In the United States there seems to be a problem, particularly among the Republican Party, realizing with whom Iran is negotiating. By actions that have come from the U.S. Senate it would seem to be between President Barak Obama and the current government of Iran. This is not only nonsense, it is also blatant ignorance or stupidity.
For a number of years Iran claimed that she has been attempting to develop atomic energy as a form of electric power. While the country has a goodly percentage of the world’s oil and gas deposits she also has a high level of pollution. While the use of atomic energy has problems it is also free of the blatant pollution caused by excessive use of oil and or natural gas.
Is this explanation true or is Iran also secretly attempting to develop her own atomic bomb. There is a lot of low grade uranium present among Iran’s natural resources. Some evidence has emerged of high grade or refined uranium being present in that country. The Iranians have claimed that these few samples were present in the atomic equipment purchased overseas. Are they telling the truth or have they been secretly attempting to refine uranium to the fine quality that is needed to produce an atomic bomb.
According to the United Nations, with whom Iran and numerous other nations have signed a non-proliferation treaty and has refused to allow total inspection of all its sites, Iran is in violation of the non-proliferation agreement. The other U.N. members have passed innumerable sanctions against her.
P5+1 are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. They are the specific nations that are currently negotiating with Iran: China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany.
These nations are attempting to negotiate an agreement over Iran’s development of atomic energy and missiles. In June 2006 China, Russia, and the United States joined the other 3 permanent members of the Security Council, which had been negotiating with Iran since 2003.
Up to that point in time the U.N. Security Council had adopted six resolutions in response to Iran’s nuclear policy. The first resolution (July 2006) imposed gradual sanctions upon Iranian individuals and entities believed to be involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile program. The last Security Council resolution (June 2013) expanded sanctions on Iran for its lack of cooperation and its continued uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.
Germany’s dealings with Iran were different from that of the other Western nations. Iran’s nuclear program originally depended mainly upon German companies. The thousands of centrifuges that were used to enrich the uranium were controlled by German firms. Actually about 50 German Corporations had branch offices in Iran. About 12,000 firms had trade representatives in that country. The value of Trade between the two countries in 2010 was 4.7 billion euros. It was estimated that the sanctions cost Germany about 10,000 jobs and had a negative impact upon the economic growth of Germany.
On November 24, 2013, an interim agreement between P5+1 countries and Iran came about in Geneva, Switzerland. A six month freeze and partial rollback of portions of Iran’s nuclear program was traded for decreased economic sanctions.
Early in 2014 the United States’ under-Secretary of State stated at a Senate hearing that Iran’s missile program would be dealt with as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal. On February 14th of that year Iran’s Defense Minister announced that they had successfully tested two new domestically made missiles. During February 18 – 20, 2014 senior officials of P5+1 and Iran met in Vienna and agreed to a framework for future negotiations.
A former Israeli ambassador claimed that the comprehensive agreement being negotiated focused on increased transparency instead of reduction of nuclear capacity. A former U.S. State Department official stated that such an agreement would need both increased transparency and lengthen Iran’s timeline for nuclear development.
Currently, after all sorts of drama or trauma by different nations, the negotiators from P5+1 and Iran are continuing to meet. They are in the process of attempting to reach a long term comprehensive agreement that would insure Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and the broad outlines of a final treaty.
President Barak Obama has stated in some of his public remarks that the final treaty would be more comprehensive than any earlier treaty signed with any nation and that it would allow for constant inspection of all Iran’s facilities. He also said that the various sanctions would be lifted in stages as Iran complied with the agreement.
Assorted public remarks have been made by people on both sides who are not directly involved in the negotiations. Both the U.S. Senate and House have passed totally separate and different bills increasing the sanctions against Iran even though Iranian religious leaders have stated that an increase in sanctions would end the negotiations. 46 Republican Senators signed a letter by young Senator Tom Cotton addressed to the Iranian Ayatollah stating that any agreement reached would function only during the presidency of Barak Obama which ends in 2016.
Some of the Senators were embarrassed by what they did. Senator John McCain explained that he signed the letter without reading it because he was in a hurry to catch a plane out of Washington D.C. that Friday before an approaching snow-storm grounded all airplanes. Other Senators had equally inane explanations. Interestingly someone stated publically that the name Tom Cotton sounded like a character in a Disney cartoon. My wife commented that they could or should rename him Tom Cottontail. The Senator, who is a Tea Party Republican, was elected in 2014. He also later commented as a military expert, who had previously served for four years in the armed forces and attained the rank of captain, that a war with Iran would be a short and simple operation lasting only a few days. That reminded me of Bush and Chaney’s war in Iraq. They said the same thing. We still have forces in Iraq even though officially our war there is over.
