Tag Archives: Iran

Two Attempts to Identify Why Liberals Are So Wrong And So Evil

Liberals Are Unable To Keep Their Own Arguments Straight:

When Liberals are trying to prove that there is no God, they argue that humans are descendants of tadpoles and monkeys and are solely the product of “evolution”.  Yet when liberals want to stop human progress by halting a building or irrigation project they find a plant, an animal or a fish and claim that these innocent creatures are threatened with extinction by the proposed work, denying the larger principle that in nature, extinction of one species or another happens all the time, it’s “natural” and has always occurred in “nature”, because creatures who are unable to adapt to their environment must die so that others who are able to adapt can flourish and evolve.

So in the liberal attempt to protect the insignificant Snail Darter fish in California, big-government liberals deny water to farms in the Central Valley, causing the farms to go dry, causing food prices to escalate, workers to lose their jobs, and causing the owners to lose their crops, and then these fool, lying liberals have the nerve to assert that this drought (that they themselves caused by imposing draconian environmental regulations to help a fish that is unequipped to survive on its own) should be blamed on global warming or climate change, or whatever they are calling this convenient and political falsehood at present.  These people are insane as well as destructive by choosing to protect a fish that is unable to survive as nature created and evolved it, over the welfare and benefit of their fellow humans, who have been quite successful at evolving so far, thank you.

Liberals Threaten Themselves And The Nation By Being Unable To Identify Their Real Enemies:

Among the most confusing patterns of behavior seen in liberals is their insistence that America’s real foreign enemies (Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba) are to be tolerated, even embraced, as Obama is currently hugging Castro’s Cuba and the favorable way he’s dealing with the murderous Iranians in his ridiculous nuclear-arms development talks, but it is instead American Republicans and conservatives who liberals believe are the threat to democracy and liberty, and that conservatives alone are the real terrorists threatening our nation and its future.

These fool people ignore the fact that conservatives want desperately to preserve and follow the Constitution in order to assure the continuation of liberty and prosperity in America, and liberals seem to be enamored of any foreign dictator’s total rule over his miserable subjects and seem to be oddly attracted by that dictator’s evil intent toward Americans and our society.

It would appear that liberals are jealous of the total ability to rule and dictate on the part of the Stalins, Castros and Hitlers of the world, and that they themselves wish the ability to totally rule in America, and they resent the opposition to such rule offered by conservatives and Republicans because of the very constitution conservatives want to protect.

Author Lyle Rossiter claims convincingly that liberals must be insane for wanting to deny a free and prosperous people the ability to obtain their own health care and otherwise run their own independent lives, and for knowingly bankrupting and destroying our wealthy, free nation. I think Mr. Rossiter is correct.

 

WTH Weekly -06-28-15 – the week in review

Continuing the WTH (“what the heck” happened) series, this week we look at Obama’s Iran capitulation, a rocket explodes,Greece implodes, single payer closer than thought, gay marriage and concealed carry, Obamacare subsidies, flags of our forefathers, Jindal enters the race and more!

Shockingly, Obama isn’t serious about the Iran nuclear talks. Today, reports surfaced that Obama has given into Iran’s demands and that the deal can progress even if the Iranians never submit to inspections. Trust, but verify is now trust, and hope. But, we’ve been there already.

Unless you’re in the Foreign Exchange (forex or FX) investing community, you may not be paying attention to the collapse of Greek society. Capital controls, bank runs, money flight, you name it. Greece is in trouble. But have you evaluated America’s similar situation?

SpaceX Flacon 9 explodesNext up, Elon Musk’s SpaceX project has suffered its first cargo loss after several failures in recent months. The video shows a perfect flight, until about the 2:30 mark. It goes so terribly wrong so very fast.

Many predicted that Obamacare was not intended to save anyone money on healthcare, but instead be a bridge to a single-payer system. Well, voila, recent merger propositions and changes in the marketplace are making it happen – whether you’ve noticed or not.

ACLU-logoHow in the heck are gay marriage and concealed carry linked? Thank the Supreme Court! The decision on Obergefell v. Hodges said that same-sex couples have a constitutionally protected right to marry and that all states must recognize that right. Some in the pro-gun community are saying that the reasoning used to protect gays should extend to those that bear arms in a concealed manner. In other news, now that gay marriage is law of the land, the ACLU has decided that it no longer supports religious freedom. #eyeroll

The Supreme Court had more great news – Obamacare’s subsidies are legal even if someone gets insurance from the federal exchange. Somehow the justices got confused by the “natural wording” of the law. Now, we all get to pay for something the law was not intended to fund. Greece anyone?

Flags of our FathersIn the wake of the South Carolina shooting by captured psycho Dylann Roof, liberal groups have decided that the Battle Flag of the Northern Virginia Army is to blame. Charlie Daniels makes an intelligent and reasoned argument why they are doing nothing more than making a straw man argument against a piece of cloth. Some are even pointing at the Duke’s of Hazard’s “General Lee” as a new symbol of hate. yeah, a 1969 Dodge Charger with a Virginian Battle Flag painted on it signifies Jim Crow laws and segregation … or something.

Finally, Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal has entered the race for the GOP nomination for president. A pointedly Christian announcement speech made it clear that he’s ready for prime-time, but is he ready for mainstream?

Report: Obama gives in – no inspections of Iranian nuke facilities required for deal

Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) is reporting that the P5+1 led by the United States has capitulated to Iran’s demand that no inspections of nuclear facilities take place.

President Obama has been working to record another controversial accomplishment for his legacy – the Iranian nuclear weapons program negotiations.

A centerpiece to the Obama position has always been that inspections would be required for any deal to take place and that he would only accept a deal including this provision.

Iran has a history of cheating on sanctions and IAEA regulations on nuclear weapons development. Without inspections, the question to the value of the president’s negotiations is seriously in question.

Saying that the only deal he would sign off on would be a “good deal,” the President was expected to follow a “trust, but verify” paradigm as was central to the Nuclear START treaty with Russia decades ago. Instead, the President appears to be accepting of any deal, as long as he can claim credit for having secured the agreement.

Iran Claims to Have Captured U.S. Ship, Pentagon Denies

[Developing Story]

800px-Adrian_Mærsk_(1975)_(7312764130)According to an Al Arabiya report Iran claims that it has captured a U.S. ship with American sailors aboard:

Iran has fired at a U.S. cargo ship and has directed it to Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran, Al Arabiya News Channel has reported on Tuesday.

Up to 34 American sailors are believed to be onboard the ship, Al Arabiya reported.

A Pentagon spokesman said that the vessel involved was the M/V Maersk Tigris, flagged to the Marshall Islands, and that no Americans were on board.

At this point, no U.S. military action is expected on the ship that was seized Tuesday aside from monitoring the situation. The U.S. believes that Iranians will “send the ship on its way,” the senior official said.

According to a CNN report, the ship was forced, under fire, to divert into Iranian waters where the Iranians boarded her:

“The master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters. He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris,” said Warren, referring to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. “The master complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island.”

After the shots were fired, the Tigris issued a distress call that was picked up by U.S. forces in the area, and the USS Farragut was ordered to head towards the incident. The closest U.S. warship was 60 miles away.

x

Showdown: Yemen – U.S. and Iranian Fleets Converge

U.S.S. RooseveltThe United States is sending the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier to join other U.S. warships in fending off the Iranian Navy near Yemen.

Iran is sending ships to Yemen in order to supply and support the Houthi rebels taking over the country. Today, the U.S. has announced that it is bulking up it’s fleet in the region to prevent the Iranians from providing aid.

The Houthis have been fighting government-backed defenders as they seek to take over Yemen.

Iran has been financially and logistically supporting the Houthi rebels as it seeks to cement its power base in the region.

The carrier brings the estimated U.S. Naval presence in the region to about 10 warships.

Obama: All for Some But None for Liberty

Evidently history does repeat itself, or at least President Obama’s idea of “justice” is consistent. This is particularly true of moments in time when Mr. Obama is confronted with forces and situations where there is a clear-cut difference between those who champion liberty and the proper application of the rule of law, and the semblance of law as applied by the tyrannical and the ruthless.

In 2009, after Mr. Obama bloviated about having reached out to the Iranian mullahs to say that “his country” was ready to “move forward” with relations between the two countries, proceeding with “courage, rectitude and resolve.” That declaration, made in Cairo, Egypt, offered hope to the Green Movement in Iran, the Green Movement being a majority of Iranians who wanted to return to the days of freedom and liberty for their people, days unwitnessed since the Iranian Islamist revolution that delivered the non-native Islamist mullahs to power.

But in the days after the 2009 elections in Iran – an election declared rigged by everyone short of the ethically ambivalent Jimmy Carter, when the basiji and secret police were murdering freedom protesters in the streets, even as they screamed out in every avenue of communication possible for US assistance, Mr. Obama dashed the hopes of the Iranian freedom fighters. With the simple statement that the United States did not want “to be seen as meddling” in the disputed Iranian presidential election, Mr. Obama extended a figurative middle-finger to those brave people literally dying in the streets of Tehran in a quest to be free of Islamist oppression.

Mr. Obama, with those simple words, abandoned the battle for liberty and freedom being waged by people yearning to be free.

Fast forward to the present day and yet another instance of a quest for freedom from the unjust and tyrannical, this time involving the imprisonment of a former United States Marine, if in fact, there can ever be anything a kin to a “former Marine.”

The Washington Times reports that in March of 2014, honorably discharged Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooresi was imprisoned, “for illegally crossing from California into Mexico with three firearms in his truck. The Marine maintains that he crossed the border by accident after making a wrong turn on his way to meet a friend. He faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted.”

Since that time Americans, of every political denomination, have urged President Obama to do something – anything – to secure the release of Mr. Tahmooresi, a veteran diagnosed with PTSD. Again, from The Washington Times:

“More than 134,000 people signed a petition on the White House’s ‘We the People’ website asking the president to demand the release of Sgt. Tahmooressi, who was imprisoned nearly five months ago for illegally crossing from California into Mexico with three firearms in his truck…

“‘As in all cases when a US citizen is arrested overseas, our goal is to see that Mr. Tahmooressi is treated fairly during the judicial process with the hope that he can receive the support, both emotional and medical, that he may require now and at the conclusion of the proceedings,’ the White House said in an official response Friday.

“‘Mexican authorities have been very willing to engage on this issue. They have provided prompt and continued consular access and visitations,’ the statement continued. ‘We respect the rule of law and expect the judicial process of sovereign nations to protect other US citizens who might find themselves in similar circumstances in the future. We will continue to monitor the case and work with the Mexican authorities as this case proceeds through the Mexican judicial system. We continue to urge the Mexican authorities to process this case expeditiously.’”

