Implications of nuclear agreement with Iran

This afternoon, one of my correspondents asked me the following question:

What’s your put on the new Iranian agreement, can the weapon program be capped and verification assured?

Here was my response:

I am happy that there is an interim agreement. It indicates that some people are starting to recognize that Iran is probably telling the truth when it says that it wants to maintain the capability to enrich uranium to provide an independent capability to provide fuel for a growing domestic nuclear energy program. It will be a great benefit to all of us if tensions ease and Iran regains its ability to engage in international business, especially exporting oil and gas.

By my calculations, the world has been paying an Iranian sanctions premium of at least $15 per barrel of oil for at least the past six months and perhaps even the past year. That has resulted in enormous financial benefits for a few and an economy slowing cost for all of the rest of us. (As an example, the Iranian sanctions premium has provided an additional $120 million per day to Saudi Arabia, based on its recent export figure of 7.8 million barrels per day.)

Israel is disappointed with the deal, ostensibly for security reasons, but there are also underlying financial issues. The large gas fields recently discovered in the eastern Mediterranean will be a boon to the Israeli economy, but the boon will be smaller if the international sales price of the gas is lowered by competition from Iran’s massive resources.

I believe that the nuclear program that Saudi Arabia and Israel really fear is the Iranian nuclear energy program.

Iran, with its 70 million citizens demanding better living conditions, burns the equivalent of about a million barrels of oil per day in the form of internationally valuable hydrocarbons (oil and methane) to supply domestic electricity. If it continues to add to its nuclear energy capacity, it will free up supplies that it can sell in the world market. That increased supply will inevitably lead to lower prices as a result of the well understood relationship between supply and demand.

If Iran does not build its domestic nuclear energy capability, growth in domestic oil and gas demand might eventually result in it not being able to export any oil at all. There are good historical reasons why Iranian leaders believe that their country must have domestic nuclear fuel capability; the international market has not been a reliable supplier of any important products to Iran over the years.

http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Middle-East/Irans-Looming-Energy-Crisis.html

The often repeated charge that Iran has directly threatened the very existence of Israel is based, as I understand it, on a rather faulty translation of words that have been used in political speeches.

By way of backing up my interpretation of the recent agreement, here is an article I wrote a little more than 3 years ago in which Colin Powell recommends accepting Iran’s nuclear energy capability along with an inspection program to ensure that the program remains focused on energy, not weapons creation. As Reagan used to say, trust but verify.

http://atomicinsights.com/colin-powell-on-meet-the-press-september-19-2010-re-irans-nuclear-energy-program-trust-but-verify/

Additional Reading

Wall Street Journal editorial (updated November 24, 2013) Iran’s Nuclear Triumph: Tehran can continue to enrich uranium at 10,000 working centrifuges (Not surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal editorial staff disagrees with me.)

Leslie Gelb Stay the Dogs of War on Iran

Slate (November 24, 2013) We Have a Deal With Iran. A Good One

NBC News (November 24, 2013) Oil prices fall, shares rise in wake of Iran nuclear deal

About Rod Adams

59 Responses to “Implications of nuclear agreement with Iran”

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  1. Brian Mays says:

    It indicates that some people are starting to recognize that Iran is probably telling the truth when it says that it wants to maintain the capability to enrich uranium to provide an independent capability to provide fuel for a growing domestic nuclear energy program.

    Rod – If Iran is “telling the truth” about wanting to provide fuel for their nuclear energy program, then why have they enriched uranium to about 20 wt% U-235? If all they wanted to do was build a couple of Russian-made VVER’s, then they wouldn’t need to enrich even to 5 wt%, much less 20, to fuel the reactors. You talk about a waste of money, this is a real waste of energy and money, if you take Iranians at their word.

    So are the Iranians just being a-holes or something? Deliberately provoking an international response?

    Or was France right in calling this agreement a “sucker’s deal”?

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Brian Mays

      Iran has a research and isotope production reactor, originally provided by the US under the Atoms for Peace program. That reactor, like most similar reactors, was initially designed to use HEU. Argentina provided the services of redesigning the reactor to operate with 20% enriched fuel, and supplied the first core load, after quite a lot of waiting on the part of Iran.

