You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
1) Listen to the audio
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The reaction by the US, Israel and Iran to the framework agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program
Israel Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz distributed a document wherein it charged that the framework nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers (US, Britain, France, Russia, China) and Germany does not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It says: “By removing the economic sanctions and lifting the main restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in about a decade, this framework agreement actually paves Iran’s path to a bomb. The result will be a dramatic increase in the risks of nuclear proliferation and an increase in the chances of a terrible war.” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that a “better deal” can and must be reached. The document poses 10 questions to the US-led negotiators with Iran that it said underlined “the extent of the irresponsible concessions given to Iran” and made clear “how dangerous the framework is for Israel, the region and the world.” The document asserted that “great consideration” was given to Iran, “an enemy of the Unites States, whose regime, even during the negotiations, continued to conduct aggression in the Middle East while calling for the destruction of Israel.”
The 10 questions regarding the agreement is as follows:
1. Why are sanctions that took years to put in place being removed immediately (as the Iranians claim)? This would take away the international community’s primary leverage at the outset of the agreement and make Iranian compliance less likely.
2. Given Iran’s track record of concealing illicit nuclear activities, why does the framework not explicitly require Iran to accept inspections of all installations where suspected nuclear weapons development has been conducted? Why can’t inspectors conduct inspections anywhere, anytime?
3. Will Iran ever be forced to come clean about its past nuclear weaponization activity?
4. What will be the fate of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium?
5. Why will Iran be allowed to continue R&D on centrifuges far more advanced than those currently in its possession?
6. Why does the framework not address Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear payloads?
7. Following Iranian violations of the framework, how effective will be the mechanism to reinstitute sanctions?
8. What message does the framework send to states in the region and around the world when it gives such far-reaching concessions to a regime that for years has defied UNSC resolutions? Why would this not encourage nuclear proliferation?
9. The framework agreement appears to have much in common with the nuclear agreement reached with North Korea. How will this deal differ from the North Korean case?
10. Why is the lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in about a decade not linked to a change in Iran’s behavior? According to the framework, Iran could remain the world’s foremost sponsor of terror and still have all the restrictions removed. Instead, the removal of those restrictions should be linked to a cessation of Iran’s aggression in the Middle East, its terrorism around the world and its threats to annihilate Israel.”
Many of the terms of this framework nuclear agreement is a departure from some of the stated goals of President Obama regarding the talks which he mentioned about 18 months ago. Here are a list of five areas where the administration changed policy during the negotiations.
1. Banning uranium enrichment
Before talks began, the Obama administration and the United Nations Security Council called for Iran to stop all uranium enrichment. The framework agreement, though, allows Iran to continue enriching uranium and producing plutonium for domestic civilian use. “Zero enrichment” had been a key demand since 2009, said Michael Singh, a senior fellow and managing director at The Washington Institute. “We basically went from zero to a number that kept going up.” The deal’s critics worry any enrichment could quickly be diverted to military use.
Omri Ceren, senior adviser for strategy at the Israel Project, said the administration started “sliding” on zero enrichment after talks began. But U.S. officials have suggested that halting all enrichment was never a realistic goal, and instead a key bargaining chip to secure other concessions from Iran.“ Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian American Council and a former State Department official, said the U.S. had to budge on this demand for the talks to advance. “It was the icebreaker. It was what allowed these negotiations to take root,” he said. “It’s the single most important point in my opinion, in terms of getting negotiations off the ground,” he said. “Once that position softened, it allowed the Iranian position to soften.”
2. Capping centrifuges at 1,500
The Obama administration initially called for limiting the number of Iranian centrifuges used to enrich uranium to between 500 and 1,500, experts say. But U.S. negotiators walked back those limits, allowing Iran 6,104 centrifuges. Only 5,060 of those centrifuges, at the nuclear facility at Natanz, will be allowed to enrich low-grade uranium. “The number [went] from hundreds, to thousands, to eventually, 6,104, which is where they ended,” said Singh.
But proponents of the deal say it is still a huge two-thirds reduction from Iran’s current 19,000-some centrifuges, and that any enriched uranium would be unusable for a bomb. They also argue the more important criteria is not the number of centrifuges but the time it takes Iran to have enough material for a bomb — the ”break-out” period — which the framework leaves at one year.
