The Tentative Nuclear Deal with Iran

It is just that–tentative. The details of the deal have to be worked out later, and the parties to the talks have given themselves until June 30 to do so. (One wonders whether they will stick to that timeline.) The outlines of the deal can be read here. Note that there is absolutely no provision whatsoever in the deal to limit or control the production of ballistic missiles; indeed, sanctions for ballistic missile production remain in place, as Iran has apparently not done anything to alleviate the concerns of the international community regarding that issue.

This report is of concern:

Negotiators working on a nuclear accord with Iran are discussing a secret annex that would contain detailed commitments by both sides, diplomats from three countries involved said, as talks entered their final hours.

The negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, which stretched into a diplomatic marathon amid missed deadlines and all-night sessions, appeared set to end with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini expected at a 7 p.m. press conference.

The goal of the diplomacy is an agreement to end the 12-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, restricting its atomic work and easing the sanctions that have isolated its economy and slashed exports of oil. But with consensus on key issues elusive, diplomats have scaled back expectations of what they can achieve this week. Another three months are envisaged to reach a detailed final accord.

If the six powers negotiating with Iran reach accord on major principles, a general public statement will be released while specific commitments will be enshrined in a confidential annex, according to officials from a European nation, Russia and a third country, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Such a document would help U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to persuade Congressional skeptics that tangible progress had been made, while Iranian leaders would also have something to show to domestic hardliners, the diplomats said.

I can appreciate the need for negotiations to remain secret, but if we have some kind of tentative deal, then we ought to know what the details are of that deal. It is not right that the United States should be able to spin the deal one way, while the Iranians are able to spin the deal another way, and the rest of the world is left in the dark as to who is right simply because the details of the deal are contained in a “secret annex.” If “trust us, we negotiated a good deal and you don’t need to worry your pretty little heads about the details” is the line of the day, then all of us have reason to worry.

This analysis should worry us as well:

THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.

That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, under the agreement announced Thursday, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.

I’d like to think that my skepticism concerning this deal is unwarranted. But while there are many who are celebrating today’s agreement, there is much about it that will–and should–give us pause.

Comments

Comments are closed.