(CNSNews.com) -- The terms of President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran are “much better” than those granted to some of the United States' own allies, says a national security expert at the Heritage Foundation.
“For more than five decades, the U.S. refused to allow even its allies to have some of the uranium enrichment facilities that Iran has gained under this deal.
"This deal is much better for Iran than the one the U.S. gave United Arab Emirates (UAE), gave South Korea or Taiwan,” said Heritage Middle Eastern Affairs senior research fellow James Phillips.
“In fact, it’s even better than the deal the [Gerald] Ford administration gave to the Shah of Iran back in the 1970s, when he was a close U.S. ally before the '79 [Islamic] Revolution,” Phillips said Thursday during a panel discussion on “The Iran Nuclear Agreement: What Comes Next?” at the foundation's Washington headquaerters.
“By making exceptions for Iran, Washington has weakened long-standing non-proliferation barriers, and is encouraging other states to seek the same concessions,” he added.
“One of the dangerous unintended consequences of the deal is that it has weakened non-proliferation regimes by encouraging other countries to seek the same concessions that Iran pocketed,” Phillips continued, calling the deal "more of a diplomatic speed bump than a permanent barrier against nuclear proliferation."
He mentioned that Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said that the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, told the congressman that as a result of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, the UAE felt that it was not bound to honor its own nuclear agreement with the U.S.
"[The ambassador] told me, ‘Your worst enemy has achieved this right to enrich. It's a right to enrich now that your friends are going to want, too, and we won't be the only country,’” Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Associated Press in October.
Phillips warned that the deal with Iran "could spur a cascade of proliferation," pointing to news that the Saudis are making deals with China and Russia to develop 16 nuclear reactors. He also mentioned that Russia brokered a deal to build four nuclear reactors in Egypt.
“All of these are civilian nuclear programs, but as with the case of Iran, those programs could provide a fig leaf to hide a covert weapons program down the road. I think the administration makes the mistake of treating Iran like a normal country, ignoring its revolutionary Islamist ideology and its continued exporting of subversion and terrorism,” Phillips asserted.
“President Obama sees Iran as a successful regional power, but I think the regime sees itself as the global leader; the vanguard of Islamist revolution,” he continued.
Phillips proposed that Obama’s outreach efforts to Iran came from a perception of himself exercising realpolitik, akin to President Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 official state visit to China.
“But there there was a common enemy, the Soviet Union, that Beijing and Washington had common perceptions of as a threat,” he pointed out. "But here, as we've seen, there's no emerging strategic consensus between Washington and Tehran."
“So the bottom line is that I think the administration has an agreement in principle with a regime that has no principles, except for staying in power and exploiting its revolution."
Phillips predicted that Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran would likely “collapse” just as President Bill Clinton’s 1994 nuclear deal with North Korea did, leaving the next president to deal with what he called a “very messy legacy that this president is leaving behind.”
Following the panel discussion, CNSNews.com asked Phillips about whether he thinks Obama has any interest in democratic reform in Iran.
Obama is “more interested in signing an agreement that will reinforce what he sees as a positive legacy than he is with lasting change in Iran. I think he puts his own personal political interests ahead of the long-term interests of the U.S. and of the Iranian people,” Phillips replied.
“We’re going to be stuck with this regime [in Iran]. The administration may see differences between the president [Hassan Rouhani] and the supreme leader [Ali Khamenei], but to me, it’s Tweedledum and Tweedledee,” he told CNSNews.
Phillips contrasted the symbiotic relationship between Rouhani and Khamenei to the dynamic between two former Soviet leaders, the reform-minded Mikhail Gorbachev and the communist hard-liner Nikita Khrushchev.
“It’s not ‘Ayatollah Gorbachev.’ It’s Khrushchev,” he told CNSNews. “He wants to reform the system in order to save it and make it stronger. Not really to make it less predatory.”