“In the case of Iran getting the bomb, I’ve always assumed that the roughly 200 weapons … in Pakistan now were rent-a-bombs for Saudi Arabia — that the moment Saudi Arabia sees that the Iranians have the bomb … they’ll use their Hertz preferred credit thing to get a couple of bombs sent over.” — Sen. Mark Kirk to Foreign Policy Initiative, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Bipartisan Policy Center briefing on Capitol Hill, Nov. 20, 2014
By extending nuclear talks with Iran for seven more months, the major powers avoided total collapse but also raised the stakes, “ensuring that failure, if that is what eventually happens, will be all the more cataclysmic,” according to the Guardian. My take, however, is that a bad deal with the Iranian regime is likely to destabilize the Middle East.
How could a bad deal destabilize the region?
It might look something like this: Iran pockets, without reciprocity, the backing away by the major powers from U.N. Security Council Resolutions (UNSC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from demands for full disclosure of “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. Consequently, regional actors follow the lead of Riyadh and Jerusalem — getting the bomb (as Sen. Kirk outlined) and bombing Iran, respectively.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), on Nov. 18 Iran’s Fars news agency — which is affiliated with the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — revealed U.S. demands from Tehran in the talks. Although Iran is to permit snap inspections at every Iranian facility, including military ones now off limits to inspectors, there is no explicit mention of PMD.
The MEMRI report is troubling. But a Reuters article from Saturday is even more so: It reports that the major powers “will likely stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran to avoid killing an historic deal.” PMD is a baseline for verification. Inspectors require a yardstick to compare with the current Iranian nuclear program. PMD is the gold standard for the IAEA to operate in Iran.
A backdown on PMD erodes credibility of the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA in face of Iranian obstructionism. UNSC Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010 stated that Iran has not cooperated with the U.N. watchdog agency, “to exclude the possibility of military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme.” The IAEA stated on May 25, 2012, “Since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”
This issue has been raised regularly throughout the talks.
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