National Security

Framework for Iran Deal Collapses

To everyone but Barack Obama, this will come as no surprise.

Michael Swartz · Apr. 10, 2015

To those with common sense, and to those who have followed the continuing comedy that is our nuclear negotiation with Iran, this will come as no surprise. But it seems the Obama administration was caught flat-footed when it was learned that the Iranians expect all economic sanctions against them to be lifted once a deal is concluded in June.

Even more grating to Iranian leaders, the American summary of the deal states that “sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.” For that, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali “Yes, Of Course, Death To America” Khamenei claimed the fact sheet was “wrong on most of the issues.” Of course, Khamenei also revealed he “was never optimistic about negotiating with America,” and this tends to reflect our opinion about Iran as well. Yet the Obama administration is choosing to believe that the sheer force of their negotiating skills can keep Iran one year away from going nuclear for the next decade.

Skeptical as well, for different reasons, are former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. They penned a stinging op-ed in The Wall Street Journal dismantling the deal. In it, they noted, “Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony.”

The pair also point out that the two sides have divergent interests elsewhere, even when ostensibly working together as they are against the Islamic State. “Even while combating common enemies, such as ISIS, Iran has declined to embrace common objectives,” write Kissinger and Shultz. Iran’s goal in Iraq, for example, is one of spreading its influence all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, putting Israel in peril. On the other hand, one of the strategic interests to our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan was to place American allies to either side of Iran, which we’ve known to be a bad actor ever since the Shah was deposed in 1979.

That same grand game is being played in Yemen, which had often been touted as a success by the Obama administration until it no longer was successful or even a viable state. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are now the target of a Saudi-led coalition for whom we’re playing a minor support role.

Given the ramshackle framework for the current nuclear “deal,” it seems Iran is using its typical delaying tactics to edge closer to arming itself with nuclear weapons. The mullahs realize the sanctions won’t return once lifted, giving them a final victory in their quest to go from a rogue nation the world determined would never be nuclear to joining the North Korea club.

As for the rest of the region, Kissinger and Shultz warn the future’s not bright. “Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.”

Age-old differences in religious belief are one thing when fought with conventional armaments, but add nuclear weapons to the mix and the unthinkable becomes much more probable.

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