Despite vigorous bipartisan opposition and acknowledgment even from supporters that the deal is dangerously flawed, Iran will gets it nuclear accord. The White House has not only secured enough support to sustain the President’s veto of Republican-backed legislation trying to block the deal. Obama Administration officials also claim that violations of the nuclear deal would be met by force, including re-imposition of the crippling financial, oil, and conventional weapons sanctions Tehran has been trying to circumvent for nine long years.
Proponents of the deal say it reduces the danger of Iran enriching enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb – at least for a few more years. They say that international inspections and limits on Iran’s spinning centrifuges and weapons-grade plutonium will help reduce the chances of war. Opponents, however, acknowledge that Iran is a menacing force. The government has long been identified as the globe’s premier state sponsor of terrorism, bankrolling allies such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthi rebels of Yemen. Tehran is also a known human rights abuser, ranking number 2 behind China for state-sponsored executions of political dissidents, social media activities, bloggers, and women (Iran is ranked #1 for executions of juveniles).
But perhaps even more troubling is how the nuclear deal tilts the global energy axis off-balance. In fact, the Persian Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, have warned that as much as they dread a nuclear-capable Iran, they are even more worried about how Tehran will appropriate the billions of dollars in new-found oil revenue once trade sanctions are finally lifted. At that point, Tehran reassumes its role as the Middle East’s second largest oil producer and a huge exporter. And with a regime intent on hostility toward Israel, other Islamic nations and the United States (recently labeled “still Satan” by Tehran’s Guard Chief), chaos, even war, could ensue.
[“Iran is going to do whatever it needs to do to get around this agreement,” warns Senator Ben L. Cardin, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and a prominent supporter of Israel. Cardin is one of three Democrats who’ve announced opposition to the nuclear deal.]
Yet global energy rebalancing could in fact create new opportunities. For example, when Iran’s 1 million barrels per day current production soars by 60% within a year (an estimate from a Reuters survey of energy analysts), the United States could at last leverage its incredible abundance of “light tight” oil and gas to provide neutral nations and allies in Europe and Asia with a reliable, alternate supply source. Energy exports are peaceable – and powerful — a means of promoting US political and economic interests abroad while providing a form of “energy diplomacy” to consuming nations desiring reliable and cost-competitive alternatives.
For decades the US and its energy policies have languished in an anachronistic, “energy scarcity” mentality born from the Arab Oil Embargo days of the 1970s. But now, a new study by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) endorses the idea of lifting the nation’s four-decade ban on crude oil exports. The EIA concludes that liberalized exports wouldn’t raise American gasoline prices and could even help lower them. It could give American suppliers a fighting chance to compete in global markets – the same opportunity that has been granted to Iran now that the nuclear deal seems assured.
“Petroleum prices in the United States, including gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by the removal of current restrictions on crude-oil exports,” the report stated. Though laden with caveats, since global oil pricing is complex and dependent on many factors, the report concluded that removing export restrictions would help stimulate American companies to pump even more as they compete for higher overseas prices. American exports would help reduce global prices if foreign producers like OPEC cut back on their own output.
Even more important, the United States now has new “energy weapon” to counter Iranian aggression without firing a shot. While Saudi Arabia is finalizing a $1 billion weapons deal with the Pentagon to fight its war against the Islamic State, Yemen, and Iranian subversives throughout the Middle East, the US now has an unparalleled opportunity to allow the free world to trade for our own energy sources, keep our industries thriving, and maintain a healthy buffer against the oil blackmail Iran has already shown itself capable of.
Why give a well-known adversary a free ride to export oil while denying the same rights to our own American industry?
It’s time for the US to wake up, and realize what a danger world we live in.