In an article published Wednesday, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a notorious Obama administration apologist, provided his latest endorsement of the president’s deeply flawed nuclear diplomacy with Iran. Ignatius also discussed some worrisome U.S. concessions to Iran that have not been previously disclosed.
During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry denied that the United States has proposed a final nuclear deal with Iran last only 10 years. Although the 10-year limit has been leaked to many journalists, Mr. Ignatius confirmed that Obama officials want a deal with a “double-digit” duration of 10-15 years.
Mr. Ignatius also confirmed that a final deal will likely allow Iran to operate about 6,000 uranium centrifuges. He noted the Obama administration’s justification for allowing this: strict monitoring and intrusive inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities that will limit the “break-out time” – the time for Iran to make enough nuclear fuel for one weapon – to a year or more. (Read the Center for Security Policy’s analysis of this issue.)
Mr. Ignatius failed to mention that the Iranian government has never fully cooperated with IAEA inspectors, refuses to answer the IAEA’s questions about weapons-treated nuclear activity, and did not allow IAEA inspectors to inspect all of its nuclear facilities during the nuclear talks. Ignatius also was strangely silent on yesterday’s revelations by the NCRI, an Iranian dissident group, that Iran has been operating a secret facility where it has been developing advanced uranium centrifuges and may be enriching uranium.
Mr. Ignatius’ column revealed some shocking new Obama administration concessions to Iran. According to Mr. Ignatius, although Iran will not be permitted to install more advanced centrifuges in a final agreement, it will be permitted to conduct “limited” research on advanced designs. Existing operational “non-permitted” centrifuges would be “dismantled,” either by pulverizing them or simply unplugging them.
So according to Mr. Ignatius, the Obama administration has proposed allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium with thousands of centrifuges, “non-permitted” centrifuges may only be turned off, and Iran will be permitted to continue to develop new centrifuge designs. Ignatius does not explain the purpose of Iran’s uranium enrichment. It can’t be to make nuclear fuel for Iran’s Bushehr power reactor since that would take about 200,000 centrifuges (Iran currently has about 19,000). As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has explained, there is only one purpose for Iran’s uranium enrichment program: to make nuclear bombs.
Mr. Ignatius also revealed the latest Obama administration concession to address Iran’s Arak heavy-water reactor, which will be a source of about two weapons-worth of plutonium per year when completed in about a year to 18 months. Iran constructed this reactor in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. U.S. and European government previously demanded this reactor be dismantled. The U.S. and its European allies reportedly backed away from this position over the last year by offering to let Iran operate the Arak reactor if steps were taken to ensure that it produced little plutonium either by a redesign (an irreversible approach) or fueling the reactor with enriched uranium.
According to Mr. Ignatius, “negotiators seem to have agreed on a compromise that will halt construction well before Arak becomes ‘hot’ with potential bomb fuel.” This appears to mean that construction of the Arak reactor will proceed without any alterations to its design or fueling, and Iran will be trusted to halt construction just before the reactor is operational.
Mr. Ignatius fails to answer two crucial questions about the Arak reactor. Why does Iran need a plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor? Why has the United States proposed to let Iran to continue construction of this reactor?
As we learn more about the outline of a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, it is becoming more obvious that the Obama administration has made dangerous concessions that will not prevent or slow Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons out of its desperation to get a nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Mr. Ignatius’ column also suggests the Obama administration is kicking several difficult issues down the road for a future president to deal with such as Iran’s uranium centrifuges and its plutonium-producing Arak reactor.
Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday night on Fox News that the Iranian nuclear negotiations are “simply catastrophic.” I agree. Congress needs to respond to President Obama’s nuclear sell-out to Iran by demanding an end to the nuclear talks and passing new sanctions requiring Tehran to comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions on its nuclear program.
Fred Fleitz is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.