On July 23, 2015, when the Obama administration was in the throes of trying to push what it considered its signature foreign-policy achievement, the Iranian nuclear deal, through Congress, John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and gave the members a stark choice: “It is either this deal or war.”
As it turns out, Congress never really had the opportunity to vote on the nuclear deal. In order to avoid the constitutionally mandated Senate approval with a foreign power, the Obama administration simply used a linguistic trick and avoided calling the agreement a “treaty,” but a “deal.”
The United States, leading the charge, injected itself as only one of six nations so that the international momentum for this deal would take on a life of its own. Then, before Congress even had the opportunity to vote on it, the Obama administration did an “end run” around Congress and took it to the United Nations for a vote.
In an incredibly revealing New York Times article on May 5, 2015 by David Samuels about Obama’s Deputy National Security Council Advisor Ben Rhodes, Mr. Rhodes was very upfront about how the Obama White House orchestrated a campaign to manipulate the news media by generating false stories to paint Iran as more benign to a team of newly minted, guileless reporters.
Rhodes admitted to Samuels that this campaign was manufactured by “legions of arms control experts (who) began popping up at think tanks and on social media,” and who became “sources for clueless reporters.” According to Rhodes, “We created an echo chamber. They were saying things and validated what we were giving them to say.”
Most people have ignored the profound and deeply consequential immorality of what the Obama administration had done here. Many historians have written critical analyses of how the Sulzberger family, the publishers of The New York Times, buried the stories of the Holocaust on its back pages. However, they did not create false narratives about the Nazis regarding the holocaust.
Iran might shortly have the ability to create a nuclear holocaust, and the Obama administration is guilty of manufacturing stories to whitewash the Islamic Republic, kicking the can of what was then an emerging danger down the road. It is quickly becoming, however, a clear and present danger.
We are now approaching 2020. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was agreed upon in July of 2015, has eight- to 10-year sunset clause. That sunset is not in the too distant future.
So even if the Iranians were keeping to this extraordinarily generous deal, we would still have a problem in a few years.
The truth, however, is that they are not keeping to the deal. When they were intent on selling the deal to a skeptical public, we were told by President Barack Obama that there was going to be “anywhere, anytime inspections.”
Subsequently, we were told that the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) would have 24 hours to get into a nuclear site. Then the Iranians succeeded in pushing the 24 hours to 24 days.
Ultimately, however, the Iranians were able to convince John Kerry and his team of negotiators that “military sites were off-limits.”
Technically, according to the JCPOA, Iran is in violation of the deal if the IAEA formally requests access to a suspicious site. However, according to an Aug. 31, 2017 Reuters report, the IAEA has not visited a military site since the deal was implemented “because it has no reason to ask.”
Said the official: “We are not going to visit a military site just to send a political signal.”
By not inspecting the military sites, however, they are sending a clear political signal. They are sending a signal that the agency that is set up for the sole purpose of monitoring illicit nuclear activity is asleep on the job because of their political cowardice.
They are sending a signal of vitiation and of appeasement.
We all know that Iran has become vastly more enriched, emboldened and empowered in the region because of the nuclear deal, and that it has created a land bridge from Tehran to Baghdad, to Damascus to Beirut, and is involved in military adventurism throughout the region, in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
On May 13, Iran attacked four shipping vessels in the Persian Gulf, two carrying the flag of Saudi Arabia, one of Norway and one of the United Arab Emirates. Its leaders are obviously trying to flex their muscles by attacking our allies. They are playing brinkmanship with our friends and allies, and they might end up baiting us into a horrible war.
John Kerry, I am afraid you were wrong. Dead wrong. Because of your administration’s policy of Iranian appeasement, this might ultimately become an issue of this deal and war.
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.