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How bad is the Iran deal? Let’s count the ways


A fatwa that doesn’t exist, a wish list that no one signed, a resolution that contradicts the wish list, a protocol that no one has seen…

These are the elements with which President Obama claims he has concocted a strategy to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions and stop it exporting murder and mayhem.

Supposedly issued by Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, the fatwa declares nuclear weapons as “illicit” (haram) in Islam.

Obama cites it as “proof” that Iran does not intend to build a bomb. The president has never said he has seen the fatwa, which, in any case, would have no legal or religious weight.

However, those who refer to the fatwa, including some mullahs, always credit Obama as the source of their information. In the 18th century, Mullah Sadra liked to say that “you will see only if you believe.” He has a disciple in Obama.

The wish list is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a 159-page tome issued in Vienna last July after two years of talks between an Iranian delegation and the so-called P5+1 group of big powers led by the US.

“This is neither an agreement nor a treaty,” writes Dr. Saberi Ansari, Iran’s legal advisor during the talks. “An agreement or a treaty is distinguished by the fact that its contents are binding on contracting parties. This is not the case with JCPOA.

For example, JCPOA envisages moves that ought to be made by the United Nations or the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, it is not in Iran’s or the P5+1’s gift to decide for the UN and the IAEA.”

What we have instead is a list of things that participants in the talks wish would happen.

However, the Iranian side does not feel bound by the wish list. It has not even been presented at the Council of Ministers headed by President Hassan Rouhani. Ministers have read about it in the press. More interestingly, there is no official Persian translation of the text.

The JCPOA, for which Obama has been fighting tooth and nail, has not received even a tepid endorsement from Khamenei. “This thing must be examined further, its shortcomings corrected,” he said on Thursday.

Iran’s atomic-energy chief, Ali-Akbar Salehi, put it nicely when he said that “the only thing that Iran gave Obama was a promise not to do things we were not doing anyway, or did not wish to do or could not even do at present.”

Because the JCPOA has no legal basis and no mechanism for application, Obama engineered a hastily drawn Security Council resolution, numbered 2231, to fill the gap.

As a sponsor of the resolution, the US is committed to applying it whether the Congress likes it or not. Iran, which didn’t vote for the resolution, refuses to endorse it.

“The point of reference for us is the JCPOA,” says Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif goes further, boasting that Iran “will close this dossier” without accepting any of the seven resolutions passed by the UN.

But even if Iran endorsed the resolution, what proof is there that it won’t cheat?

Obama answers that with his favorite cliché of “robust inspections.”

In that context, the protocol signed by the IAEA and Iran last July merits attention.

Obama’s “chance in a lifetime” diplomatic coup is nothing but a shady deal.


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