The Iran Deal: Consequences and Alternatives

August 14, 2015

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Richard Nathan Haass analyses the nuclear deal with Iran and suggests that any vote by Congress to approve the pact should be linked to legislation or a White House statement that makes clear what the United States would do if there were Iranian non-compliance, what would be intolerable in the way of Iran’s long-term nuclear growth, and what the U.S. was prepared to do to counter Iranian threats to U.S. interests and friends in the Region.

Statement by Richard Nathan Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

Before the Committee on Armed Services of the United States Senate on August 4, 2015

1st Session, 114th Congress

Richard Nathan Haass

Mr. Chairman: Thank you for this opportunity to speak about the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) signed on July 14 by representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany, and Iran. I want to make it clear that what you are about to hear are my personal views and should not be interpreted as representing the Council on Foreign Relations, which takes no institutional positions.

The agreement with Iran, like any agreement, is a compromise, filled with elements that are attractive from the vantage point of US national security as well as elements that are anything but.

A simple way of summarizing the pact and its consequences is that at its core the accord represents a strategic tradeoff. On one hand, the agreement places significant limits on what Iran is permitted to do in the nuclear realm for the next ten to fifteen years. But these limits, even if respected in full, come at a steep price.

The agreement almost certainly facilitates Iran’s efforts to promote its national security objectives throughout the region (many of which are inconsistent with our own) over that same period. And second, the agreement does not resolve the problems posed by Iran’s actual and potential nuclear capabilities. Many of these problems will become greater as we approach the ten year point (when restrictions on the quantity and quality of centrifuges come to an end) and its fifteen year point (when restrictions pertaining to the quality and quantity of enriched uranium also end).

I was not a participant in the negotiations; nor was I privy to its secrets. My view is that a better agreement could and should have materialized. But this debate is better left to historians. I will as a result address the agreement that exists. I would say at the outset it should be judged on its merits rather than on hopes it might lead (to borrow a term used by George Kennan in another context) to a mellowing of Iran. This is of course possible, but the agreement also could have just the opposite effect. We cannot know whether Iran will be transformed, much less how or how much. So the only things that makes sense to do now is to assess the agreement as a transaction and to predict as carefully as possible what effects it will likely have on Iran’s capabilities as opposed to its intentions.

I want to focus on three areas: on the nuclear dimension as detailed in the agreement; on the regional; and on nuclear issues over the longer term.

There is understandable concern as to whether Iran will comply with the letter and spirit of the agreement. Compliance cannot be assumed given Iran’s history of misleading the IAEA, the lack of sufficient data provided as to Iran’s nuclear past, the time permitted Iran to delay access to inspectors after site-specific concerns are raised, and the difficulty likely to be experienced in reintroducing sanctions. My own prediction is that Iran may be tempted to cut corners and engage in retail but not wholesale non-compliance lest it risk the reintroduction of sanctions and/or military attack. I should add that I come to this prediction in part because I believe that Iran benefits significantly from the accord and will likely see it in its own interest to mostly comply. But this cannot be assumed and may be wrong, meaning the United States, with as many other governments as it can persuade to go along, should both make Iran aware of the penalties for non-compliance and position itself to implement them if need be. I am assuming that the response to sustained non-compliance would be renewed sanctions and that any military action on our part would be reserved to an Iranian attempt at breaking out and fielding one or more nuclear weapons.

The regional dimension is more complex and more certain to be problem. Iran is an imperial power that seeks a major and possibly dominant role in the region. Sanctions relief will give it much greater means to pursue its goals, including helping minority and majority Shi’ite populations in neighboring countries, arming and funding proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas, propping up the government in Damascus, and adding to sectarianism in Iraq by its unconditional support of the government and Shia militias. The agreement could well extend the Syrian civil war, as Iran will have new resources with which to back the Assad government. I hope that Iran will see that Assad’s continuation in power only fuels a conflict that provides recruiting opportunities for the Islamic State, which Iranian officials rightly see as a threat to themselves and the region. Unfortunately, such a change in thinking and policy is a long shot at best.

The United States needs to develop a policy for the region that can deal with a more capable, aggressive Iran. To be more precise, though, it is unrealistic to envision a single or comprehensive US policy for a part of the world that is and will continue to be afflicted by multiple challenges. As I have written elsewhere, the Middle East is in the early throes of what appears to be a modern day 30 Years War in which politics and religion will fuel conflict within and across boundaries for decades, resulting in a Middle East that looks very different from the one the world has grown familiar with over the past century.

