The Iran nuclear deal was designed to fail
There is no doubt the Obama administration worked seriously to reach the nuclear deal with Iran after obscure bilateral agreements. The negotiating teams drew broad guidelines for the deal based on how both parties wished to see their bilateral relations evolve.
Iran had no illusions about the future of its nuclear programme. Tehran knew very well the international mood would never allow it to produce a nuclear weapon. Still, Iran pushed on with its programme as a strategy to strike a major deal with the West and realise two goals.
The first was to have the world accept the Iranian regime and cease threatening it and treating it like a freak exception in the country’s history. The second was to have the world accept Iran as a nuclear power. As such, it would be entitled to its own zone of influence.
Iran has the right to believe its own dreams within the context of the nuclear agreement. Former US President Barack Obama made the deal without consulting with other countries of the region. He shoved the deal down the world’s throat as a major achievement for peace in the Middle East.
Obama was full of praise for Iran’s new role in the region as part of his “doctrine” for a new Middle East. He unveiled that doctrine in a famous interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic. Obama invited Saudi Arabia to get along with Iran and agree to share regional influence with it.
Obama presented his famous doctrine in March 2016. One year before that, Iranian officials boasted about an Iranian Empire with Baghdad as its capital and that Tehran was in control of four Arab capitals.
Tehran must have been acting on signals it picked up from Washington and the other major capitals that they did not oppose its dream of being and acting like a country with special privileges — that was accepted in the club of major players.
The problem is that Iran’s dreams were a mirage. Washington’s and Obama’s intentions were not to go along with Tehran’s fantasies and ambitions. The American president wanted to make the deal a personal achievement by placing a temporary freeze on Iran’s nuclear programme and snaring it into provisions that would prevent it from developing into a military programme. Even if Iran had had geostrategic economic hopes from the deal, the key to that aspect remained in the hands of Washington alone.
History will bear witness to John Kerry’s skills in “selling mirages.” The former secretary of state did an excellent job in the Syrian file, too, by arranging for Washington’s interests and wishes to oppose everybody else’s.
Today, Kerry has come out in favour of keeping the nuclear deal with Iran but he knows that he rigged it to make it possible for Donald Trump, as a candidate for president, to open fire on America’s “worst deal” from the beginning of the campaign.
In other words, the “Deep America” that produced the deal is the same party that now wants it dead. Even Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton admitted during her campaign that critics of the deal had “good arguments” going for them and that she absolutely didn’t “trust the Iranians.”
It is clear to Tehran that Washington will not lift its veto on international financial institutions dealing with the Iranian banking system. Kerry had not acquiesced to requests in this respect from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the nuclear deal negotiations.
Tehran even tried to woo Washington by offering to purchase aircraft from Boeing instead of Airbus but the US administration remained adamant on maintaining the financial sanctions and on making sure that normalisation with Iran did not go beyond the technical aspects of the nuclear deal.
The nuclear deal is no longer valid because it had been designed to fail and to require updating after a few years of its signing. Even if Trump decides not to pull out of it, it will still fail.
The entire world is planning for the post-nuclear deal. French President Emmanuel Macron, who argued for maintaining the deal with Iran, says it is time for a more comprehensive agreement with Iran that includes other vague aspects, namely Iran’s ballistic missiles programme and Tehran’s influence, which “threatens stability” in the region.
The fate of the deal will be decided in 2025, when its key provisions formally expire. By May 12, 2018, however, the world will be setting the clock back to the pre-nuclear deal era.
Very soon a familiar scenario will be played out. Iran will hint that its uranium enriching plants are working at worrisome levels and the International Atomic Energy Agency will hurry to make sure Iran’s nuclear programme is peaceful.
As Iran’s economic and political woes continue to worsen because of international economic sanctions, Tehran will cry out that owning nuclear technology is a “sovereign right.” In this sense, the “revelations” by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about Iran’s nuclear programme do not bother Tehran.
What irks the Iranian regime is the change in the mood in the region and the world that is threatening Iranian interests. There is growing opposition to Iran’s role in Syria, Yemen and even the Moroccan Sahara. The previous “Iranian exception” is being challenged.