After 18 days of intense and often fractious negotiation, world powers and Iran struck a landmark deal Tuesday to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions — an agreement designed to avert the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and another U.S. military intervention in the Muslim world.
The accord will keep Iran from producing enough material for a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years and impose new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, including military sites. And it marks a dramatic break from decades of animosity between the United States and Iran, countries that alternatively call each other the "leading state sponsor of terrorism" and the "the Great Satan."
"This is a historic moment," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said as he attended a final session alongside his counterparts from the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia in Vienna on Tuesday morning. "We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody, but it is what we could accomplish, and it is an important achievement for all of us. Today could have been the end of hope on this issue. But now we are starting a new chapter of hope."
Yeah, one aspect of that new "chapter" is access to more than $100 billion of lifted sanctions that could go back into the coffers. Something tells me it's not going to be used to stimulate the Iranian economy (unless of course you factor in an increase in terrorist "jobs").
But hey, in exchange for all the generous concessions given to Iran, certainly they will allow random requests for "snap inspections" to ensure compliance, right?
Negotiators failed to meet the standard of achieving "anytime, anywhere" access that several members of the United States Congress had demanded as a part of any nuclear deal. Instead, in the event Iran objects to an IAEA request for access to a specific site, a "clock" will begin that grants the two sides 14 days to negotiate.
If that period expires without any resolution reached directly between Iran and the IAEA, the Joint Commission would have seven days to advise them on a way forward. Iran would then have three days to comply with the commission's final advice, bringing the total time on the clock to 24 days.
24 days?!?! Bah. That's not at all enough time to conceal evidence of any kind of proliferation activities. Nope. Nosireebob. We're good.
Sadly, this sparks memories of the naivete the U.S. displayed upon reaching a nuke deal with North Korea in 1994.
"Before I take your questions, I'd like to say just a word about the framework with North Korea that Ambassador Gallucci signed this morning. This is a good deal for the United States," Clinton said at the press conference.
"North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.
"South Korea, with support from Japan and other nations, will bear most of the cost of providing North Korea with fuel to make up for the nuclear energy it is losing, and they will pay for an alternative power system for North Korea that will allow them to produce electricity while making it much harder for them to produce nuclear weapons.
"The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments. Only as it does so will North Korea fully join the community of nations."
That deal collapsed in less than a decade.
In the Summer of 2003, the U.S. participated in Six-Party talks to once again negotiate a treaty where North Korea abandons its nuclear program. Alas, that agreement also fell by the wayside within six years. Say what you will about the ultimately failed agreements with North Korea, at least there were allies like Japan and South Korea included in those talks. But in negotiations with Iran, apparently the likes of the Arab nations and Israel didn't have a vested interest in such meetings.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture concerning the inevitability that Iran will have nuclear weapons within a decade.
Bolton said failure to take aggressive action 15 years ago leaves two undesirable options — allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, setting off a local nuclear arms race in the Middle East, or take military action to knock out the nuclear program.
And what of the prospects of Congress stopping this deal?
“The most that Congress can do if it’s successful is prevent Obama from lifting U.S. sanctions,” he said.
Bolton said other countries, in response to the agreement, will lift their sanctions. That will leave U.S. policy where it was in 2006, with American sanctions in place but Iran having a much freer hand.
Finally, the aftermath of the Iran deal should be interesting to watch, particularly among Congress and 2016 presidential hopefuls.
How will WH, Press, & Dems reconcile defending Nuke Deal w/ Iran's human rights abuses against homosexuals, women, opponents, & minorities?— Michael P Pregent (@MPPregent) July 13, 2015