I will put forward approaches for a few of these challenges. In Iraq, I would suggest the United States expand its intelligence, military, economic, and political ties with both the Kurds and Sunni tribes in the West. Over time, this has the potential to result in gradual progress in the struggle against the Islamic State.

Prospects for progress in Syria are poorer. The effort to build a viable opposition to both the government and various groups including but not limited to the Islamic State promises to be slow, difficult, anything but assured of success. A diplomatic push designed to produce a viable successor government to the Assad regime is worth exploring and, if possible, implementing. European governments likely would be supportive; the first test will be to determine Russian receptivity. If this is forthcoming, then a Joint approach to Iran would be called for.

I want to make two points here. First, as important as it would be to see the Assad regime ousted, there must be high confidence in the viability of its successor. Not only would Russia and Iran insist on it, but the United States should as well. Only with a viable successor can there be confidence the situation would not be exploited by the Islamic State and result in the establishment of a caliphate headquartered in Damascus and a massacre of Alawites and Christians. Some sort of a multinational force may well be essential.

Second, such a scenario assumes a diplomatic approach to Iran. This should cause no problems here or elsewhere. Differences with Iran in the nuclear and other realms should not preclude diplomatic explorations and cooperation where it can materialize because interests are aligned. Syria is one such possibility, as is Afghanistan. But such diplomatic overtures should not stop the United States acting, be it to interdict arms shipments from Iran to governments or non-state actors; nor should diplomatic outreach in any way constrain the United States from speaking out in reaction to internal political developments within Iran. New sanctions should also be considered when Iran takes steps outside the nuclear realms but still judged to be detrimental to other US interests.

Close consultations will be required with Saudi Arabia over any number of policies, including Syria. But three subjects in particular should figure in US-Saudi talks. First, the United States needs to work to discourage Saudi Arabia and others developing a nuclear option to hedge against what Iran might do down the road. A Middle East with nuclear materials in the hands of warring, potentially unstable regimes would be a nightmare. This could involve assurances as to what will not be tolerated (say, enrichment above a specified level) when it comes to Iran as well as calibrated security guarantees to Saudi Arabia and others.

Second, the Saudis should be encouraged to reconsider their current ambitious policy in Yemen, which seems destined to be a costly and unsuccessful distraction. The Saudi government would be wiser to concentrate on contending with internal threats to its security. And thirdly, Washington and Riyadh should maintain a close dialogue on energy issues as lower oil prices offer one way of limiting Iran’s capacity to pursue programs and policies detrimental to US and Saudi interests.

The agreement with Iran does not alter the reality that Egypt is pursuing a political trajectory unlikely to result in sustained stability or that Jordan will need help in coping with a massive refugee burden. Reestablishing strategic trust with Israel is a must, as is making sure it as well as other friends in the region have what they need to deal with threats to their security. (It matters not whether the threats come from Iran, the Islamic State, or elsewhere.) The United States should also step up its criticism of Turkey for both attacking the Kurds and for allowing its territory to be used as a pipeline for recruits to reach Syria and join the Islamic State.

The third area of concern linked to the nuclear pact with Iran stems from its medium and long-term capabilities in the nuclear realm. It is necessary but not sufficient that Iran not be permitted to assemble one or more nuclear bombs. It is also necessary that it not be allowed to develop the ability to field a large arsenal of weapons with little or no warning. This calls for consultations with European and regional governments to begin sooner rather than later on a follow-on agreement to the current JCPOA. The use of sanctions, covert action, and military force should also be addressed in this context.

I am aware that members of Congress have the responsibility to vote on the Iran agreement. As I have said, it is a flawed agreement. But the issue before the Congress is not whether the agreement is good or bad but whether from this point on the United States is better or worse off with it. It needs to be recognized that passage of a resolution of disapproval (presumably overriding a presidential veto) entails several Major drawbacks.

First, it would allow Iran to resume nuclear activity in an unconstrained manner, increasing the odds the United States would be faced with a decision – possibly as soon as this year or next – as to whether to tolerate the emergence of a threshold or actual nuclear weapons state or use military force against it.

Second, by acting unilaterally at this point, the United States would make itself rather than Iran the issue. In this vein, imposing unilateral sanctions would hurt Iran but not enough to make it alter the basics of ist nuclear program. Third, voting the agreement down and calling for a reopening of negotiations with the aim of producing a better agreement is not a real option as there would insufficient international support for so doing. Here, again, the United States would likely isolate itself, not Iran. And fourth, voting down the agreement would reinforce questions and doubts around the world as to American political divisions and dysfunction. Reliability and predictability are essential attributes for a great power that must at one and the same time both reassure and deter.

