Don’t Throw Iran’s Democrats Under the Bus

Indeed, Iranian dissidents chafe at the attention the West gives to the nuclear impasse, and Iranian reformers have long feared that their interests will come second to a nuclear deal. As noted dissident Akbar Ganji warned in his September 2006 „Letter to America“ in the Washington Post, „We believe the government in Tehran is seeking a secret deal with the United States. It is willing to make any concession, provided that the United States promises to remain silent about the regime’s repressive measures at home.“

One reason Iranian democrats worry that we would throw them under a bus for a nuclear deal is because that is exactly what we would do. The cold truth is that the West, including the United States, would gladly negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran’s hardliners at the expense of Iranian human rights and democracy. If all it took to reach a nuclear deal were to remain silent about Tehran’s repression, the prospects for a deal would be excellent. But in fact what holds up the deal is that Iran is not prepared to give up much of its nuclear program and the West is not convinced that the Islamic Republic would live up to any commitment it makes. What’s more, the West — especially the United States — is not willing to offer much in trade so long as the fundamental geostrategic conflict with Iran remains.

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