For days, I have delayed writing because the situation regarding negotiations with Iran has been so much in flux. I was waiting, waiting, for some outcome or closure. My own feeling for some time has been that there is the possibility that there will be no deal, as the Iranians in the end might balk at signing.
No deal would be the best we might hope for now. Great damage has already been done. But at least this way, Obama’s insanity would be exposed and he wouldn’t be able to claim “victory.” And then, if/when Israel were to attack Iran, there would be no charge that an agreement that would have brought “peace” had been sabotaged.
In truth, the Iranians pretty much have what they want already – insofar as much sanction relief has been provided upfront, European nations are clamoring to trade, and the international community has conceded the Iranian “right” to operate centrifuges. Why mess things up by signing an agreement that calls for inspections, however limited, or other controls?
The problem, of course, is that, while Iran hasn’t come to terms with signing, neither have the mullahs said negotiations were at an end. They have been willing to play the game, on and on and on, all the while advancing their nuclear agenda.
While the American administration – in spite of Kerry’s feeble claims that he wouldn’t stay at the table forever – has been reluctant to be identified as the party that called an end to proceedings. Then, of course, the Iranians would charge that it was the US that was refusing to cooperate on a deal.
Thus have the negotiations gone past one deadline after another. I came to refer to this process, in my own head, as “faux negotiations.” These are not legitimate negotiations, for there is no real give-and-take.
This is how journalist Daniel Greenfield described the situation in “Obama’s Infinite Nuclear Deadlines for Iran” (emphasis added):
“’We are certainly not going to sit at the negotiating table forever,’ John Kerry said. That was last year around the time of the final deadline which had been extended from July 2014.
“’New ideas surfaced’ in the final days, he claimed and ‘we would be fools to walk away.’ That’s also the theme of every sucker caught in a rigged card game, MLM scheme and Nigerian prince letter scam.
“Smart people walk away after getting cheated. Only fools stay.
“The final deadline was extended to March. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in March that, ‘I think it’s fair to say that we’ve reached our limit, right now, in as far as the conversations have been going on for more than a year.’
“The March deadline was extended until the end of June.
“Earnest said earnestly that the Obama Squad was ready to walk away even before June 30. An official claimed, ‘No one is talking about a long-term extension. No one.’
“The Iranians had a good laugh and sent the US negotiators out to fetch them some coffee and smokes.
“…But Kerry was almost coherent compared to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini who stated that, ‘We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline.’
“When you don’t treat a deadline as final, that means it’s being extended. A deadline that isn’t kept, isn’t a deadline. It’s an ex-deadline pining for the peaceful Iranian fjords.
“But Federica explained that the deadlines weren’t being extended, they were being ‘interpreted… in a flexible way.’ A flexible deadline is a good metaphor for the Obama negotiating posture.
“If the negotiators can’t even make one of many deadlines stick, who really believes they’ll stand their ground on nuclear inspections or sanctions snapback?…
“…Obama’s people have admitted that they will negotiate until doomsday. And doomsday is likely to be the date that Iran detonates its first bomb.
“…The deadline concession officially puts Iran in the driver’s seat.”
And so… yesterday it was announced that a deal was very imminent and would likely be announced on Monday. (Monday midnight – tonight – is the latest deadline.) Hearts sank, stomachs clenched, at this possibility.
But here it is, Monday evening, and still no deal. AP, reporting this afternoon, says a deal is still elusive (emphasis added):
“Disputes over attempts to probe Tehran’s alleged work on nuclear weapons unexpectedly persisted at Iran nuclear talks on Monday, diplomats said, threatening plans to wrap up a deal by midnight…
“The diplomats said two other issues still needed final agreement — Iran’s demand for a lifting of a U.N. arms embargo and its insistence that any U.N. Security Council resolution approving the nuclear deal be written in a way that stops describing Iran’s nuclear activities as illegal…”
The UN arms embargo has to do with conventional weaponry and impinges directly on Iranian plans for hegemony in the region. But it has implications even beyond this. As Andrew Bowen writes, in “Give the Mullahs Ballistic Missiles?” (emphasis added):
“Ending an arms embargo on Iran will only destabilize the Middle East and threaten U.S. national security…
“Advocates of this policy have three main arguments.
“First, that the U.S. shouldn’t get preoccupied by this small snag…
“Second, Washington’s concessions on the embargo aren’t a big deal because these negotiations are focused on Iran’s nuclear program…
Finally, there’s a claim that Iran simply needs advanced weapons to help defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria….
