November 11th, 2013
08:46 AM ET

Why some Iran deal critics may want talks failure

By Fareed Zakaria

It's difficult to know what to make of the failure to arrive at an agreement between the West and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program. The high level talks have ended, and negotiations are scheduled to resume at a lower level in 10 days.

Secretary of State John Kerry's comments seemed the most sensible. "It was always going to be hard to arrive at a deal with Iran when the mistrust was so deep and had gone on for so long," he said.

But what was remarkable was the tone of the negotiators as they broke up. Both the Iranians and the main Western negotiator, Catherine Ashton of the European Union, were positive and constructive, believing that much progress has been made.

There were voices that were much less positive. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized what he described as, "The deal of the century." His aides explained that Iran was going to get everything it wanted in return for nothing. "A mess of pottage," said one of them, making a biblical allusion.  The other critic of the deal appears to have been French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. France's hard-line position actually allowed Washington to look reasonable, though for some it proved that no matter what position the United States takes, you can count on France to try to sabotage it.

More from GPS: Bad deal worse than no deal

But the criticisms of the deal sound like alarmist hype to me. The basic agreement that might have been inked was that Iran would temporarily freeze its nuclear program, including its uranium enrichments in return for some relief from Western sanctions. During that period, about six months, serious negotiations would take place to arrive at a final agreement. The key here is what kind of sanctions relief were the Iranians going to get?

The answer is clear – not much. The Obama administration was not proposing that any of the major sanctions against Iran be lifted or even suspended. Those are all passed by the U.S. Congress and couldn't be lifted easily anyway.

Instead, it was proposing to take some pretty minor steps. Europe has more flexibility on sanctions, but, from what we've heard, those countries were also proposing relief of very small kinds.

Now, the argument is that Iran should make significant concessions, but that the West should make none at all. That's not negotiations, that's a requirement that the other side surrender. Which makes one wonder, do the critics of this negotiating process want a better deal or do they really want no deal at all so that it opens up another path to deal with the problem, which is war.

In that case, the danger for those critics was not that the Geneva negotiations were failing, but rather that they were succeeding.

Post by:
Topics: Iran • Nuclear

soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Sattar Beheshti.

    A bad agreement means having nuke bomb by all the terrorists in the region in couple of years.
    Signing the agreement papers without any access to all sites (the regime of Iran name some sites military with no inspection permit!) and control and real inspection is fooling the world.

    November 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • j. von hettlingen

      Iran has changed its strategy. It has reached an agreement with the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, which opens the way for UN inspectors to gain better access to key nuclear sites in Iran.
      Although Iran has always denied its ambition to build nukes, it has to prove it, but it takes time to see the results. Meanwhile the P5+1, backed by Israel and the Sunni Arabs want to make sure, that no Uranium enrichment or plutonium be processed in Iran. Yet Tehran insists on its enrichment right.

      November 12, 2013 at 7:56 am |
      • meifumado

        They need to give up the heavy water plant as well

        November 12, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • meifumado

      There is no reason to make any deal with them. They are the ones who signed the NPT and are messing up.
      When they stop all activities, enrichment, the heavy water plant and they allow total access to all facilities then maybe we can talk.

      The sanctions are working let them beg us to lift them.

      November 12, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  2. ✠ RZ ✠

    Make the Middle East a nuke free zone. Period.

    November 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Geno Deluca

      Israel wants to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East. It started the nuclear arms race in the Middle East and now that Iran wants to develop nuclear capabilities Israel is once again crying. I think Vladamir Putin should get the Nobel Peace Prize and Ben Netandyahoo should be nominated for a Hollywood Grammy as the best supporting Drama Queen.

      November 12, 2013 at 9:19 am |
      • meifumado

        Israel has every reason to be worried.

        Iran is run by a religious fanatic called the supreme leader and this insane person has delusions of a world wide Caliphate.

