Alarm bells should be going off in the West. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany—called P5+1—have been trying to negotiate a deal to end sanctions against Iran in return for drastic reductions in its nuclear program. A prerequisite for any final agreement is for Iran to address nuclear-weapons questions raised by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.If Iran is able to successfully evade questions about a weapons program now, when biting sanctions on oil exports and financial transactions are in place, why would it address them later when these sanctions are lifted? What use will an agreement be if Iran can hide a capacity to secretly build nuclear bombs?
They say it’s a “mistake” to ignore this topic because we must “know whether the Islamic Republic had a nuclear-weapons program in the past, how far the work on warheads advanced and whether it continues. Without clear answers to these questions, outsiders will be unable to determine how fast the Iranian regime could construct either a crude nuclear-test device or a deliverable weapon if it chose to renege on an agreement.”
But maybe this is not a “mistake,” in the sense that the P5+1 negotiators have overlooked something. No, it is far more likely that they understand that this is a deal-breaker for Iran and therefore need to put aside the issue, minimize and ultimately gloss over it. Alternatively, they can claim agreement on “all but one technical issue” (on which the viability of the entire deal rests) and plead for more time.
The other sign that a scheme is afoot to sell a rotten deal or keep negotiations going comes from the administration’s insistence that we ignore reports about what is going on. Somewhat comically, a U.S. diplomat tells the press not to believe the press, as the Jerusalem Post reports:
“As this process moves forward, there will be a lot of noise out there – some of you might even make [it],” the official, intimately involved in the negotiations, said. “There will also be speculation about where the sticking points remain.”“I cannot advise you strongly enough not to buy into that kind of speculation,” the official added.The official spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to keep the focus of talks on the diplomatic process.
(Or to prevent her from being identified as the one peddling silly and defensive spin?) You can understand why President Obama’s team sounds like this. Having caught wind of what is afoot, U.S. allies, experts and lawmakers of both parties are getting riled up, ready to condemn a now-expected defective deal or call time on the failed negotiations. Hence, we see the administration’s lame plea not to believe what we see and hear.
We’ve argued that the only red line the administration has ever had – be it in Syria or Iran or Russia – is that it won’t involve itself in new conflicts, especially if there is any chance that hard power might be involved. Ultimately, that means giving way to aggressors, and in the case of Iran, setting in motion a justification either for extending talks or for entering into a laughable deal that allows Iran to join North Korea as a de facto nuclear-armed state.