Uploaded on December 9. This week’s update is 51 minutes.
You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The current status of the situation with Iran
After all-night talks, a first-step nuclear deal was struck in Geneva, Switzerland between Iran and the six major world powers consisting of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. It was announced by President Barack Obama and confirmed by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Obama said key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will be rolled back for limited sanctions relief. No new centrifuges will added to the enrichment process, work will stop at the Arak nuclear reactor and the UN will expand inspections to ensure that Iran will be unable to make a nuclear bomb. The overall sanctions architecture will remain in place pending a comprehensive solution to be negotiated in the next six months but no new sanctions will be imposed.
Indeed, the Americans are not wasting much time and commencing the relief in sanctions. Iranian Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said that the US government has released frozen Iranian assets worth $8 billion as part of the interim agreement signed in Geneva, Switzerland.
None of the information revealed so far about the interim accord reached in Geneva indicated that the agreement resolved the concealed military features of Iran’s nuclear program or the details of expanded inspections. Israel is not expected to accept any document with those omissions. Obama said he understood the concerns of Israel and the Persian Gulf nations about Iran’s intentions and promised to closely follow Iran’s compliance and will continue to maintain the option for US military action. Offering no information about the content of the interim accord, the Iranian foreign minister commended the Geneva process for granting the Iranian people “equal footing and mutual respect” and the deal as a first step towards removing all doubts about Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel and Saudi Arabia said before the deal was signed that they would not be bound by its provisions and reserved their military options. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague added that Iran had agreed to halt uranium enrichment above the 5 percent grade and the elimination of its stockpile of 20 percent enriched material. As the Secretary spoke, the Saudi ambassador to London pledged every effort by his government to halt Iran’s advance toward a nuclear bomb, accusing the United States of failing to do this. Nawaf Obaid, a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family, as accusing its Western allies of deceiving the oil rich kingdom in striking the nuclear accord with Iran and said Riyadh would follow an independent foreign policy. Obaid said that while Saudi Arabia knew that the US was talking directly to Iran through a channel in the Gulf state of Oman, the USA had not directly briefed its ally. “We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.” Obaid suggested in his remarks a possible Saudi attack when claiming Riyadh is determined to reinforce its policy and to be more active in the future by running an independent foreign policy.
After the agreement was announced, the US State Department acknowledged that Iran is currently enjoying a “window” of time before the six-month deal goes into effect. During this time, Iran would not be required to take any credible steps toward disabling its ability to produce a nuclear weapon. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the six-month interim period, during which Iran would take steps to rein in its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, has not yet begun. She said: “The next step here is a continuation of technical discussions at a working level so that we can essentially tee up the implementation of the agreement. Obviously, once those technical discussions are worked through, the clock would start. Obviously, there’ll also be a reconvening of the political track with the P5+1 which Under Secretary Wendy Sherman will continue to be our lead negotiator.”
Psaki said that she did not “have a specific timeline” for how long the window would be in place before the six-month period began, nor did there seem to be any mechanism in place to prevent Iran from stepping up nuclear production before the scale-down went into effect. Furthermore, she said: “In terms of what the Iranians are or aren’t doing, obviously our hope would be, given we are respecting the spirit of the agreement in pressing for sanctions not to be put in place and beginning the process of figuring out how to deliver on our end of the bargain, that the same would be coming from their end in the spirit of the agreement. Similarly, she did not know what the timetable would be on sanctions relief, saying that there would still “be technical discussions. It’s also not an all-at-one-time or a spigot that’s turned all the way on. So it would be a slow process that obviously we control, and some of those details are still being worked out,” she explained.
Another field in which the deal seems not to be solidified yet is the question of how sanctions relief would be framed in response to a nuclear slow-down on the part of the Iranians. Psaki said that the deal would not require Iran to complete all steps before sanctions relief is granted, nor would it grant the entire relief package — valued at between $4 and $7 billion — before Iran initiates a nuclear slow-down. Instead, Psaki said, “it would be a progression,” but she acknowledged that they were still “working through” it. “It’s not one month and it applies to all of the relief internationally,” she explained. “So there would be a progressive process over the course of the first set.” Psaki also said that among the “technical details” yet to be worked out was the order in which sanctions would be relieved.
