Dershowitz: Iran Deal 'Cataclysmic Error of Gigantic Proportions'
Sunday, 24 Nov 2013 05:30 PM
"I think it could turn out to be a cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions," Dershowitz said of the deal, which he described as "naive."
"It could also turn out to be successful, to be the beginning of a negotiated resolution," Dershowitz told Newsmax on Sunday. "But I think the likelihood of it being the former is considerably greater."
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Dershowitz said he thought the administration of President Barack Obama did a poor job of negotiating the deal.
"I think it's thoughtful and intelligent Americans vs. naive Americans," he said.
The deal, announced late Saturday night in the United States, makes it more likely Iran will develop a nuclear bomb, likely creating the need for a future military strike by Israel or the United States, Dershowitz said.
It also increases the possibility of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia obtaining nuclear weapons as well, he said.
The Harvard Law School professor thinks there is at best a 10 percent chance that the administration can change attitudes among Iran's Islamist leadership.
"But when you weigh that against the 30 or 40 percent chance that they're dead wrong – nuclear bomb wrong – then it's a very bad assessment of risk and benefits," he told Newsmax.
"This is first-year negotiating theory, and this administration gets a D-minus with grade inflation," Dershowitz said. "You don't let up on sanctions that are working."
Other countries, such as China, are taking the deal as a green light to do business with Iran, he said. All the nuclear experts, Iran experts and congressional experts he has spoken with oppose the deal, he said.
Israel has spoken out against the deal, and Saudi Arabia is known to be wary of Iran. But it is a mistake to think of it as a dispute between Israel and Saudi Arabia on one hand and the United States on the other, Dershowitz said. "This is a highly disputed and contested issue within the United States."
Dershowitz counts himself among the skeptics.
"I think it's a bad deal for America and a bad deal for the West," he said. "The risks to world peace are far greater than the potential benefits to world peace."
American negotiators used the wrong model, Dershowitz said. They used the model of Syria where the administration "accidentally backed into a good result instead of the North Korea model, which is much more parallel.
"North Korea does not pose a direct threat to the United States. Iran does," Dershowitz said. "You think that we'd learn from our mistakes in North Korea."
Dershowitz said that if Iran fails to comply, he hopes Congress ratchets up the sanctions once the six months are complete. But he isn't sure that will be possible since China and other nations will be doing business with them by then.
"I think we have hurt our sanction regime irretrievably by this measure," he said.
Congress should take preemptive action by passing authorization in advance to allow the president to increase sanctions and deploy the military option in the event Iran crosses a red line, Dershowitz said. That way, the president doesn't have to go to Congress after red lines are crossed.
"I think that would send a powerful message to Iran that the military option is still on the table," he said.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton suggested the White House struck the deal out of fear that Israel would attack Iran's nuclear facilities as it did those of Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007.
Dershowitz said that since Israel was not consulted on the agreement, it isn't bound by it and is within its rights to defend itself.
Israel "has the absolute right to prevent a country that has threatened its destruction from developing nuclear weapons," he said. "That's a right in law, it's a right in morality, and it's a right in diplomacy."
Schumer released the following statement on the deal regarding Iran's nuclear program:
"I am disappointed by the terms of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations because it does not seem proportional. Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions.
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"It was strong sanctions, not the goodness of the hearts of the Iranian leaders, that brought Iran to the table, and any reduction relieves the psychological pressure of future sanctions and gives them hope that they will be able to gain nuclear weapon capability while further sanctions are reduced. A fairer agreement would have coupled a reduction in sanctions with a proportionate reduction in Iranian nuclear capability.
"The goal of the administration is to eliminate all of Iran’s nuclear weapons-making capability by the end of the final negations; it is still my hope they can achieve that goal.
"As for additional sanctions, this disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December. I intend to discuss that possibility with my colleagues
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Eliot Engel both of New York joined numerous Republicans in criticizing the deal on Sunday.
Engel expressed doubt on Sunday the plan will succeed without continued sanctions.
"I don't think you make them bargain in good faith by going squishy," Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee told CNN's "State of the Union."
"I think we could have played good cop, bad cop, and Congress really believes sanctions should happen," Engel said. "That's what brought Iran to the table in the first place."
Schumer said in a statement that he was disappointed in the interim deal reached in Geneva regarding Iran’s nuclear program, saying "it does not seem proportional" because "Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions."
Sen. Bob Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also criticized what he perceived as a more one-sided deal that benefits Iran.
But the New Jersey Democrat also said that he expected any further sanctions legislation would adjust for the six-month window in the interim agreement, allowing for negotiators to work on a permanent deal.
“I expect that the forthcoming sanctions legislation to be considered by the Senate will provide for a six month window to reach a final agreement before imposing new sanctions on Iran, but will at the same time be immediately available should the talks falter or Iran fail to implement or breach the interim agreement,” Menendez said in a statement.
On Thursday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that he planned to move a sanctions measure when the Senate returns from a two-week Thanksgiving break on Dec. 9. Reid was noticeably quiet on Sunday in what some observers interpreted as resistance to the deal.
Many Republicans were even harsher in their opposition.
The six-month deal not only will enable Iran to continue to move ahead with its nuclear-development program, it also will leave the United States with less leverage because of the easing of economic sanctions, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss said on ABC's "This Week."
"Nothing in this deal requires the destruction of any centrifuges," said Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "They're going to be able to replace centrifuges that become inoperable. I just don't see this movement in the direction of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon at all."
The deal regarding the sanctions lets Iran "out of the trap," he said.
"Right now, the sanctions are working," Chambliss said. "The economy of Iran is heading south. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Instead of easing them, now is the time to tighten those sanctions, and let's get a long-term deal. We've got all the leverage in the negotiations, and we've let them out of the trap."
Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the deal meant Tehran would be able to keep key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capability while the U.S. would begin dismantling sanctions built up over years.
Saying that Iran is "spiking the football" over an interim deal to ease sanctions over its nuclear enrichment program, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said he is crafting legislation to hold administration's and international community's feet the fire over next six months to ensure interim deal is not the norm.
The Obama administration is "long on announcements, but very short on follow-through," Corker said on "Fox News Sunday." But he said that while he'd like to a diplomatic solution, Congress must weigh in.
"America has not learned its lesson from 1994 when North Korea fooled the world. I am skeptical that this agreement will end differently," said California Republican Howard "Buck" McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, called Iran's concessions under the deal "cosmetic" partly because Tehran could continue to test long-range ballistic missiles.
"I will continue working with my colleagues to craft bipartisan legislation that will impose tough new economic sanctions if Iran undermines this interim accord or if the dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure is not underway by the end of this six-month period," Kirk said.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that by "allowing the Iranian regime to retain a sizable nuclear infrastructure, this agreement makes a nuclear Iran more likely. There is now an even more urgent need for Congress to increase sanctions until Iran completely abandons its enrichment and reprocessing capabilities."
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