Robert Gates, the first secretary of defense under President Barack Obama, said that the idea that Iran will moderate its aggressive behavior in the Middle East as a result of the nuclear deal “is mistaken,” Armin Rosen of Business Insider reported on Wednesday.
“My view is that the belief that Iran over time is going to evolve into a regular nation state and abandon its theological revolutionary underpinnings, its aspirations in the region, or even its aspirations for nuclear weapons is unrealistic,” said Gates.
While the former defense secretary urged Congress to approve the nuclear deal with Iran last year because he believed that the “consequences of canceling the accord after its completion outweighed the risks of implementing it,” he also called the agreement “flawed” and said that the United States was “out-negotiated.”
Gates noted that the White House had insisted during negotiations that the deal will include “anywhere, anytime inspections,” but ultimately failed to deliver on this promise, leading him to “worry about verification.” He added that the administration was perceived as being too eager to make a deal, which hindered its ability to secure a better agreement.
Since being involved in the first official meeting between U.S. and Iranian diplomats after the Islamic revolution in 1979, a gathering that took place only three days before the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran, Gates says he’s been on a “more than three-decades-long quest for the elusive Iranian moderate.”
While serving as Pentagon chief during the U.S. campaign in Iraq, Gates often had to confront local Iran-backed Shiite militias that targeted American troops, all while Iranian political maneuverings in Baghdad exacerbated Iraq’s violent sectarian divide. He partly blamed the rise of ISIS on the “strong-arm sectarian policies of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki,” who was backed by Iran.
According to Gates, the rising threat posed by Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal must be “paralleled by a very aggressive American strategy of working with our allies, both Arab and Israeli in the region to counter Iranian meddling, support of terrorism, and other activities.” He added that such a strategy would not be “contradictory” to the terms of the nuclear deal.
In a Tuesday interview with Yahoo! News, Gates was directly asked whether the U.S. could trust Iran to abide by the terms of the nuclear deal. His answer was “No.”
Within the past ten days, Iran detained 10 American sailors gunpoint, attempted to arrest the wife and mother of a hostage it was releasing, and disqualified 99% of so-called reformist candidates from running in next month’s parliamentary elections. These actions point to the growing power of the regime’s hardliners in the wake of the nuclear deal, an outcome that was predicted by multiple experts prior to the announcement of the agreement.
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