April 20, 2015 | Quote

Nuclear Deal That Iran’s Moderates Want May Entrench Hard-Liners

Even if an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program is reached, it would leave one big question unanswered.

Would a deal help strengthen the country’s moderates, or would it enrich and embolden the forces that remain intent on exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution?

“I think there are hard-liners inside of Iran that think it is the right thing to do to oppose us, to seek to destroy Israel, to cause havoc in places like Syria or Yemen or Lebanon,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in an April 6 interview with NPR. “And then I think there are others inside Iran who think that this is counterproductive.”

Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said that “in the medium- or long-term, there is a valid hope that the deal becomes transformational” by helping empower elements of Iranian society “who want to put national interests ahead of revolutionary ideology.”

Even Sadjadpour is hedging his bets, though. “There is a valid concern that this nuclear deal will be transactional — that Iran will simply have far more resources to double down on its existing policies,” he said during a panel discussion about the implications of a nuclear accord.


Critics such as Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA clandestine service officer and a Farsi speaker who’s now at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, say it’s naive and dangerous to see Iran as anything but a threat.


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