So now we know. Far from being misguided hyperbole, the idea that President Obama would “throw Israel under a bus” — a phrase that did the rounds a couple of years ago — was an accurate prediction of his administration’s Iran policy. Since taking office, President Obama has repeatedly stressed that no options were off the table when it came to Iran. Observers took that to mean he might consider military action to stop Iran gaining the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.
It turns out that the option he had in mind was simply throwing up his hands and saying “do what you like”. The deal proposed by the Americans on behalf of the so-called P5+1 — the US, UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany — was so craven and weak as to make a mockery of the earlier tough talk. Iran’s red line — which, from the opposite end, should also be the P5+1’s — is its capacity to continue weapons development when it chooses. In Geneva, it offered to delay its work for six months.
Unless Iran was on the point of assembling a nuclear weapon within six months — and few observers think that was likely — then it was offering nothing. And any future such work would not have been hindered even by a day. In return, the P5+1 agreed to hand over the one bargaining chip it has — the sanctions, which have taken so long to come into effect, which are now beginning to bite, and which brought Iran to Geneva.
At the very moment when Iran has started to feel the heat, we said we would unfreeze $3 billion in international reserves and up to $9.5 billion in gold. This would not simply have been a bad deal; it would have been a catastrophic deal. In one fell swoop, any attempt to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon would have been abandoned, as would any notion that the US and the other P5+1 nations had the least resolve in defending our own national interests, let alone our allies’.
With one exception: the French. Alone among the six nations, France understood what a disaster was about to unfold and blocked it. Thank God for the French. Anyone who values freedom and democracy will salute them. As for the US — at least we know where President Obama and his Secretary of State stand. In the corner, timid, cowering and defeated.