Once again, Mr. Obama conveniently abdicates his responsibility to champion those seeking freedom and liberty from the oppression of tyranny.

Did Mr. Tahmooresi cross the border into Mexico with those firearms? Yes, and realizing his driving error, he freely offered up the fact he had those firearms. He did not try to hide the fact that he was in possession of the weapons and did not obstruct the Mexican authorities at the border. What should have been an instance where the Mexican authorities refused entrance to Mr. Tahmooresi based on his possession of the weapons, became a political hostage talking, and a political hostage taking that the Mexican government (if that’s what you want to call what they have) knew full well they would get away with given Mr. Obama’s milquetoast response to those crying out for actual justice in instances of tyrannical oppression.

Is it any wonder why the overwhelming majority of active-duty military personnel believe that Mr. Obama does not have “their six”?

Obama: All for Some But None for Liberty

Evidently history does repeat itself, or at least President Obama’s idea of “justice” is consistent. This is particularly true of moments in time when Mr. Obama is confronted with forces and situations where there is a clear-cut difference between those who champion liberty and the proper application of the rule of law, and the semblance of law as applied by the tyrannical and the ruthless.

In 2009, after Mr. Obama bloviated about having reached out to the Iranian mullahs to say that “his country” was ready to “move forward” with relations between the two countries, proceeding with “courage, rectitude and resolve.” That declaration, made in Cairo, Egypt, offered hope to the Green Movement in Iran, the Green Movement being a majority of Iranians who wanted to return to the days of freedom and liberty for their people, days unwitnessed since the Iranian Islamist revolution that delivered the non-native Islamist mullahs to power.

But in the days after the 2009 elections in Iran – an election declared rigged by everyone short of the ethically ambivalent Jimmy Carter, when the basiji and secret police were murdering freedom protesters in the streets, even as they screamed out in every avenue of communication possible for US assistance, Mr. Obama dashed the hopes of the Iranian freedom fighters. With the simple statement that the United States did not want “to be seen as meddling” in the disputed Iranian presidential election, Mr. Obama extended a figurative middle-finger to those brave people literally dying in the streets of Tehran in a quest to be free of Islamist oppression.

Mr. Obama, with those simple words, abandoned the battle for liberty and freedom being waged by people yearning to be free.

Fast forward to the present day and yet another instance of a quest for freedom from the unjust and tyrannical, this time involving the imprisonment of a former United States Marine, if in fact, there can ever be anything a kin to a “former Marine.”

The Washington Times reports that in March of 2014, honorably discharged Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooresi was imprisoned, “for illegally crossing from California into Mexico with three firearms in his truck. The Marine maintains that he crossed the border by accident after making a wrong turn on his way to meet a friend. He faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted.”

Since that time Americans, of every political denomination, have urged President Obama to do something – anything – to secure the release of Mr. Tahmooresi, a veteran diagnosed with PTSD. Again, from The Washington Times:

“More than 134,000 people signed a petition on the White House’s ‘We the People’ website asking the president to demand the release of Sgt. Tahmooressi, who was imprisoned nearly five months ago for illegally crossing from California into Mexico with three firearms in his truck…

“‘As in all cases when a US citizen is arrested overseas, our goal is to see that Mr. Tahmooressi is treated fairly during the judicial process with the hope that he can receive the support, both emotional and medical, that he may require now and at the conclusion of the proceedings,’ the White House said in an official response Friday.

“‘Mexican authorities have been very willing to engage on this issue. They have provided prompt and continued consular access and visitations,’ the statement continued. ‘We respect the rule of law and expect the judicial process of sovereign nations to protect other US citizens who might find themselves in similar circumstances in the future. We will continue to monitor the case and work with the Mexican authorities as this case proceeds through the Mexican judicial system. We continue to urge the Mexican authorities to process this case expeditiously.’”

Once again, Mr. Obama conveniently abdicates his responsibility to champion those seeking freedom and liberty from the oppression of tyranny.

Did Mr. Tahmooresi cross the border into Mexico with those firearms? Yes, and realizing his driving error, he freely offered up the fact he had those firearms. He did not try to hide the fact that he was in possession of the weapons and did not obstruct the Mexican authorities at the border. What should have been an instance where the Mexican authorities refused entrance to Mr. Tahmooresi based on his possession of the weapons, became a political hostage talking, and a political hostage taking that the Mexican government (if that’s what you want to call what they have) knew full well they would get away with given Mr. Obama’s milquetoast response to those crying out for actual justice in instances of tyrannical oppression.

Is it any wonder why the overwhelming majority of active-duty military personnel believe that Mr. Obama does not have “their six”?

Rebuttal of Rand Paul’s straw man claims

ReaganPeaceQuote

The National Review has recently published an article by Sen. Rand Paul wherein the junior Kentucky Senator falsely claims that there is no room allowed for disagreement on foreign policy in the GOP; that we defense conservatives have a “either you’re with us or against us” mentality; that he’s displaying some foreign policy nuance and strategic ambiguity that we fail to appreciate; and then spends the rest of his op-ed railing against the Iraq war, quoting William Buckley’s opposition to it, as if it were the only thing he disagrees with defense conservatives on.

Needless to say, he’s dead wrong on all counts.

As I refute his claims, I shall speak directly to him in this article.

Senator, you claim that:

“You are either for us or against us. No middle ground is acceptable. The Wilsonian ideologues must have democracy worldwide now and damn all obstacles to that utopia.”

That is completely false. No conservative that I know of is saying that, or advocating that the US try to democratize the world (and BTW, THIS hawkish conservative is a sworn opponent of democracy.) Stop making straw man claims, Senator.

Perhaps you are confusing conservatives with the liberals in the Obama admin who, everyday, sip coffee in the WH, point their fingers at a world map, and say which country should be invaded next :)

As for the Iraq war, it was indeed an error, and I opposed it from the start. But your foreign policy differences with us conservatives hardly end with the Iraq war – they barely begin with it, contrary to your false claim that:

“Foreign policy, the interventionist critics claim, has no place for nuance or realism.”

No, Senator. What you are displaying is neither nuance nor realism. What you are displaying is a LIBERAL policy of appeasement of America’s enemies and support for unilaterally disarming the US, and when you are justly criticized for those policies, you backtrack somewhat, thus making yourself sound totally incoherent.

There is a BIG difference between nuance and incoherence.

You are displaying neither nuance or realism. You are displaying a staunch disagreement and break with the entire GOP and the entire conservative movement on the whole gamut of foreign and defense policy issues.

You support deep, crippling defense cuts, up to and even beyond sequestration. You claim defense spending hasn’t been cut nearly enough. You have railed on liberal TV networks against Republicans who disagree. You support closing virtually all US bases abroad (which are crucial for power projection and for reassuring America’s allies) and dramatically cutting equipment spending. You advocate containment of Iran.

You accuse Dick Cheney, most people on the Congressional defense committees, and anyone who advocates striking Iran, of being war-profiteering warmongers. You have claimed that sanctions provoked Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. You were one of the very few Senators to vote AGAINST sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, and one of only four GOP Senators (along RINO Dick Shelby, RINO Thad Cochran, and Nebraska’s Mike Johanns) to vote to confirm Chuck Hagel.

You have even claimed that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be a threat to the US or even to Israel. You also consistently oppose all of the Bush admin’s war on terrorism policies that have proven very successful in eliminating terrorists: drones, effective interrogation techniques, GITMO, and so forth.

In one of your recent op-eds for WaPo, just as Russia was beginning to invade Ukraine, you claimed Obama’s appeasement (reset) policy towards Moscow was working very well and “we ought to be proud of that”, and you blamed any troubles in the relationship solely on your fellow Republicans, whom you falsely accused of being “so stuck in the Cold War that they want to tweak Russia.” You whitewashed Russia and absolved it of any blame and urged Americans to be “respectful” towards Moscow.

No, Senator, you are not displaying any “nuance” or “strategic ambiguity” on foreign policy, you are displaying utter ignorance, recklessness, and incoherence at best, and your father’s repugnant Blame America First, Second, and Third beliefs at worst.

You have falsely claimed that your refusal to say clearly whether you would or would not rule out the containment of Iran amounts to “strategic ambiguity” and have wrongly invoked Ronald Reagan as someone who would’ve endorsed such lack of clarity.

Strategic ambiguity means being ambigous about the strategy you’ll employ to achieve your goals – but not about what the goals themselves are. Ronald Reagan was never unclear about those and articulated them clearly, in public and in private. His goal was nothing short of sending Communism and the Soviet Union “to the ash heap of history.”

Your lack of clarity on one of the most important foreign policy issues of our time – whether or not to try to contain Iran – has nothing to do with “nuance” or strategic ambiguity” and would send absolutely the wrong signal to friend and foe alike. America’s allies in the Persian Gulf would be in the dark on whether or not the US, under your leadership (should you be elected President), would stop Iran’s nuclear program. America’s foes would be emboldened by such lack of clarity and would continually test your – and America’s – patience with ever-graver provocations.

Fortunately, as AmSpec’s Jed Babbin says, you stand NO chance of ever getting elected President. A man of your extremely-leftist views stands zero chance of ever being elected President. No matter when you run, you will be justly clobbered, if not in the primaries then in the general election. Because even if you do somehow win the Republican nomination, you will definitely lose in the general election, as nominating you will disenfranchise tens of millions of pro-defense voters.

You might want to take that into account when you decide whether to run for President in 2015-2016 – which will be the biggest decision of your life.

Rebuttal of Tom Collina’s blatant lies about US nukes

nukeexplosion

Last week,the leftist Breaking Defense website published an utterly ridiculous screed by one of the most strident advocates of America’s unilateral nuclear disarmament, Tom Collina, the “research director” of the Arms Control Association, which advocates disarming the US unilaterally and foregoing the deployment of any missile defense systems. (The ACA is funded by several grant-awarding organizations which also advocate America’s unilateral disarmament.

In his screed, Collina makes a lot of lies, all of which, of course, are designed to smear nuclear weapons and mislead the public into supporting that treasonous goal.

Here’s his biggest lie:

“However, at a time of increasingly tight budgets, the more we spend on excess nuclear weapons the less will be available for what Ukraine and NATO need most: economic aid and conventional military assistance.”