      The 20% enriched fuel is an inventory for that reactor.

        • Smiling Joe Fission says:

          That is a pretty big assumption to make that Iran has never wanted a bomb. It is completely rational for Iran to want the bomb. Nobody invades a nuclear power and the US has invaded multiple surrounding countries to Iran. How best to insure the US/Israel/any enemy leaves them alone? Nuclear weapons. If I was a country sitting on large oil reserves that are incredibly valuable to other powerful nations that have shown that they have no problem aggressing on neighbouring countries with these resources, I would want the bomb.

          Iran wanting nuclear power to allow for more oil/gas exports is rational.
          Iran wanting a nuclear bomb to assure it is left alone is especially rational.

          I do not like the idea of the Iranian government having a nuclear bomb, but it is in their own self interest to have one.

          Lastly, I do question if we have the right to infringe on Iran’s sovereignty to produce a nuclear weapons. I am not sure how to answer this question.

          • Dave says:

            “I do question if we have the right to infringe on Iran’s sovereignty to produce a nuclear weapons.”

            The Iranians ratified the NPT, giving up absolute sovereignty in nuclear affairs, agreeing to foreswear nuclear weapons in exchange for peaceful nuclear technology.

          • Smiling Joe Fission says:

            Dave, that was prior to the Iranian revolution. It is questionable that the NPT can be applied to any leadership in Iran following that event.

      • Brian Mays says:

        Rod – That reactor requires only 30 kg of ~20% enriched uranium to run. Iran has a stockpile of almost 200 kg of the stuff and this year has been busy making yet more.

        What are they doing, saving up for a rainy day?

        Argentina supplied enough LEU for several coreloads. Iran has now produced, on its own, almost twice as much as Argentina originally provided. Conveniently, it has to produce only about 50 kg more to be where the IAEA claims that it can quickly produce a nuclear weapon.

        This has gotten to a point where one must will oneself not to see what is going on. Nobody can be this naive without trying to be.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Brian Mays

          You certainly know enough about nuclear engineering to know that higher enrichments are useful for more than just weapons. For example, the NGNP program has been researching fuel cycles with 10 – 20 per cent enrichment. Many breeding cycles require seeds with higher enrichment. Small, distributed reactors need higher enrichment than the internationally accepted “standard” of just 5% for large light water reactors.

          From my point of view, it is quite possible that Iran would like higher enriched fuel for reactors without having any desire to create explosives out of the material. It is also quite understandable that they might not want to talk too much about the research they are doing in that area for commercial – or military – reasons. I will not complete this line of logic – please fill in the blanks yourself.

          Also from my point of view, the most important concern is preventing the explosive use of nuclear weapons to kill and maim people and to destroy capital. I am kind of okay with using nuclear weapons or the capability to create nuclear weapons as an implied threat to instill a more polite form of international diplomacy than has been common in the recent past.

          I like to think of my acceptance of possession of nuclear weapons by sovereign states as being similar to the way that my Texan (and Virginian) friends think of concealed carry laws. They see them as encouraging universally polite behavior; since you never know when someone is carrying, everyone is less likely to engage in pushing, shoving or insulting.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – I also know enough about human nature to recognize when there’s a deliberate attempt to search for excuses — otherwise known as “grasping at straws.”

            If Iran were a member of the NGNP Alliance (and why not? France is through AREVA and Canada is through Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada), then I could see why the Iranian government might want to keep such large quantities of 20% LEU around, but it stretches the limits credibility to think that they spent the time and money to make all of this stuff just in case they some day might perhaps want to build a reactor that hasn’t even been fully designed yet.

            If there ever was a case in which Occam’s razor applies, this is it. The simplest explanation is the one that is most likely to be correct, and we all know what the simplest explanation is.

            I agree completely that history has shown that states that have gained access to nuclear weapons have had to “grow up” rather quickly and start playing well with others, but that does not mean that this will always be the case. Just because my state might have concealed carry laws on the books, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to give a loaded firearm to a child to play with while unattended.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian Mays

            As a humanist, you’re a pretty good technologist. I hope you never attempt to apply the oversimplified version of “Occam’s Razor” to a chess match or any other battle of human wits.

