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Charles Krauthammer

The devil is not in the details. It’s in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama’s fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.

In pursuit of his desire to make the Islamic Republic into an accepted, normalized “successful regional power,” Obama decided to take over the nuclear negotiations. At the time, Tehran was reeling — the rial plunging, inflation skyrocketing, the economy contracting — under a regime of international sanctions painstakingly constructed over a decade.


Then, instead of welcoming Congress’ attempt to tighten sanctions to increase the pressure on the mullahs, Obama began the negotiations by loosening sanctions, injecting billions into the Iranian economy (which began growing again in 2014) and conceding in advance an Iranian right to enrich uranium.

It’s been downhill ever since. Desperate for a legacy deal, Obama has played the supplicant, abandoning every red line his administration had declared essential to any acceptable deal.


They were to be anywhere, anytime, unimpeded. Now? Total cave. Unfettered access has become “managed access.” Nuclear inspectors will have to negotiate and receive Iranian approval for inspections. Which allows them denial and/or crucial delay for concealing any clandestine activities.

To give a flavor of the degree of our capitulation, the administration played Iran’s lawyer on this one, explaining that, after all, “the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site, so that’s not appropriate.” Apart from the absurdity of morally equating America with the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, if we were going to parrot the Iranian position, why wait 19 months to do so — after repeatedly insisting on free access as essential to any inspection regime?

Coming clean on past nuclear activity

The current interim agreement that governed the past 19 months of negotiation required Iran to do exactly that. Tehran has offered nothing. The administration had insisted that this accounting was essential because how can you verify future illegal advances in Iran’s nuclear program if you have no baseline?

After continually demanding access to their scientists, plans and weaponization facilities, Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago airily dismissed the need, saying he is focused on the future, “not fixated” on the past. And that we have “absolute knowledge” of the Iranian program anyway — a whopper that his staffers had to spend days walking back.

Not to worry, we are told. The accounting will be done after the final deal is signed. Which is ridiculous. If the Iranians haven’t budged on disclosing previous work under the current sanctions regime, by what logic will they comply after sanctions are lifted?

Sanctions relief

These were to be gradual and staged as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified Iranian compliance over time. Now we’re going to be releasing up to $150 billion as an upfront signing bonus. That’s 25 times the annual budget of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Enough to fuel a generation of intensified Iranian aggression from Yemen to Lebanon to Bahrain.

Yet three months ago, Obama expressed nonchalance about immediate sanctions relief. It’s not the issue, he said. The real issue is “snap-back” sanctions to be reimposed if Iran is found in violation.

Good grief. Iran won’t be found in violation. The inspection regime is laughable and the bureaucratic procedures endless. Moreover, does anyone imagine that Russia and China will reimpose sanctions? Or that the myriad European businesses preparing to join the Iranian gold rush the day the deal is signed will simply turn around and go home?

Nonnuclear-related sanctions

The administration insisted that the nuclear talks would not affect separate sanctions imposed because of Iranian aggression and terrorism. That was then. The administration is now leaking that everything will be lifted.

Taken together, the catalog of capitulations is breathtaking: spot inspections, disclosure of previous nuclear activity, gradual sanctions relief, retention of nonnuclear sanctions.

What’s left? A surrender document of the kind offered by defeated nations suing for peace. Consider: The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.

How did it come to this? With every concession, Obama and Kerry made clear they were desperate for a deal.

And they will get it. Obama will get his “legacy.” Kerry will get his Nobel. And Iran will get the bomb.


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Charles Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Fox News commentator, and bestselling author. His most recent book, “Things That Matter” (Crown Forum, 2013), spent several months at the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.


  1. The US,Russia,China,France,Britain and Germany,all these countries are involved in this Iran nuclear deal and they can not all be wrong.Stop pretending as if this deal is deal is a bilateral issue between the US and Iran when in fact it involves all the big powers of the World.If this deal is passed and Israel chooses to oppose it then it will be Israel versus the World and it wont win this time.

  2. guess who brought down the Shah of Iran. and guess who have the bomb and put the 8 years of war on Iran in Iran-Iraq war and guess who sanctioned Iran to loose the economic for the political reason not just the security issues. bro… dont eat the sack (media). Your greedy fellow sitting in luxury house around the world and counting the money that earned from selling army to war lord around the world and would not like to see people in middle east have peace.

  3. Fakazi, how do you deal and trust a country that has lied consistently, treated their people in the most despicable manner, execute hundreds…….and while working out a nuclear deal consistently calling for the destruction of both the U.S. And Israel.
    Further, working to create ICBM, that have only one use……to deliver nuclear weapons.

    If you believe that this fairy tale deal is anything other than a charade your an imbecile.

  4. The Iranians should be given only two options: (1) dismantle their nuclear program entirely subject to stringent verification; or (2) suffer destruction of their nuclear AND oil exporting facilities. Not being complete fools, they would elect option 1 IF they believe Obama means it.

