Tag Archives: Iran nuclear deal

I’m cautiously optimistic about the Iran deal. The high points are that Iran reduces its uranium stockpile by 98%, cuts its number of centrifuges for enrichment by 70% (and gets rid of its newer, more advanced ones), agrees to enrich only to a level that can be used for power production but not for weapons production, and most important sets up a robust inspection regime.

All that is is good, but there are some points that make some people unhappy.

It does allow Iran to keep its nuclear program. Sorry my imperialist friends, but even Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy. They want to sell their oil for cash, particularly as (or if) oil prices increase, rather than burn it all themselves. Nuclear energy is a staightforward business proposition for them.

It only lasts for 10-15 years. This is how negotiations work; you take what you can get, and then you keep talking after you get it. Sometimes all you can do is buy time, and a 10-15 year window is better than the 1 year window we have right right now. That gives us another decade to keep trying to talk them out of developing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, their leadership is aging and their large under-30 population is increasingly disaffected with their government. Time is on our side, not Rouhani’s or Khameni’s.

Will Iran actually allow inspections? That is the key. But while there’s reason to be skeptical of Iran, we can’t actually know how that works out until we get there. The agreement at least contains meaningful inspection protocols, so it’s too early to call it a failure. On paper, it appears to contain what critics demanded.

But don’t buy the Obama administration’s talk about sanctions “snapping back” if Iran doesn’t comply. The return of sanctions would not be automatic but would require a vote of the UN Security Council, where its chances of passage are slim. The reality is that almost nobody but the US wants sanctions on Iran even now. Not most of Europe, which wants to sell to Iran and purchase their oil; not Russia, which is Iran’s only reliable ally; and not China which is investing heavily in Iran and building a railroad to provide a quick route to Europe for Chinese goods. And for those keeping score, Russia and China have Security Council vetoes.

But deal or no deal, the effectiveness of the sanctions was dying out anyway. It’s time to accept that and move on.

Could we have gotten a better deal? It’s doubtful. Our real alternatives to this deal are the status quo or an invasion. Neither of those is as good as this deal.

Category: Statehouse