            There are an uncounted number of completed and proven reactor designs that use uranium enriched to greater than 5%, some of which used far higher enrichments. These designs may not be licensed by the US NRC, but why would Iran care about that? I’m sure that some of the designs can be purchased in the international market.

            Perhaps I am just weird, but if I was in charge in Iran — or even just a mid level advisor — I could think of several reasons why small nuclear power or propulsion systems would be a far better use of time and human resources than nuclear explosives.

          • Smiling Joe Fission says:

            Brian, I usually agree almost 100% with you, but what right do we have to stop them from going higher than 20%?

            I like you realize that Iran wants the bomb and it is obvious that this is their end goal with enrichment, and it is a rational goal. But Iran is not a child. They are sophisticated and I would imagine intelligent enough to know of the consequences of ever using a nuclear weapon.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – If there’s one thing that I have learned from chess, it’s always protect the queen, and never sacrifice her unless you plan to get something even more out of the bargain. In other words, your biggest weapon is your most important interest.

            Chess is too obvious, however. All of your pieces are visible on the board. When it comes to gauging human behavior, I’ve found that poker provides much more important lessons. One lesson in particular is that, if the other guy has good hole cards, the chances are that he is not bluffing. Iran has been playing this game very close to the chest. They did not want us to know what their hole cards are. There is no reason to build an enrichment facility under a mountain, unless you have something to hide.

            Now they’re just playing for time and hoping that the West is bluffing. Given our obvious tells, it’s not a bad strategy.

            Perhaps I am just weird, but if I was in charge in Iran — or even just a mid level advisor — I could think of several reasons why small nuclear power or propulsion systems would be a far better use of time and human resources than nuclear explosives.

            Rod – How is your knowledge of the Quran? ;-) If there were anything that I could do to get you into a position of being in charge in Iran, then you would have my support. You are far more rational, in my humble opinion, than the people who are currently in charge of that country.

            … what right do we have to stop them from going higher than 20%?

            Joe – What right?! Are you kidding me?

            The international community is not a democracy with a social contract that guarantees that certain “rights” remain uninfringed. Countries that retain their sovereignty operate together under the workings of Force Majeure — that is, any dispute can (and will) be settled by means of physical force, if not settled by diplomacy first. Thus, if Iran is doing something that can impact the US or its interests, then yes, we do have every right to interfere in our own interest.

            But Iran is not a child.

            Then they should stop acting like a child. I would have thought that the events of four years ago would have demonstrated the lengths to which the theocracy of Iran will go in order to remain in power. A policy of being a perpetual bystander to relevant events is no foreign policy at all, yet that is where the US often finds itself these days.

    • EL says:

      Along the same lines … why would Iran be willing to cripple it’s oil based economy merely for the sake of keeping 2% of it’s available electricity capacity on-line. The toll of Iranian sanctions cannot be underestimated: declines in oil exports, loss of $60 billion per year in energy investment, devaluing of currency by 80%, black markets for basic goods, pariah on global stage, rising budget deficits, frozen assets, absent drug and medical shipments, civil unrest, etc.

      I know some folks love nuclear power (even if it provides a negligible amount of electricity for their country). But at what cost. They are willing to pull the rug out of their own economy, and throw their people under the bus to advocate for it. This makes no economic or geo-political sense. Some people are stubborn, I know, but Iranians appear to be stealing the cake in such a view. I knew they were a rogue state, but one that puts it’s civilian nuclear program ahead of it’s people, that’s pretty far out there.

      • mehran says:

        EL

        you have to remember that back n 2003 Iran was willing to talk but the US followed a hard line policy and basically stone wall them. in 2003 Iran had given up is plans to get the bomb but you get in to the Iraq paradox were there is no way to prove negative. all denials are more evidence against you.

        http://www.antiwar.com/orig/porter.php?articleid=8778

        one hard-line policy was meet with another. you have to remember that the US was actively trying to destabilise Iran and was looking for a war, plan and simple.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @EL

        You have a short sighted view of the world. No one knows better than people who own and operate oil wells that the resource is finite and will not last forever.

