A Very Bad Deal: Let Us Count the Ways

Upon the signing of an Agreed Framework with North Korea in 1994, President Bill Clinton addressed the American people and assured them, “This is a good deal for the United States.” He explained that “North Korea [would] freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program” and that “U.S. and international inspectors will carefully monitor to make sure it keeps its commitments.”

Well, we know how well that worked out. Eight years later, North Korea kicked out international inspectors, and in 2006, it tested its first nuclear weapon underground. Wendy Sherman, the State Department policy coordinator for North Korea at the time of the signing of the Agreed Framework, just happens to have been the lead U.S. negotiator in nuclear talks with Iran since late 2013.

But it would be a mistake to make too much of the North Koran precedent. The Iranian deal that the U.S. is poised to sign, as I write, is worse, much worse, in every way than that with North Korea. North Korea at least had to kick out inspectors to go nuclear. The P5+1 agreement with Iran now on the table is so porous that inspections would be nearly useless. After first insisting that inspections would be “robust and instrusive,” anywhere and anytime, the final agreement now speaks of “managed access,” which would allow the Iranians to indefinitely stall the process of dispute resolution long enough to get rid of telltale signs of cheating.

Not only did the U.S. officials, including the president and secretary of state, cave on the issue. They proceeded to defend Iran’s position on the grounds that the United States would also not allow inspectors into its military installations. Hello! If Iran were the United States, the P5 would not have spent the last twelve years trying to defang its nuclear program, for which it has no conceivable civilian need.

But one must step back from the details of what President Obama has wrought to truly appreciate the full magnitude of the catastrophe. When the United States joined the P5 negotiations with Iran, it was the world’s sole superpower, as even the Iranians say in their anti-America demonstrations. The disparity between the military and economic power of the United States and Iran was enormous. As a result of the sanctions regime, Iran’s economy was in shambles, with runaway inflation coupled with a severe economic slowdown. (That slowdown was reversed in 2014 by the first sanctions relief.)

The pending agreement almost suggests that Obama has sought to grant Iran parity, to turn it not only into a “successful regional power,” in the President’s words, but into a full-fledged threat to the United States. The agreement does little, if anything, to limit Iran’s ballistic missile program, which means that Iranian submarines will be able in the not-too-distant future be able to strike from just a few hundred miles off America’s coast.

Moreover, the United States has apparently caved as well on removal of the arms embargo on Iran. As a consequence, Iran will within five years be able to purchase all the goodies, both defensive and offensive, in bankrupt Russia’s arsenal. And it will have plenty of cash with which to do so, thanks to up to $100 billion in near-term sanctions relief.

With its new toys – e.g, cruise missiles – Iran will be a lot closer to being able to make good on its constant threats to close the Straits of Hormuz, through which 30% of the world’s oil supply passes. The U.S. Fifth Fleet will soon be incapable of insuring freedom of passage through the Straits.

President Obama has dramatically upped the danger to the United States, and set the stage for an aggressive Iran to become a regional hegemon, by pursuing an agreement with open desperation, as if the West were supplicants suing for peace. And he has continued to do so, even as the crowds in Teheran on last Friday’s Al-Quds day howled “Death to America,” in the presence of Iran’s “moderate” president Rouhani. In his speech, Rouhani blamed the Zionist entity and the Global Arrogance (i.e., America) for bankrolling the internecine conflicts roiling the Muslim world. A Teheran newspaper pined for the day when the U.S. “which currently terrorizes the world will one fine day cease to be visible on the map of the world.

As the signing loomed, Supreme Leader Khameini addressed the Iranian people to assure them that the battle against the Global Aggressor would never end: “The campaign against arrogance is one of the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the Holy Quran mandates the drive against arrogance.”

While the U.S. was serially capitulating to Iranian demands, the administration published a study that concluded that Iran’s support for international terrorist groups had not declined, and, in some respects, had even grown in the course of the negotiations.

