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An often misattributed quote to Albert Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that account, the Iran nuclear deal was insane.
But now leading politicians are dipping their toes back into the insanity well, pledging to revive the Iran deal. Perhaps they need a refresher course on history. Allow us to be of service.
We can all agree that the goal of eliminating Iran’s nuclear capabilities is a worthy one. The question is whether the Iran deal as it was written and implemented brings us closer or further away from that goal.
During her time at the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley explained that every international agreement must be judged by the willingness and sincerity of the countries that sign it. We should look at a regime’s history – its words, its actions, and its ideology – to make an educated assessment of its intent.
As Amb. Haley delineated in a 2017 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, we must ask ourselves:
- Does Iran respect international law?
- Can Iran be trusted to abide by its commitments?
- Is the agreement strong enough to withstand Iranian efforts to cheat?
- And finally, given the answers to these questions, does the deal remain in the national security interests of the United States?
The answer to all four questions was and remains an unambiguous no.
Iran has repeatedly flouted international agreements and resolutions and sought to build a secret nuclear program. In 2002, Iranian dissidents revealed a uranium enrichment plant and heavy water reactor in violation of Iran’s agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In 2009, U.S., British, and French intelligence uncovered a secret uranium enrichment plant. In February of 2016 – after the Iran deal had been signed – Iran exceeded the allowed limit on heavy water. The same thing happened again nine months later.
At the same time, Iran flagrantly violated U.N. Security Council resolutions by launching long-range ballistic missiles and surface-to-surface missiles. Just a few weeks ago, Fox News revealed that the German government had refused to divulge Iranian attempts to acquire illegal nuclear weapons and rocket technology.
Finally, we must remember that Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Under the aegis of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran created the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is responsible for killing thousands of civilians, including hundreds of Americans. Iran is the primary backer of Assad in Syria and has targeted American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. From Lebanon to Argentina to Saudi Arabia to Israel to Iraq and Syria – Iran has wreaked havoc and bloodshed in its wake.
It should be obvious that we are dealing with a regime that doesn’t respect international law, human rights, or human life. Throughout recent history, Iran has repeatedly sought to overturn the international order.
These facts and this record are not in dispute. So, we need to ask ourselves: Why would we trust a regime that repeatedly lies, cheats, and kills? What sane reason do we have to trust Iran? And given these facts, what happens under the Iran deal when Iran inevitably cheats?
The Iran deal as it was written lacked the necessary inspection system and enforcement mechanisms to hold Iran accountable – not surprising considering the Obama administration caved to Iranian demands time and again. The IAEA was not given free access to inspect Iranian facilities, and Iranian leaders publicly acknowledged they would not allow inspections of their military sites. Furthermore, the agreement included no practical mechanism to punish Iran for blatant violations.
In other words, the deal was all carrot, no stick.
Finally, the agreement’s demands were not overly stringent to begin with. The deal allowed Iran to maintain operational centrifuges and enrichment facilities. It would not end Iran’s nuclear operation. At best, the deal would pause Iran’s nuclear ambitions while we poured billions of dollars into the Iranian economy – money which Iran used to fund its malicious activities at home and abroad.
That brings us to Amb. Haley’s fourth question: Is this deal in the national security interests of the United States?
It is clear why Iran supported the deal. It has billions of dollars in reasons to do so, and very little to lose in the process. But what does the United States stand to gain? The chance of effectively deterring Iran’s nuclear ambitions is minuscule. And in return for that glimmer of hope, we released billions of dollars to Iran, which it, in turn, used to develop its missile technology and terrorize the Middle East.
Amb. Haley said it best when she argued, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig. You have to look at the reality that this deal is flawed.”
In light of this history, it’s stunning to hear politicians on the Left argue in favor of resuscitating the Iran deal. When a country like Iran tells us that it seeks to harm America and our friends, we should take it at its word. When Iranian leaders chant “death to America,” we should believe them. And when Iranian leaders show us that they have no intention of curbing their nuclear activities, we should take a hint. The last thing we should do is bury our heads in the sand.