        The sanctions regime has been imposed by Iran’s commercial rivals.

        • EL says:

          You have a short sighted view of the world.

          .

          So says the guy who thinks Iran has one major interest … it’s civilian electricity fleet and connecting a tick or two of nuclear to it’s grid. The cost: 80% depreciation of it’s currency, state sponsorship of terrorism, frozen assets, deprivation for it’s citizens, threats of war with it’s neighbors, geopolitical instability, civil unrest, and the like.

          And we were led to think nuclear power plants were cheap?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL

            No. I think Iran has many major interests, including learning how to produce reliable nuclear energy that will power its 5,000 year old civilization for many thousands of years after its oil and gas run out.

            It is willing to forgo near term prosperity in order to achieve that goal.

            No one ever said that nuclear power plants were cheap. We told you that the power would be too cheap to meter. There is a huge difference. Instead of being beholden to a tiny group of people that control access to hydrocarbon resources, nuclear plants are virtually free of dependence on fuel suppliers. They are, however, dependent on armies of human talent in the form of engineers and operators.

            Power that is too cheap to meter is like a cell phone with unlimited data.

          • mehran says:

            No you are right EL.

            It has come at a far far too high price. The west have took it pound of flesh and it will take another before the end.

            There are horrible double standards at play here. Iran has been demonised for 35 years. Has had it civilian planes shot out of the sky, its citizens assassinated, its people gases with chemical weapons. The threat of war hanging over them.

            Yes it has come at a very high cost…but what else could of they done? Because I can guarantee there would be no other way Iran could have got the technology and skills.
            Iran reached out to do this 10 years ago and they were rejected.

          • EL says:

            Mehran wrote: “Iran reached out to do this 10 years ago and they were rejected.”

            10 years ago, IAEA was writing about violations of Safeguards Agreement, and inconsistent efforts to end a “policy of concealment” regarding the most sensitive areas of Iran’s nuclear program.

            Based on all information currently available to the Agency, it is clear that Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material and its processing and use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such material has been processed and stored … While most of the breaches identified to date have involved limited quantities of nuclear material, they have dealt with the most sensitive aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including enrichment and reprocessing. And although the materials would require further processing before being suitable for weapons purposes, the number of failures by Iran to report in a timely manner the material, facilities and activities in question as it is obliged to do pursuant to its Safeguards Agreement has given rise to serious concerns” (p. 9 – 10)

            If you’re talking about something different, this is the first time I’ve heard about it.

          • mehran says:

            Iran reach out to the USA via back channels(the Swiss). after the fall of Iraq a key reason for Iran to have a secret program was gone.

            Iran was looking for deal.

            basically they wanted to come in from the cold.

          • mehran says:

            Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier,

          • Bas says:

            EL,
            10 years ago, IAEA was writing about violations of Safeguards Agreement
            Note that the refusal of El Baradei (once head of IAEA) to report that Iraq probably had/was producing mass destruction weapons, did cost him his job (US actions to remove him succeeded). Bush needed someone there who supported him in his quest to show he could do better than his Father.

            So at that time the IAEA still was under great pressure from the US to report in line with US wishes (now with Obama, I assume they can be more independent).

            At that time I surveyed the IAEA report in detail and found little substance. One of the major complaints was that they had not full access to all facilities at Iran’s most important military air base. But that I could understand quite well, as Israel government officials had made several statements the years before that showed that all info from the IAEA inspectors was also shared with Israel. Despite Israel, not being a member, should not have any access to detailed confidential info (transferred by USA?)…

          • EL says:

            Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding …

            No they aren’t!

            Discovery of covert and heavily fortified enrichment facilities in Qom was a shot across the bow, and further indication that a “policy of concealment” is de rigueur for Iranian officials.

    • Dave says:

      Not only that, but the heavy water reactor they’re building at Arak raises questions about their peaceful intentions. Reminds one of the reactors at the Savannah River Site.

  2. Bas says:

    … that Iran has directly threatened the very existence of Israel is based … on a rather faulty translation of words that have been used in political speeches.

