Hardline skeptics in Iran, the US, and Israel all want to scuttle President Obama’s mission to forge a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Critics in Iran want all sanctions removed, critics in US Congress claim Iran will never live up to the commitment, and critics in Israel do not want Iran to have any nuclear capability period.

An Astonishingly Good Deal

My position is the same as that of Vox writer Max Fisher who says This is an Astonishingly Good Iran Deal.

  • Iran will give up about 14,000 of its 20,000 centrifuges
  • Iran will give up all but its most rudimentary, outdated centrifuges: its first-generation IR-1s, knockoffs of 1970s European models, are all it gets to keep. It will not be allowed to build or develop newer models.
  • Iran will give up 97 percent of its enriched uranium; it will hold on to only 300 kilograms of its 10,000-kilogram stockpile in its current form.
  • Iran will destroy or export the core of its plutonium plant at Arak, and replace it with a new core that cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium. It will ship out all spent nuclear fuel.
  • Inspectors will have access to all parts of Iran’s nuclear supply chain, including its uranium mines and the mills where it processes uranium ore. Inspectors will also not just monitor but be required to pre-approve all sales to Iran of nuclear-related equipment. This provision also applies to something called ‘dual-use’ materials, which means any equipment that could be used toward a nuclear program.

Deal Fact Sheet

The deal is even better than described above. Here is the Fact Sheet of the agreement.

Iran nearly walked out because the US would not agree to end all sanctions.

Nothing Much Left of Weapons Proposal

I see absolutely nothing in that package to dislike. There is not much left of Iran’s nuclear weapons program to be worried about although Iran does get to keep a research center.

Republicans Blast Deal

Unfortunately, it’s politics as usual in Congress as Republican hopefuls take turns criticizing Iran nuclear deal.

Republican hopefuls in the 2016 presidential race are criticizing the Obama administration’s tentative nuclear deal with Iran, saying the agreement is dangerous for the United States and its allies.

“Obama’s dangerous deal with Iran rewards an enemy, undermines our allies and threatens our safety,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who sits atop several early polls, tweeted shortly after the tentative deal was announced Thursday.

Walker also has vowed, if elected, that he will pull the U.S. from the international deal on “day one” of his presidency.

“The reported details of the Iran deal include significant concessions to a nation whose leaders call for death to America and the destruction of Israel,” said Jeb Bush, another top potential candidate and a former Florida governor. “Iran remains a major destabilizing force in the region, working against American interests.”

“This attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is expected on April 13 to announce his candidacy.

“We’re  still looking at the exact details, but (the language of the deal) suggests it will dramatically undermine the interests of the U.S.,” Cruz said Thursday night in a town hall-style meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. “This administration doesn’t understand the people they are dealing with. They support death and suicide.

Politico cites a phone interview with Senator Mark Kirk: “I would say that Neville Chamberlain got a lot more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman got out of Iran.”

The Obama Doctrine and Iran

President Obama gave an exclusive interview to Thomas Friedman in the Oval Office Saturday afternoon as described in the New York Times article The Obama Doctrine and Iran.

President Obama invited me to the Oval Office Saturday afternoon to lay out exactly how he was trying to balance these risks and opportunities in the framework accord reached with Iran last week in Switzerland. What struck me most was what I’d call an “Obama doctrine” embedded in the president’s remarks. It emerged when I asked if there was a common denominator to his decisions to break free from longstanding United States policies isolating Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that “engagement,” combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests vis-à-vis these three countries far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America, with its overwhelming power, needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks to open important new possibilities — like trying to forge a diplomatic deal with Iran that, while permitting it to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, forestalls its ability to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade, if not longer.

“We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk. And that’s the thing … people don’t seem to understand,” the president said. “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies. The same is true with respect to Iran, a larger country, a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. … You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”

Israel is right to be concerned about Iran, and they should be absolutely concerned that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” But, he insisted, this framework initiative, if it can be implemented, can satisfy that Israeli strategic concern with more effectiveness and at less cost to Israel than any other approach. “We know that a military strike or a series of military strikes can set back Iran’s nuclear program for a period of time — but almost certainly will prompt Iran to rush towards a bomb, will provide an excuse for hard-liners inside of Iran to say, ‘This is what happens when you don’t have a nuclear weapon: America attacks.’

“We know that if we do nothing, other than just maintain sanctions, that they will continue with the building of their nuclear infrastructure and we’ll have less insight into what exactly is happening,” Obama added. “So this may not be optimal. In a perfect world, Iran would say, ‘We won’t have any nuclear infrastructure at all,’ but what we know is that this has become a matter of pride and nationalism for Iran. Even those who we consider moderates and reformers are supportive of some nuclear program inside of Iran, and given that they will not capitulate completely, given that they can’t meet the threshold that Prime Minister Netanyahu sets forth, there are no Iranian leaders who will do that. And given the fact that this is a country that withstood an eight-year war and a million people dead, they’ve shown themselves willing, I think, to endure hardship when they considered a point of national pride or, in some cases, national survival.”

Only Rand Paul Could Do Worse Says Senator Graham

Bloomberg reports Only Rand Paul Could Do Worse Says Senator Graham.

“The best deal, I think, comes with a new president. Hillary Clinton would do better. I think everybody on our side, except maybe Rand Paul, could do better,” Graham said on CBS’ Face The Nation.

Precisely what deal does Graham expect? For Iran to kiss his ass?

Most of the Republican candidates seem to believe that negotiation means surrender. Of course surrender implies war. Haven’t we had enough wars?

Legacy of Obama

I seldom agree with president Obama on anything. Obamacare has been a disaster. I disagree with Obama on social spending, minimum wages, and collective bargaining. I did not vote for president Obama in either election, and I voted in both elections.

But Obama is correct on this issue. Unless Republicans manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, this deal, not Obamacare will be the legacy of president Obama.

I am tired of political hypocrites who are against anything and everything simply because someone in the other party wants it. Republicans still will not admit that Romneycare and Obamacare are the same damn thing.

Had Romney won (I did not vote for him either), we probably would be at war with Iran right now.

The only way to break the cycle of war is diplomacy. Everyone should cheer this effort.

The worst that can happen is Iran reneges and sanctions are put back on. The best is vastly improved relations with Iran, an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, free-flowing oil, more global trade, and a huge moderation in the attitudes of Iran towards the West.

Why Should Iran Trust Us?

If Republicans don’t approve this deal, how about some reasons other than we don’t trust them?

Given that Walker has vowed, if elected, that he will pull the U.S. from the international deal on “day one”, why should Iran trust us?

Rand Paul 2016;

What “deal” does Cruz want? Walker? Rubio? Bush?

Based on their statements, I will not vote for any of them. I suspect many independents and libertarians feel the same way. People are tired of wars and this deal is the only chance to avoid war. And spare me the sap about Hitler. Iran has problems but it is not seeking world domination.

The “Obama Doctrine” is far better than the “Bush Doctrine” that allows preemptive warfare. If we can preemptively attack others, why can’t they do the same?  

I am more than pleased that Graham blasted Rand Paul over Iran. His willingness to endorse Hillary over Paul confirms one thing I was pretty sure of already: Rand Paul is not only the best Republican candidate, he is the only one that merits any consideration.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock