Experts Praise Effective Iran Sanctions While Fox's Bolton Calls For Strikes

Fox News' John Bolton described a historic diplomatic deal between Iran and six world powers as “abject surrender” and attributed failure to a series of economic sanctions against Iran that many experts believe were responsible for bringing the nation to the bargaining table. Bolton followed up by advocating for airstrikes against Iran, a tactic some experts describe as “futile.”

CNN's Fareed Zakaria reported that a new agreement between Iran and the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program “essentially freezes Iran's program for six months -- and rolls back some key aspects of it -- while a permanent deal is negotiated.” Zakaria added that "[i]n return, Iran gets about $7 billion of sanctions relief, a fraction of what is in place against it. The main sanctions -- against its oil and banking sectors -- stay fully in place."

On the November 25 edition of Fox's America's News HQ, Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton criticized the deal as “abject surrender” to the Iranians. Bolton claimed sanctions “were never going to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons anyway” because" sanctions need to be administered by a living breathing president," and in Bolton's mind, Obama isn't capable of success on this front. Bolton added that we must accept one of two propositions; a nuclear Iran, or support Israeli airstrikes.

But experts point out that strong sanctions put in place by Obama in 2010 have helped to bring Iran to the bargaining table, a fact Fox and Bolton failed to discuss. In February, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained in an interview on CBS This Morning that “the sanctions are working.” 

CNN explained that “Iran has stumbled from one economic crisis to the next under the sanctions” leading them to the negotiating table. NPR pointed out that “negotiations would never have begun without effective sanctions”:

The six-month interim agreement stuck over the weekend gives Iran access to some of its oil revenues locked up overseas, but keeps sanctions on Iran's oil exports in place. A permanent and comprehensive settlement on Iran's nuclear program may or may not be in sight, but Iran watchers agree on this: negotiations would never have begun without effective sanctions.

New York Times' Roger Cohen disputed Bolton's claim that Israeli strikes are the only effective deterrent to a nuclear Iran:

Let us be clear. This is the best deal that could be had. Nothing, not even sustained Israeli bombardment, can reverse the nuclear know-how Iran possesses. The objective must be to ring-fence the acquired capability so its use can only be peaceful.

Nuclear arms control expert Gary Milhollin explained in The Atlantic that while an airstrike against Iran would destroy gas centrifuges, water reactors, and possibly power reactors, it would not have the capability of destroying many of the most important aspects of their nuclear program:

What would bombing not destroy? Probably not Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium, which is easily moved and sufficient to fuel two nuclear warheads, if further enriched; probably not the unknown number of centrifuges that has produced but not deployed at Natanz; probably not the many tons of centrifuge feed that Iran has produced and stockpiled; probably not the factories that Iran is using to make more centrifuges; and certainly not the knowledge needed to enrich uranium and incorporate it into a nuclear warhead. All these essentials of nuclear-weapon breakout capability seem likely to remain.

Would it be possible to find out, after the bombing, what was really hit? The answer is no -- not unless Iran were invaded. Short of which, after exhibiting the inevitable civilian casualties, Iran would likely slam the door on UN inspectors and take its nuclear work underground. Popular nationalist pride will only enable this reaction, if not push hard for it. Iran could claim, with justification, that the data on its nuclear sites gathered by the present UN inspection teams has simply made it easier to target these sites. 

Bolton joins other right-wing media figures attacking the nuclear deal with misleading rhetoric.