    A good Iranian acquaintance, who fled Iran roughly 25 years ago, confirmed this interpretation.
    We cooperated training the hockey youth team in which his and my daughter played.

  3. Paul W Primavera says:

    “It indicates that some people are starting to recognize that Iran is probably telling the truth when it says that it wants to maintain the capability to enrich uranium to provide an independent capability to provide fuel for a growing domestic nuclear energy program.”

    No, absolutely not. The only thing that the Iranian govt was telling the truth about was its desire to push Israel into the sea. You are as wrong about this as you were about the hope and change of the election of Barack Hussein Obama. I warned you then he was anti-nuclear for the US (but pro-nuclear for our enemies), and lo and behold, I was right. It is unfathomable that you can be so correct, so knowledgeable, so astute, so right when it comes to nuclear technical stuff, and so blindly wrong on political issues.

    :-(

    PS, I do NOT want war with the Iranians, and I do want them to have their own destiny in nuclear matters, but their govt is anti-Semitic and evil. Period. It will continue to work for the bomb and it will use the bomb.

    :-(

    That said, I can no longer say that our govt is NOT evil. That used to not be the case.

    :-(

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Paul W Primavera

      It took me a while, but I have finally figured out that Obama’s main issue is similar to the one that has afflicted many ambitious politicians who were born with few, if any resources. He talks about wanting to help people and leans on his experiences as a community organizer, but when push comes to shove, he does the bidding of his major donors. When it comes to nuclear energy, he is not opposed to the technology; he is opposed to expansion of the technology. Growing nuclear production would harm many of his most frequent donors like those in banking, methane extraction, and existing nuclear plant operations (Exelon).

      President Obama is, quite frankly, a fairly typical example of a man who was born poor but is now rich and likes it that way. He is following Clinton’s example.

  4. Dave says:

    I support the agreement because of the strong verification provisions. And further, I suppott the agreement because is not the job of the US to do for Israel what Israel is perfectly capable of doing themselves. Risking American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines for the sake of calming the fears of a so called ally is wrong and is against our national interests.

    With this agreement, if the Iranians make a mad dash for the Bomb, they’ll now be detected and appropriate sanctions can be imposed and or appropriate actions taken by those whose national interests are threatened by an Iranian nuclear weapon.

  5. Podargus says:

    Iran is a terrorist state and should be prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons for that reason alone.There other valid reasons.

    Israel and the Gulf states are directly threatened by Iran. Given the history of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel they are not likely to remain in a supine position when threatened by an Islamo fascist regime like Iran. The newly discovered gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean would not be a factor in their attitude to Iran.

    I don’t recall anybody,including the Israelis,disputing the right of iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

    Re the USA and the current administration – It was obvious to me and many others from early 2009 that Obummer is a tool. As time went on it became obvious that he is also a fool.The way that his administration has handled the Syria and Iran problems is evidence of this.

    Finally,I’ve been a reader of Atomic Insights for some time and in my humble opinion it is the best of the pro nuclear blogs. However,if you (Rod) are going to contaminate your blog with barely credible views on international politics then you are doing a disservice to the pro nuclear cause.

    • Dave says:

      If the Israelis want to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, let them. Leave the US out of it. We don’t need any more wars over “weapons of mass destruction” like the invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush, even if the weapons are real, this time around.

      • Podargus says:

        Dave – That is an isolationist sentiment. The USA could return to the isolationist stance it had between the World Wars. You don’t need to be a student of history to know what that contributed to – the rise of fascist and murderous regimes in Germany,Italy and Japan.The resulting conflagration cost the lives of many,many millions.
        A nation with the size and strength of the USA can’t afford to turn its back on regimes which threaten world order. The West depends on the USA to provide leadership at the very least.Ideally problems like Iran should be tackled on a multinational basis outside the UN which is a dysfunctional organization. Some European nations,particularly Germany,have been slow to make a contribution.

        Iraq,Bush junior and Co are history.Learn the right lessons from the mistakes,get over it and get on with it.

        The current appeasement policies of Obummer and Co are alienating your valuable allies in the region.They are also causing a great deal of unexpressed (in the main) concern from your other allies elsewhere.

