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Iran Deal Keeps Our Military Options Open

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 9:05 PM

United States, Iran Matters (Harvard's Belfer Center)

Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, argues in The Boston Globe that contrary to certain statements, the Iran nuclear agreement actually does not constrain American or Israeli abilities to launch military options against Iran's nuclear facilities if needed in the future. He argues that the intelligence gained from monitoring the Iranian program will help targeting Iranian nuclear sites, and as a result the possibility for a military strike on Iran after the deal would be more likely to be successful than a military strike now.

Original publication date: 8/11/2015

> Deal or No Deal: The Choice Before Congress

Albert Carnesale, Member of the Board of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in The National Interest that the idea of another deal being negotiated after the current accord under review should Congress reject it is faulty. He argues that there is no diplomatic path to a better deal because American leverage would be significantly weaker if the agreement is rejected, a military solution will fail to set back Iran's program by more than a few years, and Iranian compliance with the deal without the US will tie American hands to influence further nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

> How Congress Could Make the Iran Deal Work

William Tobey, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, with Judith Miller, write in Real Clear Politics about steps Congress can take to be confident in the agreement between Iran and the P5+1. They argue that Congress should seek greater clarification on how Iran will comply with its agreements with the IAEA, extend the review period in order to see how Iran responds to some of the early deadlines for compliance under the accord, authorize military force to halt Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, establish an independent team of experts to assess Iranian compliance, sell weapons to Israel capable of damaging the fortified Iranian nuclear sites, and increase funding for actions to help counter Iran's regional activities.

> Just How Vulnerable is Iran to Sanctions?

Aaron Arnold, Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in The National Interest that contrary to what some have argued, the more Iran is connected the to global economy, the more vulnerable it is to the snapback sanctions measures built into the Iranian nuclear deal. He argues that as Iran becomes more connected to the global economy, the American dominance of financial markets and the importance of the dollar as a global currency will mean that in the event of snapback, companies will be deterred from action in Iran. As a result, the more Iran reconnects its economy to the world, the more vulnerable it will be to snapback measures.

> Foreign Policy, John Hudson - Kerry: There Is No ‘Better’ Iran Deal

Rejecting critics who say the United States should simply re-negotiate a “better deal” with Iran over its nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday such a proposal is naive and based on a misreading of the last decade of diplomatic efforts to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. “There isn’t a, quote, ‘better deal’ to be gotten,” said Kerry, speaking at an event hosted by Thomson Reuters in New York. [...]

Kerry also fielded a question about whether the U.S. could maintain unity against Iran among the world powers that negotiated the agreement last month if Congress rejects the deal. The former Massachusetts senator said maintaining international sanctions against Tehran would be impossible if American allies watched Congress reject a deal they saw as fair and equitable. “Are you kidding me?” said Kerry. “The United States is gonna start sanctioning our allies and their banks and their businesses because we walked away from a deal?”

> Bloomberg, Jonathan Tirone - Concern Over Iran’s Parchin Not Supported by Images

The number of parked vehicles at an Iranian military complex hasn’t shown any sign of change in more than a year, according to satellite imagery and analysts. That’s at odds with the conclusions of an influential Washington research group that’s expressed concern about the site.

The Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS, said in an Aug. 7 research note that Iran’s decision to park two vehicles near a building at the Parchin complex roused suspicion. However, according to satellite images, an average of two vehicles have occupied the same parking spot since 2014. The number of cars identified by ISIS at a second parking site has remained constant for five years. “The ‘parking lot of death’ has been imaged dozens of times and there are clear patterns of passenger cars parked there,” said Robert Kelley, an intelligence analyst and former U.S. nuclear-weapons scientist. “There have been no indicators of a change in Iranian activities of any significance -- no earth moving or sanitization whatsoever.”

> Washington Post, Karen DeYoung - Dozens of retired generals, admirals back Iran nuclear deal

Three dozen retired generals and admirals released an open letter Tuesday supporting the Iran nuclear deal and urging Congress to do the same. Calling the agreement “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” the letter said that gaining international support for military action against Iran, should that ever become necessary, “would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance.” (

Iran Tracker (AEI CTP) - Iran News Round Up August 11, 2015

Key takeaway: Head of the Passive Defense Organization IRGC Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali introduced a comprehensive command and control system for monitoring biological, chemical, radiation, and cyber threats.

IRGC Brigadier General Jalali announced that the Passive Defense Organization will open a command and control system in two months. The command and control system will have four specialized headquarters for “defending against biological, chemical, radiation, and cyber threats.”

The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi claimed that Parliament is not required to approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. In response, the Secretary of Iran’s Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad Larijani called for Parliament to pass a “fact sheet” in order to prevent misinterpretation of the agreement.

Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei stated that the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) is reviewing the JCPOA and should conclude its review “in the next couple of sessions.”

Iran News Round Up August 10, 2015

Key takeaway: Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi lent his support for the nuclear deal in a published letter outlining several advantages of the agreement.

Hassan Firouzabadi expressed concerns about the “impact of the deal on Iran’s defense capabilities,” but stressed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 have “merits to which, unfortunately, critics pay less attention.” For example, Firouzabadi highlighted the noticeably weaker “tone” of Resolution 2231 in comparison to previous resolutions, stating, “The resolution’s tone has been downgraded from the authoritarian fashion of the previous four resolutions to recommendations and requests.”

IRGC Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri reiterated that “Iran will not grant foreigners access to military resources” in response to comments made by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano that Iran has denied IAEA inspectors access to scientists and military officials. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, rejected allegations that Iran has engaged in clean-up activities at the Parchin military site ahead of IAEA inspections of the facility.

Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the son of former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, began his ten-year prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison. Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani was convicted in March of embezzlement, bribery, and “anti-security issues.”

Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei stressed that the nuclear deal gives Iran the opportunity to increase foreign trade. Rezaei warned, however, that “American mischief may continue.”

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