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Will Congress ignore reality on Iran?
Keyvan Salami | 09 Jun 2015

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently saw two experts in their testimony signalling that the president's premise underlying the Iran talks is fundamentally flawed.

Ambassador James Jeffrey told lawmakers that despite the administration's attempt to cordon off other issues, "the agreement cannot be considered outside the context of Iran's record of destabilization in the region."

"But the region's leaders do not lose sleep over these weapons, nor does the UN Security Council pass multiple Chapter VII resolutions about them, as with Iran. The reason is that Iran's behavior in the region is profoundly troubling to many states. Either an Iranian nuclear weapons capability, or an Iran politically empowered by an agreement that stops it just short of such a capability, would pose extraordinary new threats to a region already under stress, and undermine the above U.S. vital interests."

Furthermore, the notion that a nuclear deal will transform Iran into a responsible state actor is without foundation. "Iran is a revolutionary power with hegemonic aspirations. In other words, it is a country seeking to assert its dominance in the region and it will not play by the rules . . . Iran, however, has brazenly defied (the) international order and continues to expand its reach," he said.

The U.S. would still have its direct sanctions, UN sanctions (as lifting them is subject to U.S. veto), banking and commercial pressure points, and perhaps some residual third country limits on importing of Iranian oil. Between these two variants — Iran refusing anything like the April outline, or the U.S. not accepting it — there are various scenarios, each with more or less difficulty in maintaining sanctions and other international pressure on Iran." As for our allies, he notes that they remain uneasy because experience has taught them not to rely on what this president says. He recommends, "What these states need is a commitment by the U.S., backed at this point by action, that Washington will use all the tools in its arsenal, including military, to combat and drive back illicit Iranian efforts to infiltrate and undermine Arab states throughout the region. This includes pushing back on Iran's actions in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Gaza." However, as we all have learned, the president does not have much stomach for such commitments.

US Lawmakers soon may have a choice between competing visions. Jeffrey's view is that Iran is a revolutionary state that has not and will not change its stripes. Leaving it with its nuclear infrastructure while affording sanctions relief will give them every reason to continue its aggression while it cheats (or just waits a decade) in order to get the bomb.

To be realistic, there needs to be a serious and firm policy against the ayatollahs in Iran, or else they will continue their cat-and-mouse game they have been playing with the West during the past two decades. Iran opposition leader Maryam Rajavi has been calling for serious change in the West's policy toward Iran. She will be voicing this position once again in her movement's annual 100,000-strong rally in Paris to be staged on June 13 this year. Her speech would provide many things to learn from for senior US officials dealing with the Iran dossier.