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December 4, 2013 2:32 pm

Kissinger, Shultz: Under Iran Deal, Previously Illegal Activity is Accepted as Baseline

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.

For 10 years, U.N. resolutions and International Atomic Energy Agency directives called for a full halt to all of Iran’s uranium enrichment and plutonium production, and unconditional compliance with nuclear inspections, but now, what “was previously condemned as illegal and illegitimate has effectively been recognized as a baseline,” former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz wrote in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

“And that baseline program is of strategic significance. For Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium is coupled with an infrastructure sufficient to enrich it within a few months to weapons-grade, as well as a plausible route to producing weapons-grade plutonium in the installation now being built at Arak,” the two experts in statecraft wrote of the recent agreement reached between wold powers and Iran.

They criticized the agreement for dismantling sanctions before a final deal was sealed, because of the signal that sent to global business leaders, who now perceive a rush to be among the first to re-enter the Iranian economy as the U.S. broadcasts its desire for rapprochement.

Both considered lions in the field of international relations, Kissinger and Shultz elucidate the history of Iranian double-speak over more than three decades:

For 35 years and continuing today, Iran has been advocating an anti-Western concept of world order, waging proxy wars against America and its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and beyond, and arming and training sectarian extremists throughout the Muslim world. During that time, Iran has defied unambiguous U.N. and IAEA demands and proceeded with a major nuclear effort, incompatible with any exclusively civilian purpose, and in violation of its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty in effect since 1970.

If the ruling group in Iran is genuinely prepared to enter into cooperative relations with the United States and the rest of the world, the U.S. should welcome and encourage that shift. But progress should be judged by a change of program, not of tone.

In their critique of the deal after a “decade-plus negotiating effort,” they write that world powers underplayed their hand, combining “steadily advancing Iranian nuclear capabilities with gradually receding international demands.” Without ever mentioning U.S. President Barack Obama or current Secretary of State John Kerry by their names, they cite administration spokesmen as heralding what the two experts described as the “modest benefit of the Geneva agreement,” lengthening Iran’s breakout time by “several weeks.”
Standing by itself, the interim agreement leaves Iran, hopefully only temporarily, in the position of a nuclear threshold power—a country that can achieve a military nuclear capability within months of its choosing to do so. A final agreement leaving this threshold capacity unimpaired would institutionalize the Iranian nuclear threat, with profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy and the stability of the Middle East.
Kissinger and Shultz also offered their own recommendations for how to conclude the talks:
Iran’s technical ability to construct a nuclear weapon must be meaningfully curtailed in the next stipulated negotiation through a strategically significant reduction in the number of centrifuges, restrictions on its installation of advanced centrifuges, and a foreclosure of its route toward a plutonium-production capability. Activity must be limited to a plausible civilian program subject to comprehensive monitoring as required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Like the survey of the American public published this week by the Pew Research Center, Kissinger and Shultz doubt Iranian sincerity and fear a looming nuclear arms race breaking out in the Middle East.

Any final deal must ensure the world’s ability to detect a move toward a nuclear breakout, lengthen the world’s time to react, and underscore its determination to do so. The preservation of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and the avoidance of a Middle East nuclear-arms race hang in the balance.

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  • Jacques

    Kissinger has millions of deaths on his conscience: Vietnam, Bangladesh, Chile, Cyprus, Timor. Some would like to have him judged for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He sees Iran as a threat, just as he did for Vietnam (over 3 millions deaths and counting…), while there’s absolutely no proof of the Iranian nuclear program being set to achieve weapon-grade uranium enrichment, said the IAEA officials, and even the CIA.

    Only Israel sees Iran as a nuclear danger, but only Israel has nuclear weapons in its arsenal in the whole of the Middle East, hundreds of them, built in secret against international laws, with the vectors to send them on any country of that whole region.

    Israel, the wolf, has been crying wolf against Iran for decades, while Iran has not attacked any of its neighbours for at least 200 years, say historians. Israel sure can’t claim such a peaceful attitude for itself about these neighbours, and even the US: Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, USA (USS Liberty), Turkey…

  • shoshana

    this situation reminds me of the 1938 Munich agreement with Hitler. Israel is the overtly aim of Iran’s atom bomb, of course all the middle east and the world also. and the world at large shuts up


      How about hundreds of Israeli’s atomic and nuclear war head arsenal?

  • Lawrence Kulak

    so do they really think that they are going to save the world by taking Kissinger and Shultz’s suggestions at the last minute? What if Iran refuses, do they think that the sanctions can come back fast enough to prevent a bomb? Military responses follow an entire sequence of disagrements and negotiation failures – not just one. The result will be a nuclearized Iran who will then await provocation. And there will be none. Now is the time, unfortunately for Israel to strike – and to strike hard. The world is well aware of Obama’s foolishness and cowardliness so this agreement is pretty much a non-sequitor as far as world opinion will go. And Israel WILL BE THANKED AGAIN.

  • Vivienne Leijonhufvud

    Glad to read one Journalist has been out to gather opinion from two powerful men who have been around since the fall of the Shah. These two statesmen certainly understand the intrigues of the double tongued Arab Iranian administration. Let us hope the current ineffective US negotiators take heed to the words of these two men.

    • shoshana

      yes but I am affraid it is too late

  • Emanuel

    Ahh Kissinger…it really is unfortunate that he chooses to tell this to the only one out of the past seven US administrations who won’t listen to him and is more in-line with the Iranians and jihadis. I have disagreed with a lot of Kissingers’ views and initiatives but not this one although I am afraid it falls on deaf or willfully blind ears. For someone who has consistently been very critical of Israeli policy it seems like he borrowed his arguments from Netanyahu this time. It is sad to see reasonably noble statesmen like Kerry and Kissinger be thrown into the mess this administration seems committed to make.