Goodnight Vienna (7)

Omri Ceren continues to report from Vienna on the catastrophic deal in process with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road. Omni writes (with footnotes providing URLs to his cited sources):

The Iranians must have liked what they heard when they woke up this morning. Yesterday President Obama spoke by teleconference to the U.S. negotiating team in Vienna. This morning Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and Iran’s top technical negotiator Salehi told reporters that talks will wrap up within a day. One of Iran’s main Twitter PR accounts, @NuclearTalks, has spent the last two hours putting out a stream of tweets about an impending ceremony. There are a couple of logistical complications on when the announcement would happen – Russian FM Lavrov has to be in Russia for a BRICS meeting and Iranian Deputy FM Ravanchi needs to go to Iran for personal reasons – so there’s talk of a an early-morning Friday morning announcement.

If things have really wrapped up, it means the Americans may have collapsed on Iran’s last-minute demand that the United Nations arms embargo be lifted. The new demand may or may not have been coordinated with the Russians – who would of course be one of the main weapons providers – but in any case the Russians almost instantly expressed their support. There’s now talk that the new United Nations Security Council resolution will have vague language about ballistic missiles – which will allow the administration to tell Congress that it can be trusted to hold firm – but that in practice the arms embargo prohibiting Iranian from at least acquiring weapons will be lifted within a couple of years.

The concession comes a month after the Associated Press revealed that the administration would also shred domestic sanctions on Iran’s development of proliferation-sensitive ballistic missiles [1]. The trick is going to involve redefining ballistic missile sanctions as nuclear sanctions and then lifting them.

To give you an idea of how the collapses are likely to play on the Hill, here’s what U.S. lead negotiator Sherman told lawmakers at an SFRC in February 2014:

The joint plan of action does address the fact that their ballistic missiles that could be used as a delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons must be addressed as part of a comprehensive solution because it is part of the U.N. Security Council resolutions. So it is true that in these first six months we have not shut down all of their production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon, but that is, indeed, going to be part of something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement [2].

But instead of adding restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, the deal will roll back the existing ones: on the domestic level, by lifting ballistic missile sanctions, and on the multilateral level, by lifting the UN arms embargo. As a literal bonus, the Iranians will get hundreds of billions of dollars to purchase and build their now-permitted weapons. And in the meantime the build-up will be taking place under the international community’s protection, because no country will risk the great power backlash that would come from physically attacking Iran and thereby endangering the deal.

A parallel reversal has happened on the nuclear side. Originally the administration told Congress that Iran would be forced to dismantle its centrifuge program as part of any deal. Then the Lausanne concession on the underground military bunker at Fordow happened. Now the deal obligates the international community to actively work with the Iranians in developing nuclear technology at the site [3]. As the centrifuges are being developed they’ll be spinning non-nuclear elements, but once they’re perfected the Iranians will be able to use them to enrich uranium. And again, the now-permitted research will be taking place under the international community’s protection, since any country that wants to sabotage development will be unable to do so, because the program will be sponsored and maintained by a major power.

The agreement has become an internationally-backed R&D program for Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.