Former Defense Secretary Gates on Iran: The Alternative Is Not War, There Is a Potential for a Better Deal


robert gatesFormer Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who worked for eight U.S. presidents, was asked about the nuclear deal with Iran on “Face the Nation” this week.

Gates: “First of all, getting the Iranians to the negotiating table in the first place was a success for U.S. foreign policy. They didn’t come to the table out of goodwill. They came to the table because their economy was being strangled and the leadership was afraid they might get overthrown.”

“I have several concerns that I hope can be addressed in the negotiations between now and June: the first is the timing of the lifting of the sanctions. Are they going to be lifted right away as long as the Iranians agree to implement the agreement. Or will they be phased over time based on performance, which has been our position all along.”

“The second is verification. Unless we have sort of on-demand inspection at all facilities, including military facilities, I think there is a great potential to cheat. Third, I think that the idea of being able to have these snapback sanctions, that sanctions could be re-imposed once lifted, is very unrealistic.”

“I think that the pursuit of the agreement is based on the president’s hope that over a ten-year period with the sanctions being lifted that the Iranians will become a constructive stakeholder in the international community…that they will abandon their ideology, their theology, their revolutionary principles, their meddling in various parts of the region. Frankly, I believe that’s very unrealistic.”

“I don’t think the alternative is war. One alternative is a better deal….You reinforce the sanctions, and you basically say, here are the additional things we need for this agreement to work and to be worthwhile, and an agreement that reassures our allies or at least doesn’t scare them half to death. If they choose not to come back to the negotiations, but to race to a nuclear weapon, well, my guess is that will show that they intended to do that all along.”