This year, much of Europe — although not France — will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. This decisive moment in history ended the Napoleonic era and effectively ended centuries of French domination of Western European politics.
It is possible to have a diplomatic Waterloo. It is possible for a great power to make political mistakes that have consequences over time as deadly as a defeat in battle. And that is what the United States of America is on the verge of doing.
The ayatollahs have never been closer to their 30-year-plus objective of getting deliverable nuclear weapons. They are clearly intent on getting an agreement with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany that will lock in that achievement. This is despite the fact there’s simply no evidence that the people of Iran want the ayatollahs to have nuclear weapons.
The idea that this is a matter of pride for the Iranian citizens is propaganda from the regime. The NCRI platform has long made it clear that in a democratic Iran there would be no nuclear weapons, no weapons of mass destruction. The MEK over time has done more to make the world aware of the clandestine nuclear weapons program of the ayatollahs than anyone else.
There’s simply no evidence that the mullahs have made a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons. Indeed, all of the evidence is to the contrary. The fact is that negotiations and sanctions have not slowed down the nuclear weapons program at all. Nor have they slowed down Iran’s offensive behavior, its aid to the Taliban, its aid to Hamas, its aid to Hezbollah, its aid to the Assad regime, its aid to the Huti in Yemen, its aid to the Baghdad government. All of this is evidence of a belligerent aggressive attitude on the part of the ayatollahs even before they get nuclear weapons.
It is critical that the world understand the consequences of what happens if on June 30 or thereafter, just days after that Waterloo anniversary, the United States and others sign an agreement with Iran. This agreement is fundamentally flawed. There’s no baseline declaration of Iran’s nuclear capability, there’s no inspection of the baseline that doesn’t exist. The agreement doesn’t cover the ayatollahs’ ballistic missile program. It doesn’t deal with their weaponization efforts. It doesn’t provide for adequate inspections after the agreement is signed, any time, any place, at all suspect sites.
This regime has been lying for 35 years. Who in his right mind thinks they’re going to change their behavior now over such a critical priority? The fact is, this deal will legitimize the mullahs’ enrichment program. It will give them a “peaceful program” that will easily be converted into weapons.
And, I fear, it has already launched a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that ensures Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Turkey will also get nuclear weapons. The people of Iran fundamentally understand that nuclear weapons in the hands of the ayatollahs does not make them more secure, does not make the region or the world more secure. It makes it far more dangerous, especially for them, because of the onward proliferation consequences.
That’s why this diplomacy is leading to a political Waterloo. It won’t simply be an Iran with nuclear weapons. It will be three or four other countries in the region with nuclear weapons. It will mean the effective end of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It will tell everybody else in the world who aspires to nuclear weapons that with a little time and a little energy, you too can have nuclear weapons.
Now, there’s not much that we can do under present circumstances other than to urge everybody who can to sign on to the notion that the real solution to the ayatollahs’ nuclear weapons program is to get rid of the ayatollahs.
• Mr. Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The above was excerpted and adapted from remarks he gave June 13 at the event in Paris.