3. Shuttering secret nuclear facilities
The U.S. initially called for Iran to completely close down its secret underground nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow and the heavy water reactor at Arak. President Obama said in December 2013 that Iran had no need for either. “They don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program,” he said. “They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.”
However, under the framework announced last week, both Fordow and Arak remain in operation. Fordow will have 1,000 centrifuges but be converted into a research facility, while Arak will continue producing plutonium, albeit at a low-grade unusable for a bomb. Fordow will not enrich uranium or keep any fissile material there for at least 15 years, and almost two-thirds of its centrifuges and infrastructure would be removed and placed under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring. Also, Iran has agreed to implement the “Additional Protocol of the IAEA” which would provide inspectors expanded and regular access to Iran’s facilities and nuclear supply chain.
Skeptics, though, say Iran could continue covertly working on a bomb, noting that Fordow is underground and heavily fortified. “There was certainly a sense that we were seeking to sort of shut down or dismantle Iran’s nuclear program in a significant ways,” said Singh. “Under this deal, there’s certainly no dismantling of any kind.”
4. Ending Iran’s ballistic missile program
U.S. negotiators also dropped demands that Iran restrict development of ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver warheads, experts say. The current framework only says a new U.N. resolution would incorporate “important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles. They have completely given up ballistic missiles,” Ceren said.
The Obama administration says the issue of missiles and other conventional weapons should be treated separately from the nuclear deal. “As we’ve said, we have concerns about Iran’s conventional weapons, including ballistic missiles, separate from the nuclear program, obviously,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “Those concerns don’t go away with the nuclear agreement,” she added.
5. Finalizing a 20-year deal
Initially the U.S. pushed for a deal that would last over 20 years. However, the framework would see the deal’s key terms sunset in 10 to 15 years. Specifically, Iran would have to restrict the number of centrifuges enriching uranium for 10 years. In addition, the level of uranium enrichment would be capped at a lower-quality grade and the amount Iran stockpiles limited for 15 years. In addition, the restrictions on Fordow and Arak also last for 15 years.
Ceren said even though Iran isn’t legally allowed to build a bomb, all “functional” restrictions on Iran’s nuclear capacity would be lifted after 15 years. “For many months, we’ve said we’ve wanted a 25-year sunset clause, then a 20-year sunset clause, now we’re down to a 10-year sunset clause,” Ceren said. “If nothing changes in Iran in 10 years … then you’re looking at after 10 years, a much shorter break-out time,” Singh warned.
Meanwhile, the Iranian defense minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehgan said that international inspectors would not be granted access to Iranian military sites. He said, “No such agreement has been reached and basically, visiting military centers are among the red lines and no visit to these centers will be allowed.” Dehgan said that international media reports that the framework nuclear deal will allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts to inspect military centers across Iran were “lies” and “deceits.” He said, “The determination of the nuclear negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Iran is that it will not allow anything be imposed on the Iranian nation.”
Furthermore, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran would not allow any online cameras to be installed at its nuclear facilities because in the past Iranian nuclear scientists have been identified and assassinated. In addition, Iran’s foreign minister told members of the Iranian parliament that Iran will begin using its latest generation of IR-8 centrifuges as soon as its nuclear deal with the world powers goes into effect. Iran has said that its IR-8 centrifuges enrich uranium 20 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges it currently uses. Zarif said that Iran was capable of producing an atomic bomb at any given moment but will refrain from doing so due to religious Islamic injunctions against such a move.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel shares the view that from the beginning of the nuclear deal with Iran that the break out time for Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon will be near zero,” with the “inevitable result of the automatic removal of restrictions something that would enable Iran to gain an industrial-scale production capacity.” Breakout time refers to how long it would take to build a bomb. The framework deal, if honored, expands Iran’s breakout time — currently two to three months — to at least a year. In defense of his nuclear deal, US President Barack Obama said Iran would be kept a year away from obtaining a nuclear weapon for more than a decade but did admit this period to shrink to zero after 13 or more years.
Former US Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz warned of the implications of the framework Iranian nuclear deal saying, “For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests – and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first ten years.” they said. Kissinger and Shultz noted that by “mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran.”
