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Opinion: Columnists

Obama should release side deal with Iran on nuclear issue

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Opinion,Columnists,Jed Babbin,Iran,Nuclear Weapons,Foreign Policy

Since November, when the agreement with Iran on its nuclear weapons program was announced, confusion has reigned about the deal's real terms because there was a confidential side deal that accompanied the main agreement.

To this day, neither the American public nor the Congress has been privy to what the side deal really does.

As Hillary Clinton might say, what difference does it make? Well, a great deal because the Obama administration and the Iranian regime have made it clear that each has a very different interpretation of the main deal apparently because of variances in the side deal.

We have to be suspicious because in earlier side deals, such as the one accompanying President Obama's 2010 agreement with the Russians on nuclear arms limitation, Obama has not achieved U.S. goals. For decades before that, U.S. arms negotiators had insisted the nation's ballistic missile defenses would not count as limited nuclear offensive weapons. But in 2010, the side deal apparently made that concession, at least in the Russian interpretation of its vague language.

In the November agreement, in return for relief from international economic sanctions, Iran promised to stop enriching uranium, to dilute or otherwise render unusable its stock of 20 percent enriched uranium, to not install any more uranium enrichment centrifuges and to not commission its heavy-water facility at Arak.

But Iran's compliance with the agreement is apparently all in the minds of the Western negotiators. Iran supposedly "limited" the Arak facility to produce only a small amount of plutonium though we don't know if the limitation is enough to prevent the production of plutonium bombs. (Can there be any peaceful use for plutonium?) Iran has about 20,000 centrifuges operating and was supposed to reduce their number. But its "moderate" President Hassan Rouhani has said, "We are not dismantling any centrifuges. We are not dismantling any equipment."

Iran, according to a report last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is still refusing inspectors access to its most secret nuclear facility at Parchin.

U.S. and European Union negotiators hoped to include Iranian ballistic missiles in the nuclear weapons deal, but that suggestion was met with sturm und drang from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Last week, he was quoted as saying, "They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action." So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation.

Iran should be expected to violate the agreement just as the U.S. expects North Korea or any other rogue nation to. But why do they think they can get away with it? If we knew the terms of Obama's side deal with the Iranians, we might know.

Iran is playing a very smart game and we are enabling them to do it. They are waiting to actually produce the highly-enriched uranium needed to produce nuclear weapons, giving themselves the time they need to build defenses for their nuclear weapons facilities against attack that can prevent any nation -- at least any nation that isn't willing to use nuclear weapons -- from destroying their ability to produce those weapons.

In September 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United Nations that, "The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb." We are very close to that stage today.

Diplomacy must sometimes be done in secret as when a ceasefire is negotiated before a peace can be arranged. More often, it has to done in public because people are entitled to know when their leaders are making a deals that risk too much. This is a case of the latter.

Publish the side deal, Mr. President.

Jed Babbin served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and is a senior fellow of the London Center for Policy Research. He is also the author, with Herbert London, of "The BDS War Against Israel."
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Jed Babbin

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The Washington Examiner