The signatures on the nuclear deal agreed with the US, whereby Iran agreed to halt its enrichment program, were hardly dry on the paper when the West sprang into action, salivating to do business with Iran once again, and to hell with the consequences.
The Algemeiner, in a pointed and biting article, notes that Europe woos Iran as it shuns Israel: (emphases are mine)
Where the Middle East is concerned, there are two complementary messages coming out of the European Union at the moment. The first proclaims that Israel is a legitimate target for boycotts and divestment for as long as the “occupation” continues—and here, “occupation” principally refers to the West Bank and the eastern half of Jerusalem, feebly eliding the fact that the Palestinian leadership, through its insistence on the so-called “right of return,” regards the entire territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan as “occupied.” As for the second message, that can be neatly summarized in a potential advertising slogan: Iran is open for business!
You won’t, however, find a similar openness towards Israel within the EU. As the Financial Times reported, the enormous Dutch ABP pension fund, as well as two Scandinavian funds, are reviewing their investments in Israel over—as the Financial Times exquisitely phrased it—“concerns that the banks finance illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian-occupied territories.” This follows the decision by PGGM, another Dutch pension fund, to divest its holdings in five Israeli banks, citing their “involvement in the financing of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
On that same theme, the Jerusalem Post’s editorial notes that Obama and Iran are in business:
The early bird really does catch the worm and, mindful of that, European firms are rushing with headlong alacrity to do deals with Iran – even though pro forma only some sanctions on the ayatollah regime have been lifted.
Europe’s eagerness might well give the impression to the uninitiated that all sanctions were dropped.
It seems reentering the Iranian market is a chance not to be missed for a gamut of concerns – from banks and financial conglomerates to the oil and gas sector and even car makers and assorted other manufacturers.
While Europeans and Asians fall over themselves to restore chumminess with Iran – its terror-mongering and nuclear machinations notwithstanding – the international community is awash with amplified boycott threats against democratic Israel.
Washington, which once spearheaded sanctions but has now eased them, is setting the tone for the surge of interest in the Iranian economy.
The Islamic Republic’s business boosters could only take heart from US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. His principal foray into the mine field of foreign relations was to declare his intention to veto the conditional sanctions bill sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators – 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans. This bill would exacerbate sanctions only in the event that negotiations with Iran on a final agreement fail.
Ostensibly, this should not rile Obama, as it reinforces his bargaining position.
But instead, the US leader exploited his most important annual address to put his political weight behind the Iranians against a bipartisan coalition representing the majority of American congressmen. This is nothing if not extraordinary.
Obama appears to side with his Iranian interlocutors, who had already lashed out against the legislation, warning that its passage would scuttle the interim agreement reached in Geneva in November. But that is patently specious. The bill’s very rationale is that sanctions would be intensified only if talks fail.
The inescapable conclusion is that Obama – in the name of diplomatic prudence – has come out forcefully in defense of the Iranian position while Iran and the US in continue to be at loggerheads, including on how to interpret the interim deal.
If Obama were anyone other than the President he could be charged with treason. It’s quite incredible how he can take a strident position diametrically opposed to his own country’s official position.
In fact Obama was angry at the American Jewish community, almost accusing them of dual loyalty, for siding with the politicians who promoted the possibility of more sanctions on Iran if the nuclear deal falls through, but, as Shoshana Bryen points out, Obama should be angry with the Iranians, not the Jews (h/t DavidinPT):
The Obama administration is angry that Senate proponents of additional sanctions against Iran (to be instituted if the interim accord expires without a final agreement) appear to be more skeptical of Iranian promises than the president and Secretary Kerry are. The administration is angry as well that signers, particularly Democratic senators, of the Kirk-Menendez Amendment find themselves in accord with the security concerns of the government of Israel. And finally, the administration is angry with American Jews.
David Remnick, who profiled the president in The New Yorker, said on NPR, “Obama is outraged by the deference to Netanyahu. I think [Obama]’s pretty outraged by the fact that there were so many Democrats that seem more interested in the point of view of Bibi Netanyahu and the Saudi leadership, than in their party leader and president.”
The President’s outrage is misplaced, and it skirts the edge of a nasty charge against not only Jews, but also against Democrats — Jewish and otherwise — who take a view contrary to his. “Activism in Congress” is the sine qua non of a government responsive to the will of the people. And skepticism of Iran is warranted, since the Islamic Republic declared war on the United States in 1979.
The objects of presidential ire should be, in order, Iran, the governments of Western Europe, and himself.
President Obama’s early view of the deal included this upbeat assessment: “While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.”
But Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif told CNN this week that nothing would be “rolled back.” “The White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitment[.] … Why do we need to produce different texts? The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again. And I urge you to read the entire text. If you find a single, a single word that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment. What Iran has agreed is not to enrich above 5 percent. We did not agree to dismantle anything.”
It should be noted that where Mr. Zarif claims that the American text and the Iranian text differ, only the Iranian text has been made available. The White House has declined to make the text of the agreement public.
