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Cirincione caught lying about the Iran deal

Trust, but let Iran verfy - A.F. Branco political cartoon

The proponents of the Obama administration’s deal with Iran are getting very desperate. Unable to defend the deal on its substance, they are resorting to blatant lies and ad hominem attacks.

This propaganda is being orchestrated mainly by the treasonous Ploughshares Fund (an organization which seeks to disarm America unilaterally), in tight concert with the Obama White House.

Ploughshares’ president, Joe Cirincione -a man proven dead wrong on every issue he’s spoken about – took to DefenseOne’s pages recently to defend the Iran deal.

Cirincione claims that the deal is supported by numerous “experts” while not a single nuclear security/nuclear affairs expert in the US opposes it.

That is patently false, no matter how you define an “expert” – according to Cirincione, far-left unilateral disarmament advocates count as “experts” – but, to name but a few credible figures, two very credible arms control experts, John R. Bolton and Paula DeSutter, staunchly oppose the deal.

Mr Bolton has served as Under Secretaries of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, and Ms DeSutter has served as Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, i.e. officials in charge of preventing the spread of the most lethal weapons in the world and verifying that America’s treaty partners adhere to their commitments.

As Ms De Sutter’s Wikipedia biography states:

While at USC, DeSutter was a graduate intern for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.[1] She joined ACDA’s Verification and Intelligence Bureau after graduate school. She was first a Foreign Affairs Specialist, then Chief of the Compliance and Implementation Division, and finally Special Assistant for Verification and Compliance to the Assistant Director for Intelligence and Verification.[2]

She was then chosen to represent the ACDA at the National War College, from which she received an M.S. in national security strategy.[2] She then spent a year at the National Defense University as a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at its Center for Counter-Proliferation Research.[3]

In the late 1990s, DeSutter joined the staff of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.[3] There she was the staff liaison to Senator Jon Kyl and was responsible for legislation and oversight of intelligence collection, analysis and activities related to proliferation, terrorism, arms control, the Persian Gulf States, India, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan.

This was also part of her responsibilities at the State Department. In other words, handling proliferation and arms control in the Persian Gulf, as well as other countries, has been Ms DeSutter’s portfolio and area of expertise since the 1990s.

But Cirincione goes way further and has the nerve to claim that the Iran Deal is being maligned with lies, “almost every one of them fabricated.” He writes:

Opponents are attacking the Iran Deal with everything they’ve got—almost all of it entirely fabricated and unsupported by the entire nuclear expert community.

Yes, you’ve read that right: a man who speaks nothing but blatant lies, who uses nothing but completely fabricated claims to justify America’s unilateral disarmament and appeasement of her enemies, accuses others of making “entirely fabricated claims” !

And what are the “lies” Cirincione denounces as “entirely fabricated” ?

But – and here is the lie that has stuck the most – the deal “enables Iran to cheat by preventing anytime, anywhere inspections,” says the American Israeli Political Action Committee, or AIPAC.

This charge was briefly buoyed by an Associated Press story claiming that Iranians would do their own inspections of nuclear cites. Within a few hours, however, the news service backtracked, the story was debunked by fellow journalists, and it was corrected by the IAEA, who asserted that it was in full charge of all inspections and environmental sampling. Again, a phony charge, widely circulated even though unsupported by nuclear experts.

It is Cirincione who is lying. The Associated Press did not backtrack; the gist of the story remained on the website, as is normal for news stories on crucial issues. The gist of the story – which even the IAEA has not disputed – is that it is the Iranians, not the IAEA, who will be making photos and videos of the Parchin nuclear site (where Iran has carried out most of its weaponization work). IAEA’s inspectors will not be allowed to ever visit that site – they will only get the photos and the videos and will have to decide whether to believe them. But they will not be allowed to inspect that site (or any other Iranian military site) in person.

Even the IAEA does not dispute this fact; it only makes generalistic claims that it is “fully in charge” of its inspections.

Cirincione also falsely claims that:

That is, the core charges against this agreement, like the scurrilous charges 11 years ago against John Kerry, have little basis in fact.  They are almost entirely fabricated. Clever sound bites, like Netanyahu’s charge – repeated ad nauseam — that a 24-day delay in some inspections would allow Iran to  “flush the evidence down the toilet.”

Pure nonsense. If you flush uranium down the toilet, you have a radioactive toilet. If you rip out the toilet, you have a radioactive hole in the ground. How do we know this? Because Energy Department nuclear experts intentionally contaminated a site to see if they could clean it up in 24 days. Couldn’t be done. America’s top scientists and intelligence officials vetted and gamed out every phrase in the deal, to ensure its constructs worked.

