P5+1 Iran Deal Reduces American Influence

The United States and Iran are not morally equivalent; we do not share the same creed, vision for the world, or idea of liberty and justice. The U.S. initiates violence only to defend the lives of its citizens or liberate people from tyranny. Tehran’s theocracy initiates violence to further expand its reach with an end goal of establishing a global caliphate under the banner of radical Shia Islam. The U.S. is a liberating force, while the Islamic Republic of Iran is a conquering one.


By Aaron Marcus l July 21, 2015


U.S. President Obama standing with Vice President Joe Biden announces from the East Room of the White House the historic Iran nuclear deal. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Reuters

On June 24, 2015, President Obama announced a shift in American hostage negotiation policy. The move allows families of captives to negotiate with groups, including terrorist organizations for the release of their loved ones. Bizarre in its own right, the policy merely emulated the Obama administration’s two-year negotiating process with the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On July 14th the P5+1 – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany, as well as the European Union, arrived at a deal with Iran called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in an attempt to curb its nuclear activity and thwart its attempt at creating a nuclear weapon. It’s unfair to say that negotiations with Iran should never have taken place. The point of the harsh international sanctions against the country was an attempt to bring them to the negotiation table. However, the goal wasn’t merely to bring Iran to the table, but to halt its nuclear ambitions, in this respect the United States failed.

It’s challenging to pinpoint the worst part of the JCPOA, since most of the guarantees the U.S. originally demanded from Tehran were not met. Therefore, it is easier to begin dissecting the faults of this agreement with what was left out entirely. At the start of negotiations, the U.S. made clear that “non-nuclear” issues would not be addressed. Meaning, from the onset, Iranian state-sponsored terrorism, its genocidal attitude toward Israel, and the imprisonment of Americans in Iran would not be discussed. Even if Iran had capitulated to every American nuclear demand, the agreement still would have been a failure without addressing these three issues.

The official Obama administration talking point is that the U.S. would have to cave on too many issues had these other issues been debated. Yet, after the final agreement was publicized, it seems the U.S. caved on most issues anyway.

Iran is not precluded from producing a nuclear weapon, enriching uranium, abiding by facility inspections permitted, and the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium is only cut in half. After almost two years of negotiations, the deal signed by the U.S. essentially halts Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon by only nine months.

Yes, the JCPOA postpones Iran’s ability to create a nuclear weapon, but postponing and stopping the development of nuclear weapons are two entirely different matters. While the allowable level of enriched Uranium is not enough to create a nuclear weapon, the ban on more than 300 kilograms of enriched uranium is temporary and Iranian scientists maintain the ability to continue research and development of advanced centrifuges. Furthermore, Iran is allowed to keep its entire nuclear infrastructure and enrichment facilities, and the agreement doesn’t even mention the Parchin military facility, where Iran has previously conducted most of its nuclear arms research.

What does the rest of the world get for temporary bans on enriching uranium and cutting the number of allowable centrifuges? The U.S., EU and UN will permanently lift virtually all sanctions against Iran and the freeze on $150 billion in assets. The lifting of sanctions benefits some of the country’s most heinous citizens, like Qassem Sulemeini, who is responsible for a large portion of American deaths in Iraq, and the unfrozen assets will help fund terrorist groups, like Iran’s proxy Hezbollah, worldwide. The agreement also lifts the embargo on the import and export of small arms and ballistic missiles to and from Iran. Just a week ago, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter warned Congress about lifting the embargo, which could pose an existential threat to the U.S. mainland. Iran already has the capability of reaching its regional enemies with missiles; the only necessary use for intercontinental ballistic missiles would be to target the Western Hemisphere. Yet, despite Pentagon and military warnings, the embargo will still be lifted.

Crippling sanctions that decimated the Iranian economy brought them to the negotiating table. It took decades of diplomacy to get almost the entire world on-board with sanctions and less than two years to tear them down.

Despite the fact that sanctions can be reintroduced, if Tehran does not keep its side of the deal, it also allows Iran to make arbitrary accusations that other parties to the JCPOA are not meeting their commitments. JCPOA, pages 19-20, reads: “if the complaining participant deems the issue to constitute significant non-performance, then that participant could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.” In short, if Iran believes the U.S., EU or other participant countries falter at their agreements, the deal is as good as dead, only with hundreds of billions of dollars having flowed into the Iranian economy.

Somehow, in the eyes of President Obama, this deal, gaping with holes and unable to permanently halt Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, is the best deal America could get. He falsely claims that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and others opposed to the JCPOA offer no better alternative. A claim refuted time and time again. Stopping Iran’s nuclear program permanently is a better plan; thwarting Tehran’s ability to fund international acts of terrorism is a better plan. Yet, most offensive of all, while making these wildly absurd assertions, Obama’s equalization theory claims that these types of demands would never be accepted by the U.S. and therefore shouldn’t be made to Iran.

The United States and Iran are not morally equivalent; we do not share the same creed, vision for the world, or idea of liberty and justice. The U.S. initiates violence only to defend the lives of its citizens or liberate people from tyranny. Tehran’s theocracy initiates violence to further expand its reach with an end goal of establishing a global caliphate under the banner of radical Shia Islam. The U.S. is a liberating force, while the Islamic Republic of Iran is a conquering one.

Only time will tell if Iran ignores the terms of this agreement. The JCPOA’s mandatory 24-day notice of upcoming inspections makes it highly unlikely that violations will be uncovered. It didn’t have to be this way, the United States could have exerted its influence, doubled-down on sanctions and held Iran’s feet to the fire, until they abandoned the nuclear program and stopped funding international acts of terrorism.  The Obama administration chose the path to equalization and détente instead and the world is a more dangerous place today because of it.


Aaron Marcus is a student at George Mason University School of Law. He holds a Master’s degree in Counterterrorism and Homeland Security from the International Institute for Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center of Herzliya, Israel and is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.