Simple explanation of what’s wrong with the Iranian nuclear deal
This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective. Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement. Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.” This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.
Indeed, that’s what the agreement says:
This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment program with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the program.
It is hard to interpret this as anything other than the “right to enrich,” something that Kerry strenuously denied last night. In this specific example, Iran clearly won.
Bolton goes on:
In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs.
First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.
Second, Iran has gained legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club. Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.
Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more. Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges. Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U.S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.
Even if you disagree with Bolton’s politics, all three points seem incontrovertible.
[T]he deal leaves the basic strategic realities unchanged. Iran’s nuclear program was, from its inception, a weapons program, and it remains one today. Even modest constraints, easily and rapidly reversible, do not change that fundamental political and operational reality. And while some already-known aspects of Iran’s nuclear program are returned to enhanced scrutiny, the undeclared and likely unknown military work will continue to expand, thus recalling the drunk looking for his lost car keys under the street lamp because of the better lighting.
Moreover, the international climate of opinion against a strike will only harden during the next six months. Capitalizing on the deal, Iran’s best strategy is to accelerate the apparent pace of rapprochement with the all-too-eager West. The further and faster Iran can move, still making only superficial, easily reversible concessions in exchange for dismantling the sanctions regime, the greater the international pressure against Israel using military force. Iran will not suddenly, Ahmadinejad-style, openly defy Washington or Jerusalem and trumpet cheating and violations. Instead, Tehran will go to extraordinary lengths to conceal its activities, working for example in new or unknown facilities and with North Korea, or shaving its compliance around the edges. The more time that passes, the harder it will be for Israel to deliver a blow that substantially retards the Iranian program.