The big charade: Nuclear diplomacy is a flop, the finale is secretly postponed to 2015

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis May 24, 2014,

All hands on board the project for proving that Iran is amenable to dialogue and concessions on its nuclear program worked overtime this week to mask the truth, which is that negotiations were going nowhere.

On May 21, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, for instance, said “The nuclear negotiation is progressing and is on the threshold of reaching a conclusion.”

On May 23, the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported that the nuclear stockpile left to Iran after most of its enriched material, 80 percent, had been either converted or diluted “was far below the 250 kg which experts say is needed for one nuclear bomb.”

In other words, the IAEA was affirming that Tehran had lived up to the commitments it undertook in last November’s interim nuclear accord.

But the agency report was careful to edit out the negative side of the picture, which is: Iran is left with a stockpile of 3.5 tons of lower-grade 5.3 percent enriched uranium, which can quickly be enriched further to 20 percent grade. It would then be sufficient to produce 5-7 nuclear bombs. Dilution of the higher grade material is moreover reversible and could provide fuel for another bomb.
But the 80 percent figure captured the headlines of the world media and usefully fueled the show of optimism surrounding the stalled nuclear talks with Iran.

For more than a year, DEBKAfile has been following the back-channel talks the Obama administration has kept going with Tehran through a hub in the Omani capital of Muscat. They have been handled by Undersecretary of State William Burns and Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sulllivan. Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two diplomats were told to give this track “a last push” this summer, in order to bring it to a successful conclusion in time for the July deadline.

But nothing has gone according to plan.

The mid-May round of six-power talks with Iran in Vienna broke up without assent on essential points. The gaps between Washington and Tehran on the two tracks, the official one in Vienna and the private one through Muscat, are widening instead of closing.

In Tehran itself, the omnipotent Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has clipped the wings of the pro-diplomacy President Rouhani and curtailed his leeway for concessions on Iran’s nuclear program.

A severe crisis in relations is also developing between Washington and Jerusalem over dissonant approaches to Iran’s nuclear advances, its ballistic missile arsenal and the Islamic Republic’s Middle East designs.

Because of all these constraints, the Obama administration in the last week of April reached two important decisions:

1. To postpone the deadline for a final nuclear accord with Iran from July 2014 to January 15, 2015 – possibly not for the last time – a delay which is viewed by Israel as extremely problematic.

The commitment undertaken by Tehran under the November interim accord – not to use its advanced IR2 centrifuges for rapid uranium enrichment – was valid for only six months, during which a final agreement was supposed to have been negotiated to take its place.

Therefore, the discussions conducted in the current rounds of talks on the number of centrifuges and the amount of enriched uranium Iran is allowed to stockpile are meaningless. Once the extra-fast centrifuges are spinning, neither Washington nor Jerusalem can tell any longer how much enriched material the Iranians are producing.

DEBKAfile’s military sources quote the Israeli experts involved in national policy-making on Iran as determining that, with the diplomatic track dragging into limbo and Iran off the hook of its interim commitments, Tehran will be able to reach the nuclear threshold in two to three months’ time, i.e. by July-August.

2. In a move to dissuade Israel from resorting to military action to curb this process, the White House is drafting legislature that would empower the president to use force against Iran without referring back to Congress, if Tehran was found cheating on its nuclear commitments.

No one in Washington or Tehran believes President Barack will actually use military force against Iran. However, prior congressional endorsement of his military option might, Obama hopes, hold Israel back and provide extra leverage in the negotiations with Iran, which he is determined to continue notwithstanding their futility.

May 25, 2014 | 22 Comments »

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  1. Dear honeybee,

    Despite our ahem – minor differences I wish you well. Stay safe.

    If your windmill does get blown away you can always come to Toronto. I would be glad to put you and TX up.


  2. @ Bear Klein:

    My Dearest Bear, the strategy is to allow the Thunder to win a few and then returning to SA where the Spurs can win at home. I thought you knew these things.

  3. @ yamit82:

    When my Dad was a small boy [ starting at 6/7] he sold papers. His favorite customers were the ” fallen doves”. He said they always tip him and tosselled his hair.

  4. @ honeybee:

    I should have married a nice boring brain surgeon from NYC and lived on 5th Ave.

    Why do you think that a surgeon, must necessarily be boring?
    And were that to happen, would you have lost your drawl and sounded like Fran drescher?

    (Try calling TX Mr. Sheffield !!!!!!!! see how that goes…. 🙂 )

  5. @ yamit82:

    I heard about your earthquake, but was to caught up in my own natural disasters to ask, shame on me. Did get to the flea market early, got some wire to repair the windmill. The wire on the brake broke. Bought two books the rowdy life in the “Old West”.

  6. @ honeybee:

    Glad to hear you all are safe and Tx is being functional.
    We had an earth quake yesterday 4.6. I was sitting in front of my computer nd felt my chair vibrating but thought it was my dog scratching herself behind me. Later I heard on the news it was an earthquake or maybe it was some undergroud Nuke testing?// You never can know. A few years ago we had an earthquake here and it lasted a min or more and the whole house shook and the lighting fixtures stated to swing. It felt like floating on air or levitation for a few seconds.

  7. yamit82 Said:

    Does this mean you are OK or your last

    Means I clicked the wrong button. Now the grass will grow tall and dry out and fire season will start. I should have married a nice boring brain surgeon from NYC and lived on 5th Ave.

  8. @ yamit82:

    Just rain and a little hail. Storm is over for now thunder still rattle and wind is up. TX laughed said those little finger clouds arn’t nothing, then the TV weather man radar showed the funnels over the house. I then tied TX up and stuck him on the roof for a lightnin rod. Now he glows like the men from Dimona.

  9. @ honeybee:

    Sounds ominous. Take care of yourselves and find a good place to hunker down… How long do I have to wait before the danger is passed and know you are OK?

  10. @ yamit82:

    I shall write this quickly before I have to pull the plug on Loki ll . Storms are moving in again and they seem menacing. Last night we were literally under a tornado warning. Went to get pizza and returning I said those clouds yonder look raggedy. And we pulled up at the door you could hear the sirens in the valley below us. So here we go again, but the windmill still stands.

  11. ‘Israel, Prepare For Armageddon And Forget US Help’

    Schwartz warned that the Obama administration is “effectively an enemy” of Israel, opining that if Israeli acted to take out Iran’s nuclear program, “Obama would probably be a detriment to Israel,” and “feed intelligence” to Iran about Israeli activities.

    Israel must find new alliances and not rely on the US, warned Schwartz, saying “America is not going to be here to take care of Israel; it can’t take care of itself.”

    Turning to the Israeli public and leaders, Schwartz warned the Jewish state must “prepare for armageddon,” given the clearly expressed Iranian intentions to destroy Israel coupled with the Islamic regime’s nuclear program