        November 12, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Sam Krichmar

        Give Putin the Nobel Prize? Are you serious? The guy is a gangster.

        November 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  3. Ehsan

    US and Israel don't want a NUCLEAR DEAL. Under the name of nuclear deal, they just want to occupy Iran and make it to another "Iraq like country"

    November 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Dan

      It is hard to imagine where you came up with that nonsense. Why on earth would the US or Israel want another Iraq? What would be nice is if Iran would be kind enough to stop being the world's leading sponsor of terrorism and end their relentless quest to destroy Israel and the Great White Satan ( USA ).

      November 11, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
      • mcrussell5

        I'm sure you must miss the good old days when Uncle Sam was the leader in sponsoring "state terrorism". No wonder we are hated throughout the world.

        November 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
      • Geno Deluca

        Israel has to learn to stop crying, especially Benjamin "the drama queen" Netandyahoo every time someone in the Middle East wants to develop nuclear capabilities to defend themselves against nuclear attack from Israel. Maybe if Israel would give up their nuclear weapons and stop threating other Middle Eastern countries Iran would not need nuclear weapons to defend themselves.

        November 12, 2013 at 9:27 am |
      • cb

        Dan, It is not that hard to imagine where Ehsan is coming from when you pull away from the T.V. and look at the past behavior of both the U.S. and Israel. The U.S. did invade Iraq leaving behind a horrible mess. The U.S. did orchestrate the coup that toppled Iranian leader. U.S. is the only country to have dropped the Bomb on civilian population. Israel, in violation of the Geneva convention, continues it's illegal occupation of Palestinian land. As for Iran's sponsoring Terrorism, let us remember the U.S. manufactures and distributes three-quarters of the world's weapons. If there is ever to be peace WE must acknowledge there is real justification for distrust on both sides.

        November 12, 2013 at 9:41 am |
      • mo

        That is a lie; Iran is not, nor will it ever be the leading financing of terrorism. They do not have the finances. However, your great ally, Saudi Arabia, is the leading financier of international terrorism. Where do you think the Chechnyian (or however its spelt), Taliban, and Alqaeda are getting their money? From Iran? NO. These groups hate Iran because it is a predominately Shiite State. These groups are known to be getting their capital from Saudi Arabia. Iran does finance Hezbollah and Hamas (apparently), but not to the extent that the Saudis finance Sunni terrorist groups.

        Nice time, please do not spew none sens and lies. This paranoia and fear about Iran is ridiculous. I am honestly more scared about the parasites that are the Saudis

        November 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Thank you, Ehsan. Nothing could be closer to the truth! Look at what's happening in neighboring Iraq with it's U.S. backed pseudo-democracy!

      November 12, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • meifumado


      November 12, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  4. Ehsan

    A major missed opportunity for the US to give an end to this problem once and for all!!!

    November 11, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • andres

      How is that so? The attempted deal would have left all of the components to make nuclear weapons in place. They already have a tested design, the N Koreans for oil and gold tested it last year. They already have missle delivery systems in place, they put a monkey to the edge of space last year. The only thing preventing Iran from announcing that they are a nuclear weapon power is enough fuel for 20 weaposn. It is said that they have enough for about 4 weapons but just like Pakistan they will only annouce when they have a large enough stockpile assembled.

      The large group of historic enemies undid this 'deal'. The sauds, united arab emerits, kuwait, france, and israel. The deal must have been a terrible one for these countries to come together to sabatoge it.

      What this administration wants is a deal, any deal just to have a deal, no matter how bad it is, no matter how destructive it will be in the future.

      November 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  5. Richard Rappaport

    A fair initial deal would maintain the status quo. The West agrees to not increase the sanctions and Iran agrees to not enrich more uranium. Would an initial be fair if Iran was required to destroy some of its enriched uranium in order for the West to not increase sanctions but to maintain the status quo? No? Then why is it fair for the West to have to extinguish some of its sanctions but Iran is not required to destroy some of its enriched uranium? Maintaining the status quo is fair. Giving in to Iran weakly and unfairly initially will make Iran more difficult later when more serious negotiations are ongoing. An initial weak approach is most likely to lead to war.

