Iran plan has problems

A substantial number of members of Congress, along with several other countries that have been longstanding allies of the U.S., are worried about the so-called “deal” President Barack Obama’s administration has announced with Iran.

Far from providing an opening that could prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, the agreement merely gives Tehran relief from economic sanctions in exchange for what amounts to a handshake promise to slow down its nuclear program.

But Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry seem so desperate to arrest the slide in the president’s popularity numbers that they are willing to fight for a raw deal. And, of course, they are not at all reluctant to be dishonest in defending it.

Obama slammed critics of the proposal, insisting the U.S. “cannot close the door on diplomacy.” One media outlet went along with him cheerfully, describing opponents of the deal as “those who have questioned the wisdom of engaging with Iran.”

Americans need to be perfectly clear on this. Many Democrats, as well as Republicans, in the Senate and House of Representatives see the proposal as a sell-out to Iran.

None of them has suggested closing the door on diplomacy. None has argued the U.S. should not be engaged with Iran.

Those with the most to lose if Iran builds a nuclear arsenal, neighbors such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, are extremely cool to the Obama-Kerry proposal.

Among the most troubling aspects of the plan is that it calls for Iran’s compliance to be reevaluated in about six months. Presumably, that would be the time when U.S. officials could reimpose economic sanctions if Tehran is not keeping its end of the bargain.

But six months falls just as campaigning for congressional elections in November 2014 will be heating up. As some observers have noted, that climate would not be one in which Obama would be likely to admit he made a mistake this fall.

On both sides of the political aisle on Capitol Hill, thoughtful lawmakers are discussing another means of “engaging” with Iran: ramping up economic sanctions to put pressure on Tehran to agree to a genuine suspension of its drive to build nuclear weapons. Obama is being dishonest – again – with the American people in claiming opponents of his plan are taking risks with peace.