NEW CASTLE, Pennsylvania, July 13, 2015 – Iran and the so-called P5+1 say they are “very close” to signing a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. The question is what kind of deal will evolve. A nuclear deal with Iran must address the world’s most fundamental interest in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
“Successful negotiations” is a diplomatic victory, which gives political credit to the Obama administration. But a successful nuclear deal must minimize Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon now and in the future.
Unless Iran is willing to accept full transparency of its nuclear program, Western interests will not be served by a nuclear deal with Iran.
It is unclear whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is sincere in his efforts to broker peace between the West and Iran. Even if he is, he only serves as the executor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s regime. Khamenei will have the final say over any deal. Unfortunately, it appears Khamenei’s only goal is to free his government of sanctions, not change how his government operates.
The Administration likely hopes to get the Iran deal out of the way soon. Finalizing negotiations would give President Obama a win at a time when he faces domestic gridlock and chaos in the Middle East. The Administration argues a deal might help prevent even greater political instability in the Middle East and open Iran to the global economy so it can start re-Westernizing.
That said, a superficial deal with Iran will do nothing to stabilize the region. In fact, the opposite could happen.
Relieving political and economic pressure on the Iranian government is equivalent to empowering the Iranian government. This is a regime that systematically suppresses any democratic movement. Just before the Arab Spring, Iran experienced a political revolution, the Green Revolution, that was brutally suppressed by the Iranian government. The regime imprisoned the leaders of that Revolution, and they still remain in jail. Supporters were arrested and beaten.
The regime also has an abysmal human rights record, and is a known sponsor of terrorism around the region.
Should the US embrace a nuclear deal that ignores the interests of the Iranian people, democracy and peace, it will send a bad message to Iran and to the world. Unfortunately, this is the same message the Administration already conveyed when the US ignored the Syrian People’s plight in favor of making a deal with the Assad regime over its chemical weapons stockpiles.
America needs to show the peoples of the Middle East that the United States is a legitimate authority looking to build partnerships with like-minded leaders. The administration should not send the message that the US works with dictators who kill their own people.
President Rouhan has broken through decades of Iranian isolation by engaging the West in the face-to-face negotiations. The relationships that have been developed between Iranian and Western leaders are far more valuable to Iran than their nuclear program will ever be.
The question is whether Iran actually understands that.