        If the USA wants to go the appeasement / isolationist path then so be it. The rest of the West,at least those who have the stomach for it,will just have to get on with standing up for what is right without the USA – just like we did from 1939 to 1941.

        • Dave says:

          I an not an isolationist.

          I am merely an American who is unwilling to spill American blood for anything but the supreme national interests of the US.

          I do not approve of what Iran is doing, but in the absence of aggression, I see no case for war for the US. Sanctions are fine, war is not.

          And $@&k Israel. Friends and allies don’t try to entice or trick friends and allies to wage war on their behalf when they aren’t willing to do so themselves.

          • Smiling Joe Fission says:

            Unless you want to invade every nation which does not do our immediate bidding, you are an isolationist.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Podargus

      Just curious. What are your primary sources of information regarding the history and current politics in the Middle East?

      • Podargus says:

        Rod – Multiple sources going back years.I am a sceptic by nature and choice so I don’t take the word of anybody as gospel.I have read many books about the Middle East and I currently keep abreast of the fandango in that area by accessing several websites,some Israeli,some Islamic,some secular American.
        I am an atheist so I have no religious issues except to say “a pox on all their houses”.
        I am an Australian and not of Jewish origin (as far as I know) so I have no national or ethnic dog in this fight.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Podargus

          My sources are as varied and also accumulated over a number of years. They also include some intelligence estimates that were available to me as a professional naval officer.

          I do not blindly trust, but if we can learn to get along with people who cut their teeth in the KGB or the Chinese Communist Party, why is it so hard to accept that we might need to be able to get along with Iran?

          • Podargus says:

            With all due respect I would venture that your intelligence estimates are well out of date.

            I have no problem with getting along with Iran provided that they behave in something resembling a reasonable manner.

            I don’t consider the following actions to be reasonable -

            (1) Sponsoring terrorist attacks in many areas of the world.
            (2) Sponsoring and assisting terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.
            (3) Seeking assistance in the area of missile and nuclear weapon technology from a pariah state,namely North Korea.
            (4) Assisting the murderous Assad regime in Syria – 120,000 dead and counting.4 million external refugees and counting. Internal refugees – unknown.
            (5) Using the most vile antisemitic language to attack the Jewish people who have never harmed Iran.
            (6) Repeatedly threating with destruction the nation of Israel which has never done Iran any injury.

            I could continue but surely that is enough?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Podargus

            Forgive me for noticing, but your word choices reinforce my belief that your sources are shallow and on the level of right-wing talk show hosts. Even though you claim to be Australian, I suppose that you have your equivalents of Rush Limbaugh.

            I see no real value in your assertions, especially when coming from an anonymous internet source that could very well be representing one of the factions that has a strong monetary interest in suppressing Iran’s hydrocarbon and petrochemical export capacity. There is always a great deal of money involved in helping to maintain the supply of those important commodities somewhat lower than the natural demand.

            Here’s my challenge to you – if you don’t like coming to an agreement, what is your preferred option? Do you like keeping tensions high? Do you favor “keeping all options on the table?” Are you in the military or do you have close friends and relatives in the military that would be called on in the case where some of the more violent implied options are taken to force your will on the Iranian people? Do you understand international law and history enough to know that “sanctions” are so darned close to “blockades” that it is hard to distinguish the two from the other side of the border?

            Do you realize that blockades, historically speaking, can be considered an act of war because of the pain and suffering that they inflict on the opposing population?

            http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide/blockade-as-an-act-of-war/

            Yes, I understand a bit about UN resolutions and the influence of the security council, but I also know how much influence is used by people who profit massively from the blockade and who have a vested interest in maintaining a high level of tension.

    • mehran says:

      @Podargus

      I have been reading rod blog for some time as well and find his view refreshing.

      more half of Iran population is under 35. Iranians a generally fairly well educated and the youth of Iran are open to western ideas. they honesty don’t hate us.

      we have a gold chance to engage with Iran, lets hope we don’t blow it for a generation

      • mehran says:

        sorry… should read “more than half of Iran’s population is under 35 years old”

      • Podargus says:

        mehran – The fact that half the population of Iran is under 35 would be due to excessive breeding. This is not a situation which will lead to a good outcome even if the theocracy believe in the notion of acquiring “lebensraum”.

