Each passing day sees more resistance to the Obama Administration’s announced handover of Internet domain supervision to an as-yet undetermined global agency. There’s still plenty of support for the move as well, but the pendulum seems to be swinging against it this week.
“If the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet, it will be gone forever,” wrote Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
Castro argued that the world “could be faced with a splintered Internet that would stifle innovation, commerce, and the free flow and diversity of ideas that are bedrock tenets of world’s biggest economic engine.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, called the announcement a “hostile step” against free speech.
“Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the internet looks and operates,” she said in a statement.
It’s hard to argue with Mr. Castro’s point; there will be no way for the United States to regain oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers once it’s been handed off to some global body. And there are good reasons for Rep. Blackburn to worry about what the composition of that global body might be, as National Journal notes “China, Russia, Iran, and dozens of other countries are already pushing for more control over the Internet through the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency.”
The Administration has promised that it won’t accept foreign governments controlling ICANN, and has specifically promised the International Telecommunications Union won’t be involved. And we all know how calmly and logically these decisions tend to be made, once they’re handed off to the “international community.” Just look at how swimmingly the United Nations’ effort to halt Russian annexation of Crimea is going!
It’s somewhat annoying to hear American supporters of the ICANN handover doing their level best to validate the narrative that their own country can no longer be trusted with oversight of the Internet, while actual users point out that U.S. supervision has been working out quite well, as in these quotes from a Politico story:
If the agency hadn’t relinquished its oversight, the ITU could continue to argue that ICANN functioned as a pawn for the U.S. government, said former Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who oversaw the Energy and Commerce subcommittee with jurisdiction over ICANN. “This will reduce the level of global controversy.”
The uncertain path forward still has some in the business community concerned.
“I don’t see how the future ends up being better than the last decade of responsible stewardship by the U.S.,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of the trade association NetChoice, which counts Yahoo and Facebook as members. “Once the contract leverage is gone, what’s to prevent ICANN from being more significantly influenced by [specific] governments… The devil is in the details.”
So let’s hear those iron-clad, foolproof plans to keep authoritarian regimes from getting their hands on ICANN once America casts it adrift into the uncertain waters of the international community.
Iran now has all the technical infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons should it make the political decision to do, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a report to a Senate intelligence committee published Wednesday. However, he added, it could not break out to the bomb without being detected.
In the “U.S. Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment,” delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper reported that Tehran has made significant advances recently in its nuclear program to the point where it could produce and deliver nuclear bombs should it be so inclined.
“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas – including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles – from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”
In the past year alone, the report states, Iran has enhanced its centrifuge designs, increased the number of centrifuges, and amassed a larger quantity of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride. These advancements have placed Iran in a better position to produce weapons-grade uranium.
“Despite this progress, we assess that Iran would not be able to divert safeguarded material and produce enough WGU [weapons grade uranium] for a weapon before such activity would be discovered,” he wrote.
He said the increased supervision and other “transparency” to which Iran has agreed under the new interim deal, reached with the world powers in Geneva in November and finalized last week, could offer earlier warning of a breakout to the bomb. Should Iran cooperate with the interim deal, halt enrichment, and “provide transparency,” then “This transparency would provide earlier warning of a breakout using these facilities.”
Clapper told the Senate committee that the interim deal will have an impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program’s progress and “gets at the key thing we’re interested in and most concerned about,” namely, Iran’s 20 percent enriched uranium.
Iran had also worked hard to advance its program at the Arak heavy water facility, wrote Clapper. Its ballistic missiles, he noted, of which it has “the largest inventory in the Middle East,” are “inherently capable of delivering WMD.” And its space program gives it the means to develop longer-range missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. But he noted that Iran’s overarching “strategic goals” were leading it to pursue the capability to do so.
The national intelligence director reiterated that imposing additional sanctions against Iran would be “counterproductive” and would “jeopardize the [interim] agreement.” He advised that additional sanctions against the Islamic Republic should only be kept “in reserve.”
The report was released a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the interim nuclear agreement only set back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program by six weeks.
