by Boaz Bismuth
This week, the interim deal signed last November with Iran will go into effect. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency landed in Tehran on Saturday to ensure that Iran has ceased enriching uranium to levels of 20 percent, as per their obligation according to the agreement.
We can assume that the Iranians will fulfill their end: Why would they complicate matters for themselves by torpedoing a deal that is so favorable to them? They struck a deal that allows them to continue nuclear research (the interim deal does not prohibit them from developing advanced centrifuges); lifts a portion of the economic sanctions, which will prevent the collapse of the country's economy (which could incite the street and destabilize the regime); and also provides immunity from any type of military option, because U.S. President Barack Obama feels like talking. With Iran. …
At least 59 senators, among them 16 Democrats, are convinced that the deal will help Iran become the nuclear power it intends to be. They don't trust the administration. They don't believe in the interim deal or a final deal, which will be signed -- if at all -- in about six months.
Iran, suffice it to say, will continue to "play for time." The Obama administration, as revealed in the new book by former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, does not believe in the military option. The Iranians realized this a long time ago. Iran can also allow itself a bit of leeway with the West. For example, if they decide to act offended and derail the talks, they still won't be too worried: The Americans will make sure to sit them back down at the table.
The main problem with Iran, from the American's perspective today, is that there are two bad options: A military strike is a bad option. However, a nuclear Iran is no better. What then, can be done? You sign an interim deal and hope for the best.
Obama's foreign policy up to this point in the Middle East -- in Egypt, Syria and Libya -- has not helped reassure the 59 senators who are skeptical about the negotiations with Iran. They are expressing the view of many in Israel and in the Persian Gulf.
In the meantime, if nothing changes, the White House will continue hoping for the best and Congress will continue expecting the worst.
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