The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert

    I subscribe to the mailing list of  The Arms Control Association and received this today. t answers or or gives their opinion on several pertinent questions regarding the proposed agreement on nuclear development by Iran. I cannot find a direct link so I am posting it here in full. 

    A Critical Week in Lausanne

    Nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) are entering the final days before the end-of-March target date for reaching a framework agreement.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Iranian Foreign Minster Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday, March 15 in Lusanne, Switzerland. The following day, Zarif will meet with EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini in Brussels. Also present at that meeting will be British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    Political directors for the P5+1 and Iran are expected to remain in Switzerland for the week to continue closing the gaps on a framework agreement. On Nov. 24, when the parties agreed to extend negotiations, they set the goal of reaching a framework agreement within four months (March) and a full deal by June 30.

    The French foreign ministry spokesperson said March 11 that the parties are 7-10 days away from a deal and the Russian deputy foreign minister said March 12 that there is momentum toward a deal and the final solutions may be found "next week." All parties have ruled out the possibility of an additional extension.
    The Arms Control Association will be on the ground in Lusanne next week to follow the negotiations.

    --KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy, and DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director

    Politically-Binding? Legally-Binding? Or Both?

    One misconception about the nature of the P5+1 agreement with Iran is whether and how it binds the two sides to follow through with their commitments and who must endorse it.

    From the U.S. perspective, the deal will be an executive agreement. The president has the authority to negotiate an executive agreement with a foreign government without congressional involvement. Studies indicate that since the 1930s, 94 percent of all agreements with foreign countries have been executive agreements.

    Unlike a treaty, which requires the advice and consent of two thirds of the U.S. Senate and is legally binding, the executive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran will not require congressional advice and consent, though Congress will have to, at the appropriate stage, take legislative action to lift certain nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in order to fulfill the terms of the agreement.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated in testimony before a March 11 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the Iran nuclear deal would be a "nonbinding" executive agreement among the parties, which include the five permanent members of the Security Council.

    But as Richard Nephew, former deputy coordinator of sanctions policy at the State Department told The Washington Post, "At the end of the day, it's still politically binding," he said. "Commitments are made. What's the real consequence to Iran? If it were a treaty or legally binding and they violate it, that has significance. But the bigger impact is sanctions will be reimposed. If we don't fulfill our part, Iran's nuclear program will expand. That's still a consequence, just more practical than legal."

    If concluded, the UN Security Council will also endorse the agreement. Multiple sources, including U.S. and Iranian government officials, have indicated that they will seek endorsement of the deal by a Security Council resolution.

    However, Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in an email statement to reporters on March 12 that "any new resolution would not take U.S. commitments under the deal--particularly with respect to sanctions relief--and make them legally binding. We have been and will continue to be extremely careful to avoid any such provisions in future [UN Security Council resolutions]."

    The 2013 deal reached by the United States and Russia to remove and destroy chemical weapons from Syria followed a similar pattern--an executive agreement followed by a UN Security Council resolution endorsing and mandating the implementation of the arrangement.

    A congressionally-mandated requirement for delaying the implementation of the agreement pending a congressional review and an "up-or-down" vote, as called for by the Corker-Menendez legislation (S. 615), or a requirement that Iran meet further commitments before sanctions are relieved (which is also an element of that bill), would put the United States at odds with its obligations under the P5+1 and Iran deal.

    For more on discussion, see Tyler Cullis's oped in The New York Times, "Ford and Helsinki, Obama and Iran" and Jack Goldsmith's blog, "How a U.N. Security Council Resolution Transforms a Non-Binding Agreement with Iran into a Binding Obligation Under International Law."

    47 Senators Letter Controversy Awakens awakens public conscience

    The controversy over the March 9 "open letter" to the Iranian leadership written by freshman Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and signed by 46 of his Republican Senate colleagues, and several Republican presidential contenders, rages on.

    As it does, opinion--expert, public, and political--is running overwhelmingly against the signatories.

    On Thursday, Washington's P5+1 allies criticized the letter. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said March 12 during a visit to Washington that the letter was not helpful to negotiations during this "delicate phase" of the talks.

    In the past decade of off-and-on negotiations with Iran, Steinmeier speaking in Washington said the "advantage we [the West] had was to be found in the fact that we said we were credible" and the onus had been on Tehran to prove its ability to live up to its promises. Now, "all of a sudden, Iran is in a position to turn to us and ask 'Are you credible?'"

