How big a threat is Iran?

Should the US Conclude a Nuclear Agreement with Iran?

An editorial in today’s Australian (see below) suggests that on balance President Obama is probably right in characterising IS as a more immediate and universal threat to peace than a de facto alliance with Iran. If one looks at the existing situation in Iraq/Syria perhaps that is correct. But is it desirable to determine foreign even military policy on situations based on the outcome of negotiations with the current top dog?

As Netanyahu’s Congressional address indicated, the negotiations between the US and Iran are between governments with two utterly different philosophies. In these circumstances how likely is it that an undertaking by the existing and probable future Iranian governments not to produce a nuke would be maintained over the next ten years? The idea that there would be “inspectors” to ensure Iran sticks to an agreement seems naive –why are they needed if Iran is trustworthy?

True, Iraq and Iran have different interpretations of the Koran and Shia and Sunni groups fight each other. But there is no indication that Iran has any substantively different approach to IS’s in regard to Western countries. Rule by Sharia law is the objective of both and both are prepared to attempt to achieve that by using militants who are prepared to be martyrs.

Just as importantly, how much trust can one put on the Obama administration to judge the credibility of an Iran agreement? As pointed out by prominent US commentator Charles Krauthammer (see attached),  “It had been the policy of every president since 1979 that Islamist Iran must be sanctioned and contained. Obama, however, is betting instead on detente to tame Iran’s aggressive behaviour and nuclear ambitions”. Some bet!

It is also clear that former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, cooperated with Obama in falsely asserting that the destruction of the Benghazi consulate was not driven by an Al Qaeda group (see this article). This deception over interpreting the religious basis of terrorist groups adds to concern about the US negotiations with Iran.

More generally, we know that Obama has refused to accept that Islamic terrorist groups are driven by religion. Yet it is clear that they are so driven. The fact that IS is not a recognised country while Iran is one does not alter that underlying picture. What is missing from US policies under Obama is a recognition that Islamic-driven policies are not acceptable to Western countries and agreements with the acceptors of such policies cannot be based on trust. Every opportunity must be taken to prevent such acceptors acquiring nukes.

This is not to deny that the US faces a very difficult situation in negotiating with an Iran  arguing that it needs nukes to defend itself. But the US should take the line that Iran is not under threat if it accepts the existence of Israel and should continue sanctions until that acceptance has existed for a considerable period.

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