Deconstructing Senator Corker’s Letter To Obama – OpEd


U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who heads the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, has narrated a new letter to President Obama, which accuses the administration of making far-reaching concessions to Iran in the nuclear talks and deviating from the supposedly initial plan of “dismantling Iran’s nuclear program. “He urges Obama to stick to the standard of inspections “anywhere, any time,” to dispense with any “bureaucratic committees,” and to walk away from “a bad deal.” Reflecting the views of many hawkish U.S. lawmakers, Corker’s letter deserves close scrutiny, particularly since it is full of unsubstantiated allegations against Iran. 

As expected, Corker dispenses with the fact that the Iranian nuclear program has been under the most extensive inspection regimes for several years and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed the absence of any evidence of military diversion of nuclear material. Nor does he bother with the fact that there is no standard of inspections “anywhere, any time,” except as a figment of imagination that bears little resemblance to the global nuclear diplomacy. Such arbitrary demands are not anchored in the IAEA regulations, safety agreements, and the like, but rather rooted in the political and power projections of a Western superpower that can barely sustain the international consensus on Iran.

In his criticisms of the Obama administration, Senator Corker raises the issues of Iran’s conventional missiles, which might be of interest to the U.S. military and its regional Arabs, but hardly an appropriate issue for the negotiations, that are strictly focused on the nuclear issues. As part of Iran’s conventional army, the country’s missile system is off limit to the outside world, as it pertains to national defense and national security interests of Iran.

It would be instructive for Corker to devote a few minutes to the stated concerns of Iran that the country might be destined to Iraq’s fate, knowing the dangers of acceding too much to the other side. In fact, behind the American, and to a lesser extent French, quest to gain access to Iran’s military sites through the IAEA is an ingrained Western-centric cognitive approach that is blind to the legitimate needs and interests of the other side. The real intention of hawkish US politicians is to use the ruse of negotiations to undermine Iran’s national security. Otherwise, Corker and other like-minded U.S. politicians would readily agree that Iran is not and will not be another Iraq and it would be futile to try to seek an “Iraqization” of Iran. 

Another key flaw of Corker’s letter is the unreconstructed enemy image of Iran that completely overlooks Iran’s regional stability role and the prospects for U.S.-Iran cooperation against the common threat of terrorism led by the Daesh group nowadays. Unfortunately, the simplistic view of anti-Iran hawks in the U.S. who typically ignore this important factor has been recycled in this communication by a key U.S. lawmaker.

One of the key issues reportedly under consideration in the on-going nuclear talks deals with a “dispute resolution committee” that would screen any future IAEA requests to gain talks deals with a “dispute resolution committee” that would screen any future IAEA idea as cumbersome and time-consuming, when in fact it is the  best remedy to deal with potential future disputes.

To give an example, should the IAEA come forward with a set of requests for inspection of Iranian sites above and beyond the declared nuclear sites, then in that case Iran can either reject it as excessive or unreasonable demand, or to submit the matter to a dispute resolution committee that would in turn evaluate the merits of IAEA’s request. If it turns out that the request stems from the politically-motivated allegations of suspect sources, e.g., Israel and or an Iranian opposition, the dispute resolution committee can sift through the data to determine if they are fake and reflect attempts at disinformation, or based on legitimate ‘probable cause’. The ‘probable cause’ determination is akin to the criminal proceedings in the U.S. justice system, except that in the Iran case it would not be any single country making the final decision but rather a segment of the international community. The real reason why Corker is opposed to this “bureaucracy” is most likely connected to the fear of nuclear multilateralism and the potential to disarm U.S.’s unilateralism.      

In conclusion, playing ‘good cop, bad cop’ with the executive branch is also another side of the Corker’s letter, which is deeply flawed and unconnected to the international norms governing the nuclear issue. Corker’s letter is actually more interesting as a tissue of American arrogance and arbitrary standards than as a thoughtful narrative deserving consideration by the White House.

This article appeared at Iran Review

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Ph.D. is an Iranian-American political scientist and author specializing in Iran’s foreign and nuclear affairs, and author of several books.

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