CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 7, 2015 — Every Saturday, the president of the United States delivers a radio address to the nation. It is a long-standing tradition that allows presidents to reassure the American people about the week’s events in Washington and around the world.
Last Saturday, President Obama took the microphone to discuss the proposed nuclear arms deal with Iran. Among the many reservations skeptics share about the final agreement is the verification process, to which Obama alluded when he said in his broadcast, “If Iran cheats, the world will know it.”
A condemned man facing the death penalty knows he is going to die, but there isn’t much he can do about. If Iran gets a nuke, the world will know and the bomb will go off anyway. How much more comforting is it that the world “knew it” in advance?
Obama’s words often do not jive with the ensuing actions. “If we see something suspicious,” he said, “we will inspect it.”
So we inspect it. Then what do we do? Do we say, “Yep, that looks suspicious all right,” and move on?
Obama claims the inspections are not based on trust, but upon an unprecedented verification process. Either he actually believes that, or worse, he believes the American people believe he believes it.
A former professional staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thomas Moore, refutes the president’s claim. He says that Iran’s history of cheating in the past on the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty is so rampant that any verification under a new agreement is “virtually impossible.”
According to Moore, Iran is already the single most inspected country by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); added inspections will do nothing to generate better results.
Of major concern to Moore is the imprecise language of the agreement that is supposed to be finalized by the end of June. Negotiating a deal using vague terminology between parties whose shared native language is English is one thing; using such indeterminate language with people who speak Farsi and who interpret the world and the word through Islam can easily lead to big losses in translation.
Case in point is the mumbo-jumbo uttered by administration officials during the Obamacare debate. “We’ve got to pass the bill so we can see what’s in the bill,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If that made heads turn, imagine the added confusion of negotiating a nuclear arms pact between opposing philosophies in foreign languages.
By using confusing interpretations of the terms of the agreement, Moore says, “Iran is keeping its weapons option open but refuses required openness to confirm it no longer wants one.”
Former State Department arms verification official Paula DeSutter believes the best outcome the West could expect is to detect “quantitative excesses at known locations, but not secret illegal activities” for which Iran has already established a precedent.
According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, the nuclear facilities at Fordow and Natanz, both major centrifuge operations, were built in violation of the NPT and will not be dismantled.
Perhaps most disturbing however, is that Parchin, the nuclear facility where Iran is believed to have conducted most of its weapons development, is not mentioned in the White House fact sheets that were issued following Obama’s rosy Rose Garden announcement last week.
David S. Sullivan, a former CIA arms verification specialist, summed up the problem when he asked, “Why are we negotiating for a new agreement, when existing Iranian NPT violations remain in effect, ongoing and unresolved, suggesting that Iran is unlikely to comply with any new agreement?”
Sullivan has no illusions about the difficulty of future verifications based upon past experience. Sullivan sees the entire operation as “fraught with the political process of monitoring, collecting, analyzing, and (achieving) consensus on usually ambiguous evidence of cheating that opponents are trying to hide. These difficulties are even greater for the UN’s IAEA, which is a multinational political agency.”
Were that not enough, there is also the distinct possibility for corruption while conducting the necessary verification actions.
Under ideal circumstances, negotiations with Iran would be difficult enough. Stir in the Obama penchant for making all things muddy so there is no clearly defined result, and we have a recipe for disaster.
Eventually the president’s game of international chess will result in a situation where the only move the West can make is into checkmate. Obama’s primary goal is to be out of office when it happens.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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