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President Obama's real strategy towards Iran
Secretary Kerry while speaking during his press availability in Sharm el-Sheikh said on Iran, "Nothing in our deliberations is decided until everything is decided. And the purpose of these negotiations is not just to get any deal; it is to get the right deal. President Obama means it when he says, again and again, that Iran will not be permitted to get a nuclear weapon. Now sanctions alone can't achieve that. We need a verifiable set of commitments. And we need an agreed-upon plan that obviously provides the access and the opportunity to be able to know what is happening so that you can have confidence that the program is, indeed, peaceful."

The fact is that while on surface Obama administration is trying hard to secure a deal with Iran over the latter standoff with the West on the nuclear issue, the Republicans are trying very hard to scuttle it. Now this may appear the case of competitive politics but in my point of view this appears segmentation whereby Republicans and Democrats by taking polar stands make a common cause. Democrats are doing so by agreeing to consider Iranian concerns and Republicans by threatening more sanctions and by threatening to undo the deal once they occupy the White House. See, how?

Former United States President George W Bush once famously said that he and his terms would be evaluated properly after he had left the White House. The same appears to be the case with President Obama over his policies on Iran. While it appears contrary to common sense but then President Obama has single lined policy towards Iran-to improve relationship with Shiite pole, that too with academic precision. In a recent interview President Obama even said that he would welcome Iranian hegemony in the region and its rise as regional global power.

But does he really believe so? I do not think so. Now as is the case with almost all executive heads of states, there are two President Obama; one in public domain and one sitting in the Oval Office, and many times the two differ. President Obama is behaving just like what he is: a straight, in fact a very straight President, when he deals with Iran. He is for a deal with Iran but he would like Iran committing to freeze its weapon program for at least a decade. Republicans in the US Congress are hell bent on preventing the deal to take off but deal is not even possible with Obama administration if Iran does not agree to freeze and partially roll back its military aspects of nuclear program.

But why I am saying so? It is because President Obama is playing a very shrewd policy. He is just agreeing to whatever demands Iran make with certain must-be-known exception. So, why President Obama is not objecting to growing Iranian hegemony in the region? Not because the US is having a waning influence in the region and cannot have any control over Iran but because President Obama knows that it is not mostly sustainable except for his term.

The new President could change the administration's policies, certainly Republicans would do so, but even a Democrat occupant many not agree fully with his predecessor and may modify the agreement, much to the annoyance of Iranian ruling elites. But if President Obama has his ways and mind you, it does require cooperation by Iran, then by the time President Obama's leaves the office Iran would have invested a lot in the region, expanded its influence and horizons. And with new President and new Congress it could see newer sanctions, if it does not agree to adjust its policies to the tune of new administration. It is just like failing Iran like what President Obama's predecessors did with the Soviet Union with the only difference that while Americans let Soviets compete on unsustainable military matters, here they will listen, agree to and cooperate with Iranian demands.

So, is President Obama playing a bloody game? No and yes both. He is just obliging what Iranian political elites expect of him on certain regional issues but that could be counterproductive for Iran in middle-to-long term and President Obama knows it. That is a very shrewd game and only Americans are experts in playing such a deadly game: defeating one nation's ambitions by listening and agreeing to its demands. Now Iran cannot blame President Obama for anything as he is accommodating its concerns.

But why I am writing so? It is because Houthi rebels announced on 14 March this year an economic assistance deal worth 1 billion USD with Iran. Now Iran may provide aid and assistance to many nations and many constituents of nations of its interests believing that all sanctions will be lifted which may not be the case over longer run and as a consequence Shiite influence will wane and Sunni will dominate and resurge. Iran will loose money and influence and its efforts would be wasted. However, Iran has little other option and frankly speaking, it cannot blame President Obama for anything. After all, he is mostly complying to meet its demands.

Before I write my views about how the deal should be pursued let me briefly discuss what the United States could possibly do to secure consensus back home without spoiling its chances to secure a working deal. The deal has one very important and positive point: breakout period of one year or more which will allow the United States enough time to consider diplomatic and economic options to work out with Iran and also if both options fail then a possible military option, should Iran backs out on its promises to the world about non-weaponization of its nuclear program.

But then it does have a negative point too: sunset clause which will probably allow Iran to theoretically do whatever it wants with its nuclear program once the duration of agreement, say 10-15 years has lapsed out. Republicans and Israelis want full roll-back of Iranian nuclear program with the strictest possible verification and inspection possible under the IAEA regime by international as well as by Americans inspectors.

Now this is not possible but I tell you that sunset clause is disturbing and destabilizing. Iran can keep its options theoretically open after the lapse of agreement's duration but should never use its options practically unless the West creates the conditions forcing to rethink its position. However, whether Iran keeps such options theoretically, the United States and the rest of the West and possibly Russia and China too, should never ever accept Iranian position to make nuclear weapons.

The sunset clause keeps anxiety in the region as high as before the possible signing of the agreement and something should be done about it. I think the West should treat Iran fairly without the former accepting the latter's hegemony in the region. I am in favor of a nuclear deal with Iran but totally against Iranian bomb making capacity ever. For that the two things need to be followed at broad level.

First, Iran has to have reasons to opt for exploiting sunset clause. They include, Israel showing aggression and taking military actions against Iran, the Saudi Arabia importing bombs from Pakistan, and Iran feel threatened, discriminated, persecuted, and cheated because of its sectarian beliefs and choices based on them. However, I repeat that the West should never accept Iranian weapon making capacity, no matter what the reasons be. But definitely I do not support Iran making bomb just to meet its geopolitical ambitions. Very few reasonable non-Iranian and mostly non-Shiite persons should support such a destabilizing move by any Iranian government.

Second thing, it should be permanent rejection for Iranian military nuclear capabilities by both poles of American politics. Sure, President Obama can only talk about his term. But Democrat Congresspersons and the party can state their full commitment to no nuclear Iran. They can say that if Iran tries to make a bomb then the party if in power at the White House at that time would put economic sanctions, even harsher than the present ones, and could even take military action against it as well. If Democrats are not in power at the White House even then they can support executive and legislative measures against Iran. No need to say that Republicans would never accept Iranian bombs.

If Iran argues that it is its sovereign right to have few bombs and may be more, then many nations in the outside world have full sovereign right to put sanctions and even take military actions against Iran because of that.

The Obama administration must make it known that it disapproves off Iranian nuclear capacity at any time. Iran must listen to the world and should understand that its quest for nuclear weapons anytime would destabilize the region and would increase its anxiety too. Israeli nuclear capability could be contained and limited by negotiation involving the United States. Its first strike option could be eliminated except while it facing existential threats. But it depends on the Pentagon's consensus too. Yes, if it's a matter of cosmetics while dealing with Iran then the United States can let the former take a nationalist stand in public but in reality, on the ground, all non-proliferation concerns should be met.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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