Iran’s Nuclear Agreement: A Good Deal or a Bad Deal?

John Kerry & Javad Zarif
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif at a recent meeting

Iran will temporarily halt parts of its nuclear program and allow for more inspection; in return, the West will provide immediate relief from some of the sanctions and will impose no new sanctions for six months.

Last week’s nuclear agreement between Iran and the western powers was historical.  To some, it may even seem to be a breakthrough given the tenuous relationships shared by Iran and the West. However, reading the news is confusing as some news articles report that it was a “total victory and a great step forward,” while others surmised, “it was a total failure.”

So which is it?  Was it a good deal or a bad deal? The answer depends on the perspective from which the deal is evaluated. Below, I look at this deal and make evaluations of my own, considering 5 unique perspectives from those who will be impacted most deeply.

It was a bad deal for Israel and the Gulf countries

  1. Since 1979, Israel and the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Emirates have been afraid of Iran. Countries in the region such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria have watched Iran aggressively increase its influence. They feel that a nuclear-armed Iran will pose a serious danger to their respected national security. They also believe that Iran will at least use its nuclear arsenal to bully them and the rest of its neighbors. Iran is already doing that now, but with a nuclear bomb, its bullying and meddling in the affairs of other countries in the region will increase dramatically.  This new deal does not remove the danger to Israel and Gulf countries, but increases it exponentially.
  2. Netanyahu has called this deal “a historic mistake” and has stated, “it turns the world into a much scarier place.” For the first time Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are agreeing with Israel.

It was a bad deal for the US and President Obama’s credibility

  1. It damaged the US’s relationship with Israel and important allies such as Saudi Arabia.
  2. Some have called it a “fool’s deal” as it seems that the West has agreed to an immediate action, (removing some of the sanctions, stopping the addition of new sanctions, and releasing 7 billion dollars of Iranian assets), in return for unverifiable promises in the future.

It was a good deal for the government of Iran

  1. As Obama is under fire and trying to defend the deal in the US, the government of Iran is celebrating their perceived victory.
  2. Iran got money and time to continue its nuclear program with little more commitment than a promise to not build new centrifuges in the next 6 months. The deal, however, left the nuclear infrastructure intact. Iran now has the money to do what it wants to continue with its nuclear program plans and goals.
  3. This deal helps Iran to prepare better for possible future sanctions. So even if new sanctions are imposed in 6 months, it will not have as much impact as it could have.
  4. Iran knows that President Obama does not want to go to war, which puts the US in a weaker position. Iran has been declaring that they are not afraid to go to war and that they are ready for it. They feel they have caused Obama to blink and agree to a favorable deal for their purposes.

It was a good deal for the lives of people in Iran (physically)

  1. It has an immediate impact in increasing the value of Iranian currency (more purchasing power)
  2. It seems to postpone the possibility of war. The possible attack on Iran, when it happens, will bring much suffering to the people of Iran and will take the lives of so many innocent Christian and Muslim people.
  3. This deal takes away the fear of imminent attack on Iran which has put stress in the hearts of the ordinary citizens of Iran for the last two years. People of Iran will live in less fear for at least the next six months.
  4. The people of Iran are happy about this deal because it gives them temporary relief. All the Iranians that I have talked to are convinced that the Iranian government deceived the West to get this deal and soon will find out that this was a deception and reinstate the strict sanctions and threats of military attacks. When I ask them what they think about this deal, many just laugh and say, “Americans are so naïve.”

It was a bad deal: for the lives of people in Iran (spiritually)

  1. This deal gives the people of Iran a false hope. They have been open spiritually because they have been living in fear and hopelessness for so many years. This new deal gives them a false hope and reduces their fear. This may cause them to be less open spiritually.
  2. It distracts them. They feel they have 6 months to secure themselves and prepare for the hardship that is coming. They will be busy making money and spending it for an unknown and unstable future. This can distract them from spiritual pursuit.

Join me in praying:

That the Lord will postpone the war and give the people of Iran a chance to know Him.

That the people of Iran will not invest in a false hope, but that their hopelessness will lead them to the true source of eternal hope: Jesus Christ.

Nuclear Deal with Iran – Joel C. Rosenberg’s Perspective

Iran Nuclear Deal
Now What?

My dear friend and Middle East expert, Joel C. Rosenberg (@joelcrosenberg), has been posting his thoughts on the nuclear deal recently struck by the US, Russia, Germany, UK, France and China with Iran.

