Top 5 Disasters If GOP Senate derails Iran talks

By Juan Cole |

The Republican Party is already conniving at ways to derail the US-Iran negotiations over Tehran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program. When they take over the senate in January, the GOP senators will be in a good position to deep-six the talks and deny President Obama a diplomatic breakthrough.

Iran does not have a military nuclear weapons program. It does engage in research on civilian nuclear enrichment, to generate electricity. The GOP would like to find a way to lobotomize Iran and ensure that it never closes the fuel cycle.

If the GOP succeeds, it will make a US-Iran War much more likely. The two countries are already on a war footing, and things could easily spiral out of control.

Here are some likely consequences:

1. Iran would have no reason to be transparent about its civilian nuclear enrichment program, since it will remain under extremely onerous sanctions and would have no further hope of escaping them.

2. The US already has what amounts to a financial blockade on Iranian petroleum sales. Blockades frequently raise tensions so much that they make war more likely. If the blockade is worsened by Congress, the likelihood of an Iranian-US clash would much increase.

3. US troops advising the Iraqi military are embedded with Shiite troops, many of them ex-militiamen with close relations with Iran. Iran could easily arrange for Iraqi enlisted men to “frag” American troops, attacking them in a surprise fashion.

4. Iran will be driven further into the arms of Russia and China, to both of which it is a useful chip to play.

5. President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, would be drastically weakened if his attempts to negotiate with the US crash and burn. Anti-American hard liners might well take over, with all the dangers that implies.

Bottom line, the US-Iran blockade is so fierce that in the absence of a diplomatic solution, war becomes a real possibility.

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30 Responses

    • Netanyahu may huff and puff, but he has already been told by the IDF leadership that any Israeli attack would be a big failure where Israel might lose over half the aircraft in the attack (Israel has less than 500 active combat aircraft) and once the IDF air capability was reduced, it would be vulnerable to attack itself. Note also that Israel has no heavy bomber capability so its bombs would be completely ineffective against Iran’s hardened sites. Then there is the HUGE problem of using nuclear weapons which would probably cause, at a minimum, huge economic damage to Israel if not physical damage from retaliation. Netanyahu hates that he is actually impotent, but there is nothing he can do except incite the congress critters in hopes they will be extremely stupid and ignore the US military.

  1. For those reasons, and to continue inflicting as much damage as possible on the Obama WH, and topped off with the strong hatred within the TeaGop Party of all Muslims, Congressional Republicans are sure to do everything possible to burn the agreement.

  2. Has anybody ever thought about how much a financial blockade costs the American economy? A blockade hurts Iran, but it also hurts America if U.S. companies cannot do business with Iran.

    • The blockade hurts Iran less every day – There is huge profit in the smuggling trade and the money laundering trade (has been for thousands of years). Basic economics says that the world will profit from US ego-driven stupidity. Granted the situation with Cuba not so much, but Iran has resources that the rest of the world wants, so there is a lot of profit.

  3. You can imagine what would happen if Obama had not have taken forceful action in Iraq.The Republicans would “slam dunk” Obama over ISIS which make it easier for them to block nuclear talks with Iran.

    Obama would get the Jimmy Carter treatment.

  4. But AIPAC wants the derail, so what do US interests matter?

    It’s an error, however, to suggest this is a Republican move. It’s a fully bipartisan move, as the Senators From AIPAC come from both parties. Menendez, one of the prime Israel-firsters in the Senate, is a Democrat. He and Kirk move in lockstep on this issue.

  5. SolarWind

    The question is not “if” the GOP derails nuclear talks w/ Iran, though, ; it’s what will happen when… Hope @WhiteHouse is ready

  6. Dbentster

    @LOLGOP the GOP is owned by the Military Industrial Complex. Wants constant war. Peace is not profitable

  7. Then there are the usual, but horrendous, unseen consequences that follow the failure of diplomacy and outbreak of war. No one will win in a US/Iran war except the now perennial villains – the military-industrial complex.

  8. While the congress critters may want to punish Iran in a fit of false superiority, I suspect that they will just get their egos heavily bruised because Iran is actually in a much stronger position than it was several years ago.

    – Iran’s military has a formidable array of defensive weapons, many improvements on Chinese and Russian designs. In addition, thanks to the US and ISIL, the Iranian military leadership has lots of actual combat experience. Any attack on Iran would be very deadly for the attackers. An attack that did not put millions of US soldiers on the ground, would just wound Iran and make it more fearsome. Remember that Iran has been driven by two strains of paranoia for over 35 years . . . (1) the US will invade to put their own puppet back in power and (2) they must be self-sufficient in weapons design and manufacturing so they have all the weapons they need to defeat the US. MOST US military leaders know that without a massive US draft and trillions of dollars of funding, war with Iran is a guaranteed loser and they want no part of it..

    – While Iran is not getting the optimal price for their oil, they are making very reasonable profits that allow them to finance their country. Given that smuggling and circumventing trade restrictions has been a human endeavor for many thousands of years, as time goes on the US embargoes (both direct since 1979 and indirect) become completely ineffective. By the end of 2014, no matter what congress critters do, most existing embargoes will be meaningless and any embargoes congress critters try to enact, will be ignored. There is far too much profit for everyone involved with Iran trade for anything congress critters do, to matter.

    – Even if the congress critters try to further manipulate the global banking system, they will be thwarted because there are large profits to be made by helping Iran launder their global financial transactions and giving everyone involved reasonable deny-ability.

    So, I expect congress critters to rant and rave about Iran for months, but in the end they will not be able to actually do a single thing – no real financial damage to Iran and no military attack because the rest of the world does not care what congress critters rant about. And because of US intransigence, Iran just may decide to build nukes to keep the US congress subdued. Note that Iran could have easily paid Pakistan for nukes (like the Saudis) but wanted to build all the expertise in the country.

