Today, The New York Times ran a piece by David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon calling attention to the alleged weaknesses in the Obama administration’s case for the Iranian nuclear accord. While, editorially at least, the Times has come out strongly for the deal, today’s report mostly consists of the latest neoconservative talking points, and is featured on page A1, repackaged as “News Analysis.”
Readers are informed that President Obama’s problem is that “most of the significant constraints on Tehran’s program lapse after 15 years—and, after that, Iran is free to produce uranium on an industrial scale.”
The piece purports to poke holes in the administration’s case by relying on statements from the likes of Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California, who claims he will support the deal, because he believes that the “deal is in the best interest of Israel, as well as the best interest of the United States.”
According to Schiff, in 15 years, Iran “will have a highly modern and internationally legitimized enrichment capability…and that is a bitter pill to swallow.” Schiff, a seven-term congressman and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, is surely aware that Iran, as signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty since 1968, has had a “legitimized enrichment capacity” for close to half a century.
Dennis Ross, who during the late Clinton years earned a reputation as “Israel’s lawyer,” also spoke to Sanger and Gordon. Regurgitating claims he’s already made to The Washington Post, Politico, and Time in July, Ross insists that he sees “vulnerabilities” that “must be addressed. The gap between threshold and weapons status after year 15 is small.”
Perhaps. But not nearly as small as the threshold would be if Iran were allowed to continue with its pre-deal program, where it possessed around 19,000 centrifuges (which the deal cuts to roughly 6,000) and a stockpile of 12 tons of enriched uranium (which the deal cuts to 660 pounds). Ross, much like his interlocutors at the Times, also seems to assume that Iran, 15 years hence, will forthwith turn its attention to producing a nuclear weapon, thereby putting at grave risk any economic progress it may have achieved during those years. To take it as “for granted” that the Iranians will pursue a nuclear weapon at the risk of a war in which it would possibly be facing both Israel and the United States strains credulity.