Israeli and Sunni Arab leaders have good reason to worry that the Obama administration is already backpeddling on six United Nations resolutions, setting the stage for a deal like those with North Korea that, as widely believed, allowed it to obtain a nuclear weapons capability.

President Obama speaks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Pete Souza for the White House via Agence France-Presse)
President Obama speaks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Pete Souza for the White House via Agence France-Presse)

The Los Angeles Times reports: “The six world powers negotiating with Iran over its disputed nuclear program asked Tehran in an opening proposal earlier this week to slow, rather than halt, low-level uranium enrichment at its two enrichment facilities, a hard-line website in Iran reported.” This is a recipe for disaster as far as Iran’s neighbors are concerned.

The story later notes that, “Ray Takeyh, an Iran specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the proposal would be ‘rather generous,’ because it doesn’t demand, as the group has in the past, that Iran ship its medium-enriched uranium out of the country. He noted that the account didn’t say how much relief from economic sanctions the group was offering in exchange for the concessions, adding that the account probably lacked other elements of the group’s proposal. The United Nations Security Council has insisted, in a series of resolutions, that Iran halt all enrichment.”

In other words, if the report is accurate, this administration is less resolute than and is already negotiating down from numerous U.N. resolutions. And this is supposedly where the administration is at early in the talks. An official with a pro-Israel organization sums up the concern: “If this is the opening offer, it is frightening what the final deal [might] look like. It would be interpreted as an abject acquiescence to an eventually nuclear-armed Iran.”

In an interview on Meet the Press, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded the alarm about the talks, “The question is not of hope, the question is of actual results. And the test is the result. The result has to be the full dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear program. If that is achieved, that would be very good.” He continued:

I think that any partial deal could end up in dissolving the sanctions. There are a lot of countries that are waiting for a signal, just waiting for a signal, to get rid of their sanctions regime. And I think you don’t want to go through halfway measures.

You know, Syria just committed to fully dismantling its chemical weapons program. Suppose Syria said, “Well, you know, we’re going to dismantle 20% of it and give the ease of sanctions because of that.” Nobody would buy that. That’s exactly what Iran is trying to do. They’re trying to give a partial deal that they know could end up dissolving the sanctions regime and would keep them with the nuclear weapons capabilities.

So I don’t advise doing that. . . . I  mean the international community adopted very firm resolutions by the Security Council. And here’s what those resolutions said. They said Iran should basically dismantle its centrifuges for enrichment. That’s one path to get a nuclear weapon. And stop work on its plutonium heavy water reactor. That’s the other path for nuclear weapons.

The U.S. Congress, which has layered sanctions on top of sanctions specifically to compel the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, should be alarmed. I’d suggest the requisite Senate and House committees bring in chief negotiator Wendy Sherman for a hearing, quickly. Here’s what they should ask.

Is the administration suggesting we deviate from the six U.N. resolutions?

Is the administration determined to halt all enrichment?

Has the administration insisted upon an accounting by Iran of its existing nuclear weapons program, and if not, how does it expect it to dismantle that program?

Why did negotiated deals with North Korea fail to halt its nuclear weapons program? What mistakes did you make in those negotiations and what did you learn from them that will help you avoid them this time around?

Why shouldn’t we fear a phony deal that in effect gives Iran cover to pursue its weapons program, just as you, Ms. Sherman, made a similar one with North Korea?

Do you think Iranians speaking in English at the talks, using Twitter for propaganda and  conducting a PowerPoint presentation actually indicate progress in the talks?

If Iran does not reveal the extent of its weapons program, does not halt enrichment and does not begin to dismantle that program and ship out its stockpile, will you have failed, leaving only military action as the final means of stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability?

Do you believe first allowing North Korea and now potentially Iran to obtain a nuclear weapons capability would make a “world without WMDs” impossible and permanently damage the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

This administration seems bound and determined to, above all else, never confront Iran militarily. It therefore follows that it must keep up the pretense of negotiations and perhaps even reached a flawed and useless paper agreement so as to excuse its inaction. However, Israel won’t be so easily dissuaded. This prime minister, faced with the alternative, on one hand, of a nuclear-armed Iran, and, on the other, with the necessity of military action that would incur the wrath of the usual suspects (e.g. Europe, the United Nations) would, I have no doubt, choose the latter. He is, after all, not elected to please the “international community,” but to preserve and protect the Jewish state.

Perhaps the president should use a similar analysis: Is he willing to allow a nuclear-armed Iran, which in a  few years would be matched by an intercontinental ballistic missile system, or is he determined to protect the United States and the West from a nuclear-armed revolutionary Islamist state? It is precisely because there is doubt as to which he would choose that Israel, our Gulf and European allies and every American should be very, very worried.

 

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.