The Obama administration's partial lifting of sanctions against Iran under the preliminary nuclear weapons deal negotiated last year has left the United States at a disadvantage, says Eric Javits, former ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
"We have already given away much of our bargaining power in the sense that whatever relief Iran is going to enjoy if they yield, they're already enjoying," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Monday.
"The opportunity for people to start dealing with Iran, the very clear impression of what those sanctions are going to be if they fail to come to terms, has basically evaporated because the Congress would like to adopt very strict sanctions right now that would take effect automatically, and that hasn't happened."
"Also, Iran has made clear they are not going to give up their infrastructure, they're not going to give up the Iraq light water reactor, which could make plutonium, they are not going to cease their terrorism, they're not going to cease their missile developments. So, you know, we have all of these indications that they're not going to become good guys, and we are working on the assumption that we can inspire goodness in them simply by being civil."
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The second round of nuclear talks between Iran and the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany opened in Vienna last week.
"There's no point in negotiating if you don't negotiate from strength, and the minute you show any weakness, it's over. So, I'm not very – I'm pessimistic," Javits said.
A retired New York lawyer, Javits served as the ambassador and permanent U.S. representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva from 2001 to 2003 and in the same post at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague from 2005 to 2009.
Asked how increased tensions with Russia over its annexation of Crimea will affect negotiations with Iran, Javits replied, "Not terribly big in terms of breaking away from the G-5 plus 1, because I don't think that amounts to much anyway, frankly."
"But I do think Russia has a lot of leverage in other areas that can hurt us, and if you look at the situation with Syria, if you look at the situation with Turkey, if you look at a lot of other fronts that Russia — and nuclear proliferation generally with the New START Treaty and what they could do there, with the arms race that could develop in eastern Europe and in space — we could have a lot of problems."
As for whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is content to have a nuclear Iran so close to his country's borders, Javits said, "There are so many moving parts that if you factor in the announcement very recently by [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that Israel has just appropriated almost $3 billion for the budget to attack Iran, maybe Putin knows something nobody else knows, he doesn't have to worry about nuclear Iran. So, we don't know, there are too many moving parts, and it's very complex."
Javits said it's also difficult at this stage to establish what Israel's actual intentions are with respect to Iran.
"You have to read into this. What does $3 billion mean? Does it mean defending against a counterattack, does it mean rebuilding the country after damage, does it mean very heavy armaments to pinpoint deep missiles that can disrupt their underground stuff? I don’t know what it means," he explained.
But it is clear, Javits said, that Obama does not object to Netanyahu's vowing that the Israelis will defend their own country rather than rely on the United States.
"Sure he's content, because he's basically given up on the idea of the Americans doing it, and the Israeli's acknowledge that. They've said it publicly," Javits said.
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