        I can’t challenge your assertions about the education level of Iranians,whether the youth are open to Western ideas or whether they hate “us” whoever “us” may be as I don’t know enough about the internal affairs of Iran.

        However,these assertions are irrelevant to the matter in hand. The mad mullahs and their henchmen have the power in Iran and they are not likely to give it up voluntarily.
        I would venture that the chances of achieving a civil society in Iran in the foreseeable future are zero to none at all.

        I am sceptical about the supposed value of youth in general to improve the culture of a nation. There is a youth organization in Iran called the Basij which had its genesis in the war with Iraq.I believe that one of the present functions of the Basiji is to act as government thugs to suppress civil dissent. A bit like Hitler Youth and Brownshirts rolled into one,eh?

    • Smiling Joe Fission says:

      What right does the US have for invading or attacking Iran, exactly? What immediate threat does Iran pose to us? If you want to fight Iran, you are free to ship off this afternoon and begin the attack. But please stop advocating for the spilling of American military blood and the theft of tax payer money to pay for this military interventionism.

      The military would do much more good to defend this nation, not aggress on others. I wonder why Iran wants a nuclear weapon when there are opinions like yours held by people who have influence over military actions abroad.

  6. David Owen says:

    If Iran has no intentions of creating Nuclear Weapons than Israeli and American espionage is worse than useless.

    • Rod Adams says:

      Espionage agencies have a very difficult time determining “intention”, especially in places where human intelligence is based on few, if any assets on the ground.

  7. jmdesp says:

    In France we remember well how effective it was in determining whether Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program, for example the supposed buying of uranium in Africa :
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_uranium_forgeries

  8. David Owen says:

    So we can unleash computer viruses that sabotage their facilities to the sound of thunderstuck but we can’t intercept any digital evidence that they have ulterior motives? Iran would be stupid not to pursue nuclear weapons in that neighborhood. Fyi: Few of us ever believed Saddam had nukes. It was Bush’s agenda to overthrow him from day one.

  9. David Owen says:

    I should say we didnt buy Saddam had a real nuclear program.

    • jmdesp says:

      But it was claimed by the highest US officials in front of the whole UN general assembly.

      So how do we know this time if the US has real, solid information about Iran pursuing a military nuclear program, or if it just politically wants us to believe that ?

      The agreement, and the willingness of the US to get it, suggests the US has no proof, or maybe even has the quite definitive proof Iran has no such program.

  10. David Walters says:

    I am with Rod and mehran on this. The U.S. should butt out. First, most on this list seem blissfully ignorant of Iranian youth culture, the dominant culture in Iran (as opposed to the strict Shi’a Islam). It would take a blog post many screens long to explain all this…but it is far more secular than most American can conceive of.

    Secondly, the political culture is one if intense patriotism and nationalism, something Americans really don’t have too much experience in. Think the 7 days after “Peal Harbor” but ongoing for 35 years *everything single time the U.S. opines on Iran’s internal life*. It is a good thing Obama apologized to the Iranian people for the U.S. imposition of a Fascist dictator, the Shah, for over 2 decades of rule.

    The idea of soverightry for Iran is very strong. Again, not something Americans have to deal with since the US exempts itself from most multilateral deals concerning human rights (in fact all such deals the US signs is asterisked in this way). Again, most Americans are unaware of this, most in other countries, like Iran, are aware of this. BTW…the US excuse for this? “Sovereignty”.

    The *primary* reason for the 20% enrichment for their R&D reactors is to produce medical isotopes. That’s the stated reason. Under the NPT creating fuel for such reactors, and for LWRs, and for, export to other countries is permitted. Iran should abide by this. However…

    Iran also knows that agreements passed by the US Congress like the 1-2-3 agreements are fraught with strings attached. They saw the discussion several years ago in India where physicists and engineers *opposed* the 1-2-3 Agreement India signed for this very reason.

