The recently announced framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is more likely to increase American involvement in the Middle East rather than decrease it, former Republican Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz write in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
In the 2,000-word piece posted on the Journal’s website on Tuesday night, Kissinger and Shultz wrote that “Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there – on complex new terms.”
The two said that Iran has mixed “shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions” to gradually turn the negotiation on its head.
Presidents of both parties have said for two decades that a nuclear Iran is contrary to American and global interests, they write, yet the agreement allows just that. The only concession is that Iran won’t have full capacity for the first 10 years.
And that only if Iran does not break the deal before then.
Since the number of Iran’s centrifuges have jumped from 100 at the start of talks 12 years ago to almost 20,000 today, “The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran,” the former secretaries wrote. “While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal.”
Now, Iran’s program is within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon.
“In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect,” they said. “Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another.”
Another wrench thrown into the gears is the means of enforcement, “which provides Iran permanent relief from sanctions in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct,” Kissinger and Shultz said.
Further, the threat of a Mideast nuclear arms race is far more dangerous than the Cold War fears between the United States and the Soviet Union, they note.
“Traditional theories of deterrence assumed a series of bilateral equations. Do we now envision an interlocking series of rivalries, with each new nuclear program counterbalancing others in the region?” they ask.
Kissinger and Shultz also attack the idea of a nuclear umbrella provided to Iran’s Arab neighbors by the United States.
“Are the guarantees extended against the use of nuclear weapons – or against any military attack, conventional or nuclear? Is it the domination by Iran that we oppose or the method for achieving it?” they say. “What if nuclear weapons are employed as psychological blackmail?”
Iranian leadership continues to proclaim an anti-Western view, with some top Iranians calling the nuclear negotiations a form of jihad, they note.
“If the world is to be spared even worse turmoil, the U.S. must develop a strategic doctrine for the region,” they argue. “Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilize the Middle East and challenge the broader international order.”
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