Why Are They Cheering in Tehran?Posted: July 15, 2015
Frederick Kagan writes: The nuclear agreement with Iran announced Tuesday is an astoundingly good deal, far surpassing the hopes of anyone . . . in Tehran. It requires Iran to reduce the number of centrifuges enriching uranium by about half, to sell most of its current uranium stockpile or “downblend” it to lower levels of enrichment, and to accept inspections (whose precise nature is yet to be specified) by the International Atomic Energy Agency, something that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had wanted to avoid.
“The main achievement of the regime’s negotiators is striking a deal that commits the West to removing almost all sanctions on Iran, including most of those imposed to reduce terrorism or to prevent weapons proliferation.”
But the agreement also permits Iran to phase out the first-generation centrifuges on which it now relies and focus its research and development by exclusively using a number of advanced centrifuge models many times more efficient, which has been Tehran’s plan all along. The deal will also entirely end the United Nations’ involvement in Iran’s nuclear program in 10 years, and in 15 years will lift most restrictions on the program.
“Experts will debate the value of the concessions Iran has made on the nuclear front, but the value to Iran of the concessions the U.S. has made on nonnuclear issues is immeasurable.”
Even that, though, is not Tehran’s biggest win. The main achievement of the regime’s negotiators is striking a deal that commits the West to removing almost all sanctions on Iran, including most of those imposed to reduce terrorism or to prevent weapons proliferation. Most of the sanctions are likely to end in a few months. Thus the agreement ensures that after a short delay Iran will be able to lay the groundwork for a large nuclear arsenal and, in the interim, expand its conventional military capabilities as much as the regime pleases. The supreme leader should be very proud of his team.
“The Obama administration seems to be betting that lifting sanctions will cause Iran to moderate its behavior in both nuclear and nonnuclear matters. The rhetoric and actions of the regime’s leaders provide little evidence to support this notion and much evidence to the contrary.”
The agreement consists of 159 pages of opaque prose, and key sections are referred to but are not clearly marked. Even figuring out the timeline embodied in the deal is hard, but it appears to run about as follows:
“Finalization Day” was July 14. The agreement stipulates that a resolution will be submitted to the United Nations Security Council “promptly after the conclusion of the negotiations . . . for adoption without delay” that will “terminate” all preceding U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran. The document doesn’t mention the 60-day window for review by the U.S. Congress, and the language in this section suggests that action in the U.N. will not await any congressional vote.
“Adoption Day” is the next major milestone, coming either 90 days after the approval of the Security Council resolution or “at an earlier date by mutual consent.” If the Security Council moves smartly, Adoption Day could come in October. At that point Iran commits to apply the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which governs enhanced international inspections. But this commitment is provisional, “pending ratification by the Majlis”—the Iranian parliament. It is again noteworthy that no mention is made of any action to be taken by the U.S. Congress, despite the nod to Iran’s legislature.
Determining when “Implementation Day” happens is even more difficult, since it depends….(read more)
Mr. Kagan is the director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.
- Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei rules out freezing sensitive nuclear work for long period (theiranproject.com)
- Khamenei Refuses To Halt Iran’s Nuclear Research, Demands Immediate Sanctions Relief (thetower.org)
- Khamenei talks tough as n-deal deadline nears (thehindu.com)
- Iran’s Supreme Leader Hardens Stance on Nuke Talks (nbcnews.com)
- What’s Ahead: Time Guidelines in Iran Nuclear Accord (voanews.com)
- Iran’s Khamenei Rules Out Freezing Sensitive Nuclear Work for Long Period (freebeacon.com)
- America’s Frackers Should Fear A New Dawn For Iranian Oil (forbes.com)
- Obama: ‘I will veto’ any legislation that blocks Iran nuclear deal (pbs.org)