There are plenty of reasons to criticize the nuclear deal the Obama administration brokered with Iran, but the agreement is still better than going to war to try to stop the country’s nuclear proliferation, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist George Will says.
It’s legitimate to argue that the deal will be ineffective in stopping Tehran’s nuclear development, Will argues in an op-ed in the New York Post, but containing a nuclear Iran is still preferable to a waging a likely disastrous, and ultimately futile, war.
A policy of containment, he says, is America’s only realistic option.
“Some advocates of war seem gripped by Thirties Envy, a longing for the clarity of the 1930s, when appeasement failed to slake the dictators’ thirst for territorial expansion. But the incantation ‘Appeasement!’ is not an argument,” Will writes.
“And the word ‘appeasement’ does not usefully describe a sober decision that war in an imprudent and even ultimately ineffective response to the failure of diplomatic and economic pressures to alter a regime’s choices about politics within its borders.”
Congressmen on both sides of the House are arguing against a deal with Iran and are likely to clash with the White House over a reduction in sanctions.
But Will says that one element that makes the deal a success is that it constrains Israel from attacking Iran; a worthy aim, given Israel’s military is ill-equipped to successfully take on its foe and an attack would do little more than stall Iran’s nuclear program by a few years at most.
“The agreement will not stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; only a highly unlikely Iranian choice can do that. The agreement may, however, prevent a war to prevent Iran from acquiring such weapons,” Will writes.
He adds that even a U.S. attack could not prevent reconstitution of its program, and advocates of an invasion should recall our “disastrous” entanglement with Iraq and then consider that Iran has almost three times the population of Iraq and is nearly four times the size.
“We have two choices, war or containment. Those who prefer the former have an obligation to clearly say why its consequences would be more predictable and less dire than those in the disastrous war with Iraq.”
As the House of Representatives re-convened this week following its Thanksgiving break, it is clear that members of both parties are headed for a major showdown with the White House over the recent agreement between Iran and the leading world powers.
But numerous House members pulled no punches in saying they did not trust Iran and are still worried about the possibility that the Islamic regime in Tehran could obtain a nuclear weapon.
In recent foreign policy disagreements such as those over Syria and Egypt, the most vocal opponents of the administration’s position were often the most junior Republicans in the House.
But what makes this clash with Iran different is that Democrats as well as some senior Republicans in the House are lining up as hardline opponents of trusting Iran.
In October, freshman Reps. Luke Messer, an Indiana Republican, and Brad Schneider, an Illinois Democrat, organized 76 of their fellow freshmen from both parties to sign a letter calling on the administration to do everything in its power to make sure Iran did not obtain nuclear weaponry.
“In foreign policy, this president will be judged by one simple standard: did he prevent Iran from getting the bomb?” Messer told Newsmax.
Messer, who is president of the class of freshman Republicans in the House and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the agreement supported by the administration “validates Iran’s right to enrich uranium to a 5 percent level in six months.”
Senior lawmakers in the House also weighed in strongly against any new agreement with Iran.
Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, a 33-year incumbent and the longest-serving Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said any agreement that permits Iran to have nuclear enrichment is “egregiously flawed.”
“When it comes to Iran, this president has not been helpful at all,” Smith told Newsmax. “He tried to weaken previous sanctions and opposes newer and tougher sanctions.”
Smith recalled that he and other House members from both parties fought to keep Iranian crude oil off the market. “This is what is keeping their economy afloat and we were trying to hit Iran’s lifeline,” he said. But the Obama administration helped torpedo the harder-hitting sanctions.
Smith noted that Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, “is working side-by-side with me to promote the next sanctions bill.”
Smith and Messer spoke to Newsmax a day after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters “the agreement reached by the P5+1 with Iran needs to be implemented, and that both the president and Congress have a responsibility to fully test whether we can achieve a comprehensive solution through diplomatic means before pursuing alternatives.”
Carney warned that “passing any new sanctions right now will undermine our efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to this issue by giving the Iranians an excuse to push the terms of the agreement on their side. Furthermore, new sanctions are unnecessary right now because our core sanctions architecture remains in place and the Iranians continue to be under extraordinary pressure.