Experts have disproven the false claims here, and here, andhere, and here, and here, and here, and…well, you get the idea. The Washington Post’s “fact checker,” Glenn Kessler, just gave Sen. Schumer’s repeat of the phony inspection charge – “You have to wait 24 days before you can inspect” – three Pinocchios for “significant factual errors and/or obvious contradictions.”

Again, it is Cirincione’s claims that are entirely fabricated – not those of the Iran deal’s critics. Under the deal, Iran CAN delay inspections of its civilian nuclear sites for up to 24 days. But even worse, Tehran can deny any foreign inspector a visa to even set foot on Iranian soil (let alone visit any of its nuclear sites), because it requires that any such inspector must receive Iranian intelligence’s approval before arriving.

Also, Iran’s military sites (including Parchin) are completely exempt from the agreement – this was a key demand of Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. No inspections whatsoever of these sites will be allowed.

Thus, Iran can practically prevent any inspections whatsoever of its nuclear sites.

And why is the 24 delay so important? Because, contrary to Cirincione’s utterly false claims, Iran CAN completely sanitize its suspect nuclear sites in 24 days if it wants to, as confirmed by IAEA’s former Deputy Director General, Olli Heinikonen (a man with over 20 years in nonproliferation and nuclear inspections) and David Albright, a nuclear weapons inspector who has testified before Congress on the Iran deal.

Even the WaPo’s Glenn Kessler admits that:

the 24-day clock also has many critics. Former weapons inspector David Albright, who has remained neutral on the Iran deal, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that with Iran’s long history of hiding its nuclear activities, “24 days could be enough time, presumably, for Iran to relocate undeclared activities that are in violation of the JCPOA while it undertakes sanitization activities that would not necessarily leave a trace in environmental sampling.”

Albright, who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, noted that in the past Iran was able to stretch out disputes over access for more than 24 days, but over time Iran has gained “extensive practice at defeating IAEA and U.S. detection methods.”

As you can see, 24 days is enough for Iran to sanitize its nuclear facilities so well that they “would not necessarily leave a trace in environmental sampling”, and as Mr Albright warns, “over time Iran has gained extensive practice at defeating IAEA and U.S. detection methods.”

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According to Mr Heinikonen – the IAEA’s former deputy director general – 24 days is actually more than enough time to completely sanitize a site. He says such a delay “will boost Iranian cheating.”

The Energy Department’s contamination experiment was completely pointless and a non sequitur. Any nuclear site in the world is “contaminated”, i.e. bears the trace of strong radioactivity – but not every nuclear site around the world is an enrichment or weapons development or testing facility. (At Parchin, simulated nuclear explosions were reportedly carried out.)

How is the IAEA to verify, for example, to what degree have the Iranians enrich uranium at their Natanz and Fordow sites – civilian or weapons grade – if the Iranians have 24 days to remove any trace of weapons grade uranium enrichment?

It can’t. As Mr Heinikonen says, they’ll have more than ample time to hide any trace of cheating. (Weapons-grade uranium could simply be covertly moved elsewhere, perhaps to a facility the West doesn’t even know about like we didn’t know about the Fordow facility for years.)

Cirincione also falsely claims that

Experts have disproven the false claims here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and…well, you get the idea.

But none of these people and organizations he cites are actually “experts.” All of them are leftist advocates of America’s unilateral disarmament. Specifically, they are:

  • Jeffrey Lewis, a hyperpartisan Democrat and an ardent advocate of unilateral disarmament who works at the Middlesbrough Institute of International Studies (MIIS) – a far-left think-tank that advocates such a suicidal policy and denies the need for a nuclear deterrent;
  • The Arms Control Association, another far-left organization which advocates the same policy and worldview;
  • Its former Research Director Tom Z. Collina, who now works for the Cirincione at Ploughshares;
  • Far-left “journalist” Fareed Zakaria;
  • The leftist J Street organization, which advocates suicidal unilateral concessions by Israel to its enemies;
  • Richard Nephew, another leftist think-tanker.

It should be underlined that ACA receives tens of thousands of dollars from Cirincione’s Ploughshares Fund every year precisely to lie about Iran’s nuclear program and about the US nuclear deterrent, so it is not objective at all.

