- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stiffening Obama’s backbone” (Comment & Analysis, Jan. 15) is spot on. The threat of sanctions against Iran is required in wake of the November 2013 Geneva accord weighted in favor of Tehran over Washington.

I learned the value of “peace through strength” in negotiations with the Soviet Union as a member of the 1980 presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan, and later at the White House and as representative of the secretary of defense in arms control negotiations in Europe. When Moscow refrained from removing intermediate-range missiles from Europe, Washington began new deployments of comparable missiles to Europe. Because the American team was tough, on July 22, 1987, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to a “double global zero” treaty to eliminate intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe.

If verifiable termination of Iran’s nuclear weapons program is the preferred outcome of the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran, passage of the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act would be a “diplomatic insurance policy.” It is a fallacy to believe that passage of the bill over threatened presidential veto would destroy negotiations with Iran. Tehran rarely implements threats contrary to its economic and military interests. For example, when it threatened retaliation against states if they ceased classifying the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) as a terrorist organization, no such action followed after the group’s delisting.

With inaction by Washington to save these Iranian dissidents “imprisoned” in Iraq, collusion between Iraq and Iran raises suspicion that Iraq allowed Iranian proxies to launch a bloody attack in December 2013 against the MEK. While Baghdad begs for U.S. counterterrorist intelligence and equipment supposedly for fighting al Qaeda (but probably also for Sunni Iraqi political adversaries), Washington could use its leverage to save Sunnis and the MEK as a condition for assistance.

Passage of H.R. 3707 to ensure emergency protection of Iranian dissidents in Iraq is as important as passage of the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act in hardening the spine of the president. If Reagan were as feckless with Moscow as Mr. Obama is with Iraq and Iran, he would not have succeeded in achieving a double global zero treaty.

RAYMOND TANTER

Former senior staff member, National Security Council

Visiting professor

Georgetown University

Washington