Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran good for our national security?

Iran chief negotiator: all sanctions will stop

Iran’s chief negotiator: all the sanctions cease immediately

This is the top article on the Wall Street Journal right now. It’s written by two former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz.

They are assessing the Iran deal:

While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.

[…]Progress has been made on shrinking the size of Iran’s enriched stockpile, confining the enrichment of uranium to one facility, and limiting aspects of the enrichment process. Still, the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability.

[…]Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?

In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance—or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue. The experience of Iran’s work on a heavy-water reactor during the “interim agreement” period—when suspect activity was identified but played down in the interest of a positive negotiating atmosphere—is not encouraging.

Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event. More likely it will occur, if it does, via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions.

When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? What process will be followed to resolve the matter swiftly?

The agreement’s primary enforcement mechanism, the threat of renewed sanctions, emphasizes a broad-based asymmetry, which provides Iran permanent relief from sanctions in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct. Undertaking the “snap-back” of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action. In countries that had reluctantly joined in previous rounds, the demands of public and commercial opinion will militate against automatic or even prompt “snap-back.” If the follow-on process does not unambiguously define the term, an attempt to reimpose sanctions risks primarily isolating America, not Iran.

The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken.

That doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.

It sounds like we are trading permanent relief from sanctions. Those sanctions were built up over years of negotiations with the UN countries. Sanctions that are not easy to “snap back” if Iran breaks the deal, because they require negotiations with many different UN countries again – it won’t be automatic. That’s the “asymmetry” they are talking about in the article. Iran can break the agreement unilaterally, or just block the inspections, and the sanctions will stay off until we get agreement with the UN countries.

Here’s the former Democrat campaign worker, and now State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf:

She is confused by all the “big words” that these two Secretaries of State used in the article above.

But it gets worse!

Here’s the latest from the Times of Israel. (H/T Director Blue via ECM)

It says:

Iran will begin using its latest generation IR-8 centrifuges as soon as its nuclear deal with the world powers goes into effect, Iran’s foreign minister and nuclear chief told members of parliament on Tuesday, according to Iran’s semi-official FARS news agency.

If accurate, the report appears to make a mockery of the world powers’ much-hailed framework agreement with Iran, since such a move clearly breaches the US-published terms of the deal, and would dramatically accelerate Iran’s potential progress to the bomb.

Iran has said that its IR-8 centrifuges enrich uranium 20 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges it currently uses.

According to the FARS report, “Iran’s foreign minister and nuclear chief both told a closed-door session of the parliament on Tuesday that the country would inject UF6 gas into the latest generation of its centrifuge machines as soon as a final nuclear deal goes into effect by Tehran and the six world powers.”

It said that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi made the promise when they briefed legislators on the framework agreement, and claimed the move was permitted under the terms of the deal.

Oh, I guess was wrong. This is a good deal! For Iran.

Sigh. I guess if you want to be even more horrified by the Iran deal, you can listen to an interview that Hugh Hewitt did with Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, and there’s a transcript as well for those who would rather read about the incompetence of the Obama administration rather than hear about the incompetence of the Obama administration.

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58 Democrats boycott Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Iran

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, and below you can find a round-up of reactions.

Here’s The Daily Signal summarizing why Netanyahi opposes the deal:

Netanyahu made the case before Congress that the White House’s efforts to negotiate a deal with Iran have about as much in common with the Camp David Accords as an SNL skit has with a State of the Union Address. The administration’s proposal is anything but a realistic plan for peace.

A real peace plan would demonstrate that all sides were committed to not adding more nuclear weapons powers to the Middle East. The deal as it stands does the opposite—it preserves the nuclear option for Iran—and as result will prompt other regional powers to hedge their bets and prepare to go nuclear as well rather than live in Tehran’s nuclear shadow.

The proposed multi-year moratorium doesn’t end concerns that Iran will build a bomb and put nuclear warheads on long-range missiles. Rather, under the agreement, Tehran can walk up to the edge of becoming a declared armed-nuclear state with a robust missile force and sit there. That hardly sets the condition for sure peace in our time.

Meanwhile, even the shaky stalemate proposed by the agreement rests on the assumption that Tehran won’t follow North Korea’s path to breakout status by cheating on the agreement and then abrogating the deal when it no longer suits the regime.

