With the deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran only two days away, it now seems nearly impossible that a deal can be struck that Congress should support.
The latest development that appears to make the deal a clunker is the willingness of the United States and its allies to offer Iran state-of-the-art equipment if it agrees to cut its atomic weapons program as part of a final deal.
In other words, not only have the U.S. negotiators given in on terms they previously said were non-negotiable, but they now are poised to supply the terror-sponsoring country with light-water nuclear reactors and allow it "the leadership role as the project owner and manager."
Further, the confidential "Civil Nuclear Cooperation" document, which was obtained The Associated Press, offers "arrangements for the assured supply and removal of nuclear fuel for each reactor provided," promises help in the "construction and effective operation" of the reactors and related hardware, and pledges cooperation in the fields of nuclear safety, nuclear medicine, nuclear waste removal, research and other peaceful applications.
It seems akin to warning an alcoholic against drinking but at the same time offering the alcoholic light beer.
With such a deal in the offing, the American people should be fortunate Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, negotiated a deal in Congress that would allow representatives of the people to have a say in the deal.
And right now, the former Chattanooga mayor doesn't appear to be buying what the administration is selling.
Indeed, the U.S. "absolutely" should walk away from the deal if it is not strengthened, Corker said last week on "Morning Joe" on the MSNBC cable network.
Negotiators should "make sure we have a deal that will stand the test of time," he said. "We already have so many weaknesses in it today."
Among those concerns, enumerated in this space before and cited by Corker, include a non-negotiable 20-year agreement becoming a 10-year deal and a non-negotiable dismantling of the country's nuclear program becoming one of managed proliferation.
The Tennessee senator said other vital issues include the access to "anytime, anyplace inspections," dimensions of Iran's military program, access to the country's scientists to know the nuclear program's capabilities and the possible negotiation away of non-nuclear related sanctions.
Meanwhile, Iran would get to continue to do nuclear research and development, would continue to work on its sophisticated ballistic missile program and would within a short time after the end of the 10-year deal be able to turn out a nuclear weapon.
"Is it worth a 10-year pause," Corker asked, "while they can continue to do the research and development on advanced centrifuges [and] continue to develop their ballistic missile program?"
The answer for every member of Congress should be a resounding "no."
If nothing changes in the deal, it likely will be a "no" for most Republicans because they surely recognize the Obama administration's desperation for what it believes, regardless of what it must give away and regardless of what is left in place in Iran, is a legacy agreement.
Though Corker, like all senators, can't speak definitively until an agreement is finalized, he is keenly aware of the negotiations.
"They're hitting some points that are very concerning," he said.
So, said Corker, who held two Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings last week ahead of the pending agreement, it is better to raise the issues now than to wait until a final document is signed.
While the deadline, which has been pushed back numerous times over the last several years, is June 30, the Iran Nuclear Review Act allows a delay until July 9. After that, the time for congressional review of the agreement will double from 30 days to 60 days.
But, Corker suggested, the country might be "better off keeping [the present] interim agreement in place for a while and continue to negotiate."
Given Iran's history of concealing its activities from nuclear inspectors, its insistence that the International Atomic Energy Agency be banned from any non-nuclear sites, the already ceded non-negotiated points and the U.S.'s newest offer of reactors and other items, it's difficult to find any positives to making such a deal.
The final draft may contained unexpected, last-minute, stiffened terms, but at this point it looks like a non-starter.