“There is no doubt in Iran that should this agreement fail, Congress and this administration will quickly impose harsh new sanctions. It would make more sense to… keep our powder dry until we see whether Iran violates the understanding,” Carney said.
But Messer and his colleagues do not want to give Iran the opportunity to violate the agreement and then have Congress move to impose new sanctions after a violation.
Iran “needs to reach two certain benchmarks: first, an end of nuclear enrichment and second, a public declaration that they won’t build a nuclear bomb,” Messer said.
Citing Ronald Reagan’s axiom of “trust but verify” in negotiating arms control with the former Soviet Union, Messer said that “the key to dealing with Iran is to be able to verify. Without verification, there can be no trust.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
WASHINGTON — House of Representatives lawmakers said Wednesday they are concerned about Iran‘s ability to continue enriching uranium under the interim agreement on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, an issue they are likely to press as global powers attempt to reach a final agreement.
The concerns showed that House lawmakers could be willing to push for a new sanctions package next year that would define what Congress would be willing to accept in a final deal with Iran.
The six-month interim deal made by the United States, five other world powers and Iran in Geneva last month gives International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors greater access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and requires the Islamic Republic to halt its enrichment of higher grade uranium.
But it allows Iran to continue enriching uranium up to 5 percent purity for generating nuclear power. That level is well below 20 percent pure uranium which can be converted relatively easily into weapons-grade material. But many lawmakers worry any enrichment in Iran is too much.
“It would have been better if Iran during the course of the negotiations would stop enriching. I don’t think that would have been too much to ask Iran,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“It makes me question the sincerity of the Iranians,” Engel told reporters after a classified House briefing with Wendy Sherman, the State Department’s lead negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, said after the briefing that she suspects Iran would be able to continue to enrich even after a final deal.
“Unfortunately I believe the Obama administration, from what we have heard today, may very well allow Iran to maintain the right to enrich,” she said. “The only way we will ensure that Iran does not ultimately obtain a nuclear weapon will be if they dismantle the centrifuges and also relinquish the enriched uranium that they have now.”
Rep. Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia, said on Tuesday that the Obama administration had given Iran too much in the interim agreement.
“I think we have to be much more aggressive in pushing back on the administration on what they’ve done so far,” he said before lawmakers met with Sherman.
The interim agreement between Iran, the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain, and Germany leaves open the question of whether Iran can continue to enrich uranium to low levels and explains that a comprehensive deal would involve a “mutually defined” enrichment program with “practical limits and transparency measures” to ensure that it was for peaceful purposes.
“You’re talking [about] a situation where most of the sanctions are still in place,” he said adding that the agreement allows nuclear inspectors better access than they had before.
Lawmakers in the Republican-led House are waiting for the Senate to move on a bill the House passed this summer 400 to 20 that would place new sanctions on Iran and drive down the lifeblood of its economy, oil exports, to almost nothing.
Some sanctions backers in the Senate are seeking to pass new sanctions that would not take effect unless Iran violated the interim agreement.
The White House said this week it opposes a fresh effort by some members of the Senate to impose new sanctions on Iran, even if they did not take effect for months, because it could prod Tehran and the other world powers to say Washington had negotiated in bad faith.
If the United States wants to be successful with Iran it must take a hard line coupled with respect or it could end up on the “losing end” of the temporary agreement aimed at ending Tehran‘s nuclear development program, says a former U.S. ambassador who has dealt with Iran on nuclear issues.
“If you took a very hard line, but then spent a lot of time with a lot of respect and tolerance and patience, explaining why that hard line was necessary and what other things you might be able to do for them if they accept the hard line, [it] generally worked out favorably,” Eric Javits explained in an interview Tuesday with Newsmax TV.
Story continues below video.
He expressed concern the U.S. could be headed for disappointment in six months, when the deal signed on Nov. 24 with Iran to work toward a permanent agreement on its nuclear program is scheduled to be renegotiated. For the moment, Iran has promised to freeze or scale back some of its current nuclear development operations in return for a lifting of some economic sanctions.
“If you allow a testing period like this to be at all ambiguous or unclear as to what the ultimate outcome has to be, you will find out that you’re on the losing end,” Javits told Newsmax, adding that it would be better for the administration to “make it very clear” what is expected when the six-month agreement expires.
