Sunday, July 12, 2015

High Stakes Iran Dealing

- John Follain, Indira Lakshmanan and Kambiz Foroohar

[F]rustrations have boiled over into decidedly undiplomatic confrontations. In one incident on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif could be heard shouting in nearby rooms.

According to RIA, Zarif snapped: "Never try to threaten the Iranians." 
- Clifford D. May

When the current round of negotiations began, the goal was to persuade Iran's rulers to dismantle a nuclear weapons program they claimed they didn't have, didn't need and didn't want. 

Little by little, Iran's skilled negotiators turned the talks upside down: The agreement currently under discussion would legitimize their industrial-size, advanced-centrifuge-powered nuclear program with unlimited enrichment capacity.

If Iran's rulers are patient and abide by the terms of the agreement, they will be welcomed into the nuclear club in little more than a decade. If they are impatient and violate the terms of the agreement - as they have consistently violated past obligations - they could have nukes much sooner. 
- Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz 

Obama's deal-making is in effect establishing the necessary conditions for military action after January 2017, when a new president takes office.

Iranian adventurism will eventually provoke a more muscular U.S. response. The odds of Tehran respecting any nuclear deal while it pushes to increase its regional influence aren't good.
- Charles Krauthammer 

The devil is not in the details. It’s in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama’s fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.

Desperate for a legacy deal, Obama has played the supplicant, abandoning every red line his administration had declared essential to any acceptable deal.Then, instead of welcoming Congress’ attempt to tighten sanctions to increase the pressure on the mullahs, Obama began the negotiations by loosening sanctions, injecting billions into the Iranian economy (which began growing again in 2014) and conceding in advance an Iranian right to enrich uranium.

Inspections. They were to be anywhere, anytime, unimpeded. Now? Total cave. Unfettered access has become “managed access.” Nuclear inspectors will have to negotiate and receive Iranian approval for inspections. Which allows them denial and/or crucial delay for concealing any clandestine activities.

To give a flavor of the degree of our capitulation, the administration played Iran’s lawyer on this one, explaining that, after all, “the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site, so that’s not appropriate.” Apart from the absurdity of morally equating America with the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, if we were going to parrot the Iranian position, why wait 19 months to do so — after repeatedly insisting on free access as essential to any inspection regime?

The inspection regime is laughable and the bureaucratic procedures endless. Moreover, does anyone imagine that Russia and China will reimpose sanctions? Or that the myriad European businesses preparing to join the Iranian gold rush the day the deal is signed will simply turn around and go home?

Taken together, the catalog of capitulations is breathtaking: spot inspections, disclosure of previous nuclear activity, gradual sanctions relief, retention of nonnuclear sanctions.

What’s left? A surrender document of the kind offered by defeated nations suing for peace. 

Consider: The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.
(Washington Post)

White House: Iran Will Use Sanctions Relief to Fix Economy, Not Support Terror 
- Adam Kredo

Matt Nosanchuk, an official in the White House Office of Public Engagement, told participants: "Our expectation is that sanctions relief will go into bolstering the Iranian economy and not into supporting all these other activities."  
(Washington Free Beacon)

Unfrozen Iran Funds Could Have Dramatic Effect on Regional Balance of Power 
- Dennis Ross

Under the proposed deal, Iran would, within six to 12 months, have access to what are now frozen accounts that may total as much as $150 billion. Even if it chose to use 90% of those funds to address real domestic needs, $15 billion could have a dramatic effect on Iran's ability to use Hizbullah and other Shiite militias to pursue its "resistance" agenda in the region and continue to shift the balance of power in its favor. 
The writer is a former special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council Senior Director. 

Iran's Intentions: In Defense of Pessimism 
- Jeffrey Herf

We have no excuse for repeating the blunders of the past or for reassuring ourselves optimistically that things will turn out for the best. 
The writer is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland. 
(American Interest)

A Good Bad Deal? - Thomas L. Friedman 

[F]or the past year every time there is a sticking point, it keeps feeling as if it's always our side looking to accommodate Iran's needs.

Johns Hopkins University foreign policy specialist Michael Mandelbaum says: "In the current negotiations...the United States is far stronger than Iran, yet it is the United States that has made major concessions."
(New York Times)

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