, Salem, MA

December 3, 2013

Our view: Nuclear deal with Iran is no guarantee of peace

The Salem News

---- — The idea that deals with rogue regimes bring peace rather than war is an old one, a ruse for which Western democracies have been particularly gullible. Last week’s agreement that promises to halt the Islamic Republic of Iran’s race for a nuclear bomb may be yet another example.

War is a nasty, brutal and bloody business, and nations ruled by the will of their people rightly will do all in their power to avoid it, even to the point of self-delusion. But history has shown that promises from madmen mean little and will not spare the world the consequences of their evil intent.

Iran has been led by Islamic fanatics since their revolution of the late 1970s. The election of a succession of civilian presidents — most recently replacing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Hassan Rouhani — means little. It is the clerics who rule.

Iran’s primary policy goals are two-fold: to become the focus of power in the Middle East and to achieve the destruction of Israel. To reach these goals, Iran hopes both to produce nuclear weapons and lift the Western sanctions that have crippled its economy.

The agreement reached last weekend between Iran and six world powers is a major step toward achieving those ends.

The negotiations in Geneva led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry produced a six-month deal between Iran, the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, Germany and China. The hope is that during the course of the short-term agreement, a long-term treaty can be achieved.

The deal centers on Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium from its natural state to a more refined form capable of being used in a bomb. Iran agreed to a moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 5 percent — a level insufficient to produce a bomb. However, the great technological leap is the ability to enrich uranium at all. Moving from 5 percent to bomb-grade is simply a matter of more time.

What’s worrisome is that the deal talks about the right of Iran to engage in uranium enrichment, rather than demanding it shut down its nuclear program altogether.

In return for what appears to be no nuclear concession at all, Western nations will start to lift economic sanctions, beginning by unfreezing Iranian assets locked up overseas.

The short-sightedness of the signatories to this arrangement is clear: Iran gets what it wants on sanctions and will continue with its uranium enrichment ambitions while playing a game of “dodge the inspectors” until it either has the bomb-grade uranium it needs in hand or the technological ability to produce it in a short time.

And once the Iranians have the bombs they want, all deals will be off the table.

That bodes ill for Israel, which as the only stable, democratic nation in the Middle East ought to be able to count on solid U.S. support. Instead, the Obama administration has tossed Israel aside as it grasps at straws dangled by the clerics in Tehran. Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad promised to “wipe Israel off the map.” Ahmadinejad is gone, his promise unfulfilled. But the new regime offers little better. CNN reports that during the negotiations in Geneva, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei referred to Israeli officials as not even humans and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “the rabid dog of the region.”

While honest nations honor their agreements, rogue states like Iran feel no such compulsion. While the U.S. and its allies rejoice at the thought of “peace in our time,” the Iranians will continue their march toward the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

When Iran has The Bomb, its use will be determined not by a rational consideration of threats and consequences but by the fevered dreams of religious fanatics.

That prospect ought to send fear into the hearts of anyone who values peace.