Former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and the radical Islamist mullahs ruling Iran share many similarities, but honesty and negotiating in good faith are not among them.
Prior to reaching nuclear accords with the West, both were rogue nations on the road to becoming nuclear powers, both were state sponsors of terror, both faced crippling economic sanctions, and both committed a catalog of human rights abuses.
The critical difference between the two is that the U.S. and the West lifted sanctions and normalized relations with Libya after Gadhafi dismantled his nuclear weapons programs and met other key demands. The current deal with Iran will result in eliminating sanctions and normalizing relations in exchange for next to nothing — and perhaps even worse.
The contrasts could not be more striking, and they should give Congress much to consider as it determines whether or not to accept the arrangement with Iran in September.
In 2004, following the 2003 fall of fellow dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Gadhafi invited U.S. and British agents to come to Libya, box its centrifuges, take the material for nuclear enrichment out of the country, and ship it across the ocean to the U.S.
Iran bans American inspectors from its declared nuclear sites under its deal. Furthermore, the U.S. will have no firsthand knowledge of what may or may not have existed, or still exists, should international inspectors survive the more than 30 days of exhaustive petitioning to access undeclared sites.
In Libya there were no nuclear sites left.
Current Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz became heavily involved in negotiating the intricate parameters of the Iranian deal. Who knows if it will work with a country that for years has effectively lied to and deceived the West? Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was waiting on the docks in the U.S. to inspect the material after it had arrived.
No verification Rube Goldberg scheme necessary.
Gadhafi renounced terrorism, accepted responsibility for the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing that killed 270 innocent people, and agreed to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the victims. He also provided extensive intelligence on Libyan nationals in al-Qaida as well information on black market suppliers, front companies and other elements of the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.
With Iran, the president himself said that it remains a state sponsor of terror — the U.S. State Department continues to list it as the number one state sponsor of terror in the world — and Iran’s supreme leader says in no unequivocal terms that it will not mend its ways.
The nuclear settlement includes providing Iran an immediate $150 billion in unfrozen assets with no strings attached, enabling it to fund terrorist activity conducted by its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Sanctions relief will also enable Iran’s economy to grow by some estimates as much as 8 percent per year. It will help to entrench its current theocracy by minimizing the threat of regime change from within. It will also provide Iran with a much better bargaining position should the U.N. determine that it has not met the terms of the agreement.
In 2005, Gadhafi allowed Human Rights Watch to enter the country for a lengthy visit to examine conditions firsthand. The organization subsequently released a report that characterized Gadhafi’s Libya as “a country undergoing gradual change after years of strict repression and global isolation.”
Severe and widespread human rights abuses in Iran continue unabated. In what should have been a given in the nuclear pact, Iran refuses to release a Washington Post reporter who has been detained for more than a year on charges that include espionage and distributing propaganda in opposition to the regime.
The deal with Gadhafi became a model for transparency and accountability in which both the U.S. and Libya benefited. The deal with Iran includes side agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency that Secretary of State John Kerry admits he hasn’t seen.
Gadhafi was a monster who ruled his country for 42 years with an iron fist and became an international pariah as a result. However, he found religion once he recognized his perilous position when the U.S. adopted an uncompromising response to international terrorism following 9/11. Iran faces no such consequences.
The countdown for a decision is underway in Congress, and looking to the nuclear deal with Gadhafi as a template for how a successful arrangement works would serve them well in their deliberations.
There really is no comparison. One was based upon verifiable change. The other is based upon nothing more than hope.
Pete Hoekstra represented Michigan for 18 years in Congress, including as chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and as a leading bipartisan voice on policy and oversight of national security, education, labor and economic issues. He currently serves as the Shillman Senior fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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