To Infinity and Beyond: How Far Dealmakers Will Go on Iran

Take that all you Iran deal naysayers! The lack of anytime/anywhere inspections has been resolved — because Iran will be inspecting itself.

In a twist Orwell himself could not have imagined, the Associated Press revealed last week that Iran will be authorized to conduct it’s own inspections of it’s nuclear weaponization facility at Parchin as per “Separate Arrangement II,” a side deal between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.  But its not as if the deal’s architects planned it that way. After all, Secretary Kerry testified  before Congress that he knew of but never saw a side deal, and chief negotiator Wendy Sherman swore she saw “some papers” but couldn’t remember exactly what they said.

Take a moment to breathe that in.  While our leaders turn a blind eye, Iran, the defiant self-defined enemy of America, the country that evaded Western intelligence and flouted international law for decades as it created an industrial scale nuclear infrastructure, will be entrusted to provide its own inspectors at the very military facility the IAEA has repeatedly sought to inspect.  As if that were not ludicrous enough, the document makes explicit that Iran will provide photos and locations subject to “taking into account military concerns.”  So if the IAEA wants Iran to self-report on its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program, it had better hope Iran’s military leaders do not object.

Whereas typically a country suspected of developing nuclear weapons is subject to inspections by IAEA experts, who take and test swipes of equipment and environmental soil and air samples, Iran will provide the agency no more than seven such samples, plus photos and videos of its choosing, from within the Parchin military complex.  The UN agency suspected Iran conducted secret weapons work at Parchin for more than decade, but has not succeeded in gaining access to conduct a probe.  The new arrangement apparently will allow the IAEA to close this embarrassing chapter, check the box that inspections have been completed and attest to Iran’s compliance. This unprecedented arrangement has quaintly been described as “unique” by Ned Price, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial staff put it, “Why not cut out the IAEA middle man and simply let Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, sign a personal affadavit?” Or as our brave Senator Menendez put it when he bucked his party and announced his opposition last week, “Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.”

There is still hope for those who are serious about America’s national security, and Israel’s security as well. We must insist Congress pass a vote of disapproval this September that will leave sanctions in place and, work to increase sanctions until, through crippling economic pressure, Iran agrees to dismantle its nuclear program.

The deal’s supporters claim this is the best deal possible, that it is fantasy to expect better. They’re fantasizing if they think that’s credible. In explaining his opposition to the deal, Senator Menendez listed specific changes that could vastly improve the JCPOA, including closing Fordow (Iran’s enrichment facility located under a mountain), insisting Iran reveal the full dimensions of its past program, and agreeing on clear penalties for small and midsize Iranian violations.  Many have wisely added that sanctions relief — in particular release of $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets, a windfall that represents three times the sum total Israel has received in US aid over the course of its existence — must not take place while Iran continues to fund terror, hold US hostages, and vocally threaten America and Israel.  We must further ensure, as Senator Menendez advocates, that Congress and the President unequivocally declare that US will indeed use “all means necessary” to prevent Iran from becoming a military power, and will authorize the means for Israel to address its needs independently.

The Senator Menendez’s willingness to oppose the current deal and suggest concrete improvements stands in stark contrast to many of his colleagues, too many of whom express grave reservations in private but do not share his courage in opposing it publicly. As the world prepares to pay an outrageous ransom to redeem a temporary delay in Iran’s nuclear prospects, US leaders fashion their fear of party payback into a cloth of cowardice.  Too many senators purport to be reviewing and weighing, studying and vetting, just like the crowds admiring the naked emperor’s clothes.

Unfortunately, New Jersey’s Senator Booker is still in this group. While he is full of polite respect for both sides of the issue, he must be made to understand that this is not just another vote — this is the vote of our generation, one that holds our futures, and his, in the balance. At stake are our interests in the Middle East, a regional nuclear arms race, and domestic security from terror threats. We must let our politicians know we will hold them accountable should they make the wrong choice.  How far will our leaders go to support this disastrous deal?  It will depend on how far we will go to let them know that while we appreciate their words, we will judge them by their vote.

About the Author
Laura Fein is an attorney and non-profit consultant. She speaks frequently on Israel, BDS, and the impact of government and intergroup relations on the Jewish community.
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