  5. It has happened throughout history – and while I am far from an expert i know we have seen great nations who once 'ruled the world' either completely disappear from the world stage or fall to a monor role if any. Egypt, Babylonia, Rome, Greece, to name a few. It appears that America is on the same road after supplying those who wish to destroy it with the means to do so.
    The one world that America has tacitly stricken from the dictionary is "NO". No never means no, whether it is an attack on family values, or the creation of the 'everything goes' culture. Don't say NO to same sex relationship – legalize it! Don't say no to drugs – legalize them.
    Don't say no to nuclear proliferation, negotiate it to monitorization of hte process andthen negotiate that away as encroaching on the freedom of a country to control its own internal politics and economy -even when ot means your own destruction. We encourage the enemy's our way of life and yes our own existence to mete out demands before they would even come to the negotiating table and then we allow them to walk away without gaining anything in the 'negotiation'. They then have more demands for us to meet before they return to 'negotiatie' again. each time they demand, we capitulate in the name of peace and there is no negotiation.
    When will "NO" ever mean "NO" again.
    This is not about Jews this is about radical Islam against the rest of the world. Israel is only the first, and we already see what is happening in France and England and just starting in the U.S.
    Someone needs to say 'ENOUGH!" NO MORE!

  6. Israel knows what they have to do. Just know, the United States military does not support Obama, and the idea that the Obama Administration will not back up Israel with resupply if Israel decides to act in their best interest–will be countermanded by the American military.

  7. Charles Krauthammer is generally an astute commentator. This time, he has joined the mob which is bewildered that Obama is so full of himself that he is incapable of noting that he is making a fool of himself. And of the USA. And the West. And democracies. Group think seems to prevent the pundits from noting that Obama is deliberately pursuing policies to undermine the West and that he supports revolutionary Islam. He does as little as he can get away with in standing against jihadis on the international front. And he ignores democratic processes on the home front. He is bad news and nobody wants to take a stand against him. Why?

  8. They damn well better not. The long-established tradition in this country is that the military is subservient to the country's civilian leaders, regardless of political feelings. The first time this does not happen will be the first step toward a military coup and the end of democracy in this country. Look at Egypt. And while we generally like the direction that al Sisi has taken vis-a-vis Muslim extremists, the fact is that the Egyptian evolution toward democracy has been set back a decade, perhaps longer.

  9. It is a terrible shame that ordinary Iranians like Milad are caught in the middle and are forced to suffer as a result of the terrible acts and intentions of their government. The same could, I suppose, be said about the plight of ordinary Germans and Japanese during/after WWII, but this is what unfortunately happens. It is going to take a supreme effort of ordinary Iranians to either overrule or remove this monstrosity of a government, an exceedingly difficult task given that they have virtually no power to act against the likes of the Revolutionary Guard. But it seems that most Iranians are still smart enough and well enough educated to know who/what is causing all of their problems, despite the propaganda. They simply have to muster the will, and know that there will be great sacrifices (deaths) to be incurred in pursuit of such a noble cause. (Now there is no reason why the CIA, etc can't "help" the cause in clandestine ways. I hope that is going on.)

  10. Mark Melnicoff The long established tradition of the military being subservient to the nation's civilian leaders is now in jeopardy when it appears some of our leaders don't have the country's best interests at heart. It almost happened already. Do you recall the quickly buried news articles about Obama relieving top command of duty? That was because they refused to follow orders that would have damaged our country, in Obama's view. The military can take over–Fore instance, if civilian command is taken out by enemy action.

  11. I lived in Iran for a long-time in the 70's. … Iranians are wonderful people. … It is the fanatical Mullahs and Revolutionary Guard we need to attack, not the Iranian people who suffer horribly under these madmen they are equally as bas as ISIS … PLEASE stop referring to "Iran and Iranians" in a negative way. The VAST majority of Iranian people are kind and gentle and loving. … Bomb the Majlis (parliament) and the Mullas and the revolutionary guard HQ. … Leave the rest of the people alone in peace!

  12. If history repeats itself the same way, the days of the United States of America as the greatest power on Earth is very short numbered. Chamberlain the Idiot started the demise of the British Empire much the same way back in to 30-s.

  13. Ben, Obama already promised to take out every Israeli plane from the sky before they would reach the Iranian nuclear sites. He is a "true friend" of Israel. So true, Israel lo longer needs an enemy.

  14. Miki Bacsi I know what you said to be true–and I also know what Israel told him, (believe it or not) that they could defeat the U.S. in combat, if it ever came to that.
    Imagine how embarassing that would be–and with our own weapons. My belief is, hostilities will commence before mid-September, and the U.S. will support Israel with resupply whether Obama agrees with it, or not.

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