As the nuclear negotiations with Iran reach their final phase, President Obama increasingly finds himself at odds with reality. Although the United States has worked for years to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons while limiting Tehran’s attempts to be a regional hegemon, the president’s desperation to secure a deal ¬- at whatever cost -¬ places both of these goals at serious risk.
Rather than stand firm against Iran’s regional expansionism and its constantly shifting nuclear redlines, the president has gone to great lengths to avoid alienating Tehran and repeatedly revised his own definition of success. The result is that Iranian demands and red lines are dictating the contours of the emerging deal, instead of the interests of the U.S. and our Middle East allies forging the way ahead.
This was seen most recently in the White House response to Iranian demands that all sanctions be lifted on day one. Even though the Obama administration has long assured deal skeptics that sanctions would be lifted only on proof of good behavior, Obama’s State Department reiterated that sanctions relief will only begin “after Iran has completed its major nuclear steps.” This position is itself a concession that could provide Iran with significant financial relief within months even before it comes completely clean about its past illicit activities.
Massive up-front relief like this would reward Tehran for its intransigence and rob it of any incentive to keep its word. It would obviate any remaining pressure to follow through on the deal’s requirements while using that cash to fuel its aggressive expansion throughout the Middle East.
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