(February 18, 2015 / JNS)
Love, as the song goes, is in the air. If the latest media reports are accurate, the United States and the Iranian regime are rapidly closing in on a deal over the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions.
Admittedly, the source of this nugget of hope was Joseph Cirincione—a former Capitol Hill operative who now serves as the president of the Ploughshares Fund, a liberal foreign policy think tank, having gotten there via the Center for American Progress, another think tank that serves as a reliable echo chamber for the Obama administration’s edicts, both foreign and domestic. Moreover, Cirincione was speaking to Laura Rozen of the Mideast-focused website Al-Monitor; Rozen’s writings on the Iran negotiations, remember, have positively fizzed with enthusiasm for Obama’s outreach to the Tehran regime. (A decent reporter would have pointed out that the concessions Obama is making fly in the face of successive U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding a halt to Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, and might have even dropped in a line or two about the regime’s abysmal human rights record. But that’s for another time.)
The point is, there’s some reason to take all this glowing optimism with a pinch of salt, given where it’s coming from. Still, it’s worth paying attention to what Cirincione had to say.
“If we get a deal that is close to the terms the administration has set out, and I believe we will, it is going to be a very good deal,” Cirincione told Rozen. “One that will surprise and please even many of the critics.”
That’s going to be one hell of a deal! I’m a critic, and I’m looking forward to being surprised and pleased.
Of course, the thing about a surprise is that you don’t want to ruin it by telling the gift recipient what it is that they’re about to unwrap. So here’s my guess at the outcome that will make us believe that Christmas (or Hanukkah) has come early.
Number one: Iran will sign an international agreement confirming its intent not to develop nuclear weapons. Iran will submit to a permanent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring regime. Not a single centrifuge will spin without IAEA inspectors knowing about it. The IAEA can enter Iranian nuclear facilities at will, without having to make prior arrangements, and will immediately share intelligence and information with Iran’s neighbors and with U.N. Security Council. Any Iranian nuclear official engaged in suspect activity will be fired on the spot. In essence, Iran’s civilian nuclear program—if it must have one—will be under international trusteeship, and no enrichment activities that could result in weaponization will be permitted.
Number two: From the beginning, Iran’s nuclear program has involved concealed facilities, like the Fordow plant, which we’ve discovered despite the regime, not because of it. Henceforth, there will be no more concealed facilities. Iran will be compelled to reveal any clandestine activity. If it refuses, then we immediately hit the regime with biting sanctions.
Number three: Iran will announce an end to its support for rogue regimes and terrorist organizations. That means no more backing for the vicious regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. It means no more money, weapons, or political support for Hamas. It means disbanding Hezbollah, which has been able to expand its operations from Lebanon to Syria because it is owned by the Iranians. It means surrendering the suspects in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were murdered, for trial. And if there is an Iranian connection to the recent death, in suspicious circumstances, of Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who spent more than a decade investigating the AMIA atrocity, then that also needs to be judged in a court of law.
Number four: Iran will recognize the right of Israel, the Jewish state, to exist in peace and security. It will pay reparations to the families of those Israelis who’ve lost loved ones as a result of Iranian-backed terror. It will apologize for having turned Holocaust denial into a state doctrine. And it will consign that doctrine to the trash can of history, where it belongs.
Number five: Iran will announce—within a year—free, internationally observed, multi-party elections. As part of its preparation for that election, it will release all political prisoners, many of whom are held in the hell on earth that is Tehran’s Evin Prison. It will permit freedom of speech in the media, it will lift any bans in place on social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube, and it will close down its repugnant English-language mouthpiece, Press TV. Finally, it will permit freedom of worship, curbing its persecution of Christians and Jews and ending its apartheid policies towards the Bahai minority.
Nothing in the above list is inconsistent with the principles of the U.N. Charter, which is based on the twin importance of individual freedom and responsible, prudent, diplomatic state behavior. Hence, if the deal we are supposedly about to get conforms to those principles, then hallelujah.
Somehow, though, I’ve got a feeling that once we excitedly unwrap that gift box, we’ll find that it’s empty.
Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Ha’aretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.