by Peter Roff
Did the United States and other Western powers agree to a “secret deal” with Iran as the price for getting the Tehran government to slow-walk its efforts to become a nuclear power?
It’s a question a lot of people have been asking ever since the multi-party accord was announced; so far, the Obama administration isn’t saying – and is keeping what it did agree to under wraps. According to the the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo, “The White House is keeping close tabs on who has read the text of the recently signed Iran nuclear deal, a document that has been marked as ‘unclassified,’ yet is being kept in a highly secured location.”
One wonders why. “Members of Congress and staffers with high-level security clearances,” Kredo wrote in February, “are being forced by the White House to consent to top-secret security measures in order to view the deal text, which is off limits to the American public,” citing a senior Senate aide familiar with the process.
In plain English, that means you can look at it if you want to jump through a lot of hoops and have the necessary clearances but you can’t talk about it, at least not in specifics.
All this comes at what may be exactly the wrong time to go soft on Iran. Its plummeting birthrate suggests economic conditions are far worse than almost anyone currently believes. By easing the sanctions that have been in place since the 1979 Islamic revolution, as we know the new agreement does, in exchange for an illusory promise the country won’t go nuclear, Western diplomats – led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – are giving the mullahs the lifeline they need to remain in power. Instead of playing out the leash, now may be exactly the right time to tighten the screws further. If the regime is close to collapse, why prop it up?
The government of Iran is still classified as a state-sponsor of terrorism and is currently holding hostages that are probably being used as bargaining chips against the West. That alone, however, is not enough to explain why the agreement can’t be public, nor does it explain why the current policy toward Iran comes as close to appeasement as anything we’ve seen out of the White House over the last six years.
Is Obama really soft on Iran? Remember that in the 2008 campaign he promised, until political conditions changed and it became an “unwise” policy, that he would meet with the anti-American Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without any preconditions. Has he been following through with his original intentions in secret all this time?
Consider that the United States failed to officially object before Iran was recently re-elected to a seat on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Iran is not known as a place with a “progressive” attitude toward women. It is reliably reported, for example, that in some parts of the country they still stone women for a variety of offenses as an alternative to divorce. Yet not an official peep from U.S. Ambassador to the United States Samantha Power, a radical feminist (and, as such, someone who ought to know better), before the vote was taken. She even couldn’t even get one of America’s allies in the global body to object beforehand, meaning the whole business was confirmed by acclamation.
Sure, she took to Twitter to denounce Iran’s presence on the commission, but you can file that away under the heading “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.” One can wonder, however, if there is something in the “unclassified” secret deal that forced her hand. Does it require the United States to “help” Iran re-emerge into the family of nations at places like the U.N.? No one who might know has said and there are only two ways, really, to find out: Either the administration release the entire thing to the public or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing and demands to see it so the members of the committee can determine if it’s really a treaty requiring the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate before it should be considered in force.
Unfortunately, as I wrote here, that’s unlikely to happen. The committee’s chairman, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, is under investigation by the federal government for all kinds of interesting and salacious things. He hasn’t been charged with anything, but a well-timed and well-aimed leak from inside the FBI, the Department of Justice, or the federal grand jury that just talks about what they are looking into could be a career-ending political torpedo. An inference is often enough to end a career, which is sufficient to recommend he keep his head down on any issue the Obama White House does not want out in the open.
If the situation in Iran is a bleak as some of the data currently suggest, if the people are really as dissatisfied with the mullahs who run the country as some experts on the country believe, then is would be a mistake of the highest order of magnitude to help them jumpstart their economy. Instead of weakening the sanctions, they should be made tougher in hopes it will help bring the government down before it gets nuclear weapons. Afterwards, it will be too late. Once Iran has “the bomb,” the mullahs will never be driven from power and the U.S. State Department, which as an organization values stability over things like freedom and liberty, won’t want them to be.
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Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Formerly a senior political writer for United Press International, he’s now affiliated with Frontiers of Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.