What matters is Iran’s intent

The fatal flaw in Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent agreement with Iran is that it focuses entirely on technical details, and not at all on the Islamic Republic’s intentions. This critical omission will cause the agreement to fail, just as so many similar treaties before it have failed.

The most obvious example is the infamous 1938 Munich pact with Hitler, when British Foreign Minister Neville Chamberlain declared that he had achieved “peace in our time.” Chamberlain had concentrated on the modalities of granting Germany part of Czechoslovakia, while ignoring the larger context of Hitler’s open plans for continued expansion. Appeasement always initially seems easier than confrontation. Within one year Hitler violated the pact, launching WWII and leading to the deaths of 60 million people.

An example with even clearer parallels to the Iranian nuclear agreement is the 1994 “Agreed Framework” between the United States and North Korea. The Clinton administration focused on the diplomatic details of the agreement rather than questioning why an impoverished, starving nation was requesting aid in the form of nuclear plants. In return for U.S. assistance, including the construction of two modern nuclear power plants, North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. In 2003, however, that nation demanded additional U.S. concessions. When these weren’t forthcoming, North Korea simply withdrew from the agreement and expelled the nuclear inspectors. On October 9, 2006 North Korea successfully tested its first nuclear weapon.

Similarly, on January 15, 1973 Secretary of State Henry Kissinger signed the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam. Once again, a technical agreement covered subjects such as troop withdrawal and ceasefire dates without guaranteeing a change in Communist North Vietnam’s decades-long goal to conquer the South. Just two years later, the country fell to the North.

Soon after signing the Paris Peace accords, Henry Kissinger flew to Israel and began what then Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan described as “brutal pressure” on Israel to hand over part of Sinai to Egypt, which had just attacked and tried to destroy the Jewish state. Far from being chastised by the collapse of his Paris Peace Accords, Kissinger continued to pressure Israel into appeasing a recalcitrant Palestinian enemy bent on her destruction, ultimately leading to the disastrous Oslo accords. Three months after signing the first Oslo agreement, Palestinian leader Arafat began his campaign of suicide bombings against Israel. Not one of the diplomats involved, foreign or Israeli, called for the Palestinians to be held to account or reexamined the premises underlying the agreement.

Like the diplomats who negotiated with Hitler, North Korea and North Vietnam, Kerry focuses on technicalities and ignores the opponent’s clearly stated intentions. Iran certainly makes no secret of its desire to destroy both the United States and Israel. In February, in the midst of the negotiations, Iran celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution with posters and crowds declaring “death to America,” “death to Obama,” and “death to Kerry.” A few weeks later, Iranian TV broadcast an attack on a mock American aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Just two days before the nuclear framework agreement with Iran was concluded, Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi asserted that “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable.”

Kerry treats Iran as a respectable negotiating partner while she invades her neighbors, sponsors terrorism and threatens genocide against the Jews of Israel. Iran is plainly demonstrating her violent intentions, yet President Obama labels as “fundamentally misguided” Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call to link Iran’s actions to the nuclear talks. If Iran’s aggressive intentions are not the issue underlying the nuclear talks, what is?

Recent statements by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei confirm that Iran is interested only in sanctions relief and intends to ignore her obligations under the agreement. A treaty which Iran openly plans to violate is worthless; there is no transcendent law or authority capable of enforcing an international treaty between sovereign states. The proposed agreement will not prevent Iran’s now legitimized nuclear program from producing a bomb. The type, number, and location of centrifuges allowed Iran are irrelevant: what matters is their intended use and Iran’s ultimate goal.

Devin Sper

Image via Israel National News

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