In announcing his nuclear framework, the president declared : “This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world.” He said the deal requires them to “freeze [their] existing nuclear program and to accept international inspection of all existing facilities.” He said the agreement “does not rely on trust. Compliance will be certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
The president who spoke those words was not Barack Obama. It was Bill Clinton, on Oct 18, 1994, announcing that his administration had reached agreement on a nuclear framework with North Korea.
Twelve years later, North Korea exploded a nuclear bomb. And today, Pyongyang is reportedly a few years away from having as many as 100 nuclear weapons .
President Obama’s statement last week parallels Clinton’s two decades ago. Obama declared that his deal “is good for the security of the United States, for our allies, and for the world.” Obama said the deal would “stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program” and that “international inspectors will have unprecedented access” to all existing facilities. Obama promised, “this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.” It’s almost as if there is a template on White House computers for announcing terrible nuclear deals.
The words may be similar, but the framework Obama reached with Iran is actually worse than the one Clinton negotiated with North Korea. North Korea had to cheat on its deal to break out as a nuclear power. Iran does not have to cheat. That’s because most provisions of the deal expire in 10 years, and the deal does not require Iran to dismantle or destroy any of its nuclear facilities, allow snap inspections, stop enrichment, stop research and development on advanced centrifuges or stop the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Worse, the deal reportedly front-loads the suspension of sanctions, which have cost the regime $130 billion over just two years. Lifting those sanctions will immediately infuse Iran’s economy with tens of billions of dollars — money it can use to keep its nuclear program going, continue destabilizing the region and build ballistic missiles that can reach New York and Washington.
And all that is if Iran complies. The regime could also cheat and break out even sooner.
The Obama administration says this agreement will extend Iran’s breakout time from two to three months today to a year. Which raises a question few seem to be asking: How on earth did Iran get to be two to three months from a nuclear breakout? That happened on Obama’s watch. Now, after letting Iran get that close to the bomb, Obama wants us to trust that he has the situation under control?
When Clinton announced his deal with North Korea, he pledged his “unshakeable commitment to protect our ally and our fellow democracy South Korea.” Obama similarly pledged his “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s defense” and “to the security of our partners in the Gulf.” No one is buying it. Arabs and Israelis don’t want any sanctions relief for Iran now, because they know that Iran is on the march across the Middle East — waging jihad by proxy from Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut to Sanaa — and will use the money to subsidize its expansionist activities. If the Iranians are this aggressive under “crippling” economic sanctions, imagine how they will behave when they are flush with cash. Rewarding Iran at a time when it is engaged in unprecedented levels of aggression across the region is insane — even more so when it is in exchange for a deal that does not force it to permanently end its nuclear program.
The Saudis will probably conclude, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, that Obama’s deal “paves Iran’s path to the bomb” and will pursue nukes of their own. If they do, then the United Arab Emirates and Egypt could soon follow. These countries understand that, under Obama’s watch, the United States no longer has their backs. Far from reducing nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, this deal could actually spark a nuclear arms race in the region.
Obama, of course, insisted in the Rose Garden that all of this is incorrect and that his administration has taken the “first step” toward “a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program.” Two decades ago, Bill Clinton promised his administration had taken “the first step on the road to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”
Clinton was wrong. So is Obama.
Let’s hope it does not take Iran exploding a nuclear bomb for the world to figure that out.