Total garbage. Firstly, America does NOT have “excess nuclear weapons” – if anything, it has too few. Russia has a (slightly) BIGGER nuclear arsenal than the US, totalling 2,800 strategic and up to 5,700 tactical nuclear weapons. In fact, Russia has more nuclear weapons (8,500) than the US, Britain, and France combined (8,200). Sources: the Federation of American Scientists and SIPRI’s 2013 Military Balance.

Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal alone rivals America’s in size, and is complemented by “tactical” nuclear weapons, many of which (the warheads of Russian cruise missiles) can be delivered to the US (because the aircraft and nuclear-powered submarines carrying them can travel intercontinental distances). And these warheads are NOT subject to any arms limitation treaty.

Russia’s ICBM fleet alone can deliver at least 1,684 warheads to the US; Russia’s submarine fleet, another 1,400; and Moscow’s bomber fleet (Tu-95s, Tu-22Ms, Tu-160s), another 2,000 if need be.

On top of that, the US has to deter China, North Korea, and Iran. China alone has at least 1,600 nuclear weapons and continues to build that arsenal up.

Not to mention the fact that Russia, China, NK, and Iran are threats to many but protectors to nobody, while the US has to provide a nuclear umbrella to itself and to over 30 allies around the world, many of whom will go nuclear if the US fails to provide an adequate umbrella. (Already 66% of South Koreans want to do that; meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has ordered nuclear weapons in Pakistan and DF-21 ballistic missiles in China.)

No, Mr Collina, the US nuclear arsenal is not excessive at all – if anything, it is too small.

As for economic aid, that is an obsolete, socialist idea. Ukraine needs to revive its economy by implementing free market policies, NOT begging for handouts.

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned recently that “tough, tough choices are coming” if the Pentagon is forced to make deep spending cuts, as required by law. He may slash about 30,000 soldiers and retire an aircraft carrier.”

Excuse me? Those are supposed to be “tough choices”? Are you kidding me? Reducing the active duty Army to levels roughly equal to those of 9/11 and retiring a single carrier is not tough – it’s a no-brainer. It’s like picking the low-hanging fruit. (After Hagel’s cuts, the Army will be just slightly smaller than on 9/11, and the American people will have NO appetite or stomach for any more ground wars for a long time to come.)

Aircraft carriers are hugely expensive and extremely vulnerable, and their a/c have very little range. Flattops essentially provide NO return for the huge taxpayer investment they cost. I have already submitted an article dealing with this issue to Proceedings; it awaits the Editorial Board’s review.

It would be far better for the DOD to invest seriously in the single most reliable deterrent against aggression – the US nuclear umbrella – instead of blowing money on oversized land armies and very vulnerable flattops.

“As Crimea shows, these priorities are backwards. We must not allow our increasingly important conventional military forces to be undercut by excessive investments in nuclear weapons.”

Utter garbage as well. America’s conventional forces are not being undercut by the nuclear arsenal, whose total cost (ca. $32 bn per annum) is only 6% of the total military budget (roughly $600 bn in FY2014). Even eliminating it altogether would NOT save America’s conventional forces from sequestration. Sec. Hagel is absolutely right to make the nuclear deterrent a priority for the above reasons. As for conventional forces – don’t make me laugh. The unilateral disarmament movement, of which Collina is an active member, opposes BOTH America’s conventional and nuclear forces. The US nuclear deterrent is merely their first target on their way to disarming America unilaterally.

“And we don’t have to. The United States can stay at nuclear warhead levels set by the 2010 New START treaty and still save billions over the next decade by scaling back and delaying new delivery systems.”

Utter nonsense again. Firstly, New START levels are inadequate to deter Russia and China; second, New START is a worthless and treasonous treaty obligating only the US (not Russia) to cut its arsenal while Moscow is allowed to increase its own; and thirdly, Russia has cheated on EVERY arms control treaty it has signed, INCLUDING New START, as Bill Gertz has recently revealed in the WFB.

And “scaling back and delaying new delivery systems” would be utterly suicidal and a recipe for a Russian nuclear first strike. It would mean having far fewer systems (and thus a much less survivable arsenal), and NO new systems coming online for decades – at a time when existing delivery systems are already reaching the end of their service lives! This means, in practice, complete unilateral disarmament!

The Minuteman ICBM and air-launched cruise missiles will go out of service in the 2020s. The B-52 cannot operate in anything but friendly-controlled airspace. The Ohio class will start leaving service later this decade, and even under CURRENT funding projections, there will be a big gap in the SSBN fleet, with a low of just 10 boats in the early 2020s – unless the SSBN replacement program is hastened.

The cost of replacing them is not huge and will likely be far less than the $355 bn Collina falsely claims – but delaying it any further will significantly increase the price tag.

If a superior U.S. nuclear force did not restrain Moscow from annexing Crimea, how would an even larger force stop further Russian adventurism? It would not. The paradox of nuclear weapons is that they are too destructive to be used, so both sides are “deterred” from doing so.”

These are also blatant lies. The US nuclear arsenal, as proven above, is SMALLER and OLDER than Russia’s, and it was never intended or built to deter Russia from annexing… the Crimea, where it already had almost 30,000 troops and dozens of ships anyway. It was never intended to deter Russia from invading the Ukraine, which neither the US nor the EU had any intention of defending or supporting (and Putin knew it), a country the West has kept out of NATO and the EU and has essentially left to fend for itself.

Putin knew that the West would never offer more than verbal protests and tepid sanctions if he went into Ukraine. Which is why he did that. He knew that Ukraine was outside America’s security perimeter.

The US nuclear deterrent is intended to provide security for the US itself and for its NATO and non-NATO allies (e.g. SK, Japan) – and it has been doing that successfully, without any failure, ever since its inception in 1945.

And if nuclear weapons cannot deter Putin in the Crimea or elsewhere, conventional weapons – which have far less striking and thus deterring power – cannot do that, either. Is Collina suggesting the US deploy its soldiers in the Ukraine and used in a shooting war with Russia? Does he envisage US Army BCTs taking on Russian brigades? Because if he’s not, conventional forces are utterly useless in Ukraine.

As former US Strategic Command leader Gen. Kevin Chilton has stated, conventional weapons cannot replace nuclear arms as deterrents, because the former lack the overwhelming striking (and thus deterring) power of nuclear arms.

Collina also approvingly quotes former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, who has falsely claimed that:

“Nuclear-weapons enthusiasts seem to have an inexhaustible appetite for bad arguments.”

In fact, Western anti-nuke activists, the advocates of the West’s unilateral disarmament, seem to have an inexhaustible appetite for bad arguments, lying, and disarming their own countries unilaterally.

And while nuclear weapons might not be useful in Ukraine, there is little the US can do there anyway (who’s suggesting putting US conventional troops there?). But building up the US nuclear arsenal and accelerating missile defense deployment in Europe would do three good things:

1) Increase US and allied security by finally providing a bigger, more adequate, and modernized deterrent;

2) Finally showing strength to Russia after many years of appeasement and unilateral disarmament – which is what emboldened Russia to take one aggressive action after another, culminating in the invasion of Ukraine; and

3) Be a huge geopolitical, diplomatic, and prestige defeat for Russia, which strongly opposes both. It’s time to stop giving Russia what it wants. It would mean Russia has finally lost the veto on US and NATO security matters that Obama gave Moscow in 2009 by cancelling GBI missile defense deployment in Europe. Russia (and other aggressors and bullies) only understand the language of force, and they respect only those who are stronger than them. To deter Russia and have a better negotiating position vis-a-vis Moscow, the US needs to have stronger nuclear AND conventional forces.

BreakingDefense itself approvingly published Collina’s screed and falsely called him:

“Tom Collina, a respected expert in nuclear weapons and arms control…”

Balderdash. Collina is not a “respected expert” on anything, ESPECIALLY not nuclear weapons and arms control. He’s an ignoramus and an ideological advocate of America’s unilateral disarmament. Calling him an expert is an insult to every real expert out there. Being a longtime anti-nuclear activist does not make one an expert. And while I would not call myself one, I know far more about nuclear weapons than he ever will.

Shame on him for lying so blatantly and advocating America’s unilateral disarmament, and shame on BD for publishing his utterly ridiculous screed.

Obama Prays for Pastor Imprisoned in Iran- Calls for His Release

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Rev. Rob Schenck, who has worked with a team of Christian leaders seeking the release of Iranian born American pastor Saeed Abedini imprisoned in Tehran, was moved to tears at today’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington after President Barack Obama told attendees he joins in prayer on behalf of Pastor Saeed and called for his immediate release.

News Conference Details:

News Conference on Statement by President Barack Obama regarding Pastor Saeed Abedini

Today, Thursday, February 6, 2:00 PM
Cardozo Room-Washington D.C. Hilton
1919 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington DC 20009

Confirmed Speakers:
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Christian Defense Coalition

Rev. Rob Schenck, Evangelical Church Alliance

Invited Speakers:
Mr. Jordon Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice

Ambassador Suzan D. Johnson Cook, immediate past U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom

The President said from the podium at the Washington D.C. Hilton, “We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini who’s been held in Iran for more than 18 months, sentenced to eight years in prison on charges relating to his Christian beliefs, and as we continue to work for his freedom today, again we call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Abedini so he can return to the loving arms of his wife and children in Idaho.”

The President’s statement comes just days after Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition spoke face to face with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about Abedini’s plight, and after prior meetings involving Schenck and others with State Department personnel, including former Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney said, “The conversation I just had with a member of the President’s inner circle appears to have gotten through and for that I’m very grateful. There is more of this story to be told, but for now we pray the President’s call for Pastor Saeed’s release will prove immediately effective. The President is only reflecting what millions of Americans and others around the world have prayed for and demanded for too long. It’s time for Iran to act and free this innocent man… The faith community applauds President Obama for publicly standing for religious freedom and human rights.”

Rev. Schenck said, “This is the breakthrough so many have hoped for, prayed for, and worked for, for so long. This call by the President needed to happen. We are enormously relieved to hear it and thank the President for taking a risk in saying it publicly.”

Rebuttal of lies about US nuclear weapons and ICBMs

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For decades, leftist politicians, media outlets, and “arms control advocates” (read: advocates of America’s unilateral disarmament) have falsely claimed that the US nuclear deterrent is obsolete, unneeded, and unimportant. They have recently been joined by some pseudoconservative, pseudo-pro-military outlets such as the Air Force Magazine, the press organ of the Air Force Association.

Concurrently, for decades, Washington has carelessly and inexplicably neglected and underfunded the US nuclear deterrent, delaying its much-needed modernization until now, when the can cannot be kicked down the road any longer.

