What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 4, 2015

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Is Misleading You. Again. This Time It's About The Iranian Framework Agreement.

This time it's about the agreement between Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 powers regarding the future of Iran's nuclear program.

Here's how the braintrust described it:
Barry Blechman says the “framework agreement” announced Thursday by the United States, Iran and five other nations not only will stop Iran from building nuclear weapons for at least a decade, if not forever, “safeguards and inspections” built into the deal will give the U.S. ample warning to act militarily, if need be.

We're not sure on what planet Mr. Blechman resides but it most assuredly is not this one.

The agreement to a “framework” that is to serve as an outline for an actual “deal” to be reached this summer is so full of naive assumptions and gross capitulations that the more accurate assessment is “We got played.” That's how former Reagan administration Defense Department official KT McFarland characterizes the agreement. “We've just given away the bank,” she adds.

And the touted inspection regimen? Swiss cheese.

Iran, of course, sees this framework as “historic.” And with good reason. Uranium enrichment will continue unimpeded, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed only hours after President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry came close to a peace-in-our-time, Neville Chamberlain moment. And the supposed phasing out of sanctions will be immediate, Mr. Zarif added.
You'll note a couple of things.  While they do offer up some positive analysis of the framework agreement, they only do so in order to shoot it down.

And then, far more important for this discussion, there's no mention of any details of the agreement itself.

Did you catch that?

So when they say that Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif claims that uranium enrichment will continue unimpeded, they never seem to say how "enrichment" is described in the framework.  You're just supposed to assume it'll be "unimpeded."

Here's what the braintrust decided you didn't need to know about what the framework says about enrichment:
  • Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first - generation centrifuge.
  • Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
  • Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
  • All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.
  • Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
  • Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.
So yes, enrichment would proceed "unimpeded" but only for LEU grade material.  And the amount of LEU kept on hand (300kg) wouldn't be enough to make a bomb.  And with the centrifuges the framework would leave the Iranians with, it would take about a year for them to enrich enough to make one.  More than enough time for the inspectors to find out about it.

And what about this "swiss cheese" inspections?

Here's what the braintrust chose not to tell you about the framework's inspection regimen:
  • The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to- date, modern monitoring technologies.
  • Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
  • Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake , for 25 years.
  • Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
  • All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA. 
  • A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.
  • Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
  • Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
  • Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construct ion of new facilities.
  • Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program. 
And if Iran refuses any of the inspectors?
  • U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear - related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
Granted this is all still a framework.  The final deal's details have yet to be, well, finalized.

But isn't it funny how the Tribune-Review's editorial board decides for its readers what those readers should and should not know about some very important world events?

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