In the meantime, he said he agrees with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, as well as other Democrats and Republicans who have said the temporary agreement is too one-sided and primarily benefits Iran. Menendez is currently working on a bipartisan bill that would impose new sanctions on Tehran if it fails to comply with U.S. demands at the end of the six-month agreement.
“You make it very clear what the ultimate outcome has to be and you ramp up your penalties to take effect automatically at the end of that period if you don’t get what you absolutely have to have,” Javits said.
He said bipartisan legislation strengthening sanctions would also send a signal to allies that the United States is serious about making sure Iran does what’s expected.
“It’s needed because it sends a signal to our allies and to our adversaries that . . . we’re not taking down the system, and if you don’t send that signal now you’ll see an erosion over the six months of the determination and will of people to hold those sanctions,” Javits said.
“Unless Iran feels it’s in a box from which it can’t escape, we will be on the losing end and they will get to be within a couple of weeks of a break out, if not quicker, to a nuclear armament. And, frankly, we’ll find out that that’s what they’re going to do,” he added.
Turning to the situation in Syria, Javits said he’s waiting to see if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad follows through on his commitment to get rid of all his chemical weapons. He would be a fool not to, Javits suggested.
“The general bargain favors [Assad] enormously. It saved him from attack, which had been threatened by the U.S. and others; it saved him from losing his air force, and probably gives him much more of an upper hand in the civil war he’s undergoing right now,” he said.
In a speech marking his first 100 days in office on Nov. 26, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was being “accountable to our people,” a populist message that has seldom, if ever, been heard in Iran. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)
The recently completed agreement with world powers is a cornerstone of the Iranian regime’s broader strategy to improve conditions at home, as it will give Iran access to billions of dollars in frozen assets. The money is important, but in the long term President Hassan Rouhani may be playing for even larger stakes: gaining acceptance of Iran as a peaceful nation no longer bent on confrontation with Israel and the United States. That does not imply a softening of the regime’s revolutionary zeal as much as it signals a shift in tactics.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s nuclear chief said Sunday that the Islamic Republic needs more nuclear power plants, the country’s official news agency reported, just after it struck a deal regarding its contested nuclear program with world powers.
Ali Akbar Salehi said the additional nuclear power would help the country reduce its carbon emissions and its consumption of oil, IRNA reported. He said Iran should produce 150 tons of nuclear fuel to supply five nuclear power plants.
“We should take required action for building power plants for 20,000 megawatts of electricity” in the long term, Salehi said.
The deal requires Iran to cap its uranium enrichment level at 5 percent, far below the 90 percent threshold needed for a warhead. That 5 percent uranium can be used at nuclear power plants.
Iran also pledged to “neutralize” its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium — the highest level acknowledged by Tehran — by either diluting its strength or converting it to fuel for research reactors, which produced isotopes for medical treatments and other civilian use.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Western powers fear Iran could use its nuclear program to make atomic weapons.
Iran’s only nuclear power plant, near the southern port of Bushehr, produces some 1,000 megawatts of electricity. The plant came online with help from Russia, which will provide fuel for it through 2021.
Salehi said Iran is in talks with several countries — including Russia — to build four more nuclear power plants to produce 5,000 megawatts of power in the near future. He said he asked moderate President Hassan Rouhani to include a line of credit in next year’s budget for expanding nuclear power plants.
Yahoo News:Tehran (AFP) - Iran and the United States are to establish a joint chamber of commerce within a month, with direct flights also planned, an Iranian official said Wednesday in a newspaper report.
“Iran-US chamber of commerce will be launched in less than one month,” Abolfazl Hejazi, a member of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, told the English-language Iran Daily.
In the wake of a historic accord on Sunday between Tehran and major powers on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, Hejazi also said his country was ready to start direct flights to the United States.
After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Washington severed diplomatic relations with Tehran following the seizure of its embassy in Tehran, during which Islamist students held 52 US diplomats hostage for 444 days.
According to Hejazi, the project which he said had already been registered in the United States would allow the two countries to work towards restoring ties.
Hejazi also said the government has authorised the private sector to launch joint activities and that Iran was ready to establish direct flights to the United States.
