Obama got his deal, but can he trust Iran to keep its word?
By Peter Roff • U.S. News
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are to be congratulated for their perseverance in pursuing an international pact on the subject of Iran and its pursuit of nuclear capabilities. It was not an easy feat and they deserve credit for pushing the government in Tehran and the other global powers to stay at the thing until they achieved an agreement.
Whether it is worth all the effort expended is another matter entirely. Iran has not yet proven it is willing to re-enter the global community of civilized nations. An agreement, after all, is just a piece of paper that guarantees nothing. Now that a deal is done, the West, and the United States in particular, must be even more vigilant and must watch carefully to see that the mullahs hold up their end of the bargain.
That is, of course, once we know what that bargain is. As U.S. News & World Report Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Mortimer B. Zuckerman writes elsewhere on these pages, America’s policy toward Iran has evolved considerably since Obama became president. “Three U.S. presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) have told the world that they would never let Iran go nuclear. They meant it then, but a nuclear-free Iran is no longer the objective,” Zuckerman observed.
He’s right. A major shift in policy has occurred that is not something the global community, the U.S Congress or the American people should overlook. The once stated intention of the United States to keep Iran from going nuclear has apparently evolved into a request to get a least a year’s “head’s up” before it builds its first bomb.
The inability of the United States under Obama to guarantee the territorial integrity of Ukraine, something America agreed to do in exchange for the former Soviet republic agreeing to surrender the formerly Soviet nuclear weapons located within its borders, provides an eerie and uncomfortable indication of how things might go down if Iran fails to adhere to this new agreement. Having Iranian officials already denouncing the U.S. for lying about the terms of the agreement and disputing what American officials are saying about it is equally foreboding.
Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who has led both the CIA and the National Security Administration, and should therefore be presumed to know what he is talking about, said the deal means America had “just agreed that Iran will be an industrial-strength nuclear state and that it will never be any more than one year away from having a nuclear weapon.”
Hayden’s not the only one with influence who’s unhappy. The Emergency Committee for Israel, a group whose leadership is composed of equally serious-minded policy experts, issued a statement Thursday that blasted the agreement out of the sky. Calling it “a litany of concessions to Iran, a terror-sponsoring regime committed to the destruction of Israel, to the death of Americans, and to the deception of the international community,” the group said the deal would “allow Iran to become a threshold nuclear weapons state and would grant its illicit nuclear weapons program international legitimacy.”
Calling the deal “unacceptable” and something “no friend of Israel can support” the committee called on Congress to push back against the “spin” coming out of the White House and kill the deal quickly so that it would “soon be forgotten, another White House press release happily buried on the ash heap of history.”
Any deal that preserves Iran’s current nuclear infrastructure and allows it to continue its progress toward becoming a nuclear power should be dead on arrival in Congress, in the British Parliament, in the Duma and just about any other important place. Obama is doing America and the world no favors if he assumes he can trust the mullahs.
It would be nice to believe the committee and others who have panned the agreement are wrong, but it would be foolish to presume so. Whether it ultimately makes Obama and Kerry worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize (which would be the president’s second) or secures for them places in the hall of global goats, their pictures hanging next to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, is something we are all going to have to wait to find out – if we live that long. On the other hand, that may just be how we find out we were wrong to have placed our trust in the Iranian despots because of signatures on a piece of paper rather than on concrete, verifiable actions.