That's the question Colin Kahl asks in a Politico Magazine op-ed published Dec. 10.
This is how Kahl, a Georgetown University professor who formerly served as chief of Middle East policy for the Pentagon, sets the stage:
Suppose the Majles, Iran’s legislature, passed legislation tomorrow, over [President Hassan] Rouhani’s objections, declaring that Iran would resume and escalate its nuclear activities in six months’ time if Washington failed to live up to its Geneva commitments and agree to a final deal that fully respects Iran’s nuclear rights. Imagine that the legislation threatened to resume enrichment of nearly bomb-grade 20 percent uranium (halted by Geneva); bring all 16,000 first-generation centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment site online (only 9,000 were operating pre-Geneva) and move to install thousands more; activate the 1,000 next-generation centrifuges currently installed at Natanz (none are operational now) and step up planned assembly of 2,000 new ones; activate all 3,000 centrifuges at the deeply buried Fordow enrichment site (only 1,000 were spinning pre-Geneva), making the facility fully operation for the first time; begin enriching to the even-closer-to-bomb-grade 60 percent level for “civilian naval propulsion”; and significantly accelerate fuel production for the Arak plutonium reactor.
Kahl's point is that skepticism in Congress over the interim deal reached in November in Geneva — and the bipartisan push for new sanctions — would be seen by Iran as evidence of bad faith on the part of the U.S. and play into the hands of those who want to sabotage the deal from their end.
But an accurate response to Kahl's question would presume that Iran -- aside from openly threatening what it has surreptitiously been trying to achieve for years -- would also stop killing innocent people in terrorist attacks around the world, assassinating foreign diplomats or helping militants kill as many U.S. soldiers as possible.
In that sense, it would be a major improvement if the Iranians treated the U.S. the way the U.S. treats them.