Who can explain the Iran Nuclear Deal?

Who can explain the Iran nuclear deal? The New York Times has a summary page, but it seems to raise as many questions as it answers.

Iran, for example, will be able to buy ballistic missiles starting no later than eight years from now. But why would Iran want a stack of expensive ballistic missiles if it could not put nuclear warheads on top? Maybe the U.S. would do something insanely expensive like this, but any other country?

Iran will be able to keep a massive nuclear technology program going, with “enrichment sites” and “centrifuge production sites.” Now that fracking has unlocked more oil that we can burn, the Chinese have figured out how to make solar cells inexpensively, and the Europeans have figured out how to make windmills, is there a conceivable economic case to be made for nuclear energy? Forbes says that nuclear can’t compete with wind in China: “The variance between the nuclear roadmap and nuclear reality in China is following the trajectory of nuclear buildout worldwide: delays, cost overruns, and unmet expectations.”

Wouldn’t this therefore be an agreement that Iran can have nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles starting no later than eight years from now?

Tangentially related at best:

26 thoughts on “Who can explain the Iran Nuclear Deal?

  1. Yes. This will be after the end of Hillary’s 2nd term. By then, the White House should change parties. Apre moi, le deluge!

  2. It’s not Iran alone. India was given a deal to help develop civilian technology, for instance.

    As the NYT editorial points out, the Iran deal buys the world powers more time (i.e., more advance notice) and monitoring rights. And, it’s easy to imagine that there are other geopolitical benefits in play (such as keeping other regional powers in check). Of course, other world powers may have different reasons.

  3. Why did Iran got into enriched uranium in the first place and continued to do so even after years of sanctions were impose and its economy is hit? Why did Saddam continued to reject inspection demands even after he has lost the war with Kuwait and knew he has zero chance during Iraq War II? It is because the middle east is run on intimidation and hunger for power above all. Any sign of weakness by a leader is more than humiliation.

    The Iran deal, and their initial project to enrich uranium, sends a message to everyone in the regain that Iran cannot be played with. It also sends a message to the Iranian people that their leaders have the upper hand and won: they can make the boom if they want to be it sanctions or not and this deal shows that the world is bowing to its demands.

    Will we be discussing this topic again in 8 years when Iran has the boom? Yes we will. We will also be discussing that Saudi Arabia also has the boom.

    Another POV about how the middle east irrational power hunger, is this: each time there is a bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas (or Hezbollah) we see the huge devastation Hamas goes through compare to Israel’s, but yet Hamas comes out declaring victory and parade in the street about the success of the operation.

  4. I believe the thinking on ballistic missiles is that Iran can get into the space launch business.

  5. @Joe, for the same reason we take away drivers license from an alcoholic who drinks and drives.

  6. “Will we be discussing this topic again in 8 years when Iran has the boom? Yes we will. We will also be discussing that Saudi Arabia also has the boom.”

    I think its actually spelled “boomb”.

  7. Iran deal buys world powers (read US) time to gut its own (read US) military further by the time Iran is ready for larger conflict. Iran chose to be US’s enemy: diplomat hostages, deadly US Marines barracks bombings, etc… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_and_state-sponsored_terrorism
    None of this was addressed by this ‘treaty’, even US hostages held in Iran now were not condition for the ‘treaty’. Of course current regime in Iran with more funds and and nuclear weapons is way more dangerous with Iran with nukes and less funds. This moved strengthens Iranian clerics domestically and provides them with more fund to promote terrorism around the world. It also means that other players in Middle East are going nuclear and that can not be good for Iranian people, Israel or US. Huge conflict moved a little down the line but it is guaranteed to be much larger. This is Greek bailout for Middle East – next time stakes are higher.

  8. O Din – that’s right. Chamberlain made a peace treaty with Hitler at Munich – that shows that it can be done.

    It’s a good thing that the US never spies on France or Germany or any of its other allies. I have no idea why Netanyahu would not have full confidence in Obama.

  9. Izzie L. – Time to dig deeper into your history. Chamberlain bought Britain time to shore up her defenses. Right after Munich he quietly put British industry on war footing, doubled the size of the army and worked behind the scenes creating defense pacts.

  10. @Izzie: Not to mention Chamberlain was a good man who cared about his country. Very different situation here.