    November 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  6. Isaac Hamburger

    It was not a missed opportunity. The largest state sponsor of terror should not get an EZ Pass for having sanctions lifted and not giving anything in return. The scary part is that the US seemed ready to sign (anything). France came to the rescue this time. Stay tuned for the next round of drama. Washington should take five.

    November 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  7. mcrussell5

    Sure can't wait for Israel to open up for inspection and while they are at it, sign the Chemical Weapons Ban.

    November 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  8. Bribarian

    You really have step back and have a good laugh at this. CNN and israelis want the war.

    November 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  9. Proactive

    The real deal and negotiation as stated in he above article would be for Iran to freeze its nuclear programme including its uranium enrichment and in return, for the West and International Community to lift some of the sanctions.

    November 11, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  10. brown

    I hope Americans can see the power of AIPAC.

    This lobby is working for the interests of Israel, not America.

    Open your eyes America!

    November 12, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • Jim C.

      Apparently, and this has been reported in reputable news magazines, over half of private donations to both parties come from Jews. A Jewish person heads the Fed, IRS, CBO, CFTC, FDIC, Treasury, Commerce, Trade Rep, Council of Economic Advisors, and until recently the SEC and OMB. A Jewish person also heads other agencies like the FDA and FCC. A disproportionate number of ambassadors and Congressional staffers. A plethora of Jewish lobby groups with endless money to spend, and the resources of half the country's millionaires to draw upon.

      It seems that the American government has been bought and paid for. It's 'dangerous' and politically correct to say it, but the international, organized Jewish community wants to defend Israel from a non-existent threat, a threat which Israel itself brings to bear, and it wants to fight the good fight to the last drop of American {and almost entirely non-Jewish} blood. Witness Abe Foxman in Israel, meeting with the "other Jewish leaders" always consulted on such matters by our government. There he was, criticizing the American government for trying diplomacy – for not warring on the perceived enemies of a foreign state.

      Until we can talk honestly about both "pro-Israel" and Jewish, as such, wildly disproportionate power – nothing will change.

      November 12, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Geno Deluca

      You are absolutely correct. Thanks to all the Jewish Congressmen and Senators who have highjacked American Policy . Time to take back control of the Government and vote them out. America for Americans first, not Israel.

      November 12, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • meifumado

      I hope Americans realize your full of crap.

      Israel is our friend and ally, Why should we support Islamic nations that are not compatible with western society?

      Iran's supreme leader is a religious fanatic with delusions of a Caliphate.

      Islam allows lying to the enemy in order to get what they want.

      Do any of you study history?

      November 12, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  11. Flash 321

    You know what he Iran deal critics want? They want to stop Iran from getting the bomb. How hard is that to understand. What a ridiculous idea to try and suggest that critics want war. Nobody wants war, but even more, nobody wants Iran to get to use the bomb in war. Iran supports terrorism and they have been jerking around the whole world for over a decade on this issue. What we need now is some action or this kind of nonsense will happen again and again.

    November 12, 2013 at 6:00 am |
  12. Traidenis

    Yes! In addition, the US should do all the fighting for them!

    November 12, 2013 at 7:07 am |
  13. sand

    the west wants a deal then allow Iran to have normal light water reactors like Bushehr, allow Iran to buy 20% uranium from international market for Tehran reactor for medicine, and stop supporting terrorist in Syria then Iran will stop 20% enrichment and dismantle the Arak heavy water reactor and Iran will stop producing heavy water deuterium. Fareed I totally agree with you these people don’t want a deal that’s why there is not a any deal.

    November 12, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  14. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    There's nothing at all surprising about Mr.Zakaria's analysis.

    He has proven time again that he is first & foremost a MUSLIM SOLDIER who will support any Muslim cause anywhere in the world incl. those directed against his current homeland America, and his country of birth – India.


