Deal or no deal, Iran still a threat

With the deadline pushed off until July 7, I’m betting that an Iran nuke deal actually will be trumpeted over the July 4 holiday weekend, since the best time to put out controversial news in Washington, D.C., is near or over a break.


Well, most Americans will be distracted by festivities of fireworks, food and family, giving Team Obama plenty of time to get their talking points together before the nation refocuses on the issues of the day next Monday.

That includes the Congress that returns to Washington next week after a district work period. It’s an understatement to say they’ll be chomping at the bit to get a look at any agreement, hold hearings, express their views in the media, etc.

Under the terms of recent legislation, Congress has the opportunity to vote on any final deal with Iran, an interesting White House concession indicating it probably thinks it has enough votes to prevent an override of a White House veto if the House and Senate do reject the pact.

Indeed, we’ll all want a look at it.

There are strong concerns about inspection and verification procedures, the pace of economic sanctions relief, Iran’s fissile material stockpiles, future research and development, Iran’s prior work on a warhead (aka “possible military dimensions”) and so on.

But putting those issues aside for a moment — at least until we see the “paperwork” out of Vienna — we shouldn’t believe that if America is able to cut a compromise with Iran on the bomb, that our Tehran troubles are over.

Not by any stretch of the imagination.

For instance, can we expect better behavior on terror from Iran? Not likely, according to the recent annual U.S. State Department report on terrorism, which writes about Tehran’s staunch support for Gaza’s Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s Shiite militias.

There is also concern in the report about al-Qaeda operatives who are in Iran, and about Tehran allowing the terror group’s “facilitators” to run a fighter/funds “pipeline” through the country to South Asia (likely Afghanistan and Pakistan) and Syria, since 2009.

The mullahs’ Middle East meddling will certainly continue, too. Iran will bolster its struggling ally in Syria in its bloody civil war, seek to up its influence in Iraq and work to put the Houthis in a position of power in Yemen.

In other words, a nuclear deal won’t temper Tehran’s interest in regional domination and the creation of the so-called “Shiite Crescent” across the Middle East — which will only be furthered by the free flow of cash from the lifting of punitive economic sanctions.

The regime isn’t big on human rights, either.

A recently-released Foggy Bottom report on human rights practices notes that Iran “severely restricts civil liberties,” such as freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, press, due process and executes its citizens “at the second highest rate in the world.”

No surprise that Tehran is holding several Iranian-Americans on a variety of questionable charges.

Getting a good deal with Iran on nukes would be a positive development, but even on the outside chance that we do, we shouldn’t for a moment think that our problems with the Persians will — poof! — perish.

 - Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

About the Author

Peter Brookes Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

Originally appeared in Boston Herald