    Over 40 U.S. newspaper editorials from all across the country strongly criticized the letter as a reckless political stunt that is harmful to U.S. efforts to secure an effective nuclear deal, and a stunning breach of protocol.

    The New York Times editorial board called the letter a "blatant, dangerous effort to undercut the president on a grave national security issue."

    The New Jersey Star Ledger called it a "shallow effort to derail the negotiation."

    Even The Wall Street Journal editorial board, which disagrees with the contours of the nuclear deal, said that "Republicans need to keep focused on a critique of the deal's substance" and that the letter distracts from that debate.

    Several Republicans also spoke out against the letter. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said it "inappropriate" and while he is not "bullish" on the chances of getting a good agreement, Congress "out to give it every opportunity to succeed."
    Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) said it is "more appropriate" for the Senate to "give advice to the president, Secretary Kerry and to the negotiators."

    Prospects for Corker-Menendez Bill for Vote on Deal Uncertain

    Senate Foreign Relations Chairmain Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who was not one of the Republicans that signed the Cotton letter, acknowledged it has undercut momentum for his proposal (S. 615) to delay implementation of any P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran until Congress reviews and can vote to approve or block the deal.

    One of the bill sponsors, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), said in a March 11 interview that the 47 Senators' Iran letter is making him think twice about the legislation.

    "If I'm not convinced that this issue can be handled on the merits and not on a partisan basis," he said, "then I'm going to change my mind."

    Corker tried to jumpstart his initiative today with his own letter to President Barack Obama. Though he knows the nuclear deal is not a treaty and has been a UN Security Council concern since 2006, he argued: "going straight to U.N. on Iran nuclear deal would be a direct affront to the American people."

    In the wake of the Cotton letter, the question for Senator Corker and the Democratic sponsors of S. 651, which has drawn a veto threat from Obama, is why they think the Senate can discuss and consider the deal on its merits and whether those interested in blocking a diplomatic solution should be given an opportunity to do so?

    Refresher: What Might the P5+1 and Iran Deal Look Like?

    An effective agreement will constrain Iran's nuclear program and establish an intrusive inspections regime to ensure that Iran's program remains heavily monitored and exclusively peaceful.

    For the United States and its negotiating partners, an effective comprehensive agreement should
        establish verifiable limits on Iran's program that, taken together, increase the time it would take for Iran to produce weapons-usable nuclear material to at least 12 months;
        increase the ability of the international community to promptly detect and effectively disrupt any attempt to deviate from the agreed upon limits and to detect any secret nuclear sites; and
        decrease Iran's incentives to pursue nuclear weapons in the future.

    Blocking the Highly-Enriched Uranium Path

    Reducing Iran's uranium enrichment capacity is about much more than counting centrifuges. The agreement would limit Iran's overall capacity to enrich uranium to weapons grade in a number of ways. Key elements include:

        A cap on enrichment of uranium to <5% uranium-235;
        Limits on the number/capacity/type of operating centrifuges;
        Disablement of centrifuge machines that are installed but not yet operating;
        Limits on research and development of more-advanced centrifuges;
        Reduction of the size of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium and conversion to more proliferation-resistant oxide form.

    The P5+1 are pressing Iran to significantly reduce its overall uranium-enrichment capacity for at least ten years in order to increase the time Iran would theoretically require to produce enough weapons-grade material for one bomb to at least twelve months.

    With enhanced international monitoring capabilities, one year is more than enough time to detect and disrupt any effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons in the future.

    Blocking the Plutonium Path

    A comprehensive agreement will significantly reduce the proliferation risk posed by Iran's unfinished 40-MWt, heavy-water reactor project at Arak by changing the fuel content and configuration and reducing the power level. These steps would drastically cut its annual weapons grade plutonium output far below what is required for a nuclear weapon. The agreement will also prohibit Iran from building a reprocessing facility, which would be needed to separate the plutonium from spent reactor fuel.

    Enhanced Inspections and Monitoring

    The comprehensive agreement would put in place additional, intrusive transparency measures necessary to promptly detect and disrupt any effort to pursue nuclear weapons in the future, even through a potential clandestine program. The agreement will require the implementation and ratification of the Additional Protocol to the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards agreement.