It is for THESE reasons, and not for the reasons the anti-military Left claims, that the US nuclear deterrent, or more specifically, its ICBM force, has witnessed a degrengolade in the last few years, with over 30 officers suspended or fired for cheating on tests (or tolerating cheating by others), a few others arrested for drug usage, and a two-star ICBM general punished for binge-drinking in Moscow.

It is precisely because of over two decades of unceasing leftist propaganda about the supposed obsolence and uselessness of the nuclear deterrent, unceasing Leftist attacks on it and proposals to cut or eliminate it outright, and because of over two decades of underfunding and neglecting the nuclear deterrent, that the ICBM force is showing such rot.

For over two decades, the nation has been (wrongly) telling the young men and women maintaining and operating America’s ICBMs, bombers, and ballistic missile subs that their mission doesn’t exist, their work doesn’t matter, and their tools of trade are useless (which, BTW, couldn’t be further from the truth). Guess what? Those young folks’ morale and motivation for work have collapsed – and consequently, so have their work ethic and standards.

As for drug and alcohol problems, these – like cheating on tests and tolerating cheating by others – are nothing but simple reflections of the American society as a whole. They’re commonplace in the entire US military – which is nothing but a reflection of the society it serves. And that society is, to be blunt, morally degenerate and rotten to the core.

Lexington Institute COO Loren Thompson, Ph.D., who taught nuclear deterrence issues at Georgetown some years back, says the ICBM force’s rot may have something to do with the forementioned dismissal and neglect of the nuclear deterrent.

Excuse me? It has EVERYTHING to do with that dismissal of the need for, and the neglect of, the nuclear deterrent.

The Real Causes of the ICBM Force’s Rot

The Air Force personnel who operate these missiles – the missileers – no longer feel appreciated, no longer believe their mission is vital, and thus, no longer feel the need to perform it to the best of their ability. And they know that these days, in an era of universal deceit, when the entire nation is deluding itself that it no longer needs nuclear weapons, being a missileer is a career killer.

This is a total contrast to the Cold War years, when the Air Force had a Strategic Air Command, controlling all of the nation’s ICBMs, bombers, tankers, and even some escort fighters. It was almost a shadow state within the Air Force, a powerful, awesome, and unstoppable military force all by itself, wielding far more ICBMs and bombers than the USAF does today.

On paper, it was just a part of the Air Force – but it was its most important component by far and THE crown jewel of all military commands. The dream of every missileer and bomber pilot during the Cold War was to end up commanding the SAC. SAC was not just a hugely important command in and of itself – several of its leaders, from Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay to John D. Ryan to Larry D. Welch – ended up serving as Chiefs of Staff of the whole Air Force.

Thus, the job of a missileer, and of a bomber pilot, carried enormous prestige and gave young officers great career prospects in the Air Force – up to and often including the top position in the USAF.

Leftist anti-nuclear hacks, such as Joe Cirincione and AP reporter Robert Burns, falsely claim that the ICBM force is rotten because it’s “an outdated command wielding outdated weapons” and that its mission no longer exists. The Air Force Magazine’s chief editor, Adam J. Hebert, has also falsely claimed that there is no clear or significant nuclear threat facing the US and that therefore further reductions in America’s nuclear deterrent are “inevitable.”

All of these are blatant lies.

Clear and Present Danger

The nuclear threats facing the US are clear, many, and grave, and thus the need for a large US nuclear arsenal is very real. In fact, that need is now greater than ever.

Russia has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (of which at least 1,500 are operationally deployed right now, and the rest could also be deployed at any moment) and 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons – 6,800 nukes in total (the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates Russia’s nuclear arsenal even higher, at 8,800 weapons).

Russia’s ICBM fleet alone can deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; Russia’s 251 strategic bombers (Tu-95, Tu-22M, Tu-160) can deliver well over 1,700; Russia’s 13 ballistic missile subs can deliver another 1,400 to 2,000, depending on the missile type. On top of that, Russia has attack and cruise missile submarines also armed with nuclear-tipped missiles – all of which can also be delivered to the US, and Russian subs have, in recent months, indeed been prowling US territorial waters.

China has at least 1,600, and possibly up to 3,000, nuclear weapons, according to General Viktor Yesin and Dr Philip Karber (the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist under Ronald Reagan, the last time US nuclear policy was made by sane people). To deliver them, China has at least 87 (and probably many more) ICBMs, 6 ballistic missile submarines, 440 nuclear-capable aircraft, over 100 medium-range ballistic missiles, and over 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles, as well as hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles.

Neither Russia’s or China’s nuclear arsenals are at a standstill. Both are undergoing rapid modernization and expansion.

Russia intends to procure 400 new ICBMs and is currently developing three new ICBM types (the Sarmat, the Rubezh, and the Yars) as well as a pseudo-ICBM (really an IRBM) to evade INF Treaty limits. It has recently tested IRBMs in blatant violation of that treaty. It is also fielding two new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (the Layner and the Bulava, carrying 12 and 10 warheads, respectively), building a new ballistic missile submarine class, and developing a new long-range bomber, the PAK DA.

China is now procuring two new ICBM types (the DF-31A and DF-41), two new MRBM types (the DF-21 and DF-25), building two new ballistic missile submarine classes, and developing a stealthy intercontinental bomber capable of hitting the CONUS, as well as two new, longer-ranged variants of its standard sub-launched missile, the JL-2, whose current range is 8,000-9,000 km; the Chinese want to extend that to 14,000 kms, which will allow their submarines to threaten all of the US while sitting in their homeports.

Not only do Russia and China wield large nuclear arsenals, they’re also quite willing to use them against those whom they perceive as weaker than them. Russia has threatened to aim or launch its nuclear weapons at America or its allies on at least 16 separate occassions in the last 16 years. It has recently deployed Iskander short-range ballistic missiles to Poland’s borders. In the last 2 years, starting in May 2012, it has repeatedly flown nuclear-armed strategic bombers close to and sometimes into US and allied airspace, and even that of neutral countries like Sweden – twice!

China has recently removed any mention of its former “no-first-use” policy from its defense policy papers, and in recent months, OFFICIAL Chinese state media, including the virulently anti-American Global Times, have posted maps of the US showing what deadly nuclear strikes could China unleash upon the US with its JL-2 and DF-31A missiles. Chinese state-owned media gleefully and openly commented on how many millions of Americans would die in Chinese nuclear strikes on the CONUS.

These are the principal adversaries America must confront and deter. No amount of “arms control” or smooth-talking or diplomacy will do. Only a large, diverse, powerful nuclear arsenal, operated by people whose mission is appreciated, can protect America against these threats.

On top of that, the US must also deter North Korea and Iran. The former already has nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to the CONUS, the latter is well on its way to acquiring that capability.

In fact, the “moderate” Iranian president Rouhani openly claims that the West’s recent deal with Iran signed in  on the subject of the Iranian nuclear program is a “capitulation” to Iran by Western countries. (He’s actually right – the deal is nothing but a shameful surrender.)

Defending America’s Allies is in America’s Own National Interest

On top of that, the US must provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but also to over 30 allies and friends around the world, from Canada, to Israel, to Persian Gulf allies, to Poland, to South Korea and Japan.

Many of these allies will have no choice but to develop their own nuclear weapons if the US continues cutting its nuclear arsenal. They cannot afford to, and will not, bet their security and their very existence on America breaking free of its “disarming ourselves will make us safer” delusion – or on such delusions and constant cuts in the US nuclear umbrella increasing their security.

Already, Saudi Arabia possesses DF-3 missiles bought from China and has ordered nuclear weapons in Pakistan, and 66% of South Koreans want their country to have its own nuclear deterrent. Japan is ready to develop one, too – it has a facility capable of producing enough material for 3,600 nuclear weapons in a year if need be.

That would make the nuclear proliferation problem much worse than it already is.

ICBMs Are Crucial – And Very Cheap

And as for ICBMs supposedly being obsolete and too expensive, they are anything but. They cost the DOD only 1.1 bn dollars to maintain and can, thanks to their large number (450, sitting in hardened siloes) absorb even large nuclear blows and still retaliate against an enemy. Only Russia or China could even attempt to destroy them. They have a readiness rate of 99% and can hit any target in the world.

They contribute mightily to nuclear deterrence and stability, and thus to US, allied, and world security.

If ICBMs are really “obsolete” and “expensive weapons, someone better tell that to the Russians, the Chinese, and the Israelis!

Because all of them possess, and continue to develop and build, such weapons.

How To Restore Order And Excellence In The ICBM Force

So how to restore order and excellence in the ICBM force, and the broader nuclear force? That’s easy – it’s just that Washington politicians are unwilling to do so, and the advocates of America’s unilateral disarmament will be dead set against this. But this must be done nonetheless. US, allied, and global security depends on America taking the following steps:

1. Draw up a proper national defense strategy which will prioritize countering nation state threats, especially those posed by Russia, China, and North Korea, over all other aims, and will designate nuclear weapons as the primary means of deterring and defeating these threats – just like nuclear weapons occupy the central place in Russia’s current military doctrine.

2. Publicly proclaim that maintaining and revitalizing all three legs of the nuclear triad, as well as the warheads and the associated facilities, is and will be one of the DOD’s top priorities, and assign funding accordingly. (It will, in any case, cost only 6-7% of the total US military budget to modernize the nuclear deterrent, at between 31 and 35 bn dollars per year out of a 600 bn total military budget.)

3. Withdraw from the New START treaty and reject any calls for any further cuts in the US nuclear deterrent.

4. Publicly proclaim that any attack by Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran against the US or any of its allies, including Israel and its Persian Gulf allies, will result in a massive nuclear retaliation by the US.

5. Publicly proclaim that service as a missileeer and as a bomber pilot is a very noble and glorious service to the Nation and underline its importance to global security. Award medals for long, distinguished service in those roles.

6. Redesignate the Air Force’s Global Strike Command as the Strategic Air Command and restore the old SAC’s logo and motto. Give missileers and bomber pilots a clear, achievable career path to the positions of SAC Commander, AF Chief of Staff, and Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, so that the job of a missileer and that of a bomber pilot will be a very attractive career (as it deserves to be), and not the career killer it currently is for missileers.

7. Strict discipline through punishments needs to be instituted across the entire military (not just the ICBM force), ESPECIALLY towards senior officers.

