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November 16, 2013

Column: West bails out of sucker's deal with Iran -- for now

Well into last weekend it looked as though Iran was going to win the latest round of negotiations -- by a knockout, not on points. Secretary of State Kerry had flown to Geneva to sign a deal that would have stuffed tens of billions of dollars into the pockets of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, easing the economic pressure -- the pressure that had brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. The funds would have been turned over with no restrictions. Khamenei could have used them to further Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program -- the program that negotiations were meant to stop.

In exchange, Iran’s rulers would not have been required even to begin to dismantle their nuclear weapons programs. There would be no end to centrifuge manufacturing, no halt to the plutonium weapons track, no “intrusive” international inspections.

Then, at the eleventh hour, came an unexpected twist: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that Paris could not go along with what he called -- with admirably undiplomatic candor -- a “sucker’s deal.”

That, evidently, made Khamenei furious. He tweeted that French officials were “hostile toward the Iranian nation.” Soon after, came what might be interpreted as a threat: “A wise man, particularly a wise politician, should never have the motivation to turn a neutral entity into an enemy.”

A few days earlier Khamenei had, in effect, acknowledged that the deal being finalized would be a victory for Iran and a defeat for those on the other side of the table. He tweeted a photo of the Iranian delegation sitting at that table with this comment: “No one should consider our negotiating team as compromisers. These are the children of revolution.”

In other words, the Iranian side had not compromised -- all the concessions were being offered by the U.S. and its European partners. And by refusing to give an inch, Khamenei’s negotiators were demonstrating their revolutionary credentials.

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