Obama Sees No Incentives for Nuclear Deal

Obama Sees No Incentives for Nuclear Deal
Obama Sees No Incentives for Nuclear Deal

A prominent journalist has commented that the Obama administration feels that it has no incentives to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, because it is getting most of what it wants already under the status quo.

Gareth Porter, who is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on US national security policy, made the comments in an article published by the online news portal Middle East Eye on Friday.

He said everyone following the negotiations between Iran and the major powers on Tehran's nuclear program and the lifting of economic sanctions against the country agrees that the Obama administration would like to have an agreement with Iran and that it would be a major accomplishment in foreign affairs that Barack Obama could cite in his two terms in office.

"But the evidence suggests that the administration won't make the compromises with Iran necessary to get a comprehensive agreement.  On one hand, the political and legal system of the United States has been so thoroughly reshaped over more than two decades by Israeli interests that the hoops Obama would have to jump through to lift sanctions against Iran would be far more politically demanding than what he had to do to lift sanctions against Cuba," he said, adding, "And on the other hand, despite its differences with (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu over the negotiations, the administration actually believes in the false narrative of covert Iranian nuclear weapons program and 'nuclear deception' that Israel has long promoted."

  Pinning Hopes on Temporary Gains  

To back up his argument that the US administration feels that it has no incentives to reach a deal with Iran, Porter said, "Sometimes it is what is not asserted more than what is said that provides a crucial insight into official thinking.

Secretary of State John Kerry said in explaining the extension (of the nuclear talks until the end of next June), 'We would be fools to walk away from a situation where the breakout time (the time it takes to amass enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb) has already expanded rather than narrowed, and where the world is safer because this program."

Iran denies its nuclear program may have any military objectives, saying its work is solely for peaceful applications, such as power generation.   

Porter added, "He (Kerry) did not add, however, that without achieving a comprehensive agreement, the temporary gains would all be lost.  

That omission raised the obvious question whether the administration had begun to hope that it could use the JPOA (the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers signed late last year, which placed temporary constraints on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief) as a device to keep the negotiations going until Iran finally had to go along US terms.  

The answer appears to be that the administration assumes that Iran will ultimately be forced to make the additional concessions Washington has been demanding – or that the talks will continue for another two years."

In conclusion, the veteran journalist said, "The remarks by (sources familiar with official thinking that the Obama administration favors an extension because it keeps Iran's nuclear program frozen) strongly suggest that the Obama administration has a strong incentive to maintain its hard line demand for a major reduction in Iran's enrichment capabilities – a demand to which Iran is unlikely to accede.  

And that was before the collapse of oil prices, putting even more pressure on the Iranian economy, which makes the administration even more confident about it diplomatic posture.  

It is very difficult to imagine the administration rethinking its hard line unless and until Iran walks away from the negotiations at the end of the current extension and threatens to resume the development of its enrichment capabilities that it chose to freeze as a confidence-building measure."