** Originally written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com **
As the unofficial deadline for the 6 nation nuclear arms deal approaches, the nature of the relationship between the US and Iran is become more confused. Complications in the talks are surfacing at the same time that US allies are becoming fearful of the potential outcome. Concurrently in Iraq, Iranian backed forces and US efforts are aligning, even as those same Iranian backed forces are aligning with the Assad military in Syria. In many ways, a modern soap opera is more direct to follow.
In April 2015, the Obama Administration was pleased to announce that a deal to make a deal on Iran’s efforts to create nuclear weapons was finalized. Terms included the fact that Iran would be reduced to a mere 5000 centrifuges capable of producing weapons grade uranium. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be allowed to conduct inspections to confirm all development of a nuclear weapon had ceased. The biggest feather in the cap of Iran was the fact that sanctions would be lifted, freeing hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran. Another feather was that limiting long-range missile development, a crucial component in delivering any potential nuclear weapon, was abandoned in the talks.
But almost immediately the hyped proposal was dealt serious blows. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced, on the same day that President Obama spoke, that Iran would continue to enrich uranium and that the sanctions would be lifted immediately rather than in the phased process promised by President Obama. Since that time Iran has consistently denied the terms to allow nuclear inspectors the right to speak with their scientists or inspect military instillations. By May of 2015 the issue of free reign to inspect had become a sticking point for France, one of the 6 nations involved in negotiations.
As Iran continues to seem to dominate the nuclear talks, Middle East allies of the US are becoming concerned. Not only because the talks are empowering Iran, which neighbors find unsettling, but because the US appears more intent on garnering a deal for the Obama Administration’s place in history books than for a nuclear free Middle East.
“They want to appease the Iranian regime. They’ve invested so much in this deal they want to do everything possible to get it done, even if it means turning their back on friends.” – Lebanese political leader Ahmad El Assaad, 6/22/15
Adding to the confusion is how the US is acting to a far more aggressive Iran. When the Iranian Navy forcibly seized the Marshal Islands (a country that has a treaty with the US for protection) ship Maersk Kensington,in May 2015, the reaction by the US was credibly seen as a reluctance to take action lest the nuclear deal could be affected. In Yemen, the US is helping Saudi air forces in combating Iran-backed Houthi rebels. But in Iraq, at the Taqqadum military base, the US is sharing the based with Iran back militias that previously have fought, and killed, American troops at that base. Some of the militias are actively spying on US operations, according to U.S. intelligence community, causing fear of a future conflicts – even as some of the hard-line militias sit in on U.S. military briefings.
“It’s an insult to the families of the American soldiers that were wounded and killed in battles in which the Shia militias were the enemy. Now, providing arms to them and supporting them, it’s very hard for those families to understand.” – Senator John McCain, 6/22/15
Of course if there weren’t enough moving pieces already, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threw in one more item that is mucking up the works. A fatwa by Khamenei stated that developing or using nuclear weapons is against Islam. While a beneficial statement on the surface, as understood by the Obama Administration, it in fact means that the requirement of the nuclear deal that Iran provide all past material on its nuclear research cannot be attained. Iran cannot admit its internationally know work on developing a nuclear weapon and violate the fatwa. A situation that caused Israeli senior minister Yuval Steinitz to state,
“If the world allows you to lie about the past, this guarantees you will lie about the future.” – 6/22/15
In summary what does all this mean? One interpretation can be that the Obama Administrations international policy, especially in regard to the Middle East and specifically Iran, is convoluted and focused on the impression of success rather than the reality. The effort being poured into creating this one deal may wind up increasing the instability of the region, while providing no concrete guarantees that the Iranian nuclear weapons programs will cease, nor that Iran will not become capable of long-range nuclear missile delivery within 10 years. Iran, for its part, stands to gain credibility, tens of billions in funds, and the ability to further enhance backing of militias throughout the Middle East. The fact that Iran may also become a nuclear power is of course a major victory for Iran that will have worldwide ramifications.
All of which may lead some to wonder why the US is not stating the position France took on May 27, 2015,
“Yes to an agreement, but not to an agreement that will enable Iran to have the atomic bomb. That is the position of France, which is independent and peaceful.” – French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius