What’s “disturbing” about it? It’s been their policy for 36 years. Obama himself said a few days ago that he’s “not betting” on this deal leading to a broader detente with Iran, which is a lie — the whole point of the agreement is to try to open the door to a broader detente with Iran — but at least is a smart lie in keeping public expectations low. If Kerry’s genuinely disturbed that a regime founded on “death to America” would continue to oppose American interests in the region (apart from cases like ISIS where our interests and theirs at least superficially align), then perhaps a deal granting that regime the right to become a nuclear-threshold state in 10 years wasn’t a good deal.
Even this guy can’t be this much of a chump. This must be lip service he’s paying to the fact that his interviewer is a Saudi and the Saudis find this whole process a lot more “disturbing” than Kerry does.
“I don’t know how to interpret [what Iran’s supreme leader said this past weekend] at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy,” he said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television, parts of which the network quoted on Tuesday.
“But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling,” he added.
Ayatollah Khamenei told supporters on Saturday that U.S. policies in the region were “180 degrees” opposed to Iran’s, at a speech in a Tehran mosque punctuated by chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.
“Even after this deal our policy towards the arrogant U.S. will not change,” Khamenei said.
Was Khamenei blowing smoke to reassure hardliners in Iran that rapprochement with the U.S. isn’t on the near horizon or was he telling the truth? Probably the latter, says Aaron David Miller, warning that expectations of a grander bargain with Iran down the road are foolish:
The Iran deal has alienated America’s traditional allies. But to compensate, Washington will do everything it can to reassure Israel and Saudi Arabia that it is taking their security concerns seriously. This is likely to create a chain reaction that will further minimize the odds of any kind of strategic alignment with Iran. On top of the billions of dollars in fancy military hardware the United States has already sold to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, the Iran deal will generate more. The reality — and certainly the perception — will be that these post-agreement goodies are designed to counter Iran’s growing influence. Tehran will need to react accordingly to this cordon sanitaire, and that will make it very difficult to open up the kind of political space that is the stuff of major rapprochements. Indeed, curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions might actually raise regional tensions, not lower them. Congress and all the presidential candidates will ensure that anti-Iranian and pro-Israeli rhetoric remains very high. And the administration will be under considerable pressure not to send signals that it is deserting its traditional allies as the price of the deal with Iran.
The bottom line seems clear. There is no doubt that the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement is a profound development. But its consequences are at best uncertain. To use an arms control agreement to significantly realign U.S. policy with a repressive state that has expansionist designs in a turbulent region is a very long shot. The Iranian deal is not a peace treaty that has produced an end state with a nation that plays by internationally accepted norms and conventions. There are no Iranian heroic actors in this drama, no Sadats, Rabins, or King Husseins capable of transforming U.S. political or public attitudes about the Iranian regime.
Between the alarm caused in Israel, the pressure on Sunni states to nuclearize and catch up to Iran before their decade-long moratorium on higher-grade enrichment ends, and the fact that the embargo on ballistic missile technology will be lifted in just eight years, it’s almost a cinch that the deal will do more to raise regional tensions than to reduce them. The only tensions that are about to ease are Iran’s strained relationships with America’s European partners, who are racing to re-establish full relations with Tehran and are set to lift sanctions no matter what Congress does thanks to Obama’s and Kerry’s capitulation. The paradox of the deal, as Ted Cruz rightly said yesterday, is that it actually raises the risk of a U.S. attack on Iran by the next administration by not only ending the sanctions regime but by granting Iran the right to resume enrichment after 10 years. Come 2025, with advanced Iranian centrifuges now in place that are capable of spinning up a core of HEU within days, the president will face a stark choice of whether to do nothing and accede to Iran’s new status as a nuclear state or to send in the bombers with unpredictable results apart from the fact that a regional war will surely follow. The only way to avert that outcome is regime change in Iran in the interim or a “grand bargain” with the mullahs that makes the idea of them having a nuclear arsenal not so scary — if you can imagine such a thing. Maybe that’s why Kerry’s “disturbed.” Maybe it just dawned on him that he and Obama greenlit the idea of a terror state run by Shiite fanatics going nuclear with no assurances whatsoever that that fanaticism would abate. We’re in good hands, my friends.
Here’s our new partner in peace reassuring the crowd in Tehran this weekend that he hates America as much as ever.