Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez made headlines during a hearing with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken in January when he said, “I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration and quotes, the more it sounds like talking points coming out of Tehran.”

Amir Hossein Motaghi, an Iranian reporter who defected to Switzerland last week, recently made a similar comment when he slammed the American approach to the nuclear talks with Iran when he said, “The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”

Mr. Motaghi’s comment is significant since he was close to Iranian President Rouhani and helped managed public relations for Mr. Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign. It also helps explain the disturbing trajectory of the Iran nuclear talks.

Given huge, one-sided concessions made by the Obama administration in the nuclear talks on uranium enrichment, centrifuges, IAEA inspections, a plutonium producing reactor and IAEA inspections, it is hard to disagree with claims by Messrs. Menendez and Motaghi that Obama diplomats have effectively been acting on Iran’s side.

Obama officials have recently tried to defend their controversial nuclear diplomacy with Iran by implicitly arguing that a bad deal with Iran would be better than no deal since the only alternative is war with Iran. Jeffrey Lewis, a pro-Obama arms control expert, openly made a case for this argument in a March 11, 2015, ForeignPolicy.com article titled “Why a ‘Bad’ Deal With Iran Is Better Than No Deal at All.”

I absolutely disagree. The agreement that the Obama administration is pushing will leave Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place, allow it to retain the capability to construct multiple nuclear weapons, and legitimize the Iranian nuclear program. The agreement also will say nothing about Iran’s ballistic missile program and its sponsorship of terror.

Moreover, a weak, short-duration nuclear agreement with Iran is certain to destabilize the Middle East at a time when Iran is expanding its influence and control in the region, including by arming Shiite Houthi rebels who recently ousted Yemen’s government. Such an agreement could lead to a Middle East nuclear arms race and possibly a regional war.

No agreement with Iran and the continuation of sanctions Iran would be a far better outcome than the agreement being sought by the Obama administration.
Until recently, Obama officials were saying no deal with Iran is better than a bad deal. With U.S. diplomats effectively taking Iran’s side in the nuclear talks, this agreement obviously will be a very bad deal. Congress and the American people must tell the president in no uncertain terms, “NO DEAL!”

Fred Fleitz is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.

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