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Our ZP blog-friends on the Iran deal

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — waiting for the other shoe to drop — or be thrown, i suppose — or if a sandal, for the sand to be shaken off it if need be ]
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Which leaves us with:

AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site

Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press. [ .. ]

The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package.

On Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the Obama administration was “confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program. … The IAEA has separately developed the most robust inspection regime ever peacefully negotiated.”

All IAEA member countries must give the agency some insight into their nuclear programs. Some are required to do no more than give a yearly accounting of the nuclear material they possess. But nations- like Iran – suspected of possible proliferation are under greater scrutiny that can include stringent inspections.

The agreement in question diverges from normal procedures by allowing Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence of activities it has consistently denied – trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country.

The White House has repeatedly denied claims of a secret side deal favorable to Tehran. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told Republican senators last week that he was obligated to keep the document confidential.

and:

IAEA Director General’s Statement and Road-map for the Clarification of Past & Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program

IAEA Director General’s Statement:

I have just signed the Road-map between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. The text has been signed on behalf of Iran by the country’s Vice-President, and President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mr Ali Akbar Salehi. This is a significant step forward towards clarifying outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. [ .. ]

Joint Statement

by the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi [ .. ]

Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) agree, in continuation of their cooperation under the Framework for Cooperation, to accelerate and strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at the resolution, by the end of 2015, of all past and present outstanding issues that have not already been resolved by the IAEA and Iran.

In this context, Iran and the Agency agreed on the following: [ .. ]

5. Iran and the IAEA agreed on another separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin.

It appears to me that the other shoe is still up in the air — and must feel much the same way Schrödinger’s Cat feels.

As opposed to carnivores, militarily speaking

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — discussing the Iran deal, Gershom Gorenberg introduces me to some Israeli slang ]
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quote-everyone-s-a-pacifist-between-wars-it-s-like-being-a-vegetarian-between-meals-colman-mccarthy
Source: izquotes.com

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Gershom Gorenberg is a friendly acquaintance from Center for Millennial Studies days, and his book The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount is one I admire, and one that is becoming more and more relevant as the days and years pass. In an article for Prospect, What a No Vote on the Iran Deal Would Mean, he cites “veterans of [Israel’s] military and intelligence agencies” as “the most prominent dissenters from Netanyahu’s position” on the Iran agreement, detailing:

There’s Shlomo Brom, ex-head of strategic planning in the Israeli general staff, who has debunked precisely the myths about the Vienna accord that fill Schumer and Sherman’s statements. Ami Ayalon, former commander of the Israeli Navy and ex-head of the Shin Bet security service, has stated that “when it comes to Iran’s nuclear capability, this [deal] is the best option.” Yuval Diskin, another former Shin Bet director, this week tweeted in Hebrew that he “identifies absolutely” with Thomas Friedman’s New York Times column on why Israelis should support the accord.

He then admits bias — an unusual but welcome touch..

Yes, I’m picking my experts (though if space and patience allowed, I could list many more).

and gets to the remark that triggered my writing this post:

What Ayalon, Brom, Diskin, and colleagues who have expressed similar views have in common is that — to use Hebrew slang — they’re not “vegetarians.” They know there’s sometimes no choice but to use military force.

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There’s a ratio here that would please my fellow designer/explorer of a Glass Bead Game variant, Paul Pilkington, author of three lovely small books on the Glass Bead Game [1, 2, 3] with a fourth in the works:

carnivore : vegetarian :: militarist : pacifist

— or something along those lines.

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Ron Hale-Evans, another GBG variant designer and the founder of the Ludism site, in his Kennexions variant on the Bead Game would take just such a ratio, and apply to it the rules by which the Norse poets derived their “kennings” — cunning sleights-of-phrase by which they applied poetic epithets in place of common nouns.

As cantuse‘s post Dragonsilver: The True Nature and Purpose of Lightbringer tells us:

A kenning is a phrase that generally refers to any compound word that describes in figurative language something which could be expressed in a single-word. The principle derives from Old Norse epic traditions.

Ron suggests that “such an analogy provides four kennings possible (or at least permissible)”. In the case of the pacifist / vegetarian analogy, for instance, a carnivore would be kenned as a “vegetarian militarist”, a vegetarian as a “carnivore pacifist”, a militarist as a “pacifist carnivore”, and a pacifist as a “militarist vegetarian”.

