Biden loses will dispute with Iran over nuclear weapons

Finally the last whimper seems close for President BidenJoe BidenJosé Andrés travels to Kentucky after devastating tornadoes Sunday shows preview: Officials, experts react to Omicron; Biden government raises the alarm about Russia, China Biden says he will visit storm-hit areas: “We will get through this together” MOREEfforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Flawed by nature, with painfully inadequate scrutiny provisions and now overtaken by events, the deal’s demise does not come a moment too soon.

We are faced with two closely related and pressing questions: Why has America failed to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program? And how does Washington avoid final defeat when time is running out?

Biden’s advisors, feeling their Holy Grail out of reach, blame America’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018, signaling their continued ignorance that the deal itself was wrong, not the withdrawal. The JCPOA was full of flaws, but an original sin doomed the entire company. If Biden recognized this reality, we could potentially craft a new, largely agreed-upon US policy. If not, prepare for a Groundhog Day-style failure.

That central mistake was to give Iran every opportunity to enrich uranium, a bright red line to the Obama administration. In seven resolutions from 2006 to 2010, the United Nations Security Council called on Iran to stop all uranium enrichment, the physical labor required to increase the concentration of the fissile uranium U235 to ever higher levels compared to the non-fissile U238 . (In natural uranium, U235 occurs in 0.7 percent of cases, while U238 makes up 99.3 percent.)

Former negotiators rejected all Iranian requests to continue enrichment activities following Security Council resolutions. In the course of 2012, however President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama From Cold War To Hard Freeze Iran Warns Of Reported US-Israeli Military Exercises, Biden’s Head Of Personnel To Leave The White House For UNICEF MORE bent his knee; the US eventually accepted Iran’s continued uranium enrichment at reactor level (3 to 5 percent of U235) if Tehran stopped enriching it at 20 percent (supposedly required to fuel an aging research reactor). This admission was based on fundamental misconceptions about what different levels of enrichment mean. Obama’s negotiators feared that the 20 percent enrichment was too close to weapon level (typically 90 percent U235), but claimed that restricting Iran to reactor-grade enrichment would minimize the risk of a nuclear “outbreak”.

This was a critical mistake that we cannot repeat in a post-JCPOA world. Enrichment “only” at the reactor level does 70 percent of the work that is required to achieve weapons-grade uranium. Enriching reactor quality to 20 percent U235 means that around 20 percent of the remaining work will be completed in order to reach weapon level, i.e. closer to the danger point by definition.

Much more important and obvious than to Obama’s negotiators, however, is that 70 percent of the work is more than 20 percent. If Iran were forbidden to do the first 70 percent (that is, at the reactor level), the next 20 percent would be irrelevant, as would any higher U235 percentages.

Obama’s negotiators were blind to this. They achieved a small negotiating victory, but lost the diplomatic war. By allowing reactor-grade enrichment, Obama made sure Tehran would always be steps away from weapons capabilities, a deadly concession. Furthermore, its negotiators were completely wrong in believing that reactor quality (especially 3.5 percent in the JCPOA) was far enough from weapons quality that monitoring and restrictions on production and stocks would allow an effective international response before the Iran could break out into real weapons.

But any possibility of holding Iran back by agreement requires an effective review, which the JCPOA never delivered, as evidenced by Iran’s restrictions on oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Equally important, the additional time required to reach weapon grade levels of 3.5 percent instead of 20 percent enrichment is a matter of weeks and depends more on the number of spinning centrifuges than on the variance between these starting points. In addition, during the negotiations on the JCPOA, Obama abandoned efforts to identify the “previous military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, contrary to French and other public statements to do just that.

Iran got what it wanted: no real disclosure of its previous military programs, later exposed through a daring Israeli intelligence raid; no effective verification of its JCPOA compliance; and, the jewel in the crown, the license to do 70 percent of the work for weapons-grade uranium.

Looking to the future, Iran will flatly reject any agreement that does not take into account these three points, among others. The inevitable conclusion is that Tehran is so determined to get nuclear weapons and so skilled in deception and deception that the regime will not even be allowed “peaceful” nuclear programs.

For decades, US presidents have declared it “unacceptable” for Iran to have nuclear weapons. They said the same thing about North Korea. You have largely failed with North Korea and will also fail with Iran. Economic sanctions have failed without further ado – and China in particular is ready to buy whatever oil Iran can sell and either veto or ignore future Security Council sanctions.

If a nuclear Iran is really unacceptable, all that remains open is a regime change in Tehran and military-intelligence measures that render Iran’s nuclear program harmless. Accordingly, Washington has to decide very late on who will win this competition of wills. Tehran is one step ahead. To you, Mr. President.

John BoltonJohn BoltonWhen does Biden explain America’s “One China, One Taiwan” policy? India’s S-400 missile system problem Overnight Defense & National Security – GOP dissatisfied with Afghan review MORE was national security advisor to President TrumpDonald Trump Border Protection Unit Used Terrorist Database To Research Journalists: House Panel Report Denies Former Trump Aide Claims To Executive Privileges Navarro Trump Fights To Clear GOP Field In North Carolina Senate Race MORE US Ambassador to the United Nations from 2018 to 2019 from 2005 to 2006 and from 2001 to 2005 and 1985 to 1989 in senior positions in the State Department. His latest book is “The Room Where It Happened” (2020). He is the founder of John Bolton Super PAC, a political action committee that supports candidates who believe in strong US foreign policy.

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