In sum, nuclear disarmament advocates’ claims are all blatant lies, as always. The need for a large nuclear deterrent, and for the US nuclear triad, is greater than ever because of the threats from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Advocates of America’s disarmament, in and out of government, have, however, been vehemently denying the existence of these threats, and inexplicably neglected the US nuclear deterrent. THIS is why that deterrent is wearing out – as is the morale and work motivation of USAF missileers.

CNS and Cirincione are lying; America needs a LARGE nuclear deterrent

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The leftist, California-based “Center for Nonproliferation Studies” and the also leftist, Democrat-run CBO have recently released rigged “studies” claiming that nuclear weapons modernization and maintenance will cost the US $355 bn over the next decade and$1 trillion over the next 30 years.

These figures are wildly exaggerated and not based on any accurate statistics, and their purpose, of course, is to propagandize and mislead the public and the Congress into foregoing the US nuclear deterrent’s modernization – thus allowing it to decay and rust out due to old age. In other words, these leftists want to disarm the US through nonmodernization and nonreplacement of its nuclear deterrent – by simply allowing it to decay without refit or replacement.

Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione, a radical anti-nuke leftist activist whom Frank Gaffney has often humiliated on TV, goes even further and demands deep cuts to America’s nuclear deterrent right now. He falsely claims that the deterrent is still configured to prevent a massive nuclear attack by Russia and not to counter 21st century challenges. He falsely claims further that “configuring” the nuclear arsenal to counter “21st century threats” would permit radical, deep cuts in that arsenal.

All of these are blatant lies. I’ll show you why. I’ll start with why the US needs to maintain a large nuclear arsenal and modernize all of its legs.

So why exactly?

Because the 21st century threat environment – the very environment Cirincione claims to be concerned about – requires a large, modern US nuclear arsenal.

The biggest threats to US security by far are Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran (in that order). Nothing else comes even close to posing as much a security threat as these four hostile dictatorships. Specifically, it is their military buildups, and particularly their nuclear programs, that pose the biggest threat to US, allied, and world security.

Russia and China both have large nuclear arsenals. Moscow has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (according to the Federation of American Scientists), of which 1,500 are deployed and 50 further will be soon, and around 4,000 tactical nuclear warheads (many of which can be delivered against the US). To deliver them, Russia has over 410 ICBMs, 13 ballistic missile submarines, 251 strategic bombers, and around 20 attack submarines capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles anywhere in the world. To deliver its tactical warheads, Russia has those attack submarines plus short-range ballistic missiles, attack aircraft, surface warships, artillery pieces, and IRBMs such as the Yars-M.

China has at least 1,600, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, according to former Russian missile force chief Gen. Viktor Yesin and Georgetown Professor Philip Karber (who was the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist under President Reagan). To deliver them, Beijing wields 75-87 ICBMs (and is adding more every year), 120-160 strategic bombers, 6 ballistic missile subs, over 120 MRBMs, over 1,200 SRBMs, and 280 tactical strike aircraft. Note that China, like Russia, is adding more nuclear weapons and delivery systems every year.

Both Moscow and Beijing are now growing and rapidly modernizing their nuclear triads: they are developing, producing, and deploying next-generation ICBMs, ballistic missile subs, and bombers. Both of them are now developing stealthy intercontinental bombers capable of hitting the US, as well as rail-mobile ICBMs.

To cut the US nuclear arsenal any further, let alone deeply, in the face of these aggressive Russian and Chinese nuclear buildup aimed exclusively at the US and its allies, would be utterly suicidal and indeed treasonous. It would openly invite a Russian or Chinese nuclear first strike on the US.

That’s because, in order to be survivable and credible, a nuclear arsenal MUST be large – no smaller than the enemy’s. Otherwise, it will be very easy for the enemy to destroy in a preemptive first strike, and even without one, it will be too small to hold most of the enemy’s military and economic assets at risk.

Moscow and Beijing not only have large nuclear arsenals, they’re quite willing to use them. In fact, in the last 7 years, Russia has threatened to aim or use nuclear weapons against the US or its allies on 16 separate occassions, and in the last 2 years has flown nuclear-armed bombers into or close to US and allied airspace. In May 2012, when its bombers overtly practiced a nuclear strike on Alaska, the Russian Air Force said to the press it was “practicing attacking the enemy.”

Not only that, but in its military doctrine Russia openly claims a right to use nuclear weapons first – even if the opponent does not have any nuclear weapons!

Moreover, the US now has to deter not only Russia and China, but North Korea and Iran as well.

On top of that, the US has to provide a credible nuclear deterrent not only to itself, but to over 30 allies around the world: all NATO members, Israel, Gulf countries, and Pacific allies such as the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea. These allies are watching the state of the US nuclear arsenal closely and will develop their own if the US cuts its umbrella further. Thus making the problem of proliferation – which the CNS and Ploughshares falsely pretend to be concerned about – that much worse.

The truth is that the need for a large nuclear deterrent, and the nuclear triad, has never been greater. America needs them now more than ever. In this 21st century threat environment marked by three (soon to be four) hostile nuclear powers, two of them with large nuclear arsenals, it would be utterly suicidal and foolish to cut the US nuclear arsenal further, let alone deeply so.

OK, but what about the cost?

The cost isn’t – and will not be – nearly as high as the CNS and the CBO falsely claim. It will amount to roughly $200 bn per decade according to the DOD and the Air Force Global Strike Command.

But even if one accepts the CBO’s exaggerated figure of $355 bn per decade, that still amounts to only $35.5 bn per year, out of a total military budget of $607 bn in FY2014. That is a paltry 5.8% of the military budget.

Anyone who claims that America cannot afford to invest 35.5 bn per year – a meager 5.8% of its military budget – in modernizing its nuclear deterrent (its most valuable shield against aggression) – is an idiot or a deceitful, lying bastard.

In fact, even the leftist Center for Nonproliferation Studies admits in its “study” that even at the peak of US nuclear modernization efforts, the US will devote only 3% of its military budget to nuclear modernization. Which means 97% will be spent on non-nuclear programs. And that’s during the peak years of nuclear modernization efforts. The CNS says such proportions would be similar to those seen under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s – the last time the US modernized its nuclear deterrent.

(Indeed, if the cost of nuclear modernization seems great, it is precisely because of the many decades of nonmodernization, neglect, precipitous cuts, and underfunding of the US nuclear arsenal. These many decades of neglect have consequences, and the bill for these three decades of negligence has now arrived.)

Furthermore, the CNS itself admits that the US spends only 8 billion dollars per year maintaining its nuclear triad. This is consistent with USAF figures, according to which ICBMs cost only $1.1 bn, and bombers only $2.5 bn, per year to maintain.

But the CNS and other leftist organizations – such as the ACA and the CLW – still have the nerve to claim that nuclear modernization, and in particular Ohio class submarine replacement, “threatens to jeopardize the rest of the fleet.” This is a blatant lie, considering that by their own admission nuclear modernization, even at peak years, will consume only 3-6% of the total military budget.

The fact is that America’s nuclear weapons budget and modernization programme is, and will certainly remain, way too small to threaten any conventional programs.

On the contrary, it is conventional weapon programs’ escalating costs that are threatening nuclear modernization. For example, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, will cost $12.8 bn by the time it’s completed, and the next carrier, the Kennedy, will cost $10.8 bn. The tri-service F-35 Junk Strike Fighter program will cost an astounding $391 bn to develop and procure!

The Navy could save itself a lot of money, and be able to buy lots of different ships (including new SSBNs) if it ended its obsession with hyperexpensive and vulnerable aircraft carriers, cut its carrier fleet, invested more in submarines, and dramatically cut its internal bureaucracy – ESPECIALLY at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which procures ships.

The fact is that the US nuclear modernization program is perfectly affordable, cheap, and absolutely necessary in light of the nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Therefore, the claims of the CNS, the ACA, the CLW, Ploughshares, and other leftist, anti-nuclear organizations are utterly false, as always.

House GOP Has Nothing to Offer Conservatives

GOP surrenders principlesHere’s the situation: You’re in a high–stakes negotiation with an untrustworthy opponent. The opposition has violated every agreement the two of you have made in the past. Enforcement mechanisms are weak or non–existent.

In other areas of mutual interest your opponent regularly violates the law and dares you to do something about the violation. Your weak and vacillating leadership can’t be counted on in a pinch. And finally, the opposition lies shamelessly to the state media, doing its best to paint you as a fanatic and pathological liar.

So what do you do?

Bomb Iran is a good answer, but it’s not the answer for this question, because I’m talking about negotiating a budget deal with Democrats.

The Republican House leadership decision in this case was to sell out their conservative base in a brazen attempt to insure their own re–election at the expense of the nation’s fiscal future.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R–WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D–Sneakers) have presented us with a plan that shatters the spending ceiling that was the main result of the bruising sequester fight, dilutes the small budget cuts from the sequester and raises taxes (Ryan calls it a “fee” but if the feds get more money and it comes from our pockets it’s the same as a tax).

Ryan even has the gall to say the deal will balance the budget in ten years and sidestep the threat of government shutdowns in January and October 2014.

And those dates are what are really important for craven House negotiators. In fact, the real motivation for the deal is Ryan’s shutdown statement. House Republicans still think they suffered a near–death experience in the recent government shutdown. But instead of seeing Jesus and a bright light, they saw a Mayflower moving van and a bright white resume. For them if it’s a choice between selling out to the Democrats and losing their cushy Congressional job, sellout is just another word for job security.

The risk of a potential shutdown in January and October of an election year was simply too much uncertainty for these stalwarts to bear. So instead of simply passing a continuing resolution as has been done for the past few years and keeping the sequester savings, Ryan decided to remove all uncertainly and cave in this year.

Ryan and Speaker Boehner (R–Risible) think they can get away with this lie to conservatives because the result of increased federal spending and budget busting won’t have the personal impact on voters that Obama’s insurance lie had. You don’t get a letter from the government cancelling your future. You get a Chinaman repossessing the Washington monument.

The rationalization for this total surrender is threefold according to our betters: The agreement restores some defense spending reduced by the sequester, cuts the budget and brings the entire budget into balance in ten years.

Let’s start at the top. Ace negotiator Ryan was able to restore $2 billion in Pentagon spending next year in return for letting Democrats increase wasteful social spending by $ 22 BILLION! That’s a ratio of 11 to one in welfare to warfare spending.

The sequester was bad enough — defense took half the cuts, while social spending took the other half spread over countless pointless programs — but this disaster in multiplication makes that deal look positively prudent.

