We are as hopeful for the prospects of a nuclear-free Iran as we are skeptical of the deal announced this week after several years of negotiations.
Last Friday, millions of Iranians, including President Hassan Rouhani, marched through the streets of Tehran chanting “Death to America, Death to Israel.” That sentiment has not changed as Iranians celebrate the agreement with the U.S. and world powers intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program for the next decade in return for easing sanctions that have seriously hurt the country’s economy.
The fact that the White House can hail the agreement as an historic achievement for peace while it allows Iran’s network of terror and warfare to continue unabated, and unaddressed in the talks, is only part of the problem. Equally worrisome, the U.S. backed down on key elements in the negotiations that it has long insisted on. The critically important “anytime, anywhere” inspections are now subject to prior requests and coordination, with the United Nations given a key mediation role. Iran’s nuclear facilities, including the underground one at Fordo, will not be dismantled. They will remain in place and continue to operate, albeit at low levels. And the prospects of a “snapback,” where economic sanctions can be renewed by the U.S. and its partners if Iran violates the agreement is the stuff of dreams, especially since China and Russia are eager to deal with Tehran.
We acknowledge President Obama’s sincerity in asserting Tuesday that “this deal … makes the world safer and more secure.” But we worry that his strong desire for the deal clouded his strategy, hampered his negotiators overseas, and trumped his ability to secure a more equitable agreement with a revolutionary government whose leaders take pride in duping the West, consistently and successfully.
They have lied about their nuclear program being intended purely for peaceful purposes, lied about their leaders’ repeated calls for Israel’s destruction, and lied about the extent of their nuclear program over the years. Most telling now is that they plan to go on lying about the program; how else explain why Iran insisted on preventing inspectors from coming to their facilities unannounced? What reason would Iran have to oppose such an arrangement if it planned to abide by the rules?
The U.S. can ill afford such a risky agreement, but for Israel, a regional neighbor and hated enemy of Iran, the stakes are far higher and more immediate. That’s why this week Israelis — left, right and center — are decrying the agreement as a major blow to the security of the Jewish state. Even if Iran is constrained from producing nuclear bombs in the short term, it will be able to do so a decade from now. And it is certain to use the billions of dollars freed up when sanctions are lifted for furthering its arms support of Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups in the Mideast rather than feeding its poor.
As the debate shifts to Congress over the next two months, it seems clear that Obama will prevail in seeing the deal through. The Jerusalem government must decide whether to step up its already forceful opposition to the agreement or cut its losses, swallow its pride and make the best of a bad situation. Prime Minister Netanyahu deserves credit for alerting the world to the nuclear threat and pushing the U.S. to enforce economic sanctions. But his effectiveness in dealing with the White House now is limited. Still, rather than sit back and wait for the next U.S. presidential election, the prime minister should lobby for serious U.S. responses to Iran’s future violations of the agreement, including possible U.S. military action. And Israel should seek U.S. military hardware, all too certain to be needed in future confrontations with Iran’s terror surrogates in Gaza and Lebanon.
For now, only time will tell if this significant deal will be remembered for having a moderating effect on the revolutionary government of Iran, or for allowing it to propel its efforts to dominate the region.