Terrible Iranian nuclear deal

The Iranian nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States and the West.

It would be nice to think that we can negotiate with a rogue, terrorist-sponsoring nation whose dictatorial regime has weekly prayer meetings that preach “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” as their basis. Somehow, the U.S. administration believes that our engagement strategy is going to turn these religious zealots into friends and allies if we just show them kindness and understanding. That could be true, but is wishful thinking. And the cost and risk of it not being true are worse than maintaining the status quo (sanctions) or taking military action if Iran continues down its path of nuclear-weapons development.

Is this an example of the "hope" that voters were looking for in 2008? We "hope" that Iran will become a nice country if we allow them to develop nuclear weapons if they just wait 10 years to do so?

The problem with this deal is that is explicitly gives Iran a path towards ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs, but delays the completion of these weapons for several years. They have already started down the path, even though Iran has claimed for years that it isn’t trying to get the bomb. If that is true, why continue to evade and block the inspectors? Just one of our many negotiating failures is to not insist that they come clean about their nuclear-weapons development work in advance of sanctions relief.

So the longer-term (five, seven, ten, or fifteen year) problems with this deal are clear and the deal should be rejected because of them. The understanding should have been that Iran would never be allowed to build a nuclear weapon and with verification of that fact, we would lift sanctions. I believe that was our initial position, but I guess if you enter into negotiations, it is "fair" to give up your key demands to reach an agreement. At least that's what President Obama seems to believe. Giving in to the Iranian “right” to nuclear weapons was a deal we should never have agreed to, and one that Congress should reject.

But even in the shorter term, this is a bad deal. The reason is that we can’t trust the President to take action if the Iranians cheat.

If they are smart, they would thank their lucky stars that we have caved in to all their demands and just wait out the time. But with their newfound wealth, they may be tempted to start using it to further not just their destabilizing activities, but to resume their clandestine push for a nuclear weapon. They may do this because they don't trust a future U.S. President to honor Obama's commitment to relax our weapons-prohibition in the future.

We were also assured repeatedly that at least during the first decade, inspections would be constant and without notice, and sanctions could be "snapped back" if inspections were refused or we found evidence of cheating. Even those modest promises were "compromised."

And now that we have compromised on every single point of contention, we are ready to sign something that we know our President will not enforce if there are any (so-called) minor violations. Unless we find an actual nuke, there is little to no chance of our President taking decisive action.

This is clear from Obama’s recent history, of declaring red lines and then ignoring violations. It is clear from how he handled the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the annexation of the Crimea, and the shooting down of the Malaysian plane by Russian-backed separatists. It is clear how he is handling China and the Chinese attempt to build islands in the middle of the China sea for military bases. It is clear how he botched his withdrawal of troops from the Middle East and the rise of ISIS in response to the power vacuum he created.

So the short-term flaw in this nuclear treaty is that we simply cannot trust the President of the United States to take decisive (i.e., military) action if there is a violation. He will find a way to excuse it and overlook it. And the Iranians know this, which is one reason they were willing to sign the deal. Words on paper were meaningless to the Russians, meaningless to the Chinese, and are meaningless to the Iranians. All that matters is the willingness to risk a reprisal that will never come, and then keep pushing the envelope further.

I would take this argument a step further and say that I seriously doubt whether Iranian broken promises will even come to light under this administration. I can see those violations being labeled “classified” and never acknowledged (or perhaps not until a new administration comes to office.) By then, it will be “old news” and water under the bridge.

We read after the fact that the Russians apparently were cheating on their nuclear non-proliferation promises. Ho hum. Just another cheating dictator we are dealing with, nothing to be alarmed about.

Let’s say that we insist on inspections at a particular facility. Under the agreement, the Iranians can delay inspections for up to 24 days. Let’s say that on day 25, they refuse to allow the inspectors in to the facility.

Do you honestly think President Obama will rip up the treaty and bomb Iran because some UN inspectors can’t see one particular facility? No way. We will give the Iranians more time (to hide their nuclear work) and if this information is leaked to the press, we will “engage” the Iranians in negotiations to let the inspectors in. This cat-and-mouse game has been going on in Iran for about 10 years now, and the Iranians are presumably very good at hiding their research.

If Obama is still president at the time, you just know he will make excuses for not acting, with the first being "we don't want to start a war." Nobody wants a war, but if you threaten someone with military retaliation if they break their promises and then they do, you follow through on your promise. That's how you maintain credibility. Obama has none.

Let’s say that we discover extra centrifuges in operation above the number we are for some reason allowing them to keep. We insist on their destruction but they get moved elsewhere. Are we going to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities over a few extra devices when we are allowing them to keep hundreds of them? Of course not. President Obama is not going to scrap his precious treaty over a small “technical” violation. He will “condemn” in the “strongest terms” the violation and send the Iranian Supreme and Divine Leader a stern warning note. No further action will be taken.

So this is a bad deal in the medium term and the long term. What about the short term?

Well, we don’t have to attack Iran to stop its nuclear ambitions, so that is a big plus. On the negative side, we will end up freeing around $150 Billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets that the mullahs can use to foment terrorism around the Mideast and the world, helping every enemy of democracy and the U.S. thwart our goals. I would imagine that the socialist dictators and Russia will all get funds to continue their suppression of their people, a common goal of the Iranian dictatorship with these other totalitarian regimes.

Bombing Iran to stop their nuclear program is not a "decision" that the United States would make. It is a decision that Iran would make by continuing to develop nuclear weapons against our wishes. Our policy should be to do whatever we can to stop rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons. They are too dangerous to our survival and world peace and prosperity to have dozens or hundreds of unaccounted-for weapons floating around. For that reason, we should act as the world’s policeman and one of our top priorities would be to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. By giving in to Iranian demands, we are actually allowing the opposite. They are likely to get the bomb and their nearby enemies are likely to arm themselves with the same weapons to prevent being attacked under threat of nuclear holocaust.

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It's worse than I thought

Today's Wall Street Journal (7/22/2015) by a couple of knowledgeable writers who have analyzed the specific language of the new agreement (English-version) have concluded that Iran could actually delay an inspection by up to three months, and possibly longer. That is because many disagreements are resolved by forming a panel and it would be easy for one side (Iran) to simply delay naming people to the panel or disagreeing on whatever the issue to be discussed is. They also indicate that prior to commencing such an inquiry, the U.S. or U.N. would have to specify a reason for wanting to visit a suspected nuclear site. That reason would probably have to include evidence of wrongdoing, which would compromise intelligence gathering for future violations.

Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and is an Associate Publisher of Acton Forum.