Second the budget cut. I admire Ryan’s poker face as he announced $26 billion in cuts over ten years. This means the federal government will be cutting $2.6 billion a year out of a budget that’s over $1 trillion! For comparison purposes, the city of Washington, DC spends more than $2.6 billion in four months. In 2012 the IRS issued $11 billion in fraudulent income tax refunds. In the same year the government wasted $95 billion in programs identified by the Government Accounting Office that duplicated other wasteful government programs.

In federal terms, Ryan’s $2.6 billion is pocket change.

Finally, the budget balances in ten years. This is not because spending will finally be brought in line with revenue, which is how individuals balance budgets. No, Ryan is hoping that federal tax revenues will grow enough through a recovering economy to finally match the spending right now. In the other nine years the deficit continues to pile up.

This is like a drunk driver careening the wrong way down the interstate hoping his blood will absorb enough of the booze for him to regain control before the car hits the bridge abutment.

David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director who saw firsthand how Republicans agreed to increase taxes for Democrat spending cuts that never came, says, “First, let’s be clear—it’s a joke and betrayal. It’s the final surrender of the House Republican leadership to Beltway politics and kicking the can and ignoring the budget monster that’s hurtling down the road.”

Earlier this week reporter Paul Kane of The Washington Post seemed confused that TEA party members were mounting challenges to incumbent Republican senators. The answer is simple; conservatives have no reason to support big government incumbentcrats, regardless of whether they are Senators or Congressmen. Keeping the likes of Boehner or Ryan or Orrin Hatch in office is not the be all and end all of our existence. If nothing else even an unsuccessful primary can be a wakeup call for these whited sepulchers.

Why fight for them if they won’t fight for us? Why waste the gas necessary to drive to the polls to vote for these weaklings?

The only difference between these Republicans and Nancy Pelosi is we go broke slower and there’s a slim chance we won’t have to attend a same–sex marriage ceremony to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Retreating to a compound in Idaho is looking better and better. And since Janet Reno is no longer attorney general, we might even survive until the Chinese foreclose.

Obama Makes A Deal With Iran

From The White House:

