Don’t Fear the Iran Deal

By Bohumir Zidek On 24th of August we published an […]

By Bohumir Zidek

On 24th of August we published an article by Mr. Sydney Williams on the Iran Deal. I have to disagree. Let me answer some points I disagree most.

The Green Movement and Regime Change

“Covert operators could have infiltrated Iran, not for purposes of sabotage (though that might have worked as well), but to support dissidents. Iran is a country of 77 million people whose history dates back thousands of years. Inevitably, there are some who are unhappy. In the summer of 2009 thousands of Iranians rose up in what was called a “Green” Movement, a term that recalled the “Green” Revolution of 1979 when the Shah was overthrown. It presented an opportunity for the Obama Administration and a crisis for then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Obama did not seize the opportunity and for Mr. Ahmadinejad a crisis was averted.”

This is a misleading argument. There wasn’t any opportunity for regime change created by the Green movement. It was no revolutionary movement aiming for uprising. They didn’t want to overthrow the regime, but the recognition of their political rights and of the votes for their candidate.

If there would be U.S. support of the movement, the answer of the regime would have definitely been harsher than it was. The Green movement knew it and they didn’t want any support from the United States.

It is the middle class and the opposition, who suffers the most under the imposed sanctions. This is also reason, why the Iranian dissidents overwhelmingly welcome the deal and see it as the hope for the brighter future of their country. And so does the Iranian public, including the middle class, young and educated people and the supporters of the Green movement.

Tightening of the Sanctions

“He presented the deal to the American people as a Hobson’s choice: that, short of war, there was no other alternative. That argument has been dismissed as balderdash. For example, the sanctions were working and could have been tightened.”

I don’t get this. If the sanctions work, why should they have been tightened? The truth is that the point of sanctions was to force Iran to negotiate. So yes, from this point of view they were successful. And it is obvious, that sanctions relief was something we could give Iran in exchange for the limitations of the nuclear program.

The Foremost Promoter of Terror?

“Iran will be able to continue nuclear research and spin centrifuges. They will have clear sailing to get a bomb once the treaty terminates in fifteen years; (…) A hundred billion dollars will be released for the use by Iran’s leaders – for purposes of funding terrorism, and military purchases of missiles, nuclear detonators and offensive weapons. (…) Mr. Obama opens the door to Communist leaders in Cuba, who deny basic rights to their populace, and he seeks an agreement with Iran, the world’s foremost promoter of terror.”

The Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory, allows enriching uranium! It promotes cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. You cannot use nuclear energy without enriching uranium.If you would demand this from Iran, it wouldn’t cooperate anymore. And a non-cooperating Iran would be a much bigger threat for the region and the world.

As you can read in the Policy Perspectives by the Center for Strategic & International Studies: “The fact that UN Security Council resolutions since 2006 have called upon Iran   to   suspend specific   nuclear   activities – uranium enrichment, heavy water production, construction of the heavy water reactor, and any reprocessing-related activities –may have led to expectations that suspension would eventually equal termination. In part, earlier insistence that Iran   comply   with   those   UNSC   resolutions requiring suspension (which Iran did for a few years from 2003) as a prerequisite for talks may also have created a perception that Western negotiators “caved” on their demands. However, there is little public evidence that a “zero option” for Iran’s nuclear program was ever a goal for a comprehensive solution.”

And is Iran really a foremost promoter of terror? There are many more sponsors of jihadi groups, who also happen to be our allies. Like Qatar, to name just one. And it was also Qatar’s and Saudi Arabia’s misguided Syria policy, which boosted the ISIS. You can read more about it in the brilliant Policy Analysis by Cato Institute’s Emma Ashford.

Speaking of the role of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East turmoil, don’t forget: Quds, Hezbollah and Assad are fighting against ISIS and al-Qaeda’s offshoot al-Nusra Front; Houthi rebels in Yemen are also fighting against AQAP.

Of course there are still many problematic activities of Iran and its allies. The human rights are heavily violated in Iran. In the Human Freedom Index 2015 Iran comes last. This has to be fixed.

But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be agreement. Opening of Iran can empower its people, the young and educated ones, the middle class. It will also empower moderate conservatives in the government against the hardliners.


The views expressed on austriancenter.com are not necessarily those of the Austrian Economics Center.

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