  11. Chamberlain had nothing on Obama/Kerry – at least he formally supported Poland militarily, although without moving troops significantly into Germany to impede Nazi invasion. Still, USSR was waiting for 2 week to evaluate French and British reaction – Stalin did not want to get in war with allies while fighting Japanese (‘helping’ Chinese and Mongols). It would be strange if Israel did not spy on Iran – Iran formally threatens destruction of Israel. Israel is somewhat better equipped to deal with this situation than Czechoslovakia could deal with Nazis but current situation is far more dangerous because it involves nukes. Of course nuke development would not happen without Munich.

  12. 8 years? Why would they wait that long? More likely they’ll ignore the treaty the day after sanctions are lifted — by the time the world community can reinstate those sanctions, they’ll probably have what they were after all along (hint — it’s not really cheap electricity)

  13. Don’t you have to be useful in some way to be an ally? Quid pro quo? US-Israel relations seem to consist of Israeli industrial espionage, US taxpayer cash/subsidies, massive drainage of American diplomatic “capital” going to bat for Israel, and illegal Israeli meddling in domestic US politics. Strange “alliance.”

  14. Joe: An excellent question, though not very related to the original posting (Israel is not the only potential target for Iranian nuclear missiles, for example). I tried to answer that in http://philip.greenspun.com/politics/israel/ (from 2003 but not too much has changed except that Obama figured out that it was indeed expedient to dump Israel as an ally).

  15. I don’t get it. Iran is an entire country which lives by the motto: “Death to Israel.” They regularly call for war with any and all Jews in an effort to eradicate them from the face of the earth. Whatever you think about the way Israel is subsuming land in Gaza and the West Bank, and the atrocities they may or may not have committed (I have a really hard time distinguishing fact from propaganda in the Middle East, and you should too, unless you’re a native), a first-world nation shouldn’t give Iran any consideration at all. That Obama made ANY sort of treaty which Iran celebrates is a loss for our country and for world peace.

    Mark my words: Some morning, within a few years, Americans will be waking up to wall-to-wall images of a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv, and the political liberal elite in this country will take to the airwaves, scratching their heads and wringing their hands, and wondering aloud how the Republicans could have failed the country and the world so badly.

    It’s like the old SNL skit where Buckwheat gets shot. And they interview the neighbor of the killer, asking him, was the killer a mild-mannered man, who you would never have thought would have done something like this? And his response was, “No, that’s all he ever talked about: ‘I’m going to kill Buckwheat.'” It’s going to be the same thing.

  16. David: Why does this have to be about Israel, the Jews, or the people in Iran or the U.S. who hate Jews? Couldn’t the Iranians, once they do become nuclear-armed, do a bunch of stuff that would be contrary to perceived U.S. interests and yet not involve Israel or Jews?

  17. The ones that are really concerned are the Saudis. Iran has been Israel’s enemy since the late 1970s but the Shiites have been fighting the Sunnis for 1300 years.

    Iran has indicated in the past that they might like to do things like blocking the Strait of Hormuz, which would choke off the oil from the Persian Gulf. But they have never done it because they know that the US would not allow it. But if Iran had nuclear weapons they might be able to make a blockade stick, particularly if the US had ineffective leadership at the time, which does not seem to be a big stretch. Now that the US is coming close to being self -sufficient in oil, it might decide that it has fought enough wars for oil and shrug its shoulders.

    But for the Saudis this would be fatal. They are going to want their own nukes to restore the balance of power.

    Israel is also going to want to up its game – in the past, Iranians have made statements implying that as a large country it was in a better position than Israel to survive a nuclear exchange. Israel is going to make it clear to Iran that that isn’t true – even if the Iranians manage a 1st strike, a massive retaliatory strike will inflict even more pain on them. Based upon the way that Israel acts when it is attacked by Hamas, etc. it feels that it needs to maintain a kill ratio of around 30:1 in order to achieve deterrence. Israel already has dozens of nukes but it will probably want more submarines, more hardened underground facilities, etc. that can survive a first strike.

    Obama has probably just unleashed a major Middle Eastern arms race.

  18. philg: It’s the analogy. Because that’s all they talk about. Maybe I’m woefully naive, and don’t realize that’s the only thing they talk about that makes the news in the US, but it’s a very consistent theme.

  19. Joe:
    Geopolitically US is in much better shape now that it was during Vietnam conflict when Lyndon Johnson established special relationship with Israel. On the other hand USSR geopolitical position was advancing back than with ever more counties allying themselves with the ‘Big Brother’. USSR is history now and US was a lone superpower until recent developments. Of course US/Israel relationship is a two way street although it is really hard to quantify Israel contributions due to its size and profound effect some obscure contributions could have and not obvious way they could be attributed to specific country. As they say, ‘diversity is strength’. Sure worked during Manhattan project. More, it is pretty bad policy to show that we ‘negotiate’ (surrender to demands) with parties that show they can really damage us. Shows others the way.