    The Bomb. Look, what people are concerned about is not Iran immediately acquiring a bomb. It’s their infrastructure to do so. But again, and my view why the NPT ought to be scrapped since it does NOT prevent countries from circumventing it anyway only it a legal binder and that is, is the hypocrisy built into it. Russia, China, Canada, UK, and the US are exempt from all aspects of the NPT. After all we wouldn’t use The Bomb on people (oh, wait, yes, we did in fact) but those nasty Iranians would. I think Iran having a bomb, honestly, would cool tempers. All threats of military action against Iran would cease. Israel would shut up for once. Israel even might be forced to give up it’s stock of nuclear WMD. And it would think 3 times before launching a strike against Iran. Iran has no interest in committing national suicide by an attack on Israel. Iran has a 100 million people to lose should the inevitable retaliation occur.

    The biggest hope for peace is the rapid commercial nuclearization of Iran and the region.

    David
    PS…I’m Jewish in case anyone wants to know. But Israel should butt the f*ck out of America’s affairs.

  11. Lenka Kollar says:

    It think that this discussion is missing the bottom line, being that sanctions were imposed on Iran because they did not adhere to their safeguards agreement with the IAEA according to the nonproliferation treaty. As part of its safeguards agreement, Iran has to provide full access to any nuclear-related facility within the country. The IAEA has stated in multiple reports that it was not able to reach a conclusion in Iran that it is not diverting material or technology from a peaceful nuclear energy program to a military program. Iran absolutely has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy and develop technology for any part of the fuel cycle. However, this right under the NPT also comes with the obligation to adhere to its safeguards agreement.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Lenka

      I believe you are referring to the additional protocol, which is not an integral part of the NPT that Iran signed and ratified. Though Iran’s representative signed the additional protocol many years after the NPT came into force, that document was never fully ratified under Iranian law. The UN, under the pressure of the nuclear haves that populate the Security Council, has attemptd to spread the message that Iran is in violation of its obligations, but that position seems questionable under any reasonable interpretation of the law.

      http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R40094.pdf

    • Bas says:

      @Lenka,
      Iran has to provide full access to any nuclear-related facility within the country.
      You touch the main difficulty, which showed in the IAEA report I read during a long evening years ago..

      Iran states that it complies.
      IAEA wants to inspect Iran’s major military base in detail, because it suspects that some nuclear related activity took place there. Not clear who delivered info for that suspicion, the report stated only some body delivered that info. Was it an enemy who wants to have more military info for an attack?

      Earlier it became already clear, e.g. through imprudent sayings of Israel officials (minister), that all info that those inspectors gather end in the hands of USA and Israel (and may be other “enemies” such as Saudi Arabia).

      Understandable, Iran refused that inspection as it does not want to deliver detailed info to Israel to facilitate a successful attack on its main military base.

      It has the legal right to do so, as the NPT implies only inspections to nuclear facilities.
      Otherwise nobody would have signed the NPT, as signing would imply that you have to open up all military secrets to your enemies (well, to IAEA which cannot keep things secret).

      Yet, this report stated that refusal as the main reason for IAEA to state that Iran may work on a secret program, hence the sanctions.

      Somehow the process sounds a little like the one that lead to the destruction of Iraq, because there would be mass destruction weapons…
      It is impossible to prove you do not, unless you open up totally which imply that you show all military secrets to your enemies which make you very vulnerable for attacks.

      So Israel can threaten Iran to restrict Hezbollah as it would otherwise attack the right key points, showing it knows them all. etc.

    • Bas says:

      Lenka,
      Just a small addition:
      Many of the demands of the security council regarding Iran are ‘illegal’, such as:
      refrain from “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

      The threat that Iran can deliver big conventional warheads to Israel, makes the threshold for an attack on Iran for Israel much higher. It also makes Iran less vulnerable for black mail policies of Israel (e.g. you should stop support for the Palestinians, otherwise …), which Israel exerted on neighbors.

      Yet all ballistic missiles that can transport an heavy load can also transport a nuclear weapon.

      • George Carty says:

        Are you sure about that? If Iran built a crude nuclear weapon (something similar to Fat Man) they’d need a very large ballistic missile to deliver it…

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