Carly Fiorina, former chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard, said President Obama is “rewarding bad behavior” with the Iran nuclear deal, adding that the president should have stopped talking to Iran after the first 6-month deadline for an agreement passed.
“The reason I say that is because we have been sending signals to Iran and to everyone else in the world that bad behavior will be rewarded. Why do I say that? Think about Iran’s behavior over decades,” Fiorina said during a discussion at Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Iran has had a strategy to destabilize the Middle East through their proxies. Iran has had a strategy to gain a nuclear weapon. Iran has had a strategy to stonewall every inspection regime that has been put in place and Iran has had a strategy to stonewall every negotiating effort. We’ve rewarded all of that behavior.”
Obama recently announced the framework of a potential deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
“So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East? Is it worse than doing what we’ve done for almost two decades, with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections? I think the answer will be clear,” Obama said.
From a negotiating point of view, Fiorina said it was a huge error for Obama to declare victory in a Rose Garden ceremony when only a framework agreement has been decided.
“What that signals is that this president is now committed publicly to getting this deal done, and so my prediction is that what the Iranians will do on the other side is spend the next two months trying to get a better deal – that’s what happens in negotiations,” she said.
Fiorina, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said she has negotiated plenty of big deals over the course of her career.
“You’ve got to be willing to walk away from the table and you can’t get so committed publicly that it doesn’t really matter what deal you get, and I’m afraid that’s what’s happening,” she said.
Fiorina said it’s “indisputable we’re rewarding bad behavior” with the Iran deal. Fiorina, the global chairman of Opportunity International, said there are other players at the negotiating table with unknown positions on the situation, such as Russia.
“Russia is not on our side in this negotiation. Russia has a very keen national interest in building up their nuclear industry and the way they do that is to become the supplier and partner of choice to Iran, and they are well on their way to doing that,” she said.
“I think we should have stopped talking a long time ago. I think we should have pushed back on some of their behavior, but if we are going to go forward with this new deal now then I believe we must insist on inspections first and compliance first before sanctions are lifted.”
Obama argued that Iran is not going to dismantle its nuclear program due to U.S. demands.
“That’s not how the world works, and that’s not what history shows us. Iran has shown no willingness to eliminate those aspects of their program that they maintain are for peaceful purposes, even in the face of unprecedented sanctions,” he said. “Should negotiations collapse because we, the United States, rejected what the majority of the world considers a fair deal, what our scientists and nuclear experts suggest would give us confidence that they are not developing a nuclear weapon, it’s doubtful that we can even keep our current international sanctions in place.”
Once sanctions are lifted, Fiorina said the U.S. is not able to “snap back” when six different parties are at the table.
“You cannot snap back when industries rush in, so I think inspection first, verification first and then perhaps unload the sanctions,” she said.
Nina Easton, Fortune magazine’s Washington editor, asked Fiorina about her opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He’s highly intelligent, highly educated, very cosmopolitan, quite charming. If he was here he would be charming and entertaining. He actually has a very good sense of humor. He is formidable. He is also a man who is focused on power, not even ideology, power – economic power, political power, territorial power – and he believes it is his mission to restore the historic power of the Russian empire,” she said.
“If that’s who you are facing off against, it doesn’t take a lot to understand someone like that will not be stopped unless he senses real strength and resolve and purpose on the other side,” she added.
She said the Ukrainians and the Baltic states are asking for America’s help and the nation is not providing much.
“So I doubt Vladimir Putin will stop. There’s no reason for him to stop. He actually is achieving his objectives,” Fiorina said.