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Iran, Obama, Kerry and the tango of the impossible

During the last six years, criticism of Barack Obama has been so consistent, it can almost be called a new art form with the improvisational skills of fusion jazz and the morning regularity of a bodily function. I have never been partial to scatological references but the Republican brigades of pipe stoppers, arsonists, blind plumbers, hostage takers, extortionists, snake oil salesmen and bomb throwers have provided the president with the most death defying confidence course of all time. They simply can’t inspire more stylized metaphors. For a pack of barely animated Right Wing fossils, a more artful description defies Webster’s Dictionary and leaves the OED gasping.

John Beohner and Mitch McConnell have done nothing but stick their right legs out on their respective sides of their aisles, waiting for Obama to trip. The Commander in Chief, however, has shown the mobility of a Buffalo Bills era O.J. Simpson dashing through airports in those ancient Hertz Rent a car ads. They simply can’t touch him in his second term.

Fresh off the second SCOTUS affirmation of the Affordable Care Act and braced by the freshening breeze of universal marriage, Obama announced at 7 a.m. this morning that the Iran Deal was done. This six nation, slow motion tango, this international dousing of Teheran’s nuclear pretensions, appears to be zipping through its final printing. The US Congress stands ready for reflexive sabotage in Chicken Little mode. “Whatever deal comes out of this weekend is going to be dangerous for the United States and dangerous for the world,” said Republican, Tom Cotton, of Arkansas.

Note the complete absence of specifics in that statement. The GOP trying to digest facts is like a Koala bear bellying up to a pizza and Coke repast at Chuck E. Cheese. The little bear may try but it’s not going to end well. The Israeli spokesman in the video below mentions no facts and says only that the deal gives “legitimacy” to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Israel has earned the right to some paranoia but this agreement reduces near term nuclear capability, not the reverse. In exchange for lifting crushing international sanctions on Iran by the U.S. and the European Union, here are the basic points of the agreement and I am paraphrasing the information. Source – CNN Politics, 4/2/2015;

1. The amount of Iran’s centrifuges, key components to enrich uranium, will be reduced from 19,000 to 6,104. Only 5,060 of that greatly reduced number will be able to enrich uranium for the next ten years.

2. Uranium will only be enriched to 3.67 percent. That is enough for civil use but not enough to make a nuclear weapon. This will last for 15 years.

3. Iran will build no new uranium enrichment facilitates for 15 years and it will reduce its stockpile from 10,000 kilograms of low enriched uranium to 300 kilograms for 15 years.

4. The Fordow Nuclear Reactor will stop enriching uranium for the next 15 years.

5. In the words of the agreement, “Breakout Time”, or the time Iran would need to acquire enough material to build one nuclear weapon, would increase from between two to three months to one year. Iran would also have to provide access to all declared facilities.

6. The International Atomic Energy Agency must have access for inspections, including Parchin, a military facility tied to Iran’s nuclear program.

7. The U.S. and international community would lift nuclear and oil sanctions against Iran with the current sanctions being reimposed if Iran is found to have violated its promised actions.

This is only the basic framework and there is more to the agreement. The Republicans have already said that they would reject any deal but cobbling a veto proof majority to make their certain “Resolution of Disapproval” stick will be a very high hurdle to clear. It would take 67 Senate votes to threaten this deal and 13 Democrats would have to cross the aisle. The minority whip will be waiting to stop any funny business. The GOP has already sent their infamous letter, attempting to discredit Obama and undermine the Iran deal. Many in the GOP caucus are in denial about that. This is not news.

The Republicans are indeed the Party of No and only good for blind opposition. It is much better for the blind GOP to be the door stops instead of the visionaries. Being a visionary requires a working set of eyes and Obama has them. John Kerry has been an unspectacular but dogged tower of strength and has eclipsed Hillary, his predecessor, in these past 18 days alone. He has gone from a disillusioned young Vietnam veteran throwing his medals over the White House fence to a Secretary of State who has helped carve out a little hope in the burning Middle East.

Conversely, be it the domestic good or the international good, Republicans live to destroy any Democrat sitting in the Oval. Whether the nuclear clock ticks closer to midnight or not is not their concern. Living fossils never move forward but the nuclear clock does. The latter never runs out of power but the former needs winding.

There are worries aplenty ahead. Iran may be already dealing with Russia to get the weapons grade plutonium it needs to join the nuclear club and wave it over Israel. Iran is already funding and supplying sects and militias just over its borders to wage war and terrorism and diplomats do lie for living. What about ISIS? It will take a lot of faith and near limitless verification to make this work but the big victory here is to contain nuclear weapons, at least for a while. The Middle East has rightly been called the graveyard of empires. Ultimately, we may have to settle for making those graves without a mushroom cloud. At best, may we dare hope for a little better?

The only way to find out is to keep talking and more importantly, keep verifying.

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