    These measures would allow the UN nuclear watchdog the authority to inspect, on very short notice, any site that it suspects is being used for nuclear weapons work, whether or not it had been declared as part of Iran's nuclear program. Once ratified, these arrangements would last in perpetuity. Additional inspection measures will also likely be part of the agreement.

    Key Test

    Any agreement that is struck between the P5+1 and Iran should not be evaluated on the basis of how it addresses any single aspect of Iran's nuclear program, such as the number of centrifuges Iran will have.

    Instead, it should be judged on its overall impact on reducing Iran's nuclear capacity and
    improving existing capabilities to detect and deter any ongoing or future Iranian weapons
    program-and it must be compared to the alternative-no constraints on Iran's nuclear potential.

    For more details, see: "What Would An Effective Comprehensive Nuclear Deal With Iran Look Like?" Issue Brief, February 9, 2015.

    Looking Ahead ...  

    Week of March 15 - Resumption of political level talks between Iran and the P5+1, Lausanne, Switzerland.

    End of March 2015 - Target date for Iran and the P5+1 to reach a political framework agreement.

    June 30, 2015 - Deadline for Iran and the P5+1 to complete the technical annexes for a Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action.


    Great summary of the issues. Thanks

    What moat said, thanks for sharing this.

    A repeat of  "Peace in our Time ?

    @.43 seconds 

    Thanks so much for posting this.  It is a very good summary, and answers a lot of my questions.  This line was for me, particularly telling:

    In the wake of the Cotton letter, the question for Senator Corker and the Democratic sponsors of S. 651, which has drawn a veto threat from Obama, is why they think the Senate can discuss and consider the deal on its merits and whether those interested in blocking a diplomatic solution should be given an opportunity to do so?


    That is my question too.  What if Obama goes along with what Corker wants, and Congress says (as is their 6 - year habit, almost without exception)  "NO!"

    Then what?  Why should anyone expect anything else?  To give the President credit for solving the "Iran Problem" would be impossible for them.  And to actually approve of the agreement he sent them?  Never.  And if he goes around them and pulls it off,  I can see them trying to rescind it, oh...50 or so times.


    It seems clear that the Corker/Menendez bill, if passed, would put the US "at odds" with any final deal, as well as the Security Council resolution. Hence, President Obama would veto it. The issue of Congress passing the needed legislation to lift agreed upon sanctions could be where the bigger problem awaits.

     Suppose the possible outcomes were in fact definite one-thing -or-the-other choices. Suppose there was a possible agreement with Iran that made it extremely unlikely that they could build a bomb without us knowing a year in advance that they had set out to do so. Then suppose that there were some powerful voices that were trying hard to prevent such an agreement while they were screaming that Iran was in fact wanting to build a nuclear bomb with the intent to use it so as to bring about Armageddon and that all options must be on the table to prevent that happening, all options that is except an agreement to prevent the construction of the bomb in the first place, that is, while they knowingly acknowledge that the only other way to prevent them, or even of delaying them, from getting the bomb would be war. While nothing is ever certain, the choices seems to be either a diplomatic solution or a high explosive solution. Some folks who would never admit to choosing war if there was an alternative are grasping at any excuse to bust the deal. What the fuck do these people really want?

    Perhaps they want to keep Iran from ever becoming "normal"; free from sanctions and developing into a stable economic power in the region. If that is the reasoning, it suggests they aren't afraid of Iran having nuclear weapons.

    The above observation assumes the subjects in question are rational actors. I have no way to verify that sort of thing.


    I understand and reiterate a grudging admiration for the consistency in your anti-war disposition, and without regard to which party's president is in office.  I don't see that too much in the pro-Obama blogosphere, and I really do appreciate it.

    I don't accept at face value that there are only two choices, war or accept this deal, but if that is the case I do not think that it would be too much for someone in the Administration to come out and say just that, and to explain why.  But, instead (and I feel comfortable writing this to you, because you have no skin in what I'm beginning to think to be the "Let's Make a Legacy Game for Obama," among some of his groupies) the president continues to take the position that no deal is better than a good deal.

    So while I appreciate your hypothetical, and given those two stark choices, I would say take the deal, I still want to know why we have two choices, and you know in your gut and in your essence that we don't ordinarily trust the Executive to unilaterally justify his or her unilateral decisions.  And, yes, this Congress is just awful, horribly so, but it's the one our misguided brothers and sisters elected. 