I highly recommend reading his most recent post, as he highlights the major points of the deal and gives wonderful insight regarding the implications on Israel and the West.

In the coming days, I am going to post my own thought on the issue, from the perspective of Iranians…specifically those who follow Jesus.  Check back for these posts, as I will provide a unique perspective that may be helpful as you learn about the impact of this significant event.

Rouhani Came to Give a False Sense of Hope to the U.S.

Rouhani came to give a false sense of hope to the U.S., while keeping his support at home with the Mullahs…both of which he accomplished.

Rouhani addressing the U.N.
Rouhani addressing the U.N.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Hassan Rouhani is an expert negotiator.  He is also a very intelligent and a savvy politician, with great skills of persuasion and influence.

Following in the footsteps of the much less prudent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani had very little work to do in order to establish himself as the more civil, if not congenial, face of Iran.  Ahmadinejad also managed to estrange himself from the Supreme Leader and Mullahs of Iran through his unpredictable public speeches and unwillingness to stay within the boundaries of his role.  Consequently, Rouhani had very little chance of being anything but a perceived conspicuous improvement over his predecessor in the eyes of both the U.S. and Iran.

The combination of his skill set as a deft negotiator, (in the international nuclear development arena no less), and the instant benefit of the doubt he has been given since he has to be better than the extremist before him, set the stage for Rouhani to please everyone.

Promising to negotiate on Iran’s nuclear program in “good faith,” Rouhani managed to commit to nothing measurable or tangible, but still give the impression of cooperation and the willingness to change.  Did I mention that he is an expert negotiator?

Having left the U.S. without committing to anything concrete and charming the world all while standing up the President of the United States of America and receiving his phone call as he left the country, Hassan Rouhani earned tremendous points with the Supreme Leader and Mullahs in Iran.

Please join me in praying for our world leaders to have great wisdom and discernment as they navigate the rocky terrain of negotiations with Iran.  Only He can steer us on the right path…that which leads to the foot of the cross.

Hassan Rouhani is an Experienced, Expert Nuclear Negotiator

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
If this is the way the majority of the world sees Rouhani… the world needs to take a closer look.

Rouhani’s involvement in Iran’s political landscape predates the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  As a young cleric, Rouhani regularly gave speeches against the government of the Shah of Iran, whose cooperative posture with the U.S. did not please the Islamic clergy.  After the revolution, Rouhani established himself in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s inner circle and quickly earned prominent positions within his regime.

In 1989, Rouhani was appointed as the first Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), a position he kept for the next 16 years.  Known for his negotiating prowess, Rouhani garnered the nickname “Diplomat Sheikh” by Iranian news media.

Through the confirmation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hassan Rouhani was placed in charge of Iran’s nuclear case in 6 October 2003.  His objective was to lead a team that would deflect attention from Iran’s newly discovered nuclear development and run interference with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that would prevent the rapid acceleration of allegations against Iran resulting a report of Iran’s nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council.

Rouhani and his team were successful in this endeavor until he stepped out of the role in 2005 as a result of the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and subsequent disagreements between the two leaders. Ahmadinejad’s antagonistic demeanor and unwillingness to fulfill his role as diplomat to the West contributed to the contentious posture, which has resulted in heavy sanctions and pressure from the U.S. and it’s allies.

It is this same Rouhani who is now representing the nuclear intentions of The Islamic Republic of Iran to a leery, yet hopeful, audience of world leaders.

Rouhani has vast experience in the art of deception.  He is a seasoned expert and adept at creating smokescreens to cover up Iran’s nuclear activities and intentions.  His skills in delay techniques may be sufficient to buy enough time for his superiors to finish the development of nuclear weaponry.

I pray that President Obama and his counterparts in the U.N. have a working knowledge of Hassan Rouhani’s resume and credentials and the wisdom to treat his statements with great caution and apprehension.

Rouhani Gained the Upper Hand by Skipping Lunch with President Obama

Rouhani gained the upper hand by skipping lunch with President Obama and later receiving his phone call while leaving the country.

To a Westerner, both of these events may seem insipid or commonplace.

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his visit to the U.S.

President Rouhani simply explained, “A meeting between the two presidents needs some preparation, and since the ground was not prepared, this meeting did not take place.”  As a result, President Obama picked up the phone and called Rouhani since they were not able to meet in person.  This gesture exhibited both respect and hospitality from a Western point of view.

However, both events, which seem ostensibly harmless, were great PR plays by Rouhani to the Persian culture.

