Posted tagged ‘Iran centrifuges’

Iran Developing Advanced Nuclear Capabilities, Reducing Time to Weapon

June 5, 2017

Iran Developing Advanced Nuclear Capabilities, Reducing Time to Weapon, Washington Free Beacon, June 5, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani holds a press conference in Tehran on May 22, 2017. AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, bragged in April that Tehran is prepared to mass-produce advanced centrifuges on “short notice.” Work of this nature would greatly increase the amount of nuclear fissile material produced by Iran, prompting concerns the country could assemble a functional nuclear weapon without being detected.

The issue is complicated by the lack of access international nuclear inspectors have to Iran’s contested military sites, according to the report.

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Iran is believed to be developing advanced nuclear-related capabilities that could significantly reduce the time it needs to build a deliverable nuclear weapon, according to statements by Iranian officials that have fueled speculation among White House officials and nuclear experts that the landmark accord has heightened rather than reduced the Islamic Regime’s nuclear threat.

The head of Iran’s nuclear program recently announced the Islamic Republic could mass produce advanced nuclear centrifuges capable of more quickly enriching uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon. Work of this nature appears to violate key clauses of the nuclear agreement that prohibits Iran from engaging in such activity for the next decade or so.

The mass production of this equipment “would greatly expand Iran’s ability to sneak-out or breakout to nuclear weapons capability,” according to nuclear verification experts who disclosed in a recent report that restrictions imposed by the Iran deal are failing to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear pursuits.

The latest report has reignited calls for the Trump administration to increase its enforcement of the nuclear deal and pressure international nuclear inspectors to demand greater access to Iran’s nuclear sites.

It remains unclear if nuclear inspectors affiliated with the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, have investigated Iran’s pursuit of advanced centrifuges, according to the report, which explains that greater access to Iran’s sites is needed to verify its compliance with the deal.

The report comes amid renewed concerns about Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement and its increased efforts to construct ballistic missiles, which violate international accords barring such behavior.

“Iran could have already stockpiled many advanced centrifuge components, associated raw materials, and the equipment necessary to operate a large number of advanced centrifuges,” according to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security. “The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) need to determine the status of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities, including the number of key centrifuge parts Iran has made and the amount of centrifuge equipment it has procured.”

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, bragged in April that Tehran is prepared to mass-produce advanced centrifuges on “short notice.” Work of this nature would greatly increase the amount of nuclear fissile material produced by Iran, prompting concerns the country could assemble a functional nuclear weapon without being detected.

The issue is complicated by the lack of access international nuclear inspectors have to Iran’s contested military sites, according to the report.

Salehi’s declaration highlights the “profound weaknesses in the JCPOA which include lack of inspector access, highly incomplete knowledge of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities and output, and too few centrifuge components being accounted for and monitored,” according to the report.

Iran already has manufactured more centrifuge parts than needed for the amount of nuclear work permitted under the agreement.

The terms of the agreement permit Iran to operate one advanced IR-8 centrifuge. However, Iran is known to have assembled more than half a dozen such centrifuges.

Iran also is working to construct IR-6 centrifuges, which also point to an increased focus on the production of enriched nuclear materials.

“These numbers are excessive and inconsistent with the JCPOA,” according to the report. “Moreover, in light of Salehi’s comments, the excessive production of [centrifuge] rotors may be part of a plan to lay the basis for mass production.”

Iran’s work on “any such plan is not included in Iran’s enrichment plan under the JCPOA,” according to the report.

Inspectors affiliated with the IAEA should immediately investigate the total number of centrifuge parts in Iran’s possession and determine exactly how many of these parts are currently being manufactured, the report states. The IAEA also should attempt to keep tabs on any clandestine nuclear work Iran may be engaging in.

Iran may be misleading the world about its centrifuge production and it still has not declared all materials related to this work, as is obligated under the nuclear deal.

“A key question is whether Iran is secretly making centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows at unknown locations, in violation of the JCPOA, and if it takes place, what the probability is that it goes without detection,” the report concludes.

Additionally, “the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) need to determine the status of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities, including the number of key centrifuge parts Iran has made and the amount of centrifuge equipment it has procured,” the report states.

“They need to ensure that Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing is consistent with the intent of the nuclear deal as well as the deal’s specific limitations on advanced centrifuges,” according to the report. “Moreover, the Iranian statement illuminates significant weaknesses in the Iran deal that need to be fixed.”

When asked to address the issue, a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran’s centrifuge work remains very “limited” under the nuclear agreement.

“Under the JCPOA, consistent with Iran’s enrichment and enrichment and [research and development] plan, Iran can only engage in production of centrifuges, including centrifuge rotors and associated components, to meet the enrichment and R&D requirements of the JCPOA,” the official said. “In other words, Iran’s production of centrifuges and associated components are limited to be consistent with the small scale of R&D that is permissible under the JCPOA.”

If Iran is in violation of the deal, the United States will take concrete action to address this once the Trump administration finishes its interagency review of the Iran deal.

“The Trump administration has made clear that at least until this review is completed, we will adhere to the JCPOA and will ensure that Iran is held strictly accountable to its requirements,” the official said.

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected

April 25, 2017

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected, Center for Security Policy, Clare M. Lopez, April 24, 2017

The Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, born in secrecy and kept hidden for years, has never skipped a beat and today continues on course in underground and military facilities to which inspectors have no access. On 21 April 2017, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the oldest, largest, and best organized democratic Iranian opposition group presented startling new evidence that the jihadist regime in Tehran is violating the terms of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement reached in July 2015 among the P-5 +1 (Permanent Five Members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and Iran.

As will be recalled, it was the NCRI that first blew the lid off Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2002, at a time when it had been in progress for at least fourteen years (since 1988), unbeknownst to most of the world, including the IAEA. Virtually all of the Iranian nuclear sites now known publicly were only retroactively ‘declared’ by the mullahs’ regime after exposure: the Natanz enrichment site, Isfahan conversion site, Fordow enrichment and Research and Development (R&D) site, Lavizan-Shian, and more. Regularly corroborated additional revelations since 2002 by the NCRI have built a record of credibility that should prompt a closer official look at these new reports by the U.S. State and Defense Departments, National Security Council (NSC), and White House.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of NCRI’s Washington office, provided a devastating expose of the ongoing activities of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), the Tehran-based element of the Iranian Ministry of Defense that has primary responsibility for the regime’s nuclear weapons development. The SPND, established in February 2011, was officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State in August 2014 for engaging in nuclear weapons R&D.   Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (aka Dr. Hassan Mohseni), the founder and director of the SPND and a veteran IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) brigadier general, was designated individually under UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1747 in 2007 and by the U.S. in July 2008 for his involvement in Iran’s proscribed WMD activities. Despite these designations, and the IAEA’s failure to resolve the many critical indicators of “Possible Military Dimensions” related to Iran’s nuclear program as specified in the November 2011 IAEA Board of Governors report, the July 2015 JCPOA inexplicably lifted sanctions against the SPND.

It is hardly surprising, then, to learn that the SPND not only continues critical weaponization research involving nuclear warheads, triggers, and explosives, but has expanded that work at each of seven subordinate locations. One of these, revealed by the NCRI in 2009 but never declared to the IAEA, is the Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (Markaz-e Tahghighat va Tose’e Fanavari-e Enfejar va Zarbeh or METFAZ), which works on triggers and high-impact, non-conventional explosives. The current METFAZ director is a Ministry of Defense engineer named Mohammad Ferdowsi, whose expertise is in high explosives. Ferdowsi also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the High-Explosive Society of Malek Ashtar University (affiliated with the Defense Ministry).

After conclusion of the July 2015 JCPOA, much of METFAZ’s personnel and work was moved to the Parchin military facility for better cover and security. Parchin Chemical Industries, an element of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO), was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2008 for importing “a chemical precursor for solid propellant oxidizer, possibly to be used for ballistic missiles.” Parchin is the location where the IAEA long suspected Iran was conducting test explosions for nuclear detonators. In October 2014, Iran finally admitted to using Parchin to test exploding bridge wires, but implausibly claimed they were not for weapons development. Equally incredibly, the IAEA concluded a secret side deal with Iran that allowed it to collect its own samples at Parchin—in which the IAEA in fact did find evidence of enriched uranium. But despite that and more evidence, the JCPOA was concluded and sanctions against Parchin Chemical Industries were lifted.

Within Parchin are twelve separate military and missile complexes. According to the NCRI’s new information, METFAZ has established a new location within one of these that is near the center of Parchin and referred to simply as the “Research Academy” in SPND internal communications. Located on the sprawling Parchin complex some 30 miles southeast of Tehran, the new METFAZ center is called the Chemical Plan of Zeinoddin and is located in a section called Plan 6. It’s completely fenced in and protected by heavy security under control of the IRGC’s Intelligence Service. What goes on there is concealed from the IAEA, and likely with good reason.