These comments created confusion as to whether the much-touted interim deal, supposedly reached by the P5+1 powers and Iran had actually been completed as claimed. Former State Department official and ambassador Elliott Abrams, who argued in his Council for Foreign Relations blog that the language used by the White House to discuss the Iran interim deal was largely “aspirational,” suggesting that much of the touted P5+1 deal with Iran had yet to be hammered out. In addition, Iran accused the US of publishing an inaccurate account of what had been agreed. Iran’s Foreign Ministry firmly criticized the White House for publishing what it said was a false version of the interim nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the six world powers. “What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action, and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” said a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. Furthermore, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an address to the Iranian parliament that Iran would continue construction on the Arak heavy water plant in an apparent breach of the ostensibly agreed terms.
According to the Washington Post, the US is also omitting key facts about the nuclear deal signed with Iran. While Iran has agreed to cap uranium enrichment and delay completion of the Arak heavy-water reactor during the interim, six-month negotiation period, the text of the deal says that the final agreement will involve “a mutually defined enrichment program with mutually agreed parameters.” In other words, “the United States and its partners have already agreed that Iranian enrichment activity will continue indefinitely. In contrast, a long-standing US demand that an underground enrichment facility be closed is not mentioned.” Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Iranian interim deal is that it provides for a “sunset clause” in the comprehensive agreement, meaning even the long-term deal would not be finite, and Iran could return to uranium enrichment and plutonium production at some point in the future after sanctions have been removed. How “long-term” the final agreement will be is a point of contention, with Iran proposing a period as short as 3-5 years before it is able to have an “unrestricted nuclear program.”
In addition to the uncertainty to the agreement of the Iranian nuclear deal, it seems that the agreement failed to address the most questionable aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, i.e. its clandestine military dimensions. The accord confined itself to aspects of uranium enrichment and stockpiles. UN inspections were expanded – but not applied, for instance, to Iran’s concealed nuclear sites – or even the Parchin military base where Iran is suspected of having tested nuclear-related explosions. As a result, Israel, the Gulf States and others are therefore highly dubious of the deal’s capacity for freezing Iran’s nuclear program where it stands today, least of all roll it back, as President Barack Obama claimed.
Seven of the most glaring loopholes in the first-step accord:
1. Parchin: This long-suspected facility remains out of UN oversight.
2. Secret nuclear locations: Under the heading “Possible Military Dimensions,” the last IAEA report noted: “Since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related organizations, including activities related to the development of a payload for a missile.”
3. Dirty bombs: Iran doesn’t need a full-scale nuclear bomb or missile warhead for attacking Israel. For decades, Tehran has been working on perfecting hundreds of dirty bombs as part of its nuclear program, by adding plutonium or enriched uranium to conventional bombs. These weapons are easy to make and easy to use. In the hands of Hizballah or other Shiite terrorist organizations in Syria or Iraq, for instance, they could be used to strike Israel without leaving a trail to Tehran. This peril too was ignored by the six powers in Geneva.
4. Rollback. While President Obama has presented the deal as a first step toward freezing or even rolling back “key aspects” of Iran’s nuclear program. The fact remains that, so long as Iran is permitted to enrich uranium, even though this is restricted to a low 5 percent grade, it is free to produce as much fissile material as it wants, whenever it wants. This seems more like roll forward than roll back.
5. Enrichment. Obama and Kerry said the new deal does not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. They were contradicted by the Iranian president and senior negotiator as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
6. Centrifuges. Iran has undertaken not to add new centrifuges to its enrichment facilities, according to President Obama, but there is nothing to stop it from keeping up their production. In the six-month interregnum for negotiating a comprehensive nuclear deal, Iran wins time to turn out enough centrifuges to substantially expand its production of enriched uranium.
7. A leap to breakout: Far from being static or in freeze, as the Americans claim, Iran is free to step up centrifuge production and boost its stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, thereby accumulating enough material to enhance its capacity for producing enough weapons-grade uranium to break through to a nuclear bomb rapidly enough to defy detection by the IAEA or Western intelligence until it is too late.
After the agreement of Iran’s nuclear program was announced, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said said that Iran will press on with construction at a nuclear reactor site at Arak. Iran said it would not make “any further advances of its activities” on the Arak reactor, according to text of the agreement. However, the specific commitments made by Iran under the agreement do not ban construction work at Arak — only work on any facility at the site intended for the reprocessing of radioactive fuel; the process which can yield plutonium. The deal also prohibits Iran from producing or testing fuel for the reactor, or installing any additional reactor components at the site. “The capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase. It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there,” Zarif said. “We will refrain from constructing new enrichment sites over the next six months, and the fact is the administration has had no such plans for the six-month period,” said Zarif.
