While negotiating the future of Iran's nuclear program, The Obama Administration is preoccupied with its foreign policy legacy. The president seems willing to settle for a subpar nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to land in the history books. The subsequent final deal may one day be judged as one of the greatest missteps of all times.
However, with a sliver of time remaining before the June 30th deadline for diplomatic talks between Iran and the P5+1, it's not too late. There is still enough time to ensure an acceptable outcome and for the White House to build the legacy it desires. By unequivocally halting the Iranians' path toward nuclear capability, the administration could ensure it leaves behind a long lasting positive foreign policy legacy.
Recently, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Obama administration, told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that President Obama's rush to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran is just a "placeholder" and not a long-term solution.
While we are making a deal, we should make sure it's a good deal — and here's how.
A final nuclear deal must guarantee the dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, linked with fully transparent inspections and verifications of Iran's nuclear-related sites any time and anywhere. Anything short of these prerequisites will greenlight the Iranian terrorist regime's insidious clandestine nuclear activity.
Along with mandating full disclosure of Iran's suspected military dimensions, Iran's ability to breakout must be capped unconditionally. The lifting of nuclear restrictions after 12 to 13 years currently outlined in the Lausanne framework cannot occur if we are to remain dedicated to completely preventing Iran from acquiring and using nuclear weapons.
And at the heart of the bad deal that the Obama Administration is poised to strike is the Administration's illogical reversal on the need for economic pressure on Iran. The necessary pressure needs to remain enforced until the regime completely abandons its nuclear ambitions.
To be clear, economic sanctions were working. Last winter, the Islamic Republic of Iran was facing a balance of payments crisis, and its economy was on the brink. Rather than capitulating once again to Iranian deceit, economic pressure should be increased to give Iran the choice the sanctions were originally intended to provide: Face steadily increasing economic pressure or, as the Obama administration used to put it, "dismantle its nuclear program."
Given that Iran's entire negotiating strategy has been rooted in intransigence, it is foolish to believe that Tehran will change its behavior in the aftermath of a deal that improves its economy and keeps its nuclear weapons pursuit intact. On the contrary, these conditions foment the perfect nuclear storm and embolden Tehran.
The claim that the economic benefits that the agreement provides would moderate and modernize Iran's clerical military dictatorship is hogwash. Richer terrorists are not better terrorists. They are terrorists with more money — money Tehran uses to help Assad slaughter civilians in Syria, to encourage and enable the Houthis to topple a U.S.-allied government in Yemen, and to fund Hezbollah's global terror network and mount attacks, even in Washington D.C.
Seemingly right on cue with the Obama Administration's policy of kowtowing to the Iranians, the White House just cut funding of Hayya Bina — Lebanese moderates that oppose the Iranian proxy and dangerous terrorist group, Hezbollah.
The Obama Administration's longing for a foreign policy legacy is forcing a misguided campaign of turning a blind eye to sanctions infractions and other differences with Iran. Indeed, with the recent exposure of Iran's purchase of Airbus jetliners by an Iranian airline banned by American sanctions over three years ago, the White House will be tested. The administration can choose to once again capitulate its values and policies to Iran, or President Obama can stand up to the Ayatollahs' violation of American restrictions.
This is a pivotal moment in history that must not be eclipsed by ambition. Unless Iran finally agrees to be completely transparent about its illicit nuclear program and steps are taken to dismantle its capacity to fuel an atomic arsenal, Iranian terrorism could rapidly evolve into nuclear terrorism.
Joshua S. Block is president and CEO of The Israel Project. Twitter: joshblockdc.