At the same time the price for Obama’s peace comes pretty high. Tehran demands significant and immediate sanctions relief. That means more money for a corrupt regime with one of the world’s worst human records to perpetuate strangled hold over the people of Iran.

Obama’s deal also means more money for Tehran to prop-up the likes of Hezbollah, Assad, Hamas, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and murderous unaccountable Shia militias in Iraq (which are as big a threat to the future of the country as ISIS). As one of the world’s premier state-sponsors of terrorism, enabling and emboldening Iran’s efforts to reshape the region by force of arms and slaughtering innocents doesn’t make the prospects for peace in the region any brighter.

All the partisan controversy and vitriol over Netanyahu’s speech cannot obscure that the White House has no good answers to the legitimate concerns he raised.

Breitbart News summarizes how the speech was received:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a passionate, inspiring, thoughtful, and “game changing” speech before the American Congress which lasted for about 45 minutes, during which time he was applauded 43 times, often for 15 seconds at a time. His words elicited many standing ovations.

The only other foreign leader to have spoken to Congress three times was Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister. In honor of that, Speaker of the House, John Boehnerplans to present Netanyahu with a bust of Churchill.

Netanyahu received wild applause when he said: “The world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”

Israel’s Prime Minister again received rather thunderous applause and a standing ovation when he noted that Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was in the audience—and when he said: “My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, ‘never again!’ And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

At this point Congress outdid itself in term of applause and a standing ovation.

PM Netanyahu was greeted with a thunderous ovation when he first arrived and again after he was introduced.

And here’s Dennis Prager, writing at Investors Business Daily, explaining why Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu:

The prime minister of Israel is at the forefront of the greatest battle against evil in our time — the battle against violent Muslims. No country other than Israel is threatened with extinction, and it is Iran and the many Islamic terror organizations that pose that threat.

It only makes sense, then, that no other country feels the need to warn the world about Iran and Islamic terror as much as Israel.

That’s why, when Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the United Nations about the threat Iran poses to his country’s survival and about the metastasizing cancer of Islamist violence, he unfortunately stands alone.

Virtually everyone listening knows he is telling the truth. And most dislike him for it. Appeasers hate those who confront evil.

Given that this president is the least likely of any president in American history to confront evil — or even identify it — while Benjamin Netanyahu is particularly vocal and eloquent about both identifying and confronting evil, it is inevitable that the former will resent the latter.

Here is the list of 58 Democrats (House and Senate) who walked out of the speech.

And a number of top Democrats — including Vice President Joe Biden, whose job description includes the title President of the Senate — didn’t attend.

[…]At least 50 Democratic House members and eight senators who caucus with the Democrats said in recent weeks they wouldn’t attend the speech, many in protest to a move that they say is an affront to the president.

The full transcript of the speech has been posted by The Weekly Standard.

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Obama administration giving away the store in nuclear deal with Iran

Map of Iran Nuclear Facilities

Map of Iran Nuclear Facilities

(Source: BBC)

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Excerpt:

Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress this week that no one should pre-judge a nuclear deal with Iran because only the negotiators know what’s in it. But the truth is that the framework of an accord has been emerging thanks to Administration leaks to friendly journalists. The leaks suggest the U.S. has already given away so much that any deal on current terms will put Iran on the cusp of nuclear-power status.

The latest startling detail is Monday’s leak that the U.S. has conceded to Iran’s demand that an agreement would last as little as a decade, perhaps with an additional five-year phase-out. After that Iran would be allowed to build its uranium enrichment capabilities to whatever size it wants. In theory it would be forbidden from building nuclear weapons, but by then all sanctions would have long ago been lifted and Iran would have the capability to enrich on an industrial scale.

Is Iran our friend? Not really:

That is some gamble on a regime that continues to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, prop up the Assad regime in Syria, use proxies to overthrow the Yemen government, jail U.S. reporter Jason Rezaian on trumped-up espionage charges, and this week blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz.

Charles Krauthammer comments:

News leaked Monday of the “sunset clause.” President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.

Sanctions lifted. Restrictions gone. Nuclear development legitimized. Iran would re-enter the international community, as Obama suggested in an interview last December, as “a very successful regional power.” A few years — probably around 10 — of good behavior and Iran would be home free.

The agreement thus would provide a predictable path to an Iranian bomb. Indeed, a flourishing path, with trade resumed, oil pumping and foreign investment pouring into a restored economy.