The alternative to voting against the agreement is obviously to vote for it. The problem with a simple vote that defeats a resolution of disapproval and that expresses unconditional support of the JCPOA is that it does not address the serious problems the agreement either exacerbated or failed to resolve.

So let me suggest a third path. What I would encourage members to explore is whether a vote for the pact (against a resolution of disapproval) could be associated or linked with policies designed to address and compensate for the weaknesses and likely adverse consequences of the agreement. I can imagine such assurances in the form of legislation voted on by the Congress and signed by the president or a communication from the president to the Congress, possibly followed up by a joint resolution. Whatever the form, it would have to deal with either what the United States would not tolerate or what the United States would do in the face of Iranian non-compliance with the recent agreement, Iran’s long-term nuclear growth, and Iranian regional activities.

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for asking me to meet with you and your colleagues here today. I of course look forward to any questions or comments you may have.

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Crime Wars: Gangs, Drugs, and U.S. National Security

March 4, 2011
CNAS Report: U.S. and Mexico Should Embrace Regional Cooperation to Combat Drug Cartels

CNAS Report: U.S. and Mexico Should Embrace Regional Cooperation to Combat Drug Cartels

Press Release

Washington, D.C., March 4, 2011 – As Presidents Obama and Calderón continue to discuss the United States and Mexico’s efforts to combat growing drug-related violence, the leaders should look to embrace regional cooperation to combat the cartels, according to a recent report authored by Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Senior Fellow Bob Killebrew
 
In Crime Wars: Gangs, Drugs, and U.S. National Security, Killebrew surveys organized crime throughout the Western Hemisphere and analyzes the challenges it poses to individual countries and regional security. He argues that Mexico will remain a key state in the struggle against violent organized crime in the region, and that the United States should continue to support Mexico’s efforts while examining its own role in the ongoing conflict. In addition, the report notes, the United States and Mexico should:  

  • Increase U.S.-Mexico law enforcement and intelligence cooperation.
  • Increase bilateral training and assistance.
  • Embrace regional cooperation to attack cartels.
  • Attack the cartels’ financial networks and money-laundering capabilities.
“Whether Calderón and his successors can or will sustain a long-term, bloody fight to root out corruption in the Mexican state and reassert the rule of law is a matter of grave concern for the United States,” said Killebrew. Read full story.
 
Press Contact:
Shannon O’Reilly
Director of External Relations
Email: soreilly@cnas.org
Ph: (202) 457-9408

Osama Bin Laden – A New Book by Michael Scheuer

February 14, 2011

In Osama bin Laden, Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden Unit and author of the bestseller Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, provides an objective and authoritative portrait of bin Laden that shows him to be devout, talented, patient, and ruthless. Scheuer delivers a hard-headed, closely reasoned portrait of America’s most implacable enemy.

"No American knows bin Laden better than Scheuer." (Craig Whitlock, National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post)
“No American knows bin Laden better than Scheuer.” (Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post)

To purchase this book, please click here.


In Memoriam: Richard Holbrooke (1941-2010)

December 15, 2010

“The controlled chaos is one way to get creativity. The intensity of it, the physical rush, the intimacy created the kind of dialogue that leads to synergy.” Richard Holbrooke

Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke (April 24, 1941 – December 13, 2010)

Richard Holbrooke (April 24, 1941 – December 13, 2010)

Richard Holbrooke was the most ubiquitous and brilliant diplomat of his generation, distinguished for his legendary toughness as a negotiator in Asia, Europe, and beyond. As a diplomat, writer, and investment banker, he has stood near the pinnacle of power, renewing the credibility of U.S. diplomacy.

To commemorate the passing of the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, and Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, we reproduce some articles and stories related to this giant of U.S. foreign policy.

United States presidential election, 2008: The Next President

Former U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke discusses Russia, Georgia and Kosovo

Bosnian Crisis

U.S. President Obama appoints envoys to Middle East and South Asia

Afpak: Richard Holbrooke’ U.S. Strategy for South Asia


WikiLeaks Bullshit: Much Ado About Nothing, False Flag, Strategia della Tensione, or Sabotage Act against U.S. Foreign Policy?