“This agreement merely set Iran back six weeks – no more – according to our assessments, in relation to its previous position, so that the test, as to denying Iran the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, has been and remains the permanent agreement, if such [a deal] can indeed be achieved,” Netanyahu said at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Last Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of mischaracterizing the terms of an interim nuclear deal. “We did not agree to dismantle anything,” Zarif told CNN.
Zarif repeated that “we are not dismantling any centrifuges, we’re not dismantling any equipment, we’re simply not producing, not enriching [uranium] over 5%.”
The six-month deal freezes key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, while allowing limited enrichment to continue, in exchange for some economic sanctions relief. It went into effect on January 20.
The next round of international nuclear negotiations with Iran is expected to be held in New York next month, according to officials involved in the planning.
Israel has threatened to attack Iran should it not back off from its alleged pursuit of a military nuclear capability.
On Tuesday, UN nuclear inspectors arrived in Tehran to visit Iran’s Gachin uranium mine for the first time in several years, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. The visit was part of the framework of a separate deal between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency in November.
Less than a month after it was hailed as “a great diplomatic coup,” the so-called Geneva accord to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions seems to have come unstuck.
The official narrative in Tehran is that Iran signed nothing. “There is no treaty and no pact,” says Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, “only a statement of intent.”
Originally, Iran’s official media had presented the accord as a treaty (qarardad) but it now refers to a “letter of agreement” (tavafoq nameh).
The initial narrative claimed that the P5+1 group of nations that negotiated the deal with Iran had recognized the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium and agreed to start lifting sanctions over a six-month period. In exchange, Iran would slow its uranium enrichment and postpone for six months the installation of equipment for producing plutonium, an alternate route to making a bomb. A later narrative claimed that the accord wasn’t automatic and that the two sides had appointed experts to decide the details (“modalities”) and fix a timetable.
On Sunday, an editorial in the daily Kayhan, published by the office of “Supreme Guide” Ali Khameini, claimed that the “six month” period of the accord was meaningless and that a final agreement might “even take 20 years to negotiate.”
It was, therefore, no surprise that Iran decided to withdraw its experts from talks in Geneva to establish exactly how to implement the accord. “Now we have to talk about reviving the talks on modalities,” says Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.
Translated into plain language, the new Iranian narrative is that talks about implementing an accord that is not legally binding have collapsed and that, in the words of the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Ali-Akbar Salehi, there is no change in the rhythm and tempo of Iran’s nuclear project. “Our centrifuges are working full capacity,” Salehi said last Thursday.
Having claimed that he had halted Iran’s nuclear project, Secretary of State John Kerry might want to reconsider. He and his European colleagues, like many of their predecessors, may have fallen for the diplomatic version of the Three Card Monte played by the mullahs since they seized power in 1979.
Khomeinist diplomacy has never aimed at reaching agreement with anyone. Instead, the regime regards negotiations as just another weapon in the jihad (holy struggle) for ensuring the triumph of “true Islam” across the globe.
The regime can’t conceive of give-and-take and compromise even with Muslim nations, let alone a bunch of “Infidel” powers. If unable to impose its will on others, the regime will try to buy time through endless negotiations.
In Three Card Monte, suckers stay in the game in the hope of getting it right next time. A similar hope ensures outsiders’ participation in Khomeinist diplomacy’s version of the trick.
Thus Tehran has been in negotiations with Russia and three other littoral states over sharing the resources of the Caspian Sea since 1992. Talks with Iraq over implementing Resolution 598 of the UN Security Council and reopening the Shatt al-Arab border estuary have been going on since 2004. Other talks over sharing water resources have been going on with Afghanistan since 2003; talks over joint exploitation of gas resources with Qatar have been going on for 25 years.
And for more than 30 years, Iran and the United States have been negotiating the settlement of mutual claims in accordance with the Algiers accord of 1980.
The series of nuclear negotiations that started in 1993 resumed with the European Union in 2002 and have already taken four years in their current format, which opened in 2009.
The tactic of delay has several advantages for the mullahs.
First, hopes of a negotiated solution make it more difficult for anyone to advocate military action to thwart Tehran’s ambitions. As long as talks are going on, “all other options”, the cliché favored by President Obama, remain off the table.