    By the way, the nuclear proliferation that the Administration used to warn against as part of the president's shtick that he would permanently dismantle Iran's ability to make a bomb appears to have begun even before the ink is dry or complete in Geneva on a deal.  Saudi Arabia with the bomb, great.  I know how you feel about Israel, but I ask you to put that aside for one second to consider that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and no other long-term enemy of Israel ever sought to develop a bomb in response to Israel's possession of its own nuclear arsenal since the 1960s (becasue of France and not the US by the way--JFK was pissed).

    Sometimes you realize how fleetingly we hold on to our democracy when it involves an issue that is important to one personally.  Guilty here, but particularly because I believe that the president misrepresented his position on Iran when he was running for president, and on an issue that the president continues to claim is a threat to our national security.  That is the legacy he leaves for me right now.  Like most politicians, he didn't tell the truth. 


    P.S. Lest I piss anyone off unintentionally if they think that I'm calling the president a liar, what I conclude with above is my position that I will see him as being untruthful without a fair exploration of why it appears that his position on Iran has changed over the years.  Again, there could be sound reasons, but let's get to them. . .and, note, another false alleged truism that seems to have been accepted without question by just about everyone in the MSM is that there is a disconnect in bargaining between confidentiality at the table and keeping those on whose behalf you are bargaining appropriately informed.  That's just the most ridiculous and false thing that I have ever heard before--well not really, but it's just bullshit.  Good bargaining includes a proper balance between accountability and confidentiality needs.  Put another way, confidentiality and $2.50 gets you on the subway and nothing more.   

    I wish to respond to you both respectfully, as you deserve, and intelligently if I can, but that last bit slows me down quite a bit I am trying to compose my thoughts with a hangover and a lot of work ahead including getting organized to visit my tax accountant on Monday and I type so slowly with so many glitches to correct that it is difficult to maintain a coherent train of thought on the best of days. So, if I am slow getting back on this, please bare with me ...

    Thanks, take care of your hangover first, please!  I'm not going to be around too much today so don't worry about me; feel better!!!!

    There are several ambiguous statements in your comment and I think one obvious mistake. I assume you meant that Obama has said that ' no deal is better than a bad deal' rather than the opposite which is what you wrote. And, there are more things that I would bicker about than what I address below. If we were to meet over drinks for long enough to talk it all out I expect we would both stumble home and both wake up hung over but I also think we would depart on a handshake. That is often much harder on the good ol' internet

    Your comment is hard to respond to because I do not see where you come to a conclusion one way or another as to whether the administration should be supported and encouraged in its quest for a deal in this particular case while I think that he definitely should be. If I am understanding you correctly on the couple points of your comment which I think I understand, you object in principle to the procedures being used. This is a time when I feel that the ends justify the means. I believe that the possible deal with Iran would not have a snowball’s chance if not done in the way that it is being done. If the negotiations were more public every single proposal by the Western negotiators which set out a parameter to strive for would be viciously attacked by some prominent pundits and politicians with big voices in our national press. While your complaints about procedure have, arguably, some merit, I have already expressed my opinion that now is not the time to make them an issue in this case if they could have any affect towards killing a deal or even delaying it. I believe for a number of reasons that time is of a critical essence. Right now may well be the last reasonable chance for a diplomatic solution. Later we can start demanding of the president a more integrated procedure, that same president who promised to run the most transparent government ever. We certainly should, at least IMO, demand more open debate and the creation of sufficient agreement of our representatives before the President puts a check by someone’s name on a kill list or negotiates in secret a new international trade alliance or spies on the whole world, or classifies everything secret, or orders the bombing of another country in an act of war that the Congress did not declare, or places sanctions on a country that is ridiculously claimed to be a threat to our national security, or ... ... .

    You have a point I think but I also think it just doesn’t apply in this world except as a political blocking dummy. Would anyone really argue that the President has all those unitary powers that he abuses aggressively but doesn’t have nearly the same power to drive an international policy in the direction of peace?

    There are many motives among many individuals and groups who would like to kill the deal but the only one I respect is the idea that Iran cannot be trusted and might secretly get a bomb while the deal is in affect. I think there are people who believe that to be a valid and sufficient fear but I think they are wrong. There is of course a chance though that Iran will get a bomb or get much closer to a much shorter breakout time. I know that we cannot be certain that that will not happen, but I firmly believe that in a world of chance that we must decide to embrace some chances and this is one of those times.