The phrasing my seem awkward at first, but the kennings based on the analogy:

sea : whale :: road : horse

gave the Norse poets the poetic turns of phrase “whale road” for the sea, “sea horse” for the whale, “horse sea” for a road, and “road whale” for the horse, all of which make a fair amont of sense. And once you get the hang of it, you can think not just in ratios but in kennings, as the mind adapts to seing the binary oppositions (vegetarian / carnivore) as well as the paralellisms (vegetarian / pacifist) as a matter of course when encountering phrases such as “carnivore pacifist”.

Ron, if you’d care to update or correct me on Kennings / Kennexions, please feel free to do so — Paul, likewise with my use of ratios.

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Since analogy lies at the heart of both cognition and creativity, it would be interesting to see what impact the habit of thinking in Paul’s ratios or Ron’ss kennings, if taught in schools, would have on creative thinking and, frankly, mathematics. I have the suspicion that..

ratios : kennings :: algebra : geometry

— but what do I know?

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And what of the Iran nuclear deal, and all those Israeli natsec experts?

Iran: the deal does this, but what will others do?

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — requesting suggestions re “second order nuclear effects” from Israel & the Saudis ]
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I’ve been watching one aspect of developing current events closely — Islamic apocalyptic jihad, for short — and claim no special expertise in many other realms, but on the contrary, consider myself too inexpert even to hazard much in the way of commentary. Knowing what I know about what I know, and having seen how often the media and punditry get it wrong, I am deeply suspicious of anything I might tend to think on the basis of media readings in other areas.

So: I am ignorant about the Iranian nuclear deal.

I tend to read Cheryl Rofer for insight into the tecnhical nuclear issues, and Tim Furnish on Iranian Mahdism as it might or might not intersect with the desire for nukes. But that’s about the limit for me.

So: here’s what nags away at me, in the words of a commenter at ChicagoBoyz:

the end result might not be nuclear weapons [for Iran] .. It might be a nuclear preemptive strike by Israel and Saudi Arabia

I’m ignorant. Does the deal, or any other diplomatic venture, address the issue of consequences other than those the deal itself provides for Iran and for her co-signers? What will the Israelis, what will the Saudis in fact do?

With Putin already rattling implicitly nuclear sabres, do we now have a second potential nuclear front, a threat coming not “from” Iran but “at” it?

Please set me straight, from left, from right, from military and intelligence perspectives, any which way you can.

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Second order effects are always important and often overlooked. When they’re nuclear, that could be highly problematic, not to say volcanic.

Blog friend Cheryl Rofer on the Iranian nuke deal

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — and Furnish pwns Sowell — corrected version ]
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First there’s Cheryl Rofer‘s piece on Nuclear Diner, The Iran Framework Agreement: The Good, the Bad, and TBD. Then that gets quoted by Alexander Montgomery in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage for April 6. Note: I has originally quoted Montgomery but attributed the quote to Cheryl, see her comment below. I have now removed the quote in question. And now Cheryl has a piece in Mother Jones titled Never Mind the Doubters: The Iran Deal Is Good Enough:

The final deal remains to be negotiated. The fact sheet is only an outline, and some issues will be easier to solve than others. Still to be worked out: Sanctions, particularly the schedule on which they are to be lifted. A list of research and development activities that Iran is allowed to pursue may or may not have been drawn up in Lausanne. Details on how Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile will be reduced and the redesign of the Arak reactor are missing.

The extent of Iran’s past activity on nuclear weapons was relegated to the IAEA by the P5+1 throughout the negotiations, and is a lesser provision in the fact sheet. Do we have to know all Iran’s dirty secrets to police a future agreement? Probably not.

The Supreme Leader issued a tweet stream that seems to give his blessing for a deal to go forward, but his words were unclear enough that domestic hardliners could seize on them in an attempt to scuttle the deal. Iran’s President Rouhani has voiced his support. In Israel, even the general who bombed the Osirak reactor thinks it’s a good deal.

Methinks kudos are in order — and I personally am thankful for a voice of informed and informative nuance on so hotly contested and significant a topic.

