The Iran deal: It's Munich all over again

In Western diplomacy’s darkest chapter since the Munich agreement, the Iran deal legitimises Iran as a nuclear threshold state and strengthens a regime committed to murdering, terrorising and Islamising its opponents. Hard to see how this deal could be any more foolish or reckless

Chamberlain after Munich. Kerry after Vienna?
Jeremy Havardi
On 16 July 2015 09:39

So, America and her allies have capitulated to Iran, entirely as predicted. The deal reached in Vienna with the Islamic Republic is not a victory for western diplomacy nor is it a historic opportunity for peace.

It may win U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a Nobel Prize but it won't make the Middle East a more stable region. Instead, it legitimises Iran as a nuclear threshold state and strengthens a regime committed to murdering, terrorising and Islamising its opponents.

It is Western diplomacy’s darkest chapter since the Munich agreement.

Consider the concessions that the West has had to make in its desperate quest for a deal. Iran has not been required to shut down its illicit nuclear facilities, which include Fordow, buried deep underground, Arak, with its heavy water facility and plutonium production plant, Parchin or Natanz.

Fordow will be converted into a research centre rather than be shuttered, as it should be. Similarly, Iran has to convert rather than dismantle the Arak facility to prevent it from producing plutonium.

Far from demanding that Iran destroy all its uranium enriching centrifuges, Iran gets to keep thousands of them, while it can use roughly half of the nearly 10,000 that are operational.

Its stockpile of enriched uranium is being reduced dramatically, but it can still retain some 300 kilograms, enough to enable the country to 'break out' to the bomb within a year.

With these centrifuges, it can enrich uranium up to 3.67 percent for 15 years though the original intent of six UN Resolutions was to demand the complete suspension of uranium enrichment.

None of this stops the Iranian nuclear program; it merely delays it. But the Iranians will hardly care, given that their aspirations for regional hegemony are viewed in the long term. They want to be a nuclear breakout state, and they have achieved this.

These concessions might be less important if there was a credible inspection regime. But in another breathtaking concession, this essential requirement has been dramatically scaled back too. Now, an 'arbitration panel' must give Iran 24 days’ notice to inspect a potentially suspicious location if Iran refuses requests for access (which it surely will).

Of course, one is left wondering why a country that fully intends to implement such a deal needs any advance notice for such inspections. But when you are dealing with a serial liar, any advance notice period makes a mockery of an inspection regime. As one Israeli government official put it: 'It's as if police who want to raid a drug lab would give the criminals 24 days warning."

But then, on the hyper optimistic assumption that Iran does comply with the deal’s requirements, it is time limited anyway. After a number of years, Iran will be free to conduct research on advanced centrifuges, drastically reducing break out time for a bomb, and to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wants after 15 years.

Also after five years (at most), Iran can purchase conventional weapons and after eight years, ballistic missile technology.

In return for these concessions, Iran will receive an unprecedented financial bonanza. With renewed trade, the end of the oil embargo and the lifting of banking restrictions, Iran will eventually receive up to $150 billion of much needed cash. It takes little imagination to see how this will strengthen the Islamist regime and provide a much needed spur to its regional aggression.

The money will give a welcome boost to the mass murderer Assad and his cronies, and keep Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah awash with funds for years to come. Once a UN arms embargo is lifted, weapons will flow freely around the region and make the Islamic Republic an irresistible supplier of military hardware.

The tentacles of Iranian influence will be extended across the region, especially in areas where the country has little current influence.

Indirectly, the West will end up financing a potentially massive surge in terrorist activities in the Middle East, and beyond. With the Shiite power in the ascendancy, the Saudis will have increased motivation for creating a Sunni nuclear arsenal, ensuring an arms race that will destabilise the entire Middle East.

All the while, this accord is silent about the appalling human rights abuses inside Iran -- its state executions, its homophobia and its relentless persecution of political opponents. It is an appalling rebuke to those Iranians who yearn for regime change and who rightly demand a new government genuinely committed to human rights and liberty.

The Vienna accord is therefore realpolitik at its most cruel and cynical. But it is even worse than that. For the US has remained silent even as Iran’s Khamenei has chanted ‘Death to America’ and called for ‘the Great Satan’ to be eliminated. Such bloodthirsty rhetoric is part of Iran’s war against the West, a war that is effectively ignored. 

Perhaps Obama thinks that Iran will soon desist from radical, state sponsored terror with the signing of this rapprochement. He might imagine that the country will be pragmatic enough to recognise issues of mutual interest, such as defeating Islamic State, and roll back its nuclear ambitions as a result.

The notion that Iran will moderate after this agreement is a pure leap of faith. It assumes that the theocratic hardliners who run the country will somehow melt away or become reasonable rather than be emboldened by Western largesse.

Furthermore, legitimising Iran to buy its support against Islamic State is a foolish quid pro quo. The virulently anti-western, anti-democratic ayatollah regime in Tehran represents a much bigger threat to the region than IS, even without an atomic arsenal.

To defeat a containable threat, Obama has strengthened a much greater one, undermining America’s friends and allies in the region.

All in all, this inept and feckless agreement, laden with endless concessions, is a monumental capitulation to terror. The West has shown weakness at a critical juncture, and the Iranians know it better than anyone. No wonder they are so jubilant.

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

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