Flights would connect Kish Island in southwest Iran with New York, he said.
“This is because Kish Island is a free trade zone and Iranian passengers who have US citizenship will not need to obtain visas to enter it,” he said.
Hejazi said direct flights would “enable us to export domestic products to the US and import high-tech products and raw materials from the country.”
On the sidelines of his visit to the UN General Assembly in late September, President Hassan Rouhani pledged to ease travel to Iran for the hundreds of thousands of Iranians living in the United States. source – Yahoo News
Their crimes: handing out Bibles and sharing their faith through two home churches—one for their friends and acquaintances, and one that reached out to prostitutes.
Authorities ransacked Maryam and Marziyeh’s apartment without a warrant, confiscated anything related to Christianity, threw them into jail and denied them access to a lawyer for months.
“I remember one day they sent us to a dark and dirty cell in a basement,” Maryam says.
The two women were interrogated for hours, as their captors demanded names and addresses of every Christian they knew.
“Otherwise, we will beat you until you vomit blood,” Maryam recalls them saying of the threat of punishment that became a gruesome reality for so many of her fellow prisoners.
The women refused to identify their Christian friends. They were left in the dark, not knowing if the next interrogation would lead to beatings or torture.
“For days, we did not have anything to eat or drink,” Maryam says. “We could only use wet blankets strongly smelling of urine to keep ourselves warm.”
As they huddled together, terrified, all they could do was wait and pray.
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war” (Rev. 19:11).
Born into Muslim families in a country that forces Islam on its people, it’s a miracle Maryam and Marziyeh ever discovered the truth about Jesus—a man who is just another prophet in the eyes of Islamic believers.
They grew up in separate cities, but both women sensed at a young age that something was missing from their lives. They were thirsty for a relationship with God, but they couldn’t seem to quench their thirst, even when they prayed to Allah five times a day and faithfully read the Quran.
Then, in their teenage years, each woman had an encounter with Jesus.
For Marziyeh, it started with a dream about a white horse. She wrote about it in the book Captive in Iran:
“The horse ran like the wind to save me. As I held fast to its neck, I felt its love pouring into me with a power and a purity I had never known. … For a week after that, all I could think about was the deep love I had experienced in the dream. I have never since experienced love like that in this world.”
Not long after she had that unforgettable dream, Marziyeh was invited to a church, where she learned about Jesus and experienced His healing power. After years of seeking, the Lord had revealed Himself to her. She was convinced Jesus was the Son of God.
Maryam discovered Jesus when a Muslim friend who knew she was seeking answers gave her a Christian booklet.
“She told me, ‘Don’t read the last page of the booklet, because it’s a conversion prayer,’” Maryam recalls. “From the first page I could feel my heart was deeply moved.”
As Maryam prayed the prayer on the last page and accepted Christ, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she had known about Jesus all along; she just hadn’t been able to get her hands on a Bible to learn His name.
Prison Becomes Church
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil. 1:12-14).
Maryam and Marziyeh spent two weeks in jail before they were transferred to Evin Prison, a notorious Iranian penitentiary known for torture, rape and executions.
At Evin, the women experienced daylong interrogations, solitary confinement and the pain of numerous infections left untreated by the staff at the medical clinic.
Their hearts broke as they watched 2- and 3-year-old children abused inside the prison—the place where they were born and spent their formative years.
But in the midst of the heartache, something miraculous happened.
The women locked up with them—many of whom had initially shunned Marziyeh and Maryam, calling them “dirty Christians” and apostates—began to see something different about them.
Maryam and Marziyeh refused to hide or deny their faith in Christ. They responded to insults and curses with love, compassion and forgiveness. And they were always asking their fellow inmates—prostitutes, murderers and political prisoners—how they could pray for them.
“They couldn’t understand that God still loved them,” Marziyeh says. “They’d cry and confess their sins. They could see miracles through our prayers.”
Maryam and Marziyeh were no longer the “dirty Christians.” Their fellow prisoners—and even some guards—sought them out, wanting to know about this Jesus they loved more than life itself.
“Evin Prison, the dreaded hellhole of Tehran and symbol of radical Islamic oppression, had become our church,” Maryam writes. “And so we prayed on.”
