A deal that only Obama and Lurch could have come up with (with Svengali Valerie Jarrett lurking in the background).
What a disgrace.
I’ve Read the Nuclear Deal, Mr. President, and It’s Awful
Deal rewrites history: Iran committed no violations in the past
In his combative press conference last week to defend the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, President Barack Obama issued the following challenge:
So to go back to Congress, I challenge those who are objecting to this agreement, number one, to read the agreement before they comment on it; number two, to explain specifically where it is that they think this agreement does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and why they’re right and people like Ernie Moniz, who is an MIT nuclear physicist and an expert in these issues, is wrong, why the rest of the world is wrong, and then present an alternative.
First off it’s worth noting that Energy Secretary and MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz said back in April that to be effective the deal would have to include “anytime, anywhere,” inspections, so Obama’s explanation about why 24 days notice is now good enough fails to convince me.
I want Moniz to explain why he changed his position on this AND why 24 days is now acceptable. I would like Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes to explain why he walked back his comments on requiring “anytime, anywhere” inspections.
And I want a more convincing explanation than negotiator Wendy Sherman’s excuse that the term was just a “rhetorical flourish.” (If that was a rhetorical flourish, I’m curious how many other administration comments about the nuclear deal were rhetorical flourishes.)
But in that paragraph, Obama limits the grounds of questioning the deal to whether the language of the deal is insufficient to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear breakout over the course of the deal.
Here’s where I have problem. Even if the agreement was airtight, and I doubt that it is, there’s a matter of the administration’s behavior during the Joint Plan of Action, which was agreed to in November 2013. The problem is that the Obama administration has acted as “Iran’s attorney” covering for Iran’s violations of the previous agreement.
In a notable episode last month, administration officials attacked The New York Times for reporting that Iran would likely fail to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by the June 30 deadline. In the end Iran did reduce its stockpile but not by the method prescribed and not to the form that it was required to.
The nonproliferation think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, earlier this month, explained why the administration’s behavior in this case was troubling:
The reason is not that somehow one form or other of LEU oxide is harder to turn back into hexafluoride form for use in a breakout. This is almost irrelevant to the debate. Unfortunately, these main forms of LEU oxide are straightforward to convert back and use during a breakout. That is a principal reason that in a final deal the United States wants all but 300 kilograms (kg) of Iran’s near 10,000 kg of LEU shipped out of the country or blended down to natural uranium. The United States is now making a very narrow interpretation of this provision in the JPA, and an interpretation that is at odds with its previous positions and common sense. It is also an interpretation that appears to favor Iran and not the United States. Reaching this interpretation seems overly driven by the administration’s fear of Congress. The administration appears to have lost sight of the true adversary in its on-going battle with Congress.
This weakening of interpretations is a bad precedent for the future. This case signals a U.S. willingness to legally reinterpret the deal when Iran cannot do what it said it would do, in order to justify that non-performance. The United States should have said, like we do, that Iran has not met its commitment in the JPA on this issue and fully explained the status of the stocks and what the future remedy will be. It should have used that position as leverage to gain additional concessions from Iran. Experts and Congress may have noted the discrepancy with concern but few would have advocated walking away from the JPA as a result of a frank discussion of this issue last winter or even now.