The day after Secretary of State Kerry finished negotiating his disastrous nuclear agreement with Iran, President Obama asserted that, “ninety-nine percent of the world community” supports it.
Like so many of the President’s statements on this topic, this one is both false and irrelevant.
Our culturally closest friend, Canada, has already stated that it intends to keep its own sanctions on Iran in place. India’s defense establishment, meanwhile, is concerned and preparing for a Middle East arms race.
Saudi Arabia may be the only Arab state that has openly opposed it, however, the other Persian Gulf nations have also indicated their disapproval. In Israel, opposition comes not only from Prime Minister Netanyahu, as Obama would have us believe, but from across the political spectrum.
In the US, moreover, four Democratic former senators and one Democratic former Representative have formed Citizens for a Nuclear-Free Iran, which opposes this agreement. Sitting Democrats Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Juan Vargas have both spoken out against the deal.
The administration is blind to legitimate opposition to the deal, especially from those Middle Eastern countries most directly affected by this.
When Obama spoke of “99% of the world community,” in truth, he was referring primarily to his negotiating partners in the P5+1, specifically the UK, France, Germany and the EU. (In any other context, liberals would call such a conflation “Euro-centric.”)
Secretary Kerry reinforced this view in Senate hearings on Thursday, when he argued that the US Congress should now accept the failed result of a process that we initiated out of consideration for the views of the other members of the P5+1.
European support for the deal, however, is not a persuasive rationale for Congress to move forward.
Americans have never outsourced our moral decisions to Europe. This is not the time to start.
Europeans are hardly objective brokers in this process, as the President would have us believe. The EU and its member states have a long-term financial stake in the removal of sanctions.
As for China and Russia, they hardly have the interests of the U.S. and our allies in mind. That they went along with the deal in no way shows that it is a good deal.
In January, Brenda Shaffer at the Washington Institute explained that, “since the Russia-Ukraine crisis erupted last year, Tehran has tried to position itself as a reliable alternative to Russia as a [natural] gas supplier to Europe.” Turkey, Shaffer reports, “is preparing its pipeline infrastructure to enable transit of Iranian gas to Europe once sanctions are removed.”
To underscore the point, Thursday morning Reuters reported that Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh is already seeking to export oil and gas to Europe.
Only the most naïve would believe that Europe’s position in the negotiations has not been compromised by financial motives. Even if Europe is ready to give Iran a hundred and fifty billion dollars in sanctions relief and a nuclear bomb in exchange for Iranian gas exports, this does not mean that we should follow along.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume the truth of the fanciful premise that Iran will comply with the terms of the deal and wait a decade to produce its nuclear bomb. Even still, the US has ethical obligations that go beyond assisting Europe in its quest for natural gas.
Under the very best possible scenario, as not only Susan Rice but the President himself has admitted, we know that Iran will use sanctions relief to fund the genocidal Assad regime in Syria, the murderous Hamas government of Gaza, the terrorists of Hezbollah, and the destabilization of Yemen. We also know that this deal will prop up a dictatorial regime that imprisons journalists and political dissidents, and that abuses the human rights of its own citizens in the worst possible ways.
Ending the freeze on Iranian assets and allowing cash to flow to Assad, Hamas, Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthis, would be a tremendous failure on our part. From a moral standpoint, it would be no different than if we funded those groups ourselves.
It’s not a given, as is frequently claimed, that the international sanctions regime is about to crumble no matter what we do. The US can still use both diplomacy and secondary sanctions to pressure Europeans to keep sanctions on Iran in place.
Even if we can’t convince Europe, however, the US must still uphold our own ethical code with respect to Iranian assets that are held in banks subject to the US regulatory scheme.
Congress must make the principled choice to stop this deal from going forward, and not succumb to international and administration pressure. The opinions of the governments in Europe should have no influence on American decision-making.
[Featured Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
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