The Iran Deal

Ken AshfordIranLeave a Comment

Iran (on the one hand) and the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany (together with EU foreign policy chief)(on the other hand) finally reached an agreement to end the sanctions against Iran this morning after 22 months of intensive talks. As a result of the agreement sealed within the Islamic Republic’ outlined framework and red lines, the following achievements have been obtained in the field of nuclear and sanctions removal.

Under the accord, which runs almost 100 pages, Here are the main points:

Enrichment: Iran will reduce the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges it has from almost 20,000 to 6,104, and reduce the number of those in use from nearly 10,000 to half that. It also commits to using only its current models, rather than more advanced centrifuges it had wanted to install.

I think this is okay.  Critics might insist that Iran not have any centrifuges, but that’s unrealistic in the 21st century.  We should remember that Iran isn’t some back-desert country like Afghanistan.  It fact, it is much different that Iraq.  Look at Tehran — it could be any city in Europe or the U.S.


Stockpile: Iran committed to reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium from about five tons to 300 kilograms (less than 700 pounds) for 15 years. US officials say that at this level it would take Iran more than a year to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon.

This is the issue where you are going to hear some of the deal critics just speak from a position of ignorance.  Both sides of the debate should listen to nuclear physicists on this issue.

Underground site: Iran committed to convert its Fordow enrichment site – dug deep into a mountainside and thought impervious to air attack – into a research center.

Presumably, we want the thing above-ground in case we have to bomb it.  I’m guessing.

Transparency: Iran will give more access to its nuclear program to the UN nuclear agency. If that agency identifies a suspicious site, an arbitration panel with a Western majority will decide whether Iran has to give the agency access within 24 days.

The inspection issue was something that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had long vowed to oppose. So it is kind of a win.  But… access isn’t guaranteed and could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on as possibly giving Tehran time to cover up any illicit activity.  How?  Tehran would have the right to challenge the UN request and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers would then decide on the issue.   That would take time.

Reactors and reprocessing: Iran must redesign its nearly built reactor at Arak so it can’t produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

That’s nice.

Sanctions: All US and European Union nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after experts have verified that Iran is hewing to its commitments. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its obligations, those sanctions will snap back into place.  Iran agreed to the continuation of a UN arms embargo on the country for up to five more years, though it could end earlier if the International Atomic Energy Agency definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. A similar condition was put on UN restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran, which could last for up to eight more years, according to diplomats.

This was apparently a tough negotiation point.  Naturally, it was the reason Iran came to the table in the first place, so they HAD to get something.  Washington had sought to maintain the ban on Iran importing and exporting weapons, concerned that an Islamic Republic flush with cash from the nuclear deal would expand its military assistance for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other forces opposing America’s Mideast allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iranian leaders insisted the embargo had to end as their forces combat regional scourges such as ISIS. And they got some support from China and particularly Russia, which wants to expand military cooperation and arms sales to Tehran, including the long-delayed transfer of S-300 advanced air defense systems – a move long opposed by the United States.

So when does all this happen?  The following is a summary the timeline for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  There are no specific dates. It begins “upon conclusion of the negotiations”.

Finalization Day:

  • Iran and the major powers “endorse” the plan, known as JCPOA.
  • The “promptly” submit it to the United Nations Security Council for adoption “without delay”.
  • The European Union will “promptly” endorse the resulting United Nations Security Council resolution.
  • Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will start developing arrangements to implement all transparency measures so that they are ready for Implementation Day.

Adoption Day:

  • Takes place 90 days after endorsement by the UN Security Council, or earlier by mutual consent of all the parties.
  • JCPOA participants will begin making necessary arrangements and preparations for the implementation of commitments.
  • Iran notifies IAEA that it will apply the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol (enhanced inspection regime) provisionally with effect from Implementation Day.
  • Iran starts implementing commitments relating to past nuclear activities.
  • EU will adopt a regulation lifting nuclear-related sanctions with effect from Implementation Day “simultaneously” with IAEA verification of agreed nuclear-related measures by Iran.
  • The president of the United States will issue sanctions waivers to take effect on Implementation Day.

Implementation Day:

  • Occurs when IAEA verifies Iran has complied with nuclear-related measures.
  • The EU suspends or terminates nuclear-related sanctions specified in Annex II of the JCPOA
  • The United States ceases application of nuclear-related sanctions specified in Annex II.
  • The United Nations terminates sanctions.

Transition Day:

  • Takes place eight years from Adoption Day, or earlier upon a report from the IAEA director-general stating the IAEA has reached a conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains for peaceful activities.
  • The EU terminates any remaining sanctions.
  • The United States terminates or modifies remaining sanctions including seeking necessary legislative changes.
  • Iran will ratify Additional Protocol on enhanced inspections.

Termination Day:

  • Takes place 10 years from Adoption Day provided no UN sanctions have been reinstated.
  • UN will pass resolution approving termination of JCPOA.
  • The UN Security Council “would no longer be seized of the Iran nuclear issue”, or close the file.

So now this is going to be all we talk about.  I’m already annoyed at the politicians who are demonizing the deal.  Some are saying we are “rewarding” Iran.  Well, yeah.  That’s what deals are.  They get something, we get something.  You have to be wary of those who are against the deal because they are against anything Obama does and/or they are against the idea of a deal at all.  Netanyahu, who has already called the deal an “historic mistake for the world”  falls into that latter category.  He thinks a deal (in this situation) is one where Iran loses and Isreal wins.  Netanyahu also states (correctly) that Israel is not bound by the deal.

Already the GOP candidates and pundits are giving over-the-top hyperbolic statements.  This reaction by Lindsey Graham is hysterical and bizarre:

“Iran Deal ‘Akin to Declaring War’ on Israel’”

Yeah, it’s just like that. Except for the “declaring war” part.

Mike Huckabee says:

”Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.'”

He’s Mr. Happy Fun Guy.

Scott Johnson of the PowerTools calls it…

Munich for our time...”

….but of course he would say that if President Obama deigned to accept Pepsi in lieu of Coke.

I am not saying I support the deal.  Like many Democrats, I am wary [UPDATE: Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of the deal is “cautious“].  But I think the thing to remember is… we can always go back to the way it is now.  Heck, we can always bomb if we have to.  This is, I’m sure, the best we can get, and I think we’re better off just trying it.