    Izzie, even in large countries such as Iran majority of people live in cities, i.e. small portion of overall territory, and nuclear war would be devastating for them as well. Unfortunately this phantasmagoric scenario becomes much closer after this ‘deal’ (force-fed to hating us Iranians clerics to give them save haven for completing nuclear and ballistic technology development).

  20. I must say that some of the doomsday scenarios envisioned here are signs of paranoia and fear (similar to the reaction to Saddam situation in early 2000s).

    Why would Iran (or any major country) want to commit one-shot suicide (unless it’s been invaded)? Iran has deep economic relations with Central Asia, South Asia, etc. The idea that everyone in Iran is a fanatic bent on eradicating other people is plainly stupid.

    Of course, there are going to be implications for sunni Arab countries. And Israel would probably have to learn at some point that maintaining a “30:1” civilian kill ratio only adds more fuel to the fire.

    By the same token, Iran would have to learn that promoting terror in other countries (something that seems to have become a norm for most countries now) will only be bad for business.

  21. Nobody thinks that everyone in Iran is fanatic, opposite is true, most Iranians are true to their Persian/Azeri/Arab historical likes and dislikes. But their leadership is fanatical and ultimately leaders calls the shots.
    ‘Implications for sunni Arab countries’ – i.e. thousands more sunnis will die or be attacked and this will strengthen US positions in the world (secular Arab world, with it’s over-representation in European financial structures) especially after the Iran ‘deal’ showed that we understand only super-threat position, even though the deal is built on bones of hundreds if not thousands American victim of Iran terror? An this is not prompting sunnis to get nukes, which they never wanted before due to it’s non-usability in close warfare?
    ‘And Israel would probably have to learn at some point that maintaining a “30:1″’ – Israel lost several percent of its population to terrorist attacks in it’s 67 years of existence, hardly 30:1. Most of it’s military losses in fight with Hamas/Hezbolla are due to limited warfare doctrine trying to protect civilians why terrors groups firing and fighting from civilian areas. In it’s older wars with Arab socialist nationalists’ armies armed with tens of thousands of Soviet tanks overall casualty rate was as well in 20:1 to 40:1, no Arab civilians involved. Often losses in particular Israeli fighting tank or aviation units amounted to 15% of total command, not a small change either. So Israelis need to implement casualty quotes on the battlefield? Judging by Iran high casualty rate even Saddam Hussein’s Soviet-style and Soviet armed armies Iran may lobby for such quotes as part of the deal.

  22. It boils down to inevitability. Especially, given the economic losses from the 2000-2007 “experiments” (it’s not due to who got elected in 2008), and the rise of other world powers, you cannot stop another party from thinking what they want to think (e.g., “Arabs or Israelis are evil”) or acquiring the tech know how — unless we have trillions of dollars to burn once again.

    The fanatics in Iranian (or Israeli) leadership still have to deal with reality at the end of the day. Rhetoric is ultimately irrelevant. Of course, intentions can change and it’s possible that a leader decides to commit suicide. But same is true for any power in the world (including the US).

    Finally, I’d imagine that there are moderate/normal parties in Iran — is it a bad idea to give them a chance?

  23. Like most “enemy leaders” discussed in our militaristic, industrial, complex press, Iran’s leaders aren’t nearly so crazy as we’ve been told. When they needed to work with communists, feminists, etc. to overthrow the Shah, they did so. When they needed to adopt a fundamentalist pose to be rid of those fellow-travelers, they did so. When they needed to consolidate their power by burning American flags, they did so. When they needed American arms to fight that bad guy just to the west, they obtained them by leaning on their foreign partisans to release some hostages. Through it all, even while average Iranians couldn’t afford satellite TV, those Swiss numbered accounts kept growing. Somewhat freer than American leaders from the vicissitudes of the political process, I find them actually… pragmatic.

    Which isn’t to say they’re on our side. Nor do I have a good explanation for their fascination with building 60-year-old technology in-house rather than just buying it from North Korea for a few cargo ships of wheat. The point is, we can negotiate with these leaders. They’re much older now, on average, than they were in 1979. So, we should negotiate with them, the balance sheets at Northrop and Raytheon be damned. And if Israel and Saudi want to take time off from fighting ISIS and each other to fight Iran too, I guess that’s OK, so long as they don’t drag us into it. Because fracking.

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