Old and New Locations for the SPND

METFAZ’s Research Academy Location within Parchin Plan 6 Area

Lambasting the Iranian regime for its ongoing regional aggression and support to terrorist organizations, as Secretary of State Tillerson did on 20 April 2017, is certainly a step in the right direction. Noting that after ten years, Iran can break out and build all the bombs it wants is also a useful observation. But neither of those comes close to fulfilling the Trump campaign pledge to “rip up” the JCPOA – or hold Iran accountable for its violations of the JCPOA. Secretary Tillerson’s 18 April letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, certifying that Iran was in compliance with the 2015 deal, simply cannot be squared with the NCRI’s latest revelations, which it has shared with both the U.S. government and the IAEA. Indeed, the independent Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) issued a March 3, 2017 report in which it explicitly states about the IAEA’s 24 February 2017 Quarterly report, “Nowhere in the report does the IAEA state that Iran is fully compliant with the JCPOA, and it should not make that judgement.”

The real problem with the JCPOA—and why it needs to be ripped to shreds—is not what’s in it: it’s what’s been left out or exempted in any number of secret side deals that the U.S. and IAEA concluded with the Iranians. Among critical issues either explicitly permitted or simply not covered in the JCPOA are the following:

  • Iran keeps its entire nuclear infrastructure intact
  • Iran keeps all its centrifuges and is allowed to work on newer models
  • Iran can deny IAEA inspectors access to any site it seeks to keep off-limits
  • Iran can continue its ballistic missile nuclear weapons delivery system research, development, and testing
  • Iran’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile collaboration with North Korea is not mentioned in the JCPOA
  • Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism is off-limits for the JCPOA

The Trump administration must make good on its campaign promises with regard to Iran, its nuclear weapons program, and the JCPOA. The U.S. with its international partners and the IAEA must demand that Iran fully implement all UN Security Council Resolutions (including the one prohibiting Iran from any nuclear enrichment activities); accept the Additional Protocol; and allow unhindered access for IAEA inspectors to all suspected centers and facilities.

Beginning to fill relevant USG positions with officers untainted by association with the failed JCPOA or Iran Lobby affiliates like NIAC (National Iranian American Council) is an imperative and urgent first step. Announcing U.S. intent to end all activities associated with the JCPOA, hold Iran to account for its human rights abuses, involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and continuing support for terrorism would be natural subsequent policy positions.

We look forward to the results of the JCPOA policy review that Secretary Tillerson has announced.

How Hilary’s foreign policy ‘succeeded’ for Iran

June 4, 2016

How Hilary’s foreign policy ‘succeeded’ for Iran, DEBKAfile, June 4, 2016

6Hardline Ayatolla Ahmad Janati

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, declared Thursday June 2 in a major foreign policy address: ‘We are now safer than we were before this agreement (the International-Iran nuclear deal).”

A short while before her speech, the State Department, published its yearly report on world terror, and determined, as in past years, that Iran remains “the leading state sponsor of terrorism, on account of its support for designated terrorist groups and proxy militias in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.”

Three days earlier, on May 31, scientists at the Institute for Science and International Security, published an extensive analysis of the second report of the IAEA in Vienna, whose job it is to monitor the Iranian nuclear program and establish whether Tehran’s is complying with its commitments.

Their report is titled: IAEA’s Second JCPOA Report: Key Information Still Missing.

The American scientists found oversights in the international watchdog’s report, suggesting collaboration between the Obama administration and the IAEA to conceal Iranian violations.

The scientists offered some examples of these omissions:

Data is lacking on the number of centrifuges, including advanced models, operating in Natanz enrichment facilities as well as the Fordo underground plant. There is no information on what happened to the 20 percent-enriched uranium still remaining in Iran.

Another example is the lack of information on the Iran’s heavy water which is provisionally stored in Oman. Who does it belong to and who oversees it?

These are just a few examples of the blanks in the promised oversight over Iran’s nuclear program, not to mention Iran’s banned ballistic missile program which is geared to design missiles able to reach the US.

The Obama administration had based his detente with Tehran, capped by the nuclear deal, on producing a breakthrough in US-Iran relations. It was intended to strengthen the moderate, reformist and liberal political elements in Iran. ButDEBKAfile sources and Iranian experts report that the exact opposite happened, as is evident in two important elections held in Iran in the past two weeks.

In the elections to the Assembly of Experts, the body which chooses Iran’s top leader, the 91-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Janati was elected. He is one of the most extreme hardliners in Iran.

A few days later, Ali Larijani was re-elected as Speaker of the Iranian Parliament. Larijani is close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He won by a land slide over the reformist candidate put forward by President Hassan Rouhani.

Five months ago, when the first results of the Iranian elections to the Majlis and to the Assembly of Experts came in, there were cries of joys in the Obama administration. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad Zarif proclaimed it at the time a victory for the moderates.

Where did these ‘moderates’ disappear in the interim and how did they become supporters of the extremists?

On Friday, June 3, less than 24 hours after Clinton’s foreign policy speech, Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei celebrated his victory over American policy saying: Iran has many small and big enemies, but foremost among them are America and Britain. “Any cooperation with the US,” he stressed, “is an act against Iran’s independence.”

Progress of sanctions relief will quicken Iran’s power struggle, spur clash with Saudi Arabia

January 17, 2016

Progress of sanctions relief will quicken Iran’s power struggle, spur clash with Saudi Arabia, DEBKAfile, January 16, 2016

investment-in-Iran-by-Ghanoon-daily_16.1.16The nuclear accord implementation by Iran and the lifting of sanctions may not survive the radical opposition in Tehran – not least, because Iran exports will further depress oil prices.

The nuclear watchdog confirmed Saturday night, Jan. 16, that Iran had fulfilled its side of the nuclear deal with the six world powers and that sanctions could be lifted, after US Secretary of State John Kerry, EU’s Federica Mogherini and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had been kept hanging about for the IAEA’s from early morning for a verdict worth some $100-150 billion to Tehran. The wording did not explicitly confirm that Iran had met all the terms of the nuclear deal or that it had mothballed most of its uranium-enrichment centrifuges.

From the start, the deal was viewed with deep suspicion by Israel, Saudi Arabia and US lawmakers. Even the White House spokesman Josh Earnest was moved to comment Friday that “the United States wants to make sure that Iran doesn’t cut any corners.”

DEBKAfile’s intelligence and Iranian sources account for the delay in publishing the nuclear watchdog’s report by the “corners” Iran was still trying to cut. According to our sources, Iran had managed to dodge compliance with key terms of the nuclear deal. Nine tons of enriched uranium were indeed shipped to Russia, but most expert watchers are dubious about three other commitments:

1. Washington and Tehran have claimed that the Iranians fulfilled their commitment to pour concrete into the core of the Arak reactor to disable its capacity for producing plutonium. Two days ago, on Thursday, Iranian officials denied this had been done: Only a token operation may have taken place, if any.

Officials associated with Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guards, which fought tooth and nail against the nuclear accord, commented that instead of pouring concrete into the Arak reactor, it should be poured into the hearts of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, for negotiating the accord with the six powers.

Such comments rarely reach the Western media. They are important because they mirror the fierce power struggle ongoing in Tehran, which is heavily fueled by infighting over the nuclear deal and sanctions.

2.  That deal provided for the number of centrifuges enriching uranium at the Natanz center to be reduced from 19,500 to 5,050. Our sources report that 9,000 are still in operation.

3. There is no confirmation that the number of centrifuges operating at the underground facility of Fordo was cut down to one thousand, as agreed.

On top of these deviations, the Obama administration admitted last week that the dispute over Iran’s nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which were tested last month, is still open, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. This makes Tehran liable to a fresh set of sanctions, as US officials too have indicated.

The capture of two US patrol boats by the Revolutionary Guards speedboats last Tuesday, with the 10 American sailors aboard forced to surrender before they were released, was clearly a last-ditch attempt by Iran’s radicals to derail the nuclear accord before the Saturday deadline was reached.

That will not be the last such episode: Iran’s radicals may embark on more such actions to counteract the nuclear deal by striking more American targets and looking for trouble with Saudi Arabi and its Gulf allies.

The fact is that the hard-line factions in Tehran don’t want the sanctions lifted, because they see them as net profit for President Rouhani and his moderate conservatives and his leading backer, former president Hashem Rafsanjani, head of the powerful Assembly of Experts.

Iran’s Finance Minister Ali Tayyebnia gave the radicals fodder when he said last week that even $100 billion in cancelled sanctions would not haul the Iranian economy our [sic]  of crisis or balance the state budget, because the country’s indebtedness is far in excess of that huge amount.

The Iranian-Saudi row is another factor that could upset the nuclear deal, although paradoxically, since oil prices sank below $30, the Guards and Riyadh have a common interest in its collapse.