The secret back channel of negotiations between Iran and the United States, which led to their interim deal in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program has also seen a series of prisoner releases by both sides, which have played a central role in bridging the distance between the two nations. American and Iranian officials have been meeting secretly in Oman on and off for years, according to a respected Israeli intelligence analyst, Ronen Solomon. And in the past three years as a consequence of those talks, Iran released three American prisoners, all via Oman, and the US responded in kind. Then, most critically, in April, when the back channel was reactivated in advance of the Geneva P5+1 meetings, the US released a fourth Iranian prisoner, high-ranking Iranian scientist Atarodi, who was arrested in California on charges that remain sealed but relate to his attempt to acquire what are known as dual-use technologies, or equipment that could be used for Iran’s military-nuclear programs. Iran has not reciprocated for that latest release.
In any final accord with Iran, US President Barack Obama spoke of the need for Iran to be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He said that a final agreement needs to be reached within 6 months. He promised that the international community would be updated on every detail of any deal and Israel would be consulted.
In Obama’s view the final accord must contain four elements:
1. The shutdown of the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo;
2. Give up the heavy water reactor under construction at Arak;
3. Stop manufacturing advanced centrifuges.
4. Permission for low-grade uranium enrichment up to the 3.5 percent level.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the nuclear agreement between Iran and the six major world powers “a historic mistake. What was accomplished in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it’s a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said. Israeli TV news reported that Netanyahu was “extremely angry” with Obama over the deal, that he fears the international sanctions regime will now crumble, that the US had not come clean to Israel over a secret back channel of talks with Iran, and that Israel’s military option for intervening in Iran is off the table for the foreseeable future now that the interim deal is done. “I would be happy if I could join those voices around the world that are praising the Geneva agreement,” Netanyahu remarked. “It is true that the international pressure which we applied was partly successful and has led to a better result than what was originally planned. But this is still a bad deal. It reduces pressure on Iran without receiving anything tangible in return. And the Iranians who laughed all the way to the bank are themselves saying that this deal has saved them. Today the world has become much more dangerous, because the most dangerous regime in the world took a meaningful step toward acquiring the most dangerous weapon in the world. For the first time the world’s leading powers agreed to the enrichment of uranium in Iran, while ignoring the Security Council resolutions that they themselves championed,” the prime minister said. “These sanctions have been removed for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be canceled in weeks. This agreement and what it means threaten many countries, and including, of course, Israel. Israel is not bound by this agreement. The regime in Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction and Israel has the right and responsibility to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” He added that Israel would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
In his UN General Assembly speech in September, Netanyahu blasted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and warned the US against mistaking a change in Iran’s tone with an actual change in nuclear ambitions. The Israeli leader subsequently denounced the potential nuclear agreement as the “deal of the century” for Iran. In addition, top Israeli ministers harshly criticized the nuclear deal between Iranian nuclear deal as Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the agreement had shifted the status quo in the Middle East. “This brings us to a new reality in the whole Middle East, including the Saudis. This isn’t just our worry,” he told Israel Radio. “We’ve found ourselves in a completely new situation.” When asked if this would lead to an Israeli military strike on Iran, Liberman said Israel “would need to make different decisions.”
Home Front Command Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio that it would now be more difficult for Israel to act for the duration of the six-month agreement. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is responsible for monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, said there was no reason for the world to be celebrating. He said the deal, reached in Geneva is based on “Iranian deception and [Western] self-delusion. Just like the failed deal with North Korea, the current deal can actually bring Iran closer to the bomb,” Steinitz said. “Israel cannot take part in the international celebrations based on Iranian deception and self-delusion.”
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said that American attempts to calm Israel would only worry him more. “There is no doubt that the agreement exposes differences, not just tactical but also strategic, between us and between the West and the US.” However, Liberman slammed the deal as not going far enough, since it does not dismantle the nuclear facilities. “They have enough uranium to make a few bombs already,” he said. Economics Minister Naftali Bennett called the deal “bad, very bad.” Finance Minister Yair Lapid panned the interim agreement and said Israel would have to work to make sure a final deal had better terms. “This is a bad deal that does not bring even one centrifuge to a halt. I am worried not only over the deal, but that we have lost the world’s attention. Those that support this agreement only say one good thing about it, and that’s that we win time en route to a final agreement,” Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin told Channel 2 TV. “Our main activity is now directed at a very clear destination — what will be in the final agreement.”