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Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by President Barack Obama on First Step Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Today, the United States – together with our close allies and partners – took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.
Since I took office, I have made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  As I have said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we have extended the hand of diplomacy. Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community.  So my Administration worked with Congress, the U.N. Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.
These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged.  I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall.  Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s Foreign Minister.  And we have pursued intensive diplomacy – bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5+1 partners: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.
Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure – a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.
While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.  Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment, and neutralizing part of its stockpile. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges—which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited.  Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor.  And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.
These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.  Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.
On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions.  We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions.  But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously.  And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six month phase, we will turn off the relief, and ratchet up the pressure.
Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution. We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding: Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy.  But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.
In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to. The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be for exclusively peaceful purposes. If Iran seizes this opportunity, the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect. But if Iran refuses, it will face growing pressure and isolation.
Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today.  Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress.  However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions – doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies, and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.
That international unity is on display today.  The world is united in support of our determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Iran must know that security and prosperity will never come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons – it must be reached through fully verifiable agreements that make Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons impossible.
As we go forward, the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitment to our friends and allies – particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions.
Ultimately, only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program.  As President and Commander in Chief, I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. However, I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict. Today, we have a real opportunity to achieve a comprehensive, peaceful settlement, and I believe we must test it.
The first step that we have taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we have made with Iran since I took office. Now, we must use the months ahead to pursue a lasting and comprehensive settlement that would resolve an issue that has threatened our security – and the security of our allies – for decades.  It won’t be easy.  Huge challenges remain ahead.  But through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.
Conference Call:
Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on First Step Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Via Conference Call
11:34 P.M. EST, November 23
MS. HAYDEN:  Hi, everyone.  Thanks for joining us tonight.  We really appreciate your patience.  I know this is starting a little later than we had hoped, but hopefully everyone got a chance to see Secretary Kerry speaking in Geneva.  That’s what we were waiting on.
Tonight’s call is on background with senior officials.  So there’s no embargo on this call.  Again, the call is on background.  These are senior administration officials.  And with that, I’ll hand it over to senior administration official number one.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, everybody, for getting on the call.  And again, thanks again for waiting.  We were letting, of course, Secretary Kerry complete his remarks in Geneva.
I’ll just make a few opening comments here.  I know you have the fact sheet, but I think it’s still worth running through some of the key elements of the agreement.  And then my colleague will speak to the sanctions piece of our policy, as well as the limited relief in the agreement.
First of all, it’s important to understand that this builds on a several-year effort, one of the leading priorities for President Obama, which is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  And the P5-plus-1 is the forum through which we negotiate with the Iranians, and this, as the President said, is the most meaningful agreement we’ve reached with the Iranians since we took office.
We have described this as a first step towards a comprehensive agreement, and it’s a first step in that it halts the progress of the Iranian program, rolls it back in some important respects, but then provides a six-month window for us to test whether we can reach a comprehensive agreement.
Why a first step agreement?  We believe it’s very important that Iran not be able to make progress with its nuclear program during the course of the negotiation.  One of the concerns in the past has been that Iran would use the cover of a negotiation to advance its program, and indeed were we not to reach this type of agreement, six months from now Iran could make significant progress in increasing its stockpiles and selling advanced centrifuges, moving towards bringing their reactor in Arak online.  That is the outcome that we prevent with this agreement, by halting the progress of the program and rolling it back.
I’ll now just go through the elements of the first step. Then my colleague can speak to the relief.  Then I’ll say a few words about the comprehensive solution that we’re seeking.  Then we’ll take your questions.
First of all, Iran has committed to halt all enrichment above 5 percent and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5 percent.  Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near 20 percent uranium, and this is, of course, what has been of principal concern to us in terms of their stockpile.  It will dilute below 5 percent, or convert to a form that is not suitable for further enrichment, its entire stockpile of near 20-percent enriched uranium before the conclusion of this six-month phase.
So just to go through those elements specifically:  Iran will also not install additional centrifuges of any type.  Iran will not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.  Iran will leave inoperable roughly half of all centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordo so they cannot be used to enrich uranium.  Iran will limit its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines so that Iran cannot use the six months to stockpile additional centrifuges.  And Iran will not construct additional enrichment facilities.
Iran will also commit to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5 percent stockpile.  And this is an important point, because not only are they neutralizing the 20-percent stockpile, they, at the end of the six months, cannot have increased their stockpile of 3.5 percent.  So that allows for the rollback on the 20 percent and the halting of any increase in the 3.5 percent stockpile.
Furthermore, Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak, and to halt progress on its plutonium track.  Specifically, Iran will not commission the Arak reactor. Iran will not fuel the Arak reactor. Iran will halt the production of fuel for the Arak reactor.  There will be no additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.  Iran will not install any additional reactor components at Arak.  Iran will not transfer fuel and heavy-water to the reactor site.  Iran will not construct a facility capable of reprocessing.  And without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.
So just to pause here, there are essentially three different pathways towards a bomb that have been of concern to us.  One is the 20 percent enrichment stockpile — the 20 percent stockpile of enriched uranium.  That goes away with this agreement at the end of the six months.  The other is the combination of the 3.5 percent stockpile together with the advanced centrifuges that Iran has developed should they install them and move to break out.  That is halted with this agreement, because they can’t grow the 3.5 percent stockpile or install those advanced centrifuges.
And then the third track that we were concerned about was the Arak reactor.  And this would give them a new pathway to having a heavy-water reactor, a plutonium track towards a weapon. That is halted.
So these are very important concessions and the most significant progress that has been made in halting the progress of the uranium program in a decade.
Along with those agreements come an unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of the Iranian program.  Iran has committed to daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordo.  This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring.  This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and, of course, shorten the detection time for any noncompliance, so, therefore, also, getting eyes into those facilities in a way that would immediately detect any effort to break out or, of course, violate the agreement.
The IAEA will also have access to centrifuge assembly facilities, also, to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities, and also access to uranium mines and mills.  So, importantly, these are not just inspections and access to the nuclear facilities; we also have access to the production facilities, whether it’s a centrifuge production facility or even the raw materials at the uranium mines and mills.  This is much more extensive monitoring than we have today, and it is a significant portion of this agreement.
Furthermore, Iran has agreed to provide design information for the Arak reactor that we have sought for a long time.  This will give us insight into the reactor that that has not been previously available.  They will also provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor, and they will provide certain key data and information that is called for in the additional protocol to Iran’s IAEA safeguard agreement and, in modified code, 3.1.
So, again, taken together these verification steps will allow us, of course, to detect any Iranian noncompliance with the agreement, will allow us to have unprecedented access to their facilities, and frankly, will allow us to learn a lot more about the Iranian program and its various elements.
The IAEA will perform many of these verification steps consistent with their role in Iran, but in addition, the P5-plus-1 in Iran have committed to establishing a joint commission that will work with the IAEA to monitor implementation and address issues that may arise.  So this joint commission will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s activities at Parchin.  So, importantly, over this course of several months, we will be getting together those questions that we have about any potential military dimension associated with Iran’s activities.
So, taken together, again, a halt of activities across the Iranian program, a rollback in certain important elements, and extensive and intrusive monitoring.
With that, I’ll turn it over to my colleague to walk through the relief piece.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  And good evening, everybody.  I want to describe the contours of the limited relief in this deal, which we assess is worth at most about $6-7 billion.
The components are as follows:  We will pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales.  This means Iran’s oil exports will remain steady at their current level of around 1 million barrels per day, which is down 60 percent since our oil sanctions took effect in late 2011.  And with one exception, the revenue that Iran earns from these sales over the next six months will continue to be restricted by our sanctions, meaning that those funds will not be available to Iran for repatriation or cross-border transfer.
The one exception is that we will allow Iran to transfer $4.2 billion in revenue from these sales in installments over the six-month period.
We will suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports.  This could allow Iran to generate some revenue, which we estimate to be a maximum of a billion dollars in new revenue over the six-month period.  We will suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s trade in gold and precious metals.  There is no economic value to Iran from this provision because Iran will have to spend its limited unrestricted foreign currency for any gold purchases. Iran cannot use restricted oil earnings to buy gold.
We will suspend U.S. sanctions on exports to Iran’s auto industry.  This could provide Iran some marginal benefit on the order of about $500 million if Iran is able to resume its prior levels of production and revitalizes its auto exports.  However, Iran’s auto industry suffers from many problems beyond sanctions, many of which would have to be solved for Iran to benefit from this provision.  Moreover, Iran would need to use some of its limited foreign currency to pay for car kits it would import from abroad.
We will allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds overseas directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.  We will license safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines, and we will establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade in food, agricultural commodities, medicines, and medical devices for Iran’s domestic needs.  Humanitarian transactions have been explicitly exempted from sanctions by Congress, so this channel will not provide Iran access to any new source of funds.
Finally, to the extent permissible within our political system, we have committed to refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.  That does not prevent us from implementing and enforcing our existing nuclear-related sanctions, which, of course, we will do, or from imposing new sanctions targeting Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism or its abysmal human rights record.
Let me just make a few additional comments.  First and most importantly, this relief is limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible.  It is designed so that the core of our sanctions, the sanctions that have had a tremendous bite — the oil, banking and financial sanctions — all remain in place.  So in that very important respect, this deal is limited.
It is temporary in that the relief automatically expires at the end of six months.  It is targeted in that it allows Iran access to a set amount of funds in a controlled and controllable manner, and to permit specific additional commercial activity with quite limited upsides to the Iranians.  It does not allow any open-ended financial or economic activity.
And it is reversible.  If Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, the financial component, which is doled out in increments, can be turned off, and the sanctions that have been suspended can be put right back in place.
Second, the relief that Iran gets under this agreement is insignificant economically.  The total maximum value of this deal, as I said, is about $6 billion to $7 billion.  Compare that to the economic distress that Iran currently faces.  Over the past year, Iran’s economy has contracted by more than 5 percent. It’s currency, the rial, has lost around 60 percent of its value against the dollar since 2011.  Inflation is about 40 percent.  Iran is in a deep recession.  Because of our banking sanctions most of Iran’s major banks, including its central bank, are unable to transact internationally.  And because of our financial sanctions, the vast majority of Iran’s $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are restricted or inaccessible.
Iran’s oil exports currently average only around 1 million barrels per day.  That, as I’ve noted before, is down 60 percent, from an average of about 2.5 million per day in 2011, and is costing Iran today about $5 billion per month in lost sales.  In fact, over the past two years, Iran has lost about $100 billion in oil revenue due to sales it has not been able to make.  That is lost revenue that Iran will never recoup.
None of this changes with this deal.  In fact, looking ahead during the six-month duration of this first step deal, our oil sanctions alone will cost Iran around $30 billion in lost revenues, or close to $5 billion per month.  And as for the oil revenue that Iran will earn during this time, those funds will continue to be restricted in overseas accounts due to our existing sanctions.
So just looking at oil revenue alone, Iran will actually be worse off at the end of this six-month deal than it is today.  Its restricted foreign reserves will continue to grow and its budget gap — estimated to be about $36 billion — will not be closed.  What’s more, the relief I just described is the sum total of the relief.  All the rest of our sanctions remain in place and will be zealously enforced.
So, in addition to the sanctions that limit how much oil Iran can sell, our sanctions against the central bank of Iran and approximately two dozen other major Iranian banks and financial actors remain in place.  Those banks will continue to be de-SWIFTED — that is unable to access the SWIFT international financial messaging service.
Our key secondary sanctions that threaten to cut off from the U.S. any bank that does business with designated banks, individuals and entities in Iran remains in place.  Sanctions on the over 600 individuals and entities targeted for supporting Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile program remain in effect.  Sanctions on several sectors of Iran’s economy, including shipping and shipbuilding, remain in effect.  Sanctions on long-term investments in or providing technical services to Iran’s energy sector remain in effect.
The longstanding and broad U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran remain in effect, depriving Iran of access to virtually all dealings with the world’s biggest economy.  All U.N. Security Council and EU sanctions remain in effect.  And all of our targeted sanctions related to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, its destabilizing role in the Syrian conflict, and its abysmal human rights record, among other concerns, remain in effect.
And one final point.  We will in utmost good faith work to deliver our commitment under this agreement.  If Iran lives up to its obligations and commitments, it will get the benefit of its bargain.  But at the same time, we will not turn a blind eye to sanctions evasion, circumvention, or any other attempts to take advantage of this situation by anyone or any person or any entity anywhere.
As I just described, the vast bulk of our sanctions remain in place.  And as the President said just this evening, you can be sure that we will enforce those sanctions vigorously.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  I’ll just say a couple of comments quickly about the comprehensive piece, and then I know we’ll want to get to questions.
So, first of all, essentially what happens now is we have with this framework in place six months to see if we can negotiate a comprehensive resolution.  It’s an important point that this is an agreement that will have a duration of six months, and it would only be continued if it was mutually agreed upon.  So there is an expiration date as it relates to the terms of the first step, unless there is either a comprehensive resolution agreed to or there is a mutually agreed decision to continue.
In terms of the end state, we do not recognize a right for Iran to enrich uranium.  That is a specific issue that has, of course, at stake in the negotiation.  What we are going to explore with the Iranians and our P5-plus-1 partners over the next six months is whether there can be an agreed upon comprehensive solution that assures us that the Iranian program is peaceful.
And with respect to that end state, there are many issues that will have to be addressed.  I would note that in the agreement it is made clear that Iran will have to address the outstanding U.N. Security Council resolutions in which they have previously claimed to be illegal throughout the course of that negotiation.  So there is not an end state that can be arrived at unless we address those U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Moreover, nothing is agreed to with respect to the end state until everything is agreed to.  So when it comes to the various components of an end state, including those alluded to in the document today, which we can discuss, those are not agreed to unless we actually reach an comprehensive resolution that, again, gives us that assurance that the Iranian program is peaceful.