Endless talks also force Iran’s adversaries are forced to sacrifice policy to process. Under the Geneva deal, for example, the US and its European partners not only set the military option aside, but also undertake not to impose additional sanctions. Instead of hiring expensive lobbyists in Washington, the mullahs can use Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Kerry to lobby Congress on their behalf.
The mullahs have reaped other benefits from their three-card trick. The perception that the crisis is cooling down has already halted the Islamic Republic’s economic free fall. The national currency, the rial, lost 80 percent of its value over four years, but now appears to have stabilized.
The mullahs also use the prospect of normalization, especially with the United States, to divert attention from their increasingly repressive rule. While Iranians are bombarded with talk of President Hassan Rouhani’s “diplomatic miracle,” an average of 10 people are executed in Iran every day.
Here is how Khamenei’s daily mouthpiece put it Sunday: “If our centrifuges do not continue to turn, no other wheel shall turn for our dignity, independence, power and security.”
The message from Tehran to Washington is clear: You talk, we act.
I would be very clear, not “clear” like Mr. Let Me Be Clear While I Lie Through My Teeth To You, but truly clear, especially to other nations.
To North Korea I would say, this. The next threat you issue towards us, or our allies will be taken seriously, and will result in your country losing a major military installation of our choosing. A second threat will result in, well, you might not want to even think about that.
To Hamid Karzai I would say. We are leaving, you are on your own, you will not place our military at a disadvantage with moronic rules of engagement that favor terrorists.
To Mexico I would say simply that we are going to seal our border and control who enters. Any group caught smuggling drugs into America will be found and eradicated by any means within our power to bring to bear. Also those drug cartels, which pose, in my view, a threat to Americans living in border states, will be dealt with by YOU, or I will confer with my military leaders and discern the most effective way to eradicate that vermin. And we will do so, and you will stay the Hell out-of-the-way.
To Iran a simple note would suffice. If you continue pursuing nuclear weapons, and thus posing a grave threat to us and our allies, I will not only support Israel in taking your capability out, but the United States military will be taking full part.
To China just this. Dear Chicoms, we will fly our fucking planes where we want WHEN we want, end of discussion! Oh, and about Taiwan, and Japan, do not even think about it.
Finally to the UN just a few words. Get you building the Hell out of America, YESTERDAY!
Ah those special fools, here they go again, seeking peace at any price. Deluding themselves into trusting evil people with evil intentions, to be honest and above-board. Here they go again with their clueless “if we are nice to them…..” strategy. Ed already blogged about this but I wanted to add my two cents worth. I remember watching Liberals in the mid 1970’s as they called for peace with the Soviets. We should cut our military, so as not to frighten the Soviets they opined. We must show them we mean them no harm they said. Even as a child, I was aghast that they did not see that the Soviet Union, and in fact all Communists were bad, very bad, and meant us no good will. I never grasped how anyone could look at a country that was our sworn enemy, a country that had enslaved other countries and committed horrific atrocities, and even consider bowing to them. Years later I still am amazed at the depth of the stupidity of the Left. These are folks who would not only buy ocean front property in Arizona, but demand to pay twice the asking price. The Other McCain has some thoughts
We need not know anything about the details of this “historic deal” to know that it is absolutely worthless. The Islamic Republic of Iran has no respect for law, and cannot be expected to honor any promise it makes, except for its long-avowed purpose to annihilate Israel, to destroy “the Great Satan” and otherwise to carry out its violent worldwide revolutionary jihad against the West.
All the Iranian dictatorship seeks to accomplish by negotiation with the West is to anesthetize its enemies, to render opposition impotent by means of treaties that will postpone the inevitable confrontation until Iran has become stronger and we have become weaker.
Any “deal” with Iran is necessarily a bad deal, and the double guarantee of a bad deal is that it was approved by the Obama administration, which is “historic” only as a monument to incompetence with few parallels in human experience.
