What Iran’s Rulers Want
War, genocide, and nuclear weapons.

Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces


Clifford D. May

Testifying before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last week, Mark Dubowitz, my colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, warned Congress that Iran’s negotiators will offer concessions that sound meaningful but are not, in exchange for Western concessions that sound trivial but amount to capitulation.

Dubowitz cautioned that it will require vigorous congressional oversight to make sure that Western diplomats do not provide Iran with “sanctions relief in the shadows” — that, specifically, insurance, energy, financial, and shipping-related sanctions that have already been passed into law will fail to be strictly enforced in order to keep “the process” going. That will be seen as preferable to acknowledging diplomatic failure. The major media are likely to miss this — or misreport it.

In his presentation in Jerusalem, Aznar also recalled a meeting he had with Vladimir Putin, in which he advised the Russian president against selling surface-to-air missiles to Iran. “Don’t worry — I, you, we can sell them everything, even if we are worried by an Iranian nuclear bomb,” Aznar quoted Putin as saying. “Because at the end of the day, Israel will take care of it.”

Aznar had told this story in Washington about a year ago, but, at the time, he asked those of us in the room to keep it off the record. I remember that he added incredulously: “But that’s the Russian policy? To let Israel take care of it?”

If, in the days ahead, this becomes the de facto policy of the U.S. and Europe as well, we should not pretend we don’t know that — or that we don’t understand the profound implications.

— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.