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Why Did Obama Adopt Iran’s Nuclear Narratives?

Why Did Obama Adopt Iran’s Nuclear Narratives?

To get to the other side.

One of the frustrating aspects of the nuclear deal with Iran is the degree to which the Obama administration, especially the President has adopted the premises of the Iranian regime.

It isn’t just off-putting to hear  Obama using the language of a regime that hates the United States, but it raises the question of how successful the administration could be at negotiating the nuclear agreement if it accepted the other side’s arguments as valid.

Two examples come to mind.

First, in his American University speech three weeks ago, Obama said:

Those making this argument are either ignorant of Iranian society, or they’re just not being straight with the American people. Sanctions alone are not going to force Iran to completely dismantle all vestiges of its nuclear infrastructure — even those aspects that are consistent with peaceful programs. That oftentimes is what the critics are calling “a better deal.” Neither the Iranian government, or the Iranian opposition, or the Iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty.

So here is Obama saying we didn’t ask for a better deal, meaning an end to enrichment because Iran would never consent to it. This was certainly Iran’s stated position but why is this even relevant?

Iran was under sanctions because it pursued uranium enrichment without explaining possible military dimensions of its nuclear program to the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Enrichment can be for peaceful purposes, but it can also be to produce fissile material for a nuclear device.

Given Iran’s cheating on its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations and its hidden nuclear program. (It didn’t admit to its enrichment facilities at either Natanz or Fordow until other parties discovered them.) That is why ensuring that Iran’s was peaceful or could not be used for military purposes should have been a prerequisite for allowing it to enrich at all.

Rouhani Iran nuclear announcement

I’m not certain why what Iranians “would agree” to has relevance here.

Iran was in violation of international and was penalized. The proper attitude would be that if Iran wants to be trusted with a peaceful enrichment program, it must prove it doesn’t have a military nuclear program. (And really, when you have a Supreme Leader, it really doesn’t make a difference what the Iranian people want or don’t want.) There is no reason that national pride should excuse defiance of international law.

Iran, of course, refers to its right to enrich, but the NPT only refers to an “inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” Iran in its rhetoric conflates the right to a peaceful nuclear program with a “right” to enrich. However, enrichment is not necessarily peaceful, so Iran should have no right to enrich until the peaceful nature of its nuclear program is confirmed. Unfortunately Obama adopted the Iranian stance towards enrichment. (As we now know, he conceded this even before negotiations formally began in 2013.)

When Obama said that there was no better deal, he is really saying he never considered the better deal.

Sanctions is another area where the administration has adopted Iran’s argument. To be sure the administration has been all over the place regarding sanctions. Sanctions brought Iran to the table. But sanctions were also unraveling. But if Iran cheats on the nuclear deal, sanctions will snap back into place. (Not all of these are consistent, but that’s not my focus here.)


Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Israel Youtube Twitter Trolls Israel Iran Deal Nuke Inspection UN

Obama, in an interview with Reuters in advance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, said:

And we know that because during the period in which we applied sanctions for over a decade, Iran went from about 300 or a couple of hundred centrifuges to tens of thousands of centrifuges in response to sanctions.

This meshes very closely with what Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in an interview at the end of last year.

All that is required is for the U.S. to come to the understanding that sanctions are not an asset. And I think that calculation is not that difficult. If I may, I’ll just give you a very, maybe simplistic, but realistic calculation. For the past eight years, there have been sanctions imposed on Iran—by the United Nations with the pressure of the United States, and by the United States. The net result of all these sanctions is that when the sanctions started to be imposed, we had less than two hundred centrifuges. Today, we have twenty thousand. So if people start calculating, they’ll see that sanctions have produced all these centrifuges. So Iran can claim that we have withstood all this pressure—we have paid the economic price, but withstood the pressure. At least we gained this. Now, I’m asking the United States, what did you gain from sanctions?

But Rouhani on at least two occasions boasted that it was the during his time as nuclear negotiator that allowed Iran to fully develop its centrifuge program. Michael Rubin has shown that it was actually the rapprochement with Iran during the  years of 2000-2005 that allowed Iran to earn the money to afford its enrichment program.

Why would Obama adopt this line of argument?

My best guess, it’s a way of arguing that we’re better off without sanctions they weren’t working anyway. (Of course this is inconsistent with the idea that punishing sanctions brought Iran to the table.)

But what’s disturbing about the president echoing Zarif, is that he’s turning a vice into a virtue.

The United Nations sanctions were imposed on Iran due to its nuclear cheating. If the sanctions brought Iran to the table, that was an effect of the sanctions, not their primary goal. Obama, echoing Zarif, is saying that sanctions were counterproductive, and that Iran is resilient. That was instead of pointing out that Iran maintained its enrichment program in defiance of the United Nations Security Council. Instead of acknowledging Iran’s continued law-breaking, the administration not only is ending sanctions on Iran but also wiped out its past criminal record.

By adopting Iran’s narrative in these areas, accepting Iran’s refusal to stop enrichment and that Iran enriched as a reaction to sanctions, President Obama ensured that there was no better deal to be had.