“The practical way of looking at things . . . may serve well enough in ordinary, normal times. But our times are not ‘normal’ in the good old Victorian sense, and never will be again. . . . These men, even Halifax, were essentially middle-class, not aristocrats. They did not have the hereditary sense of the security of the state, unlike Churchill, Eden, the Cecils. Nor did they have the toughness of the 18th-century aristocracy. They came at the end of the ascendancy of the Victorian middle-class, deeply affected as that was by high-mindedness and humbug. They all talked, in one form or another, the language of disingenuousness and cant: it was second nature to them — so different from Churchill. . . . It meant that they failed to see what was true, until too late, when it was simply a question of survival.”
– A.L. Rowse, Appeasement: A Study in Political Decline, 1933-39
Maybe it is because the Left denies the existence of evil that they cannot recognize its presence, even when it is so blatant as to be unmistakable.
President Barack Obama agreed to loosen crippling economic sanctions on Iran’s theocracy and to release up to $7 billion in Iranian funds, in exchange for a promise from Iran’s theocratic leaders to not expand its nuclear bomb program.
In a late night speech, Obama suggested that the deal – signed in Geneva, Switzerland – would be ended or expanded after six months, depending on Iran’s decisions.
But critics, including Israel’s prime minister, say any loosening of the sanctions will likely spur a flood of international dealmaking with Iran, and increase lobbing pressure in numerous countries for an end to the sanctions long before Iran’s nuclear bomb program is dismantled.
The deal effectively creates a U.S. and European diplomatic shield around Iran’s nuclear sites, which are likely targets for an Israeli attack.
Israel’s government is responsible for defending its small nation and population of seven million from Iran’s government, which has repeatedly promised to wipe the country off the map.
GOP senators criticized the deal for not dismantling Iran’s program to build nuclear weapons. “Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care,” said a 10:15 pm tweet from Texas Sen. John Cornyn.
“The Geneva Agreement is a defeat for the United States and the West,” said a statement from the Emergency Committee for Israel. “It fails to uphold even the minimum demand of repeated U.N. Security Council resolutions that Iran must stop enriching uranium… Iran will continue its march to nuclear weapons, with perhaps a brief pause in some parts of the program… Congress should make clear that it does not support this deal… [and] Congress should make clear the United States will support Israel if Israel decides she must act to prevent a regime dedicated to her destruction from acquiring the means to do so.”
Iran’s government lauded the deal as international recognition for its expensive program to build a nuclear energy sector to complement its massive oil resources.
“It is important that we all of us see the opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons based on respect, based on the rights of the Iranian people and removing any doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“This is a process of attempting to restore confidence,” said Zarif, whose superiors repeatedly promised to wipe Israel off the map, have funded numerous killings of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, funded Hezbollah attacks on Israel and are providing Syria’s government with cash, weapons and soldiers for its civil war.
During the talks, Obama endorsed Iran’s nuclear industry, which the theocrats say is needed to produce electricity for a nation that also could also generate electricity fro its huge oil and natural gas resources.
Obama also acknowledged that Iran’s government has lied and cheated on previous deals.
“We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding: Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy,” he said. “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.”
Iran is also a threat to its neighbors, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has repeatedly hinted that it will build a nuclear force if Iran creates a nuclear weapon.
In a late night speech, Obama declared the international deal would open up a path for peace.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he said.
The terms of the deal “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” he insisted. “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.”
The deal blocks Iran from building many new centrifuges that are used to separate especially less radioactive isotopes of uranium from the more radioactive atoms that are used to fuel first-generation nuclear bombs, dubbed A-bombs.
If Iran actually complies with the deal, it would also prevent the Iranians from starting up a highly radioactive plutonium reactor at Arak. That plutonium reactor can make the highly radioactive fuel for second-generation nuclear bombs, dubbed H-bombs.
But the deal would not stop Iran from nearly completing the plutonium reactor during the next six month stage of negotiations.
Once the Arak reactor is turned on, any missile strike would release large amount of poisonous radioactivity into the atmosphere. The worldwide opposition to any radiation release would likely deter Israel or the United States from striking the reactor once the Iranians start it up.
“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” Obama said his his late-night speech.
“We have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back,” he said. “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… New inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments,” he added.