    The U.S. has been a gorilla on Iran’s back since long before Iran’s possible acquisition of a nuclear weapon was an issue. I think it is very possible that the admission by Wolfowitz that the claim of Iraq having WMD was just an excuse for war that everyone could get behind is an example of what is happening now. It also may well be the case that Iran is playing its cards the way it has just to have a chip to trade away so as to get the big monkey to climb down and go play somewhere else. It seems to me that even a monkey would see the value in doing this. A sociopathic but pragmatic monkey would at least give Iran more time to help deal with the crazies that have been let loose in their neighborhood before we closed the door on any mutually beneficial relationship. At this point they seem to be the only ones doing any good on that front.












    Sorry, I've procrastinated too much this morning to give you a more deserved-response.  First, you're correct on the standard set by Obama -- thanks for point that out.  Second, I very much favor negotiations as an option over war.


    Unrealistic and naïve expectations

    Iran: 'The Great Satan' Still Our 'Number One Enemy ...

    It seems that the White House is also investing in the notion that after a final nuclear deal is struck between Tehran and the P5+1, and after economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic are removed, Iranian leaders will alter their foreign policies and regional hegemonic ambitions.

    This argument is anchored in unrealistic and naïve expectations.

    If we closely analyze the Islamic Republic’s political and power structures, as well as its major sources of legitimacy, it becomes evident that a major and fundamental change in Iranian leaders’ political calculations is completely unlikely.

    SAVE US, UNITED NATIONS ...... and we'll worship you?

    A quickie for now.

    I don't accept at face value that there are only two choices, war or accept this deal, ... ...

    From the Washington Post:

    "War with Iran is probably our best option"

    Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes, although an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.

    This guy would probably say that he doesn't want war what war mongder doesn't, but heck, what's else is a peace lovin' country to do if it doesn't get every single thing that the neocons want? Negotiate? Yeah, right!  Like that is even worth trying.


    I do find it troubling that Republicans, and some Democrats, seem to be insisting that absolutely no consideration be given to the Iranian position. A strict unwillingness to give even less than an inch on anything - demanding complete acquiescence on their part. That's not negotiating for a peaceful solution, that's just pushing them away from the table altogether.

    Fair warning, reading further subjects the reader to the danger of spleen splatter. The opinion expressed is done so in a milder, more diplomatic voice than its target deserves, IMO.

    A Reasoned Response to a Washington Post Call for War With Iran

    Except the same rant could be made against anyone out of draft range who supported fighting in WWII, or thought South Korea could be saved, or thought we should remove Bin Laden's safe haven with the Taliban, or putting tanks against the Fulda Pass to block or slow any attack.

    I'm certainly against war with Iran, and think they've made a lot of progress that we intentionally ignore, and think we should encourage them to link up with the European Union. But still, the argument is flawed. The guys who do the fighting are almost never the ones who decide whether to fight. That's partly because of age - 18-21 as the preferred demographic for churned meat - and partly because of power structure - older people own the keys.

    Yes, I'm sick of over-optimistic jingoist urgings for war, as if it's ever easy (or if it is easy, that it's not corrupt and manipulative). But war is still sometimes necessary. Yeah, the pasty boy probably won't fight, but I'd still prefer to attack his logic for war rather than his exhuberance for it. Yep, he's immature - but show he's unreasonable as well.

    Sure it is flawed, it isn't intended for what you suggest, it is a rant. And, It isn't about everybody who supports any war for any reason and even if it doesn't make that specific, it makes it obvious. It is about one jerk's jerk-off orgasmic embrace of blood lust  and his jerk patron who puts that pornography in public. It is an emotional venting. It is an alternative to slinging your laptop at the wall.

    It is about one jerk's jerk-off orgasmic embrace of blood lust and his jerk patron who puts that pornography in public

     Same mental attitude from those  of Iran who decided to become provocative and build the” in your face”, nuclear program.

    You telling me they didn’t know how the West would respond…..  but they really didn’t care

    Didn’t Iran know we're the biggest bad as in the region; or are they challenging us and should we expect a sucker punch?

    We will never be able to verify till after the attack.  

    My Lord!  Iran  did have a nuclear bomb?

