be gradual and staged as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified Iranian compliance over time. Now we’re going to be releasing up to $150 billion as an upfront signing bonus. That’s 25 times the annual budget of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Enough to fuel a generation of intensified Iranian aggression from Yemen to Lebanon to Bahrain.
Yet three months ago, Obama expressed nonchalance about immediate sanctions relief. It’s not the issue, he said. The real issue is “snap-back” sanctions to be reimposed if Iran is found in violation.
Good grief. Iran won’t be found in violation. The inspection regime is laughable and the bureaucratic procedures endless. Moreover, does anyone imagine that Russia and China will reimpose sanctions? Or that the myriad European businesses preparing to join the Iranian gold rush the day the deal is signed will simply turn around and go home?
Nonnuclear-related sanctions. The administration insisted that the nuclear talks would not affect separate sanctions imposed because of Iranian aggression and terrorism. That was then. The administration is now leaking that everything will be lifted.
Taken together, the catalog of capitulations is breathtaking: spot inspections, disclosure of previous nuclear activity, gradual sanctions relief, retention of nonnuclear sanctions.
What’s left? A surrender document of the kind offered by defeated nations suing for peace. Consider: The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.
How did it come to this? With every concession, Obama and Kerry made clear they were desperate for a deal.
And they will get it. Obama will get his “legacy.” Kerry will get his Nobel. And Iran will get the bomb.