The maximum punishment for apostasy in Iran is execution. Time and again, Iranian officials told Maryam and Marziyeh they could live and go free if they would just renounce their Christian faith. The women wouldn’t even consider it.
They spent almost nine months in Evin Prison. Before they were locked up, they delivered Bibles—20,000 of them in three years—secretly, under the cover of darkness.
At Evin, they shared their faith freely. Women came to them, hungry for truth and desperate for God’s love. Many found that truth and love in Jesus, inviting Him into their lives right there in their prison cells.
“We started to trust His plan,” Maryam says. “We believe it’s not about us. It’s about God.”
They still don’t know exactly how they won their freedom after countless promises of execution. They know it was ultimately an act of God, and that the prayers and pressure from Christians and human rights activists around the world helped convince their captors to let them go.
Now both women live in the United States, outside Atlanta. Knowing that returning to Iran would mean certain death, Maryam and Marziyeh use their book and their voices to spread the word about what happened to them—and what’s still happening to countless Christians and other prisoners locked away in Iran.
“We promised those women in prison to be a voice for them and to share their stories with the world,” Maryam says.
Their story has inspired the church around the globe, especially in the United States, where the freedom to follow Christ is too often taken for granted.
Maryam and Marziyeh pray Americans will cherish their ability to worship Jesus openly and that they’ll remember to share the gospel through their lives, no matter where the Lord takes them.
“Our view about church changed,” Marziyeh says. “Even a dark and brutal prison like Evin can be a church.”
To learn more about Maryam and Marziyeh’s book, Captive in Iran, and to learn how to help Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, click here.
Obama and Netanyahu spoke on the phone Sunday, in a conversation meant to calm the prime minister’s concerns about the “first stage” deal between Tehran and the P5+1 countries — the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
“A wild card in these negotiations is Israel,” Post columnist David Ignatius wrote Wednesday about the next stage of the talks with Iran.
“Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a breather from his clamorous criticism and send to Washington a team that can explore with U.S. officials a sound end-state strategy. Perhaps the United States and Israel need a back channel, outside the bombastic pressure campaign by Israeli advocates.”
After weeks of Israeli officials publicly condemning the deal, Netanyahu and Obama have agreed to send an Israeli delegation to Washington to discuss strategy for a permanent agreement with the Obama administration, in a clear shift to backroom diplomacy, theJerusalem Post reported Thursday.
Last Sunday’s accord with Iran is a six-month agreement with an option to extend, meant to limit the Iranian nuclear program as the P5+1 try to hammer out a comprehensive accord with Iran. In return, Iran received some sanctions relief.
“Now that the Obama administration has won its breakthrough first-step nuclear deal with Iran, officials are planning strategy for the decisive second round that, over the next six months, will seek a broader and tougher comprehensive agreement,” Ignatius wrote.
“This ‘end state’ negotiation, as officials describe it, promises to be more difficult because the United States and its negotiating partners will seek to dismantle parts of the Iranian program, rather than simply freeze them. Another complication is that negotiators will be fending off even more brickbats from hard-liners in Israel, Congress and Tehran.
“If the interim deal was reached largely in secret, through a back channel provided by Oman, this one will have to be negotiated in the diplomatic equivalent of a circus ring, with hoots and catcalls from bystanders.”
Americans back last weekend’s nuclear deal with Iran by a 2-to-1 margin and are very wary of the United States resorting to military action against Tehran even if the historic diplomatic effort falls through, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday.
The findings were rare good news in the polls for President Barack Obama, whose approval ratings have dropped in recent weeks because of the botched rollout of his signature healthcare reform law.
According to the Reuters/Ipsos survey, 44 percent of Americans support the interim deal reached between Iran and six world powers in Geneva, and 22 percent oppose it.
While indicating little trust among Americans toward Iranian intentions, the survey also underscored a strong desire to avoid new U.S. military entanglements after long, costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even if the Iran deal fails, 49 percent want the United States to increase sanctions and 31 percent think it should launch further diplomacy. But only 20 percent want U.S. military force to be used against Iran.
The precision of Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll – which was conducted from Sunday through Tuesday with 591 respondents – has a credibility interval of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.