Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said “an agreement is necessary, and has to be good enough to be worth doing, even if Iran doesn’t change” and that a deal is “more likely to produce an evolution in Iranian behavior” in a talk at the Aspen Institute on Monday.
Rhodes was asked by the Atlantic’s National Correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg whether the president sees Iran “as an adversary.” He answered, “So, we believe that an agreement is necessary, and has to be good enough to be worth doing, even if Iran doesn’t change. If ten or fifteen years from now, Iran is the same as it is today in terms of its government, the deal has to be good enough that it can exist on those merits. That said, we believe that a world in which there is a deal with Iran is much more likely to produce an evolution in Iranian behavior than a world in which there is no deal.”
Rhodes further argued, “if the notion is that Iran has been engaged in these destabilizing activities under the last several years, when they’ve been under the pressure of sanctions, well, clearly sanctions are not acting as some deterrent against them doing destabilizing activities in the region. Secondly, the very people inside of Iran who oppose this deal are the worst actors inside of Iran, the hardliners, who are very comfortable being in a sanctions environment, where they have illicit sources of funding and they’re empowered in the system. There is an Iranian populace that clearly wants to move in a different direction, that’s why they’ve elected a different kind of candidate. That’s not to say we’re not going to have profound differences with President Rouhani. But the point is, I think, in a world of a deal, there is a greater possibility that you will see Iran evolve in a direction in which they’re more engaged with the international community, and less dependent upon the types of activities that they’ve been engaged in.”
(h/t Real Clear Politics)
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