None of these people and organizations have any business pretending to be experts. They are all far-left individuals and groups who – like Cirincione – have been proven dead wrong on every issue they’ve spoken about.

Cirincione also claims that the following claim by Sen. Chuck Schumer is a totally manufactured lie:

our greedy allies can’t be trusted, claims Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, “Once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic contracts with Iran,” he says,“they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections.”

Sen. Schumer is correct – the European gold rush to Iran has already begun. For example, the Italian government has already loaned Iran $3 bn, and European companies are already competing for various megabillion contracts in Iran, notably in its transportation sector, while the European and American automobile industry are competing for the lucrative (and currently underserved) Iranian car market.

As the French press reports, France has already been warned that its “tough” stance during the negotiations will cost it dearly in terms of economic contracts. Some opposition parties even claim that being so “tough” towards Iran has amounted to treason.

So yes, European governments will be under an extremely intense economic pressure not to agree to a reimposition of sanctions on Iran, even if that country is caught cheating red-handed – just like they’ve been under the business lobby’s intense pressure (successful, to date) not to impose any serious sanctions on Russia.

But even if all European governments march in lockstep with the US in trying to punish Iran for violations of the deals (which they won’t), Russia and China can still protect Iran from any consequences. Why? Because this disastrous deal requires that any sanctions for any violation by Iran receive the unanimous approval of all UN Security Council members – including Moscow and Beijing – and can be imposed only after a 65-day waiting period. There is no “snapback” mechanism contrary to what the deal’s defenders falsely claim.

So Iran can simply cheat, and its Russian and Chinese friends will protect it from any consequences.

If that weren’t bad enough, the deal doesn’t even touch Iran’s ballistic and cruise missile program or obligate it to stop supporting terrorist groups. What’s more, under the sanctions relief Iran will get under the deal, Tehran will use part of the money to fund terrorist groups – as even the Obama administration has admitted.

Those are, by themselves, sufficient reasons to reject the Iran deal.

Cirincione repeats ad nauseam the utterly false claim that

It is difficult to name a single, prominent American non-proliferation expert who opposes this deal. There are a few who have remained neutral, but the anti-Iran campaign is notable for the absence of nuclear expert opposition to the deal.

Just right off memory, I can name John R. Bolton, Paula DeSutter, and Eric A. Edelman (a former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and Ambassador to Turkey, a neighbor of Iran), to whom one could add Mr Heinikonen, the former deputy director general of the IAEA – although he’s Finnish, not American. In addition, the deal is opposed by over 200 retired generals and admirals. They have written, in part:

The agreement is unverifiable. Under the terms of the JCPOA and a secret side deal (to which the United States is not privy), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be responsible for inspections under such severe limitations as to prevent them from reliably detecting Iranian cheating.  (…) Most importantly, these inspections do not allow access to Iranian military facilities, the most likely location of their nuclear weapons development efforts. In the JCPOA process, there is substantial risk of U.S. intelligence being compromised, since the IAEA often relies on our sensitive data with respect to suspicious and/or prohibited activity.

Yet, Cirincione not only falsely claims that no experts oppose this deal, he claims 75 “leading non-proliferation experts” support it – and he counts himself among these “75 leading non-proliferation experts” !

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. A man who has been wrong on every single national security issue he’s spoken about has the nerve to call himself a “leading non-proliferation expert.”

And just who are these other “leading non-proliferation experts” Cirincione touts besides himself?

When one reads the list of signatories of their open letter, it turns out the vast majority of these are simply anti-defense hacks – unilateral disarmament advocates – who claim to be “experts” and “specialists.”

This crowd includes Tom Z. Collina of Ploughshares (formerly of ACA), Greg Thielmann, Kelsey Davenport, James Acton, Steven Pifer, Adam Mount, Ellen O. Tauscher, Daryl G. Kimball, and Jeffrey Lewis – all of them unilateral disarmament advocates who have been proven wrong on every single issue they’ve ever opened their uninformed mouths about.

Yet, these people are not only proud of their utter ignorance and of their perfect record of always being wrong on crucial national security issues, they have the nerve to call themselves “experts” and “specialists” !

In sum, Joe Cirincione is utterly wrong, as always. The deal reached with Iran is a terrible one. And it is him and his fellow unilateral disarmament advocates – who are making entirely fabricated, completely false claims. But don’t expect him to ever stop making such claims. He and his fellow pseudo-experts are immensely proud of their ignorance and their record of being wrong everytime they’ve opened their mouths.

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About Zbigniew Mazurak