1. Opinion

Column: Iran deal worse than opponents feared

Published Jul. 14, 2015

There is a perverse sense of relief among the fiercest defenders of Israel and administration critics: Had the Iran deal been remotely reasonable, it would be hard to defeat. Now, it is not only possible but likely.

Full examination of the deal will unfold in the next few days. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it succinctly: "When you are willing to make an agreement at any cost, this is the result." And it is not pretty.

First, while Secretary of State John Kerry denies it, the deal acquiesces to Iran becoming a nuclear power: "At the heart of the agreement … is Tehran's acceptance of strict limits on its nuclear activities for 10 years. These are supposed to ensure that the country remains a minimum of 12 months away from amassing enough nuclear fuel for a bomb. After the 10-year period, those constraints will ease in the subsequent five years."

Despite warnings from members of the Obama administration's own party that a deal containing lifting of a conventional arms embargo would be a nonstarter, the deal reportedly does just that in five years, according to the Russians.

As for phased sanctions relief, Iran got its windfall. According to news reports, "The moment Tehran receives sanctions relief — including access to an estimated $100 billion in frozen assets overseas — will be on 'implementation day.' … That date is not set, and is entirely reliant on the pace of Iran's initial haste in preparing for life under the deal." That will put money in Tehran's pockets to increase support for Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

As we knew from the framework, Iran gets to keep 6,000 centrifuges and its enrichment plant in a mountain.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., were quick to denounce the entire exercise as a grievous, dangerous mistake. Cotton predicted a congressional "rebellion," observing: "(I) just can't imagine any United States senator or congressman voting to give Iran $100 billion or more in a signing bonus, and at the same time even opening the prospect of lifting the arms embargo."

Graham warned, "It's incredibly dangerous for our national security, and it's akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1 because it ensures their primary antagonist Iran will become a nuclear power and allows them to rearm conventionally."

House Speaker John Boehner released a statement:

His "deal" will hand Iran billions in sanctions relief while giving it time and space to reach a breakout threshold to produce a nuclear bomb — all without cheating. Instead of making the world less dangerous, this 'deal' will only embolden Iran — the world's largest sponsor of terror — by helping stabilize and legitimize its regime as it spreads even more violence and instability in the region. Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely to fuel a nuclear arms race around the world.

The House of Representatives will review every detail of this agreement very closely, but I won't support any agreement that jeopardizes the safety of the American people and all who value freedom and security.

With a deal this bad, one that caved not only on nuclear-related issues but also on conventional arms restrictions, the chances that neutral, respected figures will oppose the deal goes up. Look for former officials and outside nuclear experts to weigh in with a host of objections. For sober Democrats in the Senate who signed their name to multiple statements demanding terms far stricter than the ones we now are presented with, a no vote becomes much more likely.

No wonder the president's strategy does not even contemplate obtaining a majority of approval. His sole task and that of the legion of lapdogs will be to hold down the disapproval numbers in the Senate and House so that a veto of a disapproval measure cannot be overridden.

Netanyahu summed up the deal Congress will have to consider: "Far-reaching concessions have been made in all areas that were supposed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability. In addition, Iran will receive hundreds of billions of dollars with which it can fuel its terror machine and its expansion and aggression throughout the Middle East and across the globe."

The president, by giving away far more than his harshest critics ever dreamed, made their job to defeat the deal a whole lot easier.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for the Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective. © 2015 Washington Post