Over the weekend, I was part of multiple discussions regarding President Obama’s Nuclear Framework Agreement with Iran. My stance is the deal does not go far enough, let alone Iran and the US have serious differences in what was agreed. The question asked to me is what is a better deal, with the condition that completely removing Iran’s capability to enrich Uranium is a deal killer. As I am not a nuclear physicist, I cannot say what is a red line or not. What I feel we could agree on is some of the risks based on past experiences, specifically:
- Iran will likely continue clandestine nuclear research and development that the inspections will not be able to catch/ identify.
- Even if we find Iran breach of agreement, getting sanctions put back in place, i.e. snap back, will likely not be quick nor immediately effective.
- Even if Iran follows the letter of the agreement for the next 10-15 years, they will likely pickup their nuclear initiative were they left off.
While each of these can be mitigated over the next three months of negotiations, I think a broader view of what the implications are further down the road in terms of policy and neighbor reactions needs to be better analyzed. A good article that I just read on the broader implications of this change in NPT policy is from the Weekly Standard, see:
The Nuclear Turning Point, by Matthew Kroenig
The longstanding, bipartisan nonproliferation standard is dead
My opinion is that if this was Venezuela or Cuba behaving in the same fashion as Iran, I hope President Obama would not be coming with a similar comprising agreement. Even so, I strongly believe that Congress and the American people would be even more vocal if this country in question was in close proximity to our homes. I expect zero enrichment would be required condition. So, I wonder how close some of our Middle East allies are to Iran. Therefore, I selected a large air base near the Iran/ Iraq border and did an as the crow flies measurement:
- Omidiyeh Air Base, Iran to Tel Aviv, Israel (885 miles)
- Omidiyeh Air Base, Iran to Kuwait City, Kuwait (140 miles)
- Omidiyeh Air Base, Iran to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (460 miles)
- Omidiyeh Air Base, Iran to Dubai, UAE (520 miles)
Keep in mind Venezuela is around 1370 miles from Miami; Cuba is around 200 miles from Miami and 900 miles from Houston. The Bay of Pigs incident illustrates that 200-1000 miles from major US cities is way too close for our comfort. So, I wonder what Israel and our Arab allies will say/ do come end of June. It seems clear our President’s focus is on making this deal stick. I just hope he does not throw caution (and our allies) to the wind. The price being gambled is ally lives throughout the Middle East. I doubt any of our allies will sit idly by. With this deal, I believe a powder keg of nuclear proliferation in the region is more likely than Iran normalizing relations in the region.
In my opinion, this nuclear agreement with Iran is a bad chess move. It is just unclear whether this is a Gambit and whether it will pay off for the region.