Editorial: No more givebacks in Iran nuke talks

The Detroit News

Yet another extension of the Iran nuclear talks sets Friday as the new deadline for a deal, and now the Iranians are demanding one more concession before agreeing to a pact that already has been rendered nearly useless by the Obama administration's serial capitulations.

What began as a hopeful initiative to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions through diplomacy rather than force increasingly looks instead as the pathway to weaponization that Iran has long sought.

And if any ground is given on the latest sticking point in the talks, it would pave that route. The Iranians are demanding that a United Nation's arms embargo be lifted as part of the final agreement. That would allow Iran to import the ballistic missiles and technology it needs to create a delivery system for a nuclear warhead.

That demand must be the deal breaker. President Barack Obama has already shrugged off too many of the iron-clad requirements with which he began the talks, and all to the benefit of Iran's quest to become a nuclear power and thus the dominant player in its region.

Adding arms imports to the list of concessions already made would leave the U.S. and its partners with little to show for their efforts except the ability to say they made a deal. But as the president himself has said, a bad deal is worse than no deal.

This is shaping up as a very bad deal.

When the Obama administration approached Iran in the fall of 2013, it did so with the goal of dismantling Iran's nuclear infrastructure. That's now a pipe dream, as Iran steadfastly refuses to eliminate many thousands of centrifuges, a plutonium producing reactor and an underground fuel production site.

The United States left the dismantling demand out of the tentative agreement inked last spring, saying it could check any attempt by Iran to turn its nuclear program to military purposes through an aggressive inspections regime.

But negotiators confirm that the U.S. has accepted Iran's terms that severely limit inspections of its nuclear programs, and places all military sites off-limits. Iran also will not have to own up to its past military nuclear activity, information key to establishing a baseline for inspections.

Lifting the economic sanctions that had successfully stifled Iran's economy was initially to be done in stages and tied to Iran meeting its obligations under the pact.

That requirement, too, has fallen away, and Iran is in line for $150 billion in sanctions relief, according to White House estimates, as soon as the deal is signed and before it demonstrates any willingness to comply with the agreement. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said in late June he still insists on immediate relief of all sanctions once a deal is signed.

The administration is selling the bogus assurance that it can "snap-back" sanctions should Iran default on the pact. But getting the world community, including China and Russia, to restore sanctions once commerce has restarted will be virtually impossible.

The benefits of the agreement are now being pitched as limiting Iran's break-out time for developing a weapon to one year. That's a very slim margin of error, given the limits on inspections and the maintenance of the infrastructure.

Still, Obama seems intent on reaching any deal possible with the Iranians, presumably to seal his legacy as a peacemaker.

But he has given away too much, and can't give anymore and still pretend to be protecting U.S. interests. Lifting the arms embargo would affirm that the Iranian's have picked the president's pockets in these talks, and leave them as a more dangerous operator than they were before the negotiations began.