The Dawn of Iranian Empire
By Max Boot
July 14, 2015
now, after months of leaks following the initial agreement on April 2, the broad
outlines of the deal with Iran are already familiar. If you want to know
what’s in it, I recommend skipping the bombastic White
House PowerPoints, which claim that all Iranian pathways to a nuclear weapon
have been “blocked,” or the obfuscatory language of the 150-page
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action itself, which reads like a document
drafted by a committee of lawyers intent on papering over differences with
extra-long and hard-to-follow sentences.
a more succinct (and, on the whole, accurate) account, go right to the statement
issued by Tehran’s official
Islamic Republic News Agency. It notes, inter alia:
World powers have recognized Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and are to
respect the nuclear rights of Iranian nation within international conventions…
The Islamic Republic of Iran is to be recognized as a nuclear technology power
authorized to have peaceful nuclear programs such as complete nuclear fuel cycle
and enrichment to be identified by the United Nations.
All unfair sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council including economic and
financial sanctions on Iran are to be lifted as per the agreement and through
issuance of a new resolution by the United Nations Security Council.
All nuclear installations and sites are to continue their work contrary to the
early demands of the other party, none of them will be dismantled.
The policy on preventing enrichment uranium is now failed, and Iran will go
ahead with its enrichment program.
Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, no centrifuges will be
dismantled and research and development on key and advanced centrifuges such as
IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, IR-8 will continue.
far, so familiar — and dismaying. This agreement is a massive capitulation to
Iran. Having started negotiations with the goal of ending Iran’s nuclear
program, the U.S. and its European negotiating partners are winding up
legitimating Iran’s status as a nuclear power in waiting.
there are some surprises in the final language.
most pleasant surprise is the “snapback” provision which would, in theory,
at least, allow the reintroduction of sanctions should Iran violate the
agreement. It had been widely feared that “snapback” would require a vote of
the U.N. Security Council, which would allow Russia or China to veto such a
resolution. Instead, the agreement sets up a Joint Commission — composed of
the European Union, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany,
Russia, China, and Iran — to adjudicate disputes over implementation. It would
only take a bare majority of the commission to reinstitute sanctions, which
means that the U.S. and its European allies could re-impose sanctions even
without the support of Russia and China.
makes “snapback” no longer an impossibility — but still extremely
improbable. Because once sanctions come off, the European states, in particular,
will have a significant business stake in Iran that they will be loath to
endanger by re-imposing sanctions.
is also the psychological dimension to be considered: Re-imposing sanctions
would be tantamount to a concession that the agreement has failed. How likely is
it that the architects of the agreement will concede any such thing? In reality,
it’s impossible to imagine any circumstances under which President Obama and
Secretary of State Kerry (who is no doubt expecting to get a Nobel Peace Prize
out of this, to match Obama’s) will ever say that Iran is in violation.
Perhaps some future president who did not negotiate this deal will be more
willing to make such a call — perhaps. But to do so would spark a crisis with
Iran that no future president would relish. The odds are it will be easier to
overlook any violations that are sure to be disputed. That’s certainly been
the patterns with arms control treaties between the U.S. and Russia — repeated
Russian violations tend to get swept
under the carpet by both Democratic and Republican administrations.
even if the snapback were implemented sometime in the future, it wouldn’t
matter that much — Iran will already have reaped the benefits of well over
$100 billion of sanctions relief.
Joint Commission mechanism that governs snapback is also in place to adjudicate
disputes over access for inspectors to Iranian nuclear sites. Again, in theory,
the U.S. and its European partners can compel an inspection of a suspect site
notwithstanding Iranian opposition by out-voting Iran, Russia, and China. But
not right away. The agreement specifies that it would take no fewer than 24 days
to compel an inspection. That’s plenty of time for the Iranians to
“sanitize” any suspect site so as to remove any evidence of nuclear
activity, and it’s far removed from the kind of “24/7 access” that
President Obama said just today that inspectors would have.
other surprises in the agreement are even nastier. The Iranians had insisted
that the agreement stick only to the nuclear issue — that’s why, for
example, the Iranians did not agree as part of this deal to release
the American hostages they are holding or to end their support for terrorism
or their commitment to Israel’s destruction. But it turns out the agreement
isn’t just limited to nuclear issues. It includes a commitment to lift the
conventional arms embargo on Iran in no more than five years, and the embargo on
missile sales to Iran in no more than eight years — and possibly sooner, if
Iran is said to be in compliance with the nuclear accord.
provisions should be read in conjunction with the agreement’s promise to lift
all sanctions on a long line of Iranian entities and individuals — 61 pages
worth, to be exact — including a promise to lift sanctions on Qassem Soleimani,
commander of Iran’s Quds Force, who is to Shiite terrorism what Osama bin
Laden was to Sunni terrorism. Assuming that this is in fact what the agreement
says (notwithstanding whispers from some American officials that it’s another
Qassem Soleimani who is benefitting), this is a stunning concession to Iran’s
imperial designs in the Middle East.
this means is that Iran will soon have more than $100 billion extra to spend not
only on exporting the Iranian revolution and dominating neighboring states (Gen.
Soleimani’s job) but that it will also before long be free to purchase as many
weapons — even ballistic missiles — as it likes on the world market. No
wonder Vladimir Putin appears to be happy: This deal is likely to become a
windfall for Russian arms makers, although you can be sure that Iran will also
spread its largesse to manufacturers in France and, if possible, the UK so as to
give those countries an extra stake in not re-imposing sanctions.
sum up: The agreement with Iran, even if Iran complies (which is a heroic
assumption), will merely delay the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program by
a few years, while giving Iran a massive boost in conventional power in the
meantime. What do you think Iran’s Sunni neighbors, all of whom are terrified
of Iranian power, will do in response? There is a good possibility that this
agreement will set off a massive regional arms race, in both conventional and
nuclear weaponry, while also leading states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar to
make common cause with the Islamic State as a hedge against Iranian designs in
assuming, of course, that the agreement is not blocked by Congress. But it’s
unlikely that the Senate can muster a veto-proof majority to override the veto
Obama promised to deliver of any bill that seeks to block this terrible deal.
Assuming, as appears probable, that this deal is in fact implemented, future
historians may well write of July 14, 2015, as the date when American dominance
in the Middle East was supplanted by the Iranian Imperium.