How do we gauge the effectiveness of the Iran agreement without sitting on our hands and hoping not to see a mushroom cloud over Israel? Inspections, forecasting and heartfelt prayers, are about all we can do. As we found out in Part 1 of this series (available HERE), real inspections are not allowed under the Obama administration’s agreement with Iran. This leaves us with few options.
We know that the agreement forced American taxpayers to pay Iran $1.7 billion immediately and allowed for sanctions relief that began pouring billions of dollars into Iran. In return Iran has promised to limit nuclear research, keep some nuclear weapons material and get rid of some while redirecting their nuclear development more to energy production than weapons. If Iran does not keep their word, we and the world will end up paying them billions of dollars to fund the completion of their nuclear weapons program and dramatically increase Iran’s terrorizing of Israel and other neighbors.
That said, how will America make sure Iran is keeping their word?
We are not allowed in the country, so we can only watch and hope. You will see from the following inspections criteria, that only a non-American inspection team can be used and Iran is always given over three weeks to clean and prep any site before inspection. On top of this, not all sites can be inspected.
If, somehow, we uncovered a violation, how is a punishment administered and what would it be?
You will see that Iran is given a vote on both the reality of a violation plus the punishment recommendation…if any. Of course, there is absolutely no “snap-back” provision nor any possibility to restart sanctions without going through the normal lengthy and difficult UN Security council process. It all is outlined below. Following this outline are the best and worst outcome scenarios.
- No Americans will be allowed to be part of inspections.
- Iran gets to inspect its own site, a place called Parchin, instead of international inspectors. This is, of course, like letting an accused murderer perform part of the investigation into his own crime instead of the police.
- Iran will get a 24-day notice before a site is inspected. Yes, Iran will get more than three weeks notice before a site is inspected. If they are continuing to develop nuclear weapons, they will have a full 24 days to move forbidden nuclear bomb-making material, clean everything and otherwise get an area ready for inspection. Why would a they need so much time just to let a small group of scientists look around a facility if not to cover up what they are doing.
- Inspectors can NOT inspect anywhere they want, despite what the American people were originally told.
- There are no surprise inspections nor any way to verify Iran is not developing a weapon. We only get their promise not to continue developing nuclear weapons and we get to inspect some of the sites, though only after the 24-day notice which, as previously mentioned, allows Iran to cover up whatever they need before the inspectors arrive.
What Happens if Iran breaks a Promise
- The agreement is not a treaty or binding arrangement of any sort. It really is little more than a simple series of promises. This means there is no programmed recourse or automatic penalties or any reason to live by the agreement other than simply wanting to.
- Despite what the President said, there is no “snap-back” or automatic resumption of sanctions if Iran violates any part of the agreement. All sanctions or actions of any sort would have to go back through the standard UN process that includes trying to convince countries, like Russia, that benefit from Iran not being sanctioned, to begin sanctions again. There is not even a mention of “snap-back” or anything similar to “automatically resume sanctions”. The agreement is non-binding and has absolutely no power of any sort over the UN Security Council. To be clear, the agreement reads that the US and allies can “notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance.” Think about how difficult it is to get the UN to sanction a country. Now picture this same UN Security Council again taking up debate to start new sanctions it just lifted…simply because someone might have broken a promise. It is possible, but it is a long, difficult and uncertain process that slams directly into anti-sanction forces within the UN. That is in no way a “snap-back”.
- After taking advantage of the required full 24 days to prepare for inspectors, even if Iran still does not let the inspectors in, there is a panel set up to review the situation and possibly discuss recommending a penalty of some sort. The panel, unfortunately, is a joke. It has eight people on it including a representative from Iran. In addition, it has no authority to actually do anything. The only power it has is to recommend a penalty if, and only if, the majority agrees there should be a penalty. Again, Iran gets to be part of the panel and vote which skews the numbers enough to make agreeing to penalize Iran much harder than agreeing to let them off of the hook. Just to recommend a penalty, we have agreed to let the country already breaking their promise to directly influence the seven other members and even directly alter the vote both on whether their should be a recommendation of a penalty and what that penalty might be. Would you let the brother of an accused criminal sit on the jury hearing his case? Of course not. The accused would have direct access via his representative, his brother, to the decision-makers and even a direct impact on the vote. Letting the accused tell his or her side of the story is good, but direct access, influence and a vote is beyond foolish. As mentioned, the presence of Iran on an eight-member panel skews the numbers making penalties much more difficult. This is because Iran only needs three votes of the remaining seven, besides their own, to stop any ruling against them. We need no less than five votes of the seven to try to hold Iran accountable. That is just 43% of the remaining vote needed to let Iran off of the hook and a full 71% is needed to try to punish them. If Iran is removed from the vote, 50% is needed to let them off and 62% to penalize. That sounds like a smarter, more fair and far more logical approach.
The Best and Worst Outcome of the Agreement
The best possible result: According to the White House, Iran was one year from finishing a nuclear bomb. The best outcome the agreement provides is that Iran decides not to utilize the sites that can not be inspected nor the 24-day grace period before each inspection to finish this final year of nuclear bomb development. In this best-case scenario, they wait until the agreement expires in eight to ten years and then finish the bomb.
The worst result: The agreement allows Iran to remain roughly about a year away from completing a bomb. The agreement also includes a series of gaping loopholes that allow Iran the space and time to continue nuclear weapons development if they wish. The entire agreement depends completely on Iran honoring their promises. This means that with years of negotiation, plus billions of dollars given to Iran by Americans and others, the Iranian government can still continue developing nuclear weapons at Parchin, since it can not be inspected, or by moving the material around and cleaning during the 24-day period prior to inspectors arriving at the inspection sites before the inspectors arrive. If Iran does happen to get caught somehow, they would get to influence the special eight-member panel that decides if their has been an infraction. Iran then even gets to vote on whether or not to recommend a punishment. Then, if the panel does still vote to punish, it can only ask the UN Security Council to possibly take action. The UN Security council may or may not decide to debate punitive action. Then, if the UN does decide to do something, they would have to pass the vote and attempt to enact the punishment. This punishment could be anything they want, even a simple strongly worded letter. While all of this is going on, Iran can finish the bomb and just walk away from the agreement. Check mate. That is almost exactly where we were before the agreement and before paying them $1.7 billion in cash along with allowing billions of dollars to flow into the county via the lifting of sanctions.
So, at the end of years of negotiating, the Iranian government is no less of a nuclear threat, no more friendly to the US and now is back in the lucrative business of trying to erase opposition from the region. In the end, we probably don’t need to worry too much about America’s failure here. A tough US-friendly nation of people the Iranian government wants killed en masse, Israel, will fight back. Israel will bomb the nuclear facilities, neutralize the individual threats and otherwise prevent Iran from taking over more of the region. Obama and his team have poured all kinds of resources into the last big election in Israel attempting to have Netenyahu, who opposed the Iran nuclear agreement, removed from his leadership role. Obama has comically failed at this effort and now Israel stands firmly against the Iran agreement and against the malicious Iranian leadership. So, despite Obama’s efforts, America can now take a back seat to the strong leadership in Israel in the mission to protect the world from Iranian tyranny. Israeli leadership has proven smarter, stronger and more capable than Barack Obama and his administration. Hopefully Israel can stay alive long enough to help keep us safe from our government’s incompetence.
For more detail on Iran nuclear agreement, see Iran Nuclear Deal in 14 Facts and Ransom Paid by Obama Admin Violates Bi-Partisan US Policy.
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Also published on Medium.