Iran’s expected return to an already glutted market – through the removal of sanctions – will drive prices down further. This, neither the Revolutionary Guards Corps, which control Iran’s oil sector, nor the Saudis want to see.

The spiral of hostility launched with the Saudi execution of the prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, followed by the mob attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in Meshaad, and the multiple severance of diplomatic and commercial ties between the Gulf emirates and Tehran, may have the effect of reversing the downward trend of oil prices with a sudden spurt.
Therefore, the rosy prospect the Obama administration paints of a successful landmark deal for curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities is a far cry from being realized.

Therefore, the rosy prospect the Obama administration paints of a successful landmark deal for curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities is a far cry from being realized.

Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA

December 11, 2015

Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, MEMRI, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon*, December 11, 2015

Introduction

In advance of the February 2016 elections in Iran for both the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts, and in light of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s November 25, 2015 announcement that he will run for the Assembly of Experts, the power struggle between the pragmatic camp, which Rafsanjani leads, and the ideological camp, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has intensified. It now centers on two main focal points:

  1. Khamenei’s blocking of Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA. After Khamenei halted the implementation of the JCPOA in his October 21, 2015 letter to Iranian President Hassan Rohani,[1] all the representatives of the regime announced their support for Khamenei’s instructions; even President Rohani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were compelled to do so. The only one to speak out against this was Rafsanjani, who called on the regime to carry out its obligations under the JCPOA.[2]
  2. The Iranian regime’s circling the wagons against both the “American enemy” and against the “new fitna” within Iran – that is, the Rafsanjani camp which is calling for openness vis-à-vis the U.S. and for Iran to implement the JCPOA.[3] The regime activity against the U.S. and the “new fitna” gives the ideological camp leverage over the pragmatic camp. The ideological camp is playing this up in advance of the elections and hinting that the outcome of the last presidential election, in 2013, was a grave failure that must not be allowed to happen again. The Khamenei-affiliated daily Kayhan is even preparing for the possibility that Rafsanjani’s pragmatic camp will again triumph in the elections, and stated that such a development would be counter to the Islamic Revolution and its values, and must be prevented.

This first report in a two-part series on the aspects of this power struggle will focus on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s blocking of Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA. The forthcoming report will focus on the Iranian regime’s promotion of its anti-U.S. stance and its stance against the “new fitna” within Iran.

MEMRI has published nearly two dozen reports on the power struggle between the Khamenei and Rafsanjani camps.   

Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA

On October 21, 2015, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued nine conditions countermanding the original language of the JCPOA as it was presented on July 14, 2015.[4] All regime officials, including pragmatic camp members such as President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, immediately announced their acceptance of Khamenei’s new conditions – except for Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the only one to speak out against Khamenei and called on Iran to implement its obligations under the JCPOA.[5]

Elements connected to the negotiating team and the Rafsanjani camp, among them Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Ali Akbar Salehi and Expediency Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, attempted to create the impression of first steps to implement the JCPOA by transferring older-generation centrifuges that were already inactive from one site to another.

However, they were stopped immediately by Majlis members and others from the ideological camp.[6]Negotiating team members from Rafsanjani’s pragmatic camp were forced to state that thus far, no active centrifuges had been dismantled. On November 25, 2015, nuclear negotiating team member and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian TV of the measures Iran had taken to meet its JCPOA commitments, saying that “none of Iran’s steps on this matter so far contradict the Leader’s letter… As far as I know, we are still in the phase of dismantling the inactive centrifuges.”[7]

On November 14, 2015, AEOI director Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian Channel 3 TV: “The centrifuges that were dismantled were not active and did not enrich uranium… Now, we are dealing with the dismantling of centrifuges, and we began this two weeks ago, according to the orders from the Office of the President that we have undertaken and to the timetable. At Fordo, there are a few centrifuges, that is, 1,000-2,000; at the last minute, we will collect some 1,000 centrifuges from Fordo. So far, no centrifuges from Fordo have been dismantled; we have merely prepared the ground for dismantling [centrifuges]. What has been dismantled so far were inactive centrifuges at Natanz.”[8]

On November 3, 2015, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said: “We will advance the work in a way that will be in accordance with the principles and guidelines of the Leader… Not a single centrifuge has been dismantled yet; at this point, we are at the preparatory stage.”[9] Several days later, he said that Iran would begin to dismantle active centrifuges immediately after the Iranian PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) dossier is closed by the IAEA Board of Governors,[10] explaining: “Now we are dismantling the inactive centrifuges; there are more of them than there are active centrifuges.” He noted that there are now only about 3,000 active  centrifuges and about 10,000 that have not been active for several years, and added: “The [active] centrifuges will be dismantled at the same time as [Iran carries out the steps to which it is obligated under the JCPOA at] the Arak reactor and as our enriched uranium is replaced with yellowcake.[11]

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif: The Superpowers Must Meet All Their Obligations Before Iran Implements Its Own

At a November 29, 2015 joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif stated that Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA could begin only after the IAEA Board of Governors closes Iran’s PMD dossier.[12] He then added a completely new demand: that the P5+1 carry out at least some of its obligations under the JCPOA even before Iran carries out its own. Zarif added that the Iranians were currently conducting talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other American officials on this matter.

Iran’s presentation of this demand is an essential violation of the language of the agreed version of the JCPOA, which states that Iran must first implement its part in order to reach Implementation Day, and that only then, and concurrently with IAEA verification that Iran has indeed met its obligations, will the P5+1 begin carrying out its obligations with regard to the sanctions.

The following are the main points of Zarif’s statements:

Asked what progress has been made with regard to Khamenei’s demand, in his letter to President Rohani, for a direct letter from Europe and the U.S. to Iran on the issue of the removal of the sanctions, he replied: “Europe and the U.S. are obligated to remove the sanctions the day the JCPOA is implemented – that is, the U.S. must carry out steps on the day of the decision – i.e. [by Implementation Day] the U.S. and the E.U. must carry out these steps in certain ways.

“The process of implementation by the oversight team has already begun. This does not mean that the action taken by the U.S. and the E.U., and which should yield results by Implementation Day, are sufficient. We believe that the U.S. must continue to implement steps until Implementation Day. The U.S. president has ordered the energy secretary, secretary of state, and commerce secretary to carry out their obligations, and that they take all steps necessary to implement the U.S.’s obligations. The President of the United States ordered them to carry out their obligations and that prior to Implementation Day [of the JCPOA] these obligations must be implemented. On this matter, we are holding talks with the American secretary of state and other American elements [emphasis added].”[13]

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[2] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015.

[3] This fitna and its members were described clearly by Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy committee member Ahmad Bakhshayesh: “The Leader speaks of [American] infiltration and warns the officials. The Leader’s [warning] was addressed mainly to elements of the regime wishing to create ties with the U.S…. In our country there are two lines of thought: One is resistance to the arrogance [meaning the U.S.], championed by the Leader; and the second is ties with the U.S. like with any other country without fear of infiltration, which is championed by Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Rohani.” Fars (Iran), November 15, 2015.

[4] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[5] For Rafsanjani’s statements, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Report No. 1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015. For Iran’s commitments, as outlined by the Arms Control Association, see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 65, MEMRI: ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’, October 30, 2015.

[6] See, for example, the statement by Alizera Zakani, head of the Majlis special committee to examine the JCPOA, who said that reducing the number of centrifuges at nuclear sites violated the first condition of Khamenei’s letter. According to him, this improper step triggered a warning, and subsequently the action was halted, at least at Fordo. Mehr (Iran), November 8, 2015.

[7] ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[8] IRNA (Iran), November 14, 2015.

[9] ISNA (Iran), November 3, 2015.

[10] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[11] Kayhan (Iran), November 11, 2015.

[12] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[13] ISNA (Iran), November 29, 2015.

Leader Outlines Major Observations in JCPOA Implementation

October 21, 2015

Leader Outlines Major Observations in JCPOA Implementation, Tasnim News Agency (Iran), October 21, 2015

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[T]hroughout the 8-year period of implementing the JCPOA, imposing any sanctions, at any level and under any pretext –such as the “recurring and fabricated allegations of terrorism and human rights violation – by any of the parties to the talks”, will be tantamount to breach of the JCPOA and the administration will be obligated to take the necessary measures under the Clause 3 of the Iranian Parliament’s plan and cease the JCPOA activities.

*********************

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani highlighted nine main points that the administration will need to take note of regarding the course of implementing a final nuclear deal with six world powers.

In the letter, Ayatollah Khamenei appreciated the efforts made by the country’s different bodies involved in the course of nuclear negotiations with the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) and the consequent efforts to evaluate the deal.

The Leader, however, noted that the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contains “ambiguities, structural weak points and multiple points that could inflict heavy losses on the country” at present and in the future in case of lack of strict and constant vigilance.

Ayatollah Khamenei then explicated the observations that the administration should make about the JCPOA and its implementation.