However, we have an opportunity here, as the President said — our goal has always been to resolve this issue peacefully through a diplomatic resolution, both because we believe that that is the more durable way of solving the problem, because diplomacy allows you the assurance that you have an agreement that is verifiable and puts limits and constraints on the Iranian program that can be checked over time; and similarly, because, of course, the enormous costs and consequences that would come with any potential military action were it to come to conflict.
So this is an opportunity that we aim to seize, but we have no illusions that it will be easy to do.  These are going to be tough negotiations, but we’re going to give it our very best shot.
And with that, we’ll move to questions.
Q    Thanks very much.  How real is the danger that the sanctions regime would have unraveled if this agreement had not been reached?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Scott, I’ll say one thing and then my colleague may want to add.  The purpose of sanctions were not to just have sanctions in place.  They were to change the calculus of the Iranian government.  We began to see that with the election of a new President who ran on a mandate to achieve sanctions relief through a more moderate foreign policy towards the West.  And we had an opportunity, the best opportunity we’ve had in five years, to test whether we could get an agreement through diplomacy.
We achieved that agreement in this third round of talks in Geneva.  It’s important to note that it isn’t simply the unilateral sanctions that have had a bite on the Iranian economy. What’s made a difference is countries around the world cooperating with the sanctions regime reducing their purchases of Iranian oil, for instance.  And that depended upon a great amount of political will from those countries.  But the reason that those countries cooperated with us is because they wanted to support a diplomatic resolution and because it was pretty clear to the world that Iran had been the recalcitrant party in previous negotiations.
Our point has been that were we to walk away from the table here, were we to move to additional U.S. unilateral sanctions before we had tested diplomacy, that the political will on behalf of our partners would have been tested in severe ways, and essentially, you could have seen an unraveling of the sanctions regime from those countries that felt like we were not negotiating in good faith.
And so the risk was that in refusing to test diplomacy, which was the purpose of the sanctions in the first place, the U.S. would have been alienated not just from our P5-plus-1 partners but from other countries around the world.  And that could have put at risk our ability to have the type of coalition we’ve had during enforced sanctions.
I don’t know if you have anything to add to that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, I think that’s exactly right.  The effectiveness of the sanctions regime that’s in place is not dependent solely on the force of our sanctions and the sort of coercive impact of our enforcement — although that’s obviously an important aspect of it — it’s also that we have galvanized the international community to join us in this effort, and so we have a great deal of voluntary cooperation and collaboration with others around the world.  And that depends in very great extent on the recognition that we are approaching this in a sensible way and not applying sanctions for sanctions’ sake.
And I think that there was obviously a danger — it’s hard to quantify, but obviously a danger if we discarded this opportunity and just moved to layering on additional sanctions unilaterally, that that important international coalition would not hold together.
Q    Thank you both very much for doing this.  What is your response to the arguments from the Israelis — and you’ll hear from the Prime Minister tomorrow, I’m sure — that this actually weakens our leverage because the sanctions were working, were getting Iran to be so serious, and now Iran knows and other countries know, and businesses around the world will know that Iran is going to be back in business and that they can start finding ways around the sanctions that have been so successful, that you’ll see this — you’ll see a big change in rial and you’ll see a lot more flexibility for Iran.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Andrea, to your question, I’ll say a couple of things, and I’m sure my colleague will want to add.
First of all, just to step back, we believe that this agreement aims to address a number of concerns that Israel has expressed over the years.  First of all, Israel has expressed concern that Iran could use the cover of negotiations to advance their program.  We are halting their program in its tracks and rolling back elements of the program while we test whether we can reach an agreement.
The Prime Minister has raised concerns in the past about the growing stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.  This would neutralize that stockpile, eliminating one of the most important paths that Iran could have towards a breakout to a bomb.
We and the Israelis were concerned about the Arak reactor coming online or a variety of reasons, including the fact that it would give them a plutonium track towards a weapon.  And we believe that this halts Arak in its tracks for the first time while we have the space to negotiate.
We had a tactical difference on this question of a first step or an end state agreement.  We, frankly, again, just believe that you weren’t going to get to an end state from a standing start, so we needed to put this in place to halt the progress of the Iranians while we negotiate that final step.  And we’ll consult with the Israelis.  And after every one of these negotiations, we brief our Israeli friends and I can tell you that Israel has been briefed by the United States on the elements of this agreement.
I’ll just say one comment on the sanctions before going to my colleague.  My quick comment would simply be I don’t think that this limited and reversible agreement suddenly makes Iran a good bet for businesses to invest.  The sanctions are still in place and the sanctions are still going to be enforced.  And even in the categories where there are these limited suspensions for a time-bound period of six months, that’s not exactly a fruitful climate for investment.
But I’ll turn to my colleague on that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’d make two points, picking up on the last one there.  Iran is not back in business and anyone who makes the mistake of thinking so I think will be met with some serious consequences.
The deal that was struck is very limited in terms of the additional business that Iran can engage in.  It’s able to sell petrochemicals and able to sell/export automobiles.  That’s it; full stop.  There’s no other business activity that is permitted under this first step deal with Iran.  And anyone who thinks they can now go in to develop Iran’s oil fields, go into shipbuilding, shipping with Iran, any of the other sectors that are subject to sanctions will I think swiftly come to realize that we are quite serious about maintaining — and robustly maintaining — the sanctions that are in place.
Secondly, with respect to the impact of this deal on Iran’s economy, as I noted before, we do not judge this to be economically significant.  The $6 billion to $7 billion maximum value of this deal — which I think probably overstates its actual commercial value — will be realized over the course of six months.  And in comparison to the hole that Iran’s in, its foreign exchange needs, which are more than 10 times that amount, its budget deficit, which is in the order of about $35 billion, this very limited package of relief will not move the needle economically for Iran.
Q    Just a question.  I want to clarify the right to enrich piece.  The Secretary said earlier that there is no right to enrich in the document.  But we’ve heard that some of the Iranian officials are claiming there is if not an explicit right to enrich, then an implicit right to enrich.  Can you tell me exactly what the document says or doesn’t say?  And is it an issue for the next round of negotiations if the P5 is claiming there isn’t a right to enrich and the Iranians are claiming there is a right?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, that’s a good question, Mark.  The Iranians have asserted this, as you know, for some time.  And it is just the fact that as a matter of policy, the United States has not recognized a right to enrich for the Iranian government, nor do we intend to.  The document does not say anything about recognizing a right to enrich uranium.
In terms of the end state, what essentially the next six months will determine is whether there can be an agreement that deals with the Iranian program and gives us an assurance that the Iranian program is peaceful; an agreement that puts limits and constraints on the Iranian program and that has strict verification measures so that we have a certainty that Iran cannot use that program to develop a nuclear weapon.
We would have to negotiate over the course of those six months whether that can be achieved with some type of limited enrichment capability for the Iranians.  But the point is that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.  So there is nothing in this agreement that gives Iran something in terms of the end state that they can hold onto unless all of our concerns are met, with Arak, with Fordo, with Natanz, with strict limitations and constraints on the type of program that the Iranians have and with verification measures.
So that’s what the next six months are going to be about:  Can we define what an end state is that is mutually agreeable to the P5-plus-1 and the Iranian government.  That won’t involve a recognition of a right to enrich from us because we just simply do not recognize that there is a right to enrich for Iran under the NPT.
So that’s what will have to be explored over the next six months of negotiations.  We’ve also — just to make a couple of points I referenced earlier — made clear that the U.N. Security Council resolutions must still be addressed and that is something that Iran will have to deal with over the course of the next six months; and similarly, that Iran must come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA.  So those aspects of Iran’s commitments to the international community hold and will have to be addressed.
But we’ll see whether we can achieve an end state agreement that allows for Iran to have peaceful nuclear energy, an access to peaceful nuclear energy and clearly some domestic component of a nuclear program that provides for that peaceful nuclear energy with constraints and limitations and verification measures that are acceptable to us so that we have the certainty their program is peaceful.
And so again, that’s precisely what the negotiation will be about over the next six months.  But it does not enshrine any right for the Iranian government to enrich.
The other thing I’d just reiterate that I said earlier is that this first step agreement is not a permanent state.  This has a six-month expiration date on it unless we get a comprehensive resolution, or unless there is a mutually agreed upon decision to continue the negotiation with this first step in place beyond that timeline.
So again what that means is Iran cannot point to anything in this first step agreement as some type of permanent acknowledgement of their current nuclear capability.  It is not a new status quo.  It is a first step that is giving us the time and space to negotiate that entity.
Q    Thanks for doing this call at this late hour.  There is an Associated Press story that has just come out in the last several minutes that said there were some high-level talks going on in the months preceding this agreement and obviously the months preceding what took place in Geneva.  I was just curious if you can provide some details to the rest of us about that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure, Jim.  I was just made aware of that story.  I’d just make a couple of comments.  Number one, when President Rouhani was elected and indicated a new direction, we decided to take that seriously and to test it.  And that effort commenced with President Obama writing a letter to President Rouhani, which, of course, we have made public.  And that letter I think was delivered in early August.
The second point I’d make is the United States has always been crystal-clear that the P5-plus-1 is the venue for negotiations with Iran towards an agreement on the nuclear issue. At the same time, we’ve also made clear that we were open to having bilateral discussions with the Iranians to supplement and feed into those P5-plus-1 negotiations.  So, again, any discussions we had with the Iranians on a bilateral basis were meant to reinforce and ultimately be a part of the P5-plus-1 negotiations.
And some of this has been quite public.  President Obama spoke to President Rouhani.  Secretary Kerry has had bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister Zarif,  Wendy Sherman has had bilateral meetings on the margins of these P5-plus-1 talks.  In addition to that, we’ve also had a small number of bilateral discussions with the Iranians since President Rouhani’s election, again, with the aim of discussing ideas that could then be merged into the P5-plus-1 negotiations.
So over the course of the last several months of very intensive diplomacy in September, October and November of this year, we had some limited bilateral discussions with the Iranians in addition to the P5-plus-1 discussions that, again, were aimed at developing ideas that we could provide in the P5-plus-1 negotiations.  And then the text itself, importantly, was negotiated in these Geneva rounds with the P5-plus-1.
I’d also just add that our bilateral discussions with the Iranians insofar as they deal with substance — we brief our P5-plus-1 partners on it so that they have an understanding of any discussions we’re having, just as our P5-plus-1 partners can brief us on their discussions that they may be having with the Iranians.  We also keep our Israeli friends informed of our substantive discussions with the Iranians.  This is something that we brief them on just as we brief them on the content of the P5-plus-1 talks.
Q    I just wanted to be clear on the sanctions relief, I just wanted to hear your explanation for why you don’t believe that this requires any congressional authorization.  Can you just outline that a little and get, if I could, maybe your sort of outlook on the Hill, how you think this will be received and what sort of diplomacy the President needs to prevent sort of further sanctions in the coming months?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  A few points on that.  First of all, the sanctions that have been passed by Congress continue to be enforced, so it is not as if we need to unwind the legislative architecture of sanctions.  Again, this limited relief, as my colleague described, is very limited, reversible, and doesn’t dismantle in any way the architecture of sanctions we have in place.
With respect to new sanctions, the introduction of new sanctions would, we believe, derail the agreement, and we believe that people in Congress understand the importance of testing whether we can get to a comprehensive solution over the next six months.  And we have been having this discussion with members of Congress for several weeks now.  They’re fully briefed on what we’ve been discussing with the Iranians.  We’ve been making calls to the Hill tonight and will continue to do so in the coming days.
I’d just make a couple points about that.  First of all, if the Iranians violate the agreement, or if we can’t reach a comprehensive resolution, we have said that we will move to additional sanctions.  So we are open to working with Congress in the event that this agreement is violated, or that we get to the conclusion of this six months and we don’t have a deal and we don’t believe that we should continue negotiations.  So that will be an ongoing discussion with Congress.
But I’ll let members of Congress speak for themselves.  What I would say is I think most members of Congress have been clear that they do believe that this issue should be resolved peacefully through diplomacy, and that they have been key partners with us in providing the sanctions regime that brought us to where we are today.  And as the President said, we wouldn’t be here without these sanctions.  They helped bring Iran to the table.  But I think members of Congress also understand that a peaceful outcome to this is far preferable to the alternative, and that’s why we’re going to continue to test this over the course of the next six months.
And we’ll have to continue to make our case to Congress, but, again, I think the broad majority of members of Congress would agree that a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear program is in the U.S. interest, and that using the sanctions as leverage in those negotiations rather than doing anything that would derail the negotiations is similarly in the U.S. interest.
We have time for one more question.
Q    Hi, gentlemen.  Thanks for doing the call.  I wanted to just clarify, on Israel, has the President spoken with Netanyahu one-on-one about this tonight, and do you have any assurances from the Israelis that they’re not going to do anything within the next six months?
And then I have a technical question.  Can you give us any detail on the EU lifting insurance and shipping sanctions on oil spills?  We know a little bit about that from the Farsi version of the deal, but it’s not in your fact sheet, so if you could help with that that would be appreciated.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’ll take the first question, and then my colleague can take the second one.
With respect to Israel, you can be sure that President Obama will speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and in fact, we have every expectation that he will do so tomorrow — or maybe I should say today, since it is already Sunday.  We brief the Israelis after every one of these rounds of discussions.  And the President has had basically five years of conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu on this subject.
And let me just say this.  We understand that there have been some differences, but we share the same objective here, which is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  That’s in America’s interest; that’s in Israel’s interest; that’s in the world’s interest.  That’s what this is about.  And we work through these issues in a spirit of great candor and we have dialogue at every level — from the President to the Secretary to our negotiator, and also in our security establishments, military and intelligence — a very regularized dialogue with the Israeli government.  And we will continue to do so.
And again, ultimately, we understand and appreciate why Israel is particularly skeptical about Iran, given the threats that have been made about Israel from Tehran.  We understand why Israel would want to make sure that this is the best deal possible, and make sure that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon.  One point we’d make is this is not simply about trusting the Iranian government.  There are strict verification measures through these intrusive inspections involved in making sure that Iran is meeting its commitments under this agreement.
I would say that what we have now is a six-month period to test whether the new leadership in Iran continues to follow through on their commitment to move Iran in a new path.  The Iranian President has said they will not develop a nuclear weapon.  The Supreme Leader of Iran has said that there is a fatwa to development of a nuclear weapon.  What we will know after six months is whether there can be a solution that is enshrined in an agreement that gives us assurance that their program is peaceful.  That would be good for the United States; that would be good for the world; and we believe that would be good for the security of Israel, for our Gulf partners and for the region.
And we’ll just conclude with my colleague taking your second question.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, and just very briefly, the relief provisions in here, to the extent that there is additional business activity, also cover associated services.  So I assume that the — I haven’t seen the Farsi version myself — that it was referring to that, to the associated service.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, everybody, for getting on the call.  Something tells me this won’t be the last time we’ll be talking to you about Iran over the course of the next six months.  I just want to say, I know that this won’t be news to you that I think this, but I hope that we all at the very least appreciate the negotiators for the United States — John Kerry, Wendy Sherman, and the whole crew out there in Geneva who have been — who are up at 6:00 a.m., still working, and have been literally working harder than anybody that I’ve seen over the course of my time in government — of course, with the exception of our servicemen and women who are deployed.
But they have done extraordinary work.  They’ve been tireless.  And they have the personal — the President is personally grateful for what they’ve done, and holds them in tremendous esteem for their efforts on behalf of this agreement for the United States.
Thanks everybody.
END
12:16 A.M. EST, November 24
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