Deal or no deal? Iran can't be trusted to abide by agreement

If past is prologue, Iran’s signature to an agreement -- or a fuzzy understanding -- to roll back development on its illicit nuclear weapons program will be followed by serious violations on its part. Deception has been the signature tactic of the so-called moderate regime of President Hassan Rouhani since he assumed office almost two years ago.

To paraphrase former French President Charles de Gaulle’s view of international agreements: For Iran’s mullahs, treaties are like roses and their time quickly passes. Rouhani’s record of duplicity speaks for itself.

Just on Saturday, Amir Hossein Motaghi, who oversaw public relations for Rouhani’s 2013 election campaign, defected to Switzerland during the nuclear talks being held in the Alpine country.

Motaghi, a journalist, derided his colleagues, saying, “They are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels. My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner anymore.”

Tehran’s use of its state-controlled media to hoodwink its public and world opinion is hardly surprising. Iran has imprisoned 29 reporters, bloggers and Internet activists since May 2014, according to a March UN report on human rights in the Islamic Republic.

Rewind to President-elect Rouhani’s promise to open Iran’s media. “Which important piece of news has filtering been able to black out in recent years?” he asked on July 3, 2013.

Rouhani’s violation of his human rights promises and his 2003 nuclear talks commitments should set off alarm bells for Secretary of State John Kerry.

Sadly, the Obama administration and its Western allies -- Germany, France, the UK -- have ignored Rouhani’s failure to honor his promises on human rights.

Rouhani’s violation of his human rights promises and his 2003 nuclear talks commitments should set off alarm bells for Secretary of State John Kerry.

Rouhani’s declaration that “All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice” has proven to be meaningless.

His regime has executed Iranian Kurds and Arabs, imprisoned Christians and Bahai’s, and hanged Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year-old woman who had killed her rapist -- a former Iranian intelligence officer. Last week, Younes Asakereh, an Iranian Arab fruit stand vendor, set himself afire because the authorities denied him the right to make a living.

The contours of the Iran deal in the making suggest the Rouhani regime has found a way to circumvent unannounced spot-check inspections of the country’s vast nuclear infrastructure. The U.S. has ignored the International Atomic Energy Agency’s demand that Iran disclose work on possible military dimensions of its nuclear program, as well as access to the military weapons Parchin facility.

Even if an agreement calls for tough enforcement and a rigorous method of verification, Iran could always do what the North Koreans did: kick the inspectors out. The Hermit Kingdom out-negotiated a key member of the current U.S. diplomatic team -- Wendy Sherman -- in the 1990s.

Rouhani’s success in securing massive concessions from the U.S. reminds one of his successful duplicity when he was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in 2003.

Rouhani’s then-spokesman, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, wrote: “Tehran showed that it was possible to exploit the gap between Europe and the United States to achieve Iranian objectives.” “The world's understanding of ‘suspension’ [of nuclear-enrichment work] was changed from a legally binding obligation … to a voluntary and short-term undertaking aimed at confidence building,” and, “The world gradually came close to believing that Iran's nuclear activities posed no security or military threat.... Public opinion in the West, which was totally against Tehran's nuclear program in September 2003, softened a good deal.”

While National Security Adviser Susan Rice declared that there will be a “distrust and verify” approach to Iran’s nuclear program, she offered no ironclad method to ensure her promise.

Taken together, Rouhani’s violation of his human rights promises and his 2003 nuclear talks commitments should set off alarm bells for Secretary of State John Kerry. Instead, there is a desperate rush to reach an agreement, however flawed and unenforceable.

In fact, Amir Hossein Motaghi , the former pro-Rouhani journalist now seeking political asylum, 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.”

Though the prospects look dim, the U.S. can still retreat from its negotiating strategy of concession and appeasement. The last, best chance to avoid a perilous nuclear agreement comes from congressional oversight to achieve a good deal.