Iran deal: From rip-off to swindle?


I didn’t think the Iran deal could get any worse. I didn’t think I would find any more loopholes that would make it even easier for the Iranians to cheat and get away with it. Then, this morning, I read this extraordinary news item from the Associated Press in our Jewish Insider Daily Kick-Off, and I had to find a word that would be stronger than “rip-off.” I found swindle.

Here is the news item:

“AP Exclusive: U.N. To Let Iran Inspect Alleged Nuke Work Site” by George Jahn: “Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press. The agreement in question diverges from normal procedures by allowing Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence of activities it has consistently denied—trying to develop nuclear weapons. Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country.”

In a subsequent Reuters report, the head of the IAEA said he was”disturbed” by the AP report, which he said “misrepresent[ed] the way in which we will undertake this important verification work”-- but he never specifically denied the report. Interestingly, Reuters quoted a Vienna-based diplomat as saying that “discussions on how to best implement the roadmap are still ongoing.” In other words, the secret document quoted by AP may not be a final draft, which would bring up another complication: What are the odds that the Iranians would agree to a tougher final draft?

In any case, to my friends who oppose the deal, please do not dwell on this new information about these secret side deals and other loopholes we knew nothing about. Most of you are charged up enough as it is, and the community discourse is nearing hysterics. We don’t need to pour more oil on the fire.

But to my friends who are in favor of the deal, please read the AP report again and dwell on it. As you do, try not to get overly defensive or bogged down with the arguments in your comfort zone, such as: “Well, the deal is not perfect but it could be worse; it’s better than the alternatives; it’s too late to change it; it’ll create a mess with our allies if Congress rejects it and will embarrass our president; we can do other things later to make sure the Iranians don’t cheat,” and so on.

I’m not trying to devalue these arguments. I’m just asking that you put them aside for a minute so you might better appreciate why so many reasonable people are against this deal.

I have no expectations that any “new” information will change anyone’s mind. I know that’s not how human nature works. Changing our minds is a sign of weakness and inconsistency. Once we’ve picked a side, we dig in. Better to downplay any new information and fall back on the arguments in our comfort zone. Better to stay loyal to our side. I get it. I often suffer from the same syndrome.

So, instead of changing your mind, I only ask that you open it. If, after seeing new information that suggests it will be easier than ever for Iran to cheat and make a mockery of the agreement, you have more empathy and understanding toward those of us who are against the deal, it will be worth it.

Also, if you have any new information that can make me feel better about all the loopholes in this agreement, please send it to me and I promise to keep an open mind.


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