I’ve read it now three times … and I will say that it is written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat. So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability. ~ US Secretary of Defense James Mattis
Why was/is the JCPOA aka ‘Iran Deal’ a good deal. A deal we came up with in the late stages of Iranian bomb development. Specifically, we took all their fuel. Driving your car with no fuel is just like building a nuclear weapon with no fuel; you don’t get very far. We subjected them to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring, monitoring with no sunset clause under the Additional Protocols clause (now in jeopardy), we forced them to shut down their heavy water reactor at Arak that created bomb grade Plutonium and shutter research facilities. We forced them to stop research on a nuclear capable ICBM. The deal was as perfect as could be less a few errors for getting caught late in the game and dealing with a nation that was hardly defeated.
So then you may ask why do people say bad deal, unfair to America. So much money involved etc. The real reasons are the language was vague in the very same part of the contract that it was also specific which I’ll show below and that just like there are zealots and ideologues in the political game there are the same zealots in the non proliferation expertise arena. Much like climate change you would find 99.9% of non proliferation experts of varying expertise’s saying the JCPOA was the greatest thing since sliced bread to keep Iran from building a nuclear weapon but there’s that .01% that says bad deal and ignorants like our current fellow Congressman Walden latch onto.
Here are the specifics of why they consider it bad, essentially two reasons: a) The deal does not address Iranian Missiles. I have discussed the extent of Iranian Missiles below but Iran said from the outset if you want our missiles then no deal. They wouldn’t even come to the Table of Diplomacy if the deal included missiles, so hence, missiles are not in the deal, although there was an attempt under UN Resolution 2231. b) The most operative language that guarantees everyone’s security is in Annex 1, Section T and so is the unintended loophole.
If the President is to Decertify then you will hear about this alot. Here it is in its totality:
T. ACTIVITIES WHICH COULD CONTRIBUTE TO THE DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT OF A NUCLEAR EXPLOSIVE DEVICE
82. Iran will not engage in the following activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device:
82.1 Designing, developing, acquiring, or using computer models to simulate nuclear explosive devices.
82.2 Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using multi-point explosive detonation systems suitable for a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring.
82.3 Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosive diagnostic systems (streak cameras, framing cameras and flash x-ray cameras) suitable for the development of a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring.
82.4 Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosively driven neutron sources or specialized materials for explosively driven neutron sources.
So after reading it what are your thoughts? Where is the loophole? It’s very clear, Iran is not allowed to pursue design, develop, fabricate, acquire or use a multi point detonation system aka implosive device to detonate a Nuclear Weapon. Here’s the rub; in 82.1 it says using computer models to simulate nuclear explosive devices. That’s it, that’s all the naysayers and nitwits have and I’ll elaborate. It’s simply impossible to check every computer in Iran or every smart phone to see if someone is simulating a nuclear device. Hard to believe but totally true and there is a c) too. The c) section is called the Iran Nuclear Review Act (INRA) that Congress had to stick their nose into and that put in a clause that this thing has to be re-certified every 90 days by the President. Unfortunately no one envisioned a bitter man as President that cared more about destroying his predecessors legacy than he cared about the safety of the World’s citizens.
John Kerry and President Obama learned their physics and nuclear science and applied it pragmatically in negotiations. Experts in non proliferation seem to be extremely happy with the deal across the board, at least the ones I listen to and respect do, and it seems Iran has been rather quiet post the JCPOA ratification.
The leaders of Iran may support evil doings but they are hardly alone and that doesn’t give us the ability to tear up agreements we are signatory too. That’s not something a great nation is known is known for. It’s well known that the populace, especially the younger populace, is affectionate towards the West and hence the 15 year term of the deal. During the Iran Iraq war the Iranians lost over a million men, referred to as the ‘missing generation’. When the older leaders die off the new leaders will likely skip a generation and it’s likely we can count on those leaders to be more amenable to the USA and its allies. I encourage you to look at the Demographics of Iran and make your own decision.
Transfer of Held Monies
It was their money and they need it to run their economy and get it restarted from years of being depleted by sanctions. There were also serious liens put on those funds by foreign countries that got ripped off by Iran’s failure to pay their bills. It was going back to them at some point anyway and out of whatever the actual dollar amount that was what we held onto and returned Iran likely got upwards of 40% . We are the USA not Nazi Germany, we don’t go into countries and steal their treasures and keep them. Giving them back what was theirs in return for what we wanted was not a freebie. The President says $100 Billion which may be true and then there’s the $150 Billion number that he touted regularly on the campaign trail that’s very unlikely. Regardless of the monies involved they didn’t seem to have a dearth of funds when it came to building a nuclear weapon. Follow this link to find out the value of an Iranian Rial and make your own decision about what life is like in Iran with this kind of monetary disparity. The further that graph goes up the farther you get away in parity to a US Dollar.
The current manipulated truth you’ll hear from our President is that they’re not adhering to the agreement and he wants to leave the agreement because of their alleged non compliance which is a stark contrast to the view of the IAEA and is based on the fact that we left them with an option to explore space and launch space vehicles. The ignorant naysayers will say they’re using that technology to improve their ICBM technology which may be partly true but the reality is they’ve put things in space with their launch vehicle and it’s nothing like an ICBM. In addition it is against International Law to dictate terms of missile defense. Every nation has a right to defend itself with ballistic missiles. There was no specificity to the JCPOA regarding ballistic missiles for defense as the agreement was based solely on nuclear activity other than they can’t build nuclear capable missiles but there was UN Resolution 2231 which was unenforceable. The Iranians make weaponry and proliferate it for hard currency and to further their cause and of course this is a huge problem but you don’t recede from an agreement that eliminates their most evil weapon. The idea is to use the solid agreement as a building block to curbing future disputes. This method has a clear precedent in the history between the USA and North Korea who we once had a curb on and then walked away from as we transitioned from the Clinton to GW Bush administration who claimed they would bring North Korea back to the bargaining table for a new and stronger deal and look exactly where that got us. The moral is we don’t make written deals with people we trust we make them with people that aren’t trustworthy and we do it for good reason.