November 29, 2010
WIKILEAKS REAL AGENDA

WIKILEAKS REAL AGENDA

A Satirical Op-Ed by Narcisse Caméléon, deputy editor-in-chief

***

On Bullshit: It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose. (Princeton University Professor Harry Frankfurt)

And if, to be sure, sometimes you need to conceal a fact with words, do it in such a way that it does not become known, or, if it does become known, that you have a ready and quick defense. (Niccolò Machiavelli)
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. (Edward L. Bernays)

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. (Edward L. Bernays)

WikiLeaks released yesterday a batch of about 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, exposing confidential information about U.S. relationships with the rest of the world and U.S. assessments of foreign leaders.

The White House denounced the disclosures as “reckless and dangerous".

The White House denounced the disclosures as “reckless and dangerous".

In light of the revelations, apparently leaked by US Army soldier Bradley Manning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information (check out statement below).

The cables – a sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates – specify that Iran has obtained nineteen BM-25 missiles from North Korea with a range adequate to reach western Europe, and they also document Arab leaders calls for a military strike on Iran.

The documents also divulge U.S. diplomats were ordered to engage in spying by obtaining foreign diplomats’ personal information, such as frequent-flier and credit card numbers. The documents could abash the Obama administration and destabilize its diplomacy. In cables drafted by U.S. diplomats, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is called “Emperor without clothes”, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is described as an “alpha-dog,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai is “driven by paranoia,” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel “avoids risk and is rarely creative.” It also allegedly said that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi never travels without a trusted Ukraninan nurse, a ‘voluptuous blond’.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed concern in a statement that Wikileaks release could jeopardize private talks with foreign governments and opposition leaders. The Pentagon announced yesterday it will take action to prevent future illegal releases of classified information.

In a opinion piece for the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, calls these revelations an act of sabotage. Really? Or: Better bad press than no press at all? Or Bullshit as usual…

Read full story.

***

Remarks to the Press on the Release of Confidential Documents

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 29, 2010
Hillary is very angry about the disclosures...

Hillary is very angry about the disclosures...


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. Do we have enough room in here? I want to take a moment to discuss the recent news reports of classified documents that were illegally provided from United States Government computers. In my conversations with counterparts from around the world over the past few days, and in my meeting earlier today with Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey, I have had very productive discussions on this issue.

The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems. This Administration is advancing a robust foreign policy that is focused on advancing America’s national interests and leading the world in solving the most complex challenges of our time, from fixing the global economy, to thwarting international terrorism, to stopping the spread of catastrophic weapons, to advancing human rights and universal values. In every country and in every region of the world, we are working with partners to pursue these aims.

So let’s be clear: this disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community – the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.

I am confident that the partnerships that the Obama Administration has worked so hard to build will withstand this challenge. The President and I have made these partnerships a priority – and we are proud of the progress that they have helped achieve – and they will remain at the center of our efforts.

I will not comment on or confirm what are alleged to be stolen State Department cables. But I can say that the United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or our diplomats’ personal assessments and observations. I want to make clear that our official foreign policy is not set through these messages, but here in Washington. Our policy is a matter of public record, as reflected in our statements and our actions around the world.

I would also add that to the American people and to our friends and partners, I want you to know that we are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information. I have directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department, in addition to new security safeguards at the Department of Defense and elsewhere to protect State Department information so that this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again.

Relations between governments aren’t the only concern created by the publication of this material. U.S. diplomats meet with local human rights workers, journalists, religious leaders, and others outside of governments who offer their own candid insights. These conversations also depend on trust and confidence. For example, if an anti-corruption activist shares information about official misconduct, or a social worker passes along documentation of sexual violence, revealing that person’s identity could have serious repercussions: imprisonment, torture, even death.

So whatever are the motives in disseminating these documents, it is clear that releasing them poses real risks to real people, and often to the very people who have dedicated their own lives to protecting others.

Now, I am aware that some may mistakenly applaud those responsible, so I want to set the record straight: There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends.

There have been examples in history in which official conduct has been made public in the name of exposing wrongdoings or misdeeds. This is not one of those cases. In contrast, what is being put on display in this cache of documents is the fact that American diplomats are doing the work we expect them to do. They are helping identify and prevent conflicts before they start. They are working hard every day to solve serious practical problems – to secure dangerous materials, to fight international crime, to assist human rights defenders, to restore our alliances, to ensure global economic stability. This is the role that America plays in the world. This is the role our diplomats play in serving America. And it should make every one of us proud.

