On October 5, 2014, a huge orange fireball illuminated Tehran. The explosion took place at Parchin, an Iranian military installation used for testing nuclear weapon triggers. Witnesses reported that all trees in a hundred-yard radius of two neighboring villages were burned, while windows in the capital were shattered.
Last week, the Associated Press reported that this same Parchin facility will be subject to inspection — by the Iranians themselves.
Under a secret side agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran, not the IAEA, will provide photographs, videos, and environmental samples of the site. The evidence will be furnished “using Iranian authenticated equipment.” In short, as two commentators have noted, the agreement leaves it to Iran to take an inspection selfie. The Director General of the IAEA will be permitted to visit the site but only “as a courtesy by Iran.”
Until now, opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action could marshal their arguments with some degree of respect for its apologists. Granted this was difficult, with the Obama administration insisting — falsely — that Israel was the only nation opposing the treaty, and implying — deviously — that domestic opponents were guilty of double loyalty. But the Parchin deal marks the point where tragedy turns into farce.
There is no historical precedent for such an arrangement. Or is there?
President Franklin Roosevelt and Chancellor Adolph Hitler announced today that the United States and Germany had reached agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, designed to reduce tension and increase cooperation between the two nations. Opponents of the Plan have objected that the Nazi regime is rounding up Jews, trade unionists, and other opponents, and imprisoning them in concentration camps. In response, the White House issued the following statement:
“Under the skillful negotiations of Secretary of State John Kerry, measures are in place to ensure that no such activities will occur. Thorough inspections will be conducted at all suspected sites. The inspections will be conducted by Einsatzgruppen, special Wehrmacht units trained to locate Jews. They will be equipped with German authenticated photographic equipment. We are confident that the allegations are groundless, and that not a single living Jew will be found at any of these sites.”
Off the record, a White House official observed that Jews were the only ones opposing the agreement, adding “Perhaps Colonel Lindbergh had a point about their loyalty.”
Washington, DC, 1861
President Abraham Lincoln announced today that war with the Confederacy had been averted. After meeting with a delegation from Richmond, a visibly relieved Lincoln proclaimed that the Southern states had agreed to emancipate their slaves immediately. Skeptics have expressed doubts about the reliability of their promises. President Lincoln addressed these concerns:
“Rest assured that we are not relying on the goodwill alone of the slaveholders. Instead, Secretary of State John Kerry has negotiated a comprehensive program of inspections designed to ensure that not a single plantation or farm has any slaves on the premises. The inspections will be carried out by slave-owners themselves, for no one is better trained at tracking slaves than they are. If any Negroes are being held against their will, I am sure these experts will find them.”
The White House noted that the only opponents of the inspection plan were abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and free Negroes like Frederick Douglass. One presidential aide observed, confidentially: “There’s not much we can do about the abolitionist wing of our party. As for Douglass and his crowd, if they don’t like what we’re doing, they can go back where they came from. I mean, were brought from.”
Royal representatives of Russia, Austria, and Prussia announced an end to two decades of war in Europe. Under the Treaty of Fountainbleu, Napoleon Bonaparte will be exiled to the Island of Elba and peace will be restored.
Prince Metternich of Austria conceded that not all members of the Sixth Coalition were comfortable with the terms of Napoleon’s capitulation. “Some believe that allowing Napoleon to retain his title as Emperor, and to reside on nearby Elba, exposes Europe to the risk of renewed warfare. Fortunately, these fears are warrantless. Thanks to the diplomatic skill of Secretary of State Sir John Kerry, Napoleon will be subject to rigorous inspection standards. Every morning, as he performs his toilette, the Emperor will be compelled to inspect himself in a mirror. If he does not perceive his image in his glass, that will signify that he has escaped from Elba. Under the terms negotiated by Sir John, if such a contingency occurs, the Emperor must immediately inform the nearest Coalition representative that he is at large. Appropriate measures will follow.”
An aide to Prince Metternich privately conceded that the British did not trust Napoleon to inspect himself. “The British are a naturally suspicious people. I can assure you that under our inspection plan, the chances of Napoleon escaping Elba are about as likely as a Parisian riding a carriage under the Channel to London.”
Giza, Egypt, 1460 B.C.E.
God announced today that He had reached agreement with Pharaoh Amenhotep II on the orderly exodus of His People out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Agreement was achieved just as the Holy One, Blessed Be He, had readied a series of sanctions, consisting of ten plagues, to visit upon the Egyptians.
The Supreme Being expressed special thanks to Secretary of State John, Son of Richard, who worked out the details of the departure. Under its terms, Egyptian charioteers will escort the Children of Israel from Giza to the Red Sea. Kerry’s Office released the following papyrus: “We are confident that the Egyptians will live up to their side of the bargain and allow the slaves to depart peacefully. But we are not relying solely on their good faith. If the Egyptians fail to abide by the terms of their agreement, the ten plagues will snap back.”
Angelic sources close to Adonai expressed admiration for John, Son of Richard. “He turned out to be a lot more pragmatic than that zealot Moses. With Moses out of the picture, I’m sure the exodus will go smoothly, and the Hebrew nation will reach Canaan shortly. Forty days at most.”
So there is no need for skepticism. The self-inspection scheme for Parchin should prove every bit as dependable as these famous precedents.