    EVERYTHING ELSE he says falls in place in line with that doctrine!

    November 12, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • meifumado

      Indeed, I am so sick of this guy he needs to be deported ASAP!

      November 12, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  15. meifumado

    Why does Fareed always side with the Islamists?
    Oh thats right, he is one himself.

    This guy should be deported.

    November 12, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  16. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Women, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. And don't forget the GOP all time favorite.........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!

    November 12, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Crimzin

      You do know that the Republican party led the charge to end slavery and the leaders of the Confederacy were Democrats, right?

      November 12, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  17. Crimzin

    No deal is better than a bad deal. I don't care how "minor" they are. Sanctions should not be lifted in exchange for promises, only actions. Iran is not an equal partner in this negotiation. They have come crawling to the negotiating table because sanctions have crippled their economy. Well, they brought those sanctions upon themselves and only their actions can lead to the loosening of those sanctions. We cannot play the same dumb game with them that we play with North Korea, throwing them a bone to end their saber rattling every few years only for them to restart whatever reactor they deactivated or otherwise renege whatever promise they made a few months later. They can agree to our terms or they can continue to live with our sanctions.

    November 12, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  18. sam cro

    Lieberman named Foreign Minister of Israel!

    Lieberman will not give up the West Bank land so wants Palestinians assimilate into the 21 Arab states! LOL! It has always been about stealing the Palestinian’s land by Israel. The Israel right-wing NEOCON peace plan Strip Israel’s non-Jews of citizenship. Israel has no intention of giving back the land they sit on in the West Bank and will forcibly take Palestinian communities in Israel along with the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. We know the real reason, ethnic cleansing.

    All of this is about the Israel Arabs having big families and the Jews no doing so well on procreation, does not speak well for Jewish men! So the hard-line Neocon Jews are afraid the original natives that the state of Israel sits on will overpopulate Israel and later vote it out of existence as a Jewish Homeland!.

    Where are the calls for sanctions against Israel?

    Cut off the $3 Billion in aid we give them. All they know is greed and lies.

    November 12, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    The issue is.........Iran has no intention of stopping their aggression against the non-Islamic world. No intention whatsoever.

    November 12, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  20. Bulos Qoqish

    "Now, the argument is that Iran should make significant concessions, but that the West should make none at all. That's not negotiations, that's a requirement that the other side surrender. Which makes one wonder, do the critics of this negotiating process want a better deal or do they really want no deal at all so that it opens up another path to deal with the problem, which is war.

    In that case, the danger for those critics was not that the Geneva negotiations were failing, but rather that they were succeeding."

    That's EXACTLY right. These complaints, on the part of Israel's thuggish, settler-hugging "Bibi" Netanyahu, are simply disingenuous nonsense, since what "Bibi" (as well as his politically-motivated, AIPAC-obedient, destructive Republican yes-men in the U.S. Congress) really want, is a criminal war of aggression against Iran, preferably launched by the United States (so it's doing Israel's dirty work for it) (but "Bibi" will settle for Israel striking first and then sucking the U.S. into another disastrous Middle East war).

    The opponents of the "deal" - such as it was - have no long-term answer for the Iranian nuclear situation (and note... what's being argued about here, is whether Iran MIGHT get a nuke, years from now... while Pakistan, which is a far greater threat, has hundreds of the bloody things, along with - unlike Iran - the ability to deliver them anywhere within about a thousand miles), other than... war. War is all they're about, it's all they've ever been about, and the rest of the world would be extremely naive in thinking that anything other than war, is their ultimate objective.

    Veterans' Day is just past. Maybe we should remember what was being commemorated in that event, and resolve that if any more young soldiers are to die in wars, these be only ones that we were forced into... not ones that we jumped into, because some cynical, cruel foreign leader, thinks he can win a few cheap votes, in so doing.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
1 2

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.