“It’ll be interesting to see what somebody like a Rand Paul has to say about this,” said President Obama, referring to the Vienna accord between Iran and the P5+1 powers. In an interview with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, Obama averred:“I think that if I were succeeded by a Republican president — and I’ll be doing everything that I can to prevent that from happening — but if I were, that Republican president would be in a much stronger position than I was when I came into office, in terms of constraining Iran’s nuclear program.” Obama added.
Paul broke the suspense a few hours later. And, to be sure, it wasn’t very interesting – at least not in the way the President thought it might be.
In a brief statement posted on his Facebook page, “libertarian-ish” GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has come out against the recently signed accord between the P5+1 and Iran, which would restrict Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful uses of nuclear power. Here is his statement in full:
“The proposed agreement with Iran is unacceptable for the following reasons:
“1) Sanctions relief precedes evidence of compliance, 2) Iran is left with significant nuclear capacity, 3) it lifts the ban on selling advanced weapons to Iran
“I will, therefore, vote against the agreement.
“While I continue to believe that negotiations are preferable to war, I would prefer to keep the interim agreement in place instead of accepting a bad deal.”
This comes as no surprise, as the Senator has long been abandoning the anti-interventionist stance adopted by the movement started by his father and which his own campaign has depended on for contributions and boots on the ground (so to speak). It does, however, cross a red line for many libertarians, who have wanted to give Paul the Younger the benefit of a doubt. And one wonders at the paucity of his statement in opposition to the Vienna accord, which is wrong in every particular.
“Sanctions relief precedes evidence of compliance” – this assertion contradicts the actual text of the accord, which clearly states:
- “The UN Security Council resolution endorsing this JCPOA will terminate all provisions of previous UN Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue – 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (2010) and 2224 (2015) – simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation of agreed nuclear-related measures by Iran and will establish specific restrictions, as specified in Annex V.
- The EU will terminate all provisions of the EU Regulation, as subsequently amended, implementing all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions, including related designations, simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation of agreed nuclear-related measures by Iran as specified in Annex V, which cover all sanctions and restrictive measures in the following areas, as described in Annex II:
In short, sanctions will be lifted when the Iranians have upheld their part of the bargain and this is verified by resident IAEA inspectors, whose presence in Iran will be continuous for the life of the accord.
Sen. Paul’s second contention is equally baffling:
“Iran is left with significant nuclear capacity.”
Patently untrue: the Iranians have agreed to cut their uranium stockpile by 98 percent: furthermore, they’re locked into an enrichment of a mere 3.9 percent, way below what would be necessary to create a nuclear bomb. And they will no longer have the centrifuges required for the enrichment process: they’ve agreed to reduce their working centrifuges from nearly 20,000 to 6,104 – and those remaining are outmoded, inefficient, and in the event the Iranians would try to use them to produce highly enriched uranium would soon be identified by on site inspectors as in violation of the accord.
Paul’s third objection, that the agreement lifts sanctions on sales of advanced arms to Iran, is frankly absurd. What sovereign government would ever agree to such sanctions? The answer is: none. And, again, the sanctions on any and all items listed in the agreement will not be lifted until IAEA inspectors verify compliance.
Writing in the Atlantic hours after the Vienna accord was announced, neoconservative David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, gleefully predicted that the Iran deal would spell the effective end of Rand Paul’s presidential ambitions:
“In the middle of Obama’s tenure, Rand Paul achieved for himself a standing within the GOP that eluded his father by focusing less on international security and much more on domestic surveillance. So long as Congress was debating NSA and TSA, rather than Russia and Iran, Paul found a considerable constituency inside the party for his distinctive ideology. Now the spotlight shifts to Iran, Russia, and nuclear proliferation. Paul will either find himself isolated with the old Ron Paul constituency—or he’ll have to find some nimble way to jump to the ‘anti’ side of the Iran deal. (Perhaps he will emphasize the slight to Congress it represents?) If he opts for the latter approach, however, he becomes just another Republican voice among many competing to voice their opposition, and one less powerful and credible than, for example, Ted Cruz will be.”
While Frum is wrong that supporting the deal would’ve confined Paul to his father’s constituency – polls show 65 percent of Republicans supported the negotiations, and a third support a deal – he is dead right about the consequences of Paul opposing the deal. The “libertarian-ish” Senator from Kentucky is just another Ted Cruz, albeit less loud (and with less book sales) than the Canadian performance artist-cum-poltician.
Yeah, he could’ve been a contender….