Iran Will Cheat, Unless We Have Insurance

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Economic sanctions and political support for Iranian dissidents in Iraq who have provided intelligence to Washington are insurance to coerce Iran to comply with its commitments in the Geneva accord of November 2013.

Verifiable termination of Iran’s nuclear weapons program is the preferred outcome of the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran. Research suggests sanctions conditional on Tehran’s compliance with terms of the accord are warranted now, not after failure six months later.

Sen. Menendez, D-N.J., would like a “diplomatic insurance policy” to strengthen Obama’s hand via passage of S.1881, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act. The proposed legislation contains a trigger, Section 301(b), which applies if there were no subsequent accord because of Iranian evasion six months after the January 20 start of the Joint Action Plan of the accord.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Iran.]

By providing Iran access to increments upfront of the $6 billion to $7 billion without a way to take back the increments if Iran cheats, the plan gives Iran “free money.” Once Iran receives cash, it cannot be recovered. Despite the installments, more than 100 German companies are doing business in Iran as European rivals scramble to catch up; as they flood into Iran, their “new investments could inject as much as $20 billion into the Iranian economy,” beyond the first increment of $550 million when February began.

Tehran came to Geneva in October 2013 and sealed an interim deal in November because sanctions began to cripple their economy, not because of Obama’s offers of friendship after he entered the Oval Office in 2009. Below are only three examples of how Obama continued to reach out to the Iranian regime, despite its rejections.

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on Vladimir Putin and Russia.]

In March 2009, Obama extended a hand of friendship on Iranian New Year, offering negotiations without preconditions but received a clenched fist in return; in July, Obama reached out during Iran’s crackdown on protestors following the suspect re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and U.S. forces stood by, while on behalf of Tehran, Iraqi forces attacked Iranian oppositionists at Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Each time Obama reached out to Iran without reciprocity, he weakened his hand.

Iran’s “verifiable” compliance depends on access to “all source” intelligence, which requires human sources not as available to Washington as electronic methods. Iranian dissidents in Iraq, members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, have an admirable track record of providing intelligence to the United States, some of which has been independently validated.

Without pressure on Baghdad and Tehran to bring Iranian dissidents to America, there are bound to be additional assaults against them in Iraq and erosion of their intelligence capability. While Baghdad begs for U.S. counterterrorist intelligence and equipment supposedly for fighting al-Qaida (also for Sunni Iraqi political adversaries), Washington could use its leverage to save Iraqi Sunnis and Iranian dissidents as a condition for assistance and receive an intelligence bonus.

Raymond Tanter

About Raymond Tanter is a former member of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration.

nuclear weapons
Obama, Barack

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