Under any final deal, the United States must insist Iran resolve all outstanding international concerns over its past violations. Though the [Joint Plan of Action] ignores the binding legal requirement that it suspend enrichment – and in fact cedes implicitly the right to continue enriching under a comprehensive deal – Iran must come clean over its past weaponization and enrichment activities. This is crucial for understanding the true extent and progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Moreover, if Iran is not prepared to come clean regarding the fact that it engaged for years in a clandestine effort to develop nuclear weapons capability, on what possible basis would the international community now be able to take seriously its commitment not to seek such capability in the future?
That was from a report co-authored by Ross in 2014. In sum, verification is illusory given what the administration has already allowed to go on (i.e. snubbing the IAEA).
Second, the obvious problem in spelling out consequences for a violation of the agreement is that this administration, not to mention the EU, will be loath to admit there are violations, for that would trigger confrontation. There will be reports of violations — just as there were reports for months that Bashar al-Assad had used WMD’s — which the administration will “investigate.” Then there will be haggling about the alleged violations. In the meantime, months will pass and Iran will have easily navigated to the point of nuclear breakout.
The bigger and insoluble problem, however, remains what the administration is willing to accept, namely Iran’s retention of virtually all its nuclear architecture. Ross concedes that “the deal reportedly under consideration would limit the Iranian nuclear program, not meaningfully diminish it, in return for a rollback of sanctions.” That’s the rub: There is no way of breaching the gap between capitulation and adherence to two U.S. administrations’ commitment to dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program. There is no verification system that will or should allay the fears of Congress, Israel or our Arab allies. That is why multiple United Nations resolutions and two presidents including Obama insisted on dismantling of Iran’s centrifuges and nuclear facilities. So long as they remain in Iran’s hands — that is, in the hands of a closed society that has lied about the status of its program for years — there is very little the United States can do to prevent Iran from breaking out at a time of its choosing. This was the essence of the flawed North Korea deal and that is what we should not, and Israel cannot, allow to occur with regard to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, one that is committed to destruction of the Jewish state.
The difficulty between Israel and the United States is not a speech to Congress or even the identity of the prime minister. It is that the president is so desperate for a deal he is willing to betray our interests and accept an existential threat to Israel, namely an Iran with nuclear breakout capability. No Israeli prime minister under any circumstance can accept that. The only true way to breach the divide is to prevent the sort of deal Obama seeks and then get a new U.S. president to hold the line against Iran, returning to the policy enunciated by Obama himself, his predecessor and six United Nations resolutions. We should cease parroting the line that we should “give negotiations a chance” or that a “negotiated solution is better.” The only deal possible under this president is a bad one and therefore one that should be thwarted.
Ross is understandably dismayed at the prospect that his former boss is giving away the store and rupturing U.S.-Israel relations. The solution to that is not however to propose illusory inspection safeguards. It is to rally Congress to re-impose sanctions, provide support for Israeli military action (e.g. provide bunker-buster bombs) and get the Democrats’ inevitable presidential nominee to denounce the sort of deal the president is proclaiming. Were she to declare she would not abide by the sort of deal Ross and others anticipate, the unfolding disaster might be abated. Hillary Clinton could certainly rally Democrats in Congress to oppose a disastrous deal that would leave her or whoever else is the next commander in chief with the dilemma of choosing between war and a nuclear armed Iran. Ross’s energies might better be directed at persuading her to show some political gumption.