Obama Wants to Give Caprice a Chance

April 13, 2015

4 min read

Michael Freund

Precisely a week ago, Barack Obama stood in the Rose Garden at the White House and triumphantly declared that a nuclear deal had been reached with Iran.

But as troubling details about the agreement continue to emerge, even as Tehran and Washington offer sharply differing accounts of what was agreed upon, the public is still scratching its collective head and wondering what it all means.

Perhaps the best way to divine where things are headed is simply to put aside for the moment all the minutiae you might have read about spinning centrifuges and enriched uranium, and consider just one, simple question: can the ayatollahs be trusted to keep their word? Well, if their behavior over the past two decades is any indication, the answer is clearly “no.”

After all, Tehran’s nuclear program came to light in 2002 only after an Iranian exile group held a press conference and disseminated photographs and data regarding the country’s covert nuclear installations. It turned out that Iran had been working in secret for 18 years (!) on its nuclear program, which it had concealed from the international community and repeatedly lied about.

Then, in September 2012, the Iranian regime actually admitted that it had intentionally deceived the West about the nature and extent of its atomic program. In an interview published in the London-based daily Al-Hayat, Iranian Vice President Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, who was also the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said, “Sometimes we pretended to be weaker than we really were, and sometimes we showed strength that was not really in our hands.” Abbasi-Davani then added that, “We sometimes gave false information to protect our nuclear sites and our interests. This inevitably misled other intelligence agencies.”

In light of Tehran’s chronic trouble telling the truth, does it really seem sensible to risk the future of Israel and Western civilization on the dim hope that this time Iran will at last be forthright and honest? Worse yet is the fact that this marks the second time in nearly two decades that the United States has reached a dubious deal with a devious dictatorship about nuclear development, with the previous attempt having been made with North Korea.

And if the outcome of that protracted effort is any indication, there is little reason to take comfort in Obama’s soothing assurances that Iran will not be permitted to get the bomb.

For in an eerily similar situation, the US and North Korea signed an “Agreed Framework” on October 12, 1994, under which President Bill Clinton promised the Stalinist regime economic cooperation and aid in exchange for a halt to its nuclear program. Needless to say, the North Koreans proceeded to laugh all the way to the bank, as they received various benefits while continuing to pursue nuclear weapons covertly.

Throughout the 1990s, America applied a series of sticks and carrots, using a mix of threats, talks and aid in a largely fruitless effort to discourage the Communist hermit kingdom from going down the nuclear path.When George W. Bush became president, he vowed to take an even tougher line. In his January 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush declared North Korea to be part of the “axis of evil” together with Iran and Iraq, and insisted that its pursuit of nuclear weapons constituted a “grave and growing danger” to the US, which would do “what is necessary to ensure our nation’s security.”

On February 18, 2002, as he prepared to travel to South Korea, Bush was even more explicit, telling reporters that, “America will not allow North Korea and other dangerous regimes to threaten freedom with weapons of mass destruction.”

Yet all the bluster didn’t seem to make much of an impression on the North Koreans. They subsequently withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and in June 2005, Pyongyang proudly announced that it had amassed a stockpile of nuclear weapons and was eagerly building more, which it continues to do today.

So for all the assurances and tough talk over the course of nearly two decades, America proved either unwilling or unable to stop North Korea from joining the nuclear club, with the result being that US ally South Korea is forced to live under the shadow of an ongoing nuclear threat.

Do we really want to gamble that Israel won’t end up in the same position as our friends in Seoul? Think about it: if George W. Bush was not prepared to take action to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, does anyone actually believe that Barack Obama will be tougher against Iran? Having been burned once by North Korea and its nuclear lies, one would have thought that Washington would be far more careful in its dealings with Iran. But to paraphrase John Lennon, Obama naively wishes to give caprice a chance, tossing caution to the wind by counting on Iran not to deceive its way past the nuclear threshold.

Sadly, the president has deployed foolhardiness rather than farsightedness, and wishful thinking rather than wisdom.

As a result, Israel is being pushed into a corner, and may have no choice but to act. It is a frightening thought, a measure of last resort that the country has been doing its utmost to avoid. But if Obama insists on moving forward with his flawed nuclear deal, he will likely end up with the scenario that he had hoped to avoid most: war with Iran.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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