Obama would seem to be on the wrong side of his own population, since a poll shows that most Americans think Obama is not doing enough to stop Iran:
The American public overwhelmingly supports Israel in most issues, but opposes US President Barack Obama’s positions on related matters, according to a poll commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America released Tuesday.
“President Obama and [US] Secretary of State [John] Kerry should heed these results,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said. “They should understand that the American people expect our government to support Israel; stop promoting a Palestinian state; stop condemning Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem as ‘illegitimate’; support Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital; stop funding the Palestinian Authority and impose stronger sanctions on Iran to persuade it to terminate its nuclear weapons program.”
About half (51%) of Americans believe Obama has not done all he can to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, as opposed to a mere 28% who believe he has. In addition, 59% of Americans advocate stronger sanctions on Iran to convince it to stop developing nuclear weapons, as opposed to 17% who believe the US should loosen sanctions to convince it to stop developing nuclear weapons.
According to Binyamin Netanyahu last week, Iran’s stance on centrifuges means there will be no accord in any event:
No permanent agreement with Iran over its nuclear program will be possible if Tehran continues to insist it will not dismantle a single centrifuge, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
Netanyahu’s comments, made at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, came less than a week after the interim agreement with Iran to halt some elements of its nuclear program went into effect.
He told ministers that the most important thing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had said during his speech to the conference was that Iran had not dismantled, and will not dismantle, a single centrifuge.
“If Iran stands by that statement, that means that a permanent agreement – which is the goal of the entire diplomatic process with Iran – cannot succeed,” Netanyahu said.
“Iran is basically insisting on preserving its ability to get fissile material for a bomb without in any way extending the time-line to a nuclear break-out.”
This means, he said, that much of what Israel has been warning about in objecting loudly to the interim agreement was already coming true.
As to the real face of Iran’s chief negotiator, it will come as no surprise to discover that Mohamade Javid Zarif is a religious zealot which will have grave implications upon the ability of the West to trust Iran to abide by any disarmament deal:
To the extent that his book accurately reflects Zarif’s worldview and fundamental beliefs, the affable foreign minister turns out to be every bit as religiously ideological as the radicalized student activist he was in the late 1970s.
Still, extended conversations—this memoir is a very long chat with the writer Muhammad-Mehdi Raji—inevitably reveal a lot of truth. And this makes Zarif’s book depressing to read—particularly for those who want to believe that Zarif’s savoir vivre and wit reflect the Islamic Republic’s transformation from a revolutionary state into a more run-of-the-mill, unthreatening if internally unpleasant Middle Eastern authoritarianism. Such hope is difficult to sustain after reading Zarif’s book. The memoir also serves as a bad omen for the Islamic Republic’s interim nuclear agreement in Geneva—let alone the felicitous aspirations of those in Washington who want to end the cold war between the Islamic Republic and the West through a “grand bargain,” or just a lot of little ones.
Meanwhile, the anti-nuclear Iran group UANI (United against a Nuclear Iran) brings us the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee Hearing: “Implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal” with the testimony of Ambassador Wallace. Here are the highlights of his testimony:
January 28, 2014
Wallace: Congress Should State “Red Lines On Enrichment”
“[State] Your Red Lines On Enrichment.” “I respectfully implore you all to say what are your red lines on enrichment, on the heavy water reactor, and the like. … Please, each one of you should go on the record with the President–the future President–as to what your red lines are. That’s important that Congress speak with a unified voice.”Wallace: Iran Should “Face The Most Robust Sanctions History”
- “We Can Certainly Get Their Oil Sales Down To A Few Hundred Thousand Barrels, And We Should Try.” “
Wallace: Sanctions Are Not “Warmongering”
“We Cannot Allow Partisanship To Enter This Debate And Say That We’re Somehow Warmongering Because We Don’t Want To Open Our Pocketbook.”
Wallace: Danger That Interim Agreement “Becomes The Permanent Agreement”
“We Have Significantly Rolled Back The Sanctions Architecture” “My biggest worry about the deal is that we have significantly rolled back the sanctions architecture, which all of you, both sides of the aisle, have carefully constructed, and defied a variety of Presidents over a long time and created this sanctions architecture. Mr. Sherman said it quite well in his intervention, where he said that you have to have ever-increasing sanctions for them to be effective–the moment you start dialing them back they start falling away. […] Whatever the range of opinions here, if you believe in no enrichment or some limited enrichment, it means that Iran can only have something like zero to maybe 4,000 IR-1, the most primitive centrifuge. That’s the range of opinion probably at this table, I don’t want to speak for my colleagues. What are the chances that Iran is going to dismantle 15,000 to 19,000 of its centrifuges? I say none. So my worry is that the interim agreement becomes the permanent agreement.”
Click here to view a transcript of Ambassador Wallace’s testimony.
It is quite clear from the above that President Obama is not only not a friend of Israel, he is not a friend of his own country! How can the West sit by and let the Iranians get away with fooling the world in an eerie reply of 1930s Europe? And once again the Jews find themselves at the center of a brewing storm, with the irrelevant charge of “occupation” for building in their historic heartland covering up the misbegotten deal with the Iranians that might likely be the trigger for a third world war.