Tags: Iran | Middle East | MidPoint | Michael Rubin | John Kerry | Iran | nuclear

Mideast Expert: Kerry Betting Everything on Iran — and Losing

By    |   Tuesday, 31 Mar 2015 02:27 PM

With every delay and concession being offered to Iran in U.S.-led nuclear talks, Secretary of State John Kerry resembles a gambler on a losing streak who refuses to leave the table, says Middle East expert and former Pentagon official Michael Rubin.

As for Iran, "They've already won," Rubin told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV on Tuesday, predicting that even more delays and concessions are in store that will let Iran keep pushing towards a weaponized nuclear program.

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"I'd really like to sell my used car to the American negotiating team: I could start off asking for $2,000 and settle at $10 million," said Rubin, author of "Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes" and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

"That's the way we're negotiating," said Rubin. "It's almost as if Secretary of State John Kerry is a gambler who so desperately wants to put one more bet at the table and then he can win everything back. And the Iranians are playing him like a fiddle."

Midnight Tuesday is the deadline for negotiators in Switzerland, but with Iranian delegates raising 11th-hour objections — as skeptics predicted they would — there is talk of pushing back the cut-off date for an agreement and deferring some issues for future talks.

Rubin predicted a recurrence of the pattern so far: a deadline will pass, all sides will agree to keep talking, and Iran will win more concessions and keep on enriching uranium. He said the model for Iran's approach to non-proliferation negotiations is North Korea.

"All you need to do is look at Hossein Mousavian, the former Iranian nuclear negotiator, who talked about North Korea as a model to emulate rather than a regime to condemn," said Rubin. "It's been 20 years since we signed an agreed framework with North Korea and of course today, the CIA says that North Korea has nuclear weapons."

The current talks also coincide with an aggressive expansion of Iran's influence throughout the Middle East and a corresponding change in Iran's rhetoric, said Rubin.

"Ten years ago, they used to describe themselves as a regional power," he said. "Starting in 2011, they talked about themselves as a pan-regional power, meaning the Persian Gulf and the Northern Indian Ocean.

"Ever since this past November, they've been describing their strategic boundaries as both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden," he said. "And when we look at what they're doing, for example, in Yemen and in Syria, we see … they're serious about this expansionism."

Expansion is part of revolutionary Iran's charter, embedded into their constitution, and embodied by their support of Shiite rebels in Yemen and Shiite militias fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, said Rubin.

"They want to put their proxies in control," he said. "Yemen is as important right now to Iran as is Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. That said, if Iran isn't stopped in Yemen, then you got to start looking towards Bahrain, towards eastern Saudi Arabia. The fact of the matter is until they're pushed back, you can think of them almost like Vladimir Putin in Russia: Until they face pushback, they're going to keep on going."

Yet Kerry and President Barack Obama remain preoccupied with negotiations as some sort of legacy achievement, he said.

"They're willing to give up everything for the sake of a nuclear deal with Iran," he said.

"They think that's going to make the region safe. Unfortunately, they don't understand that Iran isn't a status quo power: It's an ideological state."

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With every delay and concession being offered to Iran in U.S.-led nuclear talks, Secretary of State John Kerry resembles a gambler on a losing streak who refuses to leave the table, says Middle East expert and former Pentagon official Michael Rubin.
Michael Rubin, John Kerry, Iran, nuclear, talks
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2015-27-31
Tuesday, 31 Mar 2015 02:27 PM
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