Meanwhile, Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. It’s not even part of these negotiations.

Why is Iran building them? You don’t build ICBMs in order to deliver sticks of dynamite. Their only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads. Nor does Iran need an ICBM to hit Riyadh or Tel Aviv. Intercontinental missiles are for reaching, well, other continents. North America, for example.

[…]The deal now on offer to the ayatollah would confer legitimacy on the nuclearization of the most rogue of rogue regimes: radically anti-American, deeply jihadist, purveyor of terrorism from Argentina to Bulgaria, puppeteer of a Syrian regime that specializes in dropping barrel bombs on civilians.

Based on past deals, we shouldn’t be surprised by this news.

This Heritage Foundation article re-caps our negotiating blunders.

What makes these deals even worse is that they are all about constraining us, not the other guy. New START didn’t require Russia to destroy a single nuclear missile: it only reduced the size of the U.S. stockpile. The Arms Trade Treaty won’t stop the lawless and incompetent nations of the world from selling arms irresponsibly, but our lawyers will guarantee that it restrains us.

The essence of the Syrian deal was that it saved the U.S. from having to carry out Secretary of State John Kerry’s “unbelievably small” retaliatory strike on the Assad regime, which gets to remain in power. The Iran carve-up removes the lingering threat of any U.S. military action and makes Israeli action all but unthinkable, while the Iranians keep on enriching uranium and can zoom up to weapons-grade levels far faster than we can reimpose sanctions.

The administration is more afraid of having to respond to an Iranian nuclear breakout than it is of a breakout itself. The deal has bought only a six-month delay in the Iranian program, at the cost of easing UN sanctions the U.S. had carefully built up since 2006.

At the core of the accords is the belief that the U.S. is the nation that needs to be restrained. That is why they involve big concessions from us in exchange for far less from the other side. Since we are the problem, we are the ones who need to give things up to get a deal.

And what about the global warming deal with China?

We got fleeced there, too:

When the United States and China announced a surprise carbon-emissions deal, the environmental Left squealed in delight. Al Gore declared it “groundbreaking progress from the world’s largest polluter” (i.e., China), while John Kerry patted himself on the back in the New York Times, gushing about how “the world’s most consequential relationship has just produced something of great consequence in the fight against climate change.” Despite the extraordinary fanfare, there’s abundant reason for skepticism.

Though the announcement is politically expedient for both Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, China almost certainly won’t take significant steps to reduce carbon emissions.

[…]Beijing hasn’t actually agreed to much: It will try to “stop increasing” carbon emissions by 2030 — which is a slanted way of saying its emissions will continue to grow for another 16 years — and derive 20 percent of its energy from renewables by then, up from about 10 percent now. Though these goals may be codified into Chinese law, the CCP does not have a reputation for respecting the rule of law. And the United States and the international community won’t have any way of enforcing these goals. No wonder Reuters called it a “largely symbolic plan.”

[…]Critics of the president’s environmental policies have noted that even the most stringent emissions reductions from the First World won’t have much of an impact unless the developing world also cuts back. The environmental Left is marketing the new U.S.–China deal as a way to eliminate that objection and plow forward with the president’s hardline proposals for carbon regulations. “Now there is no longer an excuse for Congress to block action on climate change,” Senator Barbara Boxer said in today’s New York Times. “The biggest carbon polluter on our planet, China, has agreed to cut back on dangerous emissions, and now we should make sure all countries do their part because this is a threat to the people that we all represent.”

Boxer ignores the myriad other valid objections to the Obama administration’s proposed regulations, which seek to cut carbon emissions 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030. In reality, it’s bad policy because, despite enormous economic cost, it would yield very few environmental benefits.

And of course we have the complete surrender to Russia in the Arctic.

We are cutting deals with every bad actor on the planet that will undermine our interests at home and abroad for years to come. And why? Well, it’s because Democrats think that United States is more of a threat to world peace than a force for good, and so they think the best way to save the planet is to strengthen countries like Russia, Iran and China. I think in one way this plan will work – Democrats will feel as if they are doing something, and they will congratulate themselves on their moral superiority. But as far as actually achieving good results? It’s not going to happen.

