Despite statements to the contrary, the Obama administration appears determined to achieve an agreement with Iran and seems willing to breach its repeated undertakings that it would never countenance Iran becoming a nuclear power. With the mullahs’ increased intransigence as they sense the desperation of the Americans to avoid a confrontation, the November 24 deadline will probably be extended, enabling the centrifuges to continue spinning while the P5+1 countries engage in fruitless negotiations with the duplicitous Iranians.
The Iranians have mocked US Secretary of State John Kerry’s overtures, including his secret appeals to them to coordinate with the US in opposing Islamic State (IS). Speaking from a podium bedecked with banners blazing “America cannot do a damn thing,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei boasted that the “Great Satan’s” efforts to bring Iran to its knees had failed and that US President Barack Obama lacked the courage for a military confrontation. Ali Younesi, senior advisor to “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, referred to Obama as “the weakest of US presidents,” whose six years in office were “humiliating.”
Nevertheless, the administration continues to grovel in an effort to appease the Iranians. It is widely believed that the unprecedented hostility recently directed against Israel, especially the statement that Israel had lost the opportunity of exploiting the military option to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power, was primarily for the benefit of Khamenei.
The London Times claimed that American and Iranian officials have even been discussing the opening of a US trade office in Tehran.
The frenzied, initially covert, efforts to engage the support of Iran in the struggle against IS – despite Iran being designated by the US as a terrorist state – has further undermined the little credibility the US retains with the moderate Sunni states, considered until recently as staunch allies.
Obama’s deception of his allies was further exemplified when it was disclosed that he had written a secret letter to Khamenei pleading with him to reach an accommodation. This, the fourth letter he had written to the ayatollah – all of which were ignored – was an explicit breach of undertaking to his allies that any independent initiatives would be preceded by consultations.
Even one of Obama’s favorite in-house journalists, Jeffrey Goldberg, felt compelled to remark that the “most recent letter was delivered at an unfortunate moment in the run-up to the putatively climactic negotiations between Iran and the world powers” when the Obama administration had already conceded to many of Iran’s demands. Goldberg concluded his column by stating: “The Iranians originally came to the negotiating table because US-led sanctions were hurting them badly. I understand the need for give and take negotiations, but I’m getting worried that the US is focused too much on the first half of that equation.”
The US administration has already given approval to Iran to enrich uranium, effectively making it a nuclear threshold state. While the global powers agreed to enable the Iranians to have 1,000 centrifuges to process material required to create nuclear fuel, the Iranians have outrightly refused to dismantle any of the 19,000 centrifuges they have already accumulated. It is understood that Iran is already in the position to accrue sufficient enriched fissile material to become a nuclear power within a few months, if it so desires. The US has indicated that it would be willing to sign off on a deal that would extend this breakout phase to one year – hardly reassuring to the region.
The Iranians also displayed utter contempt toward the US by violating the interim accord and failing to disclose an enrichment facility in Qom and even denying access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to military sites and nuclear scientists engaged in research. Clearly, the duplicitous Islamist regime would continue to circumvent any agreement that is not rigorously monitored and enforced – a procedure that the Iranians have already made clear they will never accept.
While the outcome of this issue will have immense global implications, especially in the Middle East, Israel is the country most affected. The Iranian regime’s hatred of Israel is messianic. It openly proclaims its commitment to destroy the Jewish state. Coinciding with Obama’s groveling letter to him, Khamenei tweeted a message stating that the only way to stop the “Israeli crimes” was to “annihilate” the “barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel.” Israel cannot accept the prospect of such a fanatical terrorist regime becoming a nuclear threshold state.
Under pressure, following the public release of his letter to Khamenei, Obama has stepped back, stating that there is still a big gap and that “we may not be able to get there.” He added, “Our number one priority with respect to Iran is making sure they don’t get a nuclear weapon.” Even Obama’s closest associates would question their president’s credibility when he voices such statements.
The question is whether at this advanced stage, the P1+5 nations, desperate to appease and reach an accord with the terrorist state at any price, can still be deterred from capitulating.
The key rests with the United States. The extraordinary landslide victory by the Republicans in the midterm elections – clearly a vote of no confidence in Obama – provides some hope.
Yet it should be noted that within the American political system, the president has primary control of foreign relations. The Republican-controlled Congress and Senate can certainly pass resolutions, but that will not necessarily limit the White House in this arena of foreign policy. In addition, realizing that on the domestic scene his hands will be restricted by Congress, Obama might even decide to intensify his foreign policy activities. The principal areas are likely to include the embrace of the Iranians and possibly trying to impose a settlement on the Israelis.
However, in relation to Iran, the president must persuade Congress to rescind the sanctions it originally legislated. Obama may constitutionally override the congressional sanctions and unilaterally suspend enforcement, but that could lead to a major confrontation with Congress.
Needless to say, if a reasonable agreement is achieved, it will be endorsed by Congress. But all indications suggest that Obama is promoting an Alice-in-Wonderland deal with the Iranians, which Congress should reject.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already stated unequivocally that the Senate will review any deal with Iran and ensure that “any comprehensive agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program, both protects the national security of the United States and recognizes Israel’s own defense as a security partner of our country.”
At this critical time, American Jews and friends of Israel should exert all their influence to convince the administration and a bipartisan Congress that appeasing the Iranian mullahs will have horrific long-term consequences and must be avoided. They should mount a powerful public campaign to demonstrate the extent of the catastrophe the government would cause should it appease this evil terrorist regime, which in the absence of becoming a nuclear state is likely in time to implode because of the growing opposition from its own young people and the middle class.
If the current US desperation to avoid a confrontation enables the Iranian terrorist state to achieve a nuclear threshold level, it is likely to have far worse long-term global repercussions than Chamberlain’s appeasement of the Nazis at Munich, which led to World War II.
The article was first published in The Jerusalem Post.