Nor has Iran refrained from cheating on its commitments under the provisional agreement, as it continued to prevail at every stage in the negotiations. Despite administration claims that Iran has “frozen” enrichment under the provisional agreement, the Institute for Science and International Security estimates that it has enriched another four tons of low-enriched uranium, and has turned into oxide form (which cannot be easily weaponized) only about 5% of what was expected under the provisional agreement. And Germany’s domestic intelligence agency revealed last week that Iran has continued its efforts to procure technology for its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Nevertheless, the State Department continues to insist that Iran has met all its commitments under the provisional agreement. That willingness to whitewash violations and act as Iran’s lawyer bodes poorly for the efficacy of any inspection regime if a final agreement is signed.

ALL PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CAPITULATIONS are based on a whack-a-doodle theory that by rolling over and exposing our stomachs to the Iranians they will come to love us. The unremitting insults against America and assurances of perpetual enmity from Iran’s Supreme Leader should have put to rest that theory. But they didn’t.

Beyond the President himself, the chief exponent of this theory has been Deputy National Security Council advisor Ben Rhodes, whose academic expertise in national security consists of a MFA in creative writing. An agreement, he told the ubiquitous Jeffrey Goldberg, would make much more likely “an evolution in Iran’s behavior.” He points to the election of president Rouhani as an example of moderating trends in the Iranian population.

Rhodes is no doubt right that the majority of the Iranian population thoroughly detests the mullahs. But Rouhani is not the proof. He is a thoroughly vetted and completely controlled creature of the regime. If the administration were really concerned about the views of the population, it should have supported the 2009 Green Revolution against the regime for election fraud. But the agreement on the table now will only strengthen the regime by allowing it to decrease economic discontent with its sanctions windfall, and makes regime change less, not more, likely.

Ultimately, what neither Rhodes nor his boss can wrap their heads around is that no everyone or every group is motivated by pleasure and profit. The 1979 Islamic Revolution established a theocracy in Iran, which defined its purpose from the beginning as cleansing the Middle East of America’s corrupting influence. Only those who deny that religion can be the most powerful motivating factor – as we learn from suicide bombers – could fool themselves into thinking that the mullahs will ever transform themselves into a more congenial group.

EVEN PRESIDENT HOPE AND CHANGE, however, would have a hard time selling the dream of future amity between the U.S. and Iran. Instead President Obama, ably assisted by his Secretary of State and the latter’s team, has told a series of whoppers besides which, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” pales in comparison. Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard helpfully breaks down some of those whoppers.

In April, President Obama insisted in a Rose Garden statement that “American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program will continue to be fully enforced.” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made the same promise at the Jerusalem Post conference at which he was booed in June. In the final agreement, however, virtually all sanctions and the United Nations arms embargo are removed.

Secretary of State Kerry emphatically insisted in April that Iran would detail all military dimensions of its nuclear program: “They have to do it. It will be done. . . . It will be part of a final agreement. It has to be.” But in late June, Kerry said the P5+1 is no longer “fixated” on the past, about which it has “absolute” knowledge, and focused only on the future.

Details of past nuclear work, however, are very much about the future, for without a baseline of past work, it is impossible for nuclear inspectors to assess what the Iranians are up to now. The claim of absolute knowledge of Iran’s past program is total nonsense. Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA Director under President Obama, said a June conference sponsored by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that American intelligence alone “will be insufficient to build up enough confidence . . . that an agreement is being honored.” The United States has in every instance been caught by surprise by other countries going nuclear – e.g. the Soviet Union in its day, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

As early as December 23, 2013, President Obama correctly noted that the Iranians had no need for an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful program. But under the agreement, the centrifuges in Fordow will all remain in place, and be capable of being quickly reconverted to enriching uranium, according to Olli Heinonen, former International Atomic Energy Agency deputy-director for safeguards.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor described the “clear” American position in April 2012 that Iran must fully suspended enrichment as required by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. Under the agreement, those Security Council resolutions will be history and Iran’s right to enrichment expressly recognized. The deal merely limits the number of centrifuges Iran can operate for a period of years.

Chief negotiator Wendy Sherman, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Iran’s ballistic missile program would have to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement. Now, she says, only ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads are of concern.

