Six nations reportedly agree on the framework of a deal that would ease international sanctions on Iran in exchange for its verifiable compliance with steps to prove it is not developing nuclear weapons.
Iran is rejecting the deal, but the the international discussions in Geneva, Switzerland, follow last last week's revelations that President Obama secretly eased U.S. sanctions aimed at Iran month ago. The framework adopted by the U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany would funnel billions in monetary assistance into Iran in exchange for promises to cease activities that could lead to nuclear weapons and allow a more open inspection process.
Obama's overture reportedly came as a result of a new tone offered by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani following years of inflammatory rhetoric from former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Chuck Nash is an expert on the Iranian nuclear threat. He told WND even starting down the road to a diplomatic agreement is a fool's errand.
"This is all about appearances," he said. "They will appear to be more open, but you cannot do a deal with the Iranians. They are totally untrustworthy. They have been since 1979. They are not changing. They are just wearing down our will."
Of the six nations, France seems to be driving the hardest bargain, demanding that Iran not enrich uranium beyond 20 percent. Nash said even that is giving away far too much.
"They should not be enriching any uranium. Reactors that are used for nuclear power burn three-and-a-half percent enriched uranium. Twenty percent is for medical isotopes, and that's what Iranians are claiming they need. Ninety percent, and you're talking weapons grade," said Nash, who noted that despite Iran's insistence the nuclear program is not for weapons, the facts to the contrary are very clear.
"They're building a plutonium reactor at the heavy water facility at Arak," he said. "You don't use plutonium in power plants. Plutonium is used for nuclear weapons. So the fact that we would allow them to do enrichment is against all the rules and treaties. Once you give into these people, they won't take an inch. They'll take a mile."
The talks come just a couple of weeks after an international experts reported that Iran could be within a month of having the enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon, and Israel reiterated that it would do what is necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran from becoming a reality.
So are the discussions timed to stall Israeli action?
"It very well could be because Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu once said, 'Leadership in the absence of a threat is very difficult, but leadership in the presence of a clearly defined threat is a no-brainer,'" Nash said. "He and the Israelis have been facing a direct, existential threat from Iran for many decades, and now they are on the verge of being able to produce their own nuclear weapons. And what they are not producing and what they are conducting inside the borders of Iran, they are working with the North Koreans and their research programs. It's not just static inside Iran. We have to look at what's going on in North Korea, because they are joined at the hip in these development programs."
Nash is especially incensed at Obama's secretive decision to ease U.S. sanctions against Iran earlier in the year.
"I am, quite frankly, beside myself with this, and I would hope that some of the senior leaders in the Congress would demand explanations because it does no good to show weakness in the face of a determined enemy. It only emboldens them," Nash said.
"Did the president bother to consult with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and similar committees on the House side? Or did he just take it upon himself to loosen sanctions these bodies had put on? The whole thing is very much up in the air, but it's an imperial presidency. We've seen it with domestic issues."
In addition to the potential delay in any Israeli military action, Nash sees another political explanation behind the recent talks in Geneva.
"We're tired. We once again have some domestic political issues here in the United States. The Europeans are dealing with a host of political issues there. I think the political class is looking for something they can write off as a victory," said Nash, citing a desire among all nations involved to avoid dismal economic news and mounting casualties in Afghanistan.
Since Iran is rejecting the deal, further easing of international sanctions are on hold, but Nash sees only bad developments ahead.
"If an agreement is reached, it will be an agreement that the West will adhere to, that the Iranians will cheat on and we will find out when they have a nuclear weapon when they set off their test device," he said. "And then it will be too late."