Echoing criticisms that have been levied by numerous analysts since the announcement on April 2 of a framework agreement for the nuclear talks, Bolton referred to the emerging final agreement, which is due on June 30, as “fundamentally flawed.” The former ambassador and current senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute explained that the known details of the agreement do not provide for adequate, “anytime, anywhere” inspections of the Iranian nuclear program and that they do not address Iran’s ballistic missile development.
The lack of adequate inspections has been characterized by critics of the talks as opening the door to Iranian cheating. In his speech, Bolton said, “The regime has been lying for 35 years; who thinks they’re going to change their behavior now?”
In Bolton’s speech and in a variety of other speeches at the same event, it was made clear that this persistent behavior affects much more than the nuclear issue. Bolton pointed to Iran’s activities in the broader Middle East, such as its support for the Assad regime in Syria and its financing of terrorism, as evidence of the undying belligerence of the government in Tehran.
Former US Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, in his speech at the rally, pointed to the possibility of these activities worsening in the wake of a nuclear agreement. Although he withheld a personal verdict on the final agreement until after it is concluded, Dean emphasized that he would not accept “negotiations that give the mullahs 150 billion dollars to spend on financing terrorism.”
The Obama administration has insisted that any sanctions relief Iran receives under the terms of a final deal will likely be devoted only to economic improvements. But this narrative has come very much into question in recent days as it has been reported that Iran has spent as much as 15 billion dollars and counting on support for the Assad regime.
In addition, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the Obama administration has yet to account for how nuclear sanctions will be separated from sanctions related to Iran’s military misdeeds and human rights abuses. Such observations support Dean’s statement saying, “I guarantee the Revolutionary Guard will get its hands on a significant portion of that 150 billion dollars.”
Bolton also alluded to the overlap between Iran’s regional activities and its nuclear ambitions, saying that the Iranian regime may have already launched a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, on account of Saudi Arabia’s anxiety about Iran’s expanding power and the threat it poses to its Arab neighbors.
Former European Commission Vice President Gunter Verheugen referred to the Iranian regime as being “by its very nature violent, repressive, and aggressive” in his speech at the rally. Other speakers expressed the same understanding of the regime in concluding that that regime cannot be trusted to uphold a nuclear deal or to moderate without regime change.
Bolton asserted that the Obama administration’s undue confidence in the prospect for the Iranian government’s moderation was leading the US to a “diplomatic Waterloo” in the form of a weak and unenforceable nuclear agreement. After praising the National Council of Resistance of Iran for maintaining a political platform that includes commitment to a non-nuclear Iranian nation, Bolton concluded that “the real solution for the ayatollahs’ nuclear program is to get rid of the ayatollahs.”