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.
In his desire to make the Islamic Republic into an accepted, normalized “successful regional power,” Obama decided to take over the nuclear negotiations. At the time, Tehran was reeling – the rial plunging, inflation skyrocketing, the economy contracting – under a regime of international sanctions painstakingly constructed over a decade.
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.
It’s been downhill ever since. Desperate for a legacy deal, Obama has played the supplicant, abandoning every red line his administration had declared essential to any acceptable deal.
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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.
Past nuclear activity
The current interim agreement that governed the last 19 months of negotiation required Iran to come clean on past nuclear activity. Tehran has offered nothing.
After continually demanding access to their scientists, plans and weaponization facilities, Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago airily dismissed the need, saying he is focused on the future, “not fixated” on the past.
These were to be gradual and staged as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified Iranian compliance over time. Now we’re going to be releasing up to $150 billion as an upfront signing bonus. That’s 25 times the annual budget of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Yet three months ago, Obama expressed nonchalance about immediate sanctions relief. It’s not the issue, he said. The real issue is “snap-back” sanctions to be reimposed if Iran is found in violation.
Good grief. Iran won’t be found in violation. The inspection regime is laughable and the bureaucratic procedures endless.
What it all means
Taken together, the catalog of capitulations is breathtaking.
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 American diplomatic history.
How did it come to this? With every concession, Obama and Kerry made clear they were desperate for a deal.
And they will get it. Obama will get his “legacy.” Kerry will get his Nobel. And Iran will get the bomb.
Charles Krauthammer’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.