Mideast Expert: Nuclear Deal Gives Greenlight to Iranian Regional Expansion
A top U.S. Mideast expert warned on Wednesday that lifting international sanctions against Iran could give the country the resources it needs to maximize its position across much of the Middle East.
Vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, Aaron David Miller, wrote in his Wall Street Journal blog: “Relief from sanctions might give Iran the resources necessary to consolidate its regional position.”
Miller noted that Iran has already been seeking “preeminence” across the Middle East, including in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and the country hardly seems poised to moderate its influence in those countries.
“Iran is rising, and while it cannot dominate the entire Middle East it does seek preeminence in its sphere of influence: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Persian Gulf,” wrote Miller. “A nuclear deal won’t change these objectives or make Tehran buy into the U.S. vision of the Middle East.”
Miller posed the question of whether the nuclear deal would be transformational as far as the ayatollah-dominated Tehran regime was concerned, or whether it would simply constitute a “narrow business proposition,” namely, lifted sanctions in exchange for some constraints on its nuclear program.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday appeared to reject more U.S. demands for the finalized deal due later this month, demanding the immediate lifting of sanctions, rather than a gradual lifting based on merit, as the U.S. had proposed.
Khamenei also refused to freeze nuclear work for 10 to 12 years, as had been suggested in the Lausanne framework in early April. He said allowing international inspectors to investigate military sites to determine whether Iran had been working toward a nuclear bomb was a red line, though addressing the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program had also been a part of the Lausanne framework hammered out by negotiators from Iran and six world powers.
Miller argued that Khamenei and other top brass in Iran hardly sought a nuclear deal to pave the way toward becoming a freedom-loving democracy. Rather, “Tehran’s willingness to put constraints on its nuclear program is driven by a desire to pacify and control its public by relieving the economic pressure and tremendous dislocation wrought by sanctions.”
“Khamenei, doesn’t see a nuclear agreement as a pathway to letting go of power but as a way of enhancing it and securing the revolution,” wrote Miller.
In other words, according to Miller, the Iranian nuclear deal will likely be used by Tehran to be “repressive at home and expansionist abroad.”