By skipping a planned appointment with President Obama, Rouhani illustrated his stature of importance to the people of Iran and the rest of the Middle East whose culture recognizes this as a display of power.  Rouhani is so mighty and dominant, that even the President of the United States of America does not get his time.

By calling President Rouhani as he was leaving the U.S., President Obama displayed an act of contrition and weakness in the eyes of the Persian culture.  In my native Iran, this is viewed as chasing after the person who is in the more dominant position.

Rouhani would never have extended such a gesture, as he would be subject to public emasculation and humiliation for bowing in this way.

Our opinions of a skipped lunch and the intentions of President Obama’s phone call are completely irrelevant.  President Hassan Rouhani left the United States with an important public relations victory on the largest stage Iran has been on in 34 years.

I wonder if President Obama is going to take Benjamin Netanyahu’s call…the one when he tells Obama to be wary of his new “friend.”

Iran has the Fastest Growing Evangelical Population on the Planet!

Take a moment to let that sink in.

Operation World Chart of the Fastest Growing Evangelical Nations - 2010
Iran has the fastest growing Evangelical Christian population. Operation World, 2010.

Iran…the world’s only theocracy and home to such infamous leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali Hosseini Khamenei and the late Ayatollah Khomeini, who ushered in the brutal Islamic regime in the revolution of 1979…the same country whose government counts such countries as Lebanon, Venezuela and Syria, China and Russia as friends…the same nation that has labeled the United States as the Great Satan and Israel the Little Satan and is among the most public anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-women’s rights nations in the world…this Iran, has the fastest growing Evangelical population in the world!

You may be thinking to yourself, “Well, if the Evangelical population has grown from 10 to 1,000 people, that explains rapid growth, but it is a bit underwhelming.”  Actually, conservative estimates place the Evangelical population of Iran around 1,000,000!  Compare that with the estimated 500 Christians that were believed to exist in Iran in 1979 when the Islamic Revolution took place.  The fact is, more Persians have come to Christ in the 34 years since the Islamic Revolution than in the 1,400 years prior, combined.  Most of these have occurred in just the past decade, as satellite TV has become a pervasive tool for safely and effectively taking the Gospel into the homes of the 55 million Persians who have access to satellite dishes.

It is for this reason that I have spent the past 11 years devoting my ministry efforts into satellite TV programming and launched a 24/7 Farsi network with the objective of taking the message of Hope into the homes of these millions of hopeless and desperate people.

You can see in the chart below, taken from the research of Operation World, that the highlighted countries are Farsi speaking nations, which our satellite TV signal reaches with 24/7 Christ-centered programming.

I like to tell people that God is running a special on Muslims right now.  There has never been a more exciting or fruitful time to be about the business of Kingdom building in Iran than Right Now!

Chart courtesy of: Jason Mandryk, Operation World:  The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation (Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica Publishing, 2010), 916.

Persians Love Americans

ImageMy friend, who recently traveled to Iran and took the photo of the empty mosque in my previous post, was also blown away by the overwhelming warm reception he received from the people of Iran.  Even though I told him to expect the people he would meet to be intrigued by an American visiting Iran, he was not prepared for the welcome he received in every city he toured.

In fact, he told me, “I have never been high-fived or hugged so much in my life just for being an American than I was in Iran!”  He was invited to people’s homes, asked for photographs and even told while being embraced by a stranger in a park, “You are my brother.  I am so glad you are here.”

What is portrayed in the media is quite different than the reality of what exists inside the borders of one of the least understood countries in the world.

I want to be clear, however.  The Islamic controlled government  and clergy are indeed extremely dangerous, violent and hateful people who in fact do not love America, Americans or anyone who does not identify themselves with Islam.  This group represents only a fraction of the population.  Unfortunately, it is the only segment we ever see in the West.

Iran’s Mosques are empty!

Taken During Call to Prayer
An empty mosque taken during a call to prayer

A friend of mine, who was in Iran recently, confirmed what Persians around the world already knew.  During his trip, he visited more than a dozen mosques in several cities over the course of 10 days.  Some of these visits were on one of two Fridays, which is the holy day of Shi’a Islam, when you would expect to find the most people in the mosques.  It is equivalent to Sunday mornings in America.

With the call to prayer sounding over the speakers throughout the cities, my friend witnessed a TOTAL of 2 people worshipping in the mosques!  This is a cumulative total over the course of 10 days (2 of which were Fridays), in several cities, while the call to prayer was sounding!

Does this sound like the Iran you have pictured in your mind?