The first point in the Leader’s letter was the necessity for the full termination of the anti-Iran sanctions under the JCPOA.

Since the purpose of Iran’s approval to the nuclear negotiations was the removal of “cruel economic and financial sanctions”, and given the fact that the termination of the sanctions has been subjected to completion of Iran’s undertakings, there needs to be “firm and sufficient guarantees” to avert the other side’s breach, Ayatollah Khamenei underlined.

The US president and the European Union must declare that the anti-Iran sanctions have been “fully lifted”, the Leader noted.

The second observation in the letter was the categorical rejection of imposition of any new sanctions against Iran, which the Leader described as a breach of the JCPOA in which case the Iranian administration would be obligated to stop implementing the deal.

Third, the Leader further said, throughout the 8-year period of implementing the JCPOA, imposing any sanctions, at any level and under any pretext –such as the “recurring and fabricated allegations of terrorism and human rights violation – by any of the parties to the talks”, will be tantamount to breach of the JCPOA and the administration will be obligated to take the necessary measures under the Clause 3 of the Iranian Parliament’s plan and cease the JCPOA activities.

The rest of the observations are as follows:

4. Measures to renovate the Arak plant, which should keep its heavy (water) nature, will begin only after signing a definite and safe contract on an alternative plan and sufficient guarantee for its implementation.

5. The trade of the available enriched uranium with the yellowcake (a type of uranium concentrate powder) with a foreign government will take place when a secure contract with sufficient guarantees is signed. The mentioned trade and exchange (of materials) should occur gradually and in multiple times.

6. In accordance with the bill passed by the Majlis (parliament), a necessary plan should be devised and meticulously discussed by the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) for mid-term development of (the country’s) nuclear energy industry, including ways to make progress in the next 15 years, leading to the production of 190,000 SWUs (Separative Work Units).

7. The Atomic Energy Agency of Iran (AEOI) should organize research and development in different aspects in such a way that at the end of the 8-year period, there will be no technological shortages for achieving the level of enrichment as accepted in the JCPOA.

8. As for ambiguities in the JCPOA, it should be stressed that the other side’s interpretation is not accepted, and that the reference (for interpretation) is the text of the negotiations.

9. The existence of complexities and ambiguities in the JCPOA and the possibility of breach of commitments and deception on the part of the other side, especially the US, necessitate that a strong, observant and smart committee be formed to monitor the progress of works, fulfilment of the other side’s commitments and  realization of the observations mentioned above. The committee’s arrangement and responsibilities should be formulated and approved by the SNSC.

Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War

August 23, 2015

Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War, Amerian Thinker, John Bosma, August 23, 2015

(We live in “interesting times.” — DM)

The signing of a Munich-class agreement with Iran that hands it more than it ever hoped to pull off represents a shocking, craven American capitulation to an apocalyptic crazy state: a North Korea with oil. Nothing in Western history remotely approaches it, not even Neville Chamberlain’s storied appeasement of another antisemitic negotiating partner.

But it also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.

Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.

Would this involve many nuclear weapons? No – probably fewer than 10-15, although their yields must be sufficiently large to maximize ground shock. Would it produce Iranian civilian casualties? Yes but not as many as one might suppose, as it would avoid cities. Most casualties would be radiological, like Chernobyl, rather than thermal and blast casualties. Would it spur a larger catalytic nuclear war? No. Would it subsequently impel Russia, China and new proliferators to normalize nuclear weapons in their own war planning? Or would the massive global panic over the first nuclear use in anger in 70 years, one that would draw saturation media coverage, panic their publics into urgent demands for ballistic missile self-defense systems? Probably the latter.

The Iranian elite’s ideology and controlling political psychology is inherently preferential towards nukes and direct population targeting as a way to implement Shi’ite messianism and end-times extremism. Iran is a newly nuclear apocalyptic Shi’ite regime that ranks as the most blatantly genocidal government since the Khmer Rouge’s Sorbonne-educated leaders took over Cambodia in April, 1975. Senior Iranian officials have periodically tied nuclear war to the return of the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, which Iran’s previous president anticipated within several years. This reflects not just the triumphalist enthusiasm of a new arriviste nuclear power that just won more at the table than it dared to dream. It also reflects a self-amplifying, autarchic end-days theology that is immune to both reality testing and to Western liberal/progressive tenets about prim and proper nuclear behavior.

Admittedly, Iranian leaders have lately resorted to envisioning Israel’s collapse in more restrained terms through Palestinian demographic takeover of the Israeli state and asymmetric warfare. Still there remains a lurid history of Iranian officials urging the elimination of Israel and its people, of allocating their nukes to Israeli territory to maximize Jewish fatalities, of Iranian officials leading crowds in chants of “Death to Israel!” Iran’s government also released a video game allowing players to target various kinds of Iranian ballistic missiles against Israeli cities – this as part of intensive propaganda drumming up hatred of Jews. A more recent video game envisions a massive Iranian ground army marching to liberate Jerusalem. In all, Iran’s official stoking of genocidal Jew hatred is far beyond what Hitler’s government dared to advocate before the 1939 outbreak of World War 2.

The deliberate American silence over Iran’s genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel’s leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent.

But this shift is also recent. Every US government prior to President Obama would have foresworn nuclear talks with such a psychopathic regime or would have walked out in a rage upon such utterances. Yet Iran’s genocidal threats have had no discernible effect on Obama’s canine eagerness for a deal. It’s as if 75 years ago a US president had cheerfully engaged in peace talks with Hitler and his SS entourage despite learning the details of the Nazis’ secret Wannsee Conference where Hitler signed off on the Final Solution for the Jews. But whereas Hitler had the sense in that era to keep that conclave secret, Iran’s Wannsee intentionality toward Israel and world Jewry has for years been flamboyantly rude-and-crude and in-your-face. That this Iranian advocacy of a second Holocaust drew no objection from the US negotiators of this deal should make moral pariahs out of every one of them – including our president and Secretary of State.

These two factors alone, especially the abrupt evaporation of the US’s ultimate existential bargain with Israel through Obama’s de facto alliance with the mullahs, would drive Israel to the one attack option it can unilaterally use without running short of munitions and experiencing the massive US coercion embedded in that dependence. But there are other reasons why early Israeli nuclear pre-emption is not only justified but almost mandatory.

First, it is too late to stop Iran’s bomb-making momentum with conventional weapons or sanctions. That nation’s science and technology base is robust and improving. It has learned to domestically produce high-performance gas centrifuges whose uranium gas output is such that smaller numbers of them are needed for breakout. The US spent decades and many billions at labs like Oak Ridge National Laboratory on composites, software-controlled magnetic bearings, gas flow separations, thermal controls and ultra-precision manufacturing for these thin-wall, very-high-speed devices. Yet Iran has come up the centrifuge learning curve with surprising speed. Its metallurgists are familiar with a novel aluminum forging method that may yield nanophase aluminum shells so strong that they approach the centrifugal strength usually associated with more demanding composite-shell gas centrifuges. Also, Iran’s bomb engineering and physics can tap the sophisticated bomb designs and re-entry vehicle (RV) skills of North Korea, which is reducing the weight and mass of its H-bombs to fit on ballistic missiles and whose collaboration with Iran reportedly included Iranian technicians at North Korean bomb tests.

Other technology sources in the Nuclear Bombs R Us cartel for wannabe proliferators set up by rogue nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan of Pakistan include China, Russia and Pakistan. Worst of all, under the US-Iran deal, Iran’s ballistic missiles can improve their reliability, accuracy, throw-weight and their post-boost RV-release thrusters.

Second, Iran’s underground nuclear targets are likely harder than American and Israeli hard-target munition (HTM) developers have assumed. Why? Because Iranian engineers have perfected the world’s toughest concrete, developing mixtures using geopolymers, quartz powders (called fume) and metal and ceramic fibers. The result is hardness levels reportedly up to 50,000-60,000 psi in experimental samples. This means that even shallow “cut and cover” hard targets like the Natanz centrifuge enrichment plant, an armored complex in an excavated pit that is then covered, can resist destruction by the US’s most lethal hard-target bomb: the 30,000-lb “Massive Ordnance Penetrator.” Only the B-2 and the B-52 can carry the MOP. Yet while the MOP can penetrate ~200 ft into 5000-psi targets, it only reaches 25 feet into 10,000-psi concrete – and Iranian cement for new or up-armored underground bunkers has likely progressed well beyond that.

US and Israeli HTM alternatives include staged-warhead penetrators and – high on the wish list – novel energetic chemistries with orders-of-magnitude more power than current HTMs. Tactical HTMs with up to four sequential warheads use precursor warheads to blast an initial opening for larger follow-through charges to destroy tanks, fortifications and bridge piers. But these impact at slow speeds compared to what’s needed to kill deep hard targets. The latter need superhard casings (probably single-crystal metals) and packaging to keep their sequenced charges intact during violent impacts of thousands of feet/second (fps). One benchmark is the Department of Energy’s Sandia lab’s success years ago in firing a simulated hard-target RV into rock at 4400 fps. Similarly, reactive-material (RM) munitions and next-generation HEDM (high-energy-density material) explosives and energetic chemistries with orders-of-magnitude more power look promising for the future. But these require years of iterative fly-redesign-fly testing to assure they’ll survive impact with their deep targets.

