On Thursday night, after days of wrangling, the Iranian Republic of Iran and six world powers headed by the United States produced what is called a framework for a future agreement on limiting Iran’s nuclear program.
The idea is that this framework will guide the parties as they work toward a final deal by the end of June.
The announcement of the framework was presented to the (Western) world as a victory for American diplomacy. It is not. It is a triumph of diplo-babble designed to conceal the real intentions of its framers.
To those people who see Iranian nuclear weapons as a threat and genuinely want to prevent the medieval mullahs of Teheran from obtaining the means of mass slaughter, it is a dangerous step in the wrong direction.
There is nothing in the Lausanne document that addresses the central concerns that are—or should be—at the heart of a reliable agreement.
The framework mentions some limitations on the activity of certain facilities but ignores others, including laboratories and factories where key elements of nuclear weaponry are being researched and produced.
It appears from the document that the U.S. and its partners have agreed to lift sanctions when the final accord is signed, not gradually as inspectors verify compliance.
And how will the inspectors do this? The modalities of supervision are not specified in the Lausanne framework. If the inspection regime is not rigorous and unrestricted, it will be nothing more than a cover for Iranian cheating. Even if it is perfect, it will not be able to look at facilities that it does not know about.
Other highly relevant matters were not even addressed in Lausanne. One is the existence of a very robust Iranian ballistic missile program designed to produce rockets that can deliver a nuclear payload. Another is Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist groups and proxy armies from Lebanon and Syria to the border of Saudi Arabia.
In the next three months, the Obama administration will try to convince Congress that these are all minor matters, technical questions or, in the case of Iranian imperialism, extraneous. But they are not. Iran has invested billions of dollars in building its offensive capacities and creating a sophisticated nuclear program.
This is not a vanity project.It is part of the Iranian imperial design to remake itself into a Persian-Shiite power that can dominate its Sunni neighbors. Nuclear weapons are a key component of this effort. Nobody in the region will want to face an atomic Ayatollah or an Iranian army operating under a nuclear umbrella.
The Iranians sent a team of talented, friendly, American- educated negotiators to Lausanne. They did a great job of public relations but the real decisions are not in their hands. What Iran ultimately agrees to is up to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And he is not inclined toward concessions.
Like the other leaders in the Middle East, Khamenei does not take President Obama seriously. This administration has already erased too many red lines, led too many fights from the rear, let down too many friends and left too many messes.Seen from Teheran, Obama and Kerry appear to be weak and exhausted men, short-term pushovers concerned with their legacy. They will, he believes, sign just about anything that allows them to say that Iran did not get nukes on their watch—a period of time that expires in less than two years.
Khamenei’s assessment is probably right. He might get the kind of deal in June to allow him to surreptitiously continue on the nuclear war path. But it is not a foregone conclusion. The Saudis, galvanized by the Iranian-engineered coup in Yemen, are forming a Sunni coalition whose governments are already warning Washington about the folly of trusting Teheran. Israel will, of course, persist in lobbying Congress to block or stiffen the deal.
Most importantly, there are already a lot of American lawmakers who are skeptical of U.S. diplomacy, and the Lausanne framework is not likely to make them believers.
Many are Republicans, others re-election minded Democrats. There may be enough to permit Congress to counter what Lt. General Michael Flynn, the former head of military intelligence, calls this administration’s habit of making its Middle Eastern policy judgments based on “willful ignorance.”