It hasn’t been a good week for the Iran deal.
First, there was the news that Iran, before international inspectors have a chance to examine its Parchin military site, has been doing a bit of renovation: U.S. intelligence satellites have reportedly sighted bulldozers and other heavy equipment around the site. Assuming this is not innocuous remodeling — surely, a fair guess — the Iranians are obscuring physical evidence of past nuclear research for military purposes.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government has not yet agreed to let the International Atomic Energy Agency interview its top nuclear scientists in order to get the full story about the country’s past nuclear work. Investigating and making public that work is not about penance or shaming. It is crucial to an effective inspections regime and, after five years of effort from the IAEA, it is still missing.
The next bad news: The notorious terrorist and Quds Force general Qassem Soleimani, whom the deal relieves from some international sanctions, seems to have been violating them while they are still in place. According to Fox News, he visited Russia toward the end of July in violation of U.N. sanctions. The lifting of sanctions from a man like Soleimani, who is an international criminal for his role in terrorism, not proliferation, is a perfect example of the giveaways Obama’s deal hands to Iran without any justification. (The U.S. got no such concessions — four Americans still languish in Iranian prisons, for instance.) But even before Iran is fully welcomed back into the international community, Soleimani’s behavior is an example of how little regard the country has for said community, which is reason enough to believe they will not adhere to their commitments.
#related#Then, there was a flash of sense on the U.S. political stage: Senator Chuck Schumer, probably the most important pro-Israel Democrat in America, announced Thursday night that he would vote against the deal. Eliot Engel, a prominent Jewish House Democrat, announced his opposition too. Schumer explicitly suggested that he would not be intensely lobbying his fellow Democrats against the deal. Assuming the senator genuinely believes the deal is a bad one and a serious threat to our national security, he should be trying to convince his colleagues of the same. The number of Democrats willing to back up the president’s veto, to sustain the deal, is creeping upward — he needs 34 in the Senate — but he’s not there yet.
Obama’s pitch for the deal this week was clearly aimed at his own party. It was at times laughably offensive (he accused his political opponents of making common cause with murderous Islamist despots) and at others characteristically lazy and simplistic (the only alternative to the deal is war). A bipartisan coalition is, rightly, unconvinced. May it grow.