Chris Powell: Too late to stop the bad Iran deal

Connecticut isn't convulsed as Washington is over President Obama's nuclear inspections agreement with Iran. All members of the state's congressional delegation, all Democrats, have endorsed the agreement except Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who hasn't decided yet, and they wouldn't be supporting it if their constituents were furious about it. Nevertheless, last week U.S. Rep. John B. Larson (D-1st District), held a forum in his district with a State Department official who helped negotiate the agreement, Chris Backemeyer, the department's deputy coordinator for sanctions policy. Backemeyer answered critical questions from a well-informed crowd of about 80 people who, if not entirely convinced, hurled no tomatoes and appreciated that their concerns were taken seriously. Ready to keep taking punches, Backemeyer and Larson met afterward with several journalists.

While Iran may delay by a few weeks the access of international inspectors to any new suspected nuclear development sites, Backemeyer and Larson said radiation leaves enough traces that any cheating at such sites will be caught quickly.

They added that the release of $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets won't be as big a bonanza to Iran's international terrorism and subversion as many fear, since Iran will need to reserve much of the money to manage its international trade.

But Iran already is said to be within a few months of capability to build nuclear bombs, and if the country is determined to get them, the agreement and inspections won't delay it much. If Iran is found to be cheating, presumably the nations that were enforcing economic sanctions against Iran will reimpose them, but Iran will have regained its frozen assets and put them to use for terror and subversion, particularly against the United States and its ally Israel.

This seems to be what most distresses Americans about the agreement with Iran -- that it is not a peace treaty but actually will help Iran continue its de-facto wars against fellow members of the United Nations. Thus it is silly to believe that Iran really wants to comply with the agreement or that it will comply with it for long.

The world should have continued blockading Iran economically without exchanging sanctions for an agreement about nuclear weapons, as the blockade was causing great political discontent among Iranians and weakening their government, a fascist theocracy led by a fuhrer who claims to be implementing the will of God. Continuing the economic blockade would have been more likely to change Iran's behavior and perhaps even its regime than the agreement is likely to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons.

But it's too late now and nothing would be gained by Congress's rejection of the agreement. President Obama induced this country's allies to put great effort into negotiating the agreement and they will not humiliate themselves in front of their own people and the world by reversing their position now because the president did not first build a consensus in Congress for his policy.

Without proof of Iran's violating the agreement, any attempt by the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran would not have enough international support to be effective. Instead of isolating Iran, the United States would be isolating itself and breaking up the alliance against Iran, such as it is. There would be neither an economic blockade nor nuclear inspections.

The agreement with Iran is largely appeasement. But appeasement is increasingly the attitude in Europe, and while polls say Americans oppose the agreement, they are not likely to support another military adventure in the Middle East, the adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq having turned out so badly.

There's not much left for the United States to do here but regroup its allies to contain Iran, starting by giving Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia what they need to defend themselves.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.