By Theodore Shoebat
When Obama did the Iran Deal, conservatives incessantly criticized it. But now Trump is trying to do a North Korea deal, and the same Trump fans who mocked Obama are praising the current administration’s efforts with North Korea.
The Iran Deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was agreed in 2015 between the Iranian government and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany, and the European Union. Under the Iran Deal, Iran agreed to get rid of its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, reduce its possession of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and cut down its gas centrifuges by about two-thirds for 13 years.
Also part of the deal was that Iran would only enrich uranium up to 3.67% for 15 years. Iran also agreed that it would not build any pressurized heavy-water reactors for 15 years. Iran’s uranium-enrichment activities were to be limited only to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. A huge part of the agreement was that the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be allowed to have regular inspections of all Iranian nuclear facilities. In return for this, it was agreed that Iran would get relief from sanctions imposed by the US, the European Union and any United Nations Security Council nuclear-related sanctions. March 5, 2018, the director of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, confirmed that Iran was honoring its part of the deal:
“Our inspection work has doubled since 2013. IAEA inspectors now spend 3,000 calendar days per year on the ground in Iran. We have installed some 2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment.
We have carried out more than 60 complementary accesses and visited more than 190 buildings since JCPOA Implementation Day.
We collect and analyse hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by our sophisticated surveillance cameras in Iran – about half of the total number of such images that we collect throughout the world.
We collect over one million pieces of open source information each month.
All of our activities are supported by state-of-the-art technology, including data collecting and processing systems. Our current verification capability is much stronger than it has ever been.
As of today, I can state that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments. It is essential that Iran continues to do so. If the JCPOA were to fail, it would be a great loss for nuclear verification and for multilateralism.”
While Iran was satisfying the demands of the IAEA, the problem with the Iran Deal is that after 15 years the limits on Iran’s enrichment would be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options”. But this is not to say that it was a bad thing to negotiate with Iran. It is better to negotiate with Iran than isolate her and enflame tensions. But here is the thing, while people bashed Obama for negotiating with Iran, Trump fans are happy with the president negotiating with Kim Jong-un. Again, there is nothing wrong with one world leader reasoning with another. Pope Pius XI negotiated with Mussolini, and this turned out for the better because since Il Duce made a deal with the Papacy the Fascist regime had to temper itself to please the Catholics, and because of this the Fascists were not unhinged like the Nazis were in Europe. Holding Iran off with inspections for 15 years is still better than giving them the excuse to be unleashed. Holding North Korea with negotiations is better than doing nothing. Pope Francis acknowledged this.
Lets not forget that Saddam’s Iraq was under i and the inspectors confirmed that Saddam was honoring the demands on his weapons stockpile. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the country was crippled by UN sanctions, and weapons inspections by the UN on Iraq had neutralized Saddam’s nuclear program and forced him to destroy his biological and chemical weapons stockpiles. But this was not enough for the lobby for war. For example, Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel, said in early September 2002: “Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program provides the urgent need for his removal.” But the frenzy around the idea that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was a lie, propaganda, a pretext by which to launch a war. There were documents from both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Israeli Knesset that admitted that much of the intelligence given by Israel to the Bush administration was false. One former Israeli general affirmed that “Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-conventional capabilities.” (See Mearsheimer, The Israel Lobby, ch. 7, pp. 229, 235-237)
Negotiating is not bad and is better than full out war in which thousands, or hundreds of thousands or even millions die. Obama expressed trust in the Iran Deal, declaring:
The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon
The conservatives scoffed at Obama. Trump has expressed trust in Kim Jong-un, stating recently:
“He kept his word. There’s no nuclear testing. There’s no large, there’s no long-range missiles going up. The only things he’s set up were very short term, short range. That was just a test of short range. It’s a whole different deal, but he’s kept his word to me. That’s very important”
But John Bolton disagrees. He said recently in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
“What they’ve said was that they’re not going to test ballistic missiles, intercontinental range ballistic missiles, or have nuclear tests. That’s continued. They’re doing a lot of other things that still indicate that they have not made a strategic decision to give up the pursuit of deliverable weapons, which is why we continue the maximum pressure campaign”
In May of 2019, Bolton said that “there is no doubt” that North Korea’s tests violated the UN resolutions. Trump is going contra to what people within his how administration are saying. “My people think it could have been a violation,” Trump said in May. “I view it differently.”
So Obama did the Iran Deal; the conservatives rejected it. Trump is now doing the North Korea deal, and already we have a Neoconservative who is contradicting what the president is affirming.
Here is the thing we must keep in mind: the US made a deal with Iran and quickly broke the deal, angering Iran and giving her the excuse to intensify her nuclear ambitions. According to one report today:
Iran confirmed on Monday that its enriched uranium stockpile had passed the 300-kilogram limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed the news, but left room for the remaining adherents to the agreement to try and salvage it, noting that the move announced on Monday was “reversible.”
But why should Iran honor the deal when the US broke the deal? And here is the thing we have to remember if the US makes a deal with North Korea…
… The US can just as easily turn her back on the deal as she did with Iran.
So by breaking the deal with Iran, what message does this send to North Korea? That any deal with the Americans cannot be trusted. Analisa Perteghella made this observation:
Washington can enter or exit agreements with the same ease as the US President sends or deletes a tweet. Paired with US national security adviser John Bolton’s call for a “Lybia model” of denuclearization for North Korea (would Gaddafi have been ousted in 2011 had he not given up his nukes?), it could definitely end up reminding Pyongyang of the importance for a country of not dismantling its nuclear program. Tehran itself is learning it the hard way: it renounced the major source of nuclear pride just to be left empty-handed.