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Monday, March 9, 2015

The Iran Nuke Deal and Bibi's Speech

The Obama administration has made negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program its signature foreign policy effort.  So far, progress has been tough.  The Iranians need to get sanctions lifted but they are reluctant to give much of their program up. The US, which leads the P5 negotiators, now wants a program freeze for 10 years and has dropped demands for dismantling centrifuges.  Iran still would have to accept a far more rigorous inspection program on all its facilities.

Israeli Prime Minister "Bibi" Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress last week and denounced the current proposal.  He called it a "very bad deal" that would guarantee the Iran gets lots of nuclear bombs.   Judging from the thunderous applause, most of Congress seemed to agree with him.  See Barone's column here:  Sharing Netanyahu's views  Predictably, Charles Krauthammer called Bibi a new Churchill for his stance:  Churchillian Warning.

A few opinions on this.  The administration is right to negotiate and to get some deal that improves our visibility on Iran's program.  Especially with oil prices this low, Tehran needs to work out a deal to get an ease of sanctions.  We should be patient, but not desperate.

Bibi has no solution to the Iran problem other than the US attacking Iran.  Israeli defense officials consistently downplay the Iranian threat.  It was not an issue in their last election.

Do the Iranians have a nuclear weapons program?  The only strong evidence is the large number of centrifuges.  The intelligence community thought back in 2007 they had stopped the weapons portion of it.  Iran's supreme leaders have at various times publicly called nuclear weapons "haram."  This issue took on a lot more urgency when former President Ahmadinejad started threatening Israel, but he's out of power for some time now.

If Iran got a nuclear weapons, would it attack Israel?  Only if you believe it has forged a national suicide pact with itself.

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