In a first statement by the Saudi royal family regarding the nuclear Iran deal, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said that “Iran is the real danger, not Israel.” In an interview with news agency Bloomberg, the Saudi prince said regarding a possible Israeli strike against Iran, “publicly, (the Sunnis) would be against it. Privately, they would love it.” In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has denied reports of a “covert alliance” between Saudi Arabia and Israel against the Iranian threat, but the Saudi prince clarified on which side of the court both countries stand. “There’s no confidence in the Obama administration doing the right thing with Iran. We’re really concerned – Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East countries – about this.” Bin Talal’s interview is the way in which the Saudi royal family publicly expresses its position and grief over the interim nuclear deal that was struck in Geneva. Bin Talal does not hold an official position within the Saudi regime; he is a wealthy billionaire with a long line a worldwide businesses. The Saudis have much to say about the Obama administration handling of the Iranian, Syrian and Egyptian issues. According to bin Talal, “when (Obama) put that red line out (in Syria), and the red line was crossed, he blinks. You think the chemicals are going to come out, one hundred percent? Come on.” When Obama “blinked,” he suggested, the Arabs came to the conclusion that he would not stand up to Iran, either.
President Barack Obama took on critics of a newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran by saying tough talk was good for politics but not good for US security. “(We) cannot close the door on diplomacy,” the president stressed in a speech while responding to nuclear deal critics, including Israel and members of the Republican Party. “If Iran seizes this opportunity and chooses to join the global community, then we can begin to chip away at the mistrust that’s existed for many, many years between our two nations,” Obama said. “When I first ran for president, I said it was time for a new era of American leadership in the world, one that turned the page on a decade of war and began a new era of engagement with the world. As president and as commander in chief, I’ve done what I’ve said.”
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announces Israel is not bound to nuclear deal signed between world powers and Iran in Geneva, the West now cautions Netanyahu of carrying out an operation that would challenge the deal he dubbed “a historic mistake”. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Israel should avoid taking any action that would undermine the interim nuclear agreement reached between Iran and world powers. Urging world leaders to give the interim deal a chance, Hague said it was important to try to understand those who opposed the agreement. But he urged Israel and others to confine their criticism to rhetoric. “We would discourage anybody in the world, including Israel, from taking any steps that would undermine this agreement and we will make that very clear to all concerned,” Hague told parliament. Hague, who gave an update on the nuclear talks in Geneva, added he had not seen any signs that any country opposed to the agreement would try to disrupt it “in any practical way”, but said Britain would be “on its guard”.
Despite all these things, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was dispatching his national security adviser to the United States to discuss the particulars of a permanent agreement with Iran. “I spoke last night with President [Barack] Obama. We agreed that in the coming days an Israeli team led by the national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, will go out to discuss with the United States the permanent accord with Iran,” Netanyahu told members of his Likud party. Therefore, Netanyahu has started to shift his focus from condemning the interim nuclear deal with Iran to the intended permanent one, saying, “This accord must bring about one outcome: the dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear capability.”
Obama told Netanyahu that he wants the two sides “to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution.” Obama also asked Netanyahu not to lobby allies in Congress to push legislation for more sanctions on Iran, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported. “Consistent with our commitment to consult closely with our Israeli friends, the president told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution,” said a statement by the White House. “The president underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” it said.
The link to these articles is as follows:
1) Nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers in Geneva
2) US now indicates Iran interim deal wasn’t quite finalized
3) ‘Washington Post’: White House omitting facts about Iran nuclear deal
4) Iran rejects US’s ‘one-sided’ version of nuclear deal
5) Seven loopholes favoring a nuclear Iran in deal signed by the world powers
6) Iran FM says construction will continue at contested Arak nuclear reactor site, testing limits of deal
7) ‘US freed top Iranian scientist as part of secret talks ahead of Geneva deal’
8) Obama: Iran must shut Fordo, give up making centrifuges
9) Iran nuclear agreement a ‘historic mistake,’ Netanyahu says
10) Israeli ministers lambaste ‘delusional’ Iran nuclear deal
11) Obama pushes back on critics of Iran deal
12) Britain to Israel: Don’t undermine Iran nuclear deal
13) Shifting gears, Israeli team heading to US to try to shape final nuclear pact
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