Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday unsurprisingly hailed the nuclear agreement struck with US-led world powers, and derided the “failed” efforts of the “warmongering Zionists.” His delight, Iran’s delight, is readily understandable.
The agreement legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, allows it to keep core nuclear facilities, permits it to continue research in areas that will dramatically speed its breakout to the bomb should it choose to flout the deal, but also enables it to wait out those restrictions and go ahead to become a nuclear threshold state with full international legitimacy. Here’s how.
1. Was the Iranian regime required, as a condition for this deal, to show the previous military dimensions of its nuclear program — to come clean on its violations — in order both to make sure effective inspections of all relevant facilities and to shatter the Iranian-dispelled myth that it has never breached its non-proliferation obligations? No. (This failure, arguably the original sin of the Western negotiating approach, is expertly detailed here by Emily B. Landau.) Rather than exposing Iran’s violations, the new deal solemnly asserts that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which Iran has failed to honor “remains the cornerstone” of ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The deal provides for a mechanism “to address past and present issues of concern about its nuclear programme,” but Iran has managed to dodge such efforts for years, and the deal inspires little hope of change in that area, blithely anticipating “closing the issue” in the next few months.
2. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt all uranium enrichment, including thousands of centrifuges spinning at its main Natanz enrichment facility? No. The deal specifically legitimizes enrichment under certain eroding limitations.
3. Has the Iranian regime been required to shut down and dismantle its Arak heavy water reactor and plutonium production plant? No. It will convert, not dismantle the facility, under a highly complex process. Even if it honors this clause, its commitment to “no additional heavy water reactors or accumulation of heavy water in Iran” will expire after 15 years.
4. Has the Iranian regime been required to shut down and dismantle the underground uranium enrichment facility it built secretly at Fordow? No. (Convert, not dismantle.)
5. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt its ongoing missile development? No.
6. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt research and development of the faster centrifuges that will enable it to break out to the bomb far more rapidly than is now the case? No. The deal specifically legitimizes ongoing R&D under certain eroding limitations. It specifically provides, for instance, that Iran will begin testing of the fast “IR-8 on single centrifuge machines and its intermediate cascades” as soon as the deal goes into effect, and will “commence testing of up to 30 IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges after eight and a half years.”
7. Has the Iranian regime been required to submit to “anywhere, anytime” inspections of any and all facilities suspected of engaging in rogue nuclear-related activity? No. Instead, the deal describes at considerable length a very protracted process of warning and “consultation” to resolve concerns.
8. Has the international community established rules setting out how it will respond to different classes of Iranian violations, to make sure that the international community can act with enough speed and efficiency to thwart a breakout to the bomb? No.
9. Has the Iranian regime been required to halt its arming, financing and training of the Hezbollah terrorist army in south Lebanon? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.)
10. Has the Iranian regime been required to surrender for trial the members of its leadership placed on an Interpol watch list for their alleged involvement in the bombing, by a Hezbollah suicide bomber, of the AMIA Jewish community center offices in Buenos Aires in 1994 that resulted in the deaths of 85 people? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.)
11. Has the Iranian regime undertaken to close its 80 estimated “cultural centers” in South America from which it allegedly fosters terrorist networks? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.)
12. Has the Iranian leadership agreed to stop inciting hatred among its people against Israel and the United States and to stop its relentless calls for the annihilation of Israel? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.)
13. Has the Iranian regime agreed to halt executions, running at an average of some three a day, the highest rate for 20 years? No. (This kind of non-nuclear issue was not discussed at the negotiations.)
14. Does the nuclear deal shatter the painstakingly constructed sanctions regime that forced Iran to the negotiating table? Yes.
15. Will the deal usher in a new era of global commercial interaction with Iran, reviving the Iranian economy and releasing financial resources that Iran will use to bolster its military forces and terrorist networks? Yes.
16. Does the nuclear deal further cement Iran’s repressive and ideologically rapacious regime in power? Yes.
No wonder Iran and its allies are celebrating. Nobody else should be.