“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,” they added. “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.”
The two warned that “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. …Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges…after the agreement expires or is broken.”
The former secretaries of state noted that “the ultimate significance of the framework will depend on its verifiability and enforceability.” They pointed out there are various versions of the deal floating around and claiming different details meaning “the so-called framework represents a unilateral American interpretation.” They also noted how the US changed its goal to a one-year window for nuclear breakout, after shelving original demands to dismantle significant parts of Iran’s nuclear program altogether. “The new approach complicates verification and makes it more political because of the vagueness of the criteria,” they said.”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 periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites,” they said. “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?”
The two assessed that “in a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. …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,” they noted. “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?” Kissinger and Shultz pointed out that the threat of renewed sanctions which is “the agreement’s primary enforcement mechanism” will be a murky and difficult process to impleent, and puts Iran at an advantage, because the deal gives Iran permanent sanctions relief “in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct.”
The two diplomats added that by changing American policy and accepting Iran’s nuclear program, the deal poses another threat for the region and cause a nuclear arms race. They said: “Some of the countries in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat,” they said. “Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.”
While there has been talk of an American nuclear umbrella for the Gulf states against Iran, the two argued that there are many issues complicating how and when such protection would be deployed. Noting how Iran has been expanding its power in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, they assessed that “Iran occupies positions along all of the Middle East’s strategic waterways and encircles archrival Saudi Arabia, an American ally. Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for a nuclear Iran. As a result, the two diplomats warned that as Sunni states “gear up to resist a new Shiite empire,” the Middle East will be further destabilized.
The Saudi Arabia news media responded to the Iranian nuclear framework agreement by saying: “Gulf states — and especially Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain — have been experiencing the nightmare of an Iranian attack for decades. Now, after the nuclear agreement, there is no doubt that this danger has doubled. People are angry with the Obama administration for selling this region cheaply. Obama left the region to face an evil state. As long as the Americans don’t explicitly state their commitment to defend Saudi Arabia from Iran and Iraq, we will face large-scale regional anarchy as a result of this nuclear deal. The Iranians are claiming that Obama is uninterested in the security of the Gulf and his American allies in the region. This Iranian thinking will lead to more regional wars. People are angry with the Obama administration because it has limited the conflict to the nuclear issue, while Tehran continues to mull further geographic gains. Iran’s wars were actually always against Gulf states; not against Israel.”
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will only agree to a final nuclear accord with the six major powers if all sanctions imposed on the country over its disputed nuclear work are lifted. In addition, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the deal “non-binding” and said the prospect of lifting sanctions in stages was “unacceptable” saying they must be removed on the same day a deal is signed.
In response, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that international sanctions on Iran should remain in place saying that Iran’s “unbridled aggression and its terrorism” have proved why the country could not be trusted. Maintaining his criticism of the US-led framework deal, Netanyahu said that a better agreement would tie the lifting of all sanctions “to an end of Iran’s aggression in the region, its worldwide terrorism and its threats to annihilate Israel.”
The United States said that any sanctions relief will only come once curbs on its uranium enrichment are verified. US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said: “Sanctions will be suspended in a phased manner upon verification that Iran has met specific commitments under a finalized joint comprehensive plan of action. The process of sanctions suspension or relief will only begin after Iran has completed its major nuclear steps and the breakout time has been increased to at least a year,” he said.
Republican Senator John McCain called US Secretary of State, John Kerry “delusional” for not being totally honest and transparent about the Iranian framework nuclear agreement. In defending the US framework agreement with Iran, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned the US Congress not to put in place any conditions that would impede implementation of the Iranian deal if a final agreement can be reached by the end of June. The US Congress is trying to advance a bipartisan bill that would give Congress the right to review any final deal with Iran and to have a vote on whether economic sanctions imposed by Congress should be suspended.