[Photo: Washington Post / YouTube ]


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Not A Member of Any Organized Political | August 28, 2015 at 2:46 pm

“Why Did Obama Adopt Iran’s Nuclear Narratives? To get to the other side.”


“Why Did Obama Adopt Iran’s Nuclear Narratives?”

1. He HATES the United States

2. He WANTED to form a ME hegemony in Iran that would allow him to “pivot” to Asia…so he could fluck THAT region up, too.

Next question…

mumzieistired | August 28, 2015 at 2:58 pm

“President Obama ensured that there was no better deal to be had.”


Because Obama’s aim is not to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon – even one that can be delivered to the U.S.

His aim all along has been to change the balance of power in the Middle East and the world, precisely by allowing – helping – Iran to get that weapon.

why do people keep asking this question?
he resents US influence.

Iran let Obama use their teleprompter?

The Iranian Nuke deal is Valerie Jarrett’s dream come true.

Maybe Adam Liptak (see article on Clarence Thomas right before this article) can do a study on word frequency between President Rouhani and President Obama. I’d love to see the percentage of borrowed words and phrases that study would demonstrate.

Obama hates Israel. Not the first president with animus. And, certainly Carter is on “that” list. Israel survives in spite of its enemies.

While, if you look at the map of the Mideast, you’d see Saudi Arabia in trouble and fighting in Yemen. You’d see Libya as a worse state of affairs, where things were once much better under Gaddafi. But it’s too late now to cry over spilt milk.

Iran is not a “hop, skip, and jump away from Israel. Their airforce would need (permission) to fly over Jordan, and Irak. And, no plans would remain secret long enough to carry them out.

Syria’s a mess. ISIS (or ISIL) is now in Iraq. And, the Kurds don’t get along with the murderous Turks. Israel, in her defense has been building excellent walls. And, she invests heavily in military hardware, as well.

Currently, Netanyahu wants to make sure Obama has no reason to wave his finger in his face.

Yes, the saud’s have what to worry about. Meanwhile, Israel has very good relations with Al Sisi in Egypt. And, the iranian goons are “investing” in Gaza. (Gaza is well monitored.)

There’s also a flow of weapons from Israel to South Sudan.

If anything, while relationships have shrunk on par with those that happened under Carter; Obama has fewer cards to play. While our military is now deep within Jordan. Because Jordan is a “weak card.” They’d be over-run by palistinians, if the Jordanian king grew weak. (But he has not.)

Meanwhile, Obama won’t leave much of a legacy. (Just like Hillary didn’t while she was secretary of state.)

…..Because he agrees with them.

He believes the communist, third-world narrative that the United States is a colonial power hell-bent on Imperialism!, and he is doing everything he can to reduce US influence abroad, and break the social contract in the US.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Valerie. | August 28, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Don’t they have a word for mental defects like Obama’s?

    You know where they are stupid, naive, and oh so gullible as to believe all that communist clap trap?

    Oh yeah!

    Democrat Morons!

Why? You could’ve saved your fingers the effort of typing, David.

One reason: USA and Israel (specifically Jews and Christians), Obama’s not all that into you.

A nuclear Iran can rid the world of the two groups Obama hates.



Sammy Finkelman | August 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Neither the Iranian government, or the Iranian opposition, or the Iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty.

This may be what the Iranian government, or its negotiators, wants the United states to believe, but there is no reason to suspect it is true.

What’s wrong there is the idea that the Iranian government (and really all dictatorships) is responsive to its people, even more than the fact that it is just not true.

We also have this idea that if the Iranian government clearly seems not to want to do something, it must be because of the people. total surrender of their sovereignty.

Somewhere, in some college, nonsense like this is being propounded.

What usually goes with it, is the idea that, nevertheless, in spite of all these reasons why alternatives to his policy will not work, it is possible to get what we need or want (a non-nuclear Iran without having to engage in some sort of war) and if something we want (like no terrorism) isn’t possible, then we don’t truly need it.

The circle is squared with large doses of wishful thinking.

Sammy Finkelman | August 30, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Why would Obama adopt this line of argument?

There’s a whole bunch of convenient (for Iran and other dictatorships) that Kerry et all seem to have swallowed.

Why? Possibly foreign policy and negotiating “expertise” that’s ultimately been bought and paid for. People negotiating for other countries know the “party line”

Don’t forget the wiishful thinking under which none of these obstacles matter.

Sammy Finkelman | August 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I’m not certain why what Iranians “would agree” to has relevance here.

Well, that’s what you are trying to reach: an agreement.

Obama says, or rather Iranian negotiators say, getting Iran to completely dismantle all vestiges of its nuclear infrastructure is just not going to happen.

You have to know when your interlocutors are probably lying.

Sammy Finkelman | August 30, 2015 at 1:23 pm

The claim that:

Iran enriched as a reaction to sanctions

Nobody’s making that claim. The claim is that sanctions didn’t stop them.