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Blog friend Cheryl Rofer on the Iranian nuke deal

[ by Charles Cameron — and Furnish pwns Sowell — corrected version ]

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.


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.

13 Responses to “Blog friend Cheryl Rofer on the Iranian nuke deal”

  1. Cheryl Rofer Says:

    Thanks for the kudos, Charles!
    Your first blockquote, however, is Alexander Montgomery’s, not mine.
    And, without the theological backing, I have concluded similarly to Timothy Furnish that the Iranian desire for a nuclear weapon – to the degree it exists – is geopolitical rather than apocalyptic. I will have to read Furnish’s article, but not tonight.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    Thanks, Cheryl.
    I’ll correct and expand, and leave a note to that effect.

  3. Charles Cameron Says:

    Now — after quite a wrestle with HTML — corrected, as noted in blue.

  4. Cheryl Rofer Says:

    Thanks, Charles.

  5. Scott Says:

    Martin van Creveld has an interesting perspective from the Israeli side, and likewise believes it is geopolitical and not apocalyptic. He expressed this to the publisher of some of his latest books. Warning: the site is not for everyone.


  6. Scott Says:

    I should also mention in full disclosure that I have been an unpaid proofreader for some of the military and military science fiction published by Castalia House, for whom the blog author (Vox Day) is the editor.

  7. Grurray Says:

    I agree Iran is probably at the moment only interested in aquiring the ability to quickly ramp up to the bomb rather than actually getting the bomb. However, I’m not so sure I buy that it’s a hedge against an American invasion. They already held off an attack with only the threat of speedboats and mining the Strait of Hormuz.

    Conventional and asymmetric capabilities have proven to be just as effective a deterrent or even more so. Does anyone really believe North Korea can competently launch a viable nuclear attack? Maybe they could do a suitcase bomb, but what really keeps USPACOM busy is worrying about the Norks 1000 artillery pieces pointed at Seoul.

    And then there is the cautionary tale of Gadaffi giving up the goose that lays the atomic eggs. On the other hand, on the opposite side of the continent, South Africa gave up their nuclear program, and the result was a peaceful transition of power and an end to pariah status.

    It could just be that the bomb is one key piece of the puzzle, but there are other factors unique to each situation.

  8. Grurray Says:

    And also I should add that I bought ‘A History of Strategy’ not necessarily because I’m a big van Creveld fan but because, if Scott is working on the editing, I trust it must be a worthy read.

  9. carl Says:

    The problem with Iran getting the bomb isn’t Iran, it’s Saudi Arabia. I mostly accept all the arguments that Iran will act in a relatively reasonable manner with their bomb once they get it. But once they get it, or look as if they will get it, then the sand raiding, mortal enemy of Americans and rapacious threat to civilization (using our money) House of Saud will get a bomb, and they are foolish and crazy. And after them the Turks, perhaps the Egyptians and who knows who else. This may be our last real chance to slow the spread of nukes and let a a generation or two more live until they can no longer be contained. But that is a hard argument to make and I don’t expect it to persuade anybody.
    Maybe the best we can do is prepare for several million Israelis to eventually make their way here; along with millions more Christian from the Middle East who will have no where else to go. They probably would appreciate those ocean barriers and would make crackerjack citizens as have most all the other oppressed people who have come here for refuge in the past.
    In 200 years or so, or less, or more, I wonder if historians will judge that one of the most unfortunate, or maybe the most unfortunate thing to happen to the humans was that the Americans got the bomb first. If Stalin had got the bomb first the USSR would still be the only polity with one. Instead we got it and in our malignant innocence we allowed the USSR to get one and then there was no stopping its spread, which will result in nuclear war with casualties so high those future historians will have to come up with new concepts to describe it. Wouldn’t it be ironic that it may have been better for the humans if one of the worst mass murderers in the history of the humans had obtained the most destructive device humans have ever invented before anybody else.

  10. Charles Cameron Says:

    If Iran then the Saudis, ping-pong-style, makes sense. But it’s a second order issue, not easily explained, eh?

  11. Grurray Says:

    I don’t see the Saudis ever developing a bomb. It’s just not in their nature to pull off this kind of major scientific effort. For awhile it was assumed that Pakistan would just give them a bomb if needed, but now the Yemen situation has thrown that into doubt. The Pakistanis are obviously keeping one wary eye on their Persian neighbor. If the secret Saudi-Israeli alliance actually does exist, we will then have to keep a close eye on the friendship of India’s Modi and Netanyahu and the possibility of India helping King Salman.
    So I suppose, yes, there’s no easy explanation here.

  12. carl Says:

    The Saudis don’t have to develop a bomb. They can just buy it some or pay other people to build it for them. Saudi lack of technical ability hasn’t stopped the oil from flowing, it won’t stop them from getting a bomb.
    We may be keeping an eye on things but we won’t do anything at all about what we may see until at least January 2016 if then. Our inaction doesn’t only affect the planning of the Putins of the world, it affects the planning of the Modis and Bibis. They know they will have to deal with things themselves and they will do so. Lord only knows what the next two years will bring.

  13. larrydunbar Says:

    “The Saudis don’t have to develop a bomb. They can just buy it some or pay other people to build it for them.”
    I don’t know. It seems to me like, if anyone could buy a nuke, it would be Iran. Considering their position between both Russia and China, and, if there was one available, considering North Korea, they should have been able to latch on to it.
    And the advantage of buying one is many. There is no need for your military to expose themselves in the testing phase, and once deployed it would be hard to trace back to the buyer.
    So when the Saudis explode one, are you saying, the US will have to say, aw shucks, we only gave it to them; like Saddam and his nerve gas, we never expected them to actually use it?
    Or is that just a Republican Congressional talking point?

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