    • So, I expect congress critters to rant and rave about Iran for months, but in the end they will not be able to actually do a single thing …

      The problem here is that all that ranting and raving could very likely paint these “congress critters) into a corner from which they will just as likely lack the integrity and moral courage to create a face-saving exit. The march of folly would then continue and who knows where that would lead. Given the abysmal quality of our “congress critters” there would be no cause of optimism unless you have stock in one or more of our “defense” corporations.

  9. This situation reminds me of when Croesus, King of Lydia, sent his people to the Oracle at Delphi and asked if it was OK to attack the Persians. The Oracle replied that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire …

    He heard what he wanted to hear. Interpreted it as he wanted to interpret it, attacked the Persians, and a mighty empire was destroyed. His own.

    Of course the new empire believes that 1989 marked “the end of history,” so no lessons will be learned from history and no heed will be taken from oracles like Juan Cole.

    • Scariest to me is that so many in power believe Biblical end time prophecy — literally believe it — and now hold the power to shape their nightmare into reality. (And those who don’t “believe” have been willing to play along to get into power. Remember John McCain courting John Hagee?) “I’m driven with a mission from God,” Bush told us. “God speaks through me.” How is this not psychosis?

  10. But if the talks are scuttled for reasons that the ROW (Rest Of The World) doesn’t accept, the sanctions will be just plain ignored. Countries that can break them will resume trade with Iran- like China, Korea, Russia, and Japan, and even many EU members. There will be little the US Congress can do about that, much as they will try.

    • As i noted above, virtually all the sanctions will be gone by the end of 2014 no matter what the congress critters do.

      Basic commerce theory documents that blockade running and money laundering are very profitable for everyone concerned, especially since Iran has a valuable thing to sell and a huge market of over 75 million.

  11. Israel does not have to attack by air…she has tactical nukes on subs….if need be…however Iran will back down…if given some face saving device

    • First of all, there is no such thing as “tactical nukes.”

      ALL nuclear weapons function the same way. The only very slight difference is whether the nuclear weapon destroys hundreds of thousands of hectares or millions of hectares. So any use of a nuclear weapons will be catastrophic and contaminate all the land down-wind of the explosion. BTW – After less than a week, due to global winds, the US west coast agriculture would be contaminated. Of course US troops in Afghanistan and Japan will be contaminated much sooner.

      While Israel does have “smallish” nuclear weapons mounted on sub launched cruise missiles, the flying range is less than 500 KM, so the subs would have to be close to Iran.

      Iran will not back down – they will take the nuke attack and use the global outrage to make the US impotent and severely punish Israel. Israel will be forced to disarm.

      Note that If Israel uses a nuclear weapon, it will be committing, at the very least, economic suicide, but quite possibly literal suicide. Down-wind of Iran are THREE nuclear powers, all of which have the delivery systems to nuke Israel in return. None of the three are afraid of the US and all three will be extremely angry having their populations contaminated by Israel.

      BTW – Here is a “fun fact” for you – Per the latest simulations, as few as FIVE nuclear air bursts over medium sized cities would very likely cause Nuclear Winter where all humans on earth would have the “fun” choice of whether to freeze to death or starve to death.

  12. Iran will back down…

    Iran didn’t back down when it took severe punishment from Iraq, and it is highly unlikely it will back down if attacked by Israel and other forces promoted by its lobby. North Vietnam didn’t back down. Iraqi militias didn’t back down. The Taliban hasn’t backed down. So, why would Iran back down?

  13. The US has inexorably cultivated and built up its enemies for generations. Driving Iran into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization camp will cement a new Cold War and a new power in Eurasia. Yet we will continue to depend on China for cheap goods and debt purchases.

    Maybe this is the point where Europe looks at the balance of forces and decides to declare neutrality.

    • If Iran links up with China alliances, it might be joining the winning team: “China’s silky road to glory: Any remaining doubts about the stupidity of Western corporate media should have been banished by the puerile coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s gentlemanly conduct at the APEC summit in Beijing. Infinitely more relevant to the real world, and largely ignored, was the fact that China got what it wanted – on all fronts”. By Pepe Escobar – link to and link to

  14. Another reason why the US will not attack Iran:

    Iran has an array of allies and supporters in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, and a semi-ally in Egypt. I should also mention Venezuela. So what? Here’s Iran’s retaliation:
    Iran controls 1) the Strait of Hormuz, which means it can close the Persian Gulf on all oil shipments, 2) It also controls Mandab Strait through its allies in Yemen who could shut down the Red Sea, and 3) Can close the Suez Canal (even by a work of sabotage) by Hezbollah cells in Egypt, oh yeah in case you didn’t know, they are there!! And finally 4) a possible war on Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas, just to legitimize its act and receive the support of the Muslim World.

    For oil experts, closing these three Straights (in case of an attack on Iran) translates to rising oil prices to possibly $500 a barrel, a price the ROW (the rest of world) is not ready to pay, hence will not attempt to participate in such a war. Not to mention that such a war without UN resolution will definitely upset Putin, an ally who cannot be underestimated.

    Before attacking Iran, its wings should be trimmed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Bahrain. And a deal needs to be struck with Putin.
    The conclusion: IMPOSSIBLE.

  15. I remain puzzled why there is a presumption Iran needs nuclear weapons having a blast effect. Would´t weapons dumping radioactive dust on urban settings such as Tel Aviv and Haifa accomplish much the same purpose, killing thousands and making them uninhabitable? And in this conflict what would stop the Iranians from using biological or chemical weapons as well? Were I an Iranian defense official I would make sure some sympathetic contacts in the West were well-aware any Israeli attack on Iran would result in a concentrated assault on Israeli cities intended to render them unlivable.

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