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EDITORIAL: We can't pay bullies to back down

By: The Gazette editorial board
May 10, 2018 Updated: May 10, 2018 at 7:47 am
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The United States handed an additional $400 million delivered on wooden pallets the day Iran released four American hostages. Image from a YouTube video via AP.

Succumbing to blackmail begets one sure result. More blackmail.

That's why The Gazette's editorial board opposed then-President Barack Obama's 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. President Donald Trump killed the deal Tuesday.

As one egregious element of the arrangement, the United States paid Iran's brutal dictatorship $1.7 billion in cash to repay past sanctions. As detailed by the Los Angeles Times, the United States handed an additional $400 million delivered on wooden pallets the day Iran released four American hostages.

The Obama administration eventually conceded the $400 million was leverage, used to force Tehran to release the prisoners. This, of course, causes the country to see imprisoned Americans as money.

Obama's political foes were not alone in opposing the deal.

"After deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement," announced Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., opposing the deal in August of 2015. "To me, after 10 years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it."

The ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, New York Democrat Eliot Engel, also warned against the agreement.

"I was troubled that Iran was not asked to stop enriching despite the fact that there were several separate U.N. Security Council resolutions compelling them to do so," Engel said. "I have raised questions and concerns throughout the negotiating phase and review period. The answers I've received simply don't convince me that this deal will keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran's hands, and may in fact strengthen Iran's position as a destabilizing and destructive influence."

As reported by fact checkers at The Washington Post, Iran's military spending increased by "nearly 30 percent" since the deal.

"The nuclear accord has contributed to the overall increase in spending - including the increase in military spending - since it lifted sanctions and allowed for a rise in oil production and exports," the Post explains.

A 2017 U.S. State Department report details the Iran's support of terror cells throughout the Middle East since the deal took effect.

If that were not damning enough, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released intelligence last month revealing thousands of seized Iranian files proving Iran lies to the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear weapons program. Iran hid an archive of nuclear weapons-building information in direct violation of the deal.

It all means we paid plane loads of cash that helped an enemy of the United States expand its influence.

Iran's expanse of military might isn't a peaceful government's attempt at national defense. The theocracy repeatedly threatens to annihilate Israel, issuing the last such warning in early April.

"Iran has the capability to destroy Israel and given the excuse, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be razed to the ground," said Ali Shirazi,liaison for Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as reported by Iran's Fars news agency.

The Ayatollah tweeted in 2010: "Israel Is A Hideous Entity In the Middle East Which Will Undoubtedly Be Annihilated".

Handing this regime billions in cash, in exchange for a promise, was like paying bullies for playground protection.

The deal mostly showed dictators they can profit by making threats, and backing them with plans for nuclear destruction.

The United States has a history of guarding peace through strength. We cannot simply pay enemies to act like our friends.

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