Most important, as mentioned above, the anytime, anywhere inspection regime has been replaced by “managed access” that the Iranians will be able to manipulate with ease.

EACH OF THE ORIGINAL AMERICAN POSITIONS reflected the minimal requirements for a tenable deal. The fact that each has been totally reversed demonstrates what a great deal this is for Iran’s Supreme Leader.

A bi-partisan group of American diplomats, legislators, policymakers and experts — including former CIA Director David Petraeus, State Department nuclear proliferation expert Robert Einhorn, Dennis Ross, who oversaw Iran policy in Obama’s first term, and Gary Samore, Obama’s former chief advisor on nuclear policy — issued a statement on June 24 setting forth the minimum standards for an acceptable agreement. Those conditions tracked the initial American stance, and none of them were achieved.

They listed five conditions: anytime, anywhere inspections; full disclosure by Iran of previous weaponization efforts; sanctions relief must begin only after the IAEA certifies that Iran has fully complied with its commitments; the deal must last for decades; and Iran must fully dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.

Instead as Iran’s semi-official Fars agency reported, the final agreement met all of Supreme Leader Khameini’s requirements, including the full removal of the arms embargo and all economic, financial, and banking sanctions, and the removal of all previous UN Security Council Resolutions relating to Iran’s nuclear program.

Stephen Hayes points out that the Iranians gained a wish list of all their policy objectives: international legitimization of a rogue state, a massive shift of power to an aggressive state sponsor of terror, the strengthening of the mullahs hold on power, and fully sanctioned nuclear threshold status.

Somewhere along the way, according to former CIA director Hayden, the President’s mantra went from “no deal is better than a bad deal” to “any deal is better than no deal.” And that’s what we got “any deal.” Once again “process” took over, until the worst nightmare for American negotiators was that Iran might say no. So we made them an offer they couldn’t refuse – their entire wish list.

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13 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    I’m trying to imagine the negotiating process that led to this fiasco. Maybe like this:

    1. US: Tell us what you want and it’s yours.
    2. Iran: We want A, B, and C.
    3. US: OK, sign here.
    4. Iran: Not so fast. We want D, E, and F.
    5. US: OK, sign here.
    6. Iran: Not so fast. We want G, H, and I.

    …and so on.

  2. Shua Cohen says:

    “The eastern world it is explodin’
    And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’
    Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
    If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
    I can’t twist the truth it knows no regulation
    Handful of senators don’t pass legislation
    This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’
    But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
    Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

    Barry McGuire, “Eve of Destruction” (1965)

    G-d willing, the g’eula shleimah is imminent.

  3. DF says:

    To call this capitulation a “deal” is to insult negotiators and dealmakers all over the world. But even more infuriating is the sickeningly hollow attempt on the part of this administration to blunt opposition by dangling the release of Jonathan Pollard as a carrot. How absolutely repulsive, to toy with a man’s life this way in so brazen an attempt to intimidate or bribe opponents. (The “useful idiots” among us will, no doubt, see this how they want to see it, as an act of sincere benevolence from the supreme leader. In which they must still ask themselves: how stupid can a man be, not to be aware how this will be perceived?) I didn’t think it was possible for this president to go any lower, but he just did.

  4. mycroft says:

    “dangling the release of Jonathan Pollard as a carrot. How absolutely repulsive, to toy with a man’s life this way in so brazen an attempt to intimidate or bribe opponents”

    Use http://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/ and ” Result for search jonathan pollard, Race: White, Sex: Male” shows “JONATHAN JAY POLLARD
    Register Number: 09185-016
    Age: 60
    Race: White
    Sex: Male
    Located at: Butner Medium I FCI
    Release Date: 11/21/2015”

    Normal effective sentence for life imprisonment in 1985 was 30 years and we are approaching his expected release date.

  5. Rachel says:

    So scary. Thank you for the comprehensive overview.