As a result of the framework nuclear agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted a ban on supplying Iran with the sophisticated S-300 air defense missile systems. Russia signed a 2007 contract to sell Tehran the S-300 system but the weaponry was never delivered amid strong objections by the United States and Israel. Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz denounced the Russian decision as proof of Iran’s new “legitimacy” following nuclear talks. “This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal that is being prepared, and proof that the Iranian economic growth which follows the lifting of sanctions will be exploited for arming itself and not for the benefit of the Iranian people” he said.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United States that the Iranian inter-continental ballistic missile system (ICBM) — an issue not addressed in the nuclear framework deal — was more of a threat to the US than to Israel. He said: “The Iranian ICBMs is a weapon to be used against the United States. They are not directed at Israel.” Furthermore, Netanyahu said that any final nuclear deal with Iran must include Iran’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist. He said: “Iran is a regime that openly calls for Israel’s destruction and openly and actively works towards that end.” he said. “Recently, an Iranian commander said that ‘the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable.’ Well, I want to make clear to all. The survival of Israel is non-negotiable.” Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept an agreement that “allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.” As a result, in any final agreement with Iran, Iran must recognize Israel’s right to exist.
In response, US President Barack Obama disagreed with Netanyahu saying that that policy would be a misjudgment. He said, “The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,” Obama said. “And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.”
In addition, Obama criticized Netanyahu for opposing the Iranian nuclear framework agreement saying, “The Prime Minister of Israel is deeply opposed to it. I think he’s made that very clear. I have repeatedly asked – what is the alternative that you present that you think makes it less likely for Iran to get a nuclear weapon? And I have yet to obtain a good answer on that.”
In response, Netanyahu said: “I’m not trying to kill any deal. I’m trying to kill a bad deal. Furthermore, I think the alternatives are not either this bad deal or war. I think there’s a third alternative – that is standing firm, ratcheting up the pressure until you get a better deal. And a better deal would roll back Iran’s vast nuclear infrastructure, require Iran to stop its aggression in the region and its terror worldwide, and its calls and actions to annihilate the state of Israel,” he said. “So let me reiterate again the two main components of the alternative to this bad deal: First, instead of allowing Iran to preserve and develop its nuclear capabilities, a better deal would significantly roll back these capabilities – for example, by shutting down the illicit underground facilities that Iran concealed for years from the international community. “Second, instead of lifting the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear facilities and program at a fixed date, a better deal would link the lifting of these restrictions to an end of Iran’s aggression in the region, its worldwide terrorism and its threats to annihilate Israel.
The main opposition party in Israel, the Zionist Union, and its leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni laid out their Iranian policy calling for a “comprehensive, intimate and in-depth strategic discussion with the US” on nuclear talks between world powers and Iran, saying all issues on the table must be clarified with the United States before a final agreement is signed with Iran. Their position paper demanded that the United States “give legitimization ahead of time to any action Israel will need to take to protect its safety.” In essense, the Herzog and Livni’s plan is a call on the Obama administration to commit in advance to approve an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if Iran violates the framework agreement recently signed and try to produce a nuclear bomb.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Israeli document poses 10 key questions about ‘irresponsible, dangerous’ Iran deal
2) 5 key demands US dropped in Iran talks
3) Iran rules out inspection for military sites
4) Iranian FM reportedly says ‘no cameras’ in nuke sites after deal
5) Iran news report: Tehran will start using fastest centrifuges on day deal takes effect
6) Netanyahu: ‘Iran’s breakout time from start of deal will be near zero’
7) Obama admits: Deal will give Iran ‘near zero’ breakout time in 13 years
8) Kissinger Slams Obama for Conceding to Iranian ‘Nuclear Arsenal’
9) Obama sold the Sunnis down the river, Saudi media say
10) Rouhani: Iran will only sign final nuclear deal if sanctions end on same day
11) Netanyahu: Sanctions on Iran must remain
12) As Iran digs in, US says no to immediate sanctions relief
13) Israel alarmed at news Russia to supply Iran advanced air defense system
14) Netanyahu on US TV: Iran’s missile program aims at you, not us
15) Netanyahu: Any final Iran deal must include recognition of Israel’s right to exist
16) Obama says tying Iran deal to recognition of Israel “misjudgment”
17) Obama: Netanyahu has not offered alternative to Iran deal
18) Netanyahu to US: Still time to reach better nuclear deal with Iran
19) Israeli opposition fleshes out Iran policy, demanding US support for Israeli strike
20) Kerry fires back at critics over Iran deal details
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l