Each day brings more evidence that the Iran framework is a farce. Reuters reports: "The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had a "constructive exchange" with Iran this week but there was no sign of a breakthrough on aspects of its nuclear program that the agency says Tehran has failed to fully address. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating Iran's nuclear program in parallel to talks between Tehran and six world powers that aim to broker a deal by the end of June to scale down the program in exchange for sanctions relief." Frankly, we should have broken off talks until Iran fully cooperated as it is obliged to do under current United Nations resolutions, but the president long ago stopped negotiating intelligently. He is hellbent on getting a deal, and replete evidence of Iran's intransigence and contempt for international monitors will not get in his way.
Perhaps feeling left out when former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz's masterful op-ed helped turn the debate against the flawed Iran framework, former secretary of state James Baker, infamous in conservative circles for antagonism toward Israel and embrace of a formula for retreat in the Iraq Study Group report (properly dropped in the trash by President George W. Bush), tries his own hand at an op-ed. But he cannot help himself from lavishing praise on President Obama or trying to fix the unfixable. He asserts Secretary of State John Kerry has "done a herculean task getting the talks this far" (What — in tossing mounds of concessions at Iran's doorstep in exchange for nothing?) and "commend[s] the president and his national-security team for trying to solve this difficult problem short of military action" (by making the military option entirely unimaginable?). Worse, he says that with only a short list of fixes the deal would be swell: "These include verification mechanisms (including access to Iran's military bases for inspections); the 'snapback' provisions for reapplying sanctions; and Iran's refusal so far to provide historical information about its nuclear-enrichment program so that there is a baseline against which to measure any future enrichment. The proposed snapback and verification provisions, while still being negotiated, look like they will be particularly bureaucratic and cumbersome."
Now, it's noteworthy whenever Obama fails even to get someone like Baker on board (where is Colin Powell by the way?), but Baker misses the critical point: Even if all those "fixes" are made, the deal would still be entirely unacceptable.
Part of the problem here lies in Baker's infatuation with snapback sanctions. As multiple foreign policy commentators, including Shultz and Kissinger, have noted, "Undertaking the 'snap-back' of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action. In countries that had reluctantly joined in previous rounds, the demands of public and commercial opinion will militate against automatic or even prompt 'snap-back.' If the follow-on process does not unambiguously define the term, an attempt to reimpose sanctions risks primarily isolating America, not Iran."
Sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz and former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht explain:
The president's much-hyped "snap-back" economic sanctions, now the only coercive instrument Mr. Obama has against Iranian noncompliance, will also surely fall victim to the Security Council's politics and human greed. Already the Russians are resisting any snap-back provision that will neutralize their rogue-regime-protecting veto.
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