The final agreement would include practical limits and transparency measures for Iran’s enrichment program. It would lift sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program which were imposed by individual countries, the European Union, the U.N. Security Council and would provide for international cooperation on civilian nuclear projects.
Each side seems to want a successful resolution of these negotiations; but each side carries a load of baggage or attitudes that it is very difficult to work through. Listening to Lindsey Graham and other Republican Senators and Congressmen one get the impression that they want Iran to bend to the U.S. will and desires as the colonies did in the late 19th and for most of the 20th Centuries. After the Ayatollah returned to Iran in 1979 the country underwent a Revolution and among other things determined that she would never return to a colonial status which many felt had existed up through the reign of the shah.
The position that seems to be accepted by both sides is that Iran like any other sovereign nation has a right to use nuclear energy to generate electricity but does not have the right to enrich uranium to the point where it can be used to make atomic bombs. It has been argued by conservatives in the United States and by the current Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, that this agreement will allow Iran to produce an atomic bomb in ten years. Of course, without any kind of agreement, and with continued and possibly greater sanctions Iran may be able to produce an atomic bomb in five years or less. If this situation prevails the Iranian people will pay a tremendous economic price in terms of their standard of living. They may pay another tremendous price in terms of war.
The Israeli government wants war with Iran; but a war fought by someone else. The Conservative Right in the U.S. seems to want a similar solution; but they will be stuck with fighting the war. Senator Tom Cotton has stated that it will be a short easy war. I would imagine he has the same advisors that George W. Bush had before he declared war on Iraq. The situation is totally irrational. Does P5+1 go for a diplomatic solution or is another war the answer?
There is another factor which nobody seems to have considered. That is time; conditions change with the passage of time. None of us can predict our condition ten years from now.
If a diplomatic solution is worked out and the economic sanctions are gradually reduced to the point where they cease to exist then the condition of the Iranian people will improve to a large or even to a phenomenal extent. Will the religious right be able to maintain the control it has had in the recent past? In fact does it have that control now? Will the basic values of a successful country be the same as they are now? Will Iran still be the backbone of Shiite terrorism throughout the Islamic world?
None of these questions can be answered at this point but they are well worth considering. Nothing remains the same over time. If, nothing else, the last ten years of my life have slowed me down considerably. The capital of Viet Nam, where the United States lost a war in the 1970s, now sports a Hanoi Hilton hotel that caters to American tourists looking for an exotic but relatively inexpensive vacation.
Let us now consider the prospect of Iran having its own atomic bomb. Pakistan has the bomb and India also has the atomic bomb. It seems to be an open secret that Israel has it. North Korea, with its irresponsible leader, Kim Jong-un, the grandson of the original founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), who assumed leadership after the demise of his father and considers anyone disagreeing with him guilty of a crime meriting the death penalty. He had his uncle, who was considered the second most powerful person in the country, executed, as well as a number of other officials in his government.
Virtually all the major industrial nations not only have the bomb but they have an advanced version of it that can be a hundred times more powerful than the one these nations have. India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea have a bomb similar to the ones dropped upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 that ended World War II. The Industrial Western nations have bombs far more powerful than those.
These countries have had such bombs for a number of years. Some of the former colonial nations may bluster a bit but none of them have really been ready to use their atomic weapon. The reason being that if they were to use the bomb other nations would use a more powerful version of the atomic bomb against them. It would seem that having the weapon increases your power but in such a way that this new power cannot be used. Iran being able to create an atomic bomb would not be the end of the world.
Another consideration is that if Iran and P5+1 does work out an agreement and the current negotiating deadline is in of June of 2015, and then the United States Republican dominated Congress is successfully able to keep the U.S. from joining in the agreement, then what are the possible results? First off the only country thereafter to have sanctions against Iran would be the United States. It would work to isolate America from the rest of the world and throw it back into a period of isolation such as existed after World War I. The overall economic effect would be devastating to U.S. trade with the rest of the world and it would also considerably limit the nation as a leader in the world today. Isn’t it time the Republicans came into the 21st Century and stopped playing politics against President Barak Obama?
Since I began working on this blog the United States Senate has passed a Bill giving Congress a say on the results of negotiations with Iran. Since the Bill was passed with no amendment both Democrats and Republicans voted for it. The one dissenting vote was by Tom Cotton who apparently would prefer war. The bill was taken up by the House of Representatives which also passed it with no amendments. From what I understand the President has or will sign the bill. Congress can take the results of the negotiating up in each House and debate it but they cannot change it in any way. However, since the U.S. sanctions against Iran were passed as a law it will take an act of Congress to reduce or remove them.