    My Lord!  Hitler lied,….. Imagine that

    Peace in our time The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert

    Unrealistic and naïve expectations The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert

    Sorry I didn't get back to you right away on this. My thing is that I don't want the debate to be based on assuming any deal or war are the only two options.  If the that were the case, I think I've written that I would favor the deal.  But I'm more interested in having that explained to us as best as we can in the mess that is DC politics.

    Thanks I learned a lot here today. 

    Here's an interview that the president gave to Jeffrey Goldberg on March 2, 2012, which was a few days before the AIPAC annual conference in DC in that election year.  Goldberg has been the guy that the president has gone to as sort of a de facto liaison to the the American Jewish community and/or to the Israeli people.  The president's comments on Iran here are a fair benchmark I think for evaluating the deal that may be agreed to before the end of the month, and I really recommend that people who are interested in the substance of the negotiations read it in full. Here's a couple of excerpts that I think are relevant and representative of the views expressed by the president. Here he is discussing the importance of a permanent deal with Iran:

    In that context [preventing an Iranian bomb], our argument is going to be that it is important for us to see if we can solve this thing permanently, as opposed to temporarily. And the only way, historically, that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table. That's what happened in Libya, that's what happened in South Africa. And we think that, without in any way being under an illusion about Iranian intentions, without in any way being naive about the nature of that regime, they are self-interested. They recognize that they are in a bad, bad place right now. It is possible for them to make a strategic calculation that, at minimum, pushes much further to the right whatever potential breakout capacity they may have, and that may turn out to be the best decision for Israel's security.

    . . .

    In fairness to the president, I think it's very important to distinguish between the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a bomb versus taking the position that in order to do that you have to eliminate Iran's capacity to build a bomb.  I think the president even in this interview takes the former position.  On the other hand, he appears to reject the kind of "containment" strategy that seems to be at the heart of the robust inspection regimen at the core of the potential deal (as we understand it anyway).  Here's Obama rejecting the viability of a strategy based on containing the Iranian nuclear program (my bold in text):

    GOLDBERG: Let me flip this entirely around and ask: Why is containment not your policy? In the sense that we contained the Soviet Union, North Korea --

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's for the reason I described -- because you're talking about the most volatile region in the world. It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe. 
    The only analogous situation is North Korea. We have applied a lot of pressure on North Korea as well and, in fact, today found them willing to suspend some of their nuclear activities and missile testing and come back to the table. But North Korea is even more isolated, and certainly less capable of shaping the environment [around it] than Iran is. And so the dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world.

    GOLDBERG: Do you see accidental nuclear escalation as an issue?
    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely. Look, the fact is, I don't think any of it would be accidental. I think it would be very intentional.
    If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, I won't name the countries, but there are probably four or five countries in the Middle East who say, "We are going to start a program, and we will have nuclear weapons." And at that point, the prospect for miscalculation in a region that has that many tensions and fissures is profound. You essentially then duplicate the challenges of India and Pakistan fivefold or tenfold.



    This is from a blurb from msnbc, and it is why I do not believe the Senate, with a majority of Republicans would ever agree with anything the President sends them:

     In late 2010, President Obama and much of the foreign-policy establishment around the world eagerly waited for the U.S. Senate to ratify the New START nuclear treaty. The agreement, reached earlier in the year after lengthy negotiations with Russia, was championed by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Bush administration veterans, but Senate Republicans were prepared to kill it.
    At the time, Pierre Vimont, the then-French ambassador to the United States, noted that he and other diplomats warned European officials that Congress might very well reject the treaty. “People ask us, ‘Have you been drinking?’” Vimont said.
    It seemed implausible to believe American officials would deliberately derail a treaty that advances America’s interests, and eventually, the Senate did ratify the proposal (though most Republicans voted against it). But what I remember from the debate is the degree to which the world watched with astonishment – observers around the globe found it hard to believe just how radical congressional Republicans had become.
    More than four years later, 47 Senate Republicans reached out to Iran, urging officials in Tehran not to reach an agreement with the United States, all in the hopes of sabotaging American foreign policy. And once again, much of the world seems aghast – including the officials Republicans hoped to push away from the negotiating table.
    Trusting them to do the right thing would be idiotic.  Can anyone give ONE example of the GOP backing anything that this President has proposed?  
    I'm all, eyes!  Thanks

    Last thing I'm able to do is try to defend GOP intransigence on the Hill, so no argument on that score.  Now what, then?  We need to be careful here, I think.

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