Secretary John Kerry finds “very disturbing” a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei “vowing to defy American policies in the region” despite Kerry’s diplomatic handiwork. “It’s very disturbing. It’s very troubling.” Yikes! One wonders if he never considered that he was taken for a ride, that the supreme leader — not the skilled negotiators — hold the real reins of power and intend to exploit the West’s credulity to Iran’s advantage.
In short, more than Khamenei’s speech we should be very disturbed that Kerry, who has been defending Iran at every turn, is now flummoxed when the supreme leader intrudes in his carefully scripted self-delusion. No wonder the Post-ABC poll shows that the public overwhelmingly distrusts the administration on Iran (52 percent disapproval to 35 percent approval). More than Kerry’s pronouncements (Anytime/anywhere inspections? Never heard of such a thing), there is a growing list of reasons to be very troubled. Here are just a few:
1. The 24-day inspection stall: Olli Heinonen, the former deputy direct general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), says the 24-day period that allows Iran to stall inspectors is a recipe for cheating. “Much of this equipment is very easy to move. So you can take it out over the night … and then there is this dispute settlement time which is 24 days — you will use that to sanitize the place, make new floors, new tiles on the wall, paint the ceiling and take out the ventilation.”
2. Military sites: The BBC Monitoring Trans Caucasus Unit (provided to this column by an Iran specialist) translates from Farsi the following: “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that Iran has secured its right to deny access to its sites for nuclear inspection and to ballistic missiles as part of a deal concluded with six world powers on 14 July.” The deal does not, in portions publicly available, determine whether the inspectors have access to military sites. Iran’s defense minister proclaimed military sites are off limits and now Zarif echoes that position. If this is so, the deal is a fraud.
3. Snapbacks: The BBC Monitoring Trans Caucus Unit also reports, “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that the arrival of foreign companies in the Iranian market is going to be the biggest barrier for re-imposing sanctions on Iran, and that the USA is very concerned about this. ‘Swarming of businesses to Iran for investing their money is the biggest barrier for such an action [re-imposing sanctions on Iran], and American officials have been very concerned about this,’ Zarif said on 21 July in an open parliament session to brief MPs on the content of a nuclear deal concluded with six world powers on 14 July.”
Zarif correctly states that even the snapback provisions don’t allow snapbacks for minor violations (“He noted that according to the deal, the sanctions can be re-imposed on Iran only in case of serious violation of its obligations and not in case of small-scale violations.”) Between the limits on the types of issues that trigger snapbacks, the grandfather clause and the difficulty in re-establishing sanctions once businesses are in the snapbacks amount to a fraud. The sanctions system is not coming back once it is destroyed.
4. Iran is not North Korea: As we know, a similar agreement to this Iran deal was entered into with North Korea, which proceeded to cheat and continue enrichment. North Korea, it is believed, now has multiple nuclear bombs. The Iran deal is worse, as Max Boot explains: “Though Iran has agreed to reduce the number of operational centrifuges from 9,500 to 6,000, to shrink the amount of low-enriched uranium in its possession from 10,000 kilograms to 300, and to make changes at several facilities to prevent them from being used to create nuclear weapons, all of these steps are reversible. Iran is not destroying its nuclear weapons infrastructure as [Libya] did. Nor is it giving up ballistic missiles, renouncing terrorism or making restitution for past attacks. It is only freezing its nuclear program, as North Korea did.”
But Iran is not North Korea: “The larger problem is that, like North Korea, Iran is a big country: If the government wants to hide something, it will likely succeed. Compliance depends on voluntary cooperation. Perhaps Iran will cooperate, but so far, it has not come clean with the IAEA about 12 existing ‘areas of concern’ regarding the ‘possible military dimensions’ of its nuclear program.”
As CEO of the Israel Project, Josh Block tells this column, “Poll after poll shows that Americans broadly disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the Iran issue, and for good reason.” The good news is that before a single hearing the large majority of U.S. senators are opposed to or likely opposed to the Iran deal. And the more they find out, the more lawmakers are likely to agree.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) released a statement echoing concerns about Zarif’s remarks:
“Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif revealed exactly how his country plans to ‘adhere’ to the nuclear agreement, and it is exactly what we feared. Though the Obama Administration has argued repeatedly that if Iran violated the deal, sanctions can be snapped back, Iran remains certain that the scale of foreign investment would effectively prevent the world from re-imposing sanctions. This is something that Secretary Kerry and President Obama should have certainly been aware of and prevented during negotiations. The foreign minister also stated that a violation of the U.N. resolution prohibiting the purchasing of conventional arms and missiles is not a violation of the overall agreement. So the Iranians believe they can violate aspects of the agreement without penalty. It seems that they interpret the agreement much differently than the administration.
“Iran’s Foreign Minister went on to say that Iran can deny access to nuclear and military sites under this deal. This is why anytime, anywhere inspections were a fundamental requirement, to ensure that there is no room for debate.
“The administration should explain why their interpretation of this deal is, in numerous areas, at odds with the Iranians’. Without a satisfactory explanation, nobody can be sure what deal was actually negotiated.”