A Pyrrhic Victory

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Last week’s passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (Corker-Cardin) was a narrow victory for those who want to maintain a robust democracy in America, which includes a separation of powers between the three equal branches of government: executive, legislative and judiciary. It was a victory for those who were opposed to the way President Barack Obama wanted to run roughshod over the U.S. constitution and not submit an agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran, which is nothing short of an arms treaty, to the Senate for ratification — not what the framers of the constitution originally had in mind.

It was a victory also because it wasn’t only the Obama administration that was dead set against having any extra eyes review the agreement, but the ayatollahs in Tehran as well. After a consecutive series of missed deadlines followed by extensions, the administration assured us that a very final agreement was to be reached by March 31st. But we still don’t have a single piece of paper with which to verify the agreement. Thus, the deadline has been postponed again, this time until June 30.

Increasing evidence of the dangerous slew of concessions to Iran is emerging — a continuous insult to the intelligence of the American people. This Munich-like apotheosis of appeasement has been spun by the administration as a major diplomatic victory for the United States. Since Secretary of State John Kerry had no piece of paper to wave around, Neville Chamberlain-like as “peace in our time,” the administration dubbed it a “framework agreement.” 

Again, without having a verifiable, written record of the agreement, and since the reports coming out of Washington and Tehran on what has been agreed upon differ so vastly, we can safely conclude that what we now have is neither a “framework” nor an “agreement.”

It can be called a narrow victory because Obama, Kerry and their spokespeople made a full press effort on Capitol Hill and elsewhere to kill the bill. To that end, Kerry testified at Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee hearings. It was only when the administration realized that there were not enough Democrats to constitute a veto-proof majority that Obama conceded and called the bill “a reasonable compromise.”

Because the fact sheets that both Washington and Tehran produced after the negotiations differ so vastly, what was actually agreed upon in Lausanne remains shrouded in mystery. 

According to Tehran, the agreement states that 10,000 centrifuges in Natanz and Fordo will remain spinning; that Fordo, an underground military bunker, will not be open to outside inspectors; that older generation centrifuges will be replaced by newer ones; and that the agreement is only to remain in place for five years, after which the newer centrifuges will be installed.

The Obama administration’s fact sheet states that the 19,000 centrifuges Iran currently has will be reduced to 6,104. Keep in mind that when we first started negotiating with Iran, our opening position was zero centrifuges and theirs was approximately 6,000. I fail to see how this is, in any way, a diplomatic victory, when through the process of negotiations, we simply arrived at their starting point.

And what about inspections? The White House Fact Sheet claims that “the IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordo, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.” The U.S. claims that inspectors from the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency will have unlimited access to “snap inspections” of the entire supply chain, to uranium mines, centrifuges and any suspicious site. Iran has denied vociferously that they will allow the IAEA in for “snap inspections.”

In fact, the centrifuges will be allowed to keep spinning in Fordo. However, since the Iranians have officially decategorized Fordo as a nuclear site and renamed it a “military site,” they do not have to be open for inspections. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that military sites are off limits to inspections. He explained, “One must absolutely not allow infiltration of the security and defense needs of the state on the pretext of inspections.”

The administration has claimed that as the Iranians demonstrate compliance, the American, European and United Nations sanctions will be gradually lifted, while Tehran is outraged at even the mere mention of any continuation of sanctions. According to a report in Business Insider, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech last Wednesday that “If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement.”

Already, Iran is reaping tremendous rewards for just deeming to come to the table and “playing” their American counterparts. Last week, Russia paved the way for advanced missile sales to Tehran, in an oil-for-weapons swap, by promising to deliver the S-300 missile defense system. Top Israeli defense official Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad said recently about the S-300 missiles that “it is not a defensive weapon. It’s an unfortunate decision which encourages aggression and the violent methods of the Iranian government.” He also warned that there was a possibility that the Iranians would give this system to Hezbollah or Syria. Hezbollah, he added, already has 100,000 missiles aimed directly at the Jewish state.

And the Wall Street Journal reported that the Iranian regime could get up to $50 billion as a bonus upon signing the agreement, plus at least another $100 billion in unfrozen offshore oil accounts. This is something that, according to the Free Beacon, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf does not deny. 

We know where this vast infusion of cash will be going: directly into the terrorist hands of Hamas and Hezbollah. (But, that’s alright, because according to James Clapper, our national intelligence director, Iran no longer needs to appear in the “terrorism” section of the Worldwide Threat Assessment report.)

Obviously, much more is being spun by this administration, which is hell bent on a deal — any deal — with Iran, than just the Iranian centrifuges.

The fact that no one know whom to believe about what was agreed upon in Lausanne, the Iranians or the Obama administration, is a very sad commentary. I mourn for the America I always believed in, a moral beacon to the world and the barometer of the forces of truth versus falsehood, and good versus evil. Since America has abandoned its place on top of the moral universe, the world has become an infinitely more dangerous place. 

We all know that Iran with nuclear capability will be a danger for America, the Sunni Arab world, and Israel for generations to come. If anything ever needed Senate ratification, it is this treaty. 

That is why the Corker-Cardin bill is simply a narrow, Pyrrhic victory. We must not rest on our laurels. We might have won a small battle, but we have not won the war. The hard work will begin when there is finally a piece of paper for the United States Senate to ratify on June 30. The devil remains in the details.

Originally published at Israel Hayom: https://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=12355.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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