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US/Israel Challenged on Iran

By       Message Ray McGovern     Permalink
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Iranian officials have said they would send a letter confirming the deal to the IAEA within a week. In a month, Iran could ship 2,640 pounds of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey.

Within a year, Russia and France would produce 120 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium to be used to refuel a research reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes to treat cancer patients.

As for Clinton's claim that China, as well as Russia are part of a consensus on the draft Security Council resolution, time will tell.

There is particular doubt as to how firmly China is on board. On Monday, Chinese officials hailed the Iran-Brazil-Turkey proposal and said it should be fully explored. Russian officials also suggested that the new transfer plan be given a chance.

Also, the proposed new sanctions don't go as far as some U.S. and Israeli hardliners wanted. For instance, it does not embargo gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran, a harsh step that some neocons had hoped would throw Iran into economic and political chaos as a prelude for "regime change."

Instead, the proposed new sanctions call for inspections of Iranian ships suspected of entering international ports with nuclear-related technology or weapons. Some analysts doubt that this provision would have much practical effect on Iran.

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Israel will be conferring with Washington before issuing an official response, but Israeli officials have told the press that the transfer deal is a "trick" and that Iran had "manipulated" Turkey and Brazil.

There is every reason to believe that Israel will search deep into its toolbox for a way to sabotage the agreement, but it isn't clear that the usual diplomatic tools will work at this stage, and even Israel might deem the covert action ones too risky. There remains, of course, the possibility that Israel will go for broke and launch a preemptive military strike at Iran's nuclear facilities.

In the meantime, it's a sure bet that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will apply all the pressure he can on Obama.

As a former CIA analyst, I hope that Obama would have the presence of mind to order a fast-track special National Intelligence Estimate on the implications of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement for U.S. national interests and those of the countries of the Middle East.

Obama needs an unvarnished assessment of the agreement's possible benefits (and its potential negatives) as counterweight to the pro-Israel lobbying that will inevitably descend on the White House and State Department.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)

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