An Iran deal

Foreign Policy reports on  the Iran deal agreed yesterday.  A report begins “Iran and six world powers agreed to a historic deal Tuesday that will impose limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for relief from punishing economic sanctions, marking the culmination of more than a decade of diplomacy and confrontation. After 18 days of exhausting negotiations in Vienna, diplomats announced they had clinched the accord, and President Barack Obama hailed it as a breakthrough that would defuse long-running tensions over Iran’s disputed nuclear project. “Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” Obama said in a televised speech from the White House. The international community, he added, “will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon” — an assertion immediately questioned by critics of the deal, who said the agreement doesn’t allow for the so-called “anytime, anywhere” inspections needed to fully ensure Iranian compliance”.

The writer notes “The accord between the P5+1 –the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany — and Iran included provisions hammered out in the final hours that will lift a U.N. conventional arms embargo on Tehran within five years and restrictions on ballistic missile imports within eight years. The agreement, the product of 20 months of intense diplomacy, runs to more than 100 pages, including highly-technical language on specific dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work”.

The outlines of the agreement are mentioned when  “Under the terms of the deal, Tehran agreed to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium to a fraction of what would be needed to make a bomb, halt the use of advanced centrifuges for 10 years, and allow UN inspectors round-the-clock access to nuclear sites. If  Tehran later chose to dump the agreement, U.S. officials said the deal’s terms would extend Iran’s breakout time to build a nuclear weapon to at least one year, a timeframe Israel and other opponents say is far too optimistic”.

He writes that “Iran also promised not to build a new heavy water reactor for 15 years and will have to modify the core of its heavy-water plutonium reactor at Arak, while its spent fuel — a key component of a potential bomb — will be shipped outside of the country. The terms of the accord will be outlined and endorsed in a new U.N. Security Council resolution, officials said. And Obama said a raft of financial and oil sanctions would be gradually lifted — providing Tehran with access to between $100 billion and $150 billion in frozen funds — only after Iran demonstrates it is abiding by its commitments under the agreement and would be reimposed if Tehran was caught cheating. He also reiterated that Washington reserved the right to use force to prevent Iran from obtaining a bomb.But Obama said the accord made the prospect of U.S. military action less likely”.

Unsurprisingly he mentions that “The deal was greeted with relief and jubilation in Iran, where the sanctions had caused the country’s currency to plummet and fueled a spike in inflation. “Today is the end to acts of tyranny against our nation and the start of cooperation with the world,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, a reformist elected two years ago on promises to end the sanctions, said in a televised address. “This is a reciprocal deal. If they stick to it, we will,” he said”.

Interestingly he notes “The months of talks leading up to the accord almost collapsed on several occasions over an array of sharp divides over Iran’s nuclear program. Near the finish line, though, it was an unresolved dispute over the eight-year-old U.N. embargo on conventional weaponry that nearly derailed the deal. Iran — backed by Russia and China — pressed for an immediate end to the embargo, which includes sharp limits on Tehran’s ability to build ballistic missiles. The issue proved so difficult that the two sides left it out of the preliminary agreement reached by the United States, Iran, and other key powers in Lausanne, Switzerland, in April. Obama said Tuesday the U.N. arms embargo would be lifted in five years under the deal, and that international restrictions on ballistic missiles would be eased in eight years”.

The reports argues that the arms embargo was significant for Iran, “the arms embargo carries great symbolic weight among Iran’s critics in Washington, Israel, and the Persian Gulf Arab states, where it is viewed as a critical component of a broader strategy aimed at limiting Iran’s ability to spread its influence throughout the region by arming proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. Iran and Russia have argued that the embargo on Iranian conventional weapons and ballistic missiles should be lifted as soon as Iran takes steps to address the world’s concerns about its nuclear program. The future of the arms embargo is one of several points in the agreement that will come under intense scrutiny from skeptics of the negotiations in Washington and the Middle East. The agreement’s provisions on inspections will be at the center of the debate between advocates and opponents of the deal. The accord allows the International Atomic Energy Agency to gain access to any site in Iran to check that the country is abiding by the deal, including military facilities. But critics will point to a dispute settlement process outlined in the accord that could permit Iran to put off requested inspections for 24 days — possibly enough time to erase proof of illicit nuclear work”.