In addition ballistic missiles are prevalent in the middle east, they’re are the favored toy of Middle East Monarchs and Autocrats and they love to rocket each other every chance they get. When you talk about ballistic missiles in the Middle East you might as well add in countries like Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Qatar and probably Dubai. The supplier of these missiles, updated variants of former Soviet Scud and original designs by you guessed it, North Korea the third worlds version of the Manhattan Project.
If you want to leave the JCPOA based on what the President claims is non compliance, the worst deal ever and the the worst explanation in history of what Uranium is used for then if Iran starts to redevelop bomb and missile technology think of it this way. If you like what North Korea’s doing right now, you’re gonna love what Iran can do. Not to worry though, Congress will not reimpose sanctions, nor will our allies, and Iran says its going to stay compliant until we get a smarter President.
The above was written prior to the President’s decertification and withdrawal from the JCPOA so lets look at the truth and fiction of the President’s reasoning for leaving.
1. The President stated that Iran had violated the spirit of the agreement. The reality was there was no ‘spirit’ to the agreement, the agreement was printed on paper and signed by the P5 + 1 (UN Security Council’s five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus the EU). We put the agreement on paper and signed off on it so there could be no misconceptions about any ‘spirit’ of anything that wasn’t within the confines of the written agreement.
2. The President stated that before the withdrawal of sanctions by the Obama Administration that Iran was on the verge of collapse. This is not true at all, even if they were they had no problem funding nuclear weapons research and ultimately a bomb. Iran has faced way more adversity in its current history namely the Iran – Iraq War and they certainly survived that.
3. The President stated that Iran received $100 Billion dollars in a secret midnight jet delivery. On the campaign trail he regularly touted the number to be $150 Billion dollars. According to former Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew Iran ended up with $50 Billion after international liens were paid off which likely did very little to shore up their currency and pay assorted financial debts including payments to public employees, pensions and needed infrastructure repairs that total over $500 Billion dollars.
4. Last, the President stated that there were multiple violations regarding an excess output of heavy water and some fishy overspeeding of centrifuges for Uranium enrichment. The reality is that the IAEA has confirmed on 8 different occasions that Iran is in compliance with the agreement and there have been no major violations.
Just to be clear on this subject because it’s not trite nor am I attempting to impugn the President which he does fantastically on his own but Uranium is used for energy and ‘not many things or other things’ and it’s a dying element. There’s no use for it, at least Uranium 235, in next gen Advanced Nuclear Energies and it hasn’t been used for weaponry since our Uranium weapons were dismantled during the late 50’s. The United States has a stockpile of Highly Enriched Uranium totaling 584 tons that could be downblended into over 10,500 tons of reactor grade fuel. Nuclear Weapons use Plutonium because it has twice the bomb density of Uranium and the energy curve is much more favorable for supercriticality. To simplify it, a Uranium Bomb would have to weigh at least twice what a Plutonium bomb weighs for it to make the same boom and that limits its delivery system whether it travels by plane or rocket.
Although esoteric this is hardly trivial and something that should be within the knowledge base of the President of the USA because he is the only one on the planet that possesses the power to pull our nuclear trigger.
Epilogue For Now
What we now know with the release of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s presentation below is that Iran was building the Yugo of atomic weapons. Everything else in this video was well known. We knew the Iranian’s were intent on building a bomb and wanted to save face by denying it.
Now that we have disengaged completely from the agreement we have no enforcement ability by the IAEA. Any action we take if the Iranians choose to restart their program is going to be military. My main concern is where do we strike? The Iranians have many research facilitys that are strategically located in very naturally defensive locations. The Iranians have one working nuclear reactor, Bushehr 1 with a generation capacity of 1000Mw and one more reactor planned at the same location that will upgrade its total capacity to 2000Mw. Since 2008 they have been constructing a 335 Mw capacity plant, the Darkhovin Nuclear Power Plant although as you can see in this image there doesn’t seem to be much of anything happening here. A kinetic strike on a working reactor is a horrible idea. If you want to take out a reactor you do it before it becomes operational because the repercussions could be ghastly, think meltdown. Fukishima or Chernobyl no thanks.
The weapon they were building was really a last line of defense weapon. Nothing more than we would consider a battlefield nuke. Its yield was 10 kilotons or half the magnitude of the weapon dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. It used an advanced detonation technique to increase its yield called a Levitated Pit but used an un-lensed explosive that controls the shockwave within the weapon that compresses the Uranium fuel to start the chain reaction. I am unaware of any weapon ever built without a focused lens. It’s possible that this weapon wasn’t even up to 1940’s standards.
If you view the short animation clip below you can see the fuel doesn’t compress hemispherically and seems to leak out in different spots which could create what’s known as a fizzle or lack of detonation and become more of a massive dirty bomb than a weapon of mass destruction.
For a more in depth and easily understandable commentary I urge you to click the player below and listen to experts from The Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation.