The Short And Ugly History Of The Disastrous Iran Deal

The Short And Ugly History Of The Disastrous Iran Deal

From beginning to end, the deal has been a disaster for the United States.
David Harsanyi
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On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented documents to the world that prove Iran lied for years about its peaceful intentions. Netanyahu claims that in 2017 the Iranians moved “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons” to a secret location, and that a few weeks ago Mossad agents procured a half ton of that material and smuggled it out of the country. The United States has reportedly confirmed the authenticity of the documents.

The Iran deal, it’s worth remembering,  is likely the only international accord the United States has entered into where it offered extensive concessions to a nation that continued to destabilize its interests, kill its soldiers, and threaten its allies. In return, we asked for nothing other than a promise that Iran uphold its preexisting obligations. The Islamic state, we shouldn’t forget, was already a signee to the non-proliferation agreements when the Obama administration saved its economy and reinvigorated its military.

It’s also worth remembering what we’ve given up for this deal. From the start there was almost nothing Obama wouldn’t do to save it. To pass it, the administration created (then bragged about) a media echo chamber that smeared the opposition at home. Obama accused those who opposed the accord of being in “common cause” with Islamists, offering the ludicrous false choice: his way or war. Some of the nastiest attacks were reserved for fellow Democrats like Chuck Schumer, whose tepid pushback triggered Obama flunkies to accuse of him of harboring dual loyalty.

Then there was the constant subjugation of American interests to placate the Iranians. First, Obama made “common cause” with Russia and Syria. It seems increasingly plausible, in fact, that the president was hamstrung in Syria because he wanted to avoid upsetting the Iranians and Russians. Vladimir Putin, the man who helped Iran create its nuclear program, was a fan of the deal. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was also an admirer, confident that Iran would continue its “just causes” after the deal was wrapped up. What could he possibly mean?

The Iran deal remained Obama’s predominant concern during his second term, even as Tehran grappled with a contracting economy and inflation brought on, in part, by international sanctions that had been set up over a decade. Despite its natural resources, Iran’s economy still struggles. One can imagine what it would look like with another two years of sanctions.

Later we learned that Obama’s machinations were worse than we imagined. In his January 2016 speech announcing the lifting of sanctions, Obama claimed that as a “reciprocal humanitarian gesture” the United States would release a number of Iranian-born “civilians” who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses.”

Far from mere “civilians,” the administration was releasing Iranian spies whom the Justice Department had tagged as threats to national security. Of the 14 civilians, one was a top Hezbollah operative named Ali Fayad, who had not only been indicted in U.S. courts for planning to kill U.S. government employees but whom agents believed reported to Putin as a key supplier of weapons to Syria and Iraq. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for “conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware.” Another, Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, was charged with illegally conspiring to procure “thousands of parts with nuclear applications.”

Now imagine Donald Trump making a similar deal with Russia.

On top of that, Obama administration was “slow-walking” investigations against Iranian spies here in the United States and efforts to extradite suspects. It also, according to Josh Meyer’s source-heavy reporting that has never been factually refuted, neutralized efforts to stop Hezbollah from funding its operations through criminal enterprises in the United States.

When the Iranians released American hostages in early 2016, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry claimed it was due to “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks.” In actuality, the Obama administration secretly airlifted more than $1.7 billion worth of cash as ransom to obtain the release of four Americans so as not to derail the Iranian deal. Because all of it was above-board and absolutely not a ransom payment, it was sent on wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs, and other currencies on an unmarked cargo plane.

“We do not pay ransom for hostages,” Obama maintained later. But State Department spokesman John Kirby soon acknowledged that Iran’s release of the hostages was “contingent” upon the $400 million cash payment. “Ransom: a sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner.”

What did we get for abandoning our principles and prostrating ourselves to an authoritarian terror state? Well, the Obama administration found a way to empower Iran so it could be a bulwark against the regional power of Israel — which some, including myself, believe was the driving reason for such a deal in the first place.

Once it is released from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2025, Tehran will be in a better position to create deliverable nuclear weapons. Israel has documents that now prove fundamentalists in Iran have clandestine plans, despite years of denials, to develop five 10-kiloton nuclear warheads. Iranians continue to develop a ballistic missile program, an issue the Obama administration caved on at the behest of Russia during negotiations. Now we know they have the plans to finish the job whenever they want.

Iran broke the spirit of the deal long ago. The deal was contingent on the nation coming clean regarding its past efforts. It didn’t. Though the idea that the Islamic State would ever be found in violation of the nuclear agreement by International Atomic Energy Agency was, from the start, laughable. There are no inspections. International inspectors aren’t even allow on undeclared sites without permission.

So will President Trump nix the deal? We don’t know. Now that the framework for sanctions has been destroyed, there are few good options left. But the agreement, as it stands, is worse than worthless. Rather than setting firm limits, the deal gave Iran cover and time to continue its efforts, making war with Israel more of an inevitability.

The Jewish state can’t allow a Holocaust-denying adversary with terrorist proxy armies on its borders to have the power to destroy them, or even blackmail and threaten the entire region at best — something Iran has engaged in for more than a decade without even having its hands on nuclear weapons.

Still, no amount of Iranian mendacity would convince liberal defenders the deal was a mistake. Though they have yet to coalesce around a suitable talking point, some have already argued that the deal should stay in place because Iran lies. But in reality, from beginning to end, the deal has been a disaster for the United States and for peace. It has empowered our enemies and undermined our allies. There has never been anything quite like it.

David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of the forthcoming book, First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today. Follow him on Twitter.

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