WASHINGTON – 47 US Republican Senators wrote an open letter to the top leadership of Iran, putting them on notice that any deal they reach with Obama would have no binding value for the next US President.
And this is legally correct. Indeed, President Obama is not negotiating an international treaty with Iran. All treaties need Senate ratification. And, according to the US Constitution, it has to be two-thirds of the Senate voting “yes”. But in this case, the US President, using his executive authority, is negotiating a deal with Iran that will bind America only until he is President.
This sounds crazy; but it is so. Obama can do this, all by himself, without any congressional endorsement. But a new President will not be legally bound by this deal. He or she will have the authority to rescind the executive action of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Look, it is appropriate to question the way in which these 47 Republican Senators chose to make their point. One could say that it is as a minimum “unusual” (in fact unprecedented) for the US Senate to somehow interfere with an ongoing international negotiations conducted by the Secretary of State on behalf of the US government through a communication with the other side.
Sadly, this letter, coming just days after Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, spoke to the US Congress after having been invited by the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives without any consultation with the White House, can lead anybody to the conclusion that the US Government is becoming or already is dysfunctional.
You have a President who wants one thing, a deal with Iran; and the US Congress that loudly and publicly protests against any such deal.
A bad deal
Well, leaving aside any further considerations about forms and decorum, the fact is that President Obama is negotiating a bad deal. As former Pentagon official, Douglas Feith, just wrote in an op-ed piece for the WSJ, the fundamental error here is to have entered a negotiation with an enemy, with the mistaken assumption that we are negotiating with a “normal” country that will act in good faith. I am not saying that the US Government is totally naive. But I am saying that it is impossible to trust Iran to act in good faith on anything whatsoever.
Let’s start from the beginning. Iran consistently declared that its nuclear program is for the development of nuclear energy. Iran has no intention whatsoever to develop nuclear weapons.
Now, this is patently false. If Iran were a “normal”, law-abiding country, it would have publicly announced to the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA), its intentions to develop nuclear power. Following the letter and the spirit of the Non Proliferation Treaty, the Tehran Government would have disclosed all its plans, its facilities, its suppliers, and would have opened its entire program to international inspectors sent in by the IAEA.
Well, it is a known fact that Iran has done nothing of this sort. Its nuclear program was never fully disclosed. Some of its facilities were kept secret, and there is a pattern of denying full access and information to IAEA inspectors.
Secondly, Iran chose to enrich uranium, a good way to produce nuclear weapons material, while it could have chosen other technologies that would have produced nuclear power without the danger of proliferation.
Uranium enrichment and ballistic missiles
Besides, Iran has a robust program aimed at developing long-range ballistic missiles. Is it really a fantasy to assume that these missiles are manufactured now because there is a plan one day to place on them nuclear warheads, this way creating a threat for the Region and countries way beyond it?
There you have it, nuclear weapons material, and delivery systems developed at the same time. All this for peaceful purposes? Really?
Ayatollahs still in charge
And then, let’s look at who is in charge in Tehran. Is this an open democracy? No, it is a peculiar theocratic state run by zealots who believe they have a mission to export their Islamic Revolution to other countries.
And we want to have “normal” negotiations with this country? And suppose we get a deal, will President Obama be able to guarantee that Iran will faithfully execute it?Does America have the means to independently verify compliance? No, it does not.
Slow down of Iran’s enrichment program
And this is only the half of it. The fact is that America is essentially negotiating the slow down of Iran’s uranium enrichment program leading to nuclear weapons. Remember that for years the international community, via UN Security Council Resolutions, ordered Iran to stop enrichment, not to slow it down.
Now Obama is negotiating how much enrichment Iran can do under the deal. And here is where wishful thinking turns into farce, and then possibly into tragedy.
Washington is essentially negotiating a deal whereby Iran will keep all the enriched uranium it has; but it will stop short of having enough for manufacturing nuclear weapons.
Iran keeps what it has
Based on publicly available knowledge, under the terms of the deal Iran will not be forced to dismantle any facilities, or hand over any enriched uranium. Iran technically would not have any nuclear weapons, but would preserve, with Washington’s blessing, the entire apparatus it built to manufacture them.
Legalizing a nuclear threshold state
The deal would in a sense “legalize” Iran’s status as a “nuclear threshold state”. This would be a major political victory, without any concessions on Iran’s side. At any point, if and when convenient, Iran could denounce the deal and restart enrichment with the ability to develop nuclear weapons in a very short time.
End of sanctions
And, of course, you can expect that after a successful negotiation with Washington there will be enthusiastic calls for normalization across the board. This will mean the end of the sanctions, Western oil companies racing to Tehran to get contracts, and a lot more. And you can bet that once the sanctions have been lifted there will be no way to re-impose them.
So, at the end of the day a country run by revolutionary ayatollahs that keeps killing political opponents while financing Syria, Hezbollah, and other enemies of the West, gets to be “rehabilitated” just by promising that it will stop short of developing a nuclear weapon.
This is a bad idea. From beginning to end.