World Affairs

The Iran Deal: A Year in Review

July 28, 2016  • Danielle Pletka

Danielle Pletka is speaking at the 2016 Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering of government officials, industry leaders, journalists to discuss key national and homeland security issues. In this piece she reviews the passage of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Watch her panel, “Pact Sunt Servanda,” live on July 28th at  4:00PM MT.

It’s been a year since the passage of the JCPOA, and it is, fundamentally, everything everyone said it was. It has lifted the stigma from doing business with Iran, though not so much that companies that balance risk and reward are actually racing there (ahem, Boeing). It has opened up a few avenues for IAEA investigation of Iranian nuclear activities, but far fewer than promised by our dear president. It has empowered Iran in the Middle East, and the IRGC has taken the bit in its teeth. Iran is now meddling more aggressively and further afield than ever before. And then there’s the nuclear program itself. Iran hasn’t tested a nuclear bomb yet, so Mr. Obama can pat himself on the back for that. But, troublingly, there’s this report from German intelligence:

The illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities [by Iran] in Germany registered by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution persisted in 2015 at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level. This holds true in particular with regard to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology.

Other failures include the aggressive ramping up of missile procurement and testing by the Islamic Republic.

Has the administration held Iran’s feet to the fire? Goodness, no. Embarrassingly, no.

Iran is now meddling more aggressively and further afield than ever before.

Has Congress done its job by holding the administration’s feet to the fire? Well, no. In keeping with recent years, Congress has defaulted to members writing op-eds and the House passing new legislation which then dies in the Senate. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the House’s bills; Iran should be held accountable for its missile proliferation; the US should not buy heavy water from Tehran; human rights abuses and terrorism have only deepened. The intentions are good. But stunningly, Congress seems to feel it has no other leverage on the White House. In fact, there’s plenty of legislation already in law that Congress could be more aggressively pressing the White House, State and Treasury to enforce. Don’t wanna? OK, no more ambassadors. No more money. It’s much easier for an opposition-led Congress to say no than yes. But even that’s not happening, at least not in a way that’s making any difference.

Have you heard all of this before? Sure. There’s nothing to say about Iran’s malignity that hasn’t been rehearsed again and again. But here’s the kicker that should open some eyes: Word has it that Hillary Clinton wants to do the same deal Obama did for Iran with North Korea. President Clinton (Mr.) already tried that, and it was a disaster. We can only imagine what Pyongyang redux with the new lessons of the Iran Deal will mean. All the more reason for Congress to step up now on Iran and set an example.

This piece originally appeared on the American Enterprise Institute website.