Bottom line: with even the US’s best non-nuclear HTMs marginal against Iran’s critical deep targets, Israel’s HTMs probably wouldn’t do the job either, being lower in kinetic energy on target. Alternatives like using HTMs to destroy entrances to such targets and ventilation shafts may work – but unless Iranian military power and recovery are set back months or years, this damage would be repaired or worked round. Moreover, nuclear facilities tunneled into mountains would be almost impossible to destroy with conventionals.

Still, the brains behind Iran’s nuclear bomb, missile and WMD is concentrated in soft targets like the Iranian universities run by the IRGC (Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps), custodian of the bomb program). These can be hit by conventionals under a Peenemunde targeting strategy to kill as many weapon scientists and technicians as possible. (This recalls Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s directive for British bombers to target the residential housing on the small Baltic island where Hitler had sited his V-2 rocket program.) Alternatively, conventional or nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or HPM (high-power microwave) weapons could destroy for months all the computers and communications that support university-hosted bomb work. This would keep these scientists and surrounding urban populations alive.

Third, Obama’s decision to provide Iran “training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems” is the clearest indicator that this accord is aimed squarely at Israel. Why? It eliminates the sole option Israel has left now that it lacks the US-supplied conventional HTMs to destroy unexpectedly hard deep targets, forcing it at best into a slow-motion conventionals-only campaign. This would expose it to brutal political and military blowback by Iran and its Chinese, Russian and European suppliers – and by an enraged American president. In essence, it appears that the Obama regime has under the accord deliberately stripped Israel of every option except nuclear pre-emption – which Obama, in typically liberal-progressive fashion, assumes would never happen. Ergo, Israel would be forced to accommodate Iranian military supremacy.

Fourth, what may drive an early Israeli nuclear attack are two considerations: (a) Russian S-300 ATBM/SAMs (anti-tactical ballistic missile/surface-to-air missile) in Iranian hands; and (b) Hezb’allah’s thousands of missiles. Russia’s agreement to supply Iran four batteries of its fearsome S-300 by late August for defending priority targets would make it very difficult for Israel to mount the complex precision bombing strategies needed for tough targets. The S-300, the world’s best, can knock down high-speed aircraft from near ground level to almost 100,000 feet. It can also engage some ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, Hezb’allah’s arsenal of more than 60,000 rockets (by some estimates) is a much greater threat to Israel, especially its air force, than is appreciated. Hezb’allah has retrofitted an unknown fraction of these missiles, whose range now covers almost all of Israel, with GPS and precision guidance, allowing them to hit critical targets. Unfortunately, Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling interceptors were designed on the assumption that most incoming missiles would be inaccurate and so the interceptors could be saved only for those approaching critical targets. The result? Hezb’allah rocket campaigns targeting Israeli airbases and other military targets could quickly run Israel out of interceptors. Iran could easily order such a campaign to throw Israel off balance as it focuses on the deadly US-abetted nuclear threat from Iran.

An Israeli nuclear pre-emption is thus eminently thinkable. Every other option has been stripped away by Obama’s decision, concealed from Israel, Congress and our allies until it was too late to challenge, to let Iranian bomb-making R&D run free and to harden Iran’s bomb-making infrastructure against Israel – while imposing lethal restrictions on Israeli countermeasures and forswearing any US and allied military attacks, such as B-2’s and B-52’s dropping MOP bombs.

The die is now cast. Nuclear pre-emption becomes attractive to a nation in extremis, where Israel is now:

…Israel needs to impart a powerful, disorganizing shock to the Iranian regime that accomplishes realistic military objectives: digging out its expensive underground enrichment plants, destroying its Arak plutonium reactor and maybe Bushehr in the bargain, killing its bomb and missile professionals, scientists and technicians, IRGC bases, its oil production sites, oil export terminals and the leaders of the regime where they can be found.

…its initial strike must move very fast and be conclusive within 1-2 hours, like the Israeli air attack opening the 1967 Six-Day War. The goal is to so stun the regime that Israel controls the first and subsequent phases of the war and its ending. This means that Israel must hit enough critical targets with maximum shock – and be willing to revisit or expand its targets – so as to control blowback and retaliation from Iran’s allies. In essence, this involves a very fast-paced Israeli redesign of the Middle East in the course of a nuclear war for survival.

…what is poorly appreciated is that nuclear weapons from 10 to 300 kilotons (KT) – depending on accuracy – can destroy deep hard targets to 200+ meters depth by ground coupling if they penetrate merely 3 meters into the ground (Effects of Nuclear Earth Penetrators and Other Weapons: National Research Council / National Academy Press, 2005, pp. 30-51). Israel could lower bomb yields or achieve deeper target kills by its reported tests of two-plane nuclear attacks in which the first plane drops a conventional HTM like a GBU-28 to open up a channel; the second plane drops its tactical nuclear bomb into that ‘soft’ channel for greater depth before bursting. This unavoidably would produce fallout on cities downwind. Fortunately, the same medical countermeasures used for radiological accidents (Chernobyl accidents, etc.)  – potassium iodide pills (available domestically from www.ki4u.com) – can be airdropped for use by exposed urbanites.

…the more important objective, however, is decapitation and economic paralysis by EMP and HPM effects that destroy all electronic, electrical and electromechanical devices on Iranian territory. While a high-altitude nuclear burst would affect most of Iran’s territory, it may not be necessary if smaller, lower-altitude weapons are used.

…A small number of nuclear weapons (10-15?) may suffice: one each for known underground hard targets, with one held in reserve pending bomb-damage assessments; several low-yield bombs for above-ground bomb-related depots; and low-yield neutron weapons to hit IRGC and regime targets while avoiding blast and fallout. Reactors can be hit with conventional HPM pulse weapons to burn out electrical, electronic and electromechanical systems for later reactor destruction by Special Forces. A targeting priority (using antipersonnel conventionals) would be university-hosted bomb/missile scientists.

…Israeli F-15s and F-16s provide the most accurate delivery for the initial phase – assuming that the S-300 batteries can be decoyed, jammed or destroyed (where Israeli air force experience is unmatched). The small stock of Jericho-2 ballistic missiles probably would be held in reserve. They can’t be used against buried targets unless their re-entry vehicles (RVs) are fitted with penetrator casings and decelerators like ribbon parachutes (used to slow down US test RVs for shallow-water recovery at Pacific atolls) to avoid disintegrating on impact. (Both methods require flight-testing, which is detectable.) Israel’s Dolphin subs in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean can launch nuclear or (probably) conventional cruise missiles with cluster munitions for IRGC targets.

The final issue is how Israeli and US leaders would operate in these conditions. An Israeli decision to go nuclear would be the most tightly held decision in history, given the prospect of out-of-control blowback by our current president if that was leaked. Still, Israel sees itself being driven into a Second Holocaust corner, possibly within weeks as the S-300s begin deploying around Iran’s nuclear targets. Once it decides nukes are its only way out, it would simulate and map out all possible event chains and surprises once it launches. Unavoidably, it would also have to decide what to do if it learns the US is feeding its pre-launch mobilization information to Iran, using its electronic listening posts and missile-defense radars in the region. It may have to jam or destroy those US sites.

For the US, however, this no-warning nuclear war would land like a thunderbolt on an unprepared White House that would likely panic and lash out as Obama’s loudly touted “legacy” goes up in smoke. The characteristic signatures of nuclear bursts would be captured and geolocated by US satellite. The commander of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs would call the White House on the famous red phone. (As one of the few civilians who sat through a red phone alert at NORAD in July 1982, after a Soviet missile sub launched two test missiles off the Kamchatk Peninsulaa, I can testify it is a frightening experience for which nothing prepares you.) Given the psychology of our current president and his emotional investment in his Iran deal, what might follow could challenge the military chain of command with orders that previously were unthinkable.