Naturally he mentions the whining of Israel, but given the dire state of relations between President Obama and “Bibi” there is really little that Israel can do, “Israel, Arab states and some members of Congress fear the accord will allow Iran to move closer to securing nuclear weapons while allowing them to get their hands on oil revenue and other cash to empower its proxies from Damascus to Sanaa. On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had made an unusual trip to Capitol Hill earlier this year to publicly lobby against an agreement, called it “a historic mistake” and said Israel had committed “to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and this commitment still stands.” One of Netanyahu’s chief political rivals, Tzipi Livni of the left-leaning Zionist Union Party, also condemned the deal in unusually strong language”.

The piece goes on to note that if the deal goes through, “Rouhani, Iran’s pragmatic president, the deal will provide concrete proof to his hardline rivals back home that a less strident approach to the world pays dividends, possibly strengthening the position of the reformists who support him. But skeptics say it is unrealistic to expect the nuclear accord to trigger a dramatic change in Iran’s behavior or alter its long-running hostility to the United States and its allies in the Middle East”.

In a related article, David Rothkopf writes that it is too soon to see if the deal agreed yesterday was worthwhile, “the most frequently mis-told foreign-policy anecdote is almost certainly the story of Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai’s response after Henry Kissinger asked him, in 1971, to assess the impact of the French Revolution. As the story goes, Zhou responded with, “It is too early to tell.” What really took place, according to those present, is that Zhou misunderstood the question and, rather than being asked to assess the impact of the epochal events of 1789, he thought Kissinger’s question referred to the student protests that hit Paris in 1968. In recalling the exchange, former foreign service officer Chas Freeman stated that “there was a misunderstanding that was too delicious to invite correction.” Or as we in the media like to say, the story was so good it hardly mattered whether it was true or not. As it happens, though, the tale also reveals the difference between a story that is true and one that contains a good deal of truth”.

Rothkopf writes that “The truth is that our take on seemingly big events, as they occur and for some time afterwards, is clouded by the emotions of the moment and the efforts by those close to the events to spin them as they are still happening. Later, those views are often rendered wrong or even ridiculous when the events in question are placed into the context of their consequences. As we consider the two big deals that have dominated the news this week — one pertaining to Greece’s economic crisis and one to Iran’s nuclear program — this need for perspective is worth emphasizing. Because the emotions being stirred up in both cases are intense as are the efforts to “frame” the events by their authors and opponents alike”.

He goes on to make the point that “The two deals are both as deeply flawed as they are hard won. Both will be measured as successes or failures not so much by how difficult they have been to hammer out, nor on their apparent high stakes, but rather by their subsequent implementation: how both sides address their interpretation and enforcement and how they are handled in the context of other related events, policies, and initiatives. To some degree both the Greek and Iranian deals have been viewed through a distortionary lens for months because some of those close to the deals have seen it as within their interests to inflate the stakes involved. In the case of the Greek deal, it was posited that if Greece left the eurozone, it might fall into the clutches of evil Russian President Vladimir Putin and China or, alternatively, that if it left the eurozone, the EU itself might fall to bits. In the case of Iran, pro-deal forces (including the president, as reflected in his remarks announcing the deal on Tuesday morning) argued that the alternative to a deal was war with Iran. Neither threat stands up against much scrutiny”.

In the Iran deal he argues that “As for the idea that no deal would increase the likelihood of war with Iran implies there is a side willing to go to war with Iran and frankly, absent the United States’ will to lead that effort, it seems really unlikely. And make no mistake about it, posturing aside, the Barack Obama who has shown no inclination to get meaningfully involved in the catastrophe in Syria and is tiptoeing his way through the meltdown of Iraq, all the while heading for the exits in Afghanistan, was not going to go to war with Iran under virtually any circumstances. Indeed, on the contrary, since his statement during the presidential campaign in the spring of 2008 that he would reach out to engage Iran, it seemed that Obama has been on a trajectory to try to warm up the relationship between Washington and Tehran. And though Israel, for example, might have struck out against Iran, it could not sustain a protracted conflict, and Iran’s neighbors in the Gulf lack both the will and the means necessary to engage that country in a war. (It should be noted that another flaw in the “it’s the deal or war” argument is that Iran is already involved in four other wars in the region, deal or no.)”