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In other Iranian nuclear deal news, blog friend Tim Furnish has taken on his fellow-conservative Tom Sowell‘s NRO piece on the topic, There’s No Deterring an Apocalyptic Nuclear Iran:

That’s the extended analytic piece which Tim concludes with this paragraph:

While in Iran for the 2008 Mahdism Conference, I heard both President Ahmadinejad and Prime Minister Ali Larijani speak. Ahmadinejad said, regarding Israel and Shi`i eschatology, that “the problem of the+ false, fabricated Zionist regime” would not be solved “in the absence of the Perfect Man, the Mahdi” — effectively dousing the alarmist, and inaccurate, view that the IRI’s chief executive wishes to “hotwire the apocalypse.” Islamic fervor for lighting that eschatological detonation cord exists among certain Sunnis groups (including, quite possibly, al-Qa`idah) — but it is not characteristic of Twelver Shi`ism. Larijani, in the closing speech of that same conference, proclaimed that “Mahdism has three pillars: spirituality, rationalism and jihad.” It is admittedly possible, despite all the aforementioned reasoning, that “their own vitriolic rhetoric could conceivably run away with the leaders of the Islamic Republic, and an Iranian nuclear weapon find its way to Tel Aviv.” But the preponderance of evidence — Islamic history in general, specific Shi`i traditions and teachings as well as modern religio-political discourse in Iran — indicates, rather, that the rationality and spirituality of Iranian Mahdism is holding at bay its undeniable jihad aspect. Tehran thus, ironically, finds its potential nuclear policy fettered by Qom: mainstream Shi`i theology does not support violence (nuclear or conventional) in order to precipitate the return of the 12th Imam; furthermore, employing nuclear weapons is verboten in the Mahdi’s absence — except, perhaps, under the rubric of defensive jihad, were Iran itself to be attacked or invaded. Seen in this light, the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of nuclear weapons falls from the overly-alarmist apocalyptic register into a more mundane, and manageable, geopolitical one.

If that was so duing the presidency of Ahmadinejad, it is doubly so now, with Rouhani in his place.

Give me that Old Time Nuclear Fatwa

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — when is a tweet not quite a fatwa? when it’s a tweet! ]
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A day or two ago Tim Furnish pointed me to a recent MEMRI post titled:

Tehran Again Offers Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa In Negotiations As A Guarantee That It Is Not Developing Nuclear Weapons

You can pretty much imagine the content by means of its title, but the piece also contains a lead to Khamenei‘s Twitter feed, and thus to the tweet with which I’ve opened this post.

What to make of it?

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It seems to me that there are two obvious possibilities —

  • the Ayatollah is lying, there is no such fatwa
  • the Ayatlloah is telling the truth, there is such a fatwa
  • Those who are prone to hope may well take the Ayatollah’s word for it — whether or not that trust is justified — while those who are prone to doubt are liable to distrust the Ayatollah…

    And so we’re at that old “trust but verify” business again.

    It seems to me that neither proposition — that a fatwa exists as claimed, but has not been made public, or that no fatwa exists, and claims to the contrary are simply incredible — is verifiable, or falsifiable for that matter. Hunh.

    The one thing that is clear from my POV is that the Ayatollah Khamenei is playing this close to his chest. He could very easily write out a fatwa and publish it, and he doesn’t. He could very easily not have issued a fatwa, which would explain its non-publication. But his refusal to publish a fatwa, while claiming to have issued it, presumably by word of mouth, is a clear indication that he is toying with his interlocutors in the west. And the game is:

    I claim to have given a fatwa — will you take my word for it?

    He’s asking for trust, we’re asking for verification: trust, but verify, it’s not a new idea. And it seems to me that neither axiomatic doubt nor axiomatic trust is the point, although we are mostly prone to one or the other.

    The point is that this is poker. Perhaps this is an obvious truism that others move quickly past on their way to reading the Ayatollah’s “tells” one way or the other. Or perhaps we are so quick to take sides that the idea that we face a formidable opponent in what is essentially a very high stakes game eludes us.

    I’m not a player, I don’t speak or read Farsi, the Shah was still in power when I visited Tehran, I haven’t studied for years in Qom or Najaf, I’m not inclined to make political assertions more than one or two levels above my pay grade, I’m mostly unpaid, and I’m left with this:

    We’re in a game.

    And if that’s the case, intelligence — human intelligence — is the way to read Khamenei’s poker face. And FWIW, Amir Taheri wouldn’t be my go to source for intel.

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    BTW, here’s Khamenei’s latest:


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