Jackson Doughart
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Why is Obama Allowing Iran to Go Nuclear?

Sheldon Kirshner Journal, 22 November 2013

The so-called negotiations that the United States and the major world powers conducted with Iran in Geneva in the past few days were farcical. The entire initiative was clearly designed to remove any deterrence of Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.

I say “so called” because a negotiation in which only one side gives meaningful concessions in the pursuit of compromise is not really a negotiation.

And this was magnified by the fact that the stronger partner at the table was giving away all of its chips. Barack Obama, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel were actually seeking the same end as their counterparts: to lift the pressure on Iran without any changes in its behaviour.

The sanctions are bringing the Iranian regime to its knees. If they weren’t, the mullahs wouldn’t be talking to the United States. Up to this point, they’ve mostly allowed Chinese and Russian obstructionism to work on their behalf, hoping that enough time could be bought to continue the project. Once completed, Iran would wield international power as a nuclear state, whereby maintaining sanctions would be both pointless and untenable. It would also be the least of worries for states within and without the region that hope to maintain geopolitical stability.

That the sanctions are so effective is precisely why it was time to double down: Not a single one should have been reconsidered until Iran turned over all of its means of continuing nuclear development, and not simply the materials it has already fabricated. Otherwise, the Iranian concessions are not concessions at all, and the ambitious program is effectively no further curbed than it was before.

The Iranian intentions, for pursuing both a sanctions reprieve and a nuclear weapon in the first place, are clear.

The reprieve is understandable through basic strategy: if the leadership cannot manage to reverse the dire state of their economy, they risk a popular uprising from a desperate people who, as demonstrated in 2009, are willing to challenge the theocracy. Such a political change is, of course, the only way that relations between the United States and Iran can be “normalized”. Shame, then, that Obama did nothing to support the Green Revolution at the time, and now serves to permanently undermine its potential return by empowering the present leadership.

The seriousness of the nuclear program can be discerned by contrasting its strategic cost (international alienation, internal economic repercussions, domestic unrest, the damaging of diplomatic and trading relationships) with its relentless pursuit. And its purpose is readily knowable through Iran’s unambiguous and hostile rhetoric toward Israel — the principal, but not the sole, country that fears the proliferation of nuclear weapons to a regime founded on and animated by messianic Shia Islam.

Remember that the mullahs see themselves as being in a cosmic struggle against not only Jews, but also the followers of the rival Sunni sect in the Middle East.

Uncontrolled by even the importance of the negotiations, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attacked and demonized Israel even as negotiations were taking place in Geneva. He said, ”The real threats to the world are evil powers, including the Zionist regime and its supporters. . . . The Zionist regime is doomed to destruction because this despicable regime was formed by power and imposed on the world, and nothing which is imposed will last.”

Allowing Iran to go nuclear is a choice. Even those who think that the mullahs are rationally-self-aware enough to avoid using such a weapon immediately should see how different things would be if they actually had one.

Why would we prefer to deter an Iran with the bomb when we can deter it without one? The sanctions are working. Let the mullahs squirm until they have to choose: their survival or their bomb.

Obama and company say that they care about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear arsenal. This is false. The guiding ambition of the administration’s foreign policy is singular and coherent: to shrink the strategic power of the United States to the point of being (a) irreversibly reduced to the status of one power among many and (b) incapable of acting once its international interests are tangibly threatened.

Israel is on its own.

Jackson Doughart jdoughart (at) gmail (dot) com