Speaking to reporters as talks continued between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, Kerry said he had conferred Wednesday night with President Obama, who he said made it clear to him that the negotiations would have to end without a deal if the remaining differences cannot be bridged.
“We are not going to sit at the negotiating table forever,” Kerry said. “Despite all of the progress that we have made — and it’s real — some of the tough issues remain unresolved. We know that difficult decisions don’t become easier over time. And in one way or another, those decisions must be taken very soon.” He did not elaborate on what the outstanding issues are.
Informed Iran observers surmise Iran is trying to wring every last concession out of Kerry. Whether they will hold on until July 10, Quds Day — Iran’s festive day of Israel-bashing and genocide talk — remains a possibility. (So much for President Obama’s belief that anti-Semitism is not a driving ideology of the Iranian mullahs.) It is not clear whether the only remaining issue is Iran’s insistence on lifting embargoes on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill at a hearing on the Iran deal House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-Cal.) observed, “The ‘most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history’ – the President’s promise – has turned into ‘managed access,’ with the Iranians having a big say in where international inspectors can and can’t go. ‘Managed access’ is a big back away from the ‘anywhere, anytime’ terms the Administration once demanded.”
He continued, “Iran doesn’t even have to cheat to be a step away from the bomb. Iran is not required to dismantle key bomb making technology; it is permitted a vast enrichment capacity, and is allowed to continue its research and development to gain an industrialized nuclear program once this agreement begins to expire in as little as ten years.” One by one, Iran experts at the hearing cautioned about the results of a deal so obviously one-sided as this.
“I believe that Iran’s most likely course after a nuclear agreement will be to continue to pursue the same regional strategy it has pursued over the past three years. That strategy is inimical to the interests of the United States and its allies in many ways,” said Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institute in prepared remarks. “However, there is a much greater danger– the danger that Iran will interpret American behavior after a nuclear agreement as a sign of further disengagement from the Middle East. If that is the case, it is highly likely that Iranian goals will become more expansive and its policy more aggressive as it believes that the U.S. will not be as willing (or able) to block Iranian moves.”
Others concurred with the argument that capitulating to Iran on a series of vital points will send an unmistakable signal to our allies.
After examining the obvious flaws in the deal, Hudson Institute’s Michael Doran argued,
“Either President Obama is inaugurating a new friendship with Iran, or he is pulling the United States back from the Middle East while Iran fills the resulting power vacuum. Both interpretations play on the worst fears of allies, regardless of whether we are talking about Saudi Arabia and Israel, who see Iran as an existential threat, or about Turkey and Jordan, who strongly oppose the role that Iran is playing in Iraq and Syria.”
Our allies don’t believe a deal will moderate Iran’s conduct. Far from it. Doran explained,
“It makes much greater sense to assume that the nuclear agreement’s actual, tangible benefits will immediately prop-up Iran’s hardliners. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—which acts as the custodian of the 1979 Revolution, both at home and abroad—commands an economic empire whose tentacles reach into the key sectors of the Iranian economy. It will certainly benefit greatly from the lifting of sanctions and the rush of international investments that will follow a nuclear accord. In fact, it is so deeply entrenched in Iran’s economy that it will probably profit more than anyone else from the new era of international investment.”
In short, whatever the Democrats convince themselves will be the result our Gulf allies know better. “America’s Gulf allies have humored President Obama as he has inaugurated a new strategic dialogue, but they have no confidence that he will actually deliver on what they consider to be their vital needs,” Doran said.
So we are poised to produce a deal that, even if followed to the letter, will in all likelihood bolster Iran’s most aggressive instincts and demoralize our allies. Again, even if the deal is followed perfectly Iran will get its bomb in ten years or so. It is for this reason that those truly concerned about Obama’s legacy should oppose a deal. Surely he does not want to be known as the first president to capitulate to Iran, give it permission to pursue an industrial-sized nuclear weapons program, betray our allies and encourage Iran’s regional aggression. His name will be on that deal and he will be responsible for that abominable legacy.