Iran’s trifecta

It’s no scoop to say that both Israel and Saudi Arabia are alarmed by President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. But it’s worth articulating the difference in the primary concern of the two. In doing so, we can better appreciate just how bad the deal is.

Israel is unhappy with the deal because it all but ensures that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons. Whether Iran does so in 10 to 15 years – as the deal allows it to — or at a much earlier time of Iran’s choosing — as the deal is powerless to prevent — the existential threat to Israel is plain.

During the 2012 campaign, Obama promised that “the deal we’ll accept is — they end their nuclear program; it’s very straightforward.” To Israel’s consternation, Obama has accepted a deal that doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program, and provides two pathways — one through compliance; the other through non-compliance — for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

The Saudis are, of course, concerned about Iran becoming a nuclear power. Whether or not the mullahs pose an existential threat to Saudi Arabia, a nuclear Iran will easily be the dominant power in the region unless the Saudis undertake the enormously expensive project of developing their own nukes.

But the Saudis have a more pressing concern about the deal (one shared by Israelis, but not their primary concern). The deal hugely enriches the Iranian regime. Some of the money, as even Obama seems to acknowledge, will be devoted to the mullahs’ quest for regional dominance through military activity in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere.

In fact, it’s almost certain that considerable sums will be devoted to this purpose. This, in all likelihood, was the price that hardliners demanded as a condition for approving the deal.

Taken together, these two concerns by key players in Iran’s neighborhood demonstrate the disastrous nature of the deal. In the short term, it promotes Iranian dominance in the region through non-nuclear avenues; in the longer term it all but ensures Iranian dominance as a nuclear power and enables it to destroy Israel.

In addition, the deal cements the power of the mullahs by bringing significantly increased prosperity to Iran. Barack Obama and John Kerry have enabled the regime to hit the trifecta.

The U.S. isn’t omnipotent. We could not, without fighting some sort of war, have prevented Iran from going nuclear and prevented it from vastly enriching itself through the lifting of sanctions, so as to tip the Iran-Sunni clash clearly in favor of the mullahs. But we could have prevented one or the other of these two outcomes (most likely the second outcome — one which, unfortunately, Obama seems quite comfortable with).

Herein lies the answer to Obama’s oft-stated demand for the alternative to his deal. What’s the alternative to enabling our old enemy to develop nukes and enrich itself such that it can significantly expand its power in the region? It is to allow Iran to do one or the other, but not both.