Now retired, John Bosma draws on a 40-year background in nuclear war-gaming and strategic arms control (SALT 1 and 2, Soviet arms-racing and SALT violations, US force upgrades) at Boeing Aerospace (1977-1980); congressional staff and White House experience (1981-1983) in organizing the “Star Wars” ballistic missile defense (BMD) program and proposing its “defense-enforced strategic reductions” arms-control model adopted by the Reagan State Department; military space journalism (1984-1987); and technology scouting in conventional strategic warfare, rapid (1-2 hours) posture change in space, novel BMD engagement geometries with miniature air-launched interceptors, counter-WMD/terrorism, naval BMD and undersea warfare. Clients included DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Missile Defense Agency, the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, the Navy and the  He follows Israeli forces and BMD and has studied Iran’s nuclear R&D programs. All of his work is open-source

 

Recent Iranian disclosures highlight the perversity of the Iran “deal”

August 13, 2015

Recent Iranian disclosures highlight the perversity of the Iran “deal,” Dan Miller’s Blog, August 13, 2015

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

In 2011, well before the multilateral P5+1 “negotiations” with Iran began in February of 2013, Obama put Senator John Kerry in charge of  “secret bilateral negotiations on the [Iranian] nuclear dossier.” Kerry then advised Iranian officials that “we are definitely and sincerely willing, and we can resolve the issues” — including Uranium enrichment and the Possible Military Dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s nuclear weaponization and missile development programs have been substantially ignored ever since.

Ernest Moniz, who was to become Kerry’s technical adviser, was brought into the P5+1 negotiations at the specific request of the Iranian official — Moniz’ former MIT classmate — who was to be his counterpart. 

The Iran – North Korea nuclear axis, through which the rogue nations cooperate on nuke and missile development, continues to be ignored.

In earlier articles, beginning shortly after the Joint Plan of Action was published in November of 2013, I attempted to show that the focus was on pretending to curtail Iran’s Uranium enrichment programs as they expanded and then granting sanctions relief, while substantially ignoring the program’s “possible military dimensions” (PMDs). Followup articles are here, here and elsewhere. The PMDs have yet to be explored seriously and evidently will not be under the current “comprehensive” joint plan and the secret side deals between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran.

Any pretense that the IAEA will have “any time, anywhere” access to Iran’s military sites was mere rhetoric, as acknowledged by US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on July 16th

“I think this is one of those circumstances where we have all been rhetorical from time to time,” Sherman said in a conference call with Israeli diplomatic reporters. “That phrase, anytime, anywhere, is something that became popular rhetoric, but I think people understood that if the IAEA felt it had to have access, and had a justification for that access, that it would be guaranteed, and that is what happened.” [Emphasis added.]

Ms. Sherman was right about the rhetorical nature of administration assertions, but wrong about IAEA access, of which there will apparently be little or none pursuant to the secret deals between Iran and the IAEA.

I. Here’s some background on Kerry

Reporting for duty

Reporting for duty with Iran

During his 2004 campaign for president, Kerry said if he were the president he would

have “offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel” to Iran, to “test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes.” Mr. Kerry’s words brought comfort to Tehran’s top mullahs, who have been seeking to buy time from the international community for the past two years while they continue perfecting their nuclear weapons capabilities. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Top among the pro-regime fund-raisers who have contributed to the Kerry campaign is a recent Iranian immigrant in California named Susan Akbarpour.

. . . .

The Kerry campaign credits Miss Akbarpour and her new husband, Faraj Aalaie, with each raising $50,000 to $100,000 for the presidential campaign. Mr. Aalaie is president of Centillium Communications, a Nasdaq-listed software firm.

These contributions continue . . . even though Miss Akbarpour was not a permanent U.S. resident when she made her initial contribution to Mr. Kerry on June 17, 2002, as this reporter first revealed in March. (To be legal, campaign cash must come from U.S. citizens or permanent residents).

On August 10th of this year, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published a lengthy article quoting Iranian officials on their dealings with Senator Kerry. Obama had put Senator John Kerry in charge of “secret bilateral negotiations on the [Iranian] nuclear dossier” well before the multilateral P5+1 “negotiations” with Iran began in February of 2013.

The MEMRI article states that Kerry had representatives of The Sultanate of Oman deliver a letter he had written to Iranian officials recognizing Iran’s Uranium enrichment rights and suggesting secret negotiations. Omani officials discussed the letter with Iranian officials and, when the Iranians appeared skeptical, the Omani official suggested,

Go tell them that these are our demands. Deliver [the note] during your next visit to Oman.’ On a piece of paper I wrote down four clearly-stated points, one of which was [the demand for] official recognition of the right to enrich uranium. I thought that, if the Americans were sincere in their proposal, they had to accept these four demands of ours. Mr. Souri delivered this short letter to the mediator, stressing that this was the list of Iran’s demands, [and that], if the Americans wanted to resolve the issue, they were welcome to do so [on our terms], otherwise addressing the White House proposals to Iran would be pointless and unjustified. [Emphasis added.]

“All the demands presented in this letter were related to the nuclear challenge. [They were] issues we had always come up against, like the closing of the nuclear dossier, official recognition of [the right to] enrichment, and resolving the issue of Iran’s past activities under the PMD [possible military dimensions] heading. After receiving the letter, the Americans said, ‘We are definitely and sincerely willing, and we can resolve the issues that Iran mentioned.’” [Emphasis added.]

The texts of the November, 2013 Joint Plan of Action, as well as the July 14, 2015 “deal,” could easily have been predicted based on Kerry’s 2011 response to the Iranians.

“After Rohani’s government began working [in August 2013] – this was during Obama’s second term in office – a new [round of] negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 was launched. By this time, Kerry was no longer a senator but had been appointed secretary of state. [But even] before this, when he was still senator, he had already been appointed by Obama to handle the nuclear dossier [vis-à-vis Iran] and later [in December 2012] he was appointed secretary of state. Before this, the Omani mediator, who was in close touch with Kerry, told us that Kerry would soon be appointed secretary of state. In the period of the secret negotiations with the Americans in Oman, there was a more convenient atmosphere for obtaining concessions from the Americans.  After the advent of the Rohani government and the American administration [i.e., after the start of Obama’s second term in office], and with Kerry as secretary of state, the Americans expressed a more forceful position. They no longer displayed the same eagerness to advance the negotiations. Their position became more rigid and the threshold of their demands higher. But the situation on the Iranian side changed too, since a very professional team was placed in charge of the negotiations with the P5+1…”

Perhaps Kerry had found it more congenial, and certainly more consistent with his and Obama’s own intentions, to be eager to help Iran during secret negotiations and to appear modestly resistant during the P5+1 sessions; they were at least slightly more in public view. Even so, according to Amir Hossein Motagh, a former aide to President Rouhani,

The US negotiating team are mainly [in Lausanne] to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, for example, has long been insisting that Iran come clean on its previous military activities, something we are now told that the American delegation, led by Secretary Kerry, wants to leave out of the negotiation. Why? Because the Iranians have said they will not come clean. [Emphasis added.]

That was too much even for the normally pro-Democrat Washington Post, which wrote in a column attributed to its Editorial Board last Friday that the deal was “a reward for Iran’s noncompliance.”

According to the article linked above,

Some Iranian-Americans believe that Secretary Kerry should have recused himself from the negotiations at the very outset because of his long-standing relationship to his Iranian counter-part, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The two first met over a decade ago at a dinner party hosted by George Soros at his Manhattan penthouse, according to a 2012 book by Hooman Majd, who frequently translates for Iranian officials.

Iranian-American sources in Los Angeles tell me that Javad Zarif’s son was the best man at the 2009 wedding between Kerry’s daughter Vanessa and Behrouz Vala Nahed, an Iranian-American medical doctor.

The newlyweds went to Iran shortly after their wedding to met Nahed’s family. Kerry ultimately revealed his daughter’s marriage to an Iranian-American once he had taken over as Secretary of State. But the subject never came up in his Senate confirmation hearing, either because Kerry never disclosed it, or because his former colleagues were too polite to bring it up.

Why did Obama designate Kerry to deal with Iran in 2011? Andrew C. McCarthy, writing at The Center for Security Policy, offers this:

Clearly, there are two reasons: Obama needed someone outside the administration, and Kerry’s status and track record made him a natural.

Remember, Obama was running for reelection in 2011–12. Public opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and, therefore, to Iran’s enrichment of uranium was very strong — and, indeed, remains so. Consequently, Obama pretended on the campaign trail that he would vigorously oppose Iran’s uranium-enrichment efforts . . . even as he was covertly signaling to the jihadist regime that he was open to recognizing Iran as a nuclear power. [Emphasis added.]

As my friend Fred Fleitz of the Center for Security Policy has noted, Obama asserted in the lead-up to the 2008 election that “the world must work to stop Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.” So too, in the run-up to the 2012 election, did Obama continue assuring voters that Iran “needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those U.N. resolutions prohibit Iran’s enrichment activities. Thus did the president proclaim, in seeking reelection, that the only deal he would accept would be one in which the Iranians “end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.” [Emphasis added.]

With Obama out feigning opposition to Iran’s enrichment activities, it would not do to have a conflicting message communicated to Iran by his own administration. What if Iran, to embarrass Obama, were to go public about an administration entreaty that directly addressed enrichment? It would have been hugely problematic for the president’s campaign. Obama thus needed an alternative: someone outside the administration whom Obama could trust but disavow if anything went wrong; someone the Iranian regime would regard as authoritative. [Emphasis added.]

John Kerry was the perfect choice.

