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Iran Hawks Try Moving the Goalposts on the Nuclear Deal

Kelley Vlahos reviews [1] Haley’s shoddy criticisms [2] of the nuclear deal on the main page today:

Most Americans probably believe that complying with the hard-fought pact that forced curbs on Iranian nuclear weapons development in exchange for lifting the crushing international sanctions against Iran is the official gauge that the deal is working. As do all of the signatories to the JCPOA: France, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union, none of which seem to have any interest in breaking off the accord. But the U.S. is pushing for more inspections on additional military sites, suggesting the Iranians are hiding something. Haley all but declared in her speech that the Iranians were guilty if they weren’t rushing to open up the additional sites, and the IAEA was weak for not demanding it.

But no matter. As Haley explained, the JCPOA is just one “pillar” in three pillars of compliance that President Trump will be assessing before he decides whether to cut loose. And be assured, “the end result has to be the security of the United States…we will always look out for our interest, our security.”

Paul Pillar explains [3] why two of Haley’s three “pillars” for judging Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal are irrelevant:

The big problem with Haley’s formulation is that Iran is a party to only one of those three “pillars,” the JCPOA [bold mine-DL]. The requirements for Iranian compliance are found entirely within the JCPOA. Certainly Iran cannot be held responsible for whatever happens to go into U.S. legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress. Some of the clauses in Resolution 2231 do reflect understandings reached during negotiation of the JCPOA, but the resolution does not incorporate additional obligations that Iran negotiated and undertook [bold mine-DL]. The much-commented upon clause regarding ballistic missile activity was carefully and intentionally drafted so as not to constitute a legal obligation.

Before the JCPOA was concluded, Iran hawks were adamant that Iran would never live up to its side of the agreement. Now that Iran is doing just that, they have been forced to move the goalposts and insist on linking the fate of the deal to everything else Iran’s government does. The hawks are holding a working non-proliferation agreement to an impossible standard that they have set in order to guarantee that it can always be found lacking, but this is unreasonable and shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone else. If all diplomatic agreements were judged by such an exacting standard as this, no agreements would ever be made or maintained.

Haley’s misleading presentation [4] is just the latest [5] in a long series of dishonest hawkish attacks on a deal that they have been desperate to sabotage for years. At one point, the ambassador says this:

We should welcome a debate over whether the JCPOA is in U.S. national security interests. The previous administration set up the deal in a way that denied us that honest and serious debate.


This would be funny if it weren’t so obnoxious. Iran hawks have never been interested in an “honest and serious debate,” because whenever there has been such a debate they have been resoundingly defeated. Opponents of the deal were never denied their opportunity to debate the deal on the merits, but for the most part they preferred to rail against an imaginary version of the deal and the “appeasement” it supposedly represented. It is important to understand that Haley doesn’t want a debate over “whether” the JCPOA in in our national security interests, but wants to set things in motion so that the U.S. can take actions that would probably destroy the agreement. Reopening the issue when there is no compelling reason to do so isn’t just a waste of time, but puts at risk a diplomatic success that was years in the making.

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "Iran Hawks Try Moving the Goalposts on the Nuclear Deal"

#1 Comment By Montanareddog On September 6, 2017 @ 11:21 am

“Reopening the issue when there is no compelling reason to do so isn’t just a waste of time, but puts at risk a diplomatic success that was years in the making.”

Worse than that; it puts at risk future diplomatic deals if the US is unreliable and any agreement is merely as durable as a presidential term of office.

#2 Comment By Christian Chuba On September 6, 2017 @ 11:38 am

It’s in our national interest because it gives us 25yrs worth of extraordinary transparency into Iran’s nuclear program above and beyond the standard NPT requirements.

Funny that Montanareddog should mention the issue of whether or not anyone should trust the U.S. Iran makes this very point about our abysmal track record and specifically brings up the example of Gaddafi.
I’d add the following …
1. Saddam complied w/UN resolutions and we eventually had him hanged.
2. Gaddafi (already mentioned).
3. Iran – on the chopping block.
4. Russia – We did take advantage of them when they were flat on their back by expanding NATO.
5. N. Korea 1997, after GWB reneged on the deal, when did we ever make another serious offer, so how did diplomacy fail? Should we count the Indians.

If you are on our bad guy list, never make a deal w/the U.S. We will break it every single time, fight to the death, you have a better chance of surviving.

#3 Comment By Parcheesi On September 6, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

Nothing will ever be enough, no amount of compliance, bowing and scraping, because the problem has nothing to with all that. The problem is that Israel will not accept the normalization of Iran, and Israel will use its proxies and agents in America to make sure that America never accepts a normalized Iran.

Until we fix the problem of Israeli meddling in our policy-making, it will continue.

Also, everyone’s being a bit hard on Haley. It’s not really her fault that she says stuff like this. She’s only reading the tea leaves and doing as she’s told. She knows that if she says enough obsequious things about Israel and Saudi Arabia and spouts enough anti-Iranian vitriol while she’s at the UN, she may have a shot at Tillerson’s job.

#4 Comment By CJ On September 6, 2017 @ 3:53 pm

She is altering the deal. Pray she doesn’t alter it any further.

#5 Comment By Steven On September 6, 2017 @ 8:06 pm

The rational thing for Iran to do is build nukes. That would guarantee they could fend off the inevitable US war for regime change. Gaddafi would be with us still if he had had nukes.

#6 Comment By Whine Merchant On September 6, 2017 @ 9:23 pm

These are people with less history in diplomacy and more experience in commerce. The next quarter’s balance sheet is all that counts.

The long-term investment in diplomacy has no pay-off in dividends nor votes in the next election cycle.