  6. L. Oberstein says:

    I awiat the day when all frum Jews including those who still are “non Zionist’ can fully express their belief in the State of Israel. I hope we can move from just davening for the matzav of our bretheren in the Holy Land to actually saying “Israel” when we write or speak internally,not just to the gentiles.
    This is a very difficult time and we need achdus and a lot of siyata dishmaya . I think that it is a done deal and that the most we can hope for are defense help to compensate. The USA us weak and spineless. The USA has no interest of ability to go to war against Iran, it is not even a remote possibility. What we are asking from Obama is not even a remote possibility. he is committed to this deal and the nations of the world are anxious to get back to business with Iran. We do need Divine help.
    In the context of the 9 days, this is my take:We celebrated a siyum tonight of Masechet Makot and we all had hot dogs and hamburgers in honor of the occasion. This is the speech that I would have liked to have given,but,since it wasn’t my personal siyum, I only thought it.
    The final episode is when Rabbi Akiva and his friends walk past the location of the Holy of Hollies and a fox comes out. They cry but he laughs.They cry because of the defilement of the holiest place and he laughs because ,since that prophecy has come true, he is confident that the second prophecy will also come true and once again there will be joy in Jerusalem. My thoughts,which I shared with several people near me was that we are indeed the fortunate generation that has lived to see this come true. Once again, Jerusalem is full of the sound of joy and of young men and women renewing our ancient homeland. How lucky we are, how good is our lot. But, the redemption is not over. We still have a lot to accomplish in order to live in tranquility in Israel. As we have merited to see the first flowering of our redemption, may we live to see the full fulfillment of Hashem’s promise.

  7. Y. Ben-David says:

    It is interesting to note that a large majority of Americans approve the agreement and at the same time, a majority believes that they Iranians won’t honor it. The only conclusion I can reach from this is that most Americans simply don’t care. Increasingly in the Western world, society’s and the State’s job is viewed as being no more than to provide maximum leisure time and entertainment. The most prominent opinion makers are increasingly celebrities such as singers, movie stars and athletes who generally know nothing about the issues they are babbling about. Ideas like “American is the arsenal of democracy” or “defending freedom” around the world are quaint and out of date.
    Well, since we here in Israel are on the front line of the struggle against barbarism, we are just going to have to learn to stand on our own two feet and not look to others to support us. I am well aware that Israel can not produce its own fighter planes and other expensive, complex defense systems like this but we can still obtain them for cold, hard cash. However the mental crutch of depending on the Americans which came out of the Oslo 1990’2 (e.g. Clinton’s “we know you Israelis are taking risks, you can count on us to back you up”) are now clearly meaningless.

  8. shaul shapira says:

    “A bi-partisan group of American diplomats, legislators, policymakers and experts — including former CIA Director David Petraeus, State Department nuclear proliferation expert Robert Einhorn, Dennis Ross, who oversaw Iran policy in Obama’s first term, and Gary Samore, Obama’s former chief advisor on nuclear policy — issued a statement on June 24 setting forth the minimum standards for an acceptable agreement. Those conditions tracked the initial American stance, and none of them were achieved.”

    Have these people commented on the deal since it was announced? I think they would have a bit more credibility if they said something. We kind of knew that no matter what deal was struck was going to be denounced by the Netanyahus and JR’s of the world. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but I think it takes a bit of punch out their arguments.

  9. Toby Bulman Katz says:

    I’m waiting to see how Rabbi Shafran will spin the Iran deal. Maybe it really is good for the Jews? After all, Obama does have Israel’s welfare at heart.

  10. Raymond says:

    I am not sure what else that Barack Obama has to do, before people realize that he is well on his way to doing all he can to dismantle the United States and destroy Israel. He is a traitor to this country, pure and simple, whose only interests seem to consist of furthering the twin causes of Marxism and Islam. If people had their heads on straight, with their eyes wide open, they would realize what is going on, and would find a way to put him on trial for treason. Certainly, he is in the process of doing more damage to this country than any other single individual in all of this country’s history. Why nobody is calling him out on this, is frustrating and frightening to live through. G-d help us all.

  11. Bob Miller says:

    Toby Bulman Katz (July 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm) wrote,
    “I’m waiting to see how Rabbi Shafran will spin the Iran deal. Maybe it really is good for the Jews? After all, Obama does have Israel’s welfare at heart.”