I agree, but Mr. McCarthy does not address this exchange, quoted above but worth repeating here:

“All the demands presented in this letter were related to the nuclear challenge. [They were] issues we had always come up against, like the closing of the nuclear dossier, official recognition of [the right to] enrichment, and resolving the issue of Iran’s past activities under the PMD [possible military dimensions] heading. After receiving the letter, the Americans said, ‘We are definitely and sincerely willing, and we can resolve the issues that Iran mentioned.’” [Emphasis added.]

II. Ernest Moniz

Moniz, the U.S. Energy Secretary, was asked to join the P5+1 technical discussions at the request of Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

Salehi said that he was asked to join the nuclear talks when the discussions on the Natanz enrichment facility reached a dead end. Salehi said he would only join the talks if Moniz, his American counterpart, did as well. According to Salehi, this was approved by Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, which he described as “the communications link between America and Iran.” [Emphasis added.]

Salehi said he and Moniz did not know each other well when they were at MIT, but when they first met during the talks, “there was a feeling that he has known me for years.” Salehi added, “A number of my classmates are now Mr. Moniz’s experts.”  [Emphasis added.]

According to Salehi, Moniz entering the talks was important because Salehi expressed that he had been sent with “full authority” to sign off on all technical issues in the nuclear negotiations and Moniz had told him that he had the same authority. He added, “If the negotiations did not take place with the Americans, the reality is that it would not have reached a conclusion. No [other] country was ready to sit with us and negotiate for 16 days with their foreign minister and all of its experts.”

Salehi said that one of the more difficult times negotiating with Moniz was after they reached an agreement on a particular issue. Moniz would take it to the other members of P5+1, who would then make their own requests.

Moniz was likely as forthcoming with the non-US members of P5+1 as he was with members of the U.S. Congress; not at all.

North Korea and Iran, partners in crime

This is a drum I have been beating for years. Recent articles are available here and here. The Obama Administration persists in covering up what it knows on the subject and the current “deal” with Iran is silent on the matter. So, of course, was the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action.

Forbes published an article by Claudia Rosett today (August 13th) on the subject and, beyond noting that Douglas Frantz is Kerry’s Assistant Secretary in charge of the Bureau of Public Affairs, she observes that in his former capacity as a journalist for the Washington Post and New York Times, he wrote about the nature and perils of the axis.

Frantz’ duties under Kerry include

engaging “domestic and international media to communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy and national security interests as well as broadening understanding of American values.”

But it appears that as a State Department advocate of a free and well-informed press, Frantz himself is not free to answer questions from the press about his own reporting on North Korea’s help to Iran in designing a nuclear warhead. The State Department has refused my repeated requests to interview Frantz on this subject. Last year, an official at State’s Bureau of Public Affairs responded to my request with an email saying, “Unfortunately Assistant Secretary Frantz is not available to discuss issues related to Iran’s nuclear program.” This June I asked again, and received the emailed reply: “This is indeed an important topic for Doug, but he feels that speaking about his past work would no longer be appropriate, since he is no longer a journalist.”

The real issue, of course, is not the career timeline of Douglas Frantz, but the likelihood, past and future, of nuclear collaboration between Iran and North Korea. Frantz may no longer be a journalist, but it’s hard to see why that should constrain him, or his boss, Secretary Kerry, from speaking publicly about important details of Iran’s illicit nuclear endeavors — information which Frantz in his incarnation as a star journalist judged credible enough to publish in a major newspaper.

. . . .

President Obama has been telling Congress and the American public that the Iran nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — “cuts off all Iran’s pathways to the bomb.” That’s not true. One of the most dangerous aspects of this deal is that it does not sever the longtime alliance between Tehran and Pyongyang. If there has indeed been cooperation between these two regimes on nuclear weapons, it’s time not only for Iran to come clean, but for the Obama administration to stop covering up. [Emphasis added.]

Although that’s not the only dangerous aspect which the Obama Administration has covered up and lied about cutting off “all [of] Iran’s pathways to the bomb” it is an important one. Meanwhile, it has been reported that

Fresh satellite images suggest North Korea is expanding its uranium extraction capacity, possibly with a view to increasing its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

The images taken in Pyongyang show Kim Jong-un has begun to refurbish a major mill that turns uranium ore into yellowcake – a first step towards producing enriched uranium.

A recent report by U.S. researchers warned that Kim was poised to expand his nuclear programme over the next five years and, in a worst-case scenario, could possess 100 atomic weapons by 2020. 

Conclusions

“Negotiations” involving hostile foreign nations such as Iran are easier when led by friendly “negotiators” with compatible interests. At least since his failed 2004 campaign for the presidency, Kerry has been on Iran’s side and has favored it over the United States. While pretending for political purposes to be against Iran’s nuclear program, Obama was and remains in favor of it, pretenses to the contrary notwithstanding.

Obama, Kerry and Moniz got the deal they wanted. They, along with their P5+1 partners, richly deserve their resultant legacy of empowering Iran as an anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Western civilization, Islamist hegemonic nuclear power with a disgraceful human rights record comparable to that of its partner, North Korea.

The Iran – North Korea nuclear axis has helped both rogue nations to develop and create nuclear bombs and the means to deliver them, with very little in the way of “adult supervision.” The failure to deal with even tangentially, or even to mention, the axis will likely become a significant part of Obama’s legacy. Ours as well.

Bringing Obama’s vision of stability to the Middle East, Allah willing.

This video is from August 2010. Now it may well be too late to stop Iran.

What Iran’s hostile reaction to the Parchin issue means for the nuclear deal

August 11, 2015

What Iran’s hostile reaction to the Parchin issue means for the nuclear deal, Washington Post, David Albright, August 10, 2015

The United States and Congress should clearly and publicly confirm, and Congress should support with legislation, that if Iran does not address the IAEA’s concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the nuclear deal.

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Chico Marx said: “Who you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said over the weekend that my organization, the Institute for Science and International Security, was spreading lies when we published satellite imagery that showed renewed, concerning activity at the Parchin military site near Tehran. This site is linked by Western intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to past work on nuclear weapons. But like Chico, instead of acknowledging the concern, the Iranians chose to deny the visible evidence in commercial satellite imagery. Iran’s comments would be mirthful if the topic were not so serious.

Zarif is also calling U.S. intelligence officials and members of Congress liars. They are the original source of the information both about renewed activity at Parchin and concerns about that activity. All we did was publish satellite imagery showing this activity and restate the obvious concern.

Moreover, this information about renewed activity at Parchin does not come from opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated between the United States, five other world powers and Iran, as Zarif suggested. We are neutral on whether the agreement should be implemented and have made that position clear for weeks. The U.S. intelligence community is hardly opposed to the deal. Iran’s attempts to dismiss this concern as the work of the deal’s foes also is just wrong.

Concern about Parchin has become more urgent now that there is a debate raging over whether the IAEA will have adequate access to this site under the terms of its deal with Iran. It would be irresponsible not to worry about reports that suggest that Iran could be again sanitizing the site to thwart environmental sampling that could reveal past nuclear weapons activities there. This concern is further heightened because Iran has demanded to do this sampling itself instead of letting the IAEA do it. Such an arrangement is unprecedented and risky, and will be even more so if Iran continues to sanitize the site. In the cases of the Iranian Kalaye Electric site and the North Korean plutonium separation plant at Yongbyon, the success of sampling that showed undeclared activities depended on samples being taken at non-obvious locations identified during previous IAEA visits inside buildings. The IAEA will not be able to visit Parchin until after the samples are taken, and it remains doubtful that the inspectors will be able to take additional samples.

Some of this can be written off to Zarif’s volatility. At one point during the negotiations, he yelled so loudly at Secretary of State John F. Kerry that those outside the room could hear him. He obviously angers easily. But he is also one of the more reasonable Iranian government officials. I can remember in the late 1990s discussions with Iranian government and nuclear officials in New York where the Iranians vehemently stated, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that they did not have any gas centrifuge programs. I was presenting the evidence that they did, in fact, have a centrifuge program, one in fact aided by Pakistan, and at one of these meetings, Zarif quietly said to me that he had always told me that Iran had the entire fuel cycle — technical language admitting to an enrichment program. His willingness to admit the obvious gave me hope that the crisis over Iran’s program could be solved diplomatically. But on Parchin, his words appear to reflect Iranian government intransigence on its past nuclear weapons program. Its action is an assault on the integrity and prospects of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s reaction shows that it may be drawing a line at Parchin. Resolving the Parchin issue is central to the IAEA’s effort to resolve concerns about Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons by the end of the year, but Parchin is not the only site and activity involved in this crucial issue. The IAEA needs to visit other sites and interview a range of scientists and officials. Instead of allowing this needed access, Iran appears to be continuing its policy of total denial, stating that the concerns are merely Western falsifications and fantasies. The United States recently reasserted that it believes Iran had a nuclear weapons program and stated that it knows a considerable amount about it. So, if Iran sticks to its strategy, one can expect an impasse that includes Iran refusing to allow the IAEA the access it needs to sites and scientists within the coming months.

