Friday, March 18, 2016

Smart Diplomacy in Action

I give you, Secretary of State John Kerry, super genius:

Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a speech at the Australian National University that Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted after the Iranian nuclear deal was signed last year, did not bar Iran from testing the type of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that it launched last week.

"It doesn't call upon Iran not to test ballistic missiles, or ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads ... it calls upon Iran not to test ballistic missiles that were 'designed' to be capable," Zarif said.

"That word took me about seven months to negotiate, so everybody knew what it meant," he said, referring to "designed."

Now that's smart diplomacy.

Our State Department agreed to Iran's wording that allows testing of "ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads." And our diplomats pretended that it doesn't mean what the Iranians say it means--and what the Russians agree with.

So Russia has all the excuse it needs to block action against Iran in the UN Security Council.

Best and brightest, indeed.

Have a super sparkly future Iranian nuclear missile day.

UPDATE: Remember, this is what the Iranians are getting away with scant months after the decade-long nuclear deal went into effect:

Iran and Russia are right. Or, at least, they are better interpreters of international law than the Harvard Law Review editor currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. After Iran test-fired multiple ballistic missiles last week, the Obama administration has been at pains to find a legal basis on which to condemn the launches and push for more international sanctions. They should have thought of that before negotiating away all meaningful international legal restrictions on Iran’s conventional weapons programs as part of last summer's nuclear deal.

Which begs the question of whether our vaunted Smart Diplomacy practitioners didn't see this coming or just pretended not to see it coming.

And ponder what Iran will do in the years ahead despite this faux deal that only pretends to slow Iran down on their nuclear path.

Then explain to me why Iran is spending money (thanks Iran deal, for releasing that money to help this project!) in Africa to gain favor with poor states who can push Iran's interests in the IAEA and on the Security Council, or who have nuclear materials?

A few years ago, I analyzed Iran’s extensive outreach into Africa. A few patterns emerged: Iran targeted its assistance to African states which sat as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council or in the IAEA Board of Governors. In effect, Tehran sought to buy their votes. Iran also provided aid in exchange for logistical bases or services, for example, in Djibouti, Sudan, or Senegal. Finally, a pattern existed — too extensive to be coincidental — in which Iranian authorities reached out to states which had significant uranium resources and which were building the facilities to bring those to market. Hence, Iran-Namibia relations were growing steadily.

Have a super sparkly, legacy-building day.