    Last week, Rabbi Shafran emailed me this press release issued on July 17

    “Upon consultation with its rabbinic leadership, Agudath Israel of America issued the following statement regarding the agreement announced on July 14 concerning Iran’s nuclear program, and calling for both political and spiritual advocacy:

    Deep concerns have been expressed by many knowledgeable groups and individuals regarding the agreement announced on July 14 concerning Iran’s nuclear program. These concerns raise serious questions whether the agreement is in the best interests of the United States and its allies.

    The nation that has the greatest stake in this matter is Israel, which is the declared target of Iranian genocidal ambitions. It is noteworthy, therefore, that not only the prime minister of Israel and its ruling coalition, but the entire spectrum of political ideologies and security experts in Israel, have spoken out about the mortal danger they believe the agreement poses to Israel, and are urging its rejection by the United States Congress.

    We have no doubt that the White House and its team of negotiators, in conjunction with its other partners, acted in good faith in reaching an agreement with the Iranians, and with the commendable goal of reducing the Iranian nuclear threat to America and its allies including Israel. However, we cannot disregard the opinions of so many that the agreement is not in the best interests of America and its allies, and certainly not in the best interests of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel.

    That is especially so in light of the undisputed and indisputable fact that Iran is a rogue state, which has fomented terror and destruction throughout the Middle East and beyond. It has been, and continues to be, fully committed to the destruction of Israel. Nothing in the agreement requires Iran to renounce its support of terror or its goal of genocide. Nothing in the policies or conduct of the Iranian government provides any realistic basis for confidence that it will live up to its obligations under the agreement, that it will not use the billions of dollars it will receive under the agreement to fund terror activities by Iranian proxies such as Hamas and Hizbollah, that it will not stockpile other deadly weapons and eventually even develop nuclear weaponry after certain designated periods of time, or that it has any intention of abandoning its genocidal ambitions.

    These considerations must be at the very forefront of Congress’ deliberations as it now carries out its awesome responsibility of independently reviewing the agreement and determining whether the agreement is truly in the best interests of America and its allies.

    To our own community, we reiterate the foundation principle that our security comes ultimately from Hashem, G-d Himself. Rabos machshavos b’lev ish, while man may have many thoughts and designs, atzas Hashem hie sakum, it is Hashem’s design that prevails.

    Surely we must do our advocacy, including reaching out to Congress and other relevant parties; that is part of our “shtadlonus” obligation under the clear mandate of Torah. However, the most important advocacy we can do is to turn to Hashem, to recognize that teshuva tefilla u’tzedaka ma’avirin es ro’a hagezeira, repentance, prayer and acts of charity are the keys to our salvation.

    This is a period of somber reflection for the Jewish people. May the challenging developments in the world around us remind us of how fragile our existence truly is, and how totally dependent we are on the protective embrace of the one-and-only Shomer Yisroel, the Heavenly Guardian of the Jewish People.”

  12. mycroft says:

    “Toby Bulman Katz
    July 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I’m waiting to see how Rabbi Shafran will spin the Iran deal. Maybe it really is good for the Jews? After all, Obama does have Israel’s welfare at heart.”

    Every US President has US interests at heart-some have been more interested in the relatively disadvantaged, some have been more interested in the oil industry. Every recent US President has done somethings pro Israel and some not so pro. Eg Ronald Reagan was the President who recognized the PLO, he was the President who pushed AWACS deal for Saudi Arabia,George Bush had many open fights with Shamir and Israel, GHWBush refused to engage Iran when it could have been stopped and refused to give bombs to Israel that with a successful attack would have then destroyed the nuclear capability.
    Clinton and Bush all had fights with Bibi. Carter after his Presidency has certainly been anti Israel. Obama pro Palestinian state but also greater military cooperation with Israel.

  13. cvmay says:

    Obama’s only concern is foreign policy of America – which he is changing immensely.

    Remember the State Department is the strong, right arm in formulating American policy and it has been proven that they are Arabists.

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