U.S. officials have stated that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action requires Iran to address concerns about its past work on nuclear weapons prior to the lifting of sanctions. However, Iran may argue otherwise, and one could easily conclude that its recent actions are the start of such a reinterpretation of the agreement. The United States and Congress should clearly and publicly confirm, and Congress should support with legislation, that if Iran does not address the IAEA’s concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the nuclear deal.

What information collected by Israeli intelligence reveals about the Iran talks

July 29, 2015

What information collected by Israeli intelligence reveals about the Iran talks, TabletRonen Bergman, July 29, 2015

It is possible to argue about the manner in which Netanyahu chose to conduct the dispute about the nuclear agreement with Iran, by clashing head-on and bluntly with the American president. That said, the intelligence material that he was relying on gives rise to fairly unambiguous conclusions: that the Western delegates crossed all of the red lines that they drew themselves and conceded most of what was termed critical at the outset; and that the Iranians have achieved almost all of their goals.

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On Nov. 26, 2013, three days after the signing of the interim agreement (JPOA) between the powers and Iran, the Iranian delegation returned home to report to their government. According to information obtained by Israeli intelligence, there was a sense of great satisfaction in Tehran then over the agreement and confidence that ultimately Iran would be able to persuade the West to accede to a final deal favorable to Iran. That final deal, signed in Vienna last week, seems to justify that confidence. The intelligence—a swath of which I was given access to in the past month—reveals that the Iranian delegates told their superiors, including one from the office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, that “our most significant achievement” in the negotiations was America’s consent to the continued enrichment of uranium on Iranian territory.

That makes sense. The West’s recognition of Iran’s right to perform the full nuclear fuel cycle—or enrichment of uranium—was a complete about-face from America’s declared position prior to and during the talks. Senior U.S. and European officials who visited Israel immediately after the negotiations with Iran began in mid 2013 declared, according to the protocols of these meetings, that because of Iran’s repeated violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, “Our aim is that in the final agreement [with Iran] there will be no enrichment at all” on Iranian territory. Later on, in a speech at the Saban Forum in December 2013, President Barack Obama reiterated that in view of Iran’s behavior, the United States did not acknowledge that Iran had any right to enrich fissile material on its soil.

In February 2014, the first crumbling of this commitment was evident, when the head of the U.S. delegation to the talks with Iran, Wendy Sherman, told Israeli officials that while the United States would like Iran to stop enriching uranium altogether, this was “not a realistic” expectation. Iranian foreign ministry officials, during meetings the Tehran following the JPOA, reckoned that from the moment the principle of an Iranian right to enrich uranium was established, it would serve as the basis for the final agreement. And indeed, the final agreement, signed earlier this month, confirmed that assessment.

The sources who granted me access to the information collected by Israel about the Iran talks stressed that it was not obtained through espionage against the United States. It comes, they said, through Israeli spying on Iran, or routine contacts between Israeli officials and representatives of the P5+1 in the talks. The sources showed me only what they wanted me to see, and in these cases there’s always a danger of fraud and fabrication. This said, these sources have proved reliable in the past, and based on my experience with this type of material it appears to be quite credible. No less important, what emerges from the classified material obtained by Israel in the course of the negotiations is largely corroborated by details that have become public since.

In early 2013, the material indicates, Israel learned from its intelligence sources in Iran that the United States held a secret dialogue with senior Iranian representatives in Muscat, Oman. Only toward the end of these talks, in which the Americans persuaded Iran to enter into diplomatic negotiations regarding its nuclear program, did Israel receive an official report about them from the U.S. government. Shortly afterward, the CIA and NSA drastically curtailed its cooperation with Israel on operations aimed at disrupting the Iranian nuclear project, operations that had racked up significant successes over the past decade.

On Nov. 8, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw him off at Ben Gurion Airport and told him that Israel had received intelligence that indicated the United States was ready to sign “a very bad deal” and that the West’s representatives were gradually retreating from the same lines in the sand that they had drawn themselves.

Perusal of the material Netanyahu was basing himself on, and more that has come in since that angry exchange on the tarmac, makes two conclusions fairly clear: The Western delegates gave up on almost every one of the critical issues they had themselves resolved not to give in on, and also that they had distinctly promised Israel they would not do so.

One of the promises made to Israel was that Iran would not be permitted to stockpile uranium. Later it was said that only a small amount would be left in Iran and that anything in excess of that amount would be transferred to Russia for processing that would render it unusable for military purposes. In the final agreement, Iran was permitted to keep 300kgs of enriched uranium; the conversion process would take place in an Iranian plant (nicknamed “The Junk Factory” by Israel intelligence). Iran would also be responsible for processing or selling the huge amount of enriched uranium that is has stockpiled up until today, some 8 tons.

The case of the secret enrichment facility at Qom (known in Israel as the Fordo Facility) is another example of concessions to Iran. The facility was erected in blatant violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty, and P5+1 delegates solemnly promised Israel at a series of meetings in late 2013 that it was to be dismantled and its contents destroyed. In the final agreement, the Iranians were allowed to leave 1,044 centrifuges in place (there are 3,000 now) and to engage in research and in enrichment of radioisotopes.

At the main enrichment facility at Natanz (or Kashan, the name used by the Mossad in its reports) the Iranians are to continue operating 5,060 centrifuges of the 19,000 there at present. Early in the negotiations, the Western representatives demanded that the remaining centrifuges be destroyed. Later on they retreated from this demand, and now the Iranians have had to commit only to mothball them. This way, they will be able to reinstall them at very short notice.

Israeli intelligence points to two plants in Iran’s military industry that are currently engaged in the development of two new types of centrifuge: the Teba and Tesa plants, which are working on the IR6 and the IR8 respectively. The new centrifuges will allow the Iranians to set up smaller enrichment facilities that are much more difficult to detect and that shorten the break-out time to a bomb if and when they decide to dump the agreement.

The Iranians see continued work on advanced centrifuges as very important. On the other hand they doubt their ability to do so covertly, without risking exposure and being accused of breaching the agreement. Thus, Iran’s delegates were instructed to insist on this point. President Obama said at the Saban Forum that Iran has no need for advanced centrifuges and his representatives promised Israel several times that further R&D on them would not be permitted. In the final agreement Iran is permitted to continue developing the advanced centrifuges, albeit with certain restrictions which experts of the Israeli Atomic Energy Committee believe to have only marginal efficacy.

As for the break-out time for the bomb, at the outset of the negotiations, the Western delegates decided that it would be “at least a number of years.” Under the final agreement this has been cut down to one year according to the Americans, and even less than that according to Israeli nuclear experts.

As the signing of the agreement drew nearer, sets of discussions took place in Iran, following which its delegates were instructed to insist on not revealing how far the country had advanced on the military aspects of its nuclear project. Over the past 15 years, a great deal of material has been amassed by the International Atomic Energy Agency—some filed by its own inspectors and some submitted by intelligence agencies—about Iran’s secret effort to develop the military aspects of its nuclear program (which the Iranians call by the codenames PHRC, AMAD, and SPND). The IAEA divides this activity into 12 different areas (metallurgy, timers, fuses, neutron source, hydrodynamic testing, warhead adaptation for the Shihab 3 missile, high explosives, and others) all of which deal with the R&D work that must be done in order to be able to convert enriched material into an actual atom bomb.

The IAEA demanded concrete answers to a number of questions regarding Iran’s activities in these spheres. The agency also asked Iran to allow it to interview 15 Iranian scientists, a list headed by Prof. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom Mossad nicknamed “The Brain” behind the military nuclear program. This list has become shorter because six of the 15 have died as a result of assassinations that the Iranians attribute to Israel, but access to the other nine has not been given. Neither have the IAEA’s inspectors been allowed to visit the facilities where the suspected activities take place. The West originally insisted on these points, only to retreat and leave them unsolved in the agreement.

In mid-2015 a new idea was brought up in one of the discussions in Tehran: Iran would agree not to import missiles as long as its own development and production is not limited. This idea is reflected in the final agreement as well, in which Iran is allowed to develop and produce missiles, the means of delivery for nuclear weapons. The longer the negotiations went on, the longer the list of concession made by the United States to Iran kept growing, including the right to leave the heavy water reactor and the heavy water plant at Arak in place and accepting Iran’s refusal of access to the suspect site.

It is possible to argue about the manner in which Netanyahu chose to conduct the dispute about the nuclear agreement with Iran, by clashing head-on and bluntly with the American president. That said, the intelligence material that he was relying on gives rise to fairly unambiguous conclusions: that the Western delegates crossed all of the red lines that they drew themselves and conceded most of what was termed critical at the outset; and that the Iranians have achieved almost all of their goals.