Friday, April 3, 2015

The Iran Nuclear Deal

OK, so there is not a final agreement, and we do not know all the details.  But I think in the face of various individuals and groups screaming that Obama is Neville Chamberlain and so on, let me note a few things that I do not see many out there stating.  I shall stay away from the reported details of the agreement other than to note that some commentators think that it gets more out of Iran in terms of concessions than many thought was possible in terms of limiting its nuclear weapons capability.

1)  For about the umpteenth time, not only is Iran a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its supreme leader and commander-in-chief, Vilayat-e-faqih ("Supreme Jurisprudent") Ali Khamenei, has issued fatwas against Muslims owning nuclear weapons.  It must be admitted that these were only issued after Iran stopped having a nuclear weapons program when the US invaded Iraq (one of the few good things to come out of that invasion), a program that had started under the Shah with US support at the time.

2)  Given that he is a major religious leader, I do not think Khamenei is lying when he issues these fatwas.  He really means it.  If there is a danger, it is that a successor to him might undo those fatwas.  But I view that as more likely if there is no agreement with Iran on these matters that provides them with economic and other benefits, as so many seem to want.  In any case, I think as long as he is in power, there will be no further active nuclear weapons program in Iran with or without this agreement, even if Iran did once had one and remains somewhat unwilling to fully disclose what went on with it (the main area that Iran has still been secretive about).

3)  While many outsiders continue to be thoroughly convinced that Iran is deadset on acquiring a nuclear weapon as fast as possible, this is not supported by the population.  I do not have a recent poll, but one in October 2013 by a Gallup poll (sorry, link to it not working but can be tracked down by google) found that while 34% supported getting a nuclear weapon, 41% opposed that, even as 56% support Iran having a civilian nuclear energy program.  And, while democracy is somewhat limited in Iran, it is not completely nonexistent, and the current president, Rouhani's election reflects these sentiments pretty well, and I think that even the theorcratic leaders like Khamenei do not want to get too far away from popular opinion (and Khamenei has already forbidden nuclear weapons anyway, as noted above).

4) While Netanyahu and his cabinet, along with a lot of US politicians, have roundly and fiercely denounced this agreement as threatening the existence of Israel, it has long been the case that both the entire US intelligence establishment as reported in official National Intelligence Estimates, as well as most of the Israeli military intelligence establishment, agree that Iran is not in fact currently actively pursuing nuclear weapons.  It has also been the case that many former Israeli intel people have openly criticized Netanyahu on this issue, even accusing him of lying, and some supporting this agreement, if cautiously, one just a few hours ago, General Amos Yadlin, a former military intelligence director who among other things was one of the pilots bombing the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.

5)  Finally, while powerful elements in Iran have certainly supported various foreign terror groups, Iran itself has not invaded a neighbor without having first been attacked since 1765.  Those suggesting some Hitlerian drive to conquer neighbors by the Iranians are simply ignorant of history.

Barkley Rosser


blissex said...

«not only is Iran a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty»

There is a vital detail here that the Iranians are not really willing to mention, despite everything, and very few people mention for some strange reasons.

Many people will be suspicious of the Iranian claim that they want to develop nuclear power technology and a full nuclear fuel chain, as it is their right under the NPT, because Iran is an oil exporting state, why do they need nuclear power, they wonder.

The problem is that from several sources and circumstantial evidence the oil reserves of Iran are much smaller than officially claimed, and are going to run out much sooner than expected, as oil consumption by Iran itself is growing fast as oil products are heavily subsidized as in most oil rich countries, and like most oil countries Iran have also heavily subsidized an overpopulation explosion, with ever greater demands for water and food, and most of Iran is a desert.

If the Iranians don't develop alternative energy sources their economy and population is going to collapse when the oil runs out, and even before that.

They are pursuing nuclear energy as an act of desperate and urgent need, as both them and the USA and Israel governments surely know very well.

Which makes me suspect that the real reason the current Israel government want to prevent Iran to develop civilian nuclear power sources as the NPT entitles them to is precisely to ensure that the economy of Iran collapses when the oil runs out.

To give an idea of the situation with oil producing countries having shrinking reserves and growing oil consumption for internal use, not many years ago SAUDI ARABIA announced that they wanted to build many nuclear power stations to avoid consuming oil for internal use, for example to power desalinisation plants for drinking water, as the Saudi population has ballooned and without desalinisation they have grossly exceed the carrying capacity of Arabia which is a desert. And Saudi Arabia has lots more oil reserves than Iran.
«Saudi Arabia plans to build 16 nuclear power reactors by 2030, which could potentially cost more than $100 billion.
The Kingdom and its Gulf neighbors regard nuclear power as a way to meet rising electricity demand while reducing reliance on polluting fossil fuels, a Saudi-based newspaper reported on Wednesday.» said...


I have found no evidence to support your claim that Iranian oil reserves are lower than reported. It remains one of the central members of OPEC and for good reason. That said, it is not unreasonable for even an oil power to develop alternative sources of energy, particularly ones that are cleaner than fossil fuel-based ones. And, despite its bad rep, that includes nuclear energy. Heck, should the US just use coal for its energy given how large our reserves are?

In that regard, I think that Isreali opposition to the deal reflects Netannyahu's obsession about Iran that he has exhibited since the 90s. I guess he really believes it, although an alternative theory would say that it is a matter of political expedicency to keep himself in power by hyping up fear over the nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program among the Israeli population.