“Matthew McInnis, a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former senior expert on Iran at the CENTCOM, argues, ‘these are all red herrings. They distract from Iran’s real threat to U.S. national security interests: an unfettered Iranian armed forces’…
“It is one of the great ironies with this potential deal that in trying to constrain Iran’s nuclear program for ten to 15 years, we may actually help create an Iranian military that puts the lives of American sailors, soldiers, and airmen at serious risk.”
Omri Ceren’s observations on this:
“…it just doesn’t seem possible that the Americans can give ground on this. What’s the sales pitch to Congress going to be? ‘Not only are we giving Iran $150 billion to bolster its military, but we’re also lifting arms restrictions to make it easier for them to buy next-generation cruise missiles they’ll use against the U.S. military and our allies.’
“…yes of course lifting the arms embargo would detonate American national security…
“…If Kerry agrees to drop the arms embargo, it’s difficult to see Congress accepting the agreement. If Kerry gets the Iranians to give up on the demand, Congress will want to know what he had to trade away to do it.”
But (see below), Khameini is saying all his red lines have to be met, if there is to be an agreement. If the Americans cannot accept it, is this a genuine sticking point? Or, if they do, the kiss of death in Congress?
Whatever the case, it is imperative that all Americans be aware of what is going on here, and hold Congress accountable.
Perhaps by midnight tonight there will be a deal. But do not count on it. There is talk of extending negotiations into Tuesday. In fact, there are reports that hotel rooms have been booked again in Vienna by the US delegation.
While Iranian media outlet PressTV cites Iran’s nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi (emphasis added):
“…certain issues still remain. As long as these issues are not settled, one cannot say we have reached an agreement. I cannot promise that the issues will be resolved by tonight or tomorrow night.”
If there is a deal, it will be the stuff of nightmares, beyond horrific.
Yesterday we saw photos of the overwhelming crowds in the streets of Tehran, waiting to celebrate the agreement. Horrendous.
Hey folks, if the Iranians are that pleased, something is very very wrong.
According to the semi-official news agency Fars, the anticipated agreement complies with all the “red lines” set out by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Khamenei had put forth these “red lines” last month, in talks with Iranian president Rouhani.
Providing a somewhat different take, a Khamenei advisor, going by the name Velayati, has tweeted that: “Any deal in Vienna will be provisional, subject to approval by ‘Supreme Guide.’”
Also a signal of something very wrong is the readiness of the Obama administration to continue negotiations even as Khamenei calls for a continuing struggle with the US – which he refers to as an “arrogant power” – regardless of what deal is signed.
Last Friday, in Tehran, “Al Quds Day” was observed by crowds of tens of thousands shouting, “Down with America,” “Death to Israel.”
Not even the specter of a burning American flag prompted Obama or Kerry to protest, or gave them pause regarding the wisdom of the negotiations.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear again and again that Israel will not be bound by a bad deal with Iran. Yesterday at the weekly Cabinet meeting, he showed a video of President Clinton, in which he praised a nuclear deal with North Korea, which would make the world safer. We all know how that turned out.
In an interview with The Times of Israel yesterday, Dr. Dore Gold, who is currently serving as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, let it be known that (emphasis added):
“Israel won’t be shy about making its views on the Iran deal heard on Capitol Hill…While Israel needs to express its concerns with civility, he stressed, the government is gearing up to firmly advocate its position in discussions with all the relevant players in the US government. ‘We’ll do it respectfully, but we have to tell the truth,’ he said.”
Reports The Times:
“According to other Israeli diplomats, never before has a Foreign Ministry director-general been as close to the prime minister as Gold is to Benjamin Netanyahu, who also happens to be serving as interim foreign minister. Unlike his predecessors, Gold, who immigrated to Israel in 1980, can pick up the phone and call Netanyahu at any time. It is quite clearly Gold, rather than Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who is calling the shots in Israel’s diplomacy, these diplomats say, acting as Netanyahu’s trusted emissary.”
“’The story of Iran’s nuclear capability is not over,” said Gold, the author of a 2009 book on the Iranian regime’s bid for the bomb.
“…he hailed Netanyahu, whom he has advised since the mid-90s, as the courageous defender of the entire region, single-handedly bearing the burden of opposition to a deal that all Sunni states loathe but don’t dare to publicly criticize.
“’They can afford a strategy of silence when there is one player in the region who is defending not just itself but the entire Middle East,’ Gold said. ‘When Prime Minister Netanyahu stands up and attacks Iran, he’s not just defending Israel. He’s defending Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and all the other Sunni countries.’”
Gold’s role here is important not only because of his close relationship with Netanyahu. It is also because he carries a certain prestige as an academic, author and diplomat.
Credit: Flash 90
In truth, we do not yet know how this will play out.