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National Security

Iran May Get Nukes but at Least Obama Has His Legacy

The deal with Iran accomplishes little but secure a "win" for Obama.

Jim Harrington · Jul. 15, 2015

In terms of implementing his agenda, Barack Obama has been the most successful president in history. In his first term, he socialized medicine and heavily regulated financial markets. As of this week, for his second term legacy, he secured a nuclear arms deal with Iran.

“Because of this deal,” he crowed, “we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region.” In fact the agreement represents nothing less than a complete surrender of America’s previous opposition to Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons, and it opens the door for a nuclear arms race.

After two years of enjoying Austrian hospitality, negotiators from the P5+1 (U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China) finished work on the Iranian nuke deal. But despite Obama’s claims that it prevents Iranians from building nukes, it does nothing of the kind. Some analysts even suggest it could be the worst international accord of all time.

As National Review’s David Adesnik notes, Obama “employed a good bit of strategic language to downplay pivotal concessions that may undermine all future inspections of covert nuclear sites.” Certainly more than we’ll ever learn about.

What follows are the deal’s main points.

(1) Obama suggests the deal’s strength is that it’s “built on verification” because “inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.” But Adesnik explains that it applies only to “facilities Iran has officially declared, a point Obama did not clarify. There is no 24/7 access for undeclared sites.” Obama claims that “inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location” and “the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary.” But the deal fails to fully define “necessary,” and the process for gauging it is a byzantine system of requests for Iran’s permission and time allowed for Iran to respond or offer counter proposals, followed by a referral to the new eight-member body called the Joint Commission, which will “advise” Iran on a solution.

If Iran choses not to allow requests, the process becomes even more tortured, moving to a “Dispute Resolution Mechanism” — a process with three levels of evaluation. If Iran stands firm, the final judge is the UN Security Council, not known for its decisive action. Basically, Iran doesn’t have to do anything it doesn’t want to do.

(2) The deal lifts the UN embargo on arms in about five years, and a similar and more specific embargo on ballistic missile construction likewise sunsets in eight years. Why is this a problem? Iran remains the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

(3) Almost all economic sanctions will be lifted, most immediately and the rest within a few years. This includes the ban on importing Iranian oil and natural gas. Once in full effect, the price of oil will drop — in fact, it already has. This will have the side-effect of hurting U.S. producers, which no doubt pleases Obama.

(4) By far the most controversial part of the deal involves international training of Iran in nuclear technology. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains, “The Iranian nuclear program will be placed under international sponsorship for R&D. A few weeks ago the AP leaked parts of an annex confirming that a major power would be working with the Iranians… The administration … once promised Congress that Iran would be forced to dismantle its centrifuge program. The Iranians refused, so the administration [caved]. … Now the international community will be actively sponsoring the development of Iranian nuclear technology. And since the work will be overseen by a great power, it will be off-limits to the kind of sabotage that has kept the Iranian nuclear program in check until now.”

(5) McCarthy continues: “The U.S. collapsed on PMDs [Possible Military Dimensions]. … [T]he Iranians and the IAEA signed a roadmap for a process that would see Tehran eventually providing access for the IAEA to clear up its concerns. … This roadmap differs in no significant way from previous commitments the Iranians have made to the agency, except now Tehran will have received sanctions relief and stabilized its economy.”

That leaves Congress as the lone backstop. And that’s not much reason for hope.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warns the deal is “going to be a hard sell,” but the review terms constructed by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) earlier this year make the bar quite high for Congress. McConnell notes “the resolution of disapproval … is very likely to pass with over 60 votes.” Too bad it’s going to need 67 to override a certain Obama veto, as opposed to the traditional treaty route requiring 67 votes for approval.

There’s hardly ever been a single Democrat vote against an issue Obama really wants passed. Thus Obama will have his second term legacy, and we, in a weakened military position, will face a very different Middle East — a region now not only riddled with terrorist instability but a nuclear arms race.

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