Friday, December 13, 2013

Obama de facto accepts the containment of Iran

 Amos Yadlin

My name is Amos Yadlin . I used  to be a  general in the Israeli Air  Force  and Intelligence and am now running a think tank in Tel Aviv. Looking into the future agreement with Iran we put behind me the initial agreement and what is really important is the final agreement . Two questions. What are the parameters that you see as a red line to insure that Iran would be moving backward from the bomb as much as possible, and what is your plan B if an agreement cannot be reached?

President Obama:

Well, with respect to the end state, I want to be very clear -  there’s  nothing in this agreement or document that grants Iran a right to enrich.  We have been very clear that given its past behavior and given existing UN resolutions and previous violations by Iran of its international obligations that we do not recognize such a right and, by the way, negotiations break down there will be no additional international recognition that’s been obtained .This deal goes away and we go back to where we were before the Geneva agreement. Iran will continue to be subject to all the sanctions that we have been putting in place in the past and we may seek additional ones. But, I think what we have said is we can envision a comprehensive agreement that involves extraordinary constraints and verification mechanisms and intrusive inspections but that permits Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program. 

Now, in terms of specifics we know that they don’t need to have an underground fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They certainly don’t need a heavy water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They do not need some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a limited peaceful nuclear program.   And so the question is ultimately is going to be are they prepared to role back some of the advancements that they’ve made that could not be justified by simply wanting some modest peaceful nuclear power, but frankly, hint at a desire to have breakout capacity and go right to the edge of breakout capacity.  If we can move that significantly back then that is I think a net win.  

Now you will hear arguments including potentially from the Prime Minster that we can’t accept any enrichment on Iranian soil. Period.  Full stop. End of conversation. And this takes me back to the point I made earlier.  One can envision an ideal world in which Iran said we’ll destroy every element and facility , you name it  - is all gone.  I can envision a world in which Congress passed every one of my bills that I’ve put forward. There are a lot things that I can envision  that would be wonderful but precisely because we don’t trust the nature of the Iranian regime I think that we have to be more realistic and ask ourselves what puts us in a strong position to assure ourselves that Iran is not having a nuclear weapon and protect us.  What is required to accomplish that and how does that compare to other options that we might take, and it is my strong belief that we can envision an end state that gives us an assurance that even if they have some modest enrichment capability it is so constrained and the inspections are so intrusive that they as a practical matter do not have breakout capacity. Theoretically they might still have some. But frankly, theoretically they will always have some, because as I said, the technology here is available to any good physics student and pretty much any university around the world, and they have already gone through the cycle to t the point where the knowledge we are not going to be able to eliminate, but what we can do is eliminate the incentive for them to want to do this.

And with respect to what happens if this breaks down I won’t go into details.  I will say that if we cannot get the kind of comprehensive end state that satisfies us and the world community and the P5+1, then the pressure that we have been applying on and the options  that I’ve made clear I can avail myself of, including the military option, is one that we would consider and prepare for. And we’ve always said that, so that does not change. But last point I’ll make on this. When I hear people who criticize the Geneva deal, say it’s got to be all or nothing, I would just remind them if it’s nothing if we did not even try for next six months to do this. All the breakout capacity we are concerned about would accelerate e during these six months. Arak would be further along, the advanced centrifuges would have been put in place. They would be that much closer to breakout capacity six months from now. And that is why it is important for us to test out this proposition