Top 10 reasons to oppose the Iran nuclear deal

 J. Martin Rochester, Curators’ Teaching Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, is author of 10 books on international and American politics, including the forthcoming “New Warfare:  Rethinking Rules for An Unruly World.”  In addition to teaching courses in international politics, international organization and law, and U.S. foreign policy, he has served as Chairperson of the Political Science Dept. at UM-St. Louis.

By Marty Rochester

Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement, is scheduled to begin shortly. October 18 was officially “adoption day,” marking the formal beginning of the process. Although it may be a done deal, there is no statute of limitations on criticizing the pact and weighing the possible fallout.

If David Letterman were still doing his nightly television show, here’s what might be the “Top Ten Reasons for Opposing the Iran Nuclear Deal.” (If this were not such a serious subject, many elements of the agreement between the United States and Iran would appear laughable.)

# 10:  Why would one argue, as some on the left do, that since the United States has nuclear weapons it is only fair that Iran be allowed to have them, as if this is a matter of social justice and a theocratic dictatorship that worships Allah and engages in Holocaust denial as official government policy is morally equivalent to a democracy?

#9: Why do we overlook Iranian oppression of its own people? Why are we so quick to condemn the Ferguson police department for violations of human rights but ignore far worse atrocities in Tehran? Could we at least have demanded minimal treatment of women, as we are demanding of the Taliban in Afghanistan? Better yet, could we have demanded that Iran rescind its call for genocide against the Jewish people? Can you think of any other country on earth that has explicitly called for wiping another country off the map?

#8: Why have we stated that the ban on Iran nuclear weapons development is in place for only the 15-year duration of the agreement, when, under the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (to which Iran is a party), Iran is obligated never to develop such weapons? If, as Secretary of State John Kerry has maintained, there is no “sunset” provision in the agreement, then isn’t the agreement superfluous, given the NPT?

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#7: Why was the Obama administration seemingly more desperate for an agreement than the Ayatollah, when Iran’s economy was in shambles under the weight of economic sanctions, when the mullahs were faced with increasing domestic political unrest, and when Tehran wanted to get a deal now, before Obama’s departure from the White House, knowing that his future successor would likely be a tougher bargainer? Why did we not use our superior leverage to get a better deal?

#6:  Why have the choices been presented to the American people as either diplomacy or war, when, had the United States walked away, Iran would probably have felt compelled to lure us back to the table with more concessions, given their need for relief from economic and political turmoil?

#5: Just because the agreement calls for Iran to reduce its uranium stockpile from 10,000 to 300 kilograms and mothball thousands of its centrifuges, thereby extending the “breakout” time for developing a nuclear arsenal from the current 2 to 3 months to one year, is the delay of an Iranian bomb for only 270 days  worth our lifting economic sanctions amounting to a gift of $150 billion that will enable the regime to recover and wreak havoc in the region in support of Hezbollah and other terrorist groups? Who did the cost-benefit accounting, Enron? 

#4: How naïve can we be?  Although we are told that inspections will enable us to detect any Iranian cheating on their obligations to refrain from nuclear weapons development, thereby triggering instant “snap-back” of sanctions, instead of the 24/7 “anytime, anywhere” inspections President Barack Obama promised, Iran gets 24 days to delay International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from entering nuclear sites, allowing ample time for Tehran to destroy critical evidence. Worse yet, a side agreement permits Iran to use its own inspectors to collect the samples it submits to IAEA from the long-suspected Parchin military site, akin to trusting Peabody Coal rather than the EPA to test for atmospheric pollution.  

#3: How much confidence can we have in the IAEA itself, which not too long ago elected Pakistan to chair its governing board, inspiring about as much faith in that United Nations body as we have in the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission, which saw Libya elected as chair in 2003? And, even if violations were to be detected,  how much confidence can we have in our ability to get the P5 +1 coalition (Russia,  China, and the European parties to the agreement) to join us in restoring  sanctions, when the historical record shows almost no instance of UN sanctions being revived once they have been ended?    

#2: Why, when the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recently stated before Congress that under no circumstances could we allow Iran to obtain high-tech ballistic missiles, does the agreement allow Iran to acquire such weapons after eight years? This is yet another bright “red line” that is being crossed, fading into purple or pink.

#1:  Does anyone seriously believe that the development of an Iranian bomb — which, in the best case, will be put off only 10-15 years — will not lead to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Sunni Arab states will feel compelled to counter Shiite WMDs? And what are the odds Israel can survive in a neighborhood with so many “loose nukes”? 

Admittedly, the issues are complex and the choices limited. Perhaps we should trust to the audacity of hope. However, one has to wonder why they were dancing in the streets of Tehran following the signing of the agreement, whereas Washington, D.C. was rather solemn except for the Oval Office.  

Only history will determine whether Obama will be compared to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who, having caved into Hitler at Munich on the eve of World War II, was forever besmirched with the reputation of appeasing aggression or, instead, compared to Ronald Reagan, who, acting against some in his own party, reached out to a totalitarian foe and signed arms control agreements that transformed the relationship. 

Then again, at least Reagan was not dealing with an adversary who was chanting “Death to America” while the ink was still drying on the pact.