He goes on to mention that “Is the Iran deal a good deal? Again, while the media was, within moments of the deal’s announcement early on July 14, awash with Tuesday-morning quarterbacks explaining how they would have done it better, it is the deal we have. Further, no one can reasonably argue that it is not better to have some agreement that at least makes ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program a possibility for the foreseeable future. The key is how leaders in Iran and around the world act once the deal is in place. We have seen deals in the past that have simply not been effective. (See North Korea.) But there is a path forward with this deal that will certainly be better than the uncertainty that has hung over this issue for the past 13 years. If the deal’s terms are enforced and it translates into real inspections that are regularly and even aggressively conducted, where violations are marked without hesitation — and, of course, the Iranian government has the intent to honor its terms — this deal will be seen as successful”.

He continues, “That the deal in question leaves so many looming questions and solves so little in a lasting and irreversible way is lamentable. But lamenting it or trying to undo it will likely be less productive than focusing on what needs to be done by America and the other members of the P5+1 and our allies in the region, as well as by Iran, to work to make the deal we have a success. Above all, this means that no one — the president of the United States, his team, the Iranian government, or anyone else — sees the deal as an end in itself. It is just another step on what has already been a decade-and-a-half long journey. As intensive as the diplomacy that produced this deal was, similar efforts will be required to ensure the implementation of the deal and the resolve of the international community to enforce it. Any let up (or perceived let up) will be seen as an opportunity by hard-liners in Tehran and as a real threat by Iran’s rivals in the region. This deal is not enough”.

A related article examines how the deal is viewed in Iran, “he deal is done. Iran and the P5+1 have reached the agreement that President Obama so desperately sought, come what may. President Obama says that the deal makes the world “safer and more secure.” But here is how the Iranian Mehr News Agency describes the outcome:

– Iran’s nuclear program that was unjustly introduced as a threat to global security will now be recognized as a field for international cooperation with other countries.

– Iran will be recognized by the U.N. as a country with nuclear technology and entitled to rights of peaceful nuclear program including enrichment and full fuel cycle.

– All economic and financial sanctions against Iran will be removed through a new Security Council resolution.

– All nuclear facilities in Iran will retain their activities. Contrary to the initial demands of the other side, none of the nuclear sites will be shut down.

– With the new UNSC resolution under article 25, in addition to article 41 on provisions related to removal of past sanctions, the treatment of UN Security Council toward Iran will also undergo a fundamental change.

– All nuclear facilities in Iran will retain their activities. Contrary to the initial demands of the other side, none of the nuclear sites will be shut down.

– The policy to prevent Iran’s enrichment activities failed. Iran will continue nuclear enrichment.

– Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will be preserved. No centrifuge will be destroy [sic] and research and development on all advanced centrifuges including IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 will continue.

– Arak heavy water reactor will remain as such. Any demands to return the facility to a light water reactor have been dismissed. The facility will be modernized and enjoy new additions through cooperating with owners of most advanced and secure world technologies.

– Iran will enter global markets as a producer of nuclear products especially in the case of “enriched uranium” and “heavy water.” All sanctions and limitations against imports and exports of nuclear material will be annulled.

– All economic and financial sanctions in the fields of banking, oil, gas, petrochemicals, insurance, and transportation as imposed by the EU and the U.S. under the pretext of Iran’s nuclear program will be immediately lifted upon the implementation of the agreement.

– Ban on Iran’s missile activities including ballistic missiles will be limited to missiles designed for nuclear weapons, of which the Islamic Republic has never been and will be after.

– Iran’s arms embargo will be lifted, replaced with some restrictions to be removed in 5 years.

– Ban on purchasing sensitive dual-use items will be lifted and Iran’s needs will be met more easily through Iran and 5+1 joint commission.

The writer goes on to mention the deal from a Western view, “The lifting of restrictions ensures that Iran will be no further from achieving nuclear weapons status than it is today. Nothing has been rolled back. None of the initial Western demands, whether regarding enrichment, the number of centrifuges, the extent of inspections, or the timetable for lifting sanctions have been met. Iran will now have access to the latest technology, to international trade, and, most important, to billions of dollars. Estimates of Tehran’s financial windfall range as high as $150 billion. Even if the actual figures are no more than $50 billion, that sum is enough for Iran both to modernize its infrastructure and double, perhaps triple its financial support for terrorist activities, which currently is estimated to cost the Islamic Republic less than ten billions dollars. The prospects for a peaceful outcome in Syria, or Yemen have diminished markedly. Hezbollah’s fortunes have skyrocketed. And the threat to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province has become far more ominous”.

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8 Responses to “An Iran deal”

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