Over the weekend, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, delivered remarks to an event sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Her speech marked the first time that a senior Obama Administration official hinted at the possibility of allowing Iran to fully develop its nuclear energy program under the guise of a peaceful nuclear energy development plan.
In defense of the frequent criticism from both sides of the aisle regarding the Obama Administration’s unclear policy on Iran, Power remarked, “We understand why some of you are skeptical about engaging Iran. But please remember that we are not engaging Iran for the sake of engaging Iran,” she said. “We are striving to secure an unambiguous and verifiable guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program is a peaceful one and that its government will not build or acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Former President Bill Clinton once touted one of his signature diplomacy initiatives, the 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea, as a tremendous success. The treaty’s structure was textually similarly to the rhetoric espoused by Ambassador Power, as it pushed for North Korea’s ability to create “peaceful” nuclear energy. Many would argue that the Agreed Framework was doomed for failure due to lack of oversight, and that Clinton was essentially accepting as inevitable that North Korea would ultimately possess nuclear weapons, just not under his watch. Since the framework’s collapse, North Korea has used its nuclear capabilities mostly as a leverage point to secure millions of tons in aid, funded by the American taxpayers to the tune of roughly 5 billion dollars.
Many argue that Iran’s possession of a single nuclear device could have devastating consequences for the region as a whole. In the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey have all recently expressed interest in developing nuclear programs of their own. Many other countries in the region have announced plans that they are in the beginning stages of exploring nuclear energy programs, for peaceful purposes, of course.
The Obama Administration’s willingness to engage in potentially recognizing Iran’s nuclear proliferation operations may come as a surprise to many, as it was just last year that the President seemingly drew a metaphorical red line on Iran. While at a fundraiser last year in New York City, when citing the prospects of regional instability if Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons, the President stated, “It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe.”
On Iran, The President appears to be at odds with his own party. While there has been bipartisan efforts in both the House and the Senate to push for further economic sanctions on Iran, the President has not deemed them to be necessary or proper. The Administration has asked that the legislative branch of government actually roll back the plan for new sanctions.
In an interview with reporters at the White House, President Obama appeared hopeful that the United States and Iran could resolve their long-standing hostilities and move towards a more peaceful relationship. The President stated, “Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”
The Iranian regime has a long history of deliberately disguising and distorting its rhetoric in order to buy time to advance the goals of its nuclear program. A video captured prior to the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is the latest piece of evidence suggesting Iran’s willingness to deceive foreigners, particularly western negotiators, while buying time to clandestinely further their nuclear ambition. According to a former IAEA official, Iran’s disinformation campaign has been a tremendous success, as evidence suggests they could soon have the capability to assemble a nuclear weapon in just two weeks.