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Obama calls Ottawa, Canada terrorist attack by a Muslim “senseless violence”

Well, at least he didn’t call it “workplace violence”, like he did the attack on Fort Hood by Major Nidal Hasan.

Story from the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

A gunman who reportedly was a recent convert to Islam launched an attack Wednesday in Ottawa, killing one soldier guarding a war memorial before barging into the capital city’s Parliament amid a hail of gunfire and spawning increased vigilance in Washington and Ottawa, where officials wondered how he managed to get into the government building armed.

The Canadian soldier, identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was the second killed in three days in an attack by a young Muslim convert. A hit-and-run that left one soldier dead and another injured Monday has been deemed a terrorist attack by Canadian officials.

The Islamic State, which has seized large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, has called on Muslims to launch attacks in Western countries that have joined the U.S.-led coalition to combat the terrorists. Canadian officials said there was no evidence that the gunman had ties to Islamic extremism, but the investigation was in the early stages.

“But let there be no misunderstanding: We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a TV address to his nation.

The shooting stopped because there was an armed man on the scene:

In Ottawa on Wednesday, members of Parliament said they owed their lives to Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, who fatally shot the gunman just outside the caucus rooms where lawmakers were barricading themselves.

More on the Islamic terrorist:

A Canadian official identified the dead gunman as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, and an Ottawa hospital said it was treating two other victims from both attacks.

[…]Mr. Harper, in his evening address, said the attacks will “lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts” to fight terrorists, work with allies and keep the country safe.

He said Monday’s attack was by an “ISIL-inspired terrorist,” and said of Wednesday’s shooting that, “in the days to come, we will learn about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had.”

Zehaf-Bibeau, the gunman, had a lengthy criminal history involving convictions for drug trafficking in Montreal, robbery in Vancouver, assault and weapons offenses as well as other crimes.

He was born in Quebec as Michael Joseph Hall but recently converted to Islam, CBS reported.

Home-grown terrorism, from Canada’s most liberal and multicultural province.

I’m not surprised this happened in Canada – the Liberal Party was in power for years and years there, and encouraged mass immigration from the poorest countries so that people who came would vote for bigger government (the Liberal Party). They called this “multiculturalism”. The problem was that many of these poor immigrants are poor because they come from Islamic countries that don’t allow the basic freedoms and rights that are needed for a capitalist economy. When they came to Canada, they not only voted for the Liberal Party, they kept their Islamic beliefs. Nothing that they learned in the multicultural schools would have taught them that there was any need to adopt the values of the country that took them in and offered them generous social programs.

You can see more Mark Steyn from the Sun News Network.

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Robert George: United States has a moral obligation to stop the genocide in Iraq

I found this Christian Post article via a blog post on Think Apologetics. Robert George is one of the best (if not the best) respected Christian ethicists operating today. So it’s interesting to see what he thinks we ought to do in Iraq.

Excerpt:

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, started a petition calling on President Barack Obama, Congress and the international community to destroy ISIS as a fighting force.

In a Thursday video phone interview with The Christian Post (see below), George said he thought the petition was needed because ISIS, also called ISIL or the Islamic State, is committing genocide, similar to what happened in Rwanda in 1994. The United States did nothing to prevent the Rwandan genocide, and that was a mistake that should not happen again, he argued.

The signers of the petition, available at iraqrescue.org, include Democrats, Republicans and independents; conservatives, liberals and moderates; and various religious traditions.

Among the signers are Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Ben Carson, retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon; Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Eric Metaxas, an Evangelical author and public speaker; and Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. (Affiliations are provided for identification only. They are not signing as representatives of the institutions they work for.) At the time of this publication, the petition had over 3,800 signatures.

“Nothing short of the destruction of ISIS/ISIL as a fighting force will provide long-term protection of victims,” the petition reads in part.

The United States “doesn’t have any real moral choice,” George said. It is “our moral obligation” to stop the genocide. George does not believe the assistance necessarily requires American ground forces. Rather, the United States can contribute with air strikes, intelligence, and strategic support for the Kurdish forces and religious minorities who are being targeted by ISIS.

I think it’s very important for us to speak out to our neighbors about this, because in watching the mainstream media cover this, they just want this issue to go away. They know that Obama withdrew our forces in Iraq and set up the conditions that led to this genocide. So it’s up to us to keep the pressure on. Eric’s post on Think Apologetics has some ideas about what to do.

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