The work of our diplomats doesn’t just benefit Americans, but also billions of others around the globe. In addition to endangering particular individuals, disclosures like these tear at the fabric of the proper function of responsible government.

People of good faith understand the need for sensitive diplomatic communications, both to protect the national interest and the global common interest. Every country, including the United States, must be able to have candid conversations about the people and nations with whom they deal. And every country, including the United States, must be able to have honest, private dialogue with other countries about issues of common concern. I know that diplomats around the world share this view – but this is not unique to diplomacy. In almost every profession – whether it’s law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business – people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it. And so despite some of the rhetoric we’ve heard these past few days, confidential communications do not run counter to the public interest. They are fundamental to our ability to serve the public interest.

In America, we welcome genuine debates about pressing questions of public policy. We have elections about them. That is one of the greatest strengths of our democracy. It is part of who we are and it is a priority for this Administration. But stealing confidential documents and then releasing them without regard for the consequences does not serve the public good, and it is not the way to engage in a healthy debate.

In the past few days, I have spoken with many of my counterparts around the world, and we have all agreed that we will continue to focus on the issues and tasks at hand. In that spirit, President Obama and I remain committed to productive cooperation with our partners as we seek to build a better, more prosperous world for all.

Thank you, and I’d be glad to take a few questions.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll begin with Charlie Wolfson of CBS in his last week here covering the State Department.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Where are you going, Charlie?

QUESTION: I’ll (inaudible) into the sunset, but let me get to a question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, sir. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you embarrassed by these leaks personally, professionally? And what harm have the leaks done to the U.S. so far that you can determine from talking to your colleagues?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Charlie, as I said in my statement, and based on the many conversations that I’ve had with my counterparts, I am confident that the partnerships and relationships that we have built in this Administration will withstand this challenge. The President and I have made these partnerships a priority, a real centerpiece of our foreign policy, and we’re proud of the progress that we have made over the last 22 months.

Every single day, U.S. Government representatives from the entire government, not just from the State Department, engage with hundreds if not thousands of government representatives and members of civil society from around the world. They carry out the goals and the interests and the values of the United States. And it is imperative that we have candid reporting from those who are in the field working with their counterparts in order to inform our decision-making back here in Washington.

I can tell you that in my conversations, at least one of my counterparts said to me, “Well, don’t worry about it. You should see what we say about you.” (Laughter.) So I think that this is well understood in the diplomatic community as part of the give-and-take. And I would hope that we will be able to move beyond this and back to the business of working together on behalf of our common goals.

MR. CROWLEY: Kim Ghattas of BBC.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Kim.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I was wondering whether you could tell us what you think your upcoming trip is going to look like. Presumably, a lot of the people who have been mentioned in those alleged cables are going to have conversations with you. Do you think it’s going to cause you discomfort over the coming week as you engage in conversations with those leaders?

And I know you don’t want to comment on the particulars of the cables, but one issue that has been brought up into the daylight is the debate about Iran. What do you think the impact is going to be of those documents on the debate about Iran in the coming weeks and months?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, you’re right. And I don’t know if you’re going on this trip or not, but we will be seeing dozens of my counterparts in Astana, and then as I go on from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and then ending up in Bahrain for the Manama dialogue. And I will continue the conversations that I have started with some in person and over the phone over the last days, and I will seek out others because I want personally to impress upon them the importance that I place on the kind of open, productive discussions that we have had to date and my intention to continue working closely with them.

Obviously, this is a matter of great concern, because we don’t want anyone in any of the countries that could be affected by these alleged leaks here to have any doubts about our intentions and our about commitments. That’s why I stressed in my remarks that policy is made in Washington. The President and I have been very clear about our goals and objectives in dealing with the full range of global challenges that we face. And we will continue to be so and we will continue to look for every opportunity to work with our friends and partners and allies around the world and to deal in a very clear-eyed way with those with whom we have differences, which of course brings me to Iran.

I think that it should not be a surprise to anyone that Iran is a source of great concern not only in the United States, that what comes through in every meeting that I have anywhere in the world is a concern about Iranian actions and intentions. So if anything, any of the comments that are being reported on allegedly from the cables confirm the fact that Iran poses a very serious threat in the eyes of many of her neighbors, and a serious concern far beyond her region.

That is why the international community came together to pass the strongest possible sanctions against Iran. It did not happen because the United States went out and said, “Please do this for us.” It happened because countries, once they evaluated the evidence concerning Iran’s actions and intentions, reached the same conclusion that the United States reached – that we must do whatever we can to muster the international community to take action to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.

So if anyone reading the stories about these alleged cables thinks carefully, what they will conclude is that the concern about Iran is well founded, widely shared, and will continue to be at the source of the policy that we pursue with likeminded nations to try to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ve got to let the Secretary get to her airplane and get to her trip. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will leave you in P.J.’s very good hands. Thank you.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, did you talk to anyone in Pakistan or India?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam. (Inaudible).

MR. CROWLEY: What we’ll do is we’ll take, say, a 30-minute filing break, and then we’ll reconvene in the Briefing Room and continue our discussion.


Endgame with Iran? / Endspiel mit Iran?

November 15, 2010

Der Tagesspiegel, one of Germany’s leading newspapers, asked our beloved friend David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, to write the following op-ed in German: Endspiel mit Iran? English translation is below.

Endgame with Iran?

by David Harris
November 15, 2010

Iran's Nuclear Facilities

Iran's Nuclear Facilities

Another round of talks of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on the Iranian nuclear program is expected shortly. Or is it?

Iran’s contradictory statements make it difficult to predict. One moment, Iranian leaders indicate openness to renewed negotiations. Next, they assert there is nothing to talk about.

There is much to talk about. Iran is in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions regarding its nuclear program. The issue has nothing to do with Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy. It has to do with Iran’s aim to acquire nuclear-weapons capability, a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which it signed.

There are those who believe a nuclear-armed Iran is manageable. They assert that containment can work.

But can it? During the Cold War, Moscow and Washington understood the concept of mutual assured destruction. Though the world came close during the Cuban missile crisis, nuclear weapons were never used. Iran may be a different story. It is driven by a theology which believes in hastening the coming of the so-called Hidden Imam. If unleashing war would help, it cannot be ruled out.

Even if Iran had weapons it did not use, the world would be a more dangerous place.

First, it would trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia would likely seek their own weapons. If so, the risks of nuclear war, accidents, theft of nuclear material, and technology sharing grow exponentially.

Second, if Turkey followed suit, what would that mean for Greece and Cyprus, two EU members long embroiled in tense relations with Ankara? One Greek official told us that Greece might have to respond by starting its own program.

Third, what about Iran’s neighbors who do not have the capacity to keep up? Would they fall under the Iranian sphere of influence, their foreign policies neutered as Finland’s was during the Cold War?

And fourth, Israel would be forced to live with a frightening new reality—a regime that not only calls for wiping Israel off the map, but then also has the tools to do it. The situation would be made still worse by the fact that three of Israel’s neighbors – Syria, Hamas-run Gaza, and Hezbollah’s state-within-a state in Lebanon – are already within Iran’s orbit.

In other words, an Iranian nuclear capacity is a global game-changer.

Will negotiations stop the Iranian march to the goal line? The record to date is discouraging. The EU began talks with Iran in 2003 and was outwitted in the ensuing years, as Iran bought time to install more centrifuges and enrich more uranium. Some believed the absence of the U.S. from those talks during the Bush era prevented progress. Yet President Obama’s extended hand has been spurned more than once by Iran.

There is nothing inherently wrong with more talks, as long as they do not merely allow Tehran to buy time. To increase the likelihood of success, Iran must understand that when Europe and the U.S. say that it will not be allowed to produce and possess nuclear weapons, they mean it.

That requires enforcing existing sanctions, pressing other countries to do the same, and monitoring those nations helping Iran bypass the measures. It also means that Europe’s trade with Iran cannot go up, as it has this year for many countries, including Germany.

Lastly, there is the question of the military option. The best way to avoid it is by making clear that it is on the table in all dealings with Iran. Only if Iran’s leaders grasp that the world is truly serious about preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons can we hope for a diplomatic solution.


Pentagon Officials Renew Military Relations With China

October 6, 2010

The Pentagon, signaling a softening in its relationship with the Chinese military, announced that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will meet with a Chinese counterpart next week in Vietnam and will likely visit Beijing early next year.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates escorts Chinese army Gen. Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Oct. 27, 2009, to a conference room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., where they will hold discussions on a broad range of security topics.  (DoD photo by R. D. Ward/Released)

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates escorts Chinese army Gen. Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Oct. 27, 2009, to a conference room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., where they will hold discussions on a broad range of security topics. (DoD photo by R. D. Ward/Released)

Ties between the